Are you Ready for the Seaside?
TEXT SIZE A + A -

msc cruises seaside main image

The MSC Seaside will make her much anticipated debut next month and promises to change the rule book of ship design.

Some of the main features include:

  • 11 dining venues
  • 19 bars and lounges
  • 1,315 balcony cabins
  • 6 pools
  • 4 water slides
  • 934 seat indoor theatre

She will sail all year round from her home port of Miami with her inaugural voyage departing on 23rd of December 2017.

Take a look at more of her main features in the infographic below (click the image for a larger version)

msc cruises seaside infographic small version

WATCH THE MSC SEASIDE VIDEO

MSC Seaside Video Image

Images and video courtesy of MSC Cruises

For more information on this ship including dates and prices please get in touch here.

European River Cruises for the Family
TEXT SIZE A + A -

Family River Cruises

River cruising in the past has been primarily associated as a holiday strictly for adults, namely couples. This notion has recently begun to change with the arrival of family friendly river cruises.

Several companies are now offering cruises that finally give the whole family a good reason to try a river cruise.

The general manager of Australasia Cruise Lines International Association, Brett Jardine stated recently, “As the number of river-cruise ships and itineraries grows, it’s only natural that some cruise lines may seek to broaden their offering. Attracting more family groups would be one way of doing this.”

WHEN TO GO

One of the many reasons as to why river cruising has gained popularity amongst families is due to the time period. Most river cruises take place during the summer; which is the perfect time for a family holiday, as the children are off from school.

In addition, winter river cruises in Europe are popular because the whole family will get the chance to visit an authentic Christmas market.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?

River cruise holidays have several advantages over those taken at sea. They allow a more in depth look at smaller towns and villages. In port, besides sightseeing, there are many activities that can be tailored to please every member of the family.

Many intriguing activities for people of all ages can be found; some of these activities consist of medieval games, dinners at unique castles such as Heidelberg Castle, Strasbourg and Koln Cathedral, chocolate tastings, and cooking classes. In addition, private tours can be booked to allow a complete customisation of the holiday to fit your family’s preferences.

Typical options for the active, thrilling adventure type include zip lining above the Black Forest, to more thought provoking pursuits such as attending a concert at Schönbrunn Palace.

RIVER CRUISE LINES THAT CATER FOR FAMILIES

Popular destinations for family river cruising include the Danube, the Rhine and Rhone as well as the Seine. Out of the various river cruise lines, the lines that are presently appropriate for families to consider are:

AmaWaterways

Designed with families in mind and accepting children as young as four, the AmaWaterways AmaViola and AmaStella offer triple and quad cabins, a rarity in the river cruise market. Plus there are a limited number of interconnecting cabins.

Cabins contain two balconies with one that you can sit in and the other a traditional French balcony. These ships offer a heated pool, complimentary Internet, entertainment on demand and an onboard fitness centre and spa. Certain sailings also offer a childrens menu to please the little one’s fussy palate!

Prague to Budapest and everything in between are the highlighted destinations of the AmaViola, whilst the AmaStella concentrates on the Danube and Christmas Market cruises.

CroisiEurope

With no age limit, CroisiEurope operates 50 vessels with some capable of accommodating more than two to a cabin. With a decidedly French flavour, the line warmly welcomes children on board and provides child friendly menus during their summer family cruises.

On the sailings that are designated for families, children up to 16 years travel free or for a greatly reduced fare when travelling with a parent, even with an adjourning cabin.

This French river cruise line offers several destinations that cannot be found with other river cruise companies. Consider sailing between Berlin and the centre of Prague on the Elbe or on the French canals past Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, or on Spain and Portugal’s Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers.

Tauck River Cruises

Offering selective all inclusive holidays that allows children as young as three to travel, the line has been offering family river cruises for many years. Some of Tauck’s cabins can accommodate up to four passengers. Besides traditional dining, there’s a casual dining venue that younger people appreciate as an alternative.

Castles on the Rhine will enable your family to get up close to real life fairytale land with stops in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Other popular choices include their latest addition which is an immersive family trip along the River Rhône or venturing to Hungary through Slovakia and Austria to Germany along the Danube.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

As Winner of Travel + Leisure’s “#1 River Cruise Line for Families” Uniworld has an excellent reputation because of its attentive staff, excellent dining, plush decor and comprehensive guided tours. Currently the cabins serve two people but can be adjoined to accommodate up to four.

The minimum age accepted for sailings is four years and the line is gearing towards more interactive activities onboard its vessels with their youth counsellors. Examples include taste testing with the Soda Sommelier and arts and craft workshops. Child friendly tours can also be arranged.

Adults can venture ashore for their own tours without the entire family and can be assured that the kids are left in good hands with the ‘Family Hosts’.

Uniworld has an extensive number of summer family sailings on the Rhine, Danube, Seine and Po Rivers.

CONSIDERING A RIVER CRUISE FOR 2018?

Many sailings for 2017 are already filled to capacity and that includes those for the Christmas Markets. Now is the time to take a look at what is available towards the summer of 2018.

The most important factor in choosing a river cruise isn’t just the cruise line itself but the destinations and available tours that will be of the most interest to the entire family. As the trend towards family cruising on the rivers of Europe increases, more lines and vessels will change their demographics of passengers to include families.

In comparison to ocean cruising, river cruising is always more about the destination than the onboard activities. Whether it’s a leisurely bike ride along the Danube or connecting to Venice on the Po River or even escalating up one of the oldest Ferris Wheels, the Weiner Reisenrad in Vienna, choose the holiday that will be the ideal fit for your entire family.

Written by

Introducing the MSC Meraviglia
TEXT SIZE A + A -

MSC Meraviglia exterior shot

The Meraviglia’s Italian name translates to ‘wonder’; which is pretty accurate considering her glamour and incredible innovations. After her maiden voyage, the reviews were full of positives.

She contains many firsts for MSC Cruises and two sister-ships are also on order.

STATEROOMS

MSC Meraviglia has 14 decks and 22 different room categories ranging from basic inside cabins to Wellness Deluxe Suites. The hues chosen for the traditional cabins are elegant and tranquil and utilise earth tones with a mix of cocoa and several shades of charcoal. Upgrading to Yacht Club cabins as seen below is an entirely different experience with huge rooms and breathtaking colour schemes.

MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club Wellness Deluxe Suite

MSC have introduced a new concept onboard the Meraviglia known as “Super Family Cabins” which consist of two Balcony cabins connected for families and groups of up to 10 passengers.

A new type of stateroom is also available and bound to be a hit with solo travellers. The interior inside cabins are designed tastefully and singles won’t be required to pay double the fare.

MSC Meraviglia Interior Studio

Standard inside cabins are bigger than the industry norm with plenty of storage space too. The square footage increases with the category chosen.

DINING

Foodies of all types will be very pleased at the fantastic array of dining options available. There are 12 free or for a-fee-specialty venues to dine in.

Inclusive dining can be obtained at the traditional fixed time “classic” restaurants Waves, L’Olive Doree & L’Olivo D’Oro and also Panorama. The latter offers four or five course meals with views that are spectacular.

Of course, there is the Marketplace Buffet which is bound to be popular with those wanting a bite to eat at odd times, as it is open 20 hours a day. Besides pizza, pasta and salads, there’s a good choice of traditional and ethnic cuisine options. Whether you choose something from the “fruit and vegetable market” or another station, the open kitchens are in full view to all.

Fee dining is well worth considering too. Prepared on the spot sushi and teppanyaki featuring some of Asia’s best sashimi and tempura can be experienced at Kaito Teppanyaki.

MSC Meraviglia Kaito Teppanyaki

The All American Butchers Cut steakhouse features big cuts of thick and prime beef served to your personal taste.

The Eataly Ristorante Italiano serves authentic Northern and Southern Italian cuisine. The restaurant also has an option to indulge in the ‘chef’s table’.

HIGHLIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

The MSC Meraviglia is so full of activities that you may be tempted to not even leave this state-of-the-art ship when she calls at port!

The first thing that you will notice whilst strolling along the Galleria is the “atmospheric digital sky” created by a 5,200 square foot screen. This massive LED dome is filled with every colour of the spectrum and depicts abstract designs dotting the ceiling one minute and then changes to stained glass mosaics the next.

Even pre-meals onboard are something unique with a new concept called “pre-dinner parades”. These are short entertainment performances and take place mostly on the bridge over the Promenade. There are dancers, singers and performers of all kinds dressed in elaborate costumes. This parade serves as a sampler of the entertainment on the rest of the ship.

Kids and adults alike will enjoy the Aqua Park, which contains four heart stopping water slides and a splash pool. Thrill seekers can try out the Himalayan Bridge, a zip line located near three other pools.

MSC Meraviglia Aquapark

The Carousel Lounge contains all the latest in technology and is surrounded by a 180 degree circular glass wall. MSC has now laid claim to be the only line to feature the world famous Cirque de Soleil in the Carousel Lounge. Their incredible acrobatics can be enjoyed 6 nights of the week. There are two options to enjoy Cirque de Soleil; as a dinner theatre or just the performance.

Another first for the cruise line is “MSC for Me”, which serves as an interactive concierge. This digital service will allow passengers to book activities and meals with their family and friends and allow them to see each deck.

Other activities include a miniature carnival complete with a merry-go-round, a bowling alley that’s perfect for a casual night and an inordinate sports arena. The sports arena has areas suitable for basketball, football and volleyball.

There are activities for technology fans as well. Technological related fun consists of two F1 Racing Simulators, a 5D cinema, a Flight Simulator and arcade games ranging from the retro to the truly innovative.

MORE ACTIVITIES FOR THE LITTLE ONES

Children will never be bored on the ship as there are many activities especially for them. The children’s club, Doremi Lab consists of rooms separated by age group as well as an interactive room for the family. There is also a “laboratory” where children can work with 3D printers and laptops and conduct “experiments”. Doremi Lab is sponsored by LEGO, making it more appealing to kids that are fans of the brand.

MSC Meraviglia Doremi Lab

Other family activities include a family disco and a farewell party at the end of the trip. There is also a teen’s club which is directly adjacent to the kids club and is filled with the latest video games, sports competitions and dancing with the lounge being one giant floor.

THE ITINERARIES

Presently, the MSC Meraviglia is offering 7 Night Mediterranean Cruises visiting Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina and Valletta. Any of the Mediterranean cruises can be embarked in what would be of convenience to the passenger with a choice of Genoa, Messina or Barcelona.

The itinerary changes in November of 2017 and adds Civitavecchia (Rome) and Palermo to the offering. This will be consistent up to April 2018 when the ship will head north. The sailing of the 18th of April 2018 departs from Genoa towards Hamburg on an 11 night trip with stops at Marseille, Barcelona, Cadiz (Seville), Lisbon, Vigo, Southampton, Le Havre and Hamburg.

This voyage can be extended for an additional 11 nights with added ports including Invergordon, Kirkwall, Greenock, Dublin, and Cork. For the summer of 2018, the MSC Meraviglia will be based in Northern Europe offering a variety of itineraries consisting of 10, 11 and 21-night sailings before returning to the Mediterranean in October.

Images courtesy of MSC Cruises

Written by