I’m on a boat…
Well, actually, a cruise. You get in big trouble for calling it a ‘boat’ and if you’d been lucky enough to be on board the MSC Orchestra, you’d probably understand why ‘boat’ doesn’t quite cut it.
When the lovely Larissa from MSC emailed me a while back now asking if I’d like to check out this majestic vessel on ‘her’ (yes, they’re all female before you ask) debut voyage to Australian shores I said yes, mainly because I hadn’t been on a cruise since I was 5 years old and thought it would add some variety to my travel blog.
Okay that AND I wanted to find myself a strapping young boy from the wrong side of the tracks and floppy blonde hair who I could tell he was “KING OF THE WORLD!” as we pretended to fly at the front of the ship.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay in Sydney that I remembered I also suffer from severe motion sickness. The trip down the coast to Melbourne was to take 2 full days, 3 nights.
This was going to be fun!
Planning on sussing out the nearest on-board pharmacy ASAP, I arrived with enough luggage for a 30 day trip (8 bikinis was probably excessive in hindsight) and was immediately overwhelmed. You just don’t think it’s possible to fit this much STUFF on a ship and have it still float!
The winding brass and marble staircase in the reception foyer, the grand piano, the mirrors and lights and plants…I didn’t know whether I was in Vegas or on board the Titanic but hoped for the former for obvious reasons.
But seriously, the facilities on the MSC Orchestra were extraordinary. Level after level of restaurants and bars (including a Japanese/Chinese/Thai infusion restaurant and ‘nightclub’ intended for the younger passengers), a fully fledged theatre designed for amazing productions such a ‘Gotham’ (a Batman inspired musical with a hint of magic), a library, cigar room, wine bar, deck-top pools and spa’s plus and an authentic Balinese day spa.
This was perhaps my favourite part of the ship and for good reason!
Not only could you get a traditional Balinese massage by Indonesians (scouted and trained for the cruise) overlooking the deep blue ocean, there was also a yoga studio and gym, juice bar, more indoor Jacuzzis, a sauna and steam room and beauty salon where you could get your hair cut done and even a mani or pedi if you felt like spoiling yourself (which I obviously did because you know, there’s only so much amazing Italian food you can eat from the 22hr a day buffet without needing someone to massage your doughy tummy.)
My room was surprisingly spacious. There was stacks of storage space (the idea is that you unpack and slide your suitcase under your bed, out of sight, so that your cabin becomes your home away from home) and a bathroom bigger than most of my New Yorker friend’s apartments.
There was a King size bed (read: two singles pushed together but comfy as hell), a TV on top of my mini bar, single couch and a coffee table and a small work station/vanity with a mirror.
I also had a balcony, which acted as a beautiful reminder of why so many people around the world choose to cruise on their holidays.
There really is nothing like waking up, pulling back the curtains and seeing the ocean for as far as the eye can see.
So peaceful and quiet. Sunrises were amazing, as were sunsets and the lapping of the waves against the ship as I went to sleep was better than any iPhone app with “Beach Waves” as an option for a lullaby.
There were daily activities- both during the day and at night- although I’m not going to lie, I probably would have been more inclined to get amongst them had I,
- Not been the only person under 40 on the cruise and
- Had a friend or travel buddy to come along for the fun.
Cruising isn’t something I’d do alone I don’t think and that seemed to be a consensus come lunch time when I was trawling around with my tray of buffet food looking for a spare seat but finding only groups of friends.
That being said, it’s worth noting that I had hopped onto the end of a long voyage (Dubai to Perth, 30 days) and usually the kinds of people who can afford the longer journeys (or can afford to take the time off) are grey nomads.
Larissa informed me their shorter cruises in the Mediterranean had a much different vibe- fun and busy and young.
It was easy to picture just how much fun one of those would have been: beautiful MSC Orchestra cruise + roomy rooms with a view + more bars and restaurants than you can poke a stick at + roof top pools and spas + tonnes of young guys sailing the crystal clear waters of the Med….
…I think I’ve just conquered my sea sickness.