Blog Camp On Board – a lovely blog conference on MSC Cruises Preziosa
#BlogCampOnBoard was hosted by Tots100 and was a bloggers day out and mini-conference on board the MSC Preziosa whilst docked in Southampton. The day was interesting and it was really lovely to meet up with Laura from Savings 4 Savvy Mums, Emma from Island Living 365 and Bridget from Bridie By The Sea. It was a really beautiful venue and I absolutely loved viewing the ship. I love cruises – it’s my absolute favourite way to travel and I’ve written previously and passionately about how much I love them. Our trip to Bruges was just so lovely and our week long venture to Norway cruising along the fjords was breathtaking. I am determined to spread the cruise love and show why I think cruises are the perfect way to travel as a family.
The day started with top security processing which was completely understandable and really did give you that feeling of being off on an exotic holiday. Sadly, we had to stay in Southampton but exploring the ship and socialising with fellow bloggers made it a really worthwhile experience. I did feel there was a lack of water (and coffee) through the day and sadly left with a bit of a headache. With cruise ships, there’s no cash on board so I imagine it’s very hard to organise an event like this and predict the needs of the group – I would recommend more refreshments for the future just because conferences always require lots of information and it can be a bit much when you’re feeling thirsty! A lot of people also travelled down that morning without being able to stop for a drink or breakfast, myself included. I do appreciate though that with every unique venue there are always teething issues and I think feedback is important. There were families disembarking that day and also passengers onboard as a stopover so we did have to be mindful of those when taking photos and walking around the ship.
I love that MSC Cruises ships Preziosa and Magnifica sail from Southampton to Northern Europe which is a beautiful place to cruise around. Destinations include France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Italy and they have really competitive prices as well as the chance to upgrade your cabin, child prices from £99 and so much more. MSC Cruises are absolutely worth comparing against your usual cruise line company if you’re a cruising pro and the prices are very desirable for beginner cruisers.
We started off by making our way to the theatre which was incredibly impressive. I could just imagine the shows that must go on there at night! Not only did the theatre have great stall seats but an upper circle and balcony seats circling the venue. Plenty of space for all the passengers to enjoy a nightly show or talent act. We listened to a talk by the director of children services on board and got so much useful information about the kids club onboard Preziosa. I was amazed that it was open right the way through until 11 pm and there were five category age groups from babies through to 17. It seems every member is catered for onboard an MSC Cruise Ship which is amazing. I think my daughter would have a lot of fun in the kids club, swimming pools, splash park and all the other fantastic family activities that happen from talent shows, quizzes and games. There’s also an arcade and bowling alley which give it a really nice family feel and little-hidden gems. It’s nice to find these activities onboard a cruise ship because it shows you just how much there is to do.
We then headed onto the Cruise Ship activities for the first part of the day. I have to say I was a little disappointed by this as it was not what I expected. We headed up to Deck 15 to a little seating area. It’s with a lovely big pool below with jacuzzis and water features. It’s a covered pool, which is brilliant, but the room was incredibly warm and it was really hard to hear the information being given even with a microphone. Also, we’d been at the venue, checked in and on board for a while by this point and a request for water was badly needed. We watched a hairstylist and makeup being done by the members of staff from the spa and salon. This was very nice but I would have preferred to be shown the spa, talked through all the treatments, the products used, what services are available, if there are any spa packages you can buy and perhaps being given a demonstration of a little hand massage might have worked better. With the noise from the pool and the way we were sat, I couldn’t really see anything so I didn’t get that much from the session. We were then whisked off for a bit of a ship tour although we kept losing the guide and we didn’t actually get any information about each place we went to. I don’t think I would be able to tell anyone where anything was on board because we didn’t really get told anything which was a real shame. It was very glamorous however and there were lots of lovely facilities. It was really lovely to meet and explore with Naomi from Me Becoming Mum too.
Lunch was the best part of the day being given three courses, wine and water. I chose the menu rather than the buffet and really enjoyed my food. The salad was a little heavy on the dressing but my roman sandwich was delicious and I loved the pudding. House red and white wine were offered and very nice as well as a chance for still or sparkling water. We sat on a table of four and were joined by Faye from mama dot gang – it’s always lovely to get to know new bloggers! The restaurant as really lovely and I was just thrown back to meals I’ve had before and really enjoyed. Cruise food is always very tasty and there is always a great variety.
We then headed into the session lead by Alison Perry on Podcasting which was really informative. It’s something I’ve not thought of before but I really do enjoy listening to podcasts. Perhaps in the future you’ll see some sort of podcast from me, perhaps it will be all things cruising…who knows! It was lovely to meet and sit with Ami from Through Ami’s Eyes. Then I went over to the chef demo where they made a swordfish spaghetti. We were given the recipe afterwards which could be easily adapted at home for chicken or another type of fish I think. MSC Cruises are really proud of the diverse nationalities of both their staff and passengers so they really want to try and have world recognised brands available on board to reflect that and bring everyone together. Many of the staff members speak multiple languages which is incredibly impressive and something I think that’s needed especially in areas like the kid’s clubs. They had a strong Italian influence on board which is really lovely because I am a fan of Italian food. An MSC Cruise sounds like a great backdrop for a sail around the Med drinking fabulous wines and eating all the pasta. A few brands I recognised were Samsung, Lego and Nutella which was lovely to see and familiar, I think, around the world. Cruise ships are like floating hotels and in my experience, the best hotels have a hint of home with them.
The day ended with some drinks and a Q & A session in the Safari Lounge which was very informative and it was great to see how passionate the team and staff are about their cruise liners. I can imagine a holiday onboard would be full of fun and give you the ideal opportunity to make plenty of family memories. I love cruising and I can’t wait to do it all again! Hopefully, soon! Here’s a little video of all my photos taken during #BlogCampOnBoard – having a look at my YouTube channel you’ll find a few of our other cruise and holiday videos.
The lack of water was an issue and even after lunch before our final session. Us cruise bloggers headed to the buffet to use the water & ice vending machines for that much needed drink but don’t think anyone else would’ve thought about it. For the future it would be helpful if they had water at every venue/session or at least allow people time to use the water stations at the buffet (or elsewhere in the ship if there are others).