My husband and I took our first ever cruise on The Preziosa's second sailing on April 19,2013. We had our extended family with us, a total of 11 of us in all.
We spent a night in Barcelona pre-cruise. What an amazing city, it was our second time visiting and we will return again and again. We spent one night at Catalonia Barcelona Plaza in Plaza Espana. We had the most lovely suite overlooking the plaza, it was amazing. We had tons of bags since we traveled for a week before the cruise, so we decided to splurge on a cab, which was around 25 Euros from the hotel .
The check in process was surprising simple, we were immediately led to our cabin and our bags arrived very promptly. Our first impression of the ship was fantastic, beautiful and elegant. We were in room 12169 and we were greatly disappointed with the strong smell of tobacco smoke from the previous passengers, who obviously smoked to their heart's content in this beautiful brand new room.
There was a great layout however, and the balcony was very spacious. We were very fond of our room attendant. She really went above and beyond, ensured our room was always perfect and refilled my ice bucket constantly, which I loved.
The weather on this sailing left a lot to be desired, and because of this, the inside spaces were always crowded. This was to be expected, I guess. We had one lovely sunny day when we arrived in Messina, Sicily so our entire group decided to stay by the pool for the day and it was an amazing day.
Our very favorite part of this cruise was the Allegrisimo "all-inclusive" drink package. What a fantastic deal, all 11 of us agreed that it was a complete bargain, it think it was around $40 per day, including bottled water, coke products, and alcohol. We ordered extravagently, Pina Colada's by the pool, bottles of wine with dinner, etc.
The service on the ship was really great. The inside bars got very crowded, especially before dinner or a show, but that's to be expected. The wait staff her may have gotten a bit overwhelmed at times, however the friendliness was unmatched. We were so impressed with all of the staff and their ability to speak so many languages. They would speak English to us then walk to the next table and speak Italian, German, etc. Great job MSC on hiring such great crew members. Our favorite was the staff in the wine bar. They were never too busy and really spent time chatting and getting to know us.
My biggest disappointment was the food on this ship. The buffet was always jam packed and the food was truly never hot, sometimes actually cold. The quality was also surprising, we expected better. As for the main restaurant, the service was great but the food was below average to average. It was never excellent or even really good. There were not many specialty restaurants, only a very formal Italian that was tiny and very exclusive and Eataly, which we never saw even one person dine at.
On a side note, and this is through no fault of MSC, it deserves a mention that Americans will be shocked at the behavior of the Italians and the Spanish people on board. Manners are completely nonexistent. Cutting into the lines at the buffet and literally trying to push you out of the way. Also when entering and exiting an elevator you almost had to fight your way in or out. Before people were allowed to exit, others were barreling their way into overly crowded elevators. This seriously took days to get used to.
Finally, my sister and I paid for a wine tasting, and we enjoyed every moment of it. The wine was delicious and we learned so much we felt it was worth every penny. Also, we say two shows and loved both of them. We did wish there was more on-board entertainment though, and because of the bad weather there were times that we were a bit bored, we even took to playing cards at the wine bar.
We did a self-guided walking tour of this city that came recommended by Rick Steves, the travel writer. We loved it. We walked through the Spaccanapoli and shopped throughout the Centro Storico. We had a lovely lunch of authentic Naples pizza which was absolutely delicious! We purchased some Limoncello, which is a must in this area! The lemons are huge and delicious. I was worried about some of the stories I had heard about the dangers of the city, the petty thefts especially. We had no problems at all. We didn't dress flashy or carry large bags and we were totally fine. This is certainly a city we would return to for a few days.