MSC Preziosa Northern European Cruise 28th August – 4th September 2019
Southampton – Zeebrugge – Rotterdam – Hamburg – Le Harve – Southampton
We have previously cruised with Celebrity (Standard balcony, Concierge, Sky Suite) and with NCL (Standard balcony) – all out of Southampton. This was our first experience of MSC and, it has to be said after reading plenty of reviews, we were somewhat nervous. There seemed to be a lot of very negative reviews out there. It is therefore with great pleasure that we can report that we had a wonderful cruise!
MSC is quite different to Celebrity and NCL. We stayed in a Deluxe Yacht Club suite, which as we expected, was about the same size as a standard balcony on Celebrity/NCL. It differed in that the bed was more comfortable (memory foam mattress), there was a spacious walk-in closet and the bathroom was in marble, with a bath. The minibar is also included, and is regularly restocked. As is standard for these staterooms we were greeted by a bowl of fresh fruit and a chilled bottle of sparkling wine on embarkation day.
Embarkation in Southampton was a dream. We deposited our cases with the Yacht Club host, parked the car, and then a butler led us past the queues to security. Once through there, another butler led us to a dedicated Yacht Club area in the terminal where we were offered refreshments whilst they took our passports and tickets and came back with our cruise cards. A group of eight of us were taken on board together (we would become firm friends during the cruise) by the butler and taken to the Yacht Club. There we were given more refreshments and an introduction to the YC by the concierge. We were then shown to our stateroom, and the butler unpacked our suitcases for us. Although our tickets said board at 5.15pm, we pitched up at noon, and were settled on board in less than half an hour.
The Yacht Club is delightful – the Top Sail Lounge has plenty of comfortable seating, live music, snacks available throughout the day and butlers on hand providing excellent bar service. On the One Pool Deck, there is again more than ample seating, a hot buffet and, again, attentive butlers. The drinks package included is generous and gave us more than enough choice. Before going we had been disconcerted to see that it doesn't include gelato and milkshakes. On board, we found some gelato available on the One Pool Deck and we didn’t want milkshakes (but we suspect they would make you one if you asked – they were happy to go “off menu”). All of the staff in the Yacht Club are SUPERB – we really could not thank them enough – they were always on hand when needed to help, with a smile.
We had seen a lot of negative reviews about the food on board. With the exception of one visit to the Inca Buffet, we ate entirely in the Yacht Club. We are not fussy eaters but we are fussy about standards. The standard of the food was, generally, high. Hot food (including hot food at the buffet in the One Pool Deck) was hot and, in the restaurant, was served on hot plates. We always found at least one thing (usually at least two) for each course that we fancied. Portions are indeed a little small but that worked well for us, because rather than choose between two things that appealed to us we just ordered them both! Staff were happy to oblige. The risottos and the beef Rossini were particularly good. Only one dish wasn’t – the oxtail consommé was so devoid of flavour I wondered if it had been made with the water used to clean the ladles. We were not impressed by the food in the Inca buffet, but with the fare in the Yacht Club so good, we had no need to return to it. Room service is free 24 hours/day in Yacht club – my other half said that the pizzas were good!
We intended to have a leisurely and relaxed cruise, so we spent all of our time on board and did not get off in ports. It was just so relaxing we didn’t want to move. We did explore the rest of the ship. Everywhere it was clean and well appointed – and the décor is plush and luxurious throughout. We even had a successful flutter in the casino.
Some people fret about announcements in multiple languages. We enjoyed the diverse passenger mix and did not find such multilingual announcements intrusive. We had no problem meeting lots of English speakers, and (as with every cruise we have done) the people we met made our holiday.
Yacht club grants access to the thermal area of the Aurea spa and my other half enjoyed that as well (I stayed up on deck with my book.) Shows are not our thing, so we didn’t go to them and cannot comment.
Disembarkation was as easy as embarkation. Having been so nervous about this cruise because of the reviews we had seen, I hope it speaks volumes that we really did not want to leave. We had a wonderful cruise. We would certainly cruise with MSC in their Yacht Club again. Yacht Club is at least as good (and, I think in many ways it was better) than Concierge Class on Celebrity and we commend them to you. We thought it was fantastic value for money.
The same size as a standard balcony on Celebrity millenium class ships, but with the benefits of a suite. Could not fault it! Very comfortable.