I am back on land!! Thank goodness! It has taken a little while to adjust and I feel like I have not slept for a week.
So here is a rundown of my first boat trip on the MSC Sinfonia...
I hope this helps future travellers..
On Friday (10 Feb 2012) we left home at 9 am and headed down to the boat. Thanks to The Magic bus for providing us with a shuttle that dropped us right at the check in!
We then went to get a... number for the check in, only to be told that we need tickets??? LOL. Luckily the lady gave us a number and off we went inside to get our handwritten ticket. We met some friends and had a good laugh chatting away. Time went pretty quickly and by 11 am we boarded the boat.
Luckily the lady that gave us our key cards asked if she could activate our credit card for our room account, that saved us a lot of time.
We stayed on the 10th floor and had a room with a balcony. The room was great.
When we left Durban our friends joined us to watch as we left the harbour.
We then booked our excursions as space was limited. We booked to go on the snorkeling adventure on Saturday morning at the Portugese Island.
We then went for lunch at Le terracce restaurant. Nice buffet with a good selection of food and this meal was enjoyable.
Then came the emergency drill! What a complete waste of time. When you do something, do it right! No one took this seriosly and if anything had to happen on board, this will result in chaos. The video in the room was extremely informative.
I went down for the presentation by the entertainment director explaining what is going to happen on the cruise etc etc. This was very informative. We then decided to test drive the jacuzzi.. It was loads of fun.
Our luggage only arrived at 6pm and thank goodness we had hard suitcases. It seemed like the staff are practising for a suitcase throwing competition. I saw a case fly nearly 3m and land on other suitcases. I found this unacceptable and thanks to MSC my suitcase has many more scratches on it.
We got seated with a couple and a mother and daughter for dinner. As this was the Jakaranda Cruise (we did not know at the time of booking), Afrikaans was the choice of language. My poor wife... She can now communicate in Afrikaans.
Service at dinner was sharp, drink and wine affordable ($2 a beer and $ 12 - $ 17 for a bottle of wine). Sorry to say, but the dinner was shocking. You order a number of courses. The presentation was not attractive at all. The clear soups - tasteless. The chicken starter was just bad. I do not know if anyone tastes the food before they send it out?? We went to watch a show that was pretty enjoyable and then joined our friends at the nightclub for a bit of dancing before heading to bed for an early night..
At night you get a newsletter with the daily program and events that was extremely helpfull.
We got up early and went for breakfast. This was great! We did the plated breakfast option and this can be highly recommended. Service was good and food well presented and fresh.
With our priority boarding passes in hand we went to wait for the rubberducks to transfer us to Portugese island for our snorkeling excursion. Any person that did not book and excursion had to get a number and wait to board. We managed to sit right at the front and thought we would be the first to board. Somehow a big group from Beachcomber got in front of us.
Once on board, the trip went quickly to the island. The sea was a little choppy, but he staff extremely professional. Once we reached the beach, we proceeded to the Snorkelling station and a short while later, our host, Andre took us to the Reef. It take 30 min. On the way to the reef, we saw a lot of Jellyfish, but was told that we would not be affected as this was not common at the reef. They checked to see where the current was flowing and a guy was in the water with a kayak if someone needed assistance.
What a dissapointment! No one told you that the reef was only 30 cm under the water. The current was washing you over the coral. A blue bottle stung me within the first 2 minutes and I was not the only casualty. I had to inflate my life jacket to try and stay above the coral, but this seemed to be harder than I thought. I had cuts in my hands and knees, but was not the worst affected. Blue bottles seemed to be the most painfull. The reef was amazing with many species of fish. I just felt bad as it got damaged badly with everyone was up on it.
The locals said that is was not the normal wind and created this abnormal conditions. I was also a little surprised that little first aid was available on the catamaran that took us to the reef.
Once back on the island, the fist aid officer treated our wounds and after discussing this with the next group that was about to go, they made a wise decision to cancel snorkeling for the day as it was not safe.
The braai on the beach was also cancelled, so we decided to head home for lunch on the boat. We decided to have an informal lunch on the deck with Hamburger, Hotdogs and pizza. THe Hamburgers and pizza's are great. Do not eat the Chicken sausage on the Hotdog. It is the worst I have ever tasted!
THe rest of the afternoon was spent lounging around the pool. Later in the afternoon we noticed a dark cloud approaching with speed. It seemed like it was from a movie. This dark cloud, with lighting and the cold air that came with it.
I told me wife it is time to get undercover and then the storm hit. THe boat was still anchored and tilted to the right.Rain and wind came and you just saw staff running to save some of the electrical equipment. People ran to the cabins and many people came out with life jackets on. This is when I decided to have soem fun and put my diving equipment and life jacket on and grabbed a floating device and pretended I was in Baywatch. One guy with only 1 leg sat in the start with a buket of beer and did not move!
Our room floaded a bit with the ship pitching and our sliding door having a slight leak. In the evening our show was before dinner, followed by Bingo and then dinner. Dinner was horrible once again. The steak was so tought, you could not eat it and as I eat with my eyes, some presentation skills would be needed.
We partied the night away at the nightclub.
I missed breakfast the next morning and my wife and friends went to the disembarkation prestation. Lunch we decided to try the set menu again and it was bad, but had a few good items. THe only good thing was the calamari starter and the pasta. THe meat looked like it was boiled and hard as a rock.
For dinner we decided to join our friends and spoke to management, who arranged this and had a waiter Jerry serve us. He was great! He made recommendation on what we should eat and got it all right exept for the steak again!! We had to leave our suitcases out at 2am for them to collect.
As you have to leave your cabin at 7am, we got up early and had breakfast.
Breakfast was good as always. We had to sign our bill and wait for disembarkation by colour. Luckily this was a smooth and quick process.
Now I am home and it feels a little strange being on land again.
So did we enjoy it - YES
was it good value - YES
Would we go again - MAYBE (not sure right now and this is just because of the storm and rough seas)
did anyone get sea sick - Not one person in our group. I was very surprised as my wife is normally the worst.
Would you recommend this to others - YES , but go in a group.
We would have liked to have more activities to do during the day. Everything seemed to start at 4 or 5pm.
The service and staff are amazing! They really make a big difference!
Hope this helps... This was my first MSC cruise.