As much as I love the ocean, I’m also extremely scared of it. From drowning to sharks and a general sense of uncertainty that always surrounds a body of water, the thought of spending a week on a boat isn’t my idea of a vacation.
But the moment I started chatting to friends and family who have already cruised, I was quickly convinced that a cruise would be the best vacation ever. Turns out they were correct! Here’s what to expect on an MSC Cruise… the good, the great, the nasty plus a few travel tips to help you better understand what to expect.
1. Long queues
With 17 ships in their fleet, MSC is not new to the cruising game. We cruised on the Sinfonia which accommodates 2,163 people while their largest ship accommodates 5,479 guests. That’s a lot of people! From young to old and everyone in between, each person needs to ‘check-in’ and go through passport control. This step involves handing in cruise documents, having your passport stamped and then boarding the ship. This took about 2 hours in total but don’t let this get in your way of enjoying the boarding the experience.
Travel tip: don’t rush to the harbour thinking you’ll be one of the first people to hop aboard. There are thousands of travellers with the exact same idea. MCS does offer priority boarding for a small fee and this is a great way to skip the queue if you want. Otherwise get ready to stand and chat for a while!
2. Don’t miss the emergency drill
Every cruise has a drill to inform passengers of procedures in the unlikely case of an emergency. With the excitement of the cruise, the high of being on a ship that large and other people’s excitement, it’s easy to get lost in every that’s happening around you. It’s just as easy to say, ‘I’ll skip that!’. Don’t. Everyone is scanned and if you don’t participate you’ll receive a fine.
Travel tip: it’s 10 mins of a 5-day trip – you have the time and the money you spend on the fine could be spent somewhere else.
3. The seasickness
This is something I don’t wish on anyone. I usually have pretty good luck when travelling and thought I wouldn’t get sick – massive mistake. Seasickness hit me the 1st night of the cruise and I thought I was dying. Your best bet is to pick up seasickness/motion sickness medication a few days before you’re set to leave and follow the instructions.
Travel tip: you can pick up seasickness medication for free at the reception area of your cruise ship. Simply ask nicely and make a stop twice a day to pick up more in case you get sick later on the trip.
4. Endless activities
One thing I wasn’t expecting was for everything on the cruise to work like a smooth machine. I’m sure there was drama and mishappens behind closed doors, but as far as the passenger experience went, it was flawless!
Every night each guest receives an itinerary for the next day with various activities happening on and off the ship. Our cruise had 2 island stops and activities were planned for those leaving the ship and for those staying aboard.
Travel tip: read through the document the night before so you know what to plan for the next day, there’s nothing worse than wanting to do something and then totally missing it because you were sleeping in.
5. An endless supply of food
3 decks. 5 restaurants. 6 lounges. Opening hours 6am-2am and all dedicated to food, snacks and drinks.
Whether you’re craving a burger and fries at 11am or chocolate cake at 10pm, you can eat all day. Literally. When you speak to anyone who has cruised before, the one thing everyone talks about is the food, but it’s not until you’ve been on a cruise that you truly realise what they mean.
One dining room could easily sit 100 people and there are options upon options of choices for you to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for a buffet, a sit-down, seafood or Italian – whatever you’re craving will be available.
Travel tip: pace yourself! There’s enough food and enough time to enjoy it all.
6. A different currency
One of the first things that threw me off was the currency used onboard – US Dollar. I didn’t check the exchange rate before the time and was blindly shopping.
Travel tip: if you’re on a budget, check the exchange rate beforehand or ask the staff and they’ll be able to give you an answer.
Last but definitely not least: enjoy the experience. Going on a cruise is such a unique travel experience that your #1 priority should be to have a good time. Don’t sweat the small things like missing a dinner seating, simply head over to the buffet. Missed the first boat going to shore? No worries, there are boats heading out every few minutes. Didn’t pack your sea sickness pills? Simply get some at reception.
Travel tip: MSC cruise staff are so amazing that no matter the issue, there’s a great chance they’ll be able to help.
Was I afraid? Hell yes! Will I do it again? You bet! So pack your sunblock and favourite swimwear, then don’t overthink it – just cruise with it and you’ll have the time of your life!