My first time on a cruise – the MSC Preziosa Maiden Voyage
I have to be honest with you straight from the beginning. I never really thought of going on a cruise. I have been on a few river cruises but only those for a few hours in the city itself, such as the romantic candlelit cruise in Budapest back in September 2012.
But then, during TBE conference in Genoa in October 2012, we had a Balinese lady dressed up in black and yellow giving a quick neck, head and shoulder massage during the breaks between the sessions. Only then I found out the lady was from MSC cruise spa.
And then, at one of the sessions the MSC guys were speaking about their first blog trip on board with a few bloggers. At the end, they announced a contest for 3 travel bloggers who could win a cruise around the Mediterranean for 6 days on board the new MSC Preziosa, the newest out of 12 passenger cruise flagships of the MSC company.
So I sent an email with my proposal explaining why my audience would like to read about cruising. I spoke about my Adventure and Spa project I am doing in 2013.
And then, one day in December, I got a message saying I was chosen to be one of the official travel bloggers of the MSC Preziosa.
I was jumping like a baby when I realized it was true.
A real cruise has always been one of my biggest dreams.
It was my first time on board a cruise and I had no expectations. The same with Kelley, while Gary is a cruise expert after being on board a few of them in the past.
And there I was, again in Genoa where I met Gary and Kelley, and David with Lindsey from MSC social media and press reunited in the same town after just 5 months. I did miss Genoa, its port, the Aquarium, old imposant buildings on the set up on surrounding hills like a little legoland.
We were a great group of people with similar sense of humour, telling funny stories, not drinking too much, enjoying similar things. Yes, it all meant a ridiculously fabulous time together for the next 6 days.
My first day on board MSC Preziosa
As on the 24th March the Maiden Voyage of MSC Preziosa started from Genoa, the night before we all got to the ship for the fabulous Christening.
After I landed to Genoa, my lovely friend Giulia from Travel Reportage picked me up, we had lunch together in her place and she let me take a shower and change to the Gala dress for the Christening.
I still remember, and for sure the image will get stuck on my mind for long, how I got out of Giulia’s car, walked to the Stazione Maritima, checked in my luggage in the Diamond area and together with David, his assistant Salvatore and Kelley made our way to the ship.
The dimensions of the ship beat my expectations. I really could not imagine it was SO vast! 333 m long, 38 m wide and 68 m tall. And then with my first step on board, I saw men in black, the ship staff smiling at me, and then the shiny Swarovski crystal staircase that was brighter than the sun at pure midday. I am not even mentioning the 66,000 light points around the ship that brightened up my 6-day cruise then.
I know it was not right, but immediately my thoughts went to Titanic movie when I found myself impressed by the luxury design everywhere. Not that I was scared of the fact that MSC Preziosa could possibly sink during its Maiden Voyage like the Titanic did, because it did not cross my mind. Not even for a second. True story.
And then, all around me there was staff with a never-ending smile on their faces, all speaking 6 languages and willing to help us with any bizarre needs. There were also shiny golden – silver lifts with many different staircases around which make me feel like a Hollywood star.
Yes, each time I walked up or down the steps surrounded by huge mirrors, I thought of that romantic moment Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet had at that famous staircase.
But there was no one waiting for me on MSC Preziosa besides my friends. But it didn’t matter at all. It was still romantic! Because believe me or not, cruising is social and romantic and I was sure I could expect that on board a cruise.
What was hilarious was that this was not a movie. This was really happening and it was me personally standing there, stepping on thousands of Swarovski crystals.
Press conferences and interviews
David walked me and Kelley to the Safari Lounge for the press conference. The international Goddess Sophia Loren walked in and together with Ennio Morricone and Oscar Farinetti (founder of the EATALY restaurant) they replied to a few questions. I was slowly getting used to all the cameras, flash and filming for TV and newspapers at that time.
Afterwards, Kelley and I were welcomed in the Eataly restaurant by Mr. Pierfrancesco Vago, the MSC CEO himself. I was a bit scared of this meeting not knowing how to react and what to ask him as I am not really a formal person like that.
But Mr. Vago started the conversation kissing us and laughing if David chose me and Kelley because of our looks. Then Mr. Vago gave us a private little tour of the MSC Preziosa throwing out jokes and running around the best parts of the flagship. It turned out to be the best interview ever with such an important person like Mr. Vago himself showing us the steam sauna and other parts of the beautiful MSC Aurea spa, simplifying the situation with statements like ”Aw, this is great but wait, we still have something better on board.”
”How can someone in charge of over 15,000 employees and 45 offices worldwide be so energetic and still look like the happiest person in the world?” I was asking myself.
I never found out how Mr. Vago does it but if I ever had to have a ”normal” job again, I would only accept it with a boss like him. Honestly.
When touring Aurea spa, we also bumped into always smiling MSC spa supervisor Mr. Roberto Ladisi I interviewed about his job on board and the best spa treatments a few days ago.
My MSC Yacht club cabin
I was in awe even before we were taken to our cabins in the MSC Yacht club, the same luxury part of the ship where also Sophia Loren was staying with us the first night. Can you believe it? With 24 hour concierge and butler service we were treated like real stars! And the fun only started.
I got cabin number 15023 with my own bathroom, separate wardrobe, king size bed, sofa, TV, a desk and balcony. It was all decorated in imposant violet colour. And a lot of presents 🙂
The cabin was approved by me jumping on the bed and screaming with happiness. It’s kind of my ritual to do that when I enter my room and I know straight from the first second we are going to have a great relationship together.
MSC Preziosa Christening
After refreshing myself with water and fresh fruit in the cabin, taking first photos from my balcony, enjoying the views of Genoa from a different perspective, and as well really getting to understand the big dimensions of the ship (there was MSC Opera just in front of us), I was ready for the Christening party. We started with a gala aperitif when Gary finally could join us after his flight was delayed.
A little stage was set up next to the front of the ship with hundreds of chairs for all the press people. All the women got blue MSC blankets to use over the shoulders if we got cold. It was raining but the whole place was covered with a transparent roof which made it warm inside.
It was my first Christening of this kind ever and I watched the whole ceremony with both eyes and mouth wide open. The CEO of the MSC cruises, Mr. Pierfrancesco Vago we personally met already, was at the stage thanking everyone who helped to make the MSC Preziosa come true.
After him, a few more people delivered their speeches including Roberto Bolle (OMG, so handsome!), the UNICEF Ambassador who told us the most important details of Get On Board For Children – the UNICEF collaboration with MSC right now in Brasil helping out poor children and adolescents. I mean who wouldn’t like to help as much as possible to UNICEF when the hot Roberto is involved?!
Then the MSC Preziosa entertainment group showed us what we could expect on board for the next few days. The show they performed was ridiculously amazing. Not only the singers and dancers, but also the 2 young acrobats took my breathe away. And I don’t mean their abs right now (which did too!)
Famous Gino Paoli followed by Ennio Morricone – an important Italian director performed for the locals who seemed to love their music so much they rewarded them both with standing ovations.
After a few more speeches, it was a surprise time. MSC Preziosa was surrounded by MSC Opera and MSC Splendida with all three of them performing to the famous music with echoes of Spielberg’s Close Encounters- a laser light show with a huge white ball in the front of every ship where the lights went on and off.
And then an incredible white fireworks with a helicopter filming it from the sky after the still good looking Sophia Loren cut the ribbon.
It was a terrific Christening and after it we were all ready for dinner. Our first dinner was in the Golden Lobster restaurant. And it was just the beginning of eating-too-many-courses days.
And the following day it was already the MSC Preziosa Maiden Voyage first day when we took of the historic town of Genoa on our windy way to Naples.
Check out my video from our first day on the MSC Preziosa and the glittering Christening ceremony.
My first time on a cruise was a press trip organized by the MSC cruises. I will never be able to thank them enough for such an incredible experience on MSC Preziosa Maiden Voyage! All the opinions in this post are strictly my own.