Is a cruise a family friendly holiday? // On board the MSC Preziosa

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.

The MSC Preziosa in Southampton

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.

The atrium on the MSC Preziosa

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€!

Sparkly stairs on the ship

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.

Fancy lights

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.

The on board casino where smoking is allowed

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!

Outdoor pool on the MSC Preziosa

Pool with retractable roof

Kids' outdoor splash zone

Water slide on the MSC Preziosa

There’s even a bowling alley on board!

Bowling alley in the sports bar

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.

The indoor kids' club area

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.

Kids' club outdoor area

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.

Buffet lunch on board the MSC Preziosa

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.

Inside cabin

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.

The MSC Preziosa at sea

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!)

Bloggers on a boat

**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.

This is the eighth post in my #Blogtober series – you can read the rest of the posts here.

12 thoughts on “Is a cruise a family friendly holiday? // On board the MSC Preziosa

  1. Great post! So pleased you enjoyed your day onboard. As a regular cruiser I was looking forward to hearing how first-time visitors enjoyed Preziosa. I myself started cruising with my parents as a toddler though my first memories of it is maybe from 4-5years onwards. I think they are awesome holidays – hence I’ve continued the habit with my own partner.

    Where we ate on the day, the Golden Lobster, is the main dining room but the buffet restaurant on a higher deck does indeed have a separate kids’ section. It’s got a fab pizza station too – as expected of an Italian ship. We skipped the session after lunch and spent more time photographing the ship including the spa/gym/treatment rooms which we didn’t see on our ship tour.

    I definitely agree with the fact that cruises can be excellent value as it essentially is a full-board holiday with all the entertainment and kids clubs included. The drinks package on MSC for an adult (house wines, some beers and cocktails) started from about 20 euros per day which is great value too as the American ships normally charge around 50-70USD.

  2. I have never considered a family cruise before either but it seems to be come more and more popular and I have now actually thought about it. I have been eyeing the Disney Cruise a lot. #blogtober

  3. I’ve never cruised, although I do like the idea of being able to see so many places on one holiday. I know I’d nver get the OH on one though. And if I go on holiday I want to spend time with N so kids club isn’t really an option. I can see going cruising with a friend though #sharingthebloglove

  4. It looks amazing Sarah, I’m sad that I couldn’t go in the end. My parents love to go on cruises, but its something that I’ve never considered for us as a family, this has tempted me! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  5. It looks like a spectacular ship, so glamourous with that staircase and all the decor! And the pool and kids pool look wonderful. I’d never considered a cruise for a family holiday, but it looks like it’s a great option – although I’m like you, and feel my kids are just a bit young to be left at kids clubs just yet. But once they’re older I can see it being a great option. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  6. Gosh what an amazing ship, love the staircase and the pools look soo inviting. A few of my friends have been on family cruises and have loved it, maybe I should give it a try #sharingthebloglove

  7. From reading everyones posts, it seems like it was an amazing day and Its made me consider a cruise as a family holiday. I went on one when i was 13 but it wasnt kid friendly so I suppose I had a bad experience to put me off the idea! #sharingthebloglove

  8. I heard a lot about BlogCamp and the ship does look great, but like you say maybe more luxury than child friendly in places. Though the pools and kids clubs look fab! My husband is keen to go on a cruise but I’m not quite sold… maybe when they are older and can do the excursions and get more out of going to different places. #SharingtheBlogLove

  9. Thanks so much for such a great write-up. I’m a cruise novice but having been on a couple of ships I think the range of activities, food and sports for kids is amazing. Maybe one day!

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