MSC Musica In Review
For those who don't know much about this beautiful ship...this vessel was built in 2006 and has 1,268 passenger cabins which can accommodate 2,550 passengers double occupancy. You are served by approximately 990 crew members. She has 14 passenger decks for you to explore and endless activities, bars, lounges, outdoor and indoor fun, there really is something for everyone. So much excitement and adventure awaits those who cruise aboard the MSC Muscia.
I have been desperate to find the time to write this blog post. I have had a few Mamas show interest in hearing a bit more about our cruise aboard the beautiful MSC Musica and my take on the experience. A little late, I know...But here it is Mamas (and Papas).
For those of you who don't know, my whole family decided to go on this cruise to celebrate my Dads retirement and to simply have some fun bonding time as a family. My family are super close and we try go on a few holidays together each year. We love each others company and are generally really easy going and easy to please people. As long as we have each other, some drinks and a bit of food...we are normally good to go. We also all love a good cruise, we have all been on a few cruises together and separately, MSC and other. And my husband and I even worked on a small luxury cruise liner for 3 years before we were married. So we all have a bit of cruising experience. Needless to say we were all super excited to finally get back on a cruise ship together as a family.
Check in and Boarding The luggage check and the whole boarding process was fairly painless. Yes, there were queues. Yes, there were a lot of people, of course. But the queues moved fast and the staff were well organized, so the process was pretty painless for us. Towards the end of the process (the customs queues), we were pushed forward because we had the two babas, which was fabulous for us. They also pushed through families with young kids and older couples. Which I really appreciated. Our luggage was all checked in (besides our carry-on of course) and there were no issues there. Nothing was damaged and they were patiently waiting at the doors of our cabin at about 6 pm in the evening.
Once we were on-board, we didn't waste time, we immediately found the first bar we could and found a yummy cocktail in our hands. Sunshine was exploring and getting ready for her first swim in a salt water pool. And we were all well into the holiday spirit. (See my previous post on what to pack in your luggage and carry-on for a few tips and tricks for travelling on a cruise with a toddler). The restaurants were open at 11 am for lunch and we could enter our cabin at about 1 pm. Crew drill was just before we left the harbor which was around 3 pm. That first day was a crazy blur of exploring, cocktails, excited giggles, and trying to do all the things. Hee hee.
Once we were able to get into our cabin, we were so surprised and thrilled to see a camp cot set up and ready for our daughter (We were told by our travel agent that they could not guarantee this would be available for us, so we bought our own from home. But we didn't even set this up so it was a bit of wasted effort). There was a double bed for us and they had also raised the single bed from the wall in case we wanted Sunshine to sleep there (which was crazy, she would roll right off this bed and fall right onto our bed in the middle of the night, hee hee). But this bed was so convenient for us as we kept all our luggage stored here out of the way. The room was super crammed with the camp cot and we also bough our pram from home, taking up most of the spare space. The pram in hindsight was a waste of time, Sunshine would not sit still for 2 minutes and wanted to walk everywhere by herself. We would definitely not take the pram again. But besides it been a little on the cozy side, the room had all that we needed. It was clean and was well maintained throughout the cruise. To be very honest we were rarely in our cabin besides to sleep, anyway. Only for quick showers, to get changed and the occasional nap time. (Your daily towels for the pool and shower are always waiting for you in your freshly cleaned suite, as well as you daily newspaper and various post you receive throughout the cruise.)
The Activities and Fun Stuff
MSC Musica has so many activities to partake in; you will not know where to start. On the deck, you can find shuffleboard, mini golf, and even a golf practice area. There is a basketball court, which the guys made use of (but they all burnt blisters onto their feet, as they didn't wear slops and the floor was sweltering hot in the heat...tsk tsk. Leave them alone for 2 minutes, hey). There is a jogging track, which I didn't use at all, ha ha ha, and swimming pools, which I used daily. The ship has a fitness center with a fully equipped gym and group classes for aerobics and yoga, once again I can't elaborate in these as we just didn't have the desire to take any classes or even go in and visit for a bit. There was way too much eating and drinking to be done, to waste time in the gym! ;) The spa has two saunas, two Turkish baths, massage therapy, aromatherapy, and more of your favorite spa treatments. I also didn't find the time to have any treatments even though I had wanted to. (It is crazy how the days full up so fast and time literally flies away).
There is a lovely outdoor children's area which consisted of 3 separate themed, jungle gyms and a small kiddies pool. (There was also another kiddies pool right next to the big pool we loved, so we mainly chilled there). Sunshine loved this area! An indoors children's playroom and an area dedicated just for the teenagers in your group. We did not use the indoor playroom as Summer was with us at all times and we really didn't want to spend much time indoors, but it did look like a lot of fun and I saw many kiddies enjoying those facilities. My nephews visited the teen area each night but unfortunately there were not too many others teens on-board so was always a bit quiet and unexciting for them. So they mainly stayed with the crazy adults which was way more fun and embarrassing all at once.
The ship also has a solarium, a cinema, a library, an art gallery, a photo gallery and duty free shopping. There are also numerous bars and lounges and three different restaurants for you to visit. I must say we really loved the outside bar by the pool area as we could get ice-creams and drinks there all day long. We also enjoyed chilling in the lounges before dinner and before the evening shows as there was always awesome music and bands and a super chilled vibe in these areas.
Food and Drink
Lets talk food and drinks. We booked the cruise through a travel agent and subsequently booked our drinks packages and soda / ice cream package through her. But if you have not yet done this, don't!!! I mean, do buy the drinks package as it does work out cheaper, but don't get this through the travel agent. You can book this on-board for cheaper on the morning you board! I love to save a buck and this bit my bum big time, knowing that we paid extra through the agent, even though she assured us it was cheaper to buy from her rather than on-board. She fibbed guys, she fibbed! Unfortunately for you all, I am a creative mind and left all the maths to my husband, so I can't give you exact figures, all I can tell you is that you do save by getting the packages. They also have a few options that you can choose between depending on whether you drink alcohol or not. We got the all exclusive cocktail packages. One for each of us adults and a soda / ice cream package, so Sunshine could enjoy a yummy ice-cream every day. The cocktails were fab, but I eventually got sick of the sweetness and stuck mainly to Bloody Mary's and Moscow Mules. Yumm! The bar staff are super fast and efficient, so even though some days the queues seem longer than others, you normally don't have too wait for too long to get your drinks. Some of the Barmen have a much heavier hand than others, so pick your barmen wisely ;)
We ate entirely too much! I mean, we did not stop and we were never hungry for the whole cruise, because they kept feeding us constantly. Food is a very funny thing to review, as people all have such different tastes and preferences. It is so subjective. So all I can say on this, is that our whole party enjoyed the food. Some meals were better than others but we enjoyed it all. And we walked away from each meal feeling full and happy. What more could you ask for! Here were some of our favorites as a family. For breakfast, we pilled our plates with salami, croissants, fresh fruit, crumpets and waffles (I also loved the bacon but the hubster didn't). For lunch we really loved the fresh pizza (so good!), the salad bar, bread sticks and the wings (Sunshine also loved experimenting with all the different food and flavors at the buffet). The dinners were the best as it was all a la carte and you got to choose a starter, main and dessert, so fancy. Even Summer got a kiddies starter, main and dessert, which was adorable. She had the best fun trying all the food and ate her weight in jelly and ice-creams (when in Rome). (There was also tea time treats and midnight pizza which we stayed clear of, because they would have had to roll us off the ship after).
The ship travels to the Portuguese Islands where you then anchor and tenders transport passengers to the island. I was so impressed with this whole process. We were lucky enough to have lovely weather on the day, so we were able to visit the island (if weather conditions are not favorable, the tenders will not be able to take you to the island and the excursion is cancelled. Which has happened to us a few times before, not fun). The tenders and staff controlling them were fantastic. The tenders were big and very stable. Unfortunately they did not have shade cover, which as tough when we were on our way back in the baking heat. But besides that they were brilliant. Tenders can be a very rough ride and can be a little scary. And I was a bit nervous for Sunshine as she is a nervous child sometimes, (she still cried and I had to hold her tight the whole way) but the trip was really smooth and quick. And when we hit the beaches it was also a very smooth transition, no jolt or bumps. Which is not always the norm. So I was really pleased about this.
The island itself was just splendid. It was a fair walk to get to the lovely decked "resort" like area where we spend the day. And unfortunately this walk was a constant haggle with people trying to sell you something along the way... a shirt, a sorong, glasses, you name it. To be honest this didn't really bother us, as we just said no thanks and carried on walking. The guys are just trying to make a living. But I can see how some may be annoyed by this. When we reached the decked area we were in heaven. It was all sheltered and there where couches and tables to relax and soak up the view. The deck area took you to the buffet (which was fantastic... have the fish, it was so fresh and buttery. There was also pizza, salads, chicken, meat, fresh rolls and fruit. I loved this meal out in the fresh air) and it also went down onto a beautiful beach (which was private). It was clean and simply breath taking. The water was clear, with no waves and tiny fishes swimming at your feet. I could have stayed there all day!!! I loved this island, for me it was paradise. A mix between rustic beach vibes and the cruise ship luxury. They had music going all day and held various activities for the kiddies and adults alike, like treasure hunts, soccer and all different beach games. It was a huge success for us and our sunshine fell asleep on our walk back to the tender at about 1 pm (all that fresh air and fun!). The first tender arrived on the beach at 9 am and last tender left at 4 pm.
It's Show Time
The evening shows were just incredible. On the first night we were still finding our feet with our sunshine. We were unsure what to do in the evenings as she could not be out with us if we wanted her to sleep. She suffers horribly from FOMO and definitely would never sleep with all the fun we were having. So after dinner the first night we put her down in the room, it was probably about 8 pm and then we took turns on the hour to join the family. This worked really well for us, as my family do not go to bed early on trips like this, we want to do all the things. So it was great to take turns so neither my hubby or I missed out too much on the fun. So the first night we both sort of missed the show as we were tending to Sunshine together. But the next two shows we decided to watch as a family. It would be Sunshine's first experience watching live shows and staying up sooooo late. But she seemed in a happy mood despite the late hour, so we took her with us and left it to fate.
Her first show was a was a huge hit (so we did it again the next night). The first night the show was some sort of music extravaganza, which my family all enjoyed. The following night it was King Arthur and was fantastic (this was Sunshines first live show). It was a sort of music, Cirque du Soleil, acrobatic show. It was incredible. And Sunshine was engrossed the entire time! She did not take her eyes off the stage and clapped animatedly after each performance. It was so cute to see. The next night was Alice in Wonderland. Which was also incredible. I do feel some of the characters were a little bit creepy, but Sunshine loved it. Thank goodness they didn't terrify her. The final evening I missed the show, which was a dance, salsa evening on the deck. (I missed it as I was packing us up and was also a little bushed from an amazing day of adventure). The hubster and family went to this and said it was fantastic and they thoroughly enjoyed it, lots of singing and dancing for all.
After the shows each evening there was also a disco and a night of dancing, which we enjoyed most evenings, late into the night.
All in all we honestly had the most amazing cruise. The whole family loved every moment and we left without a single complaint. For us it is always all about who you are with and if you are with like-minded, fun people you are going to have the best time. I recommend you try do everything and savor every second as the time flies by so fast. I could have easily stayed on the ship for another round trip. I hope this has been helpful for some and shown a little insight into our cruise and all the fun we had. Should you have any questions please leave a comment here or drop me a mail, I will be sure to respond as soon as possible. My husband and I have already decided we will be doing this every two years, that's how much fun we had. And it really is such an easy holiday to go on with kids.
Please can I go back....like now.
MSC Musica (Click here to see more about the ship and book your cruise!)
"I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list" - Susan Sontag