MSC Virtuosa Postcard #4 – Southampton & Disembarking

Disembarkation day for us started when we awoke at around 5:30am. After our morning ablutions and then packing our hand luggage we all made our way to the buffet for our final visit for breakfast. It was extremely busy this morning but if you wandered to the aft area, the crowds thinned out and it was a lot more civilized. All the serveries are open and display exactly the same food, it’s just that most people tend to be lazy and don’t want to walk too far so as far as I am concerned, it’s their loss and our gain. Self Disembarking ran from 7:15 until 7:45 followed by Diamond members at 7:55. We got Diamond numbered tags the previous evening, we used one for ourselves and then gave the rest to the youngsters with the intention that they could self-disembark and we would follow up the rear collecting all the cases on the way. Even that was overthought as in the end we all walked off together picking up our cases en route to the car park.

 

 

 

We have had a fabulous few days of spending time with the family and will look back fondly at the experience. Whether you will ever see us on another MSC ship is another thing, they have beautiful ships but the onboard experience is not a good fit especially the dining side of things. I’ll never say never but as things stand they are not on our radar. We arrived home just before 10:30am which still left us a decent amount of the bank holiday to enjoy. Our next cruise is January 2024 so we have a bit gap until then.

MSC Virtuosa Postcard #3 – Cherbourg, France

I found myself at Guest Services again this morning to query a payment from my onboard account. It was for an internet package that I had already paid for prior to embarking so I was provided with a printout and told to take it to the photography desk when it opened to resolve the matter as they apparently deal with the WiFi and internet along with all the photos. I grabbed a quick coffee before heading up to join the others for breakfast in the buffet. As it was early and very quiet, we had the pick of the tables so selected one of the outside ones right at the back, it was a great spot and nice and warm with the rising sun shining on us. At 9:00, I managed to speak to someone about the account query and the matter was rectified without any explanation. I now have £40 OBC to spend again but there is nothing really that I want so not really sure what to do with it. The shops take up plenty of space but don’t sell anything that has any appeal to me.

We arrived at Cherbourg just after 11:00 but didn’t actually allow anyone off until 11:45. Having done a little research about Cherbourg and found very little to interest us it was a toss-up as to actually get off or not. In the end, we did if only for the walk into town.

Why do cruise lines schedule Sunday stops in France when just about everything is closed? It’s happened to us several times now. The cafés and bars that were open were doing a roaring trade.

So, the irony is, the best place of interest is right next to the cruise terminal. There are three venues included in one ticket which costs €19. It’s called La Cité de la Mer and houses an Aquarium & Ocean museum, Le Redoutable atomic submarine & an interactive Titanic exhibition. Well worth the €19 entrance fee and a good way to pass a couple of hours, La Redoubtable submarine walk through being the pick of the three.

Once back onboard we took some time out in the cabin to round off the afternoon before joining the others for an early dinner in the buffet. Quite likely another early-ish night tonight so we can be up in time for breakfast and leave the ship just before 8:00.

MSC Virtuosa Postcard #2 – Rotterdam, Netherlands

The clocks went forward an hour overnight so we lost an hour’s sleep. Even so, I was up early so went for a walk around the deserted ship. It’s a real treat when it’s totally empty.

Even Rob The Robotic Bartender was still asleep. While out, I visited Guest Services to try and remedy our lack of Voyager Club status which was great at that time of the morning because there wasn’t a queue. Apparently, our club status hadn’t been linked to our booking but the situation was quickly rectified and new cards were issued with Diamond Status attached. I then grabbed a quick coffee at the bar before taking one up for Nicole.

Breakfast in the MDR was okay but didn’t really live up to expectations, certainly not as good as what Costa is providing for special dietary needs. The best thing about it was the view from our table looking out over the wash.

So we have made the decision that it is going to be a better option to use the buffet from here on.

We enjoyed the sail into Rotterdam along the Nieuwe Maas with arrival at 11:00. Once the early excursions had departed we made our way off for a walk. We headed for Markthal and had a quick walk-through and then around a few of the adjacent shops eventually stopping off at a vegan café for a snack prior to heading back to the ship.

On arrival back at our cabin we discovered some chocolate-coated strawberries and a bottle of Prosecco which are a perk of our Diamond Status. Better late than never. ?

Judging by the number of people back on the ship and using the open decks, it would appear that Rotterdam didn’t hold much appeal, perhaps the weather and the drinks packages were a stronger draw.

I managed to find a quiet shady spot while the boys and their entourage went off to the Savannah Aquapark for some watery fun. The two of them had a fun time and were both feeling very tired and hungry come 5:30 so it was quickly back to the cabin for a wash and brush up before heading off to the buffet for something to eat. Everyone ate really well and we even managed to find a table outside at the back of the ship so were able to watch sailaway as we ate. Nicole was on babysitting duty this evening so I relaxed in our own cabin with some welcome beers in front of the TV. No doubt it will be another early morning tomorrow.

MSC Virtuosa Postcard #1 – Southampton & Embarkation

Despite both groups being on the same booking and with cabins right next to each other, we were given different boarding times, ours was from 10:00 until 11:00 while the others were from 11:00 until 12:00. Instructions informed us not to arrive more than 30 minutes prior these slots so we all arrived at 10:30 and amazingly were all onboard by 11:20. I had feared the worst but in the end, it was quite a simple and efficient embarkation.

We then had plenty of time to explore the ship as access to the cabin was delayed until 3:00pm.

It’s a very compact cabin but plenty good enough for the 3 nights. Ideal for just two people but maybe not so for four, we will find out how our neighbours get on over the next few days.

The muster involved watching a safety video on your cabin TV and then confirming that you had watched it by a quick call on the phone to verify the viewing. One final part was to visit the muster station to have the bar code on your sea pass read.

With all that now taken care of, the boys were keen to visit the Savannah Aquapark and have a paddle so that is where we were for sail away.

Cruising with two youngsters means many priorities and timings change, the need to eat is one of them. At 6:00 we found ourselves in the buffet for just that reason. I think that on this short cruise, this is potentially where we will eat most of our meals, we just need to ensure we get our timings right to miss the busy times. We are on first sitting in the MDR but at 7:30 it could be too late for our young companions. We will have to see how it goes tomorrow and then make a decision. The time change might work in our favour but much depends on how the boys fare in Rotterdam. We have been told from a couple of different sources that the ship is full and there are in excess of 1200 children onboard but to date, it really hasn’t been too much of a problem although the amount of youngsters is very obvious. On return to the cabin we found a letter from Guest Services confirming they were aware of our special dietary requirements, Nicole is vegan while one of the boys is dairy intolerant and they have said we will have a dedicated waiter who will be aware of our special needs. The restaurant we have been assigned to is the Minuetto Restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. We can but give it a go in the hope they can deliver.

MSC Virtuosa Rotterdam & Cherbourg Preamble

What better than to take a cruise with family and this is what this cruise is all about. There will be six of us on this cruise, the two of us plus our daughter, son-in-law and 2 young grandchildren. After spotting this cruise at a real bargain price, we asked if they would like to join us, and a positive response was fairly quick. Because this will be family time, I will probably not post as much as normal but I can’t let it pass without at least recording something even if it is mostly photos.
The itinerary itself is just for 3 nights and during half term for the schools so could well be full of children so fingers are crossed that MSC are able to cope, (us as well). This cruise was originally to be on MSC Grandiosa and overnighting in Rotterdam but we received a letter about a month after booking to say that they were changing the ship to MSC Virtuosa and that all cabin numbers would remain the same due to the fact they are practically identical ships. The itinerary also changed with Cherbourg added and Rotterdam became just became a normal day visit.

We have cabins next door to each other so we can be on hand for assistance and babysitting duty.


So depending on how much time I get, there may or maybe not be a follow-up post, if not I will catch up once home. ??