Most people will describe their tropical destination with the terms pristine white beaches, tall droopy palm trees, and crystal clear blue waters with a humid temperature to go along with it. But I say that you do not actually need these present to get tropical.
I was ecstatic to hear that our managers had decided to send all employees on a cruise especially because the festive season was upon us. There was no better news than to set sail on the Melody before the mad Christmas rush had hit.
The day of embarkation, we were waiting with anticipation to get on board the MSC Melody. Surprisingly the queue to board was relatively short and after a maximum 20 minute wait, we were handing over our cruise ticket and smiling for the embarkation photos which were also available to purchase on board.
Once we were on the ship, we could not think of anything else but to explore the different decks. We first headed to our cabin on the Continental deck, which was more than spacious for two people. I especially enjoyed the porthole view and the sea breeze it let in.
The next thing on our to-do-list was to find the area where the buffet was served. After about 10 minutes of wandering, we finally found the Riviera Terrace, where we noticed that others had had the same idea as us. My colleagues were seated at a table & we joined them. The food was endless and enough to please any taste buds from the pasta station to the summer fruit selection. One thing I found was that I was never hungry on board the MSC Melody. In fact after the cruise I only wanted to touch salads for about a week as my stomach was full to the brim. I would definitely recommend eating a night or two at the Galaxy Restaurant if you like a set menu and to be dined on. The waitrons are extremely helpful and eager to assist but do not expect to have long conversations as their english vocabulary is quite limited. Unfortunately we did not make it to the early sit down breakfasts due to late nights and too many shooters but I have heard that the Egg Benedict is a must!
The buffet lunch was followed by the welcome party hosted by Derek and the Dream Team dressed in sailor outfits on the Calypso pool deck. Within minutes the entertainment crew had everyone dancing and singing to the sounds of Kurt Darren’s ’Kaptein’.
For our first night on board, the entertainment team put on a show with the title ‘Love’ located at Club Universe. The next two nights were titled ‘Tropical Explosion’ and ‘Italy’. We enjoyed the likes of contortionists, dancers, singers and even a magician. The show lasted about an hour and was followed by Mrs Melody and on the second night Mr Melody in the Junkanoo Club. These two shows were definitely one of the many highlights on the cruise. It was not the usual ‘pageant show’ and I can safely say that this show left everyone in stiches.
Most of the nights were spent at the Junkanoo club dancing up a storm and trying every cocktail and shooter on the list. We had an advantage that our cabin was so close otherwise we might have spent the night on the comfortable couches. The other option offered was to dance on the open deck by the Calypso pool. If it hadn’t been so windy on the first few days, we might have decided to dance under the stars rather.
The days were spent basking in the sun on the pool deck with a cocktail in hand and a perfect backdrop of the endless ocean. This is where the real fun happened with the scheduled daily activities and island type music to keep you in that tropical mood. Whether you were soaking in the Jacuzzi, splashing in the pool or catching up on that summer tan there was always a buzz on the Calypso pool deck. They offered a few competitions and games for the whole family to get involved in. We decided to partake in the movie quiz just for fun and by chance we landed up winning a bottle of sparkling wine. You never know what you can receive if you don’t get involved. If movie quizzes and bingo are not your game, there is always the casino to test your luck.
The day we arrived in Mossel Bay, we could not disembark as the swell was too strong for the ship to come in. We were a little disappointed, but were delighted with the excellent weather the Captain found when he decided to steer the ship up the west coast which might have been a better idea than heading to Mossel Bay as the wind completely died down.
On the last night, after dinner, we headed to the bow of the ship and spent maybe an hour just watching the motion of the sea and the crashing force of the ship on the water. This is when I truly felt privileged to be able to say I have cruised on the MSC Melody as at that moment, there were only two of us, the ocean and our thoughts. The sea breeze brushing against my face and the stars above me - truly a memorable experience.
I would recommend cruising as a form of travel to anyone after experiencing it myself. It is an affordable way of taking some time off and really enjoying yourself in a tropical feel without having to go too far from home.