So I recently went on the MSC Sinfonia for a 3 night, 4 day cruise from Durban to Cape Town. Meaning we left Cape Town, went to Durban just so we could come back to Cape Town. Sounds silly when people say it out loud but it was hella fun! Imagine endless food, entertainment around the clock, heated pools, jacuzzis, standing on a deck looking at endless stretches of water aah the life! And when you tired of it all, you can lie back on a sun bed and have a waiter bring you a virgin strawberry dauquiri. Heaven.
It wasn’t my first time on a cruise ship but it was my first time cruising with MSC.
We got an ocean view cabin. Meaning we got to watch the ocean through our cabin window. The room was beautiful, it’s amazing what they can do with that small space. A shack-sized space is enough to fit a 5* bedroom (Ok maybe 4*).
Like all cruises, they serve buffet type meals with all types of breads and croissants, eggs (boiled, scrambled, sunny side up), sausages, beans, cereals (different), fruits, yoghurt, coffee & juice. For lunch and dinner they served many different dishes and desserts. In between meals, they served snacks such as pizza slices, burgers, chips and fruits (I didn’t even know those were snacks! I have them ad main meals). You could never hunger in this land of milk and honey!
If you don’t want to mingle with the crowd, you can go to the fancy restaurants on board and pay up. Frankly the food there is a bit overpriced, but maybe that’s just me. There’s many bars selling all sorts of hard and soft drinks. You can purchase vouchers or charge the drinks against your card. Alcohol ain’t free 🙂
All you need is a credit card, that’s all. The easiest payment method is online. We paid for our trip over the phone, as in we called an MSC agent, went through the booking process (provided the agent with ID number, D.O.B, address) and gave him my credit card details and they emailed us proof of payment. DONE.
To get into the ship, there’s a few protocol to observe. 1) Drop off your check in bag airport style, so it can be scanned and stuff. They will scan your tickets at this point and tag your bags. 2) Your tickets will be scanned to verify their validity. 3) Your photo will be taken which you can get later on for a high fee. 4) Your passport will be checked to make sure it’s really you, for local cruises, an ID book works as well. 5) You enter the ship and have your photo taken for your room card. After this step you are free to roam around and do whatever you want. The ship is all yours. Your cabin usually won’t be ready by the time you get onboard so you have to wait a little while. Later in the afternoon or evening, you will find your bag outside your cabin door.
So your card serves as your room key, your ID and your credit card. You can buy whatever you want against your cruise card. Then you’ll be billed on your credit card (They have your details from the time you made the booking).
Cruise facilities and entertainment
Most of the cruise facilities are available for use by guests. These include the gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts, sun beds etc.
A program is delivered daily to your cabin with all the entertainment lined up for the next day. Other facilities such as the spa, casino and thermal suite are available at a cost.
Board games, rackets & tennis balls, soccer ball, basket ball, fools ball, table tennis bat and balls, playing cards etc are all available for free on board. Speak to reception for information on where to get them.
You can pretty much wear whatever you want. In restaurants though, you may not wear bikinis or swimsuits or walk bare footed. You need to cover up. For some shows, they may request that you dress smart casual, but you get to ditacte what that means. If shorts, a vest and gladiators are smart casual in your head, who’s to say it’s not?
So all you have to do really is have fun, and go to every corner of the ship and take pictures.
Wake up early to watch the sun rise or make sure you outside to watch the sunset over the water. It’s beautiful.
What to pack
- Swimwear for the jacuzzi and pool.
- Flip flops for the pool side and for when you really don’t want to wear shoes but don’t want to walk around bare footed either.
- Toiletries. In your bathroom, only liquid soap, shampoo, toilet paper and towels are provided so carry your own toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion, face wash etc.
- Jacket/jersey as the evenings can get a little cold
- Sunscreen if you want to sun bath
- Gym clothes if you intend to go to the gym or play sport on board.
1. Budget for extra expenses on the cruise such as drinks, photos (optional), service charge/mandatory tips (15% on everything you buy onboard), spa (optional), fancy foods (if you want some fine dining), casino, wifi. Also budget for transfer costs to and from the port.
2. Carry a change of clothes in your handbag incase your luggage is delayed but you want a change of clothes.
3. If you suffer from sea sickness like yours truly, carry your own tablets or a sea sickness patch. Tablets are also available free of charge on board, ask reception for some if you feel a bit sick.
4. Attend as many shows as you can, especially the evening ones as they are pretty good and go win some money in the casino.
So will I be doing a cruise again? Yes, definitely