This was our 3rd MSC Cruise so we were pretty sure of what to expect i.e announcements in 5 different languages and some over keenness to jump queues etc from some of the guests, so that wasn't a problem! MSc is not for everyone but for the price and ports it is very good value and suits us just fine. The Preziosa is bright, vibrant and lively and certainly not bland!
Embarkation at Venice was not good. It took us 2.5 hours of queuing and waiting to get on, primarily because the ship arrived late and a lot of people arrived to get on early and the port just can't cope with that number of people. Disembarkation was the same and we didn't get to leave the port until around 11am.
However, the ship was very nice and stylish without being over garish or too glitzy (is that possible?!) We loved it! There was a good mix of entertainment in different lounges with a trio of ladies playing violin and piano in the main open area giving it a classical, upmarket feel. Evening shows were good but don't expect West End standard!
Dining rooms were nice and service good. Food was ok to good but not outstanding. The Inca buffet was heaving a lot of the time but had a good range of food with something to suit most tastes. We bought a couple of Doremi packages on board for the kids that cost 30 Euros + 15% service which got you a booklet for 10 milkshakes, ice-cream milkshakes, soft drinks, juices or non-alcoholic cocktails. This worked out well and the ice cream shakes and cocktails were very good! This package was only advertised on the main pool deck where they were selling slushies and crepes.
We were very pleased with our cabin which was pretty big for an inside one - 10046. For a family of 4 with mobile phones to charge, there were 3 electrical points, which was great!
Our ports of call were good too although myself and my daughter didn't get off at Bari as we had been before and just wanted to relax on the ship. My husband and son walked the short distance to the old town though and enjoyed a walk around.
We had been before to Olympia from Katakolon so this time took the free bus to the shops nearby although it is a very short, walkable distance. The shops are great for browsing and buying local gifts. A road runs parallel along the sea front with lots of pavement cafes to soak up the sun and atmosphere..and use the Wifi !
We loved Izmir. There is a HoHo bus but the queue was enormous so we went with 1 of the many taxi drivers vying for our business! It seems to be a pretty standard tour. We didn't want to go to Ephesus as the kids had seen plenty of ruins last time and it was a long way out so for 60 Euros our driver took us to Agora then a castle at the top with great views. We then went to a mosque. This provided head scarves for women. Our highlight was the bazaar. he took us round and of course guided us to shops he knew at first. Both he and the shop keepers were fine when we made it clear we did not want to buy anything. We then sat in the middle to try out a kebab place. It was wonderful, all the sights, sounds and smells of such an interesting place!
Istanbul was equally thrilling. They are rebuilding the port building so there is absolutely nothing there for tourists..no signs, no info, nothing! However we had read up about it and decided to exit the port and walk right until we found the first tram stop. This was probably 500m and finding the machine to buy a token wasn't obvious either, but it is there, just ask if you can't find it. It cost 3TL each per journey. We went to the furthest point we needed (Beyazit) to go straight to the Grand Bazaar. Wow, wow, wow! It was wonderful but with lots of exits so make sure you remember which one you went in by. Again, lots of sights, sounds and smells. We ere not overly hassled but just enjoyed the atmosphere!.
We hopped back on the tram to Sultanhamet for the Blue Mosque which was good. Outside is beautifully landscaped with lots of flowers. We looked at Hagia Sophia from the outside only. We then walked up to Topkapi Palace but again only admiring it from outside. Not easy to find but the Basilica Cistern was well worth the visit. Interesting and cool down 50 steps below ground. They also had a very touristy offer of photos in traditional outfits, a bit tacky but it had to be done! We ended up buying 2 photos at 5 Euros each but you could buy a whole CD of pics for 30 Euros.
We walked back from there to the ship but it was a long and a bit stressful walk as we were cutting it a bit fine to get back to the ship and building work meant you couldn't always go a direct route. A tram or taxi would have been better. However walking across the bridge was wonderful with the hustle and bustle of the city on 1 side and lots of fishermen on the bridge and loads of different types and boats crossing the water. Fantastic! Apparently there had been dolphins next to the ship as we left but we sadly we didn't know until later.
There was a large queue for taxis at Dubrovnik which meant we had to start walking towards town and catch one on the way. We didn't walk the city wall this time just chose to meander round the quaint streets and alleyways and little harbour. A beautiful place to visit.
There were a lot of positives about this cruise and I would say the only negatives for us were the embarkation and disembarkation at Venice and the rather large amount of smoking places on the ship plus a charge for the adult sun deck! I can't remember how much it was but you could pay for a half or full day. We didn't bother. We did however all try the great waterslide !