SQUADRA GRANDIOSA – 7 days on the newest MSC ship

A cruise is always exciting…

A last-minute booking is always thrilling…

A week with MSC is (almost) exhilarating…

But a last minute booked cruise on the newest MSC ship is for sure more than that!

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Episode 1

GRANDIOSA, the newest MSC ship, got my attention since the first news about the ‘big sister’ of the Meraviglia class hit the virtual world of cruisers. Of course, the dazzling christening ceremony in Hamburg, with the fabulous Godmother, Sophia Loren, the gala dinner signed by three-star Michelin chef Harald Wohlfahrt, the party hosted by DJ Mousse T and the magic shoreside pop up “village” made me dream of a week under the hashtag “#greatnessatsea”. Respecting the unofficial rule of “never take a maiden voyage and wait for the ship to settle” I manage a last-minute booking in Yacht Club, out of Marseille at the beginning of December. And I didn’t need to much time to realise that GRANDIOSA embraced the new philosophy of modern cruising: ships are no longer a mere means of transportation but are themselves a destination of the travel.

The new flagship is 331 meters long hosting 6,334 guests in 2,440 cabins with a ratio Passenger to Crew 3.7:1 which is a guarantee for high standards of the service offered on board. MSC Grandiosa showcases a number of firsts for the line including the Il Campo restaurant for “Aurea Experience” passengers, two all-new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, the largest shopping area on a cruise ship, the MSC Foundation shop where profits from items sold go towards the marine protection organisation. All the photos, the videos or all reviews you will find on-line are only a partial description of what MSC Grandiosa is. You need to step on-board to realise how high MSC pushed the level of YC guest experience.

I arrived in Marseille after a surprising long journey: on 1h20min flight + 2h waiting on Heathrow’s tarmac due to the French general strike. Not the best start of a holiday. But surprise, surprise: at my arrival at the Cruise Terminal the “Billion Dollars” genuine smile of the incredible Head Butler Dani Agung Sri Prasetyo assisted by the charming Michelle Gichanga erased all that morning stress. MSC managed in the last year to transform the usual stressful experience of the check-in in a smooth and stress-free process. Grandiosa placed that moment far above all my expectations: my 5 suitcases disappeared immediately, all formalities were done when I was sipping a glass with Prosecco, an incredible fast passage trough security and skipping all the queues under the discreet guidance of Dani and Michelle. 10 minutes after I stepped out from the taxi, I was already ready to enter the floating Paradise; Grandiosa’s Yacht Club. Yes, you read right: 10 minutes!

At the Concierge desk another surprise: a warm and genuine “welcome home” hug from Rosalia Scaldaferri – the Yacht Club Director – an incontestable star of the MSC YC team, with her huge experience, dazzling dedication and amazing passion. After sailing with her on Maraviglia and Bellissima, Rosalia’s presence on board was a guarantee of a unique experience for the next 7 days.

The only “down side” of the embarkation was that I didn’t have time for a second Tanqueray & Tonic in the lounge, because Zakia Ayub – the Assistant Head Butler kindly informed me that is “un-packing time”, my suitcases being already placed in my cabin. Really? after 30 minutes from my arrival on-board? How many cruise lines can provide this kind of service?

Just because I mentioned Zakia I must tell you that she is an excellent example of how MSC values, support and appreciate the crew. I meet Zakia couple years ago, when she was an assistant-butler and I was impressed with her level of customer service and professionalism. Cruise after cruise I meet the passionate young lady stepping up in the YC hierarchy, talking with the same passion and love about MSC and her future within the company. So, I was not surprise when I saw her last cruise as an Assistant Head Butler and, knowing her passion and discipline I can’t wait to sail with her as a new, young and dedicated Head Butler. That’s another facet of MSC style: the conquer their staff not buying them!

During my voyage I had the privilege to meet the main key players in creating the unquestionable success of this #greatnessatsea MSC Grandiosa: Capitan Marco Massa and Hotel Director Giuseppe Maresca. Both of them with their professional life strongly attached to the history of MSC, both of them proud and sentimental when talking about the exceptional evolution of the company in the last years, both of them knowing, coaching and respecting the ship and its crew. “Master” Massa demolished with his charm and personality the image of the stiff old-fashioned Capitan finding in ahis very busy agenda always time to chat with guests, talk about the ship and the future and happy to join in sometimes too long selfie sessions. A PR more efficient and genuine than any other expensive advertising campaigns.  “Capo” Maresca, knowing the ship and all the jobs on board inside-out, based the leadership of this massive hotel operation on an impressive 360⁰ feedback finding time to answer and ask questions from both, crew and passengers. His energy, his positive attitude and contagious smile brought him in the hart of everyone, with or without uniform and meeting him on the long Galeria Grandiosa was like meeting a good old friend on the high street of your town.

The Nautical Talk – normally a boring 30 minutes meeting, a filler of a morning at sea, was hosted in the Carousel Lounge and I wasn’t very sure that I wanted to go. But I said yes to the invitation, hoping that a seat next to the entrance will guarantee a discreet escape. The excellent double act Master MassaHotel Director Maresca seasoned with emotional videos and interesting technical information glued me on my exit seat for almost an hour.  Hats off for the way how this group of professional, dedicated enthusiasts manage to coordinate a huge operation creating unique memories from every moment spent on board MSC Grandiosa. And to be in trend I must mention that MSC Grandiosa is one of the most environmentally advanced ships at sea, featuring next-generation technologies to minimise its environmental impact. It is also fitted with shore-to-ship power which connects to a port’s local power grid to further reduce air emissions while docked.

Who could not get excited about being one of the first to sail a brand-new ship?  The smell of the new carpets and furniture and how everything shined and glimmered can create a perfect vacation. But MSC Grandiosa, at least with me brought something else.

After the disappointed experience sailing MSC Divina in springtime now I regain trust in MSC, Yacht Club and theirs ships. As a result already booked a back to back 2019-2020 on Bellissima sailing from Dubai and another 4 cruises in the first 5 months of 2020.

13

And all of this because of SQUADRA GRANDIOSA on board MSC Grandiosa.

Thank you for helping me to find my way back!

Read tomorrow Episode 2 of my experience on board MSC Grandiosa

~ by leonard69 on December 17, 2019.

One Response to “SQUADRA GRANDIOSA – 7 days on the newest MSC ship”

  1. Great post 🙂

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