Welcome to our review of the cruise ship MSC Preziosa. This post will give a general review of the ship, please keep checking back for further posts where we will look at things in more detail.
You can watch our video of MSC Preziosa below or at: https://youtu.be/3OmNNmwJovQ
Launched in 2013, the MSC Preziosa is an impressive ship. Coming in at just over 333m long and 67m high, she has 18 decks and has a maximum passenger capacity of 4,345 along with 1,370 crew. The ship also has 26 lifts, wifi everywhere on board, 4 pools, 10 inside bars, 5 outside bars and 9 restaurants.
You can’t get bored either, packed with shops and entertainment including a 4D cinema, a racing car simulator and bowling alley as well as loads of Family fun areas such as the Aqua Park, Doremi Castle, Vertigo water slide along with entertainment activities such as Doremi Chef through the day this ship is designed for family cruising.
About our cruise
We joined the ship in Southampton for 7-nights, our itinerary was Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Le Harve. Unfortunately, luck and the weather were against us and we were unable to get in to Amsterdam, instead docking at Rotterdam and due to general strikes in France, Le Harve was replaced with Zeebrugge – yes, we visited the port twice on the same cruise!
Why we chose MSC
Last year we had seen MSC were doing a special offer, a Balcony cabin for the price of an inside. They were also throwing in free Parking – bonus! By the time we did the ‘MSC Status Match’ (they will match your loyalty status from other cruise lines) we were paying just under £500 for 7 nights in a balcony – now that’s a good price! We were also tempted with their drinks packages as we like to relax with a few G&T’s or cocktails and this can easily rack up the cost of cruising, so we thought let’s change from our usual P&O cruises and give MSC a try! But were we moving too far out of our comfort zone?
First Impressions of the ship
We turned up at the City Cruise Terminal and it was really busy, but lots of staff on hand to guide and help us along our way. It took about an hour, but once we got onboard we were instantly wowed! She’s is one stylish ship.
The atrium has Swarovski crystal stair cases, the decor around the ship is very glitzy and glamorous with lots of mirrors, feature lighting and arty features – stunning!
We collected our cruise cards from our room, activated them using the activation points in the atrium and then started exploring!
We had our muster drill about 5pm. This has to be the quickest muster we have done and it was very chaotic, with no local leader controlling the crowd of people – thankfully having done enough cruises we knew what it was all about. Within 10 minutes of collecting our life jackets, we were back in the room! That has to be a world record!
We were in cabin 10183, so deck 10 mid to aft of the ship – this was a Bella grade of cabin. On entering the cabin, the initial impression was that it was compact, but very stylish. The bathroom has a shower with glass doors, these also opened inwards which meant it felt a bigger room and they didn’t get in the way as much. Shower gel, shampoo, hand soap and an array of towels were provided.
Storage space we found limiting, with only one slim full length wardrobe, a half-height wardrobe and then a load of drawers. The drawers were not really big enough to hold folded clothing, maybe just your socks and undies. There was also a mini bar in the lower half of one wardrobe, this was stocked with soft drinks and alcoholic drinks which would be charged to our account if consumed.
The bed was really comfortable, always had a great night’s sleep. The interactiveTV which allowed you to rent movies, see port information, order room service and see our account balance was located in the coroner unit of the room. There was a desk which had one EU socket and also a hair dryer in the drawer.
A sliding door led to the balcony which had two chairs and a foot rest. There was enough space for us to both sit out here and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee (e kettle, tea and coffee provided in the room).
Our room was kept clean and tidy, being serviced twice a day without fail. Each evening you would receive The Daily program which gives you important information about the following day and included what activities were taking place.
Places to Eat & Drink
There are so many places to eat and drink on Preziosa, it’s amazing how they have managed to fit it all in. Il Cappuccino was always busy with people sipping their coffee or you could pop to the Phoenician Plaza to enjoy a coffee along with some pastries, chocolate or ice creams. If you fancied some pizza (a meter of it along with a meter of beers) you could pop to La Locanda or if you fancied bowling with American fast food, the Sports and Bowling Diner. On sea days, these places were very busy, this is where you could tell there was lots of people onboard.
At night, our favourite bars were the Diamond Bar and Preziosa Bar, we would come here before dinner for a G&T or if we wanted somewhere a little quieter earlier on in the evening we would opt for the Galaxy bar, with views over the mid-ship pool area of the ship and out to sea – this turned from a Bar and Restaurant in to the disco late at night, with thumping music where you could party to the early hours. If dancing doesn’t appeal, there is the casino that also had a bar which was very popular.
There was an array of restaurant’s onboard, our main dining room was the Golden Lobster. Our first meal here was a bit of a disappointment as it didn’t seem very inspiring, it seemed to lack taste or style, a bit like a microwave meal. This did improve massively on following visits and we found the portion sizes just right – we had seen some complaints they were too small. One night the head waiter even brought us a second main (Greedy, I know) as we had liked the look of one of our friends meals – it never seemed too much fuss and they were happy to please.
We did use the Inca and Maya Buffet for breakfast and lunch/snacks. The fresh pizza, burgers, pasta’s, fresh carved meats and deserts were all very tasty – with the variety of food and having lots of room to sit this has to be one of the best buffets we have experienced on a cruise ship.
We pre-purchased the Preziosa dining package, this entitled us to a meal in the Galaxy and Eataly restaurant, both served beautiful food and we came out of both feeling very very full! This cost about £25 per person for both, another bargain!
I don’t think anyone could ever go hungry on this ship!
We highly recommend taking out the All-inclusive Drinks package – we paid £20 per person per day, this was well worth it – prices onboard were €4.95 for a 40cl Heineken beer, €5 for a glass of house wine, €2.50 for a fountain cola or €2.90 for a can of Pepsi PLUS 15% service charge, you can see how this could easily add up and it paid for its self in less than 48 hours. Its best to buy this package before boarding as you save the 15% service charge that’s added on top if bought at an onboard bar.
We saved over £320 by buying the drinks package
Preziosa has the usual shops, including a duty-free shop, mini mall/pharmacy, a sweet shop, jewellery and clothing shops and of course the Logo shop full of MSC merchandise. As we had done the status match, we got 5% off all purchases in the logo shop.
The photo shop and Photo gallery were located on deck 7– the onboard prices were comparable to other cruise ships (portraits €20 each with 5 for the price of 3 and etc). We had some lovely portrait shots done – normally we don’t tend to buy them, but they were so good we did!
Entertainment and Activities
We were assigned a late sitting (8:30) so never actually managed to get to see a show in the very impressive looking theatre. We did pop along to some of the shows held by the entertainment team in the Safari Lounge and the live singing in El Dorado Piano bar and some Jazz in the Green Sax Jazz bar. To be honest, there was always something going on somewhere around the ship. The Daily newspaper would list the times and what activities were on.
The pools, especially the indoor pool were always busy – this is a great ship if you have kids or are a big kid at heart! You can enjoy a swim, have a splash around in the water park, try out the Water slide that wraps around the ship or chill in one of the many Jacuzzi’s onboard. There is also the Doremi Castle which looked a great place for kids, unfortunately it was never running during our cruise, I assume due to the weather being a bit on the chilly side. The pools all had pool attendants watching over everyone in the main pool areas.
If you want to keep fit onboard there is a walking track or a nice long promenade deck you can take a walk along. If you are feeling more energetic there is a fully equipped gym. We used the gym on several occasions but found it could get busy with the cardio machines all in use. If chilling out is what you want, the Aurea Spa would be the place to visit – these facilities looked realy nice and they even had a juice bar!
We didn’t try the racing car simulator, but did have a go I the 4D cinema, this was €6 each – we did Coaster Canyon. This was really good, much better than your standard roller coaster simulator found at a fair.
Our final thoughts
This was a completely different cruise to what we have done with P&O and Cunard. The mix of passengers were very different, mostly German as the cruise was a Hamburg round trip, but with MSC you can join at most ports. We met some lovely people, especially Brian and Bev who we spent quite some time talking to – they joined the ship in Hamburg, having flown over from Australia.
Service around the ship was very good, with quite a few of the bar staff taking time to get to know you so when you revisited they recognised you and what you drank! They were surprised when we ordered soft drinks on the last night, that’s for sure! We also found that if you bumped in to the officers or senior hotel staff walking around the ship, they would always say good morning/evening in passing.
The service in restaurants was very good, checking if everything was ok, happy to get you more or and making sure your glass was never empty. Our friends both had their Birthdays onboard, so as they had pre- notified MSC, cakes were provided.
The ship was very clean, you would often see someone working away with a cloth and if you ventured out and about after 1am you could see cleaners busy at work in the areas that had closed. There seemed to be lots of staff in the buffet area, so plates were cleared away quickly meaning getting a table was rarely an issue unless you hit it at peak time – but there was always somewhere to sit.
The let down on this cruise was the change in itinerary. Docking in Rotterdam meant we had to get a train to Amsterdam and then a repeat visit to Zeebrugge was a little tedious.
We understand the weather and strikes were out of their control, but with MSC you have to pay for shuttle busses so the costs could add up. Reception shrugged their shoulders saying they could not do anything until later that night. Thankfully they came good and gave us a free shuttle next day. Then on return from our day in port, a little surprise – due to the missed ports a credit of €100 was given to each stateroom for all passengers that embarked in Southampton. Now this was above and beyond of what we were expecting – well done MSC, just a shame communication was not better initially. If this had been announced during the previous day at the same time as the announcement stating the port change, many of the Southampton passengers would have been much happier and the ears of the guest relations staff wouldn’t have been as sore.
Would we sail with MSC again?
Yes, we would without doubt – the food was good, the value for money was excellent and the staff serving us in bars were friendly and welcoming. Next time we would look at going Mediterranean – somewhere warmer maybe.
So, the move out of our comfort zone was well worth it! Remember to look out for further posts!
This is the follow up to the day by day blogging that we did while onboard, which can be found here