BOOK A CRUISE ON:
Whether you're a seasoned traveller or just wide-eyed at the romantic adventure of a sea voyage, like myself, the MSC Sinfonia gives you a chance to see it all do it all take a summer's sojourn on the MSC Sinfonia.
Boarding and embarkation procedures were mostly painless, just a short wait in line at E Berth dock before reaching the ship, where my ticket was taken and I received my cruise card. Your cruise card is your ID on the MSC Sinfonia and also acts as a credit card when linked with an account. My luggage was safely delivered to my window-side cabin on the ninth deck, named for Tchaikovsky. Everything is named for someone or something in culture, everything is a little more than it seems. I didn't stick around the cabin for too long before heading off to explore the ship. Everything on the Sinfonia feels decadent and you'd get lost in the expansive ship were it not for the convenient maps and several elevators. The ceilings are mirrors and the rooms are all tastefully decorated - it feels opulent but never pretentious, just very cleverly designed.
My favourite place has to be deck 11, the pool deck, also the buffet deck. All buffet food is freshly cooked and free, so you might find yourself going back for seconds after trying a spicy Vesuvio pizza. There is also a considerable amount of food to make more food, like a hip 'burger deconstruction' where we put burgers together with the parts we chose - this cheese and a bit of that sauce, something for everyone.
One the last night of the voyage I chose to join the dinner at the Il Galeone with some friends and experience fine dining at sea. Each night has a prescribed dress code for the restaurant so be sure to bring along a tuxedo or evening gown, but luckily for me the last night was casual and the atmosphere was quite relaxed. There's no rush or need to book as there are two seatings and you will be guaranteed a place. The Italians-inspired menu is sensible, but if you have special dietary needs like myself then a quick chat to the friendly maitre d' will help you find something suitable. I found the restaurant staff to be very accommodating.
The night life on board the Sinfonia is well worth mentioning: from the pool deck parties that last all day to the secluded top-deck club that's up all night, there's always somewhere to dance( I was surprised to even hear 'Gangnam Style' playing while I stopped for ice creams ). There is a Vegas-style theatre where we saw an amusing comedy act, as well as a casino (the casino is the only place on the ship that charges in cash Euros, everything else is debited to your cruise card).
Personally I prefer some more sedate entertainment, so I headed downstairs to one of the lounges. In the elevator I met a very smartly dressed lady who said she "was off to the Buddha Bar to get away from it all", she'd dined and partied enough. I followed and found a relaxing atmosphere at that lounge - sip a fashionable cocktail as you relax and enjoy a live pianist playing for your satisfaction. This was just one of many themed bars and lounges. I found the choice of wines to be keeping with an up-market restaurant, and the cocktails to be 'worldly' enough to suit all pallettes.
If you're interested in languages you're in for a treat too - the staff come from all over the world with cabin attendants from South East Asia and worldly barmen from Ukraine. Don't be afraid to spark up a conversation as everyone was very friendly.
Every day was a joy to be at sea. The cruise was smooth and the weather pleasant. In the mornings I could rise at a leisurely hour and have some delicious free breakfast croissants while perusing the new programme of activities. By the time I'd return to my cabin before lunch I'd find my bed made and room tidy, all done discretely and with respect for your privacy and belongings. I found the personal safe to be a reassuring gesture to those carrying valuables or just expensive camera equipment. This second night I felt especially treated when the magical twinkling lights of Mossel Bay could be seen from my cabin window as we began the slow return to Cape Town's familiar waters.
When it's nearing time to return to the busy world you'll find it easy enough to settle your affairs onboard. The night before we arrived back at Cape Town I stopped at Fifth Avenue to see what duty free goods were available at the various shops and boutiques. There is plenty of fashionable clothing and jewellery, souvenirs and more, but I was rather more interested in the imported confectionary. Also remember to pick up your cruise DVD as a lasting memory of the special times at sea.
Disembarkation was simple and quick but I'll admit I was more than a little sad to leave the Sinfonia - she's one lady who certainly knows hospitality.