Last Wednesday marked a milestone, and that was the first day I stepped onto a cruise ship. It was quite a day and quite a cruise ship. As I parked the car and headed over to the area where I met up with over a hundred other bloggers, I couldn't help but be wowed by the pure size and majestic-ness (yes, I know that's not a word, but it works for this magnificent ship) of the MSC Preziosa.
I've not been tempted by the cruising holiday bug, but I know many that have, including my parents (who are currently on a cruise in Canada) and I discovered more friends that enjoy cruises, and one that had cruised on this very ship when I posted a similar photo on my Facebook page. It seems they're not alone as cruising holidays are big, and the fastest growing type of holiday in the UK. MSC are taking delivery of nine more ships in the next ten years to help cope with demand, and as the Preziosa can take over 4,300 passengers that's quite some demand.
After spending the day onboard I can see why people return time after time to this kind of holiday; everything is made easy for you and nothing is too much trouble. The attention to detail and willingness to please their passengers was evident even on my relatively short time aboard. And while I don't want to take anything away from the cruise companies, or my friends and family that are hooked on cruising I actually quite like the planning, research and booking parts of holidays.
It's true I might not do it all in what some might call a timely way, but I do tend to have our hotels booked before we leave the country, which I call a win! Although I have been known to change a hotel at the very last minute, the last time was when we changed our plans and dropped Orleans from our Loire cycle trip to avoid flooding in the area, but I think that's allowed.
I get that not everyone enjoys this part of holidays and to have that done for you and the worry and hassle removed must feel like a win, and maybe if I didn't enjoy it I'd feel like that too, and maybe there'll be a time when I'm done with planning, who knows.
What I do know, and saw for myself is the high standards of decor on the MSC Preziosa. While onboard we spent a fair time on the Diamanté Deck and in particular admiring the Swarovski crystals in the staircase treads - the photo's below, and yes as you can see I dressed for the occasion!
Each tread has around €8,000 worth of crystals, and while I didn't do the maths, let's just say it's a lot. I was keen to see the decor throughout the ship, and so, have shared snippets of that in my post. There were many different spaces, each with its own feel and decor. It's fair to say the decor was on the whole bold and finished to a high quality, it wasn't necessary all to my taste but let's face it, if you're treating yourself to a cruise you want something a bit special, don't you?
The jazz bar was a space I could see myself socialising in, not only for the type of music but also for the decor and because it wasn't as large as some of the other spaces I saw. The table above and the lights below are from the same space and while they might not be things you'd obviously put together, they worked. I couldn't quite get the table in my handbag either which was a real shame, perhaps this was the real reason we were asked to minimise the size of our handbags, not security at all...
Another of the lounges featured these small and autumnal bonsai trees, which not only added some height, interest and a feeling of privacy to the seating area it was also a clever way of bringing nature indoors, and complementing the cut flower arrangements throughout the ship.
I've no doubt that your every need would be catered for onboard, and we walked past plenty of shops selling almost everything you could imagine - I'm sure this is one of the reasons these ships are often referred to as floating cities. The shopping area reminded me of the malls attached to hotels in Vegas, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a "it's almost too good to be true and designed to meet your every wish with a bit fairytale too" way - if I had a better way to describe it I would.
One of my favourite areas was the pool area. The indoor space, which was complete with a retractable roof for the days when the ship visits places slightly warmer than Southampton in October, had the most fantastic mosaic tiling. Just look at the area alongside the wooden steps - it reminds me of the mosaic iguana in Parc Guell in Barcelona, but prettier - and the arched handrails, while functional add a stylish touch.
The tiles above on the outdoor pool deck were I think my favourite design element on the whole ship, yes even more than the staircase. These had a more understated glamour and their colour and shimmer, as well as wavy shape really were something special as the sunlight bounced off them.
And along with the polished handrails (they're an absolute must on any kind of boat, aren't they?), it made for a special area. I guess, that for me at least, while the glitz and sparkles are nice - and I was pretty blown away with the staircase - it's the less obviously showy things that I find appealing and in some ways more comforting.
I've one last area to show you, which was on one of the upper decks, and the reason I'm sharing it is because I've not seen this done before. It's something I think is quite effective, and could be replicated in a domestic setting. And that's this "standard lamp" cut out lighting panel:
Isn't it great? And wouldn't it be a fun and stylish way to light a dark hall area, without adding the bulk of an actual standard lamp.
So I guess the big question is, did my day on the MSC Preziosa tempt me into a cruise. The honest answer is I'm not sure. I can definitely see the appeal of it all, but on the other hand I enjoy exploring places new to me and think that getting lost is a great opportunity to find out more about a place (as long as we're not too lost, or likely to put ourselves in danger!) For our holidays we tend to travel independently avoiding package holidays and prefer to book an apartment or a cottage over hotels, often only a few weeks or month or so ahead.
Our holidays are a way to escape a busy life and relax and often (but not always) live more simply, but with some good meals and some nice wine thrown in. I don't think I'm saying never to a cruise, but I think I'm saying probably not right now, perhaps I'll be persuaded to change my mind, but either way I am grateful for the opportunity to spend a day finding out a bit more for myself and having the opportunity to do that on such a great ship as the Preziosa.
Thanks to MSC Cruises and Tots100 for inviting me to find out more about cruise holidays, and for your hospitality, it was much appreciated.