WHY A B2B ON MSC FANTASIA?

It is not a secret anymore that I am in love with MSC and their exclusive product Yacht Club, which is why I always come back 6-7 times a year. But this time was slightly different: I booked a back-2-back cruise on MSC Fantasia’s Yacht Club.

A couple days ago, having a drink with a lovely American couple, first time cruising with MSC, I was asked why I book the same itinerary twice, in the same cabin, on the same ship. So, after couple of Chili Passion Caipirinha and a good night sleep, I decided to share with you 10 reasons why somebody would book a back-2-back cruise with MSC.

So, in no particular order:

Reason 1 – The ship

Simply put, MSC Fantasia – a 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger floating gem – it is a beautiful ship. Cruise lines throw that “beauty” description around a bit too liberally, but Fantasia is special with its colours in the public rooms and cabins vibrant without a hint of gaudiness. I know that everybody can’t stop admiring the new floating MSC resorts: Meraviglia, Seaview or Seaside, but I am in love with Fantasia in each and every aspect: from the real stone piazza where an espresso bar serves freshly-baked pastries and Italian-inspired ice-creams to designer-themed lounge bars bringing a metropolitan vibe to the on-board experience. MSC Fantasia is a luxurious ship, big enough to give a wide range of choices but small enough to ensure a high-quality service. And the cruising market is a field were size is not necessary a guarantee of excellence. My home away from home for 2 weeks knows the secret of balancing the warmth and comfort of the Mediterranean atmosphere with a stylish design.

Click here to see a video of MSC Fantasia

Reason 2 – Yacht Club

After 25+ cruises with MSC I am still impressed with Yacht Club – a ship-within-a-ship ideal for travellers who want to blend a luxury cruise experience with big ship features and amenities. On MSC Fantasia, Yacht Club is indeed an exclusive haven of refinement, a place where in every moment of my journey I had the privilege to savour exclusivity and privacy in a real world of choice. From the moment when you arrive in the embarkation port and until you step out from MSC Fantasia on disembarkation day, the Yacht Club experience is priceless; in every moment of your cruise you feel “a privileged few among many” rather than one of many privileged, which heightens the sense of luxury. The MSC Yacht Club provides quiet exclusivity, but guests were still able to enjoy all the other areas of the ship. The MSC Yacht Club Daily Planner included services and hours for everything going on around the ship – entertainment highlights for the day and evening, services, activities and events along with hours for bars, lounges and restaurants.   With a wide array of lounges, entertainment, as well as diverse shows every evening, it was fun to take these in as well. Looking back to my first Yacht Club experience couple years ago, I’m admittedly a huge fan. The MSC Yacht Club on MSC Fantasia does provide the best of both worlds, and gives a refreshing definition of “The butler did it!”

Reason 3 – The Captain

I had the privilege to sail couple of times on ships under the command of Master Giuseppe Maresca, but on this trip, I took some time to question why he is one of the most respected, admired and loved captains on MSC fleet both by passengers and crew. And I didn’t need too much time to find the answer. Master Maresca knocks down the old image of the rigid and rather stuffy cruise liner Capitan and brought to life a modern leader with loveable personality and charismatic presence in addition to incredible experience and professionalism. Despite a busy schedule with new ports every day and sailing on busy waters The Captain found always time to be in public areas, talking with passengers and sharing his love and dedication to his second family: MSC. Walking the talk, Master Maresca lead his team on the path of understanding that every feedback is a gift and his professional and genuine approach of each and every matter makes his presence on board a guarantee of excellence. It is no surprise that passengers patiently queue to take home a photograph together with an amazing Captain with a charming smile as a souvenir of their cruise, and the crew embrace with passion his vision about creating the perfect holiday

Reason 4 – Yacht Club Team

Why do I have to talk again about this fantastic group of professionals? Maybe because there’s something rather distinctive about the service on board an MSC Yacht Club. You’ll recognise it from the very first greeting when you embark. It’s a combination of courtesy and confidence that tells you you’re in the hands of a very professional crew. Idris Esergul the experienced Yacht Club Director and the amazing Dani Agung Sri Prasetyoi, the Head Butler lead a unique team made up of individuals who take great pride in making your journey an unforgettable experience. For Idris, Yacht Club guests’ satisfaction is just a day in, day out, ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate, type of activity. And the results are here, on-board MSC Fantasia.

Dwi Yatnawati, the butler for my suite and her assistant the Afaka Andrianjaka surpassed all previous experiences, placing their 24 hours service above all my expectations. Gracious and personal, attentive and friendly, polished and unobtrusive but always available, Dwi and Afaka created that feeling of being home away from home that made me fall in love with MSC Yacht Club.

Dwi knows very well that customer satisfaction is about exceeding expectations and how well it works knowing that people like to be pleasantly surprised, within limits, and she is a master of building relationships with every guest.

Wherever you turn, the Yacht Club crew is there to greet you or extend help. And Anna and Mario from the Concierge were fitting perfectly in this team effort. Instead of having to call an anonymous reception desk for problems or requests, Concierge was always available helping guests with almost everything even to connect to the Internet (which, incidentally, was the best Wi-Fi connection we’ve ever experienced on any ship), make reservations for activities on the ship, or for excursions or transportation on shore.

On port days, they arranged butlers to accompany me off the ship and directly to the doors of waiting vehicles so there is no confusion or long waits in the disembarkation process. Unfortunately, the exclusive feel of the Yacht Club is totally lost and forgotten on excursions. Although well-organised and on time, tours tended to be comprised of large groups from all areas of the boat, with guides simultaneously explaining sights in more than one language, and shorter times that the ones mentioned at the time of booking.

Reason 5 – L’Etoile Restaurant

Sailing MSC Yacht Club is one of the most exciting and wonderful experiences one can imagine, but if you read my previous review of the L’Etoile restaurant you got the idea that this was maybe the weakest link in the amazing chain of MSC Fantasia Yacht Club. This time the experience was far above all my expectations and L’Etoile was one of the reasons why I booked a second week on board. Bringing an understated romantic atmosphere, LEtoile is inspired by the Parisian Belle Epoque era with an ideal choice of soft lighting and the glow of candlelight. But what really impressed me this time was the excellent service, surpassing the famous Cunard White Star service. The extra professional Maître D’ Luigi Fusco and charming sommelier Ferdinando Buonocore set the standards very high for the entire team in L’Etoile and the attention to the finest detail transformed every dinner in a 5 star experience.  Our waiters Oogar and Amina matched perfectly this ambience knowing that a great service takes its lead from the guests, whilst the dining experience in L’Etoile is perfect; it isn’t stuffy or hurried. It’s always friendly, but never over familiar. With this being a private restaurant, there was no rush to get through the different courses, and was a leisurely, high quality dining experience.

Click here to see a video of breakfast on MSC Fantasia Yacht Club

Click here to see a video of El Sombrero – Tex Mex restaurant on MSC Fantasia

The culinary experience was another huge surprise for my journey, taking in the account the not so successful experiences in my previous trips with MSC in Yacht Club. Normally the food is an interesting fusion between Italian and International cuisine but, sometimes the lack of consistency made the culinary experience on board MCS ships a hit and miss experience. This time the Executive Chef Attilio Ascione, consistent with the concept of refined luxury upon which the Yacht Club experience is based, created a culinary experience designed to provide top level gourmet dining. Working with the corporate menus, carefully crafted to offer a balance of new dishes with traditional Italian favourites with Chef Ascione on-board, you will quickly discover that perfection is, in fact, in every detail, in every meal served and you have to prepare your palate for an exclusive and exquisite gastronomic journey. In addition to having different menu selections each evening, beautifully cooked and plated, ongoing traditional choices were available as well. Just don’t forget to book yours “lose weight fast” programme at your return.

Click here to see a video of Gala Dinner on-board MSC Fantasia L’Etoile restaurant

Reason 6 – Dining under the stars

I am bored with counting how many WOW moments MSC Fantasia can fit in a 7 days cruise, but the Yacht Club team showed me again that I can be wrong when I am reaching a conclusion too soon. In our day in Palma de Majorca both Idris (the YC Director) and Dani (the Head Butler) were trying to persuade me to cancel my plans of having dinner in the city and joining them in The One Pool area that evening for a special event: Dining under the Stars. I wrote about that before and I mentioned the fact that the event was an amazing success and an idea which I hope will be part of the YC product on all ships. But this time everybody was dropping hints that the evening would be different. Normally I am not a “short of words” person, but this time, the Yacht Club Team on MSC Fantasia managed to transform me into a child celebrating Christmas for the first time in his life.

The way how the entire One Bar & Pool area got a full makeover with elegant round tables with white table cloths and refined decorations, sophisticated candlelight, exquisite cuisine, divine live music with Carey and Dario and a team of butlers and L’Etoile waiters floating around guests with style and grace, placed “Dining under the Stars” far above similar events organised by Cunard, Regent or Seven Seas on their cruise ships. Hotel Manager Antonio Volpicelli, Carmelina Iuliano – the Guest Relations Manager, Yacht Club Director Idris, Executive Chef Attilio, F&B Director Alfred Linha and Head Butler Dani were perfect hosts for an event which could made envy any party planners on land, a wonderful option for those who wanted to experience a sophisticated, classy, elegant evening on board MSC Fantasia.

Click here to see a video of “Dining under the stars” event on-board MSC fantasia  

Reason 7 – Top Sail Lounge

The Top Sail Lounge is your private retreat where you are greeted by name upon entering. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier location to relax and unwind after a busy day or doing some work in a quiet ambiance. It is not just the tranquillity and comfort that makes the Top Sail Lounge special, it is the little extras that the fantastic team working here brings in every day. Efficient Roberto, always smiling Bogdan, Sudarta, Germain, and Mahendra (and I am so sorry if I forgot somebody) ensure that your glass or cup is, should you wish, never empty. In the Top Sail Lounge the feeling of being a club member is stronger, and as such your drink is delivered with minimal fuss, grace and elegance. After couple of days I started to get used to the fact that everybody in the lounge knew that I like to start my day with a double express on the rocks. No questions needed, just a genuine and warm “Good Morning” and a smooth start of the day … every day! And after a long day the lounge was the perfect place for a night-cup and a lovely chat with the charming Donny

Reason 8 – One Pool

The Yacht Club has its own private sun deck, pool and hot tubs, along with accompanying bar and grill, on the forward portion of Deck 18. Dubbed “One Pool,” the area is really an oasis, albeit a windy one at times. There will be no battles for sun loungers, either, as there are plenty, but do note that families book suites in the Yacht Club, so the pool area is not an adults-only experience. The pool and hot tubs aren’t large, but they suffice

When you go up for the first time to The One Pool on Deck 18, you will be amazed by this expansive area, complete with a pool and hot tubs. The One Pool provided some extraordinary views for MSC Yacht Club guests to enjoy as well as relax and if, after couple of days, you get blasé with this sunny heaven, just take the elevator only two decks down and discover the “pleasure” of 20 in a hot tub experience or the sardines sunbathing style, which reminded me of a Benidorm resort, around the main pool. The bar and grill are what make the area shine, however, and give the area a feeling of liveliness. Food is served all day at the grill, starting with an omelette station in the morning, changing over to a pasta station and salad bar at lunch, afternoon tea and, finally, canapes in the early evening. Covered tables allow you to eat and drink in the shade, and if you still want sun, waiter service is prompt. The morning and afternoon snacks will take care of your cravings and the excellent noon option with healthy salads and fresh made pasta will delete the restaurant from your lunch options. And once again the pool team and the bar staff – David, Hector and Ajay will make you feel spoiled and lucky to be part of this experience.

Located on Deck 18 at the very bow, this spot also affords a perfect vantage point on a balmy sail away evening.

Reason 9 – Dani Agung Sri Prasetyoi

No surprise here! It was the 3rd time when Dani was our Head Butler and guess what? Being far above expectation is his daily routine. The first thing that strikes you when you meet Dani for the first time are his communication skills. He is a great communicator who inspires people, creating an immediate connection with his followers (guests and team members) that is real, emotional, and personal, forging this connection through an understanding of people and an ability to speak directly to their needs. Watching him over the days, I realised that Dani is a very generous human being, sharing credit and offer enthusiastic praise. On many occasions, I saw him committed to his colleagues’ success as they are to his own, being able to inspire the entire team in Yacht Club to achieve their personal best—not just because it will make the team more successful, but because he cares about each person as an individual. During one of our daily chats Dani explained to me that tapping into the power of passion is essential to being able to accomplish what you want with yourself and with MSC. When passion is strong and it is identified and understood, Dani found easy to harness that energy to create great things and have a big impact on everyone’s holidays.

Excellent customer service is all about bringing customers back, about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers. Dani knows that the essence of excellent customer experience is forming a relationship with each guest – a relationship that each individual customer feels that he or she would like to pursue. How does Dani go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”

Reason 10 – It’s party time

I’ve never been a big fan of the on-board shows and, apart from the licensed productions on board NCL ships (Blue Man, Priscilla Queen of Desert or Legends), I prefer live bands to “standard shows” in ship theatres. MSC have never invested a great deal in the on-board productions and their shows are placed somewhere just above average. On MSC Fantasia the colourful mixture of nationalities (UK, USA, Italy, France, Australia, Germany, Spain, Russia and couple of others) created a perfect framework for the evolution of the animation team and on-board musicians. The musical flow on MSC Fantasia was tailored to every moods, ages and styles: some sophisticated piano bar music in the Top Sail Lounge with Hugo and Olga, unforgettable old favourites and timeless classics in Il Transatlantico (worth it for an introduction to  cocktail mixology) and Fantasia bars with Riz and Duo Carey and Dario, or dancing the night away in Manhattan Bar (I love the deco and the every night vibe) with the amazing Pop up Band Quartet, Duo Giranote and the excellent Fantasy Band. What I enjoyed very much this time was the fact that the entire entertainment team put a lot of energy and passion in organising various parties on board instead of pushing everybody to do monotone line dancing in lounges all around the ship. It was great to have a choice between dancing all night long in Manhattan Bar and Liquid Disco (a space created or invaded by the teenagers on-board) or getting involved in a party in L’Insolito Lounge where the animation team will “infect” you with the party virus. This big step away from the cheap summer resorts fun, Carnival style, was a huge plus for MSC Fantasia.

Click here to see a video of a night out on-board MSC Fantasia

Click here to see a video of Flower Power party on-board MSC fantasia  

Importantly, when they threw a party on board was a 100% success: The White and Flower Power parties in the Aqua park kept me awake late after midnight with great live music, inspired animation and fantastic ambiance. The Black Card and Welcome Back cocktails, both stylish and well hosted, were a great chance to meet once again the charming Captain Maresca and officers on board in a casual and friendly atmosphere – an excellent sign that MSC values and recognises their loyal guests.

Bottom line: On board MSC Fantasia you can be as crazy or as quiet you want; they give you the choices, you need to make the decision!

Click here to see a video of MSC Fantasia Black Card Party

Click here to see a video of MSC Fantasia White Party

But, being honest I do have a reason why not to book a back to back cruise on MSC Fantasia. Do you remember that void that you experience in the last day of the cruise, when all those fantastic days on-board start to smell of memories? I am thinking very seriously to buy some heavy antidepressants for my last day on-board; after 2 weeks of pure luxury and style how can I leave MSC Fantasia thinking that my next cruise in their Yacht Club is in 79 days?

But at least I will be in the gorgeous Royal Suite!

 

 

~ by leonard69 on July 6, 2018.

One Response to “WHY A B2B ON MSC FANTASIA?”

  1. Thank you for a great detail review . Can’t wait to sail on her in 2 weeks

    Justin USA

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