•December 4, 2021 • Leave a Comment

In the last couple of years I was lucky enough to travel on all new MSC ships from Meraviglia and  Meraviglia-Plus class cruise ships. Therefore, for my 48th voyage with the Italian cruise line I decided to jump back in time and return to one of my favourite Fantasia class cruise liner: MSC Splendida. And, I have to admit, without all the gimmicks of the new ships, the experience was far above all my expectations.

The Fantasia class is a class of cruise ships, operated by MSC Cruises. At present, there are four active Fantasia-class cruise ships, the lead vessel, MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, MSC Divina and the MSC Preziosa, which are built by STX Europe in St. Nazaire.

MSC Splendida was built in July 2009 with an investment of $550 million.

The ship was launched from the shipyard on 18 July 2008. She began her sea trials on 21 May 2009 and completed them on 27 May 2009. embarked on her maiden voyage on July 4, 2009 and returned July 11, to be officially named on July 12, 2009, in Barcelona by Sophia Loren, her godmother. Originally, she was to be named MSC Serenata, but the name was changed in May 2007 to MSC Splendida “to reflect the ship’s beauty and elegance”. The name had been changed in response to the enthusiastic reaction of Raphaela Aponte, wife of cruise line owner Gianluigi Aponte, to the designs prepared by architect De Jorio

After getting “lost” so many times on the big MSC ships, being on Splendida was like being back “home”. The ship has a really inclusive feel, with a very friendly atmosphere, offering stylish luxury and being a beautiful destination in her own right. Splendida has 14 public decks (each bearing the name of a famous Italian artist) connected by 25 lifts, with a wide range of bars and public areas and it never feels overly crowded (aside from in the main buffet at certain times of the day). There are some gorgeous public spaces, such as La Piazetta, which resembles a quaint Italian square, and the central hub of the soaring atrium, with its sweeping, glittering staircases (25,000 Euros each step!), crystal-studded piano, water feature and glass-sided lifts.

On any MSC ships, embarkation for guests in Yacht Club it is always the starting point of a long line of great memories and experiences. This time, in Barcelona a little hic-cup marked the embarkation: due to some bad weather the ship was delayed and unfortunately the staff in Barcelona Cruise Terminal didn’t have or didn’t want to give any information of an ETA. Minute after minute more and more passengers arrived at the check-in area to discover that was no ship to embark and nobody keen to give any kind of information. Fortunately for myself checking and using some leftover rum from a duty-free shopping filled in the waiting time. When finally, the ship was docked and the Yacht Club team took over the embarkation process, normal operation resumed: check-in the luggage and the cruise tickets, waiting in an elegant lounge for the results of the lateral flow tests and being escorted by one of the butlers straight to Yacht Club after skipping all security or boarding lines. Even the elevators will give you priority access when using your YC cruise cards. The efficiency of the embarkation was the first sign that I will be travelling in an excellent managed Yacht Club.

Originally, I booked for this voyage a YC1 cabin – Yacht Club Deluxe Suite but, during embarkation I heard that one of the Royal Suite was vacant and therefore I requested at the Concierge a quote for a possible upgrade. 5 minutes later the 3000 Euros for two was paid and 10 minutes later, entering Royal Suite 16007 I discovered that my luggage was already in the room. That’s what I called Yacht Club efficiency!

The Royal Suite on board MSC Splendida doesn’t have the space or the add-ons (large balcony with dining area, outdoor jacuzzi or remote-controlled curtains) found on the biggest ships. But has a charming comfy unparalleled luxury. The 36 m² room with a 16m² balcony was located on the 16th deck (Michelangelo) has a separate living area and dining room, a large bedroom and a bathroom with bathtub and shower. The walk-in wardrobe and the generous vanity area gave plenty of space for my 5 suitcases. The only weird feature was the balcony, kind of half rounded, protected by glass screens and a “ballet barre” reducing the usable space. But, taking in the account that the room is located in front of the ship where the winds can be quite strong, make all this features if not understandable at least functional. But the general feeling was of an elegant, luxurious and generous space featuring rich brass and lavish wood-effect finishes and a easy on the eye muted colour scheme.

Part of the exquisite Yacht Club package is the 24 hours service of a butler. It was always one of the highlights of any cruises on MSC. This time the experience was elevated to a completely different level.  Nurus was the quintessence of a perfect butler. His professional and attentive nature, the innate level of empathy and interpersonal skills, the pristine personal presentation add an incredible value to my experience on board MSC Splendida. Nurus tact, diplomacy and discretion were part of his daily routine and he was “there” 2 minutes before I needed him, with a kind of annoying intuitively pro-activity. It is not easy to maintain 24/7 an unbiased and prejudice-free disposition, but for Nurus was part of his genuine dedication. But maybe the biggest impact on me was Nurus and his excellent jr. Butler Rois attention to details: from the TV screen left on during the turndown service on the night when was a time change, to the perfect aligned chocolate, water and “good night” note beside the bed or the funny balloons added to my delivered laundry. While always available, Nurus and Rois were never intrusive or bothersome. Whether replacing items from my complimentary mini-bar or just choosing a different pillow from the pillow menu, they were delightful, polite and intent on doing their genuine “butlering.” Despite my protests about not having to re-tie the sash on my bathrobe that Rois neatly hangs up every morning, he happily went about his tasks.

Nothing was to much trouble and everything was perfect.

On Fantasia class ships, the restaurant dedicated to guests in Yacht Club is place in the aft of the ship, exactly in the opposite part of the vessel where the suites are. I never found this a disadvantage. More than the I do like a walk before dinner feeling the vibe of the evening or the fact that after dinner all the venues with the parties and the great cocktails are closer.

L’Olivo – the dedicated Yacht Club restaurant on MSC Splendida, creates, from the deco point of view a very Mediterranean atmosphere. The elegant room has the feel of a pavilion, with green and gold chairs, arched trellises beside the windows and draped curtains. There are plenty of tables for two, or diners can choose to sit together at larger tables. This beautiful a la carte restaurant occupies a prime position overlooking the Playa Del Sol swimming pool and aft of the ship.

In the recent years MSC stepped up their gam in the cuisine department with a more than obvious improvement in quality, presentation, and variety. I am sure that you read already my recent Yacht Club gourmet experiences on board MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seashore.

Unfortunately, on board MSC Splendida the L’Olivo restaurant was the weakest link. Almost everything, even the items in the “always available” section of the menu was just plain ugly food. You know the kind I’m talking about: Undercooked. Overcooked. Burned. Mystery meat lurking in an weird plate design. An unnamed vegetable weeping at the bottom of the crisper. The leftover cup of grayish, congealed gravy. Once again, this was my 9th cruise with MSC in 2021 and the menu didn’t change. On Virtuosa, Grandiosa and Seashore I ordered this year from the same menu and what’s arrived on the table was a fresh, vibrant and rich. I could marinate in these all day. Pun intended.

In L’Olivo the food on the table was an “expose” of the very best of “worst food” descriptions you’ll find! Adjectives like grisly, gloppy, withered, rubbery, curdled, perfectly describe a food that, to put it kindly, is beyond its prime. Funny enough, on other MSC ships the Chef takes pride in his culinary exercise and , at least twice a cruise, coms in the dining room to collect compliments or, more important, feedback. On L’Olivo in 11 days I never meet the chef once. Maybe he was to busy to add more cm at the distance between his cooking style to the expected Yacht Club dining experience.

But the most annoying thing was a massive disjunction between the food and the service. Maitre D’ Vincenzo and his team of waiters and assistant waiters provided for every breakfast, lunch and dinner an excellent service, efficient, polite, friendly trying hard to elevate, from below the sea level the gastronomic experience. Having Vincenzo as a Maître D’, Davide as a Sommelier and Giovane as a waiter made me feel guilty that 3 or 4 times I had to escape the gastronomic torture and run to a speciality restaurant or order in my cabin one of the excellent MSC pizzas.

As an alternative dining MSC Splendida has only 2 options: a steakhouse and sushi restaurant. But both of them are not to be missed.

Sea Pavillion Hot Pot by JEREME LEUNG offers creative combinations of modern Chinese dishes and classical Chinese provincial, all signature of Chef Jereme Leung’s cuisine. Highly respected by numerous international food critics, Chef Leung is an expert in all four schools of Chinese cooking – dim sum, barbecue, wok cooking and knife work and received the prestigious Five Star Diamond Award in 2000 and 2008 from The American Academy of Hospitality Science, naming him one of the “World’s Best Chefs.” He has also appeared as the Chief Judge on MasterChef China. During her deployment in Far East MSC Splendida offered here the popular “hot pot” dining style but after the forced return in the Med the menu was readjusted to European taste including a large and delicious variety of sushi. Everything was so fresh that it was melting in my mouth! From the breezing scent of the sea, crafting patterns of good omega fats, those handmade drops of exactly-mouthful sushi rice, and when was touching my mouth, it was like melting blended to my tongue, accompanying with the taste of the blue world as such you are swimming with those fish! Sounds OTT but that was exactly my feeling. And add to all of this the superb service and realise that a dinner to Sea Pavilion it’s a must when you are on board MSC Splendida. A piece of advice: the portions are huge and don’t make the same mistake like me and order 2 x tasting menu (29 Euros/person) + another 3-4 extra dishes. You will end with a doggy bag sent to your cabin.

The other speciality restaurant on board MSC Splendida, it’s the, already famous, “Butcher’s Cut”. The only oddity was the location: the speciality restaurant took the place of the former a la carte Santa Fe Tex Mex  and the giant cactuses and horse-drawn cart hardly balancing from the deco point of view the steakhouse style additions. Butcher’s Cut for dinner is great for true steak lovers. Diners can start with appetizers like a classic Caesar salad, oysters Rockefeller, foie deviled eggs or caviar. Just don’t fill up, as the steaks are the hero here. Choose from cuts like a filet mignon, ribeye or 38-ounce dry-aged tomahawk (for two) and consider a surf add-on of your choice. Desserts include New York cheesecake and lava cake and the restaurant features an extensive wine and cocktail list. No surprises here, everything was fantastic: rich, perfect slightly sweet flavour with a smooth texture bone marrow, the tender, flavourful, juicy, and cooked to perfection filet mignon and the incredibly rich & decadent lava cake. And a perfect service matched perfectly this gastronomic celebration …TWICE!

Based on my previous pleasant experience with the buffet option on Virtuosa and Seashore I tried couple of times this culinary alternative on MSC Splendida. And it was another “button badge” for the “old lady”!

Bora Bora on deck 14 is the main buffet, offering casual dining and is open 24/7 for self-service coffee, tea, water and ice, and moves from breakfast through lunch and dinner with other items in between, without a break. The buffet is conveniently located next to the Aqua Park, making it easy for passengers to pop in and out whenever they’re feeling peckish. It’s a huge space — taking up around a third of Deck 14 — and the size, and choice of food, can seem overwhelming the first time you visit. It is also fairly noisy and hectic at busy times. Many people unwittingly end up sitting in the neighbouring Pago Pago buffet as the two areas blend into each other and seem like one vast area, particularly during breakfast and lunch.

Running on from Bora Bora, the smaller Pago Pago buffet occupies a position at the aft of the ship and is the place to go to try and avoid the crowds. Open at the same times as Bora Bora, it also offers complimentary 24-hour tea, coffee water and ice along with a smaller selection of hot and cold food than the neighbouring space. There is really a free-flow of movement between the two eateries as passengers wander around looking for what takes their fancy, and many diners sit in Pago Pago if they can’t find anywhere to sit in Bora Bora. Heed the advice of the waiters and head right to the back of the ship and you will invariably find empty tables.

Although they have to rush around when the buffet is packed during the main mealtimes, members of the buffet staff are very friendly and efficient and do a great job of keeping on top of drinks orders and clearing and cleaning tables. On MSC Splendida the buffet is surprisingly good. One reason for this is the vast selection of foods required to satisfy the palates of so many different European cultures. Breakfast is a perfect example, one will find flaky croissants, fresh omelettes, juicy German sausages and English bacon. I have never experienced a buffet area where they managed to keep the food so warm, which is a significant but often under-appreciated accomplishment on any cruise ship. It’s something that the Chef in L’Olivo didn’t learn … YET!

Deck five foreword features the beautiful Strand Theater, one of the most functionally perfect production showrooms I have ever seen at sea. The floor is perfectly designed without a single pole to block the view and raked over two decks so viewing from every row is perfect. The sound is acoustically balanced with special design treatments. Avoid the balcony seats on deck seven if possible, however. Glass railings block the view and the sound system, vastly diminishing the experience.

As I am not a big fan of cruise ship shows the only time when I decided to step in Strand Theater was one afternoon when was schedule a very interesting opera recital. MSC is the only cruise line including in their entertainment schedule opera and I already saw carmen and La Traviata on board. This time the choice was interesting, maybe a little bit to “sophisticated” featuring Puccini Mascagni and Lehar instead of the expected Verdi or Strauss.  But the vocal and instrumental performance was magnificent.

The Splendida offers ten different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most situated on decks five, six and seven. There is a small atrium only three decks tall with the reception desk, shore excursions and other passenger services on the ground floor. Deck six contains one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship, La Piazzeta. This small courtyard resembles a village square in Tuscany. There are ceramic tile benches surrounding a beautiful flowing fountain. A person can sit here and relax with a cafe mocha and gelato. You will also find the cigar lounge and the main bar in the atrium called L’Aperitivo nearby. The Royal Palms casino offers blackjack, poker, plenty of slot machines and of course roulette. You will not find craps tables which are an American pastime.

On deck seven, you will find the wine bar L’Enoteca for tasting vino by the glass along with food pairings from around the world. Also on deck seven you will find live music every night   in the La Prua bar (with some interesting mixology offers) and the Purple Jazz Bar, featuring live dance music and karaoke in some nights. The Aft Lounge is another showroom in the stern with seating for hundreds of people and a large stage facility. The Sports Bar has the two-lane miniature bowling alley.

On MSC Splendida the main pools are on Deck 14, where the covered L’Equatore pool leads to the Aqua Park — the main outdoor hub. The covered pool, which has three hot tubs, is the quieter of the two. It is surrounded by tables and chairs, with loungers on the mezzanine deck overlooking the pool. On sunny days the Aqua Park is the main gathering spot and is a very lively area with piped music playing throughout the day and night, along with live music events such as themed pool parties, including the famous White Party. The main pool, which is 5ft 10in deep, is surrounded by decking, smaller splash pools, spraying fountains, water jets and two whirlpools. (Two more whirlpools are situated immediately above on Deck 15). The area nearest to the pool is surrounded by plenty of loungers, and tables and chairs are situated under a covered area at both sides of the ship. There is a smoking area in the Aqua Park. Adults in search of peace and quiet can head to Playa del Sol, a lovely area overlooking the stern of the ship on Deck 15 that few passengers seem to discover. The mosaic-tiled pool area, which has a hot tub is surrounded by loungers, tables and chairs.

On deck 14, the bow is dominated by the elegant Aurea Spa and Fitness Center. Unlike spas on many of the large ships, which are managed by external spa chains, the Aurea is run by MSC and specialises in Balinese spa treatments which offer something a little bit different from the norm. Next to the spa reception is the Aurea Spa Bar, open to anyone, which can be used as a relaxation area before and after treatments. The Jean Louis David salon, part of a well-known hairdressing chain in mainland Europe, is located at the entrance to the spa complex. It offers cutting and styling services for men and women, again using a variety of different products rather than one particular brand. The gym, carefully hidden behind the spa area, has a limited number of treadmills and Nordic machines as well as state-of-the-art progressive resistance apparatus. The panoramic views are impaired by sloping shaded screens on the outside deck, nevertheless it’s still a great spot to work out. Despite that for guests in Yacht Club will take you directly to the gym and spa area, I didn’t manage to find the right motivation to work out … in the last 10 years!

This journey was my 48th on board MSC cruise ships, and all 48 in Yacht Club. The Yacht Club isn’t a loyalty program and it’s not just a set of suites. The Yacht Club is what MSC Cruises calls “a ship within a ship.” It’s a luxury experience that takes your cruise to the next level — and if luxury experiences are something you value as a traveller, you’ll definitely want to pay the extra cash needed to be a member of this exclusive “club.”

On newer ships the considerably large spaces in Yacht Club and the quite big number of passengers brought the risk of loosing the “exclusive” feeling of such a product. You need an excellent service with high standards – like on my voyages on Virtuosa and Seashore to avoid the feeling of “main cruising” as I experienced recently on Grandiosa.

On MSC Splendida is no space for such risk. First of all because Yacht Club due to size and configuration retained the feeling of privacy and exclusivity. Located primarily in the bow on Decks 15, 16, and 18, the Yacht Club offers suites with butler service plus a private concierge lounge; the elegant Top Sail Lounge, with wide windows facing the horizon; a private outdoor area with a pool, two whirlpools, a sundeck, and a bar. All in all, the Yacht Club is one of the most luxurious experiences at sea.

On Splendida the YC Team know how to create the feeling that you are unique and the most important on board. Imagine having your own private lounge where you are greeted by name upon entering. Or a lovely tea-time to relax and unwind after returning from a busy day spent on shore? Wouldn’t it be nice to stretch out on a deck chair that you didn’t have to “stake out” at 7am? Your private sunning and pool/whirlpool area is accessible only to Yacht Club members. Yes, this is all possible.

Top Sail Lounge – the dedicated lounge for Yacht Club passengers has one of the ship’s premier locations — at the absolute front of the ship, with panoramic views from the slanted windows. The multipurpose space is the perfect place for a quick continental breakfast in the morning or a pre-dinner drink and a cocktail in the afternoon. And at night, the live music was a perfect companion next to a great cocktail made by Rennan. The Jr. Butlers and bartenders in the lounge were absolutely amazing and, only after one day they will remember exactly your favourite drink or snack. Beatriz, Teddy, Paula, or Andressa will always remember that every morning I start my work at 6.30AM, in the lounge with my laptop and a double expresso with ice, a Coke Zero and a Bloody Mary. The only day when I decided to stay longer in bed, the panicked and ask the Concierge if I was OK.

A special Concierge service is on duty 24 hours a day in the Yacht Club, to interface with your butler and to make sure all of your needs are met in a timely manner. Joel, Patricia, Dimitri, Caroline, Vinicius and Marija are your best friend during your cruise taking away the stress of bookings on-board for spa, restaurants or excursions. And everything was smooth and stress free under the excellent leadership of the Head Butler Jean Baptiste Dominitchi. And they are excellent confidents when you need somebody to talk to at 3AM.

On the 18th deck a private outdoor area with a pool, two whirlpools, a sundeck, and a bar are accessible only for guests in Yacht Club. I am absolutely in love with this space and to be honest I didn’t miss the huge number of sunbeds or larger pool on the bigger ships. The design of the One Pool area re-create outdoor the indoor privacy and exclusivity. Indeed, the bar and the buffet are not at the level of those on Virtuosa or Seashore due to the limited space and smaller galley, but the service was impeccable. Renan, Stavros, Reynaldo and the delightful Melissa brought outdoor the stylish service of any exclusive pool Bars on shore. And as an unforgettable memory, the alfresco pasta station with delicious everyday changeable receipt was a strong competitor L’Olivo restaurant during lunch.

Of course, after experiencing the new breath-taking, ultra tech, modern new MSC ships, I realised that for the crew on board MSC Splendida the work to “wow” guests in yacht Club was 1001 time harder. The attention to details, the passion for pampering the guests 24/7, the ability of making everybody to feel special, unique, the talent of cruise experience like no other all of this can be achieved, of course working hard but, more important having a leader who “practice what one preaches”. On any MSC Yacht Club, the YC Director has a capital role in how the game of privacy, luxury and pampering is played. And I am going back to my “far above expectations” trips on Virtuosa and Seashore and the “meh” Grandiosa one.

On MSC Splendida, Iancu Ravdan mixed a solid profession experience and a genuine passion for excellence with charisma and a very approachable “to do attitude”. From early hosur of the morning until late after midnight, from the Top Sail Lounge to the L’Olivo restaurant Iancu was “walking the talk”. Supervising, coordinating, planning but at the same time, if needed, moving sunbeds or helping the waiters, the Yacht Club Director was indubitably the architect, the mind behind the success of MSC Splendida Yacht Club.

After 48 cruises with MSC I am undoubtedly sure that the biggest asset of the cruise line is THE CREW. On MSC Splendida from the pool boys and bartenders to the officers and butlers everybody was using the brilliant basics of the cruise liner to create magic moments, devoted to the corporate slogan “Your relaxation, our dedication!”. And they managed somehow in a busy schedule, in a very difficult year for cruising industry to include each and every guest on board the wonderful MSC Family.

Those 11 days were indeed an eye opener on the unquestionably beauty and uniqueness of the MSC fantasia class ships. MSC Splendida was a brilliant reminder of the famous “Size doesn’t (always) matter. It’s all about the heart.”

And here I am with wonderful memories from my 48th cruise with MSC and getting ready for number 49, this time on MSC Magnifica, a non-Yacht Club ship.

So stay tuned and keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep cruising!


•September 29, 2021 • Leave a Comment

It’s a kind of unofficial tradition for the Capitan to play the famous Andrea Bocelli’s song “Time to say Goodbye!” at every sail away of an MSC cruise ship.

After my recent experience on board the new MSC flag-ship I was thinking to create my own version of this emotional moment: “Time to say … I want to stay!”

MSC SEASHORE is inspired by MSC Cruises’ vision for cruising in warm waters and sunny weather and mirrors the design of the Seaside Class with a wraparound promenade deck offering a choice of outside dining and relaxation areas. The name, which follows the theme of its Seaside Class predecessors MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview, has been picked to reflect a cruising experience that brings passengers “closest to the sea.” The beautiful cruise ship is a Seaside EVO-class cruise ship built for MSC Cruises at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. As of August 2021, she became the lead ship of MSC’s Seaside EVO class, a sub-class of the Seaside-class of ships built with larger dimensions. She will be joined by sister ship named MSC Seascape scheduled for delivery in November 2022

Building on the ground-breaking and pioneering design of the Seaside class of ship, aimed at bringing guests closer to the sea, MSC Seashore has been extended and enhanced with a variety of brand-new features, spaces and experiences for cruise lovers. MSC Seashore is equipped with cutting-edge technology becoming the first cruise ship in the world to feature a new air sanitation system, ‘Safe Air’, which uses UV-C lamp technology to eliminate viruses and bacteria to guarantee clean and safe air for guests and crew.

To be honest, I fall in love with Seashore on the very first moment when I stepped on board after, as always, a very smooth and stress-free embarkation procedure. The design features, public areas and venue names are inspired by the metropolitan New York City. These include an imposing three-metre-high replica of the Statue of Liberty at the heart of the casino and a newly designed expansive retail and entertainment area, aptly named Times Square. The main feature of this new area is an impressive 8.5 metre-high LED wall spanning four decks with a projection of the iconic skyline of this entertainment hub in Manhattan that can change from day to night.

With 339 metres, MSC Seashore is the longest ship in the MSC fleet and offers 13,000sqm of outdoor space. Stand-out design features include spectacular glass-floored Bridge of Sighs located at the unique vantage point on deck 16 – 22 metres above the Infinity Pool, stunning panoramic aft elevators and stylish glass-floor catwalks on either side of the ship on the waterfront promenade.

How you can’t be impressed by a floating Paradise with 19 decks (12 passenger-accessible, 11 with cabins), 11 dining venues, 19 bars and lounges, 6 swimming pools, a 2-deck “Cabaret Rouge” (aft-located), the Magrodome (sliding glass roof covering one of the swimming pools), the expanded Infinity Pool (with half-submerged concrete loungers/extends directly to the stern), 2 Infinity Whirlpools (portside and starboard Jacuzzis, with 10 seats each), a main swimming pool (with both swimming and standing water depths and connected to the Pirate Cove Aquapark), 3  catwalks (glass-floored viewing platforms), and an impressive 540m Waterfront Promenade.

Talking about embarkation in Barcelona, I must say that on Seashore the Yacht Club Team mastered an excellent experience: the check-in of the luggage, the formalities and Covid19 related protocols. Dani the Head Butler and his assistant Marcello under the discreet supervision of Rosalia, the Yacht Club Director gave to the entire embarkation an air of “welcome back home”! After a very short wait in the elegant and comfortable YC lounge in the cruise terminal for the test’s result, escorted by one of the butlers I had the chance to be amazed for the first time by the opulence, beauty and elegance of Seashore on my way to Yacht Club.

On Seashore decks are named after iconic lighthouses around the globe: Torre de Hercules Lighthouse (La Coruna Spain) – world’s oldest, Ocean Cay Lighthouse (MSC’s private island Ocean Cay, Bahamas), Santa Marta Lighthouse (Cascais, Portugal), Start Point Lighthouse (Devon England), Bell Rock Lighthouse (Angus Scotland) or Lanterna di Genova Lighthouse (Genoa Italy) to name just some of them. And by the way, similar to buildings in the U.S. without a thirteenth floor, there is no Deck 17 on MSC ships because Italians consider the number 17 to be unlucky.

The MSC Seashore cruise ship deck plan shows 2270 staterooms for 4560 passengers (max capacity is 5877) served by 1648 crew-staff (818 crew cabins). The cruise ship features new cabins designed to suit all your needs during your holiday and if you decide to cruise with the flag-ship of MSC you can choose from 11 different types of cabins and suites with balconies including the coveted aft suits, 50 terraced suites with extended balconies and 32 different suites with outdoor private whirlpools. If you want to get to know an unparalleled accommodation experience you must try the 2 new opulent Owner’s Suites at the largest and most luxurious MSC Yacht Club. Of course, if you are lucky enough to find one available!

My choice for this voyage was the incredible Royal Suite (16043) located on the 16th Deck – Boston Light Lighthouse.  With approx. 62 sqm., the Royal Suite has a separate living area and dining room, a spacious balcony (33 sqm.) with its own private whirlpool bath and dining table, a walk-in generous wardrobe and bathroom with large shower, vanity area with hairdryer. With an Interactive TV, telephone, WIFI connection included a Bar setup, refrigerator and espresso coffee machine everything was designed to create the ambiance for a perfect holiday.

The team assisting me during this cruise was the perfect example for the unparalleled experience offered by MSC in their exclusive concept “ship within the ship” – the Yacht Club. Pradeep (Butler) and Putu (Assistant Butler) mastered a perfect service day and night. Proactive, intuitive with a graceful attention to details and an impressive care, both of them proved once again that the biggest asset of any MSC ships is the crew on-board

And if you want to expand your luxurious experience in the Royal Suite you must try once to have lunch on your balcony. I chose a sea day and despite the breeze Paolo, Marcello Alessandro and Pradeep under the impeccable supervision of Dani, managed to create a memorable moment.

This cruise marked my 46th voyage with MSC, and I can say that I am in love with their product “YACHT CLUB”. Seashore’s MSC Yacht Club is currently the fleet’s largest (total area 2973 m2). The all-inclusive Suite complex (ship-within-a-ship concept) accommodates the highest paying passengers (YC cabin categories only). It spreads over 4 decks and features a 3-deck high Onyx Wall (back-lit), Swarovski crystal-covered staircases, Top Sail Lounge (bar lounge with live music, gourmet canapes, complimentary beverages), exclusive Yacht Club restaurant (offering breakfast-lunch-dinner, premium wine list, daily-changed a la carte menu), and “One Pool” – a poolside bar and grill. The private sundeck and pool area were expanded to 1950 m2, with a bigger swimming pool and a panoramic Jacuzzi (8-seats, with individual controlled jets). The complex houses 131 Suites plus 2 Owners Suites (new category cabins sized 98 m2) with larger terraces (outdoor hot tub, glass wall, dining and sundeck areas).

The TOP SAIL LOUNGE is the perfect place for a drink before or after dinner. And, as a smoker, I love the outdoor space, placed in front of the lounge protected by the wind with glass panels and adding a touch of versatility with a sunny space in the day and an elegant and discreet atmospheric lightening in the evening. The ideal spot to watch the sunset. The gourmet canapes and signature cocktails were served with grace by a very attentive team of butlers, who learned in no time your favourite drink. In the afternoon and evening the TOP SAIL LOUNGE was a perfect venue to spend some time before discovering the rest of the ship having live music in the background. Maybe that was the only weakest link here: sometimes the music was a little bit too loud transforming a decent lounge conversation in a tiring shouting. While Edo Bordignon – a fantastic pianist and excellent vocalist was able to adapt his ambitus to the mood of the audience, balancing very professional between lounge and dance music, the other act in the lounge, Trio Swing, were extremely talented but confusing background music with a concert. Loud doesn’t mean always better!

The sun deck dedicated to the Yacht Club on MSC Seashore it’s impressive with 1950 m2, a bigger swimming pool than on other ships and a panoramic Jacuzzi (8-seats, with individual controlled jets). The “One Pool – bar and grill” offers daily the option for an alfresco breakfast and lunch. The menus are different than in the Yacht Club Restaurant with fresh grilled meat and fish, freshly made pasta and a mouth-watering salad bar. Despite the laid back atmosphere, the team here follow the same service standards like anywhere else in Yacht Club and the constant presence of the Head Waiters Giovanni and Alex is a guarantee that even by the pool the touch of luxury and exclusivity are present any time of the day. Add to all of this the amazing cocktails and the charismatic personalised service offered by Arnold and you will have the perfect image of a great day by the pool.

The only downsides of the “One Pool” area are the size (a bigger number of guests can dilute the exclusivity of the product, and not all the time Yacht Club is lucky enough to have the Seashore A team lead by Rosalia Scaldafferi providing a personalised service to 300+ guests) and the weird, designed cabanas which look more like an exposed cage than a discreet and elegant retreat due to the lack of privacy and reduced space around.

The Yacht Club has its own restaurant on all MSC ships. On board MSC Seashore the YC Restaurant is the perfect definition for an elevated gastronomic experience embellished with an exquisite service. I have to admit that I was more attracted by the breakfast and lunch on the sundeck but every dinner taken in the Yacht Club Restaurant was a unique experience. The elegant style of Maître D’s Giovanni and Rafaelle ( any top restaurants around the world will be grateful to have them)the knowledgeable Sommelier Alessandro (for him each bottle of wine has a story which needed to be shared) and the attentive, classy and gracious service of my waiter Paulo was a perfect match for the delicious food. Indeed, sometimes the Kitchen still needs to work a little bit on presentation but overall, 5 stars for the food and service in Yacht Club Restaurant. By the way in a 7 days cruise you will have 2 themed night: a gala dinner (with the “eternal” lobster, but I will suggest you to go for the Rossini) and a Mediterranean Night with a interesting approach of Med dishes ( and don’t miss the bouillabaisse). Twice Giovanni Gargiulo, the charming and professional Head waiter, after surprised us with his secret pasta dishes in ONE POOL, spoiled in YC Restaurant our palates with a live cooking of Crêpes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee – a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, but who cares, you are in holiday!

Despite the fact that Seashore’s “MSC Yacht Club” is currently the fleet’s largest (total area 2973 m2), spreading over 4 decks, the feeling of luxury, exclusivity is kept intact due to the professionalism of the Yacht Club Director Rosalia Scaldaferri. With grace and style, bringing the modern managerial style in line with MSC values, with a charming presence every moments of the day and in any location around Yacht Club, Rosalia brilliantly leads a team of professional butlers, assistant butlers, waiters, stewards, and bar staff which successfully write every cruise the successful story of MSC Yacht Club.

A step behind Rosalia but always a step ahead any guest’s wishes, desires, requests or needs, the Head Butler, Dani Agung Sri Prasetyo brings to the team years of experience, passion, dedication and a elegant managerial style being the perfect example for what we normally call: “walk the talk”. No surprise that the Yacht Club team present now on board of MSC Seashore is the most successful one, always THE TEAM opening MSC new ships.

Maybe the only bit which didn’t fit or match the general brilliance of the Seashore’s “MSC Yacht Club” was the Concierge. With an attitude which reminded me of a 2 stars motel on a motorway, they always seemed to be “busy” always looking at the computer’s screens avoiding any eye contact with the passing passengers. With an annoying, sometimes, communication skills, considering the high standards just a line in the written SOP, they were keen to give you the information … the wrong ones. Most of the time I had the feeling that they were paid to sabotage the efforts of the rest of the teams. The Concierge was the only place where the Yacht Club’s sprit was hard to be detected. Couple of times I ask the Concierge to pass a message to my Butler, but the message never reach him creating embarrassing situations. Other times wrong information regarding the Covid19 tests on-board and the shore excursion booking process created issues which can be avoided in a very simple way: “doing your job properly and being accountable”. But from Seashore Concierge point of view was always somebody else fault. And blaming your team with a smile is not the MSC way!

Weird enough but in 7 days I didn’t have time to explore and take the advantage of all attractions and venues on board. I barely had time to enjoy the main pool – Long Island Pool on deck 18 which has two different depths so you can choose to swim or simply stand and hang-out in the water, gravitating around a 360-degree water fountain island in the centre or relaxing in the new lounge space within the pool. Whilst this ship is designed for warmer weather, the Jungle Pool features a larger magrodome that can be closed to create an indoor pool area when needed. This popular area has been enlarged and now includes an additional deck over and around the space, providing new areas for guests to sit and relax. It is just a short walk to the newly located buffet on deck 16 for a lunchtime snack – perfect for families who enjoy spending time by the pool. And of course the stunning Infinity pool with half-submerged concrete loungers/extends directly to the stern and the  2Infinity Whirlpools (portside and starboard Jacuzzis, with 10 seats each). The only question mark related to the design is that the pools on board seems to be a little bit to small for a ship operated in warm waters at full capacity.

Opening the doors to the MSC Aurea Spa is like entering another world. This universe of wellbeing, fitness and self-care is a must-see for anyone wishing to pamper themselves. MSC Seashore boasts 21 treatment rooms, including two couple’s treatment rooms, as well as a Medi Spa Centre, and an exclusive outdoor area to relax in the sunshine. For those in search for a new look is good to know that beauty salon, nail boutique and barber are completely redesigned. Of course during my voyage, due to the increased Health & Safety measures in order to grant a safe cruise for all guests, , some of the experiences were closed: Steam Rooms, Heat Baths Whirlpools, Ice & Snow Experiences. The Saunas, Salt Relax Room, Harmonic Relax Rooms, Experience Showers, Heated Loungers were open during my cruise.

A voyage with MSC Seashore brings you the leisure time and the facilities to maintain and build your fitness thanks to a wide choice of Sports Facilities and a state-of-the art Gym with fabulous sea views. You can admire the panorama, burn off calories and keep in shape. Whether you prefer to train alone, love a workout in company or live to compete, you’ll find just what you need. To be honest I didn’t try to find the Gym for myself, only for research purposes. Bad boy!

Providing a cruise experience that suits all of the family, MSC’s Seashore  boasts popular, free of charge kid’s clubs. Babies and toddlers are well looked after in the Baby club, while 3-11 year olds can have fun taking part in different activities including LEGO, arts and crafts and cooking at the Mini and Junior clubs. Meanwhile, with two clubs for 12-17 year olds, teenagers can spend some time away from their parents making friends and enjoying the fantastic facilities on offer to them, including dance parties, a cinema room and games consoles. With 703 m2 of dedicated kids’ space, the largest in the fleet, and re-designed rooms, the kids’ area on board MSC Seashore offers an unmatched experience. From the décor, design colours, and themes of the areas, the MSC Seashore’s Kids Club will give all children a chance to reach for the stars, thanks to a futuristic new theme, dedicated to space and planetary exploration. Every cruise includes a special and unmissable event: the “LEGO® Experience On Board“. An entire day dedicated to LEGO® bricks & activities for the whole family to enjoy. With 98 hours of live entertainment for the whole family per cruise, there is always something new and exciting for both parents and children to enjoy their time together!

The only area accessible for an old overweight man like me was the fabulous Pirates Cove Aquapark which features an impressive range of fun exciting activities for the whole family including adventure trails, treasure hunts, a galleon for kids and much more. The Kraken’s tentacles wrap around the adventure trail on its way to the Long Island Pool. Enhanced by virtual reality, MSC Seashore offers one of the largest and most interactive water attractions at sea.

With 18 bars and lounges, including twelve indoor and six outdoor venues, five specialty restaurants and four main dining restaurants – a gastronomic adventure with globally inspired menus await guests on board MSC Seashore. The ship has been fully redesigned to include even more options for eating and drinking with new bars and restaurants as well as outdoor venues and seating to bring the guests’ connection to the sea to new heights.

The ship has four main dining restaurants, including a dedicated restaurant for Aurea guests, serving first-class Mediterranean and international specialties in stylish surroundings. In all these venues menus change daily with exquisite dishes created for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more casual dining, the Marketplace Buffet has also been redesigned to give guests a real marketplace feeling with three distinct areas, each with a different design and ambience: Il Mercato, La Piazza and La Trattoria. In addition to its indoor seats, the buffet now features a new outdoor aft dining area as part of the Sky Bar, which offers comfortable lounge seating as the perfect spot for a cocktail with the ultimate sea view. After talking with Naga Dasari, the F&B Director on board MSC Seashore I realize that creating something for every palate and preference, providing a diverse array of outstanding international culinary experiences and high class services is more than a goal, it is a reality on board Seashore.

MSC Seashore’s Chef’s Court is home to the ship’s five specialty restaurants, situated in a new location on Deck 8 closer to the sea. Offering both new concepts and signature favourites, each venue serves a mouth-watering menu of international flavours. The ship’s signature steakhouse, Butcher’s Cut, will offer al fresco dining along the iconic waterfront promenade. Even with a guide as the famous and experienced Corporate Chef Luca Cesarini a final decision is hard to make.

Kaito Sushi Bar for the first time in the fleet, includes a sushi conveyor belt for guests to select dishes, with fresh sushi, sashimi, tempura and more. This popular venue offers deliciously authentic Asian cuisine prepared in front of guests with the highest quality ingredients.

Butcher’s Cut the signature American-style steakhouse serves select Linz heritage angus beef, gold standard in high-end angus beef thanks to the best genetics in breed. The menu includes a range of prime cuts for all appetites, paired with their favorite New World wines or cocktails. The new al fresco dining area allows guests the full MSC Seashore experience, with fresh air and sea views.

The first in the Seaside generation and the second in the fleet, HOLA Tacos & Cantina which feature the Latin American and Mexican-inspired cuisine in family style dining. Guests can enjoy a number of street food specialties and choose from an extensive list of tequilas and mescals, all combined in a fun, interactive setting

Ocean Cay is a chic seafood restaurant which serve Mediterranean-style fish and seafood dishes made with fresh ingredients, all complemented by an extensive wine list.

Kaito Teppanyaki brings an interactive and engaging experience, guests will delight in the tastes and spectacle of this venue, with eight grills, becoming the largest teppanyaki restaurant on any MSC Cruises ship. In this combined entertainment and dining experience, chefs cook with flair on an open grill with sizzling ingredients coming together to form delectable dishes.

And if the final bill at the end of the cruise is a threat for you don’t forget that on-line before boarding MSC Seashore or on-board you can benefit from the special offers of different dining packages

  • 4 DISTINCT EXPERIENCES THE FINEST FOUR – which includes: Ocean Cay, Teppanyaki restaurant, Butchers Cut and Hola! Tacos & Cantina
  • 3 DISTINCT EXPERIENCES TRILOGY – which includes: Ocean Cay, Butchers Cut and Hola! Tacos & Cantina
  • TWO DINING EXPERIENCES DUO – which includes: Teppanyaki restaurant and Butchers Cut

Or the unique experience of BUTCHER’S CUT CHEF TABLE with your own Chef and your

Among MSC Seashore’s many new features, there are numerous bars and lounges for guests to enjoy a drink, a light bite or take in some of the ship’s 16+ daily hours of entertainment. As Alyn Tocu, the Bar Operations Manager warned me from the very beginning is hard to decide where to have your next drink on-board: maybe in the The Wine Cellar, a brand-new concept, which includes a spectacular, walk-through wine cellar and oenological tasting experience or in the Sky Bar for panoramic sea views, a rooftop bar, ideal stop for cocktails or maybe in Horizon Bar situated on deck 19, and offering comfortable outdoor lounge seating. Of course, you can choose The Sports Bar decked out with sports memorabilia, which features a new billiard room or maybe the Chef’s Court Cocktail Bar located in the new Chef’s Court area at heart of the ship, the ideal venue to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail in stylish surroundings. Hard to chose between The Uptown Lounge and Brooklyn Café both kind of a piano lounge and bar, featuring live music and cocktails for those looking to wind down after dinner. Add to all of those MSC Aurea Bar where Aurea guests will also delight in the Top 19 Solarium’s stylish, which includes an outdoor lounge area and bar to complete a relaxing day in the sun.

But my all-time favourite was the Champagne Bar, a cosy bar for true connoisseurs, perfect for lively conversations and making new friends. The charming and elegant service of Danjela Dishi and the entire team made me return almost every night in that glamorous corner of the ship

From French retro-chic to sleek contemporary, the entertainment venues on MSC Seashore immerse guests in a series of different universes, filled with the latest technology for fantastically fun experiences. The options are endless, from the main theatre or the new aft lounge, the high-tech disco and the larger than ever casino through to the sports bars – there’s something for every member type of traveller.

MSC Seashore plays host to 4 new and original full-scale theatrical productions, with three performances each night of the cruise in the Madison Theatre: Belle Epoque, Coast to Coast, Meravigiloso Amor and Magic Woods. Unfortunately, on this voyage I didn’t find the physical time to stop in the theatre and watch any of this production but that’s a promise for the next time

I was more interested in the new concept launched on board MSC Seashore from the entertainment point of view. Le Cabaret Rouge inspired by French cabaret lounges of the 1920s, features original shows, a true feast for the eyes, with acrobats, dancers, singers and musicians all rolled into one breath-taking spectacle. With 400 seats, this multi-functional space flows seamlessly from cocktail hour with live music to an all-out dance party as the evening develops. I had the chance to watch an magic “Paris Spectacular with Toulouse-Lautrec” , the inspiring “Woman in Art” and the dynamic “Modern Collection”, all very different but all exceptional.

Live music is at home on board MSC Seashore with a lot of venues hosting great musical live acts with Trio La Brava, Rudy or Thiago in the Atrium, Trio Swing and Edo in Yacht Club Lounge or Miguel & Jazz Band in the Brooklyn Café. And of course, the parties. The charismatic Entertainment Manager Francesco Pulpo had a difficult task to adapt the already famous MSC parties to the new protocols imposed by the “safe bubble” concept. But his experience and his ingenuity transformed a possible handicap in a big advantage by moving parties from the Atrium to the Long Island Pool where the fantastic weather guaranteed a enormous success. In a week cruise you can expect 3 themed party: Flower Glory, Tropical and of course, the MSC signature party White Party

Of course, shopping must be part of anyone cruise schedule. On MSC Seashore you can find a wide selection of the best boutiques at sea stocked with all your favourite premium brands, so you can enjoy the best shopping experience during your cruise. All the hops are open all day and until late at night when at sea. And you can’t disembark before visiting the amazing MSC Logo Shop where you can infuse your cruise with gifts that spark magical memories of your voyage across the waves! Navigate the MSC Logo Shop for everything from gadgets to books and novelty gifts!  You’ll also find MSC’s very own DOREMI Mascot. And in all the shops and boutiques on-board you can benefit from the expert guidance of the fabulous staff lead my the Shop manager Mircea Petru  always ready to help to find something for the special people in your life, whatever their age and taste! And the best kept secret: on MSC ships you will get the lowest tax and duty-free prices applicable in accordance with local legislation.

Being home now and taking a step back looking at all photos and videos from this one-week journey on board MSC Seashore I can’t stop thinking how much professionalism, dedication, passion, forward thinking is needed to transform a 339m long ship, with 2270 staterooms, 5877 passengers and 1648 crew in such a formidable success. From an outsider replacing the flat “another cruise” with everlasting memories seems to be “mission impossible”. Not for the Hotel Director Neven Zdunic and his Deputy Adriano Palomba who not only know how to lead an excellent team towards success at every step of guest’s journey but know how the create magic touches on the Seashore’s brilliant basics.

MSC Seashore is a beautiful futuristic ship, extended and enhanced with a variety of brand-new features, spaces and experiences, aimed at bringing guests closer to the sea. But all these goals will never be reality without the amazing crew of this fantastic cruise ship. From the Pool Stewards to the officers and managers, from the Yacht Club Director to the butlers and bar staff everybody breath the same strong essence: “MSC is a family company with a family spirit!”. And to be honest, because of them, because of MSC crew I manage to cruise 8 times in Annus Horribilis 2020/2021 and 46 times in the last 7 years.

Reading all this very long 8 pages maybe you understand why, in the last day, the disembarkation day I wanted to sing loud, as loud as possible on the gangway my own version of Bocelli’s song “Time to say…I WANT TO STAY!”. But unfortunately for me, fortunately for my fellow passengers my voice wasn’t in the same place as my heart.

And the only solution was to fly back home, run to my computer and do the obvious and expected: I booked another cruise on board MSC Seashore and I am embarking next week.

That’s the risk when the ports of call stop being the destination! That’s the joy when the ship and staff on board are the destination!

Thank you MSC Seashore and see you soon!

INCA UN RTO (rejected take-off) LA TAROM

•January 31, 2021 • 3 Comments

“Noi suntem călătoriile noastre.

La TAROM, credem că fiecare călătorie ne modelează dezvoltarea personală, şi având acest lucru în minte, misiunea noastră este de a-i inspira pe oameni să îşi deschidă aripile.” (

Citeam zilele trecute o pagina de pe site-ul companiei TAROM – compania aeriana nationala, zambind amar la doua dintre paragrafele gasite acolo

“… fără o permanentă atenţie acordată detaliilor şi perfecţiunii, nu poate exista distincţie.” si “ Suntem oneşti cu pasagerii noştri, cărora dorim să le arătăm în fiecare zi că oferirea unor servicii deosebite se poate face numai cu stil” (

De ce zambeam? Si de ce zambeam amar?

Pentru ca ultima experienta avuta cu TAROM nu numai ca, contrazice misiunea, viziunea si valorile declamate cu strigat de marketing pe pagina oficiala a companiei aeriene, dar pentru ca la fiecare pas facut in recenta mea calatorie cu un bilet TAROM in buzunar am avut senzatia ca linia aeriana nationala incearca sa faca exact pe dos!

Dar sa o luam cu inceputul.

In timpul ultimei mele calatorii in Romania, o situatie neprevazuta a facut necesara deplasarea de urgenta la Madrid. Mi-am luat un bilet TAROM la clasa Business numai dus, Bucuresti – Madrid cu TAROM RO0145 la pretul “promotional” de 540 de euro. Ma puteti banui de snobism, dar in ultimii 15 ani am ales ca intotdeauna sa calatoresc la clasa Business sau First si asta pentru ca am considerat intotdeauna calatoria la fel de importanta ca si destinatia, iar confortul, spatial privat, serviciile la sol si la bord au justificat intotdeauna decizia mea de a plati preturi “premium”.

Mi s-a parut putin ciudat ca, in afara “eficientei” celor 4 email-uri primite de la TAROM pentru o singura rezervare (“booking invoice”, “e-ticket”, “payment confirmation” si “technical.assistance”) nu a mai existat nici o alta informatie  legata de zborul meu la Madrid. Toate celalalte companii aeriene cu care am zburat, pastreaza o legatura constanta cu pasagerul, oferind informatii la zi legate de zbor, conditii de calatorie, check-in si asa mai departe: British Airways/Iberia – 4 e-mailuri inainte de zbor + 4 SMS-uri, Lufthansa – 2 emailuri + 4 SMS-uri, KLM/Air France ceva similar, cat despre liniile aeriene americane sau Emirates ce sa mai vorbim … Dar mi-am spus ca asa o fi moda la TAROM desi compania a solicitat 1001 de informatii legate de mine ca pasager: adresa de e-mail, numar de telefon, contact de urgenta, …, numai numarul meu de la pantof nu-l au in baza lor de date!

Si mai ciudat a fost cand, cu 24 de ore inainte de zbor, am incercat sa fac check-in on line – o modalitate recomandata si preferata de toate liniile aeriene din lume, inclusive low-cost,mai ales in conditiile actuale de calatorie cand se promoveaza distantarea sociala si minimalizarea contactului intre pasageri si personalul de la sol. Dupa vreo 3-4 incercari esuate si mesaje ca rezervarea mea nu exista in sistem m-am decis sa contactez telefonic TAROM.

Nu are rost sa va spun cat timp am stat la telefon ascultand melodii de care nu auzisem si mesajul “…telefonul Dv. este important pentru noi, va rugam sa asteptati pana cand primul operator va fi disponibil”. Pana la urma am reusit sa aud in telefon o voce umana care mi-a confirmat ca rezervarea mea exista, ca mi s-a alocat locul 1A in clasa Business, ca biletul este OK, ca si zborul, si ca imposibilitatea de a face check-in online este legata de restrictiile impuse de Covid19.

Asa ca dimineata, putin dupa ora 6 eram pe aeroport, cu 2 bagaje de cala si unul de mana (toate respectand greutatea admisa) si cu un PCR negativ in buzunar. Naiv cum sunt, abia asteptam sa gust experienta unui zbor cu TAROM si asta pentru ca ultima data cand am zburat cu ei a fost acum 5-6 ani.

M-a asezat cuminte la coada de Sky Priority, acolo unde se facea check-iul pentru toate zborurile TAROM in acea dimineata, la clasa Business. Ajuns la ghiseu am fost intampinat de zambetul “dulce” al agentei de serviciu care mi-a dat o senzatie similara linsului unei lamai la ora 5 dimineata dupa o noapte de betie crunta

“ – Aici este pentru business. Ai bilet la business?” – a sunat prima intrebare “amicala” aruncata din spatele ochelarilor.

I-am explicat calm doamnei cu atitudine de ajutor de ospatar pe Litoralul anilor ’80 ca zbor la Madrid si, ca da, am bilet la clasa Business. Dupa o privire mustind de amabilitate, doamna a verificat in calculator si a replicat taios

“- Nu ai rezervare si in plus nici nu exista busines pe Madrid!”

Cand am incercat sa gasesc in telefon confirmarea rezervarii, doamna, care nu numai ca a fentat cursurile de customer service dupa angajare dar cred ca nu a stat pe acasa in primii 7 ani de viata, mi-a strigat ca nu are timp de discutii si ca daca vreau sa ma plang sa o fac la biroul de ticketing.

Noroc ca ajunsesm in aeroport destul de devreme, deci aveam timp sa ma mut dintr-un colt al aerogarii in celalalt cu arme si bagaje si, evident fara caruciorul obisnuit, care era “protejat” de angajati ai aeroprtului care ti-l puneau la dispozitie cu amabilitate pentru o suma modica.

La biroul de ticketing am avut sansa de a intalni pe cineva care chiar dorea sa ma ajute si asta cu o neasteptata amabilitate. Rezervarea a fost gasita “ratacita” undeva in sistem si mi s-a explicat civilizat ca TAROM a decis schimbarea tipului de aeronava eliminand din configuratie clasa Business. Din explicatiile primite am inteles ca schimbarea tiplui de aeronava a fost facuta din motive operationale, TAROM urmarind sa include in zborul respectiv si pasagerii de pe cursa anterioara anulata (din cauza zapezii care a inchis pentru cateva zile aeroportul din Madrid)

Schimbarea a fost facuta anuland complet nu numai clasa bussines dar si rezervarea mea din manifestul de zbor si de aceea nu apaream pe lista de check-in. Solutia oferita la biroul de ticketing a fost fie mutarea pe urmatoare cursa care avea clasa de bussines (peste 3 zile) fie zborul in clasa economic si rambursarea diferentei de pret.

Cum pentru mine prezenta la Madrid era obligatorie in ziua in care facusem rezervarea, singura solutie a fost schimbarea biletului la clasa economic. Decizia a fost facuta tinand cont ca zborul urmator era duminica ceea ce anula testul PCR pe care-l detineam si nu oferea fizic suficient timp pentru efectuarea unui nou test, iar in plus ar fi fost cam greu sa fac niste rezervari pentru 2 nopti intr-un hotel si transferuri la ora 6.45 dimineata.

La ticketing mi s-a spus ca diferenta de pret va fi calculate luand in consideratie tariful full fair pentru un bilet la clasa economic cumparat in aeroport la momentul respectiv, ceea ce inseamna, potrivit informatiilor primite ceva in jur de 30 de euro. Si daca imi aduc bine aminte, la cumpararea biletului pretul zborului la clasa economic era de 90 si ceva de euro si la clasa business 535 de euro.

Cu coada intre picioare, presat de timp si impingand valizele (asta da, moment de TikTok) m-am reintors la biroul de check-in unde acelasi agent a continuat sa aplice viziunea TAROM, va aduceti aminte, sper: “dorim să le arătăm în fiecare zi că oferirea unor servicii deosebite se poate face numai cu stil” (

Mai intai a tipat la mine ca nu am dreptul sa folosesc biroul de check-in Sky Priority pentru ca am bilet la clasa economic. Apoi, dupa 3 serii elegante de ochi dati peste cap mi-a spus … de fapt strigat … ca la economic am dreptul numai la un bagaj de cala si nu doua si ca nu-i problema ei ce fac cu al doilea, daca nu vreau sa platesc tariful de extra-bagaj. Dupa o noua serie de ochi dati peste cap a accepta “asa ca o favoare” sa imi inregistreze bagajele.

Surprinzator, sau poate nu, in tot timpul discutiei doamna cu voce percutanta a uita sa imi ofere varianta printata a drepturilor pasagerilor in cazul unor probleme la calatoria cu avionul, asa cum reglementeaza Uniunea Europeana si cum se procedeaza in toate aeroporturile mai mult sau mai putin civilizate din lume ( . Cand am intrebat-o de aceste drepturi mi-a raspuns clar si, inca o data, amabil “Urmatorul!”

Pana la urma m-am urcat in avion … Nu este cazul sa va spun ca alegerea clasei Bussines pentru zborul meu la Madrid nu a fost dictata numai de confort sau de modul obisnuit in care calatoresc dar, mai ales, de auto-protectia in conditiile nivelului ridicat al infectiei Covid19. Asa cum nu este cazul sa va spun sau sa va arat filmari si fotografii din timpul zborului (asta pentru a respecta anonimatul pasagerilor si echipajului de bord) pentru a demonstra cum, contrar anunturilor facute de echipajului de bord, toate masurile de protectie au fost ignorate: masti sub barbie, culoarul aeronavei folosit ca zona de dezmortire a picioarelor, cozi interminabile la cele doua toalete disponibile pentru un avion cu 180+ pasageri si aproape 4 ore de zbor.

Iar aventurile cu TAROM nu s-au terminat aici. Am incercat sa contactez compania in legatura cu drepturile mele ca pasager “declasat” (conform legislatiei EU): e-mailuri, telefoane, mesaje toate respectand reglementarile stipulate de “Drepturile pasagerului aerian” ( si urmarind pas cu pas procedurile mentionate (

La orice companie serioasa din lume, cu exceptia TAROM, evident, atunci cand trimiti un e-mail primesti imediat un raspuns generat automat de confirmare a receptionarii mesajului trimis. TAROM-ul a stat la “sol” intr-o ceata totala…mai mult decat atat in mod normal pana la rezolvarea problemei orice companie serioasa are un “follow up” informand clientul asupra evolutiei analizei solicitarii respective. TAROM-ul este inca in ceata

Dupa mai multe incercari nereusite am reusit sa stabilesc un fel de “comunicare” pe chat-ul asociat paginii de Facebook. Raspunsul a fost genial “Buna ziua, va rugam sa transmiteti mesajul dvs. catre Multumim. Raspunsul il primiti in 45 de zile minim. Nu pe loc”

Nu trebuie sa ai un doctorat in relatii cu publicul ca sa stii ca intotdeauna o abordare “pozitiva” este intotdeauna calea de urmat. Ceva gen “Raspunsul il primiti in 45 de zile MAXIMUM”. La Tarom grija si respectful fata de pasageri se reduce la “Raspunsul il primiti in 45 de zile minim. Nu pe loc!” Chiar nimeni dintre cei cu putere de decizie in TAROM nu realizeaza ridicolul situatiei si nu se gandeste sa faca putina curatenie in gradina proprie?

Evident ca nu am primit nici un raspuns de la TAROM. Asa cum evident o sa continui demersurile pentru un raspuns legal.

Raman totusi niste intrebari la care, naivul de mine, sper ca TAROM sa raspunda:

  • Cum este posibil ca in 2021, facand parte dintr-o alianta aeriana respectabila ca SkyTeam TAROM sa nu utilizeze nici un canal de comunicare cu pasagerii inaintea zborului, mai ales in situatii speciale? Inexistenta oricarei forme de comunicare legate de schimbarea clasei de zbor, tipului de aeronava inaintea sosirii la aeroport, a facut imposibila luarea unei decizii personale legate efectuarea sau nu a zborului la Madrid. Este ca si cum intr-o cafenea dupa ce am comandat un cappuccino mi s-ar servi un ceai de tei cu explicatia: e cald, e lichid si e in ceasca, care-i problema?
  • Cum este posibil ca in 2021, facand parte dintr-o alianta aeriana respectabila ca SkyTeam, TAROM sa nu aiba un sistem de feed-back bine pus la punct, cu exceptia unei adrese de e-mail la care oricum nu raspunde nimeni. Justificarea ca e companie de stat, si la stat orice merge, nu tine, mai ales in conditiile in care TAROM nu sta pe roze nici financiar, nici ca volum de pasageri si nici ca pozitie in clasamentul liniilor aeriene europene si internationale (  sau,cabin%20staff%20and%20ground%20staff)
  • Cum se poate explica comportamentul mai mult decat reprobabil al agentului de check-in, care in cele doua interactiuni m-a pus intr-o pozitie extrem de umilitoare, inacceptabila pentru un pasager in general, si un pasager al clasei bussines in particular. Si asta in conditiile in care , in intreaga lume, sub presiunea Covid19, companiile aeriene incearca sa-si retina si extinda baza de clienti, mai ales pe cei care platesc preturi “premium”. Si pana la urma urmei regulile bazale ale “customer service” ar trebui sa fie cunoscute si respectate fara exceptie, in situatii normale sau exceptionale.
  • Cum este posibil ca, in conditiile in care Romania ca membru al UE si TAROM ca membru al SkyTeam care au semnat reglementarile in vigoare legate de drepturile pasagerilor, compania aeriana nationala sa nu puna la dispozitie informatii legate de aceste drepturi (
  • Care este pozitia TAROM referitor la lipsa avantajelor care justifica pretul unui bilet bussines: confort, acces in lounge, serviciu la bord, prioritate la imbarcare si debarcare in cazul zborului Bucuresti-Madrid?
  • Care este pozitia TAROM referitoare la lipsa oricarui raspuns la solicitarea compensatiilor materiale si morale (conforme standardelor unei companii aeriene nationala si în temeiul Regulamentului (CE) nr. 261/2004) legate de experienta extrem de neplacuta a zborului Bucuresti – Madrid cu TAROM

Sa fiu sincer, ma indoiesc ca TAROM va actiona ca o companie onesta, de incredere si moderna adoptand o pozitie pro-activa si orientata spre satisfacerea pasagerului asa cum o fac celalalte linii aeriene. Si e pacat pentru ca personalul de bord (piloti si insotitori de bord) sunt la cu totul alt nivel in ceea ce priveste profesionalismul, customer service si atasamentul fata de culorile sub care zboara.

Nu mai este un secret pentru nimeni ca de multi ani, la TAROM deciziile politice si relatiile de familie sunt mai importante decat indicatiile turnului de control. Asa cum nu mai este un secret pentru nimeni ca situatia financiara a companiei si imaginea in lumea celor care calatoresc cu avionul trece de o buna perioada de timp prin turbulente majore.

Poate ca a veni vremea unei “degivrari” serioase la TAROM intr-o incercare reala de a readuce rândunica în zbor (logo-ul companiei inca din 1954) la locul cuvenit unei companii aeriene nationala.

Inainte de a fi profitabil TAROM trebuie sa isi recastige credibilitatea! In ochii pasagerilor nationali si internationali, angajatilor si specialistilor.

Cat despre mine, probabil ca singura solutie va fi sa urmez calea legala (

Si, evident, pe viitor c sa nu mai cred ca misiunea TAROM “este de a-i inspira pe oameni să îşi deschidă aripile” (

Poate doar buzunarele …


•October 9, 2020 • Leave a Comment

For many years I was a big fan of Norwegian Cruise Line, booking an average of 4-5 cruises a year, choosing THE HAVEN or the ship and not necessary the itinerary being an unconditional supporter of both hard and soft products sailing under the brand of NCL and manage to reach the Platinum Plus level of their Latitude Loyalty Program not very far of the top tier of Ambassador.

Suddenly 2-3 years ago a massive drop in quality of the service and a dramatic change of the target market made me to move away from NCL for a while. This year in February I decided to give it another try, hoping that I will rediscover my old, beloved NCL and travelled with them around South America.

It was a cruise which created memories more because the itinerary than the on-board experience but at the end of the day every cloud has a silver lining! And therefore, I decided to book once again with them, in April 2020 a 7-day Greek isles round-cruise from Athens visiting Santorini,

Mykonos and Rhodes on an SG cabin. And I decided to pay extra for Premium Plus Beverage Package Upgrade, Unlimited Premium Wifi Package Upgrade and an additional 3 Meal Specialty Dining Package. A total bill of £5,183.64, fully paid on 19th of February 2020.

Of course, Covid-19 messed up the cruise industry and my trip on Norwegian Spirt was cancelled.

I was very impressed with the speed and efficiency of NCL to react to the crisis and support loyal customer. At the same time with cancellation an incredible offer landed in my email:

“A future cruise credit in the amount of GBP 2,623.98 has been issued to your account. To reflect our appreciation for your business, we will also provide you a BONUS credit of 25% in the amount of GBP 656.00. (…)

These future credits are valid for one year from the issue date and applicable to all published sailings through December 31, 2022. (…)

As a special thank you for choosing Norwegian, and for a limited time only, we are pleased to offer you an additional 20% DISCOUNT on any sailing from July 1, 2020 through December 31, 2022 when you book by April 14th, 2020.

The future cruise credit, 25% BONUS and 20% DISCOUNT are combinable on our current Free at Sea promotion”

 A real WOW which made me think that NCL are strong in their business and they do care about their customer. And the WOW was doubled when I contacted the Call Centre to inquire about the FCC and options available. Friendly and efficient the agent made me (to be honest didn’t need to much effort for that) to re-book for January 2021 a 9-day cruise on Norwegian Spirit from Lisbon to Barcelona visiting Spain, Canary Islands & Maderia this time on an SB cabin. And once again I decided to pay extra for Premium Plus Beverage Package Upgrade, Unlimited Premium Wifi Package Upgrade and an additional 6 Meal Specialty Dining Package. This time using the previous FCC and some extra cash for the difference in price the final bill included the discount and the FCC was £5,410.30 for a cabin valued at £7,920.36.

Great deal and a win-win situation: I was happy to book a cruise in a nice cabin for a great itinerary and NCL secured future business respecting my loyalty as a Platinum Plus member. Later I contact the Call Centre again paying for some extra add-ons for my cruise.

Of course I read about the major financial troubles of NCL (,, ) but I considered all this news as malicious rumours trusting the respect of Norwegian Cruise Line for its loyal customers.

Flights and hotels booked, cruise paid in full on 22nd of September so the only thing left to do was to pack and start dreaming of my trip on board Norwegian Spirit. And to cope to almost daily phone calls from my “Personal Cruise Concierge” who was trying to upsell me add-ons already booked and paid despite the fact that I was explaining him that maybe will save time for all of us if he will check my profile first. No results so I started to look at his weekly phone-calls as an annoying routine.

But that was the end of the “happy love story” with NCL.

Overnight a major change in T&C occurred. To be honest I don’t remember to receive an official e-mail from NCL about that, as a Latitudes member or just as a future passenger with a cruise booked. Believe me I check at least 3 times my inbox, even the spam and my account with NCl. Nothing!

Couple day ago, I received an email informing me about the cancellation of my cruise in January 2021.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the globe, we have made the decision to suspend all voyages with embarkation dates through November 30, 2020 as well as all voyages onboard Norwegian Star, Dawn and Spirit with embarkation dates through March 30, 2021. We are very sorry for any inconvenience these changes may have caused.”

Not at very happy moment as you can imagine but at the end of the day Covid-19 messes up our lives more than we expected.

As the options regarding my FCC weren’t very clear from the letter, I decided to contact the Call Centre.

“For those reservations paid via a previously issued Future Cruise Credit (FCC), 100% of the FCC used will be re-applied to the Latitudes account. No further action is required; the FCC will be automatically added to the account. As we are sure you share our disappointment. Therefore, in addition to the 100% refund or return of your FCC, all guests will receive a 10% OFF discount on their next future cruise with us, combinable with all available promotions at the time of booking. The 10% off discount will be automatically added to the guest’s Latitudes account and will be available as of Wednesday, October 7, 2020. This discount can be used for up to one year from date of issue and can be applied towards any of our currently published sailings from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022.”

The conversation with the Call Centre was full of surprises … unpleasant surprises! During 15 minutes (away from any customer service manners) I was “informed” that:

  • The previous 25% bonus applied to the value of the original cruise was erased and replaced with a 10% bonus
  • All the add-ons will be included in the new FCC
  • I am not entitled to a refund in cash for the original value of the first cruise booked with cash and not FCC.

“The original FCC amount will be returned to the guests’ profile. If an affected booking has a previously applied FCC (as a result of a previous suspended sailing), the enhanced value future cruise credit will not be applicable. Bookings under this circumstance are not eligible for a cash refund and will receive the original value of the FCC back to the guests’ profile. Note FCCs have no cash value and cannot be redeemed for cash. Please be advised that at no time will an FCC be redeemable for cash, including but not limited to situations of possible future cruise suspensions, displacements, cancellations or if the FCC exceeds the time in which it must be used.”

In similar situation other cruise lines (MSC and Cunard for example which whom I experience the same cancellation issue) and airlines (British Airways and Air France for example) offers their customer 2 options: accept an FCC/voucher for future trip (trying to have the cashflow necessary for survival) or give a full refund (not easy to obtain but not impossible either after long phone calls and emails exchange)

While I do understand the decision of Norwegian Cruise Line to get rid of the 25% and replaced with a 10% (taking the decision to retain customers under the pressure of desperation by overpromise and underdeliver is never a good idea anyway) I can’t understand the new T&C which doesn’t allow me to get my money back, paid in cash for the first cruise.

Let’s do some maths

First cancelled cruise: £ 5183.64

Second cancelled cruise: £ 7,920.36 (after applying the FCC and the discount £ 5410.30)


Amount paid by me initially: £ 5183.64

Amount received due NCL “generosity”: £ 2510.06

Cash amount paid as a difference by me: £226.66

According to the “new” T&C explained by the agent during the painful phone conversation the only cash refund I’m entitled to is £226.66

Of course, NCL can take back their “generous” bonus of £ 2510.06, are they money (virtual money) giving to kook future bookings and ensure the much-needed cash flow.

What I don’t understand is why now, when I lost the trust in NCL way to conduct business and treat loyal customers I can’t get back my £ 5183.64 and invest this amount in a cruise line which, I believe, are more transparent, with a future and a respect for those keeping the ships at sea!

Of course, for the legal point of view all this numbers are right, NCL for sure got an army of excellent lawyers to cover any potential legal complaints. And at the end of the day when you buy a cruise you accept “the rules of the game”. I am totally fine with that.

The moral aspect of the entire story is something different. In May – June when “no sailing” crisis started to look more damaging than the initial thoughts, the campaign “rebook don’t cancel” created to support the cruise industry was at its peak. I wrote about that, I re-posted and re-twitted every message from cruise lines of bloggers, including NCL, being a stronger believer that the re-bookings and the FCC will keep the ships float, the industry carry on, our favourite type of holiday to have a future. Was not an option, it was a “duty” to re-book my NCL cruise because I trusted the company. And their answer was amazing!

Now, after the success of first MSC sailings and the Royal announcing some test cruises before the end of the year, Norwegian Cruise Line forgot about the loyal supporters and placed profit before customer satisfaction and customer retention.  

Of course, next year I will book a cruise with Norwegian cruise Line, just because I want to use my FCC and don’t lose £5000 but I will operate a change in my plans too. Instead of my 5 cruises planned (from 10 in 2021) to sail with NCL will be only one, and MSC and Cunard are strong options for the replacement.

I can feel the bitter taste of an expected divorce but, at the end of the day, it is not my job to explain NCL the well-known rule of customer service: “it’s cheaper to have a return business that to gain new customers” and that their new approach of FCC is just a false economy/profit.

It is time for me to follow your commercial motto: “Feel free to cruise your way!”


•October 7, 2020 • Leave a Comment

For me started to be a tradition all the time when I’m in Canary Islands to book a private boat for a relaxing day at sea. My previous experiences in Gran Canaria with Juanvi and Canarias&Baleares Gay ( ) were fantastic and even in Tenerife with Blue Boy and Tenerife Sailing Charters ( ) the trip was somehow above my expectations.

Therefore, for my end of September trip to Lanzarote I decided to find something similar. Wasn’t an easy task taking in the account how much tourism was affected by the pandemic and the inclusion of Canary islands on the UK “NOT TO GO” list.

After exploring some quite unreliable options I decided to book with Chillout Cruises Lanzarote  ( ) a half day tour on Margarita II sailing along the bay of Playa Blanca. And here is the verdict of the trip, a mixture of “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” for a day at sea.


Margarita II is a 16 metre ship which can accommodate a maximum of 12 passengers in different areas: in the back around a table with plenty seating, in the front where comfortable mattresses created a perfect place to take as much sun as you want or on the top deck where you  “supervise” the captain during the sailing. Plus you can access the indoor space where a lounge/kitchen, a large cabin and a toilet can give you the feeling of extra-comfort during the cruise. I hired the boat only for 3 of us so was plenty of space to enjoy the 5 hours cruise.

The boat needed a serious cleaning. Bruno, the Captain, was trying to explain me that after my cruise Margarita II will go in a drydock for some “much needed TLC”. I was totally fine with the fact that the pandemic didn’t give the crew the chance for some basic maintenance, but I still believe that some surface cleaning, some dusting, a mop and a bucket with water on the decks and in the toilet can’t be cancelled by any virus or pandemic.


Bruno and Sergio were fantastic hosts, charming, polite and extremely friendly, knowing when and how to jump in a conversation and giving us enough information without transforming a “chillout cruise” in a lecture about the island and the Ocean. Was fantastic to have the feeling that you are sailing with your friends not with a hired crew.


When you read the website and the offers of Chillout Cruises immediately you start dreaming about a perfect day with “great music, plenty of drinks and Lanzarote’s never-ending sun. A great BBQ or a selection of tapas in the early evening, and perhaps a few mojitos to chill out while you enjoy the sunset” (

I decided, as a treat, to pay an extra 50€for a sunset cruise with a departure at 3.00PM. After leaving Playa Blanca we sailed for 30-40 minutes and we stayed docked in front of Papagayo beach for couple of hours enjoying the clear water, the sun and the excellent company of our hosts. When we started sailing again I was excited to  experience a “very special evening cruise along the southern coast of Lanzarote, and contemplate a magnificent sunset from the sea with (…) freshly done mojitos as an option, a perfect drink while you relax listening to some music as the day comes to an end.” ( Unfortunately blaming some rebel clouds Bruno turn the boat towards the port after maybe 30 minutes of sailing and give us the chance to enjoy the sunset from the bus in our way back to the hotel.


Three thumbs down for the drinks on board just because I didn’t get what I paid for and the quality of what was served, was quite low. For this type of “holiday adventure” and for the price paid the “drinks department” plays an important role in gaining customer satisfaction. I discussed with Bruno before the trip that I am not a beer drinker and Cava, white wine and soft drinks will be perfect.  Reaching the agreement before hand didn’t mean that the reality was the expected one.

For the tapas a dubious Sangria was served. In touristic places Sangria is a mix of cheap alcohol, served in exaggerated quantities to be sure that the victims got drunk fast and easy. That was the case on Margarita II. Sergio was filling up the glasses with a Sangria which will make any real Spaniard to be ashamed. I can cope with one of two glasses of a “touristic authentic” Sangria but no more than that. The other option was … water.

For the BBQ Sergio opened a bottle of excellent perfect chilled local white wine. It was a chillout cruise and when the three of us finished the bottle in the middle of the BBQ and asked for another one, the reaction of our hosts was a little bit weird…trying to find excuses (“it is not the same wine”, “it is not cold”) to don’t open the second one. We didn’t dare to ask for more. And by the way the promised/paid Cava, Mojitos or soft drinks were fantastic … but only on the website not on board.

I do understand the during the pandemic the local businesses hit a hard time and sometimes they needed to cut corners in order to survive. But when you promise and charge for something which is not offered, this is more than cutting corners is a “business killer”.


“Chillout cruises” offers different catering options. When booking your trip on their website you can choose

  • For €45 a selection of tapas (smoked salmon, local cheese, Iberian ham.) + drinks (cava & local wine) (15.00€)
  • For €18 a selection of local cheeses + Drinks (Lanzarote wine & Soft Drinks) (6.00€)
  • For €45 a BBQ (fish: fish of the day, prawns, squid) + Salad + Canarian Potatoes + Drinks (sangría & soft drinks)
  • For an extra €30 an extended BBQ (ribs, sausages & beef fillets) + Salad + Canarian Potatoes + Drinks (Sangria & soft drinks)

Being our anniversary, we decided for a “full option” with tapas & BBQ and I asked Bruno before booking to skip the beer in the menu and just go for sangria, cava wine and soft drinks, of course without changing the price. Which was easily agreed.

The “tapas” was in fact a delicious plate with cheese and ham which, to be honest, was more than enough to start our trip, especially that we board the ship just after lunch.

THE BBQ was an unexpected pleasant surprise, mastered by Bruno in just couple of minutes. Excellent quality meat, ribs and Chorizo sausages served with papas arrugadas and fresh salad. The only half thumb down was for the fact that before the ride I agreed (and paid) with Bruno for a mixed BBQ with meat and seafood (as mentioned on the website), but maybe the missing seafood wasn’t about cutting corners but saving the sea life!


After anchoring in front of Papagayo beach I enjoyed the real dimension of a “chillout cruise”, because Bruno and Margarita II offer everything you need for a great day at sea: swim, snorkel, paddle surf, fish or just relax on the deck. Something for everybody on board.

Underwater Cam in Lanzarote


Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the day spend with Chillout cruises but, when I look back at the excellent experiences I’ve had with for a similar price (€600 last year for an exclusive modern yacht, tapas, unlimited drinks and a paella on the beach) and when I got the bill for €925.02(£881.96) for my adventure I Lanzarote a bitter taste of disappointment labelled the folders with the photos from that day.

Chillout Cruise in Lanzarote

While I do understand the fight for survival of local businesses during the Covid-19 restrictions I can’t stop thinking why some of the local businesses don’t realised that return customers can be a solution for survival.

 I am going back to Lanzarote in November and of course I would love to take another private boat trip for a day out at sea. The question is:  “Do I choose Chillout cruises ( without searching for another deal or not?” I am still thinking of the answer.


•October 5, 2020 • Leave a Comment

 For the last 10 years and 50+ vacations with different cruise lines, for me a perfect holiday was a 10 day cruise in a nice spacious suite, with a generous all-inclusive package, an interesting itinerary and a personalised real 5-star customer service. A mixed experience in all-inclusive resorts holidays never made this option a top priority of my “do to” list.

Until now. Until I had the chance to spend 9 days at Melia Salinas in Lanzarote.

And let me explain you why in 9 reasons.

REASON 1 – “A warm welcome before arrival”

The communication with the hotel before my arrival was incredible proving that at Melia Salinas they know that the guest’s journey starts in the moment of booking. Messages from Guest Service Department and LEVEL Concierge increased the excitement of the future holiday, made me more familiar with the hotel and the services provided and gave me the feeling that I was “home away from home” before taking off from Heathrow. More important than that a week before my arrival at Melia Salinas I received all that important information regarding the protocols of “Stay Safe with Melia”, an excellent framework created for the comfort and safety of, both, guests and staff. Everything was done in a professional, efficient, friendly manner managing to put me an easy especially when Lanzarote is still on the “NOT TO GO” governmental list.

REASON 2 – “Check-in”

After a long journey, the arrival and check-in are maybe the most important part of the customer service journey. You want to walk in and feel recognised, attended to, and most importantly welcomed. It is an important touchpoint between a hotel and guest, is the moment where the guest’s initial impressions are formed — and, as we all know, first impressions count.

After getting over the magic landscape of Lanzarote saw during my transfer from the airport and the impressive entrance of the hotel, stepping in the luxurious lobby of Melia Salinas made for sure an impression. But that was just the beginning!

When chatting with the driver about my return journey a staff member of the Reception team pick-up my luggage and invited me at the LEVEL check-in desk. Carina and Abel, mastering to perfection the charm and professionalism of genuine hosts started the check-in procedures. As I check-in on-line before my arrival (which is always a great idea and Melia gives you extra points to your account for doing so), everything was just pure formality but done in a very elegant yet friendly way. While I was enjoying a glass of cold Cava, Carina explained me the new protocols in the hotel. Was more a chat about how I can enjoy at maximum the hotel’s facilities, than a list of “DO NOT!” things (like my later experience at RIU Plaza Espana).

A quick yet genuine welcome from the Assistant General Manager JISKE JAGER rounded the feeling that I was not just a reservation confirmation number, but a guest of a wonderful hotel. While some guests might want to skip the chitchat and get to their room pronto, a warm welcome never fails to start a hotel-guest relationship on the right foot.

While my luggage was sent to my room, Abel took the role of guiding me to VILLA Magdalena, my home away from home for the next 8 nights. In a 5 minute walk I found everything I needed about the hotel and services from Abel and the introduction to my accommodation was done in a very informative and not-rushed manner, respecting at the same time my hidden dream/need of jumping in the shower.

What a perfect start of my holiday!

Check-in Experience at Melia salinas

REASON  3– The Hotel

Melia Salinas is far from being a huge resort specialised in mass-produced package holiday experience. It is a place with a very powerful idiosyncratic, not to say eccentric, personality, bearing the legacy of Manrique and Higueras in every corner (you can read more about the hotel on my blog)

The hotel exudes magic and the array of luxury facilities for sure will kidnap every guest’s attention. But maybe after a day or two, when the pampering and comfort will be started to be a daily routine you will find some time to discover the story behind this magnificent building. Classic and elegant, yet modern and functional, this complex is a true reflection of the stories that comprise it. And I was lucky enough, one day, to have ERNESTO GUERRA, General as an excellent guide truly in love with his “little office”.

REASON 4 – Magdalena Villa

Fully renovated in 2018, the 272 rooms of the Meliá Salinas are divided into 214 doubles, 18 junior suites, 28 master suites, 9 garden villas, and 1 presidential garden villa. All decorated in a stylish, modern design combining marble and the most elegant furniture and an endless range of details and facilities to ensure you are perfectly comfortable and provided with all you will need.

The jump in quality from the suites to the private villas is tremendous. If the master suite takes your breath away, then the villas could cure a serious bout of hiccups. Designed by architect Álvaro Sans, these chalets, apart from being majestically constructed with enviable furnishings, also offer 24-hour personalized service.

My choice this time was Villa Magdalena located at the end of the LEVEL complex, with a perfect balance of seclusion, distance to hotel’s bars and restaurants and an unrivalled opening to the beach and the Ocean having an exotic botanical garden as a buffer zone. A perfect choice for those seeking privacy combined with the best service of a top-class hotel.

Most of the time the guests look at these villas as perfect luxurious accommodation options for their holidays. Fortunately chatting with VIRGINIE CORTHALS, Guest Experience Manger (you can read more about the villa on my blog) I discovered the story behind this gorgeous accommodation.

REASON 5 – All-inclusive package

Melia Salinas reinvented the tarnished image of “all-inclusive”, bringing together quality, variety, style and a touch of luxury, mixing in their approach to “all-inclusive” concept a fantastic infusion of international and local influences. Each moment of the day spent here was part of this unique concept, making the entire experience not only an excellent value for money but an unforgettable happening too. (you can read more about the all-inclusive option on my blog)

REASON 6 – Housekeeping

Nothing repels hotel guests more than poor housekeeping; cleanliness sets a huge impression for quality and demonstrates to guests how much the hotel really cares about their stay. According to statistics 97 per cent of travellers say cleanliness is an important factor when booking accommodation, and just one negative review can lose hotels around 30 guests, according to recent studies.

At Melia Salinas the housekeeping is at its highest standards both in the guests’ rooms and public areas. The hotel is sparkling clean and both, the basics and attention to details have a capital importance in the philosophy of the housekeeping department for the main service and the turn-down fine tuning.

Now, more than before, the pandemic place every hotel in the position to remove some of their special touches (decorations, amenities, room’s adds on ) and the new protocols brought the presence of masks, gloves and hand-sanitizers which can add an unwanted dimension to our holidays.

But, at Melia Salinas, using the excellent framework “Stay Safe with Melia” the comfort and the safety were tailored to guests’ expectations. Nothing was too much for the housekeeping team, every item missing but needed was provided on request, the extra-cleaning was done in an-intrusive manner and indeed the concept “my room, my temple” is a comfortable and safe reality.

I always had a bad feeling about hand-sanitizers: they are sticky, smelly … a kind of a “needed unpleasantry”. But at Melia Salinas I was looking for any opportunity (and they were everywhere) to use the hand-sanitizer – a local product with aloe vera (the green juicy star of Lanzarote) which on top of the expected disinfection function (99% alcohol) smelled  lovely and was like a free organic hands treatment.


The Level It is the most exclusive service offered by the Meliá to provide its most distinguished guests with unique VIP treatment, offering a range of superior quality personalised and luxurious services.

At Melia Salinas this concept was raised to a different … level in both hard and soft products. This most exclusive hotel service provide guests with a wide range of special personalised services and unique attributes offering unforgettable experience in superbly located and equipped rooms and suites, and excellent private areas specially reserved for The Level guests: The Level Lounge – a distinguished private area with a host of services and special facilities of The Level private pool with a choice of premium-brand sunscreens, and the chance to book a Bali bed with Pool Bar service.

Here THE LEVEL is a hotel within a hotel, reminding me of the concepts on MSC (Yacht Club) or NCL (The Haven) where luxury and pampering are just daily routines.


Didn’t take too long to understand that at Melia Salinas everybody understands the key behaviours and attributes which make the difference between a good experience and a great one for their guests. And each member of the team plays an active role in the business of creating ‘memories’ for their customers.

It’s like Christmas every day when you discover after the morning service or after the evening turn -down a little surprise in your room: a plate with local cheese, a mix of nuts and dried berries, some sweets or fresh fruits. Everything presented in a spectacular way. And you know the old say: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

I will never forget the “welcome drink” in my room. Normally some wine or a local drink will be a WOW moment. But at Melia Salinas an interactive dimension was added and, in my room,, I had the chance of a remote mixology lesson, the welcome drink being a local cocktail which I prepared myself having the ingredients and the recipe provided by the Guest Experience team.

Welcome Cocktail at Melia Salinas

Or the amazing surprise organised for me on the night when my partner and myself were celebrating our 20th anniversary. On that night I didn’t have the feeling that I was in a hotel. I was HOME celebrating a special moment with FRIENDS and FAMILY. And that’s says a lot about Melia Salinas!

Surprise Anniversary Party at Melia Salinas

Mixing the “brilliant basics” (quality of hard and soft product, impeccable cleanliness, great customer service, attention to details) with these magic touches transforms Melia Salinas from an all-inclusive resort in a DESTINATION!

If I will have to choose one single reason for returning to Melia Salinas, for sure that will be the SALINAS TEAM!

From my arrival until the moment when I started my journey back home, I was amazed at how genuinely kind the entire staff is. From thoughtful greetings to personally following up on special requests everybody at Mela Salinas feel more like family than employees, keeping a perfect balance between being professional and being friendly.

Normally great hotels put their customers at the forefront of their operation, but at Melia Salinas guest satisfaction is the heart of a daily routine. And you can feel that everywhere.

Here is so easy to realise that the entire team at Melia Salinas love the hotel and their jobs. It is an unwritten rule a hospitality that if f a customer is unfortunate enough to have a bad experience, for any reason, you need to make sure it’s made easy and clear for them to tell you about it.

From restaurant and bar staff to management everybody at Melia Salinas are genuinely interested in the dimension of your experience at the hotel. I saw during my stay ERNESTO GUERRA – General Manager, JISKE JAGER – Assistant General Manager and VIRGINIE CORTHALS, Guest Experience Manger walking around and interacting with guests, always open to feedback and suggestion, ensuring in a relax yet professional way that their quality is on par with the guests’ expectations.

Interview with Ernesto Guerra, General Manager, Melia Salinas

During the pandemic the masks in theory covers one of the few non-verbal communications that translates between cultures: THE SMILE. The human smile exerts enormous influence on the perceptions of those with whom we interact.  Research has demonstrated that “service with a smile” isn’t just a catchphrase – it’s a proven approach for elevating customer satisfaction.

The “blue barrier” had a huge impact on both sides of hospitality business. For me, as a guest, it’s more difficult to sense if the staff are welcoming, approachable, friendly, or cheerful.  For them, it’s more difficult to sense if I am satisfied, delighted, frustrated or annoyed.

At Melia Salinas all these problems were solved with grace and professionalism. That gesture with the hand on the chest showing appreciation and thanks complemented the spoken word, providing visual context to whatever was being communicated, values more than 1001 words. Smiles may be hidden behind a face mask, but the eyes aren’t and the team at Melia Salinas know how to “smile with their eyes”. Smiles may be hidden behind a face mask, but the passion and professionalism can transcend any barriers.

A team considering EXCELLENCE as a DAILY ROUTINE

I know that some of my “cruising” friends will be shocked and/or upset but I am confident in saying that my stay at Melia Salinas in Lanzarote was better than any cruises I took and I will have, in the future, a lot of thinking to do, before deciding my next holiday: a cruise or a slice of Paradise at Melia Salinas.

Post Scriptum: For all those still contemplating how safe is to go in holiday in Canary Islands when daddy from No. 10 is telling you not to go here is the proof that if you were a mask, if you protect yourself and the others, if you respect the rules, of better and easier if you follow “Stay Safe with Melia” as a Holiday Bible – COVID-19 edition you will always be on the safe side.

My Covid test done after returning from Lanzarote came yesterday: NEGATIVE !



•October 4, 2020 • Leave a Comment

A night at “LEVEL – A La carte” restaurant, Melia Salinas

An “all-inclusive” package at Melia Salinas will guarantee you access to an extraordinary culinary experience during your entire stay, with amazing breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

But if one day (or maybe more) you want to enter a different world of flavours, a booking to the “LEVEL – A La carte” restaurant will give you the chance to embrace an exquisite cuisine culture for food sensations, whatever takes your mood.

If you don’t have a reason for a treat, invent one, you have at Melia Salinas the perfect holiday at the end of the day!

The LEVEL Lounge shows here it’s amazing versatility. The metamorphosis of the efficient bright area for LEVEL guests’ breakfast into a stylish dining space touched by an understated elegance is incredible. If you had breakfast that morning in the Lounge will be difficult, if not impossible to recognise the dining version of it. The accent lighting adds a personal flourish to the space, creating the right atmosphere for a sophisticated but relaxed dinner.

At the entrance the Maître D was waiting for me with a glass with Cava and after checking the reservation (don’t forget to book a table if you don’t want to be disappointed), he guided into the restaurant and giving me the choice of having a table in the elegant indoor area or one on the terrace with the breath-taking views of the Ocean. I decided for the outdoor option enjoying the shadows of the night on the next-door beach and the view of the incredible staircase designed by Fernando Higueras, seen now from a completely different angle.

Due to the pandemic and in line with the protocols of “Stay Safe with Melia” the classical menus were replaced with the more efficient QR code (so, don’t forget your smartphone). But our waiter was ready to replace the technology with a personal touch having plenty of recommendations for my dinner, proving not only strong product knowledge but bring to my attention the local products and the traditional cuisine.

I never been impressed by a multi-page menu which once reigned supreme in a restaurant. Though you may not realize it at first, a smaller menu can help you gain clarity on restaurant’s dining concept. A smaller menu not only easier makes the decision process easier for me, but it can also help increase the perception of quality. We all know that restaurants can’t be everything to everyone, and a large menu size can make it seem as though the Chef’s efforts are not focused. By limiting the menu to just a few offerings, it sends a message to guests that these dishes are restaurant’s specialties.

“LEVEL – A La carte” at Melia Salinas designed a successful formula for their menu.

To open your culinary celebration you can chose from 5 delicious starters, from the local “stars” Papas arrugadas with Mojo and the basic but delicious  Pimientos de Padron cooked with Janubio salt to a Grilled smoked Canarian cheese on tomato compote or Coca escalivada – the typical Catalan pizza-like pastry with fresh basil and truffle aroma. Prices from 8 to 12 Euros.

For the main dish you have a choice of 2 fish/seafood options (“cherne”/bass grouper or octopus) and meat options (duck or veal) all of them cooked to perfection with prices between 16 to 18 Euros.

And you can end your culinary adventure choosing one of the three deserts options with prices between 5 and 7 Euros.

Without being overwhelming the wine list has an excellent selection of international, Spanish and Canarian wines, all at very decent prices.

But let me tell you about my choice:

I started with a delicious “Timbal de aguacate y verduras de temporada con salmon de Uga y vinagreta de mango” ( 12 Euros) – the rich, buttery and creamy avocado, the smoky touch with a hint of the sea salt from the Janubio salt flats added to the fine texture of the salmon and the delicate zest of the mango vinaigrette created an exquisite starter big enough to open you appetite for the main course but small enough to leave space for the next culinary surprise.

When at Melia Salinas you need to try the delicious salmon just because Lanzarote is home to one of the best smoked salmons in the world. In the town of Uga, for more than 40 years, they use top-quality Norwegian and Scottish salmon and smoke it using sea salt from the Janubio salt flats, achieving the best flavour.

For the main course I decided for “Rejo de pulpo asado sobre crema de batatas y lagrimas de alioli” (18.50 Euros) The octopus was perfectly grilled, tender, succulent, with a crispy outside and a slightly smoky flavour. As the grilled octopus flavour is mostly influenced by the ingredients used along with it and the cooking method, the idea of placing the generous portion on a bed of sweet potato cream was great and the drops “alioli” added a flavour snap to the combination.

therefore I ordered TWO deserts: “Sorbete de mojito con aloe vera y toques de menta fresca” (5.50 Euros) and “Mousse de queso en cilindro de chocolate blanco sobre marmelada de cactus” (6.50 Euros) it is hard to say which one was my favourite.  The fresh taste of mint, zesty lime juice and white rum from the classic cocktail transformed into a fat-free dessert with the unexpected twist of slightly bitter, watery, with an acidic yet sweetish bite at the end added by the local aloe vera. Or the richer, fluffier texture and milder flavour of the cheese mousse perfectly contained and controlled by the suave, subtle taste of the white chocolate.

My choice for wine was “Vulcano de Lanzarote”, a local product, with a good structure in the mouth, fresh, a pleasant fruity and floral aroma and balanced acidity, which had a long and persistent flavour of white flowers (jasmin & manzanilla). Perfect choice for my fish/seafood choice for dinner.

If you add at all of this the elegant relaxed, with a pleasant smile service you will get the full image of a perfect night in “LEVEL – A La carte” restaurant at Melia Salinas. But, once again, don’t forget to book in advance. The restaurant is open only on Friday and Saturday and you can’t miss this exquisite experience.

Dinner at THE LEVEL – A la carte Restaurant, Melia Salinas

MELIA SALINAS – A luxury hotel? A living museum? Or maybe both.

•October 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment

When I booked 8 days stay at Melia Salinas, after checking everything possible on-line, from reviews to stories in magazine and newspapers I did expect a safe and luxury escape away from the pandemic daily grim. And indeed, if you’re planning to visit Lanzarote in style then Melia Salinas is likely to feature at the top of your list.

What I didn’t know at the moment of booking is that the hotel dominating Costa Teguise will offer me more than a stylish holiday I was hovering on the brink of a unique cultural experience.

What I didn’t know at the moment of booking is that the hotel dominating Costa Teguise will offer me more than a stylish holiday I was hovering on the brink of a unique cultural experience.

Meliá Salinas is the jewel that every crown would like to have. Designed since its inception by the great architect Fernando Higueras with the collaboration of the world-renowned César Manrique, the hotel was classified as a Site of Cultural Interest and is currently historical heritage, housing different works by Canarian artists that the guest can discover and enjoy.

The hotel exudes magic and the array of luxury facilities for sure will kidnap every guest’s attention. But maybe after a day or two, when the pampering and comfort will be started to be a daily routine you will find some time to discover the story behind this magnificent building. Classic and elegant, yet modern and functional, this complex is a true reflection of the stories that comprise it. And I was lucky enough to have two excellent guides ERNESTO GUERRA, General manager and JISKE JAGER, Assistant General Manager, both in love with their “little office”.

But let’s start with a little bit of history.

Lanzarote was the first island in the Canary Islands archipelago to be explored by European seafarers, probably because it is the northernmost of the islands and the closest to the continent. Between 1320 and 1339, the Italian seafarer Lancelotto Malocello arrived at Lanzarote and gave it his name. In 1402, the Frenchman Jean de Béthencourt arrived and defeated Guadarfía, the Guanche king, or Mencey, of the island. And so Lanzarote became the first annexed island of the Kingdom of Castile, coming under its rule and vassalage.

Teguise is one of the seven municipalities Lanzarote island is divided into nowadays, and it is without a doubt the one that enjoys the richest history and traditions. The place received the name of Teguise in honour of Princess Teguise, King Guadarfía’s daughter and married to Maciot de Béthencourt’s, Jean de Béthencourt’s nephew.

The island born artist and architect César Manrique had returned from New York in the late 1960´s just as package tourism was starting to take off in Spain. He was deeply concerned that Lanzarote could face a concrete burial like the high-rise development starting to engulf the Costas and other Canary Islands.

“I believe that we are witnessing an historic moment where the huge danger to the environment is so evident that we must conceive a new responsibility with respect to the future”. (César Manrique)

As a result. Manrique urged restraint and sought to influence development on the island as much as possible by using his contacts in the island government, which was under the aegis of an old family friend called Pepin Ramirez. Manrique envisioned creating a low-rise luxury resort in a previously deserted spot that was christened Costa Teguise – named as the seaside sister to the ancient island capital of Teguise some ten minutes up the road.

The Gran Melia Salinas was to be the first incarnation of this plan and the first building in the resort. Creating, in collaboration with Madrid based architect Fernando Higueras in 1976, it was hoped, a stylish example for future development.

Fernando de Higueras Díaz was one of the most famous architects in the world during the 1970s, his work being recognized worldwide as an original and interesting union of constructivist, rationalist and organic architecture

One day in 1959 or 1960, the 29-year-old Fernando Higueras was queueing in Casa Macarrón, an artists’ supplies shop in Madrid, when he recognised another face in the queue. That face belonged to César Manrique, eleven years older than him and a well-known face in Madrid’s art scene. The two got chatting, and the resulting friendship led to some of Lanzarote’s most inspiring architectural projects.

Higueras did take charge of some major projects Lanzarote – chief among them being the island’s first five-star hotel, the Meliá Salinas in Costa Teguise. He would fly over every fifteen days to check how work on the hotel was progressing, and each time he would be met at the airport by César Manrique, and would stay as a guest at his home in Tahiche

The Meliá Salinas is almost certainly the most impressive of all the pleasure palaces built in the 70s and 80s on Lanzarote, won the international Prize for Architecture in 1979.

Built by Higueras according to the brutalist current of the time, it is a poem in concrete – a spectacularly modern building that also hints at the ancient terraces of the island’s farmers. The majestic building conceived in concrete seen, due to the particularity of this material, the actions in the lining of the building both inside and outside were executed in an almost handmade way. Today it will be impossible to build such a complex because of its costs.

Melia Salinas’ idiosyncratic, not to say eccentric, personality is a reminder of Manrique’s early insistence that new building on the island should be discreet, respectful and low-rise.

The hotel was laid out around well-like patios filled with an artificial jungle of stately palms, ferns and succulents, white-painted pathways meandering among streams and lumps of black volcanic rock — typical expressions of Manrique’s art-in-nature philosophy. But its the botanical centrepiece of the Gran Melia that is arguably its most impressive feature. “You created order, I will give you chaos” Marique replayed to Higueras when he started to design the gardens.  As here Manrique designed a lush and breath-taking indoor botanical garden that serves both as homage to the traditional Canarian patio found in many older island homes – and a much-copied talking point that has been replicated in other hotels around the world.

And a quick suggestion for you. When you have time, one day just go back to the reception and re-enact you arrival: go out of the hotel, enter the revolving door and instead of searching for the check-in desk (as for sure you did at your arrival) look straight ahead. The view is mesmerizing: from the elegant lobby your eyes are guided by the luxurious gardens to meet the Ocean. What a feeling!!!!! I was not at all surprise to find out that these gardens are JISKE JAGER’s (Assistant General Manager) the favourite spot.

My favourite spot at Melia Salinas: JISKE JAGER, Assistant General Manager

Cesar Manrique’s artistic style is best observed in the very spacious swimming pool-lake area. The exquisite balance between light and shadow, the playful shapes of the palm trees, the use of natural stone for the floors, and the clever incorporation of traditional Canary Island architectural elements all nourish the singular aesthetic of this stunning space. This rustic beauty, particularly in the stone floors, for example, may seem somewhat at odds with the resulting comfort of the area.

Central Pool at Melia Salinas

And if the pool or the gardens didn’t satisfied you hunger for majestic architecture take one of the lifts to the last floor, walk along the corridor and exit the hotel using the impressive staircase, another architectural gem of Melia Salinas, descending from the heights of this concrete elegance to a wide terrace ready to embrace the Ocean. For sure you will feel like a “rock star” as the General Manager ERNESTO GUERRA described his favourite spot of the hotel.

ERNESTO GUERRA’s favourite spot at Melia Salinas

Melia Salinas bears many of Manrique´s original works of art and murals, which sit alongside works from other leading Canarian artists such as Pepe Damaso and Paco Curbelo. Two of Manrique’s rather murky abstract paintings hung behind the reception desk. What impressed me more were his original wall-pieces in the lobby and cocktail lounge — parades of stylised creatures carved into long panels of island stone.

Another element to highlight, and one of the keynotes of Manrique’s public art, is the way that this architect has capitalized on the strategic location of the Gran Meliá Salinas, directly on the beach, to spread out the spaces for relaxation and quiet contemplation around the swimming pool. The calm atmosphere is a solid feature of this luxurious resort, infused with the sounds of the waves lapping the shores of Los Charcos beach and the enveloping rhythm of the water as it falls on the natural stone of the waterfalls.

This emblematic establishment is increasingly becoming a mandatory stop for many visitors to the island of Lanzarote, who, in the same way that they visit the tourist centres designed by Manrique and the Timanfaya National Park, stop at the Hotel Meliá Salinas, a work of art and a perfect example of a manual for architects and engineering schools around the world.

A hotel with history – MELIA SALINAS

Now, do you still wonder WHY I fall in love with Melia Salinas?


•October 3, 2020 • Leave a Comment


After an 8 days stay at Melia Salinas I am pretty sure that a slice of Paradise was hidden here on the island of Lanzarote.

Tucked away in a quiet part of Costa Teguise, the beachfront hotel is an upscale adults-recommended location known for its beautiful gardens and iconic architectural style. It is your unique chance to immerse yourself in the artistic and cultural heritage of Lanzarote at this grand hotel with a unique lagoon pool designed by César Manrique himself, his works of art adorning the public spaces around the hotel, creating an elegant atmosphere. The stunning white sand beach of Los Charcos is on the doorstep for you to dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean or choose to chill around the palm fringed pools.

Fully renovated in 2018, the 272 rooms of the Gran Meliá Salinas are divided into 214 doubles, 18 junior suites, 28 master suites, 9 garden villas, and 1 presidential garden villa. All decorated in a stylish, modern design combining marble and the most elegant furniture and an endless range of details and facilities to ensure you are perfectly comfortable and provided with all you will need.

The resort’s reputation continues to improve, thanks to renovations which have converted adjoining double rooms into 28 master suites. The junior suites stand out for the double balconies with comfortable furniture and the addition of a mini-bar and small living room. The master suites are a testament to modernity, comfort, and luxury; modern for the appointment of technological equipment, including two plasma screen televisions and a sound-system; comfortable for offering guests a pleasant and relaxing living area that includes a dressing room, a general living room, and a kitchen; and luxurious for parquet flooring, a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom and a hot tub with hydro-massage jets on one of the two balconies. There is nothing more exquisite than relaxing in the hot tub under the warmth of the sun. The minimalist touch in the décor is evident in all corners of these breath-taking room.

The jump in quality from the suites to the private villas is tremendous. If the master suite takes your breath away, then the villas could cure a serious bout of hiccups. Designed by architect Álvaro Sans, these chalets, apart from being majestically constructed with enviable furnishings, also offer 24-hour personalized service.

My choice this time was Villa Magdalena located at the end of the LEVEL complex, with a perfect balance of seclusion, distance to hotel’s bars and restaurants and an unrivalled opening to the beach and the Ocean having an exotic botanical garden as a buffer zone. A perfect choice for those seeking privacy combined with the best service of a top-class hotel.

Most of the time the guests look at these villas as perfect luxurious accommodation options for their holidays. Fortunately chatting with Virginie Corthals, Guest Experience Manager at Melia Salinas I found more about the entire philosophy of this concept.

The LEVEL Garden Villa story

Open the wooden door at the entrance and you will enter a world of luxury and pampering. Funny enough the door is quite narrow (especially after couple of days of the excellent all-inclusive at Melia Salinas) but according the Balinese philosophy and feng shui, the front door is considered the mouth of chi (the universal energy). It is through the front door that the villa receives its feng shui nourishment of energy. The quality of this energy determines the quality of energy in your home: a narrow door will keep the energy inside blocking the access of negative vibes.

From the entrance door an angled path over the water takes you to the main patio. A curving path to the front door is much better according to the principles of Feng Shui. It slows down fast-moving energy, creating a sense of calm as it enters your home. And at the entrance another feng shui element: an impressive water feature helping to reactivate stagnant chi, to restore balance to the area and produces beneficial yang energy. The water is flowing toward the front door of the loft symbolizing wealth and prosperity.

And if all this feng shui philosophy is too complicated for you just try to sleep one night with the front door open and enjoy the relaxing sound of the waterfall at your doorstep.

The exquisite dining area, hosted in an elegant wooden gazebo, is the perfect place for an early cup of coffee or a night cup having the sound of breaking waves on the next-door beach as a unique background. Or if you really want to feel like in Paradise you can order the Villa’s version of “breakfast in bed”. The twist is a full breakfast served at your convenience and following the highest standards that you can imagine in this private retreat. And guess what: the annoying news on television or from the news papers are replaced with the breath-taking sunrise of the fighting the waves of the Ocean. What else can you wish for a perfect start of the day?

Breakfast in Villa’s gazebo at Melia Salinas

At the other end of the patio a spacious and comfortable Bali bed is waiting for you with beach towels changed every day and a generous complimentary selection of high-end suncare products. Will be you task to decide between a lazy morning in the sun or a relaxing afternoon nap.

Without doubt the star of the patio is the private 20 m2 saltwater pool. And if you think that a private pool is an unnecessary luxury just try a swim before sunrise or a skinny deep late at night and you will understand why was so difficult for me to push myself to the next-door gorgeous LEVEL pool.

The loft offers a generous indoor space without creating barriers, another feng shui presence.  The decorations are classic and elegant with a inspired touch of modern avant-garde details.  The large bedroom features a canopy bed, opposite to a complete work area with a desk. At the entrance a split lounge is perfect for relaxing or in-room dining. Guests may choose the type of bedding and a variety of pillows, bathrobes and slippers are provided. Other facilities include a cordless telephone, Bluetooth music tower, tea and coffee making facilities, a selection of fresh fruit and many other extras as a courtesy of the Hotel Management.

The dressing area is an important feature of this elegant loft with plenty of wardrobes and cupboards , with not give a chance for a fight for storage space or coat hangers, A vanity desk with an big mirror complete this space where you will find the well-stocked minibar too with soft drinks, water and beer, all complimentary.

At the end of the loft you will find the bathroom area…yeas you heard right: BATHROOM AREA! A modern rainforest shower with an ingenious ancient Roman style seating/storage solution, a toilet cubicle with a bidet (how continental!!!), a washing area with two sinks and the piece of resistance: a very large sunken tub which eliminates the traditional structure of the hotel bath tub above the floor line and essentially being part of the floor itself, decorated with elegant, once again ancient Roman inspired mosaic.

After being mesmerized by all this space, style and comfort another surprise completed the luxurious profile of this place. Opening the back door of the loft I entered a little patio where shower built in volcanic stone reconnected me with geological history of the island.

THE LEVEL SEA VIEW VILLA is for sure the maximum expression of luxury in a space where tranquillity, comfort and sophistication are ever-present. A incredible botanical garden built on a volcanic landscape separated your private pool and gorgeous gazebo from a little gulf where every day the surfers are fighting the majestic waves and you can’t get a better spot to admire the magical sunrises of Lanzarote.

Form the very first day I saw in the private garden an old windmill and I considered as an odd decoration despite the fact that was watching perfectly the landscape creating great Instagram opportunity. Learning about the history of Melia Salinas and having the privilege to chat one day with Virginie Corthals, Guest Experience Manager of the hotel, I discovered that the old windmill is part of local heritage, an wooded echo of a time when Melia Salinas was just a dream of the famous architect Fernando Higuera. Long time before this majestic hotel was built this was space was occupied by Salinas de El Charco- a wide space used to harvest salt from the Ocean water. Only couple of wooden wind pumps (used to pump water around the saltpans) survived and one of them was in my own garden at Melia Salinas.

The story of Las salinas windmills with Virginie Corthals, Guest Experience Manager

Booking one of this Garden Villas at Melia Salinas will give you the chance to enjoy an infinity of sensations you had never imagined and benefit from all the privileges you receive as a The Level guest: private check-in at your arrival, exclusive access throughout the stay to the The Level Lounge, access to The Level private swimming pool, choice of pillows in the room luxurious bathroom amenities (I adore the Rituals products), personal introduction to the resort, personalised minibar contents in the room, Concierge services, 24-hour room service and an bespoken personalised customer service.

It is a perfect option for two but, if you are a bigger party Melia Salinas has the option of the Presidential Villa – a spectacular 1,200 m2 space, the most fascinating place in the Meliá Salinas. Formed by two luxurious detached villas, a private 40 m2 pool with magnificent sea views, lush tropical gardens and a terrace with shower built in volcanic stone.

Villa Magdalena, LEVEL SEA VIEW VILLA, Melia Salinas

Magdalena Villa at Melia Salinas is indeed the maximum expression of luxury within the hotel, a place which I can’t wait to return to in November. And scary enough, I love it more than any of my suites on any cruise ships. If if you know me and my passion for cruising … THAT’S SOMETHING!

‘BRILLIANT BASICS. MAGIC TOUCHES’ All-inclusive at Melia Salinas

•October 2, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Nothing seems to split opinions on travel quite like the question of all-inclusive resorts. Some people swear by the convenience of an all-in package deal, while others would rather stay home than spend a week within the confines of a resort where a handful of fellow guests consider the term “buffet” an all-you-can-eat daily challenge. For me the “all-inclusive” option for a holiday will always be associated with mass-produced food for hundreds of people which not only is it often a far cry from 5-star cuisine but, you’ll be sick of eating it by the end of your vacation. The “all-inclusive paradise” is for me the idea of bars stocked with cheap alcohol, a place where even virtually non-drinkers find themselves all sorts of daytime drunk, and where basically, everyone parties university-style – even if they’re 60. And with the huge amount of towels placed on sunbeds early in the morning, seats in the restaurants reserved by one for an entire neighbourhood, suspicious cocktails creating long lasting hangovers and a bunfight buffet with leftovers from the previous meal, the only sense of culture you’ll get in abundance at an all-inclusive resort is the culture of western world overconsumption.

Melia Salinas reinvented this tarnished image, bringing together quality, variety, style and a touch of luxury, mixing in they approach to “all-inclusive” concept and fantastic infusion of international and local influences. Each moment of the day spent here was part of this unique concept, making the entire experience not only an excellent value for money but an unforgettable happening too.


There are two kinds of hotel guests: those who want to know what time the hotel starts serving breakfast, and those who want to know how long they can sleep in before the hotel stops serving breakfast. No matter which type of guest they are, however, they’re going to care about the quality of the breakfast and the variety of items served up.

As a LEVEL guest you have the option to start you day in “THE LEVEL” lounge where a fantastic breakfast is waiting for you every morning. The buffet is bringing an inspired mixture of traditional international breakfast food with a lot of traditional and local ideas.

Quality coffee and top-notch tea, crowd-pleasing options for carbo-loading from fluffy pancakes to flaky croissants, from buttery brioche to filling flatbreads, and from chewy bagels to crusty baguettes, sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs, cold-cuts and cheese, yogurt and fresh fruits, everything is available on the buffet.

The Spanish and Canarias touches are available option if you want to start your day in a different way with some “Pa amb tomàquet” (Pan con tomate) considered a staple of Catalan cuisine and identity, the delicious local goats cheese, the famous Uga smoked salmon (top-quality Norwegian and Scottish salmon smoked using sea salt from the Janubio salt flats) & selection of freshly squeezed juices

Due to the new restrictions imposed by the pandemic the hot dishes can be ordered in a very easy way, scanning the QR code on each table (even if you don’t have your smartphone with you, the charming waiters are always ready with a lot of suggestions) and choose between a Traditional English Breakfast, a Mediterranean one or you can create your own omelette. 

And of course, you can’t miss the delicious traditional chocolate with churros with its balanced contrast of flavours, mixing the bitter sweetness of chocolate with the salty aromas and oil from the crunchy churro.

Of course you can be healthy if you want to with the wide range of whole-grain rolls and bagels, hot or cold whole-grain cereals, low-fat dairy (milk, plain or lower sugar yogurts, low-fat cheeses, such as cottage cheese and natural cheeses) and of course my favourite: the egg white omelette with chopped herbs

Talking about healthy start of the day, one morning I had breakfast with Ernesto Guerra, the General manager of Melia Salinas who introduced me to the best kept breakfast secret: on a bed of whole-grain toast and slices of fresh overripe avocado a poached egg (4 minutes for super soft, 4:30 for soft, 5 or more for semi-soft yolks) and a drop of olive oil. Pure health … if you don’t make my mistake to order 2 or 3!!!

Breakfast in THE LEVEL Lounge at Melia Salinas
A very healthy morning at Melia Salinas

It is easy to fall in love with the breakfast in THE LEVEL lounge, but I would suggest traying at least once or twice the breakfast in MOSAICO restaurant. But be aware that here you will need a little bit longer to decide what will land in your plate. An impressive breakfast with everything you dream of from Traditional English to Spanish style, from cold cuts to live cooking stations, all the difficult items are served here to perfection

In MOSAICO restaurant, getting right down to the basic, the chefs know how important is that the quality and the range of the products served at breakfast exceed guests’ expectation. And on top of the excellent cuisine the experience is rounded with a fantastic service: genuine and friendly the staff at Mosaic restaurant were always ready to guide & help the guests to choose the right things that will make them enjoy their breakfast in the best possible way.

As I said is hard to decide at Melia Salinas where to have breakfast: in THE LEVEL LOUNGE where you can enjoy the breath-taking view of the Ocean from the terrace or on the MOSAICO terrace where your eyes will be catch by the incredible pool created by Cesar Manrique. The indoor spaces are as special as the outdoors, especially when you have breakfast next to one of Manrique’s famous murals.

Breakfast in MOSAICO restaurant Melia Salinas


I try the lunch in MOSAICO restaurant only once during my stay at Melia Salinas and I blame the delicious snacks for that.

Served next to the impressive Manrique’s Mural the lunch was targeting both the hungry (if any) and the more weight-conscious guests.

An impressive salad bar with options for everybody, vegetarian or meet-lovers, made every guest’s trip to the buffet memorable, offering a bounty of fresh ingredients. From pasta salads to a classic Cesar with a twist, from comforting salad combinations like creamy macaroni and crisp bacon or sliced potatoes and boiled eggs to luxurious extras like thin-sliced beef tenderloin, lump crab meat or fresh peeled shrimp everything at Melia Salinas they know how to upgrade the salad options from traditional sides to enticing entrees

Once again scanning the QR code on the table opens the door to a fantastic culinary experience. My choice for lunch was

  • Timbale of avocado and seasonal vegetables with salmon de Uga and mango vinaigrette – a delicious mixture of flavours: rich, buttery and creamy from the ripe avocado, the smoky touch with a hint of the sea salt from the Janubio salt flats added to the fine texture of the salmon and the delicate zest of the vinaigrette
  • Confit of roast duck with red fruits – excellent texture, crispy skin, very moist meat and divine flavour balanced between the juicy meat and the sweet-sour addition of the red berries.

For dessert I hardly manage a trip to the “sweet temptation” section of the buffet being happy that I was strong enough to don’t jump of the amazing display. A photo will be more in line with my actual weight.

Lunch at MOSAICO restaurant at Melia Salinas


Every night dinner is hosted in MOSAICO restaurant – the heart of the gastronomic experience at Melia Salinas and you can choose to enjoy the indoor understated elegance or the terrace overlooking the spectacular lagoon pool designed by Cesar Manrique.

I never liked a buffet for dinner with others jumping the queue and making a mess in the display, with dishes with odd looks or add-on which shows a lack of inspiration or fresh sources.

At Melia Salinas the dinner is another culinary celebration. Experimenting with the presentation by creating different heights the team in the restaurant managed every night to lift the buffet visually but also made it look inviting and exciting. Add to all, the cleanliness and the illusion that no one has touched the buffet to get the right picture of my dinner.

The culinary offer balanced every night international dishes with local options, classic with modern, self-service with show cooking stations, prioritize flavour and quality over quantity. Form fresh salads to seafood, from lamb and chicken to fresh fish and fabulous cuts of beef and pork cooked at order everything was the result of a tough competition between presentation and taste.

Every night, added to the expected dishes on the dinner buffet, a themed section was offering guests culinary travels in different corners of the world: Far East, Canarias, Mexico, Italy without ignoring those choosing a more traditional approach for their dinner. And no worries if you have any dietary request; the excellent staff in the restaurant is always there to assist you.

When MOSAICO had a canarian themed evening my favourites were:

Papas arrugadas – the island’s potatoes are nothing like those we eat at home. The volcanic earth and climate in which they are grown produces smaller potatoes with a unique texture and taste. ‘Arrugadas’ translates as ‘wrinkled’, and the traditional way to serve these potatoes is boiled in their skins, salted and dressed with a generous topping of mojo picón – a delicious spicy sauce made with garlic, olive oil, red or green pepper, cumin, salt and vinegar. On my next stay at Melia Salinas I planned to steal the delicious Mojo recipe.

Adobo de cerdo – shoulder of pork in a rich, piquant sauce. The sauce or ‘adobo’ is a tasty marinade and In Mosaico kitchen they found the perfect mixture of of paprika, oregano, garlic, salt and sherry vinegar. The slow cooked pork meat is so tender it falls off the bone

Pollo al salmorejo – a delightful garlicky marinated chicken dish, cooked perfectly at Melia Salinas in white wine and seasoned with cumin, oregano, paprika and thyme.

Canarian Dinner at Melia Salinas


I am blaming the snacks and the charming Delgado (responsible for the Pool bar in THE LEVEL) for missing lunch 7 from 8 days spent at Melia Salinas.

Ordering a drink by the pool or on the terrace will always bring on your table a little surprise. And don’t think of crisps or nuts. Melia Salinas pushed the standards of the concept “snack” to a different level bringing amazing flavours in every bite on the plate.

The “happy hours” by THE LEVEL pool looks more like a visit to an expensive Tapas restaurant mixing classic recipes with delicious experiments and the big genuine smile of the waiter (projected by behind the mask)  is a way to tell you: “Sorry you will miss the lunch again!”

Gin Experience at Melia Salinas


If you’re used to real cocktails and nice wine, you won’t likely find it at a typical all-inclusive resort, unless it’s available at an extra cost. This means that the drinks won’t go down as easy. And the hangover will probably be that much worse with cheap ingredients. But that’s not the way at Melia Salinas. Having an all-inclusive package will give you access to several indoor and outdoor bars where a Cosmo is a Cosmo and the Mojito is made in a traditional way.

When ordering a long drink (a gin and tonic or a Cuba Libre) the waiter will come with the entire bottle at your table giving you the chance to choose the measure. The wine list in restaurants is impressive and in general the dinks list is not full of signs and symbols reducing what you can get as “all-inclusive” to a minimalistic list of local and cheap alcohol purchased from the local supermarket.

At Melia Salinas quality is definitely taking over quantity and the guest satisfaction is the main rule.


The day and night “activities” are another reason for which I try to avoid the “all-inclusive resorts”. I found very annoying to lay in the sun by the pool while someone is screaming invitations to aqua gym or to have a drink in the bar while a third hand flamenco group is massacring the idea of “local flavour”

Once again, at Melia Salinas the approach is different. Ramon, the Activity manager, organise during the day different events but he prefer to walk around the pool and invite guests in a very elegant and personalised manner or use the attracting participants during the activity, even if he started with one or two guests. Plus, the location of this activities, the fabulous pool for aqua gym or the beautiful terrace facing the ocean for spinning classes are themselves strong selling points.

Evening at Melia Salinas are extremely pleasant. You can enjoy a quality cocktail and a relaxing experience without watching a magician or an acrobat trying most of the time too hard. A hand full of very good musicians playing from rock-and-roll to evergreens and latino music are more part of the general ambiance than an act that you are forced to watch.

Normally there are few things that are locally authentic about a massive all-inclusive resort, and if you don’t venture off its property, you’ll experience little about the surrounding local way of life. And no, the creepy live entertainment barely counts as a “cultured” experience. But at Melia Salinas everybody is proud of the hotel – a real living museum with its architectural and historical value. And they don’t miss a chance to share this with you. Everybody knows the story of this magnificent building and if you want to find more just visit the Discovery Centre in the atrium or join the guided weekly tour of the hotel. You will be for sure surprised!


Didn’t take too long to understand that at Melia Salinas everybody understands the key behaviours and attributes which make the difference between a good experience and a great one for their guests. And each member of the team plays an active role in the business of creating ‘memories’ for their customers.

It’s like Christmas everyday when you discover after the morning service or after the evening turn -down a little surprise in your room: a plate with local cheese, a mix of nuts and dried berries, some sweets or fresh fruits. Everything presented in a spectacular way. And you know the old say: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

Surprise, surprise at Melia Salinas

Mixing the “brilliant basics” (quality of hard and soft product, impeccable cleanliness, great customer service, attention to details) with these magic touches transforms Melia Salinas from an all-inclusive resort in a DESTINATION!