We boarded MSC Preziosa in Genoa, although with MSC you can board at any of their ports of call, Genoa is the main port for this cruise. We had spent the previous day in Genoa just wandering around enjoying the beautiful buildings and the marina. We left our B&B Domitilla and walked the 7 minutes to the cruise terminal. As we were in the Yacht Club, check in was smooth and quick and we were quickly on board. After a short tour of the Yacht Club, we decided to go to the restaurant for lunch. As the Yacht Club’s suites and facilities are forward (decks 15 to 18) and the dedicated restaurant is deck 15 aft, this gave us the opportunity to explore on route. The quickest route is across deck 15 which means walking out doors past the pool areas, this is fine in good weather but on our boarding day it was raining… hard! Other than the cabin decks, the only other inside deck which went all through was deck 7! After lunch, we returned to our suite where our luggage was waiting inside. Then the obligatory muster drill which considering the many different languages did not take too long. That evening after dinner, we went to the theatre to hear the tenors sing. It is a large theatre over 2 decks but didn’t seem overly crowded. The performance only last 30 minutes, which as I was enjoying it seemed too short to me, but better to leave wanting more I suppose.
Day 2 (Rome) of the cruise we were up early for breakfast. There is a buffet style continental breakfast available in Top Sail lounge but we decided to go to the restaurant as this opened earlier and our excursion was 7.30am! We were doing ‘Rome on your own’ booked through MSC and as a Yacht Club member you are taken down to the coaches by butler so you are first in the queue what no one told us was that your seats at the front of the coach are reserved! The coach dropped us off at the Colosseum and would pick us up at the same place several hours later. As we had been to Rome previously, we had seen all the other sights but only done the Colosseum from the outside. The queue, even at this early hour, was horrendous approx. 2 hours which soon became 4! A top tip for you – as this was the first Sunday in the month, admission is free but you still needed to get a ticket. The ticket covers admission to Palatino, Roman Forum and Colosseum so, this is the tip, go to Palatino and get your ticket there (no queue) and do this first. We did this and Roman Forum and then went to Colosseum. There were many people trying to sell you ‘jump the queue’ tickets which essentially meant you joined a group and paid for a guide to get you into the Colosseum quickly. This cost €20 pp, however, as we had our tickets already we discovered that there was a queue for ticket holders (difficult to find amongst the other 2 lines of people wanting tickets) and this queue took 20 minutes to get in. Most of this time is queuing for security checks before entering. The Colosseum is breath taking and after walking around, Drew left me to climb to the upper levels to take more photos (I declined as no head for heights plus it was hot!) so I found a nice boulder in the shade to sit and people watch. Later we had a pizza at a street café with the Colosseum as a back drop – wonderful and quite surreal. We took our coach back to the ship as planned and it all went smoothly. That evening, after dinner, was spent in the Top Sail lounge, with great service and music provided by a pianist.
Day 3 (Palermo, Sicily) as no excursion planned we had a leisurely breakfast in Top Sail lounge of fresh fruit, fresh bread, smoked salmon, cheese and ham before leaving the ship. We were docked right in Palermo so we walked the short distance out of the harbour and onto a Ho-Ho bus of which there are 2 routes (red and blue) and cost €20 pp. Crossing the 2 lanes of road,of which there were 4 lanes of traffic, was hair-raising to say the least as, even when the lights were red and the green man for crossing was on, the traffic didn’t stop! I eventually took my life in my hands and followed a local couple as they weaved between the cars! The bus route (red) was interesting and there are some beautiful buildings, especially the cathedral, but a lot of the time the noise and chaos from the traffic overrode even the commentary through my headphones.
Day 4 (Valletta, Malta) This port was the reason we booked this cruise as it is our wedding anniversary and whilst on holiday in Malta many years ago we saw a cruise ship and decided we would cruise into Malta one day. Well, 15 years later we finally made it. When we booked, this was a full day in port but has been altered to just the morning and another port added (Palma, Majorca) for an evening. We were up early before 6am to enjoy coming into Valletta harbour which didn’t disappoint and after breakfast we disembarked and walked the few minutes to the lift which for a euro each gave us a return ticket to ascend to Upper Barrakka Gardens. Here is where they fire the noon gun and also level access to Valletta and its wonderful sights. We enjoyed walking around the narrow streets of Valletta and return to watch the gun salute at noon. We were lucky as we had been to Malta many times so had seen most of the fabulous sites but sad for those who hadn’t as 4 – 5 hours cannot do Valletta justice nevermind the island! We then returned to the ship as it was all aboard for 12.30pm. This was also a gala night so we dressed up for dinner and had our photos taken on the gold Swarovski staircase.
Day 5 (Palma, Majorca) This was mainly a sea day as we didn’t arrive in Palma until evening (8pm). As we are due to visit this island later in the year we decided to stay on board and enjoy the sight of Palma all lit up. We spent the day exploring more of the ship (as you tend to get cossetted in the Yacht Club) and sunbathing by the One bar.
Day 6 (Valencia, Spain) We took the shuttle bus (€12) into the town and did some sightseeing. Valencia was lovely with its combination of old and modern sitting comfortably side by side and is somewhere we would definitely return to for further exploration. This was the second gala night and also our wedding anniversary so we dressed accordingly and enjoyed a wonderful lobster meal in the restaurant.
Day 7 (Marseille, France) As it was the start of Euro 2016 and England were playing in Marseille the following night plus we had been to this port on a previous cruise, we decided to stay on board. Drew went off to take photos around the ship whilst it was relatively quiet and I enjoyed the relaxation of the One Bar and Pool area. The loungers were very good for me as they had arms which enabled me to get up without assistance and fairly gracefully for a change!
Day 8 (Genoa, Italy) Back to the start and our disembarkation. We had to vacate the suite by 8am and we were escorted off by a butler at 9.30am to our luggage. You were then shown to your car, taxi or, in our case as we were walking to the train station to pick up the airport bus, the door! So long MSC, it was a wonderful experience and one I am sure that we will be taking again.