Before I booked a cruise with MSC, I chatted to a few friends who had sailed before and who couldn’t stop heaping praise on the experience. However, when I pushed for details, it started to sound a lot like, “what happens on the cruise, stays on the cruise”. As a result, I wasn’t sure whether it would work for me. Would I love it?
I’ve never been a party girl. I’m not one to drink so much that I can’t remember what happened the night before. Even though I would quite happily curl up with a good book and some tea, I do love to travel. I love visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. From what I heard, I started to wonder if this cruise would be something I loved.
For those of you who have similar questions, I have good news. There is something for everyone on the cruise. You don’t have to drink until you pass out to have a good time.
There is no pressure to do anything more than laze by the pool and relax. If you don’t like lying by the pool, there are more than enough public areas to choose from in and around the boat to get some peace and quiet, but still enjoy the views.
If you’re missing the books you left behind at home, you can visit the MSC Sinfonia library (it’s not a room, it’s a cabinet full of books). It may only be open a few hours a day, but it’s better than nothing. And there is quite a good selection.
Of course, cruising with children is very different to cruising without children. We managed to take them to the 7pm show every night (except for that one time we tried the 9pm show) but after that, they needed to go to bed. If you cruise without kids, you can join the dance lesson after the 9pm show. Or dance the night away at the club. And then sleep until you can’t any more the next morning. When you cruise with kids, that it highly unlikely to happen.
MSC Sinfonia Cruise: In a Nutshell
The kiddies program is awesome, but it has the kids indoors, most of the time. Our kids would rather be in the pool than anywhere else, so that’s where we were. They can colour in, draw, play with Lego or watch movies/play PlayStation. But they could also do that at home. The kids could even have their meals with the kids club, but we prefer to eat with them, so that they can learn table manners, and aren’t complete hooligans when we eat in a restaurant environment. You can even drop them off at the kids club after dinner, so that you can party the night away (until 11pm when you have to pick them up).
The same rule applies when you choose your excursions. Sure, you can leave them behind at the kiddies program if you don’t think they will enjoy wandering around an island for hours in the sun, but we preferred to explore as a family. Which means a lot of our time was spent on the beach. Anton did manage to explore the island a bit, while I stayed to watch over the kids, but that’s cool.
The way I see it, travelling with kids is just for a season of your life. I want them to experience everything we experience. I want them to know that they are loved and we didn’t want to leave them behind. To each his/her own, obviously. Do whatever works for your family. No judgies.
Before I posted this picture, I offered our Instagram followers an opportunity to ask the questions that wanted to know. The first question was about cost and the second is, what we’d do differently if money was no object.
I generally stay way from mentioned specifics as prices change and what is expensive for me, might not be expensive for you (and visa versa obviously). If I totalled up the plane tickets, hotel stay the night before and after, and the cruise extras, it would bring the total in at around R30 000. If that sounds super expensive, calculate how much it would cost for a family of 2 adults and 2 kids to stay in a hotel for 7 days, all meals, child care and entertainment included? What about boat trips to explore surrounding islands for a day (where the meals are included too)?
I’m glad Julia actually asked this question because it means I can bring up our number one tip for most holiday arrangements, which is calling around and researching as much as you can before you hand over any cash.
Since we homeschool, we are not limited by school terms and holidays. The week that we cruised the ship was only at 50% capacity. Let me give you an example. While we cruised, the entire kid complement totaled 70 kids. The very next cruise would have 800 kids. This was because we cruised, while most schools were coming to the end of their exams.
If you kids don’t write exams yet or if you don’t mind them missing a week of school so that they can have the trip of a lifetime, do it. Don’t hesitate. It’s completely worth it. I actually wouldn’t want to be on a full cruise ship. I imagine you’d have to queue for everything and have to hog your deck chair in the shade while lying by the pool.
The additional benefit would be the “fill the boat” sales about a month before the ship sets sail. We chatted to another family who managed to get a balcony suite for the 2 adults and 2 kids for R15 000 (this would usually cost around R60 000). They live in Durban though so they didn’t have to add flights and hotel accommodation before the cruise. If you don’t need a four sleeper cabin, you can wait for a good deal before you make your booking (especially if you’re not cruising during school holidays). I hope this answers your question, Jules?
When it comes to the next question, if money was no object, I’d already be on another cruise. If money was no object before we booked, I would have selected a 4 sleeper cabin, with a balcony. And gone on ALL the excursions. And eaten ALL the ice cream on the boat. So, maybe not having all the money in the world is a good thing…for my waistline at least. I hope that answers your question, Maxine?
So, in conclusion when it comes to cruising join in, don’t join in. Drink, don’t drink. Explore the boat. Go on excursions. Visit the islands. Lay by the pool. No matter what your personality type, you will LOVE it. It will be an experience you’ll never forget.
This is the end of the series about our MSC Sinfonia experience. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Do you want to know more or have we convinced you to book a cruise?