Sunday 3rd July 2005 – 1 week Mediterranean – Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona & Marseilles
We were met by an MSC representative in arrivals. The transfer from the airport all went smoothly, and we were at the port in Genoa by 2pm. The embarkation process was extremely efficient, and we were on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving. Having said this, there were only about 30 people there – we were later told that those embarking at Naples had a much different experience; taking up to 2 hours but that was due to there being around 300 people.
The ship itself was absolutely gorgeous. It was ...
spotless and very well presented. There were always people cleaning and tidying up. We were met at the gangplank by a member of staff who showed us to the cabin. I was really impressed by the cabin – good size with a queen bed (could be 2 singles if preferred) and very modern. We had an inside cabin, so there were lots of mirrors to create a sense of space. There was bags of storage – didn’t use half of it. Also had a large TV, minibar, safe and telephone. The charges for the bar weren’t too bad either. Bathroom was small, but modern, clean and everything you need – the shower was always hot and powerful. The bed was always made in the morning, and then the bed turned down at night and the next day programme was left.Read More
With it being an Italian ship, the Brits were in the minority – probably about 50 amongst all the passengers. However, they were really good about seating us together so that there was lots of dinner conversation – I had read on an earlier review that two Brits had been put with other nationalities and no one could understand each other, but this seems to have been ironed out. Everyone was very friendly but just be aware of the cultural differences of the Europeans – i.e., they don’t seem to queue or say please and thank you very much!!! The staff aboard the ship were fantastic – they all spoke English and couldn’t do enough to help – of course, this was reflected at the end of the trip when you tip the staff via envelopes that they leave in the room.
Food was excellent. Breakfast was served in two restaurants – either the posh one downstairs \"Il Galeone\" (where you have the evening meal) or the self-service upstairs. I found both lovely with a wide choice of everything you could want. You can also have it delivered to your cabin. Lunch was in La Terraza restaurant (upstairs), with different items on offer inside the restaurant or at the outside grill – again, superb food. Afternoon tea was also offered here if you needed it!! Dinner – this was at the El Galeone restaurant downstairs and you go to your allocated table. We were lucky enough to have brilliant company. Food was amazing – 7 courses, with even more extensive menus on the two gala nights we had. One word of warning – we were (unlucky) enough to be by the captains table, and they had a habit of inviting Italian “celebrities” aboard to dine with him – this mean a influx of people crowding our table to take their photos which became annoying on the 5th night of doing so, especially as they were celebs we’d never heard of! Waiters are fantastic and ask about the wine package – you can pay 99 euros for a wine bundle for the week which works out cheaper.
To be honest, there weren’t enough hours in the day for us to take much of it in. We were at the later sitting for dinner so by the time we’d used the gym and got ready, we’d missed the show. Not too worried as not really our cup of tea anyway, but I’d heard good things. The live music was entertaining and we spent most of our time in The Manhattan Bar. We used the gym which was good, and had a massage at the health suite – although we thought this was very overpriced.
We did two excursions – one in Naples which was to climb Mt Vesuvius. Excellent trip and certainly the highlight of the week but be warned – you need comfy shoes and a good amount of puff!! The bus takes you so far but the last 250 metres you have to walk and it’s all uphill! Well worth it though. We also did the Shopping excursion in Tunis as we’d never been to North Africa and didn’t know what to expect. This was split into two parts – the first part was to visit a Souk – a Tunisian market. This was good to see but I personally felt that we spent too long there, and at one point you are taken into a room where they show you handmade rugs and carpets. All well and good, but I would have preferred to be outside rather than stuck inside. Also, they don’t tell you this in the information so if it’s something you feel you’d like to purchase, take some money or credit card with you. The second part was to a traditional Tunisian village called Sid Bou Said and this was lovely – very pretty with shops and stalls, and a look around a very grand Tunisian house. Only complaint was that there were loads of tourist coaches and it was packed. Apart from that, we did our own thing everywhere else. The Excursion Office on the ship has photocopy maps which you can take. The boat pulls right into the centre of all the ports, with the exception of Marseilles. Palermo, Sicily wasn’t nice – dirty, smelly, traffic everywhere so I would recommend an organised trip here. Palma and Barcelona, great – easy to walk to and lots of see. Marseilles – to be honest, we didn’t bother. It was the last day and we wanted to make the most of sunbathing by the pool and the fact that the ship docks 10km from the town didn’t make it attractive, but they do lay on a courtesy bus if you can be bothered.
Bit of a downside, but we left the ship at 10am and were transported back to Genoa airport, arriving about 12.30 and our flight didn’t leave until 6.50pm. We considered going into Milan, but decided that we didn’t have enough time. In the end we went to the Information Point at arrivals, and spoke to a really helpful lady. She recommended a restaurant about 7kms away, who would come and pick us up in their courtesy bus, take us there for a meal and then bring us back to the airport for 30 euros (not including lunch). So we put our luggage into left luggage, the chap picked us up in 10 minutes of the information point phoning them, and we spent the afternoon having a superb lunch in a fantastic family run restaurant in a lovely village – they then took us back to the airport about 4pm-ish. It certainly beat sitting in the airport for 6 hours like many others did. The restaurant is called La Pista – just ask at the information point in arrivals, or see their website www.lapistahotel.it.
Think that covers everything, although I’m happy to answer any questions. This was our first cruise and we loved it – the experience was made by the fantastic ship, friendly and helpful staff, great amenities and of course, wonderful food!!!
Tour Operator: MSC