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Captain-John

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Everything posted by Captain-John

  1. Thanks CF. Glad it brought back good memories. Yes, the lift was really handy actually and, if the spa had been better equipped, I would have been hard pushed to tear myself away. I did mean to ask you about these adaptations.... I recall you mentioned 'bolts' but beyond that had no idea what you were planning when I was measuring up! Have a wonderful cruise on Mera. 😄
  2. I know we were on the same vvavelength. Thanks Hamrag. I shall employ your methodology over the coming days and weeks as I seek to abate my post-cruise depression. Bit I was missing was getting the TA to contact MSC to confirm it's a Voyager's Selection cruise at booking stage. All else makes sense. That's a great price. 🙂 I'd need to twist DW's arm to go for a YIN (she's been spoiled with balconies until now) but obviously the trade-off is the superb private facilities of the YC. Plus, we'd likely spend most of our time out in the YC public areas that we're paying for! Definitely makes sense to apply the saving to the next cruise or to offset flight costs etc. I'm very curious to see how Bea and the gang find the YIN's on their very long cruise (far longer than I can commit to at present).
  3. Great video, and advert for Preziosa! This time last week, I was sitting in the TSL on her and your 'atmosphere' clips made me yearn to be there again. Thanks 🙂 (and yes, I watched at x2 speed hence my post was made in a timeframe shorter than the video!🤣)
  4. BBC World news in English. That's about it!
  5. This is probably the wrong thing to say, but some friends of ours were stuck out in the channel and could not dock in Venice due to fog (this was in October). Their flight was around 12pm but the ship didn't get clearance to dock until around 2pm. Subsequent overnight stay in Venice Mestre and re-booking of flights (previous flights were direct, these were indirect and turned a 3 hour journey into 9). Interestingly, after a bit of a fight, their travel insurance covered the £500 costs incurred. I believe fog is a moderately common occurrence in Venice. It wouldn't put me off booking a 12.30pm flight either, but I live much closer to Venice and a number of low-cost carriers could get me out of there. Anyway, things like that can happen any time, any port. Something is just sticking in my mind that Venice might be prone to it. Something to bear in mind.
  6. Perfect example... I'm logged into the MSC website, yet:
  7. To be honest, I haven't really done it justice with my photos either. We never explored the beach section on our previous visits, which is why there are so many shots from there. The main shopping bit though I find quite charming, even although it's modern and full of designer shops etc - it still retains a charm IMO. We have previously visited the Cathedral and Castillo Gibralfaro too. Plenty to do for at least a couple of days I'd say. DW and I have both said we'd like to return for a 'city break' - but perhaps branching out for a day to explore Marbella, Puerto Banus etc. Most people just fly into Malaga and move on to those resorts but we'd happily base ourselves in Malaga and explore them as day trips.
  8. You're right, I totally forget to mention that in my review.... although we have discussed it at length on other threads. I didn't use the foam mattresses you recommended this time round - I spent most of my time in the pool and hot tubs such that I was only back at the sunbed to dry off. They are in my Amazon shopping basket though. DW might have a different opinion on this however as she was parked on the sunbeds for most of the day! I find the Voyager's Selection part of the website extremely difficult to navigate at the moment. I can't open any cruise that takes my interest in a new tab, for example. I need to keep navigating back to the main list, and trawling through it again. I also can't filter in the way I'd like. I know the hard work is worth it to get a 20% discount though! My (and I believed your - VV?) favoured TA has also changed their website layout and I can't filter in the same way I used to in order to find the best deals (I found both Mera and Prez cruises on that website for good prices). My criteria for searching for cruises is quite vague with MSC to be honest - my starting point is 'Is there YC availability' and I work it back to an itinerary and price from there. Unfortunately, as non-YC rooms are designated suites as well, when looking at prices, you need to go further into the booking process for a chosen cruise... only to find all the YC1's are sold out. Then you need to back out and start again. Arrrrgh! As you have been so specific it will be easy for me to find the one you are talking about though - thanks. 🙂
  9. I have to admit, I was in the TSL in my daytime shorts around 17:15 one day..... just as all these very well dressed people started to filter in. There were definitely a few tuxedos on display. I had missed the fact there was some kind of cocktail party in the TSL as it was the Gala or Elegant night. That's way, way too early for us to be all dressed up so we finished our drink and left. We didn't snigger at them though, and nor them us - although we did dash for one of the side exits rather than the main door! We'd never dream of going to dinner like that either. We felt bad enough just being in the room with all of these well dressed people, even although we had been there first and they filled in around us. 🤣
  10. No problem, Bea. I'm all done now anyway. 😄 Same goes for you or anyone - if someone's looking for a menu or something I've posted, feel free to pinch it from either of my photo-heavy review threads to help out another poster. Hope you and the gang have a fabulous time on your trip. If you get the chance, I'd love to hear how things are going, but totally understand if you are all too busy having a good time. Bon voyage. 🥂
  11. Goodbye, Prezisoa. Until next time? Trying to decide how to summarise this cruise. We had a good time, and knew what to expect when we booked the cruise (the compromise on food quality). We met some lovely people over the course of the trip. A larger than expected number of Brits were in the YC. We also bumped into a couple who live 10 streets over from us in our home town! We were blessed with fabulous weather for the duration of the cruise, which I was really pleased about. I did miss some features from Mera (despite not liking the 'boardwalk' style layout). Mera's Pool Grill is far superior - even although I never got the chance to sample it due to the cooler weather on our Baltic sailing. The cabins are bigger on Mera, although for 7 nights the size wasn't a problem. I do like the fact the YC restaurant is within the YC complex on the newer ships. It wasn't so much the walk that bothered us, it was the escort and indeed the size of the dining room - too small for the number of guests and the fact they were taking reservations the first night showed this. The service was also a bit sloppier than on Mera. I think the staff are worked quite hard. The TSL snacks on Mera were better. There are slightly more speciality choices on Mera, had we been on a longer sailing we would have been looking for more variety as the YC and MDR menus on MSC just aren't our preference - nor is the buffet particularly good. We wanted this cruise to be relaxing, and it was. We booked the YC for the private lounge, private restaurant, private sundeck and spa access - not necessarily the butler service. On Mera the butler was much more in tune with what we wanted and the style of service (i.e very little) we required. There was a few awkward moments on Prez when our butler would appear at the door, insisting we go to a Black Card party for example and stating he would come back to collect us - we hadn't even said we wanted to go! Likewise when he was serving on the pool deck or TSL, the interactions just felt awkward sometimes and not natural. I think it's just because we aren't the typical guests he is used to serving (in terms of demand)? Going forward, I wouldn't rule out another YC cruise on a Fantasia-class ship, but my first choice would be the newer builds I think. The sway factor would be itinerary or price. Preziosa has a better layout for us, and the extra hot tub on the pool deck is a silly omission from Mera. I look forward to seeing what the new releases look like. Prices are also going up all the time, yet the soft product remains the same. I think it's fair to say that the MSC hard product is very good (shiny, modern ships, well decorated, well maintained). It's the soft product that's not so strong (food, communication etc.). So for the right price, I would return to Fantasia-class YC. I'd pay a bit (just a bit) more for an MSC newer build YC, but I'm also open to other lines (as I always am). We're booked on Celebrity next April and I'm looking at NCL again for another cruise next year. If we book MSC again, we'll be eyes open and going in knowing the compromises - although also knowing how unique the YC setup is (other lines don't quite nail all the elements), and we do appreciate the peace, lack of crowds, privacy and good service. Apologies for the ramble. I'll finish with some pictures of our final few days in Barcelona and open the floor to any questions. Thanks for coming along with me as I relived the experience. 😄
  12. On disembarkation day, we packed in the morning. I had arranged with the Concierge to walk our own suitcases off. I always prefer this option, and was disappointed in May when my request to do this was denied. Germain insisted on walking us off the ship again, I told him we were taking our own luggage and that we'd prefer just to do it ourselves. He said 'let me do my job' - I'm sorry, but part of the job is picking up on the guest's expectations and level of service they require (in our case, pretty much non-existant). I honestly thought a butler would be grateful to have less work to do. There's no fear of this reflecting badly on him if we aren't asking him to do anything, but the insistence on escorting us everywhere was really annoying over the whole week. Some people want it and like it, some don't - but I don't like it being forced on me and there was a bit of a 'guilt trip' element when he huffed and acted sad when we didn't ask him to do anything and made our own arrangements. Anyway, disembarkation was chaos and the YC status counted for nothing when trying to leave the ship. Final lunch menu that we didn't partake in: Lovely sail-in to Barcelona (not used to seeing it in the daylight).
  13. Back to the lounge after Butcher's Cut. Lovely, inviting space. Next day was at sea, although this was technically our last day, we didn't do any kind of packing as we weren't docking in Barcelona until 12pm. We spent a bit of time in the casino to end up down. 😞 Today's menus: MDR YC Lunch YC evening: We had a repeated 'always available' lunch, so I won't bore you with the pictures again. Likewise at dinner, we repeated some mains so I only have the starters to show: Cheese fritters Shrimp cocktail (compare to the Butcher's Cut version!) Cheese for dessert (not as good as the previous cheese plate I had - meaner portion this time!). The cheese took at least 20 minutes to come. It's cut in the restaurant by the waiter, and I think he was struggling quite a bit (we could see him up at the trolley). Lounge snacks More snacks delivered to the room
  14. Thanks Mickey. We're supposed to be on Reflection, but might need to change our plans. Assuming we don't, we have read good things about the LCG too so wanted to try a few restaurants. We're in a 1C category, I did look at Aqua but couldn't justify the differential. We're getting the drinks package and 1C cabin for around £2700 for 2 (11 nt Southern Caribbean). I thought that was a good price. Adding speciality dining and the odd day's spa access, it still worked out less than Aqua would be. Will definitely try Murano a few times though, it must be good and varied enough for you to dine there every night. Seems a lot of people are trying MSC from X, and I'm going the other way!
  15. Hi Number34, there are only 2 speciality restaurants on Preziosa so not much choice - an Asian/Sushi restaurant (Galaxy) and Butcher's Cut (previously Eataly). What I will say is the food is so much better than the YC restaurant (except the cuts of Filet Mignon served in the YC either as an off-menu request, or as part of the Gala or Elegant dinner menus). There's certainly enough variety to sustain a few visits to Butcher's Cut, but MSC is nothing like NCL when it comes to the range of dining options. Not even close. The 'Sports Bar' is nothing like O'Sheehans for example in terms of food offerings. The other thing I'd say is that I remember the days on NCL when it was a $25 flat rate for Cagneys. As we're Platinum (so get a couple of free speciality dinners), and also only book if we get a dining package as part of the deal, this doesn't affect us so much, but now that both Cagneys and Butcher's Cut is a la carte, the cost can add up if you don't buy a package. In fact, the bill can be eye watering if you don't pick from the 'Dining Experience' selection in BC. I know you said you were looking at a package, I think that will restrict you to the 'Dining Experience' section or you can order something off the a la carte menu for 50% off.
  16. Time for Butcher's Cut. We had the identical meal to what we had on Mera in May so again comparisons should be easy, both visually and otherwise. Mera on top, Prez below. Here's the dining experience menu, complimentary for Black card holders (I pinched your photo again, Bea). Shrimp cocktail - I think the Prez photo doesn't quite do it justice, they were meaty enough and much larger than the ones served on the Caesar salad for example. Baked goat's cheese for me - have to say I preferred the one on Mera, much stronger taste of cheese and lemon and blueberry, just much stronger flavours all round to be honest. Here it was a bit too 'moussy', the cheese flavour not nearly so strong and the pastry case wasn't as warm. NY strip for me and Filet Mignon for DW: Peanut butter and milk chocolate cookie NY Cheesecake (no comment) All in all, still a thoroughly enjoyable meal. I'd give the point to Mera here if I had to though. We ordered 2x sides over and above what the dining experience would allow us (1 side each), but there was no charge on the receipt for these.
  17. We didn't get back in time for lunch, but this was the menu: We did enjoy a fantastic sail-away, mostly from the YC pool deck. A gaggle of 15 or 20 from outside the YC had managed to sneak in but were escorted out by staff. There was one lady who remained and gave a cheeky wave to her compatriots on the other side of the glass. She pulled up a chair by the window, although thankfully didn't have the brass neck to order a drink.
  18. Daylight in Lisbon. Very easy to walk from the port into town. 10-15 minute walk at most. We simply walked around the areas that interested us, very easy to do if you don't mind hills. On this particular day it was extremely hot too, but it didn't deter many people as the streets were fairly busy.
  19. Apart from Elegant & Gala nights, very few. However, particularly for the 17:15 cocktail party on one of the nights, I'd say at least 30 people pushed the boat out and went full formal. Yes, had the filet at least 3 times over the course of the week (plus a steak in Butcher's Cut). It was absolutely delicious. I think I added a photo of it a few pages back, here's a gorier one for the true fans. Wear it? Seriously though - we were just chatting about this the other day. I had a very generous 25KG baggage allowance flying back from Barcelona with Vueling, however I was right on the limit, and we hadn't done very much shopping at all. Where I failed was not taking a cabin trolley or rucksack - that's very handy for stashing shoes (usually heavy) and freeing up space in the suitcase for more delicate items. I probably used about 1.5KG of a 10KG hand luggage allowance which was a complete waste. The first evening, I asked if there was anything else other than what was listed on the menu, and the waiter rattled off the filet, fish and chicken as I knew he would. It is strange they don't publish it though - but they do have an 'always available' section on the lunch menu. 🙄
  20. Glad to hear all going well on Fantasia and you're enjoying the food. DW had the pork on our sailing and enjoyed it, too. I can't remember her saying anything about the sauce however. I don't eat fish so I never pay any attention to that but glad the Pool Grill offerings are decent too.
  21. I have a bit of a problem with ordering an MDR meal in the YC, as the YC is supposed to be 'better' - after all, that's why they charge more. However, I agree that a lot of the MDR choices were more appealing to me than the YC choices. If only they could cook the same dish on the MDR menu, but with YC-level ingredients and standards (even although YC food is only a bit (rather than massively) better than the MDR fare IMO).
  22. They were, although I didn't care for the fruit on the side.
  23. After a late-ish night, so follows a later start this morning. Coffee in the lounge and some snacks. We still feel the snack options aren't as varied or as good as the newer ships. Really lazy day follows. The lunch menu was: vs the MDR lunch: Does anyone know why they don't publish the desserts for the evening meal but do at lunch time? Is it just a space issue on the display boards? We both had Caeser salad to start (again!!) and the fried sesame chicken strips for the main. No dessert. Butcher's Cut tonight so need to save room. This would be the YC menu if we weren't going to BC: We wouldn't have enjoyed much off that menu. Sadly, DW was feeling the sea rather badly and we opted to order room service, and I supplemented with some extra items from the buffet. It was no problem to re-arrange the BC booking for the same time the following night via the Concierge. Hardly fine dining!! We were supposed to arrive in Lisbon the following morning, but an announcement had been made that due to a medical emergency, we would be docking in Lisbon around 00:00. For DW, it couldn't come soon enough. Sure enough, as we got closer to Lisbon, the seas calmed and we were able to get out and about. A terrible shame for whoever needed off the boat to receive medical attention, but a unique opportunity for us to sail into Lisbon at night that we hadn't been expecting. Bad photos of the 25 de Abril bridge, taken from the TSL. We should have stepped out sooner (when we were going under the bridge) but didn't make a move until we were closer to docking. We pulled in behind a Costa ship.
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