Over my next few blog posts I’m going to report back on our recent experience on the MSC Fantasia which took us from Barbados to Genoa via the Canaries, mainland Spain and France before arriving in Italy.
The cruise was 12 nights long so for the ease of reading I’ll break it down in to segments!
Here’s day 1 & 2….
Day 1 – 10th April
MSC’s Yacht Club offering is that of a ship within a ship – a luxurious enclave of suites and private areas reserved solely for Yacht Club Guests on Fantasia class ships and above (ie Meraviglia and Seaside, and the soon to launch Seaview).
This experience offers fine dining, calmer areas than the hustle and bustle of mega ships and exquisite service from highly trained butlers.
Having cruised many times with MSC in a variety of cabins across the fleet, this was our first experience of the MSC Yacht Club and was for a Trans-Atlantic crossing from Barbados to Genoa in April 2018.
The flight to Barbados was at 9am with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick, so we stayed at the Hilton the night before – not the best hotel I’ve stayed in with an uncomfortable bed and the room was a trek from reception!
We were able to check in our bags the night before the flight, and to our surprise there were MSC representatives available to check the cruise documentation and passports, presumably to speed up the check-in process and because of the lack of facilities at Barbados. We only had our flight documentation with us so were unable to complete the cruise check in at that point. The bags were duly taken by Virgin and we were lucky enough to get two extra leg room seats for the flight as a gift for my partner’s birthday – thank you Virgin!
The following morning we went back to the airport terminal with the MSC paperwork and were given the ‘ok’ by the MSC rep – headed to the lounge and had an uneventful, pleasant flight to Barbados.
Getting through customs at Barbados took about half an hour and we were soon on the bus to the ship. As the bus entered the port area a rep asked if there were any Yacht Club passengers – we left the bus near the front of the ship and were escorted onboard by a butler.
As there’s no cruise terminal at the Barbados pier the embarkation was a little different to the usual Yacht Club experience where you wait in a lounge at the port prior to being escorted onboard by your butler, however we were soon sat in the reception area of the Yacht Club with a glass of prosecco whilst our cruise cards were sorted.
Our butler, Suantara Wayan introduced himself to us and escorted us up the golden Swarovski crystal staircase to our suite, 16011, where a bottle of pro secco and some treats were waiting for us.
The Yacht Club suites are about 1.5 times the size of a normal balcony cabin, if not bigger, with a bathroom with bath, walk in wardrobe with plenty of storage, king size bed and a 2 seat sofa, plus the balcony which was no bigger than usual but not a problem to us.
Cabin 16011 has a metal balcony rather than glass screen, which we found we actually quite like as my partner is afraid of heights – not great when you’re so high up! We tend to rarely use a balcony anyway but it’s nice to have!
As we were tired from the flight we asked Suantara if he would help us unpack and that was no trouble – a nice to have service. Knowing we’d be pretty low maintenance we didn’t feel to cheeky asking but it really was a lovely touch.
We changed in to some shorts and went to explore the Yacht Club area. We met with the Head Butler, Dany, who gave me his phone number should we ever have any issues or need him (I kept the post it note all week but never even needed to look at it to even think about contacting him).
On Fantasia Class ships the front of the ship containing the Yacht Club consists of the Top Sail Lounge, which houses the bar, a small buffet area and (no surprises from the name) – a lounge area. Smoking is allowed in a small corner of the lounge however it is big enough for this not to be a problem – plenty of room to sit away from that corner if you’re a non smoker.
Although the One Pool area has a small buffet we knew there were friends onboard so we went to grab a slice of the excellent MSC pizza from the main buffet on Deck 14, then head to the Gaudi Bar on Deck 15 Aft to meet up with friends and have a drink.
We saw the sail away from Bridgetown from the One Pool Deck and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco with our friends.
After travelling all day we were thankful that the first night was casual dress. I may have mentioned before how MSC are pretty laid back on dress code, and it really is a case of wearing what you feel comfortable in, as long as you’re not looking like you’ve just come off the beach it’s not a problem. I’ll come back to this later with an anecdote from the first elegant night.
Dinner in L’Etoile was fantastic – service from our waiters Claudio and Penny was excellent. Although Yacht Club includes premium drinks, the wines at dinner are from a selection and rotate nightly (although if you have a particular favourite just ask and it will be provided!). I couldn’t decide what to have for dessert so enjoyed both a chocolate cake and tiramisu! (Please forgive me Slimming World for I have over-Synned!)
Day 2 – 11th April
The next morning day was a day at sea, and as I’d had such a hectic weekend and with al the travelling I had a good rest in the cabin. The sea was a little bit choppy with some high winds – ginger beer was in order!
There were plenty of activities available during the day from arts and crafts (chargeable) to quizzes and dance classes.
It really was a chill out day, Andy met up with our friends, I read the paper etc. Dinner service was yet again fantastic with excellent food.
12th April is Andy’s birthday, so I had a word with Suantara, our butler to ask if there was something we could do to surprise him. His response was to leave it with him and asked about what time we might want breakfast in the morning.
We enjoyed a night out around the various bard of the ship before heading back to the Top Sail Lounge and to bed at about 12:30, having toasted in Andy’s birthday with a glass of fizz.