A Day Onboard the MSC Preziosa for #BlogCampOnBoard

Last week, I went on one of my most exciting blogging events to date; #BlogCampOnBoard organised by Trips100 onboard the MSC Preziosa. I have never ever been on a cruise ship before so I couldn't wait to experience it for myself. We weren't going to be sailing anywhere for the day but I was thrilled nonetheless. I've also never been to a blogging conference either, so that's two firsts all in one go!

The day of the cruise started early at 5am to catch a morning train to Southampton port. I spent my university years in Southampton, so it was lovely to be back to familiar surroundings as the train pulled into the station.

The Ship - First Impressions
As I caught my first glimpse of MSC Preziosa, I couldn't help but wonder at just how majestic and magnificent it looked. It was HUGE! Literally, like a few blocks of flats all stacked together.

I was even more blown away once I stepped inside the ship and into the Antrium, everything was so glitzy! My photos don't do it justice so take a look at the brilliant virtual tour of the ship for yourself.

It was fair to say everyone was absolutely blown away by the Swarovski crystal encrusted staircases where each step is worth €8-€10k each!

My first impressions of the ship was definitely a wow at the sheer size of it, it's glitz and glamour, and just how international all the cruise staff and passengers were. Different nationalities and languages flowed throughout the ship and I felt excited to be a part of that. Turns out they host around 35 different nationalities onboard at any given time.

There are a total of 16 ships in the MSC fleet and MSC Preziosa boasts 14 public decks, and can accommodate 4345 passengers. There are 8 restaurants, 7 bar and lounges, 12 entertainment areas including a kids water park, 4D cinema, bowing alley, art gallery, games arcade, theatre and even a library.

The Kids Facilities
We kick started the morning off with a mini show by MSC's Doremi mascot and the youth team in the grand theatre. We were given a taste of what the kids can expect whilst onboard and our fellow bloggers had a whale of a time putting games to the test.

For families with children ranging from babies to teens, you are in for a treat! There are 5 different kids clubs that are opened from 9am-11pm and meals are free for the kids in the club. Working in partnership with Lego, there are Lego rooms onboard and is the ultimate toy that bonds children together without use of a common language, perfect for the expected 35 different nationalities onboard.

The baby facilities are decked out with Chicco, one of the best brands in Italy and the playrooms are  for designed for sensory play.

There's the opportunity for every single child to become a junior UNICEF ambassador and learn about social responsibility, which genuinely impressed me. There's also family activities onboard such as pasta cooking workshops and even family discos where the kids are the DJs! Sports and tech activities including 3D printers and DJ booths are perfect for teenagers.

The Restaurants - Food for Foodies
This is by far the most important part of the any day or any holiday for me, so I'm going to jump straight in with the a few of the restaurant tours and the lunch that MSC Cruises laid out for us. There are 8 restaurants and cafes on the MSC Preziosa and we managed to see 3 of them.

I absolutely loved the 'star' filled ceiling at Phoenician Plaza. Not only were the sweet treats super tempting, they were also at bargain prices. 

Ristorante Italia was sleek and chic with it's timeless white and see-through decors, the perfect place for an intimate date night.

Lunch was served in The Golden Lobster, a large restaurant with 2 floors. There's a buffet spread as well a 3 course lunch option. I was ravishing after an early morning start so being the piggy that I am, I had both options! And was suitably stuffed afterwards.

The buffet had a good choice of cold salads, meats, cheeses and bread and a hot counter with a full roast being offered and the dessert buffet was just so enticing. 

There was free flowing wine and soft drinks, and I had blast getting to know the bloggers on our table. Being spoilt with all that food was definitely a highlight of the day and made me realise I could get very used to life (and very fat!) on a cruise ship.

The Spa + Pools
The schedule for the day was pretty tight and we couldn't fit in a tour of every single part of the ship, so as a toss up between a tour of the kids facilities or the spa area, I chose the the spa. Every girl loves a pamper right?

The spa has jacuzzi tubs, a pool and plenty of areas to lounge in. The roof of the spa is retractable, so depending on the weather you could be treated to an outdoor spa experience! We didn't get to visit the treatment rooms, but are told that the MSC Aurea Spa is an authentic Balinese spa offering 20 different types of massages, facials, body treatments, hair treatment and styling, manicures and pedicures and other beauty treatments.

These pretty mosaics adorn the walls throughout the spa.

After touring the spa, we head over to the swimming pools. Swimming is a must for me on holidays and the MSC Preziosa has 3 pools onboard, and includes a thrill-seeking 120 metre long slide that goes around the deck with a view over the sea! On a beautiful sunny day, this would be the perfect place to lounge with a cocktail and a good book.

Now for #BlogCampOnBoard 
For the rest of the afternoon, I camped in the Safari lounge and enjoyed a fantastic and insightful session on food photography and styling by Sandhya Harihara, followed by a super fun game of metrics hosted by Sally Whittle.

Sandhya's food styling had me in awe. She showed us simple ways to build up the picture using cheap to make DIY boards as the backgrounds, as well as using simple white and black foam boards to diffuse light and create sharper images with shadows. I'd never consider shooting food photos with diffused back light either, so this was a real eye opener for me.

As for the metrics session by Sally, turning it into a fun game was a great way to absorb all the advice on how to work with brands and how to build followers. Seriously awesome stuff and I just wished there was more time for blog camp.

Image courtesy of Trips100.

With the lovely Ursula.

Image courtesy of MSC.

Cruising with MSC
I finished the day on a high and seriously considering going on a cruise holiday. Flying has always been my favourite way to travel and like most people, I'd always associated cruises with old people but this is so not the case. I could imagine myself with my family and friends, all hanging onboard the ship, eating and drinking to our belly's delight and then waking up in a different part of the world each day. Something that you couldn't do with flying as it'd be too stressful to pack and unpack continuously, not to mention virtually impossible with a baby.

And the great news is that both MSC Preziosa and MSC Magnifica have cruises departing from Southampton, so there's no need to catch a flight anywhere before boarding the ship.

Cruises in 2018 start from £549 per person for 7 nights touring Northern Europe with stops in France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands. Other destination stops include Norway, Portugal, Spain and Italy on the longer duration cruises. You can take a look at all the cruise deals departing from UK for yourself, children cruise from just £99!

A huge thanks to Tots100 and MSC cruises for having me, I had a blast. 

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