MSC GRANDIOSA revisited (February 2020)

I am sure that you remember how impressed I was with the new MSC flagship MSC Grandiosa (#greatnessatsea). So impressed that, when I had the chance, I booked another cruise on this majestic vessel. For sure, somebody will say “for goodness’ sake is the same itinerary!!!” and yes, indeed, it was the same Western Mediterranean voyage (and by the way, maybe MSC, will start creating more variety for the YC ships) but, as most of MSC fleet, the ship is the destination in my case.

No worries, I will not write now another review about MSC Grandiosa (despite the fact that this February the entire experience was far above all my expectations). I just want to share with your, in a virtual manner, the incredible voyage on board MSC Grandiosa at the end of February 20202 using some video-markers of some memorable moments.

  • FLIGHT TO GENOA

Despite the fact the take-off was quite early I managed to enjoy a lovely start of the day in a, surprisingly quiet, First Class Lounge in Gatwick South Terminal and after that a short pleasant flight on BA2688 to Genoa

Click here to see a video report of my flight to Genoa

  • MELIA GENOA HOTEL

If I manage to create the correct time frame, I prefer to extend my cruise with a night or two at the beginning and the end of the voyage. That’s give me the feeling of a longer holiday. And this time in Genoa my choice was great! Melia Genoa hotel offered a classy and elegant in a quiet exclusive neighbourhood. With only 10-15 minutes walk to the city centre you are sure that you will not miss anything and at the same time you will get a good rest the night before or after your cruise. And a big “bravo” for breakfast: a mix between international and Italian style with a touch of Ligurian cuisine.

Click here to see a video report of Melia Genoa Hotel

Click here to see a video report of breakfast at Melia Genoa

  • AN AFTERNOON IN GENOA

Used as a home port for MSC, Genoa the capital of the Italian region of Liguria and the sixth-largest city in Italy, has more to offer than “Porto Antico”  or the Aquarium. A self-guided walk in the heart of the city will uncover for you numerous villas and palaces with their own beautiful gardens, ( Palazzo del Principe, Villa Doria, Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi), “Barbarossa Walls” (12th century) or “Mura Nuove”,  Christopher Columbus House, where the famous explorer is said to have lived as a child, or the elegant Piazza De Ferrari, around which are the Opera and the Palace of the Doges.

Click here to see a video report of my afternoon in Genoa

  • HOSTARIA DUCALE

Choosing a place for my dinner in Genoa was a challenge: I wanted something traditional but modern, elegant but casual, romantic but convivial, with refined wines from emerging wineries topped by an exquisite but friendly service. Sounds impossible? Maybe if you didn’t book a table in Hostaria Ducale, now my favourite gastronomic destination in Ligurian capital. Of course the return back to the hotel was a different story: was it the wine or too much food?

Click here to see a video report of my dinner in Hostaria Ducale

Click here to see a video report of my return to the hotel after a lovely dinner

  • EMBARKATION

For guests in Yacht Club, embarkation on an MSC vessel is always a smooth, stress-free process. This time in Genoa the excellent team, impeccable managed by Rosalia (Yacht Club Director) and Dani (Head Buttler) scored an all-time MSC record. To be honest I didn’t have time to enjoy the efficiency of Zakia (Ass. Head Butler) and Michelle’s charming genuine welcome smile (YC Butler), which can be a serious complaint (😊)

Click here to see a video report of embarkation YC MSC Grandiosa

  • YC1 Cabin 15009

With approx. 28 sq.m, the YC Suites YC1 are not real suites, more, maybe a superior balcony cabin. Quite spacious, with a limited storage space but elegant furnished and decorated YC1 cabin is a perfect option for a couple in one-week cruise. This time I had a forward-facing cabin and I had the feeling that the space was a little bit more generous and, with no doubts, the balcony was the pièce de résistance for my trip.

Click here to see a video report of my YC1 cabin 15009

  • THE SHIP

MSC Grandiosa offers even more public space than her sister ships, along with a series of exciting innovations. The extraordinary design, wide array of facilities and entertainment make these ships ideal for the whole family. At the heart of MSC Grandiosa is a breath-taking indoor promenade covered by a dramatic LED dome. I still have the feeling of being in a shopping mall but at least a nice one!

Click here to see a video report of MSC Grandiosa

Click here to see a video report of Grandiosa Parade

  • CHAMPAGNE BAR

The stylish but comfortable, Champagne Bar is an oasis of calm elegance offering a vast choice of champagne, Prosecco and other bubblies from around the world, accompanied by a mouth-watering array of caviar, oysters and crab. And don’t be afraid that your budget will suffer too much … the prices are reasonable, and you are in holiday at the end of the day! Alin (the Bar manager selected an excellent team for this place and Ana-Maria, Daniela si Nadia are elegant and bubbly, exactly like the excellent ICE IMPERIAL ROSE Moët & Chandon served there. And you must try their secret recipe: Champagne + bell peppers + berries ice – Heaven on Earth (or at Sea to be more precise)

Click here to see a video report of Champagne Bar on board MSC Grandiosa

  • ON-BOARD PARTY

The Meraviglia and Seaside class MSC ships incorporate in their design a more generous public space ideal with parties with capital P. Despite the fact that the concept on Seaside class ship is my favourite, on MSC Grandiosa I managed to take the pulse of some of the on-board night party. Just to comments: same music and (more annoying) same noisy & childish animation team at all parties, no matter the theme (Space, White, Carnival etc)

Click here to see a video report of Carnival Party on board MSC Grandiosa

Click here to see a video report of White Party on board MSC Grandiosa

  • NOT ALWAYS GREEN

MSC Cruises is borne out of a long line of captains and ship owners who have been playing their part in the history of navigation and seamanship. On which and every occasion MSC re-confirm their  “deep responsibility to preserve and protect” the environment. On this line focused to bring the climate impact of entire fleet to zero, MSC Cruises announced that will be carbon-neutral, compensating all the CO2 emissions from the fleet as of January 2020. MSC Cruises is in the final phase of effectively eliminating an extensive number of plastic items from all its ship operations and ashore, and will replace them with environmentally-friendly solutions. As a first step, the Company has already replaced all plastic straws with 100% compostable and biodegradable substitutes. Moreover, drinks are no longer automatically be served with a straw. Guests who may require a straw will still be able to choose from a variety of environmentally-friendly options. But at one of the on-board party … something was … missing

Click here to see a video report of the weakest link of this cruise

  • DISCOVERING TARQUINIA & TOSCANIA

Normally I am not a big fan of excursions booked on-board cruise ships. This time on MSC Grandiosa I decided in Civitavecchia to cancel my traditional lunch in the city or the self-organise walk in Rome and do something different: book an excursion with MSC. And the result was a fantastic day, perfect organised, with an amazing guide and 2 unique places to discover: Tarquinia and Toscania.

Tarquinia, an old city in the province of Viterbo and a UNESCO World Heritage site is known chiefly for its ancient Etruscan tombs in the widespread necropolis which it overlies. But a walk in the old town will reveal other beautiful sites: Santa Maria di Castello(church built in 1121-1208 with Lombard and Cosmatesque influences), Tarquinia Cathedral( in Romanesque-Gothic style with it’s original 16th-century frescoes by Antonio del Massaro) or the numerous medieval towers, including that of Dante Alighieri

Tuscania is another charming town which according to the legend, was founded by Aeneas’ son, Ascanius, where he had found twelve dog pups (hence the Etruscan name Tus-Cana, cana being similar to Latin canis for “dog”). After the earthquake in 1971 the town has been meticulously restored, and the historic quarter is substantial, completely surrounded by the medieval city walls that offer excellent views over the surrounding countryside and the church of St Peter.

An absolutely amazing half-day tour. And, by the way, did I mention that our amazing guide was … Romanian?

Click here to see a video report of my trip to Tarquinia

Click here to see a video report of my trip to Tuscania

Click here to see a video report of my amazing Romanian guide in Civitavecchia

  • ANOTHER MALTA

On this cruise I had the privilege to meet two old friends: Rosy and Antonio Impellizzeri who decided to show me a different face of the island. I left behind the usual visited touristic areas and I stopped in amazing unknown places. And to end on the high note my guides organised an excellent typical Sicilian lunch (yes, the Sicilian presence in Malta is pretty strong). And a special mention to our little amazing 8 years old guide Riccardo confident with speaking in 4 languages and jumping from one to another.

Click here to see a video report of my visit to Malta

  • CONCIERGE TEAM

With few exceptions in al my 40+ cruises with MSC I didn’t use the Concierge service too much. One of the reasons was, once again with few exceptions, the impossible to approach style of the on-board teams. On MSC Grandiosa Ray was leading an excellent team, always with an answer before you asked.

Click here to see a video report of Concierge on board MSC Grandiosa

  • WHERE TO DO LUNCH IN PALERMO

Checking the list with what to do in Palermo, I realised that I almost tick all boxes in my previous cruises. So, I decided to have a lazy day with just a short walk and eat some traditional Sicilian food in my favourite restaurant here “Osteria Lo Bianco”. If your busy schedule permits a gastronomic stop in Palermo, this is the place to be: basic but delicious food and service.

Click here to see a video report of my trip to Palermo

  • OPERA AT SEA

MSC surprised me once again, being the only cruise line, which includes in the daily entertainment schedule a live opera. On Grandiosa, scheduled one afternoon, I had the privilege to witness a short version of the famous Verdi’s Traviata.

Click here to see a video report of “La Traviata” show

  • DINNER IN BUTCHER’S CUT

Butcher’s Cut on board MSC Grandiosa is n new frontier of flavour to discovered. The American-style steakhouse serves select prime cuts from around the world, accompanied by bold New World wines and cocktails with swagger. Managed perfectly by Elena (Speciality Restaurants Manager) and Raffaele (Assistant R Speciality Restaurants Manager) the dining experienced is balanced by prime quality food and exceptional service

Click here to see a video report of my dinner in Butcher’s Cut

  • DINNER IN TEPPANYAKI

On my previous cruise with NCL, my Teppanyaki experience was more a “Filipino karaoke” then a real gastronomic adventure. Therefore, I was a little bit cagey to include this visit on my evening schedule. But I was sooooooooooooooooooo wrong! On MSC Grandiosa tradition and modernity go hand in hand in the stylish teppanyaki restaurant. This charming venue offers deliciously authentic Asian cuisine prepared on the spot by Orlando an excellent chef and a real one-man show, with only the freshest, highest quality ingredients for a superb gastronomic adventure.

Click here to see a video report of my dinner in Teppanyaki

  • DINNER IN HOLA TAPAS

Located on deck 6 at the heart of the iconic Mediterranean-style promenade, HOLA! Tapas Bar welcomes you into an amazing culinary experience created by the renowned Spanish chef Ramón Freixa, awarded two Michelin Stars. Designed as a social, dining experience where guests can enjoy shared plates and a wonderful celebration of the Mediterranean cuisine. My evening here? – “una auténtica fiesta gastronómica”

Click here to see a video report of my dinner in Hola Tapas

  • DINNER IN L’ATELIER BISTROT

If you are on-board MSC Grandiosa you need to stop in this warm, friendly bistro which promises high-quality French cuisine: snacks from cheese and charcuterie to escargots and foie gras. For something more substantial, try ribeye steak fries & blue cheese sauce followed by a traditional French dessert. You can even pop in for a convivial, Parisian-style breakfast if you are not so lazy like me. And the high standards service will make you feel like on Champs-Élysées.

Click here to see a video report of my dinner in L’Atelier Bistrot

  • YACHT CLUB RESTAURANT

On board MSC Grandiosa, YC restaurant offers indeed a fine dining taken to a new high. I enjoyed 150% the fully dedicated restaurant, with sophisticated à la carte menus ranging from deliciously healthy to superb indulgent for lunch and dinner. Guilty, Your Honour, I never made it for breakfast. I experienced already the quality of MSC cuisine but this time the restaurant excelled owing to the excellent team lead by Maître d’ Luigi.  The genuine kindness of the restaurant hostess Dora, the impressive knowledge and professionalism of Salvatore, the Sommelier, and the superb manners and divine service of my waiter Amir complemented a smooth, efficient, stress-free service for every meal. And I apologise if I forgot any names of this incredible team.

And if you need a break from being spoiled in the YC Restaurant another place is waiting for you on the 19th deck: Exclusive to MSC Yacht Club Guests, the MSC Yacht Club Sundeck & Bar, offers a luxurious and tranquil place to enjoy an aperitif. Surround yourself in the lap of luxury and let our artful bar tenders prepare something special for you! For the connoisseur there is a handpicked selection of premium drinks available.

Click here to see a video report of a dinner in YC Restaurant

Click here to see a video report of a lunch in YC Restaurant

Click here to see a video report of breakfast on 19th Deck

  • CMSC GRANDIOSA CREW

Once again, the strongest link in the MSC concept of cruising is the crew. On an MSC Cruise, you are welcome on board with a never-ending aspiration to satisfy everyone’s need and deliver a truly unforgettable holiday experience. You’ll feel truly welcome by a friendly and professional staff all around the ship and you’ll quickly discover their excellent service. Of course Master Massa presented with pride his extraordinary team.

And the “Welcome Back Cocktail” is a great opportunity to salute this amazing team!

I would love to show you some images from the “Diamond Cocktail” dedicated to the most loyal guests but, I didn’t received an invitation. Why? The cruise consultant on-board forgot as she forgot all my booking requests for my future cruises. I lost a party she lost a pretty good commission. So win-win situation here!

Click here to see a video report of crew introduction ceremony

Click here to see a video report of Welcome Back Cocktail

  • THE MASTER OF GRANDIOSA

MSC is very successful in destroying the old-fashioned image of the unapproachable Capitan with the white beard and to important to mingle with the passengers. And in all my cruises, the MSC Capitan was a strong link in the PR strategy of the Italian cruise line, a very friendly, knowledgeable, approachable and “down to earth” figure. On MSC Grandiosa, Master Marco Massa, added something special to this profile: present everywhere, always smiling and ready to answer any questions, with a very strong customer-service orientated attitude and proud of being part of MSC (hi)story. In a very international environment Master Mass has the secret to make everybody on-board, crew and passengers, proud and happy to be part on MSC family

Click here to see a video report of Master Massa speaking … 9 languages.

  • A PARADISE NAMED YACHT CLUB

After sailing with different cruise lines on 60+ cruises in the last 6 years, I have every confidence to say that YACHT CLUB is currently the best product on the market of “ship within a ship” concept. On all MSC ships, Yacht Club  is a place where you can savour exclusivity and privacy in a world of choice a place where easily you can indulge in the luxury of a private club while enjoying access to all recreation and entertainment possibilities that every ship has to offer. This time, MSC Grandiosa, pushed the experience to an overwhelming level.  The entire team from room stewards and butler to management of YC have the capacity and the desire to meet and exceed any expectations, every single time.

Which examples I can pick to describe my recent experience better?

The superb communication and interpersonal skills mixed with an extraordinary eye for details and professionalism of my butler Sandro?

The impressive sense of calm and charm even under the stress of tight deadlines of Assistant Head Butler Zakia?

The grace, elegance and pride blended with tact and discretion, always maintaining a sense of ease, of an excellent leader and role-model like Head Butler Dani?

The efficiency in delivering the highest standard of service and finding pleasure in carrying out their duties with exceptional care and consideration of the Lounge Team: Irina, Tatiana, Marie, Ana (and I do apologise if I forgot somebody)

The ability of the YC Director Rosalia to guide her team towards a well-defined vision “YOUR RELAXATION, OUR DEDICATION”, inspiring confidence and trust and influencing common efforts through character rather than by a position of authority. Placing THE GUEST in the heart of her everyday routine, Rosalia is the kind of leader that pushes people to be the very best they can be but still make people feel safe because it starts with the heart.

At the end of the day I do believe that the YC Cocktail is not a reason to celebrate the guests but, to acknowledge and praise an excellent team – Yacht Club Team.

Or all this together because, at the end of the day  YC on MSC Grandiosa doesn’t have a star but a constellation!

Click here to see a video report of Sweet Temptations moment

Click here to see a video report of YC Cocktail celebrating an amazing team

Click here to see a video report of a very personalised experience

Click here to see a video report of MSC Grandiosa leaving Palermo

  • COVID19 FEAR

The infamous virus managed to scare the entire world of cruise lover. On board MSC Grandiosa Cpt. Marco Massa manage the entire external crisis in a brilliant way: from the thermal scanning in every port for passengers and crew to the around the clock sparkling clean ship and extra-attention paid to personal hygiene. To be honest I felt safer on board than in my hotel room. So drop the fear and keep cruising! … at least with MSC

Click here to see a video report of boarding procedure on board MSC Grandiosa

Click here to see a video report of fear of COVID19 when sailing with MSC

  • READY TO GO HOME

Couple years ago, Genoa Business Class wasn’t a place to be. Step by step, year by year the space started to get closer to what you expect for an airport lounge. Of course, still a long way to go but let’s celebrate the present. Just because the rest of the airport is very boring place to wait for embarkation. A little advice: don’t go to early and wait at the gate. They have an obsession to start boarding even before the plane is ready and you will end with a good 15-20 minutes waiting in a hot or cold jetty.

Click here to see a video report of Genoa Lounge

Maybe these images are not a perfect description of the amazing week I had on board MSC Grandiosa. But let me tell you a last story:

The night before disembarkation in Genoa, at the entrance of top sail lounge, I saw a lovely German lady with tears in her eyes. A little bit worried, I ask her the reason behind her sadness and the answer amazed me: “I don’t want to go home tomorrow. I had such a magic week. I don’t want to lose all my friends here. They were all amazing!”. Maybe this reaction, from somebody who never been on MSC before and I never meet, values more than all my video.

I didn’t find an answer on the spot for the beautiful German young lady. I found it just now writing this lines: “No worries Lara, you can always come back, because MSC will always be here, like this week, SIMPLY AMAZING!

 

~ by leonard69 on March 4, 2020.

One Response to “MSC GRANDIOSA revisited (February 2020)”

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