On Thursday morning I woke up much later than normal. The ship had risen the anchor and we were slowly heading back to Durban. That gentle swaying definitely kept me rocked to sleep. When I did eventually surface, we looked out to the most beautiful, hot day and distant sand dunes.
We headed up for breakfast of fruit and a cooked breakfast…
The MSC Aurea Spa was calling and Sox and I had booked a 30 minute Bali Massage. I met my masseuse and she led me into my own private massage room with a breathtaking view.
I would have liked my massage to be a little harder, but it was still an experience having a massage on a cruise ship with a view like that.
After the massage, I headed off to the Media Event where we got to interview the various heads of staff. It was absolutely fascinating getting an extra look into what goes into a cruise and looking after 2200 passengers.
Some fun facts:
- The pools are emptied out every single evening, scrubbed and cleaned and then refilled with ocean water. They are constantly cleaned so you never have to worry about dirty water. This was a big one for me and after hearing this, I felt much more comfortable taking a refreshing dip.
- It really is one of the most affordable holidays and such an incredible experience. Children under 18 travel FREE when sharing with parents and there are 4 different age group clubs to cater for babies, kids and teens.
- You can imagine how crazy it is feeding 2200 passengers. Food is readily available 20 out of 24 hours a day and the cruises have a standard menu with a Mediterranean flavour. They obviously adjust menu’s per ship and area. For example, there are Indian dishes on the South African cruises that aren’t necessarily on the South American cruises.
- 125kgs of bacon is consumed every morning at breakfast.
- 26 500 eggs are consumed a week.
- They use local suppliers and European suppliers.
- There are 6 bakers on board the ship and 1 pizza maker. Since the Pizza is nearly 24 hours a day, a minimum of 400 pizzas are made a day – it’s by far the most popular.
- There is no food waste. Over the years of cruising, research and experience has shown exactly what is needed. The only food waste comes from what is left on a passengers plate.
- There are 700 staff members, which works out to be a ratio of 1 staff member for every 3 guests.
- Their contracts are between 5-7 months and they do not have a break whilst cruising. There is no weekend and some of the cruises are back to back. It’s not as glamorous as most of us think.
- Most of the staff speak 5 languages.
- It takes a special type of person to work on a cruise ship. You need serious passion and have to see it as a lifestyle, but those who do it absolutely love every moment.
- Besides their skills and talents, all staff members have to be safety certified with international safety qualifications.
- There has to be an amazing amount of entertainment on board, which includes 6 full production shows that usually come from Europe. There has to be a huge amount, constantly updated, because they need to offer variety for guests with different tastes and for those who are repeat guests and have possibly seen all the shows/games/experiences on a previous cruise.
- Some of the most challenging (and common – if you can believe it) question staff have to answer is: “Why is it raining?” and explaining to irate passengers about the weather, like it’s their fault. I found this hilarious.
- MSC have won several Eco Friendly awards and this is very important to the company that they respect the environment. Their carbon footprint is extremely low and the fuel they use is a special MFO fuel.
- They have a recycling program on the ship, on the Portuguese Island and even amongst the cabin crew.
- Nothing is ever discharged at sea, unless it is 100% biodegradable and even then, there are only restricted areas this can even happen.
After the media meeting, I went in search of Sox. I obviously found him on deck, reading his book and working on his olive skin tan.
We decided to give the pizza a try for lunch, even though it wasn’t Banting friendly. I honestly felt so bloated afterwards, but it was delicious.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on deck, sunning ourselves like lizards, taking dips in the pool and watching the hilarious games being played.
Sox even got involved trying to throw water balloons at the members of staff… A game that sounded and looked so much easier than it actually was.
It was so hot that we eventually decided to take a break from the sun. We got tea and coffee, sat on our balcony watching the ocean and then remembered I had a Thermal Area Media pass: A relaxation room with a gorgeous view, a sauna and steam room. Bliss.
My skin felt so good after the sauna and steam room, and we felt so relaxed lying there, that we nearly missed our seating of dinner. Luckily we didn’t… Feast your eyes on these dishes:
After dinner, we headed for drinks at the casino and then off to the Duty Free shopping area where Sox made an awesome purchase. With heavy eyelids, we headed back to our cabin, packed our bags, set our alarm and drifted off into a deep sleep.
We got a wake up call before our alarm even sounded, showered, rushed off for our last breakfast and then met the rest of the media group in the reception area just before 8am. It was a relatively easy process off the ship, our passports were stamped and we found our shuttle with ease.
Whisked away to the airport, we hugged our goodbyes and flew back to our respective homes.
I honestly had such a fun media trip and still can’t believe I get to call this work.
Thank you so much to MSC Cruises, Ingrid Roding-Tudor and everyone onboard the MSC Opera for the incredible experience.
To book your own MSC Cruise make sure you browse their website and look at all the amazing specials: http://www.msccruises.co.za/