We awoke early this morning to the dull sound of engines roaring as planes rattled down the runway just a few 100 metres away from our hotel. It was somewhat surprising then when we drew the curtains to find the airport under a blanket of thick fog, albeit with the sun placed delicately on top!
BeyondCruise Live Voyage: MSC Meraviglia – (Missed a day or just got here? Skip to any day!)
Showered, dressed and down to breakfast. An ample buffet for a quick bite before travelling, nothing worth writing about in any sense, but nice they offer takeaway coffee (cappuccino, etc, you name it!) if you wish to just “grab and go” as you check-out.
We headed back to the room and packed our final things and then took the short walk again to the airport, with luggage in tow this time. It is now a stunningly clear October day, with only a few clouds in the sky and the sun already feels pretty warm on us – that fog should be gone in no time.
However, on arrival at the airport it appears that because of storms in Southern Europe and the earlier fog, flights were running anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes late.
We checked our luggage in via the self-service scales, our boarding cards were already on our phones and we headed through security. Apart from the usual delay due to the mountain of tech equipment we take with us, we were through within fifteen minutes. We decided to go for a drink and kill some time at one of the airside Pret cafes and our gate was finally called at 12:15 (a mere fifteen minutes later than scheduled).
The fog has burnt off and the delay on the flights is easing. By the time we taxi from the stand at the airport, we are just 30 minutes behind schedule thankfully!
Up in the air, we’ve been very lucky to somehow get the only empty seat on the entire flight in our row, so we adjust accordingly and the middle seat becomes a table for the next 2.5 hours! The sky is really clear and throughout the entire flight, we get to see the ground below us. I have to say, flying somewhere really makes you feel like you are “going away” compared to sailing to a new port. However, I still prefer cruising than flying, but taking a brief hop like today opens up many more itineraries and ships for you to choose from!
After a couple of hours, we pass over the coastline of Marseille and out to sea briefly before we turn back and line up for our final approach. As we do I strain to look down out of the window at the port and see if we can spot MSC Meraviglia – alas, I think we are too far over to catch glimpse of her and instead just see a bunch of ferries! Moments later we touchdown at Marseille Provence Airport.
We’ve arrived in Terminal 2 – which after a bit of confusion with the bag carousel we get our luggage and head to Terminal 1 Arrivals (it is literally a 3-minute walk on the pedestrianised area at the airport). In here we ask the information desk about our transfer and he calls a driver. Within five minutes he appears and he takes us both directly from the airport to the ship. This transfer is a pre-booked MSC transfer that is available in the MSC Voyage Planner area, however, there are shuttle buses available too if you are happy to wait.
Within 15-20 minutes of a fairly busy Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic, we are at the port! We pass MSC Poesia (who has arrived in Marseille for her drydock programme it seems) and within a couple of minutes we are dropped right at the security terminal and our bags are unloaded. MSC staff are waiting in the terminal to take our luggage and we go through the port security and then as we turn the corner… there she is!
She is MASSIVE. At 167,700 GRT she ranks as the fifth largest cruise ship in the world currently. MSC Meraviglia has a huge 19 decks and a capacity of 4,475 passengers with 1,536 crew members looking after every one of your possible needs!
Within a few moments of entering the ship – the familiar MSC scent hits you! To regular MSC cruisers, I guess that smell is ‘I’m home’! It really is nice and it immediately reminded us of our time on MSC Magnifica! (Sidenote: you can actually buy the scent from the MSC Logo Shop!). We were ushered to reception, along with a few other arriving guests and they took our photos and handed us our keycards before directing us to our cabins. Two of the guests that joined at the same time as us are staying in the MSC Yacht Club and two butlers from the Yacht Club were present to take their hand luggage and guide them directly to their cabin, a lovely touch! (We’ll bring you more about the MSC Yacht Club later on in the voyage!)
Before we head to our cabin we decided to grab a quick drink at the Infinity Bar which is right next to the reception. The staff were welcoming and it was nice to get a cool drink after the Mediterranean heat since we landed.
After finishing our drinks and dropping our hand luggage in our cabin (a Fantastica Balcony Cabin on the port side of the ship, Deck 10) we went to explore the ship. First thing first though – this ship really does have the WOW factor, she is stunning inside and out. We particularly love the fact that MSC keeps their ships clean of hull art and decoration and they are the traditional cruise ship white. They keep all the beautiful designs and decoration to the inside and top of the ship instead, and wow, they know how to design! Every area of the ship is quite unique, but they’ve managed to make it all blend together really well!
We went and organised our excursions and made some reservations for some of the speciality restaurants they have onboard and before we knew it, the ship was leaving the quayside and we had set sail! The seas were pretty calm around Marseille and you could hardly feel the ship moving as we left the port and headed South East.
We toured around various areas of the ship including the main indoor promenade, which is lined with restaurants, shops, bars and ship services such as the Shore Excursions desk. At the far end, we came across the theatre and one of the screens outside showed the list of shows available for our voyage. You can use the MSC for Me App or just tap on one of the interactive TVs on any deck (and there are plenty!) with your cabin card to reserve tickets for a show (at no cost).
We decided we’d go grab some food and because we hadn’t unpacked fully, we are skipping the main dining room tonight and instead will eat at the Marketplace Buffet on Deck 15. On arrival, we are greeted with many different stations offering everything from fresh pizza and pasta to chicken, turkey, mixed vegetables and salads, you name it! We opted for a random assortment (as usual buffet-goers do) and found one of the many areas with tables in to sit at.
After a fairly busy day, we retired to our cabin via a stroll past the outdoor pool area (Atmosphere Pool, Deck 15) and found that our steward had made up our bed, delivered our Daily Program for the next day and left us a platter of fresh fruit!
Tomorrow we are in Genova, Italy and we have an excursion booked to Portofino! It is due to leave at 8.45am, so we better get an early night. After fully unpacking and a quick shower we stand on the balcony briefly and feel the warm Mediterranean air (just read that back – we were dressed again after the shower!). In the distance, we can see the Italian Coast that we are traversing as we head to our next port.
We’re heading East North East along the Italian Coast towards Genova and will be sailing for a total of 205 nautical miles this evening.