I have been on an MSC cruise ship before about five years ago.It was a weekend cruise aboard the MSC Opera.So when an invite popped into my inbox with an invitation aboard the MSC Sinfonia for five days with my plus 1 , there was no way I was going to say no.The cruise was going to the Portugese Islands and the new stop Pomene in Mozambique.
The choice of who I would travel with was not difficult as Mum had not been on a cruise before so this was the perfect opportunity.Last year 2017 was a difficult year for the family with us losing my Gran so a week-long cruise seemed the best treat for Mum away from it all.Travelling with a parent is rather different to travelling on your own or with friends.The arranging of the trip , planning and preparing was left to me. One of the biggest lessons I learnt about travelling with Mum was patience and preparation.
PRE MSC departure preparation:
Before the cruise there seemed a lot that needed to be done so I broke it down into weekly checklists.I also set up a file with all our documents printed and copies of everything.The first thing you need to check before booking your cruise is if you have a valid passport as you will not be allowed on the cruise.
What was in my file for my MSC Cruise ?
1. Copies of our passports.
2.Medical insurance documents from our Medical Aid company.
3.Printrd copies of our tickets and luggage tags.
5.Next of kin contact details.
Having all this did make life a whole lot easier when we were boarding.In a travel wallet I had our passports and each passport had a colourful passport case from Lou Harvey and this made it quick and easy to identify our passports.
I decided on a large zipper bag for our medication which included the following:
1. Chronic medication
3.Buscopan for cramps
5.Motion sickness tablets Mum and I both had a tablet the evening before our cruise and one on the morning.I was rather worried about Mum as she has a fear of the ocean and becoming ill with motion sickness.Side note neither of us were ill and another tip was making sure we ate small meals throughout the day.
We arrived early at the port with our luggage labelled with our printed tags from MSC.I also attached additional luggage tags just incase.We left our luggage in a depot that looked like a sea of luggage.I carried a small backpack with me instead of a handbag as the contents included :
The main reason for my backpack was that I needed to make sure I was able to help mum onboard especially climbing stairs and needed both hands free.Also our room and luggage would be only ready and available to us at 1pm so what ever we needed had to be on us.For Mum I picked a small sling bag for her to make things easier.The boarding process does take some time so be patient and make sure you have all your documents on hand for the various checks.I am very paranoid about passports and keep checking them making sure they are safe and secure after my passport drama in Zurich.After the last passport check it was time to board our MSC cruise ship which would be our home for the week,the stairs going up were a lil tricky for Mum as she has a fear of drowning and you can see the ocean between the wooden steps.I told Mum to walk slowly and hold the handrails , I walked behind her incase she had a lil wobble along the way.
Once we were onboard it was time for us to head to Level 13 to meet the rest of the media team on this MSC who were flying in from around South Africa.Level 13 also known as Pasha Disco was a stunning location for our introduction to the cruise.While on our way up I did not realise how many people had already boarded as there were still loads waiting to board.After our meet and greet it was time for Lunch and everyone else had the same idea so we headed off to line our stomachs before we set sail.Lunch was a buffet with a roast ,curries ,salad bar,dessert bar and all the vegetable side dishes.After lunch we headed off to the pool deck for the leaving party which had a festive feel to it with lots of song and dance and audience participation.
Once we had left the port ,we headed downstairs to Deck 10 to find our room.Finding your room on the first day is like walking through a maze as everything looks the same,however it is all sign posted and there is staff on hand to help you.Once we located our room, I noticed that our bags were placed outside our cabin.The room was very spacious and included a balcony with a chairs and a table,a couch near the TV,a large desk and a bathtub with a shower.On the large beds were lots of info including the schedule for the day,our swipe cards as MSC is a cashless cruise.Quickly we freshened up as there was going to be a Fire Drill which is compulsory ,so we gathered our life jackets and went to find our drill section.While on route I stopped off in reception to put some money on my card, I used the credit card DIY machine and escaped the long queues.
The fire drill reminded me of the Titanic and yes we did not look flattering in our bright orange life jackets.After the drill we headed to our room to drop off our lifejackets before heading to the deck to officially start our holidays with some cocktails.
Every day there is a cocktail of the day in both an alcoholic and non alcoholic versions.The cocktail menus include all favourites and some I had never heard off.I made my way to the bar after finding a spot for Mum to sit while I got our drinks.The cocktails were rather refreshing coupled with a stunning view and a good book were all that we needed to get relaxing.My cocktail of choice was defo the MangoBerry Bliss very much like a Mango slushie.
Our dinner was booked for the first sitting at 6pm,so by 4pm we made our way to our cabin to rest ,read all the MSC material and get ready for dinner.Mum was coping well and I was glad she had no motion sickness.While we got ready I planned our evening which included going to the theatre after dinner as every night there is a different show as well as going to play Bingo.From our media itinerary most of the day was free time and we met for dinner as a group.This was a great way to actually explore the ship on your own ,enjoy all the amenities and feel like you are actually on holiday.
Dinner was a seated meal rather than a buffet which Mum and I both prefer.It also meant not walking about too much.For dinner you need to be punctual as they need to serve you ,clear and prepare for the second sitting at 9pm.The menu is a set menu of 3 course meals with Vegetarian options and an Indian menu.Bingo and then it was time to see an awesome theatre production that was such good entertainment that it rekindled my love of the theatre all over again.
Besides the seated buffet breakfast options there is also a room service available.I was determined to order the continental breakfast and do the crumpled sheets shot with breakfast carefully placed.After getting my shot Mum and I had breakfast on our balcony taking in the beautiful morning and the vastness of the ocean.
Every day on board there are various activities to keep you busy besides lying by the pool sipping cocktails and taking in all the vitamin D and sea your body really needs.For once it was great to not worry about anything and people constantly calling and visiting my mum.For Mum this was a perfect low-key break away from the rat race of life which was very much needed.This trip also taught me several lessons about life.
The cruise ship arrives in the port in the early hours of the morning.So it is advisable to be prepared so that the process goes smoothly for you.Breakfast is served from 6am so if you are peckish you can grab a bite.Mum needed to eat so she could take her medication while I on the other hand was heading straight to work.
1.Settle your bill at reception the night before as it does get very busy and crazy in the morning.
2.Pack your bags the night before only leaving out what you will need the next morning.
3.Place your packed bags in the corridor before you sleep so they can be off loaded when the ship docks.It is advisable to have a small bag for your toiletries and pjs from the night before as you could end up walking off the ship in pjs lol.
4.Collect passports the day before in your allocated time as you will need your passports for immigration.Keep passports safely in a bag which you can access easily.
5.We opted to take our own luggage off the ship this meant we could double-check our room ,pack in the morning and disembark quickly rather than try to find our luggage in the massive hall filled with luggage.There were people already arriving for the next cruise so it becomes rather crazy.
6.Pre -book a cab to prevent paying exorbitant rates on the spot.If you are getting picked up communicate with your driver as soon as the ship docks.Move away from the crowds so your driver can pick you and your luggage up without causing too many traffic dramas.
7.There is also an option to park your car in a parking area close-by to where your cruise ship docks and departs.There is a daily rate for parking.
Lessons learnt from the MSC with Mum
1.Our parents are getting older and need our help.
2.Parents get slower with age and everything takes more time so walk slower.
4. Think like a parent.
5.Carry a bag large enough for your parents meds,wet wipes and reading material.
6.Think on your feet to make a plan.
I have previously travelled with my Mum on short trips but the MSC cruise taught me a lot about myself and my mum.Travelling with parents is a fantastic experience to create memories ,take loads of selfies and spend quality time with them.
ABOUT MSC CRUISES
MSC Cruises is the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company and the number one cruise line in Europe and South America. A game-changer in the world of cruises, the Company has achieved 800% growth in its first ten years, building a global reputation in the industry and one of the youngest cruise fleets at sea. MSC Cruises is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The MSC Cruises fleet currently comprises 14 ultra-modern, highly innovative and elegantly designed ships, offering an unparalleled holiday experience with always delicious and authentic food, award-winning entertainment, plenty of relaxation, comfortable accommodation, as well as impeccable service and expertise.
Under its ambitious industry-unprecedented €10.5 billion investment plan, the fleet is set to expand to 24 mega-cruise ships by 2026. To date, MSC Cruises has designed six new ship classes, all prototypes that push the boundaries of marine architecture and design.
MSC Cruises feels a deep responsibility towards the physical and human environments in which it operates. The Company operates with the greatest respect for the world’s oceans and is on an ongoing journey to further develop innovative ways of lowering the environmental impact of its cruise passages.
MSC Cruises’ holiday experiences are sold across the globe through a distribution network in 67 countries. The Company employs over 17,000 people worldwide, both ashore and on board its ships. MSC Cruises is part of MSC Group which is comprised of leading transport and logistics companies.
More information at http://www.msccruises.co.za
Have you travelled with your parents as an adult?
Be Inspired !
Ps .Mum and I were guests of MSC cruises and as always my views are my own.