My boyfriend and I had a week off on late October and after some thought about possible travel destinations we decided ourselves for a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. While he had already done a small cruise some years ago, for me this would be a first time experience. And I had great expectations about it!
I knew I wanted to departure from Venice and to visit the Greek islands again. So we ended up booking a 7 night’s vacation on board MSC Magnifica cruise ship, with the following itinerary: Venice, Italy – Bari, Italy – Katakolon, Greece – Mykonos, Greece – Athens, Greece – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Venice, Italy. For the return we booked a B&B in Venice for one night, so we could spend the last weekend exploring the city. What could be more romantic than that?!
We flew from Zurich to Venice on the morning of our cruise departure, just in time for the check-in proceedings, which started around 12 and included several ID controls, baggage drop-off and a photo to remember the moment.
Finally, we are ready to get on board and get to know the ship. As we do enter, the first corridor we go through is full of small stands where enthusiastic members of the tripulation try to persuade us to buy all sort of products and experiences, from land excursions to SPA packages or specialty restaurants reservations.
We decide to buy the Allegrissimo drinks package, which allow us to unlimited drinks in all the bars and in the restaurant (with exception to premium cocktails, special wines or natural juices).
A brief explanation: while all the food (with exception to the specialty restaurants) is included on the price of our cruise, drinks – besides water, some juices and American coffee on the buffet – are not. And although we were not planning to get wasted, we do enjoy a glass of wine for dinner or an occasional cocktail in the evening. So considering the prices on board, a drinks package is definitely something we would recommend, if you want to enjoy your vacation without worrying about money all the time.
We also buy an Internet package for social networks. Hey, we’re on vacation, but we’re not dead, ok?!
With all the logistics behind us, we head to the buffet to grab a bite and enjoy our first moment of relaxation. But, as it seems, everyone had the same idea and the huge area is crammed with passengers. The Sahara and L’Oasi buffet restaurants offer a great variety of food, from pasta, burgers or salads to ethnic food, including several vegetarian options. We manage to try some of it and then escape the crowd to the outdoor swimming pool area.
Having woke up very early to get our flight, and after all the excitement of embarking on a big cruise ship, we feel a bit tired. Our cabin will be ready only in a couple of hours, so we choose a sun lounger and finally get some rest.
Around 16:30, MSC Magnifica sails off from Venice Port through the Grand Canal. The views of the city and the canal are simply stunning and a great starting point for our adventure through the Mediterranean.
We booked an interior cabin with no windows, which is the cheapest option in terms of accommodation on a cruise ship. The room is small but cozy and elegant. A huge and very comfortable bed dominates the space, where there’s also a desk, a big closet, mini-bar, TV and a small bathroom with shower.
In the cabin we find our cruise cards, an all in one card that will work as our ID, payment method and cabin key during the entire cruise, and contains all the information we will need, namely our designated restaurant and table, and our drinks package.
Over our bed, there’s also the MSC Magnifica daily newspaper, with information about the ship, weather forecast, sailing route, time of arrival and departure on the next stop, activities, theme parties and dress code for each evening.
With 16 decks, 11 bars and a disco, 5 restaurants, several shops and a mini mall, theatre, casino, 4D cinema, bowling, library, SPA, gym and an outdoor and an indoor pool areas, deciding what to do next can get a bit hard.
Add to this a nonstop program of activities – from morning fitness sessions by the swimming pool, outdoor games and animation during the afternoon, to dance classes, theatre shows, and theme parties in the evening – and selection is the key word.
For our first evening on board a cruise ship, we enjoy the opening show at the Royal Theatre, followed by a pleasant dinner at our designated restaurant, Quatro Venti. Contrary to lunch, dinner is à la carte, consisting of appetizer (soup or salad), main course and dessert, with different options every day.
After dinner, we have a drink at the Tiger Bar and still manage to gather some energy for a quick visit to the disco.
Life on board
During the rest of the week, we set on a routine of our own. After a nutritious and energetic breakfast on the buffet restaurant, we are off to explore crystalline waters, sandy beaches, enchanted towns or magnificent ruins along the Mediterranean.
Back to the ship, we indulge ourselves in a swim or lying in the sun by the pool. Or even trying our luck at the Atlantic City Casino.
Then it’s time to prepare for the evening, dressing according to the fun: from glamorous gala nights to crazy sixties or cool white parties.
With live music and not so hectic as other places on board, the Le Gocce Bar is our favorite spot for pre dinner drinks. Luckily enough, we were assigned the second seating for dinner (1st seating dining time was 6 pm and 2nd seating 9 pm) and can enjoy a relaxed aperitif.
After dinner, the Tiger bar is the place to be. This is the biggest bar on the cruise ship and where all the theme parties take place, with live music, animation and even singing and dancing contests for the passengers.
Some nights we continue dancing in the T32 Disco, while on others we just want some alone time in our cabine, preparing the next day or updating friends and family with some photos on our social networks profiles.
On the day of navigation, we wake up later and, since it’s raining, spend most of the day at the MSC Aurea SPA. After spoiling myself with a massage and a facial treatment, we enjoy together the pleasures of a Jacuzzi with a sea view.
By the end of the week, we sail off to new adventures on land already planning our return to the sea.