This was our second 'relocation' cruise (the transfer of ships from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere for the summer and then vice versa in March / April); this time from Genoa to Cape Town and many exotic places in between. Last year we travelled on MSC Opera from Venice to Buenos Aires and had a similar experience. We both agreed that this year's cruise was even slightly better, in that MSC seemed to take on board our recommendations from the earlier cruise and implemented them. For example, the laundry package could now be renewed. This is essential on a 19- night cruise. Additionally, there were improved hygiene precautions at the water dispenser, lower sound levels in the theatre shows, and several other minor, but important changes, put into effect by MSC.
As with all MSC ships, their hallmark is impeccable cleanliness and Sinfonia is no exception.
Embarkation was painless in Genoa with modern facilities, a queue for on-line check in and another for non-online check in. Both moved quickly. We were able to book excursions and, for those who wanted to, buy drink packages before going onboard.
Accommodation: We chose a balcony suite. We only choose balcony cabins on ships so that we can have fresh air and not have to sit up on the main decks all the time. The only balcony cabins on Sinfonia are balcony suites, which are more like junior suites and only cost a little more than outside cabins, so are well worth it. They are spacious with a bath in a reasonable size bathroom. There was more than enough storage space with the large bags under the bed, together with lounge area and an extra foldout bed if needed. On deck ten amidships.
Meals: There are two a'la carte dining rooms, and passengers are allocated to one of these for dinner. All other meals are a free choice of time and place. There is a very good buffet restaurant, which we found ideal for lunch. Breakfast in the main dining room was pure luxury with waiters hovering around to provide everything you want. Dinner is a gourmet's delight every evening with many theme evenings from different countries. The meals are Italian- style in that there are many courses. The meals are well designed to provide a vast array of nutritional options. We felt so healthy when the cruise finished and did not put on any weight; a light lunch and regular workouts in the very well equipped gym helped this. It would be easy to put on weight as there is no limit to the food and it is all fantastic. There are other non-stop eating options of pizza and another grill bar that serves burgers, grilled meats etc.
Lounges and Amenities: These are all first class; beautiful Italian decor with a mixture of art deco to modern chic. The theatre is designed to be part nightclub part theatre so drinks are served before shows and chairs can be turned around to form group sitting. We had mixed feelings about this arrangement. The pools, sporting and gym areas were excellent with a golf simulator, putting greens, and a mini soccer/basketball court at the top of the ship. There are many bars and lounges to suit all tastes and they were used for many activities on a daily bases. There was everything from games to Italian lessons. There were lectures in the theatre and plenty of information in a choice of six languages. The shows at night ranged from West End style cabaret to classical music evenings and the performances were unbelievably professional. It was hard to imagine that we were on a ship at sea. The Animation team were excellent. They work very long hours and provided tireless and cheerful entertainment and activities all day and late into the night.
The Passengers: As usual, on a European ship, there was a variety of nationalities and this is the most attractive part of MSC cruises as far as we are concerned. It was great to practice other languages with different people and was a good way of making new friends. On this cruise, most people were South African so English was the most common language.
The staff and crew: We enjoyed the company of very hard working, friendly, professional people from a variety of backgrounds. The waiters and housekeeping staff were excellent and loved our attempts to talk to them in Indonesian, French, Spanish, and other languages. If you want to brighten up their day learn some greetings and how to say thank you; they appreciate it and you will be rewarded.
Excursions: The Excursions offered were very good and catered for a variety of tastes and time lengths. The Tour staff were very friendly and professional. It is worth going on excursions arranged by any ship as you are guaranteed that the ship will wait for you if something goes wrong and a tour staff member accompanies each tour. The tour guides in each port are locals, friendly and very well informed. The transportation is always the best available. We make it a practice to go on the most comprehensive tour, as many of the places visited are not easy or cheap to return to by plane for an extended holiday.
The overall experience of MSC Sinfonia is unforgettable
Relocation cruises are offered as two for the price of one or equivalent. There is nothing compromised. The food service and standard of accommodation etc. is all first class.