I went on this cruise with my daughter and her two little boys, aged 4 and 6. We chose it because it matched the boy’s half term dates. The ship looked enormous, I really doubted it would be ‘for me’. With the corona virus our passports were examined, page by page, to ensure we hadn’t visited a China or Asia and our temperatures taken. We also had to answer health questions. The boarding process went smoothly and we boarded.
Wow. The Atrium and Promenade, with its double stories and LED ceiling was spectacular. Constantly changing, like the roof of the Sistine Chapel one moment, a rainforest the next. Very Italian, sparkly and over the top! It is a 21st Century destination in itself. To call one of the vast amount of lifts you tell it which floor you need, it tells you the correct lift, which arrives quickly.
The pools are fantastic, the children’s facilities are brilliant. The children’s water park, the massive water slides, also great for adults, and the Himalayan Mountain Track are spectacularly good. The staff running the kids clubs are ideal and seem to work 24 hours a day!
I have in the past found MSC food underwhelming, however this was the best I have ever had on a cruise. Truly world cuisine, vegan and vegetarian cruisers are very well catered for, it is not as heavily beef based as US or UK cruise lines, but all the more interesting and healthy for that. Loved the call bell in the Market Garden Cafe for waiter service which was on each table. Very fast and efficient.
Show are singing/dancing/acrobatics and we loved them; the sets, lighting, costumes etc are amazing. It really suited the very many nationalities on board, plus it’s is repeated three times nightly and you can book seats at any one of the very many contact points round the ship and in your cabin, rather like using an iPad. The same for booking other specialist shows, the 4G cinema or speciality dining.
We had a balcony cabin and it was well equipped with huge mirrors and plentiful USB points, where you need them, like under the bed side lights. The hairdryer was also good for a change. The balcony was rather narrow, but this seems to be the case on many new ships. The chairs on it do not recline, a rare minus. The toiletries provided were lovely, but take note ladies, no conditioner or body lotion. We had an all inclusive drinks package and made good use of it for speciality coffee, ice cream and bottled juices and water as well as Prosecco and frozen cocktails, the Children’s Pina Colada was especially delicious!
The Italians know how to enjoy themselves. The Grandiosa Lounge, off the Promenade, had ball room dancing and the kids disco nightly. The Promenade had specialist shows on the LED ceiling nightly, with music. Dragons, fairies, goblins, outer space, unicorns .... amazing. The singers and bands in various lounges were all good. We ended our nights in the Bistro, uncrowded, soft sofas, subdued music and hot chocolate/coffee or a last drink from lovely staff.
Disembarkation was smooth. As we had a later flight from Genoa we didn’t leave the ship until gone one in the afternoon! Our cases were in the terminal and it’s a ten minute ride to the airport by taxi, which I highly recommend. The driver will tell you the fare, much less than MSC transfer, before you get in. Incidentally, in Genoa Airport there is an MSC Lounge where you can leave luggage or just chill out waiting for your flight. There are no refreshments in the Lounge, but comfortable sofas, chairs and magazines. We had made sure we had some soft drinks, juices, water and snacks from the boat which made for a comfortable few hours.
I am English, in my 60’s, and have had over 20 cruises with P&O, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and Celebrity. Grandiosa is a different experience, more multicultural, louder, livelier, excitable, fun. All the staff were lovely, guest services helpful, waiters friendly and efficient. The ship is immaculate, no doubt as the Corona Virus emergency was just starting to spread in Italy. I thought my grandchildren would love it, but to my amazement so did I! Go with an open mind, it’s different from US/UK lines, but isn’t that what travelling is supposed to be all about? Try it. Like me, you may just love it.
Huge sofa that turned into large bunks at night for our boys. Very comfortable bed, linen, pillows and towels. Great lighting, huge mirrors, clever and sensitive air con that knows when your door to the balcony is open! Mini bar, good hairdryer and great bathroom with large shower.
We stayed in port as the children were very tired. Interesting castle opened at the dock. Very simple to go to Rome from the nearby railway station for under €20 return. Make sure you validate your ticket in the machine before you board! Ticket also give you free metro in Rome, accessible from Station Termini. I recommend Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Colosseum and Forum, in that order. You can get off earlier at the Vatican, but it’s a lot to do in one day so I would do one or the other.
Little down at heel, with some beautiful buildings, such as old theatres, closed. Lovely Cathedral and Parliament buildings within walking distance. Get a map from the Tourist Information, just over the crossing outside the port.
We booked an electric buggy that included a sat nav for four people. It was great fun, didn’t go above 15 MPH, and had some hair raising manoeuvres in tight, steep, ancient cobbled streets! That was on the other side of Valetta Harbour. We then strolled round Valetta itself, as we had been previously.
Taxi to Metro station from ship, metro to cable car, cable car to the top of the mountain you see from he ship that has a huge fort at the summit. We then took Metro to Gaudi Park, get the entrance ticket on line before you go! You can then take Metro to Gaudi Cathedral and the top of La Rambla to walk back towards the cruise terminal. We then caught a taxi from the bottom of La Rambla to the ship as our boys were exhausted! You buy a one day metro pass for €11.20 for ten journeys. Children are free. More than one person can use the ticket, it’s the number of journeys that count. Amazing value.
Again we took a taxi into the centre, but if you walk out from the boat along the road there is a FREE shuttle into the centre of town. Marseille has had a great clean up! It’s sparkling and lovely to just stroll, either into the town or around the extensive harbour and boardwalk with great bars you can stop in to watch the world pass by.