Last Wednesday the MSC Preziosa was in port in Southampton and thanks to Tots100 and the lovely people at MSC Cruises I was allowed on board along with 120 other bloggers! We were there for BlogCamp, a blogging event with a difference. There were some workshops related to various aspects of blogging, and also lots of time to explore the ship and find out all about cruise holidays with MSC.
I have to admit that I have never really considered a cruise holiday before. As Natalie, the lovely MSC Cruises PR, admitted cruising is often seen as something for the older generation, and for the longer cruises in the winter this is definitely still the case. But MSC are working hard to make cruise holidays a family friendly option. I was really interested to have a look around the ship and see whether I thought a cruise would work for my family.
On first impressions the MSC Preziosa is very glamorous – when you board the ship the first thing you see is the atrium with its double staircase. Each step is filled with Swarovski crystals…and worth between 8,000 and 10,000€!
It was very impressive but didn’t immediately shout family friendly to me. Due to our limited time on board we didn’t get to see all of the ship but we did have a tour and managed to fit in some of the public areas, bars, restaurants, pools and entertainment areas.
The decor throughout the ship is definitely aiming at the luxury market and felt like it had more of an adult vibe – including smoking being allowed inside. It’s only in the casino but it was still quite surprising.
Having said that we didn’t see all the entertainment areas such as the cinema, and video game arcade so I’m sure they felt much more welcoming for children. There are several swimming pools, a kids’ splash zone and even a water slide on board which I’m sure most children would love!
There’s even a bowling alley on board!
I also think that as we were on board during term time, and there were hardly any children on the ship it was a very different experience to how it would feel during school holidays with hundreds of children on board.
All the MSC ships do offer a comprehensive kids’ club which caters for children from 3 to 17. There are dedicated kids’ club areas both inside and outside, a daily timetable of activities, kids’ club staff and entertainers and even a baby sitting service for under threes too.
The Mini Club is even available when you are in port so if you want you can leave your children on the ship while you go and explore ashore. There are also family friendly shore excursions organised should you wish to take your children with you off the the ship.
There are also kids’ dining options (including dining with the entertainment staff so you can enjoy a meal in peace) and the option for teens to have their own payment cards so they can get their own drinks/ ice creams etc on board. We ate in the buffet restaurant while were were on board – there was plenty of choice, and I believe there is also a separate kids’ corner although I didn’t see it while I was there.
Accommodation is available in a variety of cabins – including Super Family interconnecting cabins sleeping up to 6 people. The cheapest option for a family of four is an inside cabin which has a double bed (or two singles) and two bunks.
And talking of price – I always thought that a cruise holiday would be very expensive. While we were on board the MSC Preziosa I found out that cruises tend to book up a long time in advance and the best prices are usually found by booking early. With this in mind I had a look on the MSC Cruises website for a 7 night Mediterranean cruise, with 5 stops, for the first week of the summer holidays in 2019. For an inside cabin that would fit all four of us, full board, with entertainment, access to the pools and kids’ club included it would be £2029, which I was pleasantly surprised at.
Now the cruise that I looked at leaves from Barcelona so you would need to add the cost of flights to get there. It is also worth noting that drinks are not included in the price, neither are shore excursions. There are also some activities on board that cost extra too. So although £2000 isn’t a bad price at all it would be really easy for the final cost to be a lot more. Having said that – we are paying £2000 for a week in a gite in France next summer and that is only for the accommodation.
If you would rather sail from the UK then both the MSC Preziosa and the MSC Magnifica sail out of Southampton. As an example a family of four could go on a 11 night cruise calling at Le Havre in France, La Coruna and Bilbao in Spain, then Amsterdam and Hamburg, for just over £3000, at the end of the summer holidays next year. And for a school holiday break I think that’s actually a really good deal.
So, from what I saw last week, do I think cruise holidays are a family friendly option? Yes, I think they could be! I have to say at the moment, with children aged 2 and 4 I don’t think I would take them on a cruise right now. Although there is a lot to do on board, and the kids’ club looks great, I don’t think my boys would be happy to be left for long, and to be honest I want to spend time with them on holiday. However I think it would be a great holiday when they are a bit older. Perhaps when they are 7 and 9, they will be much more independent, more likely to make friends on board, more likely to enjoy all the entertainment on offer and generally would get a lot more out of it.
Have you ever taken kids on a cruise holiday? I would love to hear your experiences if you have, or if you think a cruise isn’t a family friendly holiday at all.
And lastly I’m just going to leave you with this fab picture of bloggers on a boat (I know it’s a ship not a boat but you’ve got to have some alliteration!)
**I was allowed on board the MSC Preziosa thanks to MSC Cruises and Tots100 – I was not compensated for this post in any way.
Thank you to MSC Cruises and Lisa from Travel Loving Family for additional photography.