30 April 2010

Mediterranean Cruise – July 2009

It started off as plans to travel around in Spain…several of my WOW friends were interested but Gowri was planning to use her Club Mahindra membership so the group size had to be limited to 4. Somewhere along the line it changed to Barcelona and a Mediterranean cruise.

I had agreed to go along…and then people started saying…cruises aren’t so much value for money if one wants to really explore the county as you get to visit only the ports and that too for a short time. A cruise is a must once in a lifetime, but it should be for the sake of the cruise alone. A new port everyday...hmmm not such a great idea.

I started having second thoughts, but then somehow decided to go along. AND NO REGRETS!!! I had the most awesome time on board the MSC – Fantasia. Started from Barcelona , touched Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis, Palma de Mallorca and a week later we were back in Barcelona.

Can’t decide where to start from…the first view was awesome. MSC_FantasiaThis incidentally is a scan of a photograph that I won in a art quiz that the art gallery on board the ship had organized for the passengers!

I guess I never expected it to be so huge. Later on I was told that it can accommodate 3300 passengers and 1500 crew!!! I wondered what they needed so much staff for.

But as I spent time on the cruise I realised why. While breakfast and lunch was buffet system, dinner seating was 6 people to a table, and they had one butler and one helper for each table!!! By the end of the cruise we had become so fond of our butler, Marinela Seuleanu, that I am still in touch with her and she is my friend on fb too! She took such good care and made us feel so special. The whole meal with its 4 courses would be quite heavy so i would tell her to miss something out, but she would insist and say…’I get small helping for you…baby’. She was younger than me…but insisted on calling me baby! If i would wonder which dessert to order, she would say…’I get all for u!’ Ohhhh…she can still bring a smile to my face.

When I went up to the top deck, there were 4swimming pools and staff busy organizing some activities  for everyone…which included yoga, aerobics, jam sessions, dancing and what not!

IMG_369718 decks…whew!!! 13 for passengers and what didn't we have on these 13 floors -  something I could never have imagined…a squash court, jogging track, sports centre, SPA, beauty salon, gymnasium, theatre, casino, discotheque, F1 simulator, 4D interactive cinema, wine tasting bar, sport bar, jazz bar, coffee bar, 19 bars, 4 restaurants, 2 cafeterias, pizzeria, shopping duty-free area, 4 swimming pools, 12 SPA baths, waterslide, sliding sun roof.

IMG_3235And all these bars had live performances in the evenings…jazz, soft romantic old numbers, piano performances, Mexican singers with their classical guitars…simply an amazing way to spend your evenings.

In one of the bars, they had a dance floor and there were some crew members who would take salsa, tango and other kinds of dance classes in the afternoon. Later in the evening, there would be dancing on this floor and these crew members would double up as partners for people who didn't have dancing partners.  I too enjoyed a salsa dance one evening. I kept insisting that I was born with 2 left feet and wouldn’t be able to dance but he insisted that he would lead me and I needn't worry. And I actually managed the whole dance without tripping over!!!

Late into the night they would have a performance in the theatre too, ranging from stand up comedy, to musical shows, acrobatics and what not...just not to be missed by a theatre freak like me. So I would go for a  shore excursion everyday and return and crash out for 2 hours so that I could stay up and enjoy the live music in the evening and then theatre at night.

The interiors were a bit garish…too much jhik jhak and bright colours, odd combinations…but when the ship came alive with all decked up passengers in the evenings it kinda looked appropriate.

IMG_3696Dressing up in the evenings for dinner was an altogether different experience. So unlike me to get all decked up…and that too when on a holiday!!! But it was fun!

Ahhh…they also have a safety drill. All hands on deck with their lifejackets. Very organised. Massi and I were tired and so tried to hide out in the room…but they made sure they came and got us.

What I like BEST was not having to lug my luggage around from one place to another. Settled into our cabin as we went from one place to another. Every morning I would take a guided shore excursion and return late afternoon to what soon seemed like a temporary home. And the cherry on the cake was getting to see so many new places in different countries!

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