LOOK: We review the luxe MSC Grandiosa
When I went on my first cruise nine years ago, I vowed never to do so again.
The ship was rocky most of the three-day journey, the cabins were cramped, and the entertainment options were scarce. People pretty much partied their time away.
Cruising grew on me last year, when I stepped on-board the MSC Musica. It had everything I wanted from a holiday: there was an island to be explored, a grand balcony cabin and a plethora of entertainment options.
A few months later, as I pulled my hand luggage, heading for the Hamburg port in the unrelenting cold, I could not help but admire MSC’s new Grandiosa cruise ship, which stared back at me.
MSC Grandiosa is the first of three Meraviglia-Plus ships to join MSC Cruises’ fleet. It operates with significantly increased energy efficiency and is equipped with state-of-the-art recycling facilities and waste management systems, as well as advanced technology for cleaner ship emissions.
Minutes after checking in, our group found ourselves in French speciality restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot indulging in a much-needed glass of champagne after a tiring long-haul flight from Johannesburg.
Occupying one of the seats overlooking the 93m-long promenade, I marvelled over its grandeur. Grandiosa is like nothing I have ever seen before.
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I thought about all the hidden gems I was to discover over the next five days. Also, the prospect of sharing a cruise ship with Hollywood screen legend Sophia Loren (although she did not know I existed) excited me even more.
Finding my cabin was arguably one of the most challenging parts of my cruise, well at least for the first 24 hours. My balcony cabin, located on deck 9, took me more than 20 minutes to find. Thankfully, there were navigational systems on each deck to direct me to my cabin or other attractions on the ship.
My cabin was spacious and kitted out with all the amenities to make my cruise comfortable. Once I stepped inside, I found a decent sized bathroom with a shower.
As I walked further in, there was a large mirror, a spacious cupboard, a bright-coloured sofa and an interactive TV loaded with the latest movies. Undoubtedly, the most attractive feature on the cruise is Zoe, MSC’s first virtual assistant who answers all your cruise-related enquiries. Zoe, who speaks seven languages, helps plan your days at sea, offering insight on the activities and amenities available on the cruise.
The balcony was one of my favourite places to find respite during lazy afternoons. Here, I caught up on reading,watched the sunset and went into a light slumber with the calm, soothing ocean sound in the background. While on the topic of sleep, MSC prioritises sleep experiences. In your cabin, you will find a pillow menu and other sleep amenities.
Out and about
While it was tempting to spend all day lounging in the well-kitted cabin, there was still a lot to discover on the cruise. Besides the usual casino offerings, swimming pools and theatre shows, Grandiosa boasts an array of entertainment options for young and old.
I found myself spending hours at the arcade, which is home to a fullsize bowling alley, a VR Maze and F1 Simulator. While I sucked at bowling, I managed to slay a beast during a Minotaur game in the VR Maze.
For those not keen on playing games, head to the aquapark for some fun in the sun. Polar Aquapark is one of the most “intricate and exciting water parks at sea”.
You could also book a Cirque du Soleil at Sea show at an additional fee. The two new shows are called Cosmos: Journey to the Unbelievable and EXENTRICKS, Expect the Unexpected.
If pampering is more your thing, head to MSC Aurea Spa. The luxurious Balinese spa offers a beauty salon, nail boutique and a range of beauty treatments to keep you feeling fresh and relaxed.
Oh, and there’s a spa doctor on-site if you are looking to have dermal fillers or botox. There’s also the thermal area with a range of calming amenities that I took full advantage off.
With the cost of your cruise inclusive of meals, you do not have to worry about getting “hangry”. MSC has 12 dining venues and 21 bars and lounges onboard.
At an additional fee, guests have a choice of speciality restaurants, which offers unique experiences. The restaurants include HOLA! Tapas Bar by Ramón Freixa, American-styled Butcher’s Cut and Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant & Sushi Bar.
The pièce de résistance is JeanPhilippe Maury Chocolat & Cafè, which offers 13 types of macarons, six types of chocolate bonbons, six types of round truffles, 16 types of chocolate bars, 40 kinds of chocolate products and biscuits. For an immersive experience, guests can also create custom-made chocolate at a fee.
For further information on the ship, visit: https://www.msccruises. co.za/our-cruises/ships/mscgrandiosa/itineraries
◆Clinton Moodley was hosted by MSC Cruises South Africa for the christening celebrations in Hamburg, Germany