MSC Cruise out of Genoa to Civitavecchia, Palermo, Malta, Barcelona, Marseilles

Diskussion i 'Reserapporter' startad av guitarsingapore, 11 Februari 2016.

  1. For our December 2015 family vacation, family vacation for December 2015 and back home. This year, we tried something different. As a family, we like to cruise, but we have yet to try the cruise line called MSC and neither have we been to Genoa. We would sail with the cruise ship called the MSC Preziosa. The idea came about sometime lastyear When We Were surfing around various cruise websites and reading various cruise reviews and discovered something called the MSC Yacht Club. The product looked interesting enough to be worth a try, and we booked ourselves for a 7N cruise out of Genoa on the MSC Preziosa.

    Now, it turned out that getting to Genoa was not that straightforward, at least for somebody from Singapore! Genoa is a small International Airport and the connectivity is not great. Since we wanted to spend some time in London pre and post cruise, we decided to fly to London. So our route to Genoa was as FOLLOWS.

    Singapore to London on Singapore Airlines. The SQ flights landed in the morning. Then we stayed one night at the Premier Inn King's Cross. The very next day, we would make our way to Stansted Airport (via the Tube and then the Stansted Express from Tottenham Hale), to catch a Ryanair flight into Genoa. We would land in Genoa in the evening, and stay for one night at the Holiday Inn Genoa, before getting on the cruise ship. That was the plan.

    Everything worked perfectly. Thank God! In starting with the flight from Singapore to London. Here is the flight review video.

    Party 1.


    Part 2


    Some pictures from the flight experience. The rate was SQ 306th
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    The plane was a new (or newly retrofitted) Boeing 777-300ER with the new business class products, new premium economy and new economy products. I will have to walk through the Business and Premium Economy cabin to get to our Economy seats. The config into Premium Economy was 2-4-2. The config into Economy was 3-3-3. So, one seat fewer abreast for the Premium Economy product.
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    This flight was not completely full, so I had an empty seat beside me, Which was nice. More room to stretch the leg too.
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    Supper was perfectly adequate. I chose the Fish option, Which was an inspired Indian curry dish, thats used many large chunks of whitefish.
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    Breakfast was outstanding Because of the hot item. The dish had a fancy Thai name, but it was Essentially rice noodles, with chicken, squid, egg and Chinese greens. The taste was awesome! Like what I could get in a good restaurant. Loved it.
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    We landed on time at Heathrow and our adventure would begin.

    As a family we have traveled to London quite a number of times in Recent Years. I also go to London for business, now and then. So London is quite familiar to us. SQ land at Terminal 2, the Relatively new Star Alliance terminal.

    A picture of the terminal soon after we disembarked.
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    Heathrow was usually very crowded. No different when we arrived. The immigration line looked very long, but fortunately it moved fairly quickly. I think we waited about 20 minutes in line. Immigration clearance was smooth. The officer was quite friendly and asked a few questions based on what I had declared in our landing cards. Usually they ask me some random question (s). I count it our good fortune what we speak good English and for That we have to thank our founding Prime Minister the late Lee Kuan Yew (who was educated at Cambridge) and his team of pioneer Ministers who lead our little country to independence back in 1965 . Being able to speak confidently in English Certainly HELPS. My kids Could speak to the immigration officer in English too.

    Anyway, once we cleared immigration, it was a very short wait at the luggage and soon all our luggage arrived. We got out of the airport to the arrivals area and our first stop (after toilets) would be someplace to eat. This is Because the kids and wife would be hungry Usually as They do not eat well on the plane.

    So we took a nice break at this Cafe Nero, in the arrivals hall (public area) of Heathrow Terminal 2. Had some hot food and coffee. The kids ate up all Their pasta!
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    Short video of Cafe Nero
     
  2. Thereafter, we took the Tube into London. Our kids travel free on the Tube, with us paying adults. Both of us have Oyster cards, with sufficient value from previous trips. That helped because the line to buy the Oyster cards or top up the card was very long! It was just a short walk to the Underground Tube station (can't remember exactly how long, but likely around 10 minutes max). It helps a lot for our family that we pack fairly light and also we get luggages that have sturdy wheels. Very helpful because we tend to push our luggage around a lot. We get each kid to look after one hand-carry and each adult takes care of one check-in bag. Just 2 check in and 2 hand carry bags for the four of us. We each have a small carry-on like a backpack.

    We love the Tube. It is full of character. More importantly, it is a cheap way to get into London from Heathrow and it is fairly quick too. This time round, we need to get to King's Cross, as we would be staying at a Premier Inn there for one night. The journey was easy. Take the Piccadilly Line (blue colour) from Heathrow all the way to King's Cross. One line, no need to change. Awesome. And because we board at Heathrow, seats are almost guaranteed. Journey took about an hour.

    From the station, again a short walk to the Premier Inn. Check-in would be after 2pm so we were there early (I think we got there by 11am). So we deposited our luggage and went out for a walk.

    Our first stop was to go to Regent's Park, London. We love the parks in London and it was good to take a walk and enjoy the fresh air. The sun was shining! For navigation, nowadays I use an iphone app called CityMaps2Go. It does not require a data connection but you have to download the maps of the city before hand. With the GPS on the phone, it can tell you your precise location and then you can navigate from there. Very easy. Never get lost again.

    To get to Regent's Park, we had to take a tube to Baker Street and then walk from there. It was a beautiful sunny day, temperature around 11 deg.
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    The park was very pretty in the sun.
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    The Triton fountain the background.
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    Another picture of the park.
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    Yet another angle.
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    Pleasantly surprised to find some nice flowers and green trees and grass in the park. This was December. I guess the climate in London isn't too harsh. Thankfully!
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    Here are several short videos of the beautiful park. Some aggressive ducks showing one another who is boss. Quite fun to watch. They are all very tame.


    I believe this is called the Triton Fountain in the park.


    A boy feeding pigeons in the Park. Plenty of food for the birds.
     
    henrik l gillar detta.
  3. PHOENIX PALACE

    Soon it was time for lunch. The plan was to head to a Chinese restaurant called Phoenix Palace, which was very near Baker Street Tube station. The website of this restaurant - Welcome to Phoenix Palace Chinese Restaurant | 5 Glentworth Street, London NW1 5PG This restaurant has existed since at least we were students in London, so coming back here was good. It was just a short walk from Regent's Park.

    Here is the video of the food we ate. We had some Dim Sum (including Cheong Fun, Lor Mai Kai, also the crispy aromatic duck, porridge, plus beef hor fun)


    A rather large mural display in the restaurant.
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    A glimpse of the menu.
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    The restaurant was rather large. Quiet when we got there (they just opened) but more and more people started to stream in, during lunch hours.
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    The dried beef hor fun (rice noodles) which was very tasty indeed.
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    After the very tasty lunch, jet lag certainly started to set in! We slowly made our way back to King's Cross station, via the Tube. We didn't want to sleep too early, so we continued to explore the King's Cross and St Pancras station, which was rather large. Many train services, plenty of passengers passing through. This is where I saw this very large Christmas tree, made of Disney characters. Quite a sight indeed!


    Soon, it was time to get back to the hotel, check-in and get some rest. The kids were tired, and they had done very well, keeping awake till late afternoon. So we made our way back to the Premier Inn at King's Cross. Now, Premier Inn is our favorite budget chain in London and we almost always stay there when we visit London as a family. It is of tremendous value for us because we can get family rooms which has adequate bedding for the four of us. On average, we usually pay around 80 pounds (about 120USD) per night, sometimes even less. After this stint, I would have stayed at Premier Inn for 23 nights.

    This is the video I made of the Family room that we stayed in.


    A picture of the bed for the adults.
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    And the toilet.
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    We didn't eat out that evening. Just bought some sandwiches and coffee. Good night.
     
    henrik l, Smuffe och Hissen gillar detta.
  4. Second morning, due to the jet lag, we all work up very early, as we had expected. At this time of the year, London is 8 hours behind Singapore. So our body clocks are 8 hours ahead of London time. Therefore, even when we wake up at 4am, it is already noon in Singapore. Sometimes, I wake up at 2am and can hardly get back to sleep.

    In anticipation of this, we will buy some pastries (like croissants, pan au chocolate) so that when the kids and adults wake up, we have something to eat) and make our own coffee/tea in the room.
     
  5. By 5am, we were all wide awake and ready to go out to do some walking, which we did. This is a video I made of King's Cross station, 5:08am in the morning.


    A nice picture of the St Pancras station, early morning. Very quiet that morning and we were walking around. Temperature was about 10 deg C.
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    We went to St Pancras side. Most stores were still closed, however, Starbucks was open. Not sure if they open 24X7 but they were opened at around 5:30am. Here is a picture of some Starbucks mugs.
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    Sandwiches for sale. But we were not hungry yet, so didn't buy any.
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    Beef Wellington for sale at Starbucks.
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    It was really early, and not many people walking around. Here is the entrance to King's Cross station.
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    I noticed some people sleeping on the benches at the train station. Not too many, just a few. Not sure if they were waiting for their trains, or they were homeless people. I recall there were some sleeping in the Starbucks too.


    It was early and we had nothing to do. So we decided to go for a long walk. And walk we did. We walked all the way to Holborn! No joke. With the kids. And we had breakfast at a McDonalds at Holborn. The strange things we do. A video of what I ate, some breakfast wrap. The kids had some pancakes too.


    An earlier video taken the day before, while we were exploring St Pancras. Many passengers walking around and noticeable security, which was a good thing.
     
  6. Travelling to Stansted

    It was time to pack our bags (not that we unpacked much) and make our way from King's Cross to Tottenham Hale. Again, this was very easy as both stations were on the Piccadilly line.

    Couldn't resist sharing this pic with you of my kids (took out their faces) They are most lovable and obedient. We make them walk a lot during our trips and put them in charge of luggage too! Here they are, on the Tube, with their legs wrapped around our cabin luggage. The adults take care of the checked-in luggage.
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    The Tube journey took around 20 minutes and we got to Tottenham Hale very quickly. The Stansted Express train station is right next to the Tube stations, a 1 minute walk, you can't miss it. We bought tickets online, way in advance. They are called advance tickets That is how to get the best deal. Print them out and bring them along with you. We saved almost half the fare this way. The advance tickets are very flexible in that you can take any train on the day of your ticket. Therefore, there is no worry that you are late or early for your train. Trains are in 15 minute intervals, very convenient.

    We got on the 10:37 train. The carriage was almost empty! Felt like our own private train. This can't be the normal situation, otherwise the train company would go bust in no time.
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    The train ride was uneventful, very smooth. Here is a video of some scenes at Tottenham Hale station and on board the train.


    This is a picture of the control tower at Stansted international.
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    We were now in the restricted area. Check in was easy.
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    Remember to print your boarding passes in advance. I don't think they print them for you and I'm sure what they do if you don't print your own boarding passes. We checked in our luggage. A video showing you some scenes of Stansted airport, including in the restricted area. After clearing security, we had some time and we would look for a place to have lunch before our flight.
     
  7. Lunch at Giraffe Family restaurant

    After looking at various options, including Itsu and Wetherspoon's pub, we decided on Giraffe. It was a family friendly chain and had kid friendly sets like burgers and pasta, which were very safe options for the kids. The adult menu didn't look too bad either. So we decided.

    The restaurant was fairly crowded but service was fast and efficient. Appreciated. I had this burger without the bun. Instead, there was a good portion of salad. Very nice.
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    Food for the kids. Very safe choices. They enjoyed it!
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    Their kiddy set came with dessert too. This, they really enjoyed.
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    The seafood pasta we had wasn't bad either. Overall, a very pleasant experience. Most importantly, the kids were happy and that makes a big difference when you are travelling with younger kids who may become fussy. A video I made of the food we ate.
     
  8. Ryanair Flight

    Now, time for the Ryanair flight proper. I made a video. Notably, passengers clap at successful landing of Ryanair Flight FR 972 in Genoa. See 6:43 of this video.


    The flight was very full today. We joined the queue late so we were amongst the later passengers to board. At the check in gate, the staff gave us luggage tags for our cabin bags and said that these bags would be checked into the hold, complimentary. Reason was that the flight cabin would have run out of storage space. In the video, you can see me handing over a cabin bag to an airport staff.

    We boarded the aircraft at the rear exit, as what our ticket had told us to do. This gave me a chance to take more photos and videos, as we had to walk a bit farther. We had decent seats, somewhere in the middle/back of the plane. Ryanair charges if you want to choose seats in advance. So we did not. I waited till it was time to check in online, and when I checked in, the website allocated us seats in a 3-1 configuration, i.e. my family of 4 were given 3 seats together on the left side of the aisle and the last passenger an aisle seat in the same row, on the other side. Pretty acceptable to me.

    Flight was somewhat bumpy due to the weather. Before landing, the Captain told us that we had a very nice tailwind and reached about 500mph in speed. So we arrived a bit early at Genoa. The approach was a bit bumpy and when the plane finally landed, some passengers started to clap, see 6:43 of the video. A nice gesture. You can't tell much from the video but the approach was a bit scary, you know, the pilot trying to control the aircraft in some cross winds and you can feel the plane swinging from right to left. Thank God for a safe landing! Well done Ryanair. At 7:00, the blaring announcement was a bit cheesy, but hey, quite fun.

    Ok, now some pictures from the flight experience. Soon, it was time for us to proceed to the gates. We were full from lunch at Giraffe, which was good. It took us about 10 minutes to walk to the gate. This was the way to Gates 40-59.
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    Along the way, you could see many Ryanair planes. In fact, this airport is all about Ryanair.
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    This was the line to board the flight. Rather long! It was an orderly line, so no sweat about it. Just join the line.
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    This was our plane, just arrived. They turn the planes around very quickly. That is an important source of competitive advantage for LCCs. You keep the plane in the air for a longer time. Fly more, earn more.
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    This was the staircase to the front door of the plane. Well, what do you think? When I first saw this, I thought, hmmm... this looked kinda flimsy? Perhaps it was just my own expectations of a sturdier staircase up an aircraft. Anyway, be careful if you have to go up or down this, especially if you are carrying heavy cabin luggage.
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    You can see in the video that the rear staircase was a lot sturdier. We entered the aircraft via the rear door, as our ticket instructed us to do. On board, I checked out the inflight magazine. This wasn't found in the seat pocket. In fact, their planes DO NOT have seat pockets. Save costs, I guess. Rather, the cabin were handing these out, to those who wanted a copy. They would collect the magazines back towards the end of the flight. Ryanair does have a rather impressive network across Europe.
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    Oh, this article says go social with Ryanair. Interesting. Ok, let me send them the links to this forum and my video and see if they watch the video.
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    Other than the flight being a bit bumpy, it was all good. I thought that the cabin crew were rather energetic. They came around at least twice, selling food and drinks. They also came around selling duty-free, and even scratch cards! My guess is that perhaps they get a commission from sales? Anyway, it was fun to watch them in action. After the landing, we got off the plane via the rear door and this was the Ryanair plane in Genoa. Again, the front staircase really looks flimsy compared to the rear one.
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    While waiting in line for immigration clearance, we saw this poster. Yippee! We were going on a cruise with MSC!
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  9. Genoa

    By the time we landed in Genoa, it was dark. It wasn't that late, as I recall, about 5pm thereabouts. Genoa was one hour ahead of London, but this being winter, the sun sets earlier. Immigration clearance and luggage retrieval was smooth. Genoa airport was very small. We looked for the signs to taxi, and stepped outside, and got into a waiting taxi. I showed the driver the address of the Holiday Inn Genoa hotel and off we went. The trip was quite short, 15 minutes max, and he went by the meter. The total cost was 18 Euros, not too bad. Anyway, there wasn't any other practical way for us to get to the hotel, at least not with two young kids in tow.

    Here are two videos of the hotel stay. This shows you a glimpse of the Exectuvei Room.


    This video shows you the hotel breakfast we had.


    Across the road, it was the Ferry terminal. Within the terminal, there was a large coop supermarket and also a McDonalds. This video shows you a bit of the coop.


    Now for some pictures. Here is the lobby check in counter. The hotel was fairly quiet at this time of the year. When I checked in, the receptionist informed me that they have given us a complimentary upgrade to an Executive Room (we booked the Family Room). Awesome! I certainly wasn't expecting this. I do have the loyalty membership, but I am very low in rank. Thank you very much, Holiday Inn!
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    Picture of the lobby. It wasn't a big lobby, but rather stylish.
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    The Executive room had a main bedroom and a smaller bedroom, and one toilet. This is the main bedroom for the adults.
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    The smaller room with a bunk bed. Kid number 2 doing her explorations.
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    Nice chair in the smaller room. As well as wall-mounted TV.
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    The toilet, with two sinks.
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    Ah ha, we stayed in room 724. Without this picture, I would have long forgotten the room number.
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    Our room had a very nice balcony overlooking the port. We could see the cruise ships coming into port the next morning.
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    The online reviews of the hotel were accurate. The hotel itself, nothing to complain about. The property felt newly renovated. The room we got (complimentary upgrade) was awesome. The breakfast was pretty good. The rate we paid for the hotel was also competitive. (We booked quite far ahead in advance, through the IHG website)

    However, the location of the hotel isn't the best, since it is at a quieter side of town, just across the entrance to the Ferry Terminal. There wasn't much to do or see on foot, but thankful that there is a big Co-op supermarket opposite (3 minute walk) where we could get some snacks and water, and they also had a McDonalds, which made it easy for us to get some food.

    We were up early the next morning and went for breakfast. The breakfast restaurant was nice and the spread adequate.
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    Fancy some fruits? They had pineapples and kiwi fruit too.
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    Overall, it was a very pleasant stay, made more pleasant by a surprise upgrade.
     
  10. Now, after that very long preamble, it was time to board the MSC Preziosa! Come to think of it, we spent 3 nights of travelling and hotel stays before we could get to the ship. First night, red-eye flight on SQ306 to London. Second night, London King's Cross Premier Inn. Third night, Holiday Inn Genoa City. The lengths we go to, to get on a cruise ship! I hope MSC doesn't disappoint! This would be our virgin cruise on the MSC.

    From the hotel reception, we found out that we could either take a taxi or walk to the cruise terminal. When queried further, the receptionist said that the cruise terminal wasn't too far, and we could walk. But if we had a lot of luggage, then a taxi would be better.

    So after breakfast, we had gone out for a recce to check out how far the cruise terminal was. It wasn't too far at all, a 15 minute walk on rather flat surfaces. We walked beyond the cruise terminal into Genoa town but didn't go too far. So didn't see much of Genoa that morning (it was also raining a bit). Anyway, we were more than excited to board the ship and we were told that we could board from 10am. So, we checked out and started to walk from the hotel to the cruise terminal, with our luggage in tow.

    From earlier, pictures, we can already see the cruise terminal the MSC cruise ships from our hotel balcony. As you walk along the road, the excitement builds up as the ship is really near us, just across the road!
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    Cross this traffic light to get to the cruise terminal.
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    This is the cruise terminal from the outside. I think this was only for MSC Preziosa this morning. The terminal for MSC Fantasia is on the right of this photo, got to walk another say 300m. Well, it also depends where the ship pulls in.
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    Yes, this was for the MSC Preziosa. MSC allows embarkation and disembarkation from all their port calls. But we were told that most passengers started/ended their cruise in Genoa. In fact, when we first researched this cruise, we thought we would embark in Civitavecchia. But we couldn't get the YC3 cabin out of Rome as they were only available out of Genoa. So Genoa it became!
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