Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

The Tips For Travellers podcast helps you make the most of your precious vacation time and money with first-hand travel inspiration, advice and tips from travel expert, author, blogger and YouTuber Gary Bembridge.

Jan 26, 2015

In this episode of Tips for Travellers I explore the family-based entertainment, kids' programs and dining on MSC Cruises. Towards the end of 2014 and into 2015, the line started to renovate four of their smaller and older ships (Armonia, Lirica, Sinfonia and Opera) which included slicing them into two and inserting a 25-metre section full of new facilities and cabins. They called it the "Renaissance Programme".

I went on the first of the ships to go through the process, MSC Armonia,after she came out of dry dock and embarked on her inaugural voyage. Whilst on board I was able to view the changes first hand, hear more about the unusual engineering project and find out why they undertook such drastic action. But more importantly what it all means for passengers choosing to cruise on the ships.

While one of the objectives was no doubt to increase the number of guests the ship can carry to leverage costs and make them able to keep offering value fares and still make a return, passengers benefit in at least four areas from what I observed:

1: Improved facilities for families, especially in the Kids' Club areas with more options and partnerships with brands like Chicco baby toys and equipment, Duplo and Lego.
2: Improved dining options and choices including a special restaurant for Spa Suites and an anytime dining restaurant in addition to the fixed seating one.
3: More balcony cabins, something increasingly sought by modern cruisers.
4: Refreshed and updated public areas and cabins with new carpets, reupholstered and new furniture.

To find out more about changes in entertainment, family facilities and dining, which I thought would be of most interest to listeners, I interviewed three key MSC crew and management.

  1. Matteo Mancini, Youth Activities Coordinator for the entire MSC fleet. He told me about their approach to families and kids’ programs, the five different clubs, partnerships and more about the specific facilities and what is different to other cruise lines.
  2. Alessandro Molinari, the Cruise Director, who spoke about how the changes in the ship have influenced the entertainment options and program, and how it is different to other ships in the fleet.
  3. Massimo Lazzari, Food and Beverage Manager who explained the new dining choices and how the menus change based in the region.

The line is so focused on their family and children programs they invite people to email the head office team focused on the area with suggestions and questions, which Matteo Mancini personally answers.The email is