I’m getting ready to go on a cruise for the first time ever and it’s all very exciting. MSC have invited me to experience one of their Mediterranean cruises with my daughter and to write about it on Mums do travel. We’re setting off once my daughter finishes her GCSE exams and we can’t wait.
We’re sailing from Venice and stopping off at a different Mediterranean port every day: Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik and then back to Venice. MSC Cruises have 12 ships. The ship we’re going on, the MSC Preziosa, was launched in 2013 and is huge – it can accommodate up to 3,502 guests and has wonderful things on board like an award-winning spa, a 4-D cinema and a pool with a retractable roof.
Our cabin has a balcony so I’m hoping that I won’t get seasick.
I’m not sure what to pack but I’m really looking forward to relaxing with my lovely girl and seeing some amazing places. As I’ve never been on a cruise before I asked some bloggers who know a thing or two about cruising for some tips.
- DO read through all the excursions before you go, earmark a few that look good, then book them. I initially thought excursions would be like outings organized by the teacher, but they were actually really cool.
- DO plan to stay one day on the ship while it’s in port. It empties out with so many people going on excursions and you get a real sense of having the place to yourself with a couple hundred of your closest friends. It’s easier to take advantage of all the facilities without all the crowds and was kinda blissful to sit in the poolside bar while daughter swam in the relatively empty pool.
- DO take in a show. The ones on the cruises I’ve been on have been AMAZING! West End quality with high production values.
- DO try the different restaurants. Even if you find a good one, resist the impulse to eat in it every meal.
- DO get up early. We were out on deck by 8am most mornings and had the outdoor basketball court, the mini golf, the ping pong tables, the mini football tables, etc all to ourselves. Where was everyone?
- Don’t pack more than one book. You won’t get to it.
- Take a hat with a string to hold it on, for upper deck activity when the wind whips up.
Thanks Jen, that’s really helpful. I’ll have to sneak the hat-with-string into my suitcase when my teen isn’t looking though as I think it may be classed as an embarrassing object.
Last year Penny Alexander and her family were chosen to go on two family cruises with Carnival Cruise Lines. Penny’s written about their experiences over at A Residence and she’s given me this advice:
- My top tip….people worry about what to wear but most family friendly ships are very relaxed about attire, although embrace formal nights if they exist, do pack something smart and make the most of an amazing opportunity to have a professional photo taken with the ones you love while you are feeling relaxed and sun kissed!
- Although the inclusive restaurant food is generally one of the main attractions, the service and food with Carnival was certainly amazing, it can be worth paying the small supplement to dine in speciality restaurants, for a small cover charge you can taste even more incredible cuisine and service.
- Get up early and see the sunrise, especially if it coincides with arriving in a new port, it is amazing to see a new port unfold in front of your eyes from the balcony or deck with a cup of coffee. Try not to miss the sail aways too, one of my favourite things was to say goodbye to a port with a cocktail.
Thank you Penny, I definitely want to get up early and watch as we sail into port.
Lucy Campbell of Family Affairs is a seasoned cruise expert and regularly writes about Disney cruises. She gave me this practical tip:
- Be concious of the small amount of storage space and that you have to carry bags up and down different floors potentially. There are lots of shops generally on board so no worries about running out of essentials.
I’ll aim for minimalist packing then!
Texan expat Selena Jones of Oh, the places we will go is a big fan of cruising and is planning to go on another one soon. Her main piece of advice to me is to dive into Cruisecritic.com. Selena says that this website has loads of helpful articles and the forums are terrific. Thank you Selena, that will help my research.
My last cruising tip is from Penny McCarthy, editor of Parents News, who says: ‘Have a great time, go to the gym daily……average weight gain 2lbs a day’. Eek…I’d better cut down on the biscuits and chocolate before we leave then!
Thank you to everyone who sent me these tips. If you’ve ever been on a cruise do you have any other advice for us? If you’ve not been on a cruise is there anything you’d like me to find out about on our trip? I’ll be writing all about it when we get back home.
Family travel lowdown
The seven-night MSC Mediterranean Cruise we’re going on costs £1059 per person including staying in a balcony cabin and return flights from London Heathrow. Thank you to MSC for arranging our cruise.