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MSC Virtuosa UK Cruise - Summer 2021

10th August 2021

Tips for your MSC Virtuosa UK Cruise - Summer 2021

We are a family with teenagers (16 and 14) and this was our 3rd cruise. Having cancelled our trip abroad, and after hours of last-minute research on a UK holiday resulting in a poor choice of accommodation, value and facilities, we decided to take the plunge and book a UK cruise onboard MSC Virtuosa.

The attraction of cruising has always been exploring the ports of call and our previous cruises were really rich itineraries, so the idea of a cruise which was mainly 'sea days' was not immediately appealing. However, having decided that this holiday was going to be all about relaxing and spending time together - rather than exploring new places - it fit the bill perfectly.

MSC Virtuosa

 

1. Upgrade to the Aurea Experience - highly recommend this.

If you are likely to book a massage in the spa anyway, this is a no brainer and even if you are not the other benefits are significant.

Your Aurea upgrade includes:

  • A massage per adult booked, worth £90 + per massage.
  • Access to the exclusive Top 19 Sun deck - a quieter sun deck with a large crescent shaped whirlpool/hot tub, superior loungers and waiter service.
  • Choice of dining time - this was a huge benefit for us. You just turn up to the restaurant when you please, rather than being allocated set dining at 6.30 pm or 8.30 pm.
  • Priority disembarkation
  • Complimentary access to the Thermal Spa - bookable onboard, not everything is open due to Covid restrictions but you can enjoy the saunas, hot/cold shower experiences and lounging areas
  • Free room service including breakfast in your cabin each morning, which we took advantage of as a more relaxing start to the day. (This is also available for the Fantastica experience)

 

2. Consider upgrading to the Yacht Club

Previously we have always booked 2 balcony cabins, and on this occasion we upgraded to the Aurea experience, however, having experienced the Yacht Club for a day, if we were to book the same holiday again we would go for a balcony and an inside cabin in the Yacht Club. The teenagers would have been fine in the inside cabin, and the overall experience is undoubtedly worth paying more for.

  • The dining experience is superb, table service meals in the restaurant available at every meal time and buffet options on the sun deck.
  • Excellent selection of wine included with meals and all beverages are complimentary.
  • Spacious, private lounge bar with amazing views from the front of the ship with live music in the evening.
  • Superior, more spacious cabins
  • Private sun deck and pool with attentive staff - the main pool deck was lively and busy so this was like an oasis in comparison.
  • Access to the exclusive Top 19 Sundeck with whirlpool as per the Aurea experience.
  • Complimentary access to the Thermal Spa
  • 24 hour concierge butler service.
  • Wi-Fi is included. It cost us £221 for 4 devices pre-booked,costs more when purchased onboard.
  • Access to all the other amenities on the ship.

MSC Virtuosa

 

3. Pre- Book a Fun Pass (or 3)

If you pre-book a Fun Pass for 7 days it costs £72 online, this gives you £140 credit to spend on the F1 Simulator, bowling, 4D Cinema, VR games and arcade.

A Fun Pass is allocated to one person but can be used for other people. We had 3 between the 4 of us and that was more than enough for 3 games of bowling, lots of F1, a bit of air hockey and some arcade games. 2 would probably have been enough.

If you pre-book the Fun Pass everything is just about half price. The prices are roughly £55 per hour for bowling, £35 per half hour and £12 per go for the F1 simulator, so the Fun Pass makes everything a lot more affordable. Most of the activities are run on a turn up and play basis, apart from the bowling which needs to be pre-booked.

MSC Virtuosa

 

4. Wi-fi is required

  • Definitely pre-book at the point of booking or pre-travel as you save at least 20%. The cost for us was £221 for 4 devices for a week pre-booked.
  • You will need it, even when sailing in UK waters.
  • Included for Yacht Club bookings.

 

5. Take your own ping pong bats and balls if you have them

This may change, but while we were onboard, there were set times when the bats and balls were available for guests to use in the morning and afternoon. However, if you take your own you can use the table tennis tables at leisure outside those hours. We had a couple of fun ping-pong evenings together and many sessions in the day too.

MSC Virtuosa

 

6. Book your speciality dining early in the week

We were a bit slow on this and didn’t get round to it until mid-way through our cruise, so there was a limited selection for evening dining. Lunchtime bookings were still available.

 

7 Try Hola! Tacos and Cantina

was excellent value and a massive hit with all of us, the staff were super friendly and gave excellent recommendations. Casual, tasty and eat as much as you like for £16 per person. Ideal for hungry teenagers.

 

8. Try the hot chocolate at Jean Philippe Chocolate and Cafe

This is not included in your All Inclusive package but is absolutely worth paying for - hard to describe how good it is, you will just have to try for yourself!

 

9. Take your gym kit

The gym is excellent, very spacious and with the latest brand new and equipment. Although there were capacity restrictions due to Covid, there was only 1 occasion where this meant coming back a little later. If you are a runner, it is best to get out before 9.30 am to run around the track if you want a clear run, but people were running throughout the day without too much bother.

 

10. Find the outside eating area at the back of the ship for the Market Place Buffet

You could easily not find this but tucked away at the back of ship, in an area of the buffet that was not being used, is a sheltered outside deck with quite a few tables and beautiful views out to sea.

 

Sound like your perfect family getaway this summer?

See more info and itineraries aboard MSC Virtuosa! For more options, see all our other amazing UK Summer 2021 cruises.


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Cruising a Pirate’s World

27th March 2019

The adventure of sailing around the world often brings to mind images of the pirates of yore, especially since films and TV series have romanticised this historic way of life. There’s something thrilling about docking at ports where in years gone by pirates were swash-buckling, looting, and trading their wares. As well as in the Caribbean islands, pirates were once rife all over the world – from Asia to Ireland. Read on to learn more about cruise destinations which have a pirate history.

 

 

Tortuga (Haiti)

Made famous by the popular Disney films, in actuality, Tortuga acted as a refuge for English, Dutch and French thieves and escaped slaves back in the 17th century. These characters became what was known as the ‘Brethren of the Coast’, and they would attack Spanish ships in the Caribbean for treasure. Today, visitors to the island can see what’s left of Fort de Rocher – a 24-gun stronghold that was used by pirates to protect against Spanish invasion.

 

Nassau (Bahamas)

Nassau became a great pirate hang out in part due to its location in shallow waters. This meant that large warships could not approach the island, but pirate tall ships could. In the mid-18th century, there were around 100 natives compared to 1,000 pirates living on the island, and it was one of the latter – Benjamin Hornigold – who declared the place to be a Pirate’s Republic. Hornigold’s success as a pirate-inspired many other young adventurers, including one Edward Teach – who came to the island to join his posse. Other notorious characters including ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and Charles Vane were all frequent visitors here. Today there are a number of pirate tours available on the island, on which guests can see various historical attractions.

 

 

Macau (China)

For centuries the South China Sea was a major setting for pirate activity, with Japanese pirates sailing south to raid and loot from the early 16th century. Activity went on for many years, and infamous Chinese pirate couple Zheng Yi and Ching Shih dominated the seas by the late 18th century with a fleet of more than 1,500 ships known as the Red Flag Fleet. After Zheng’s death, Ching continued with new husband Cheung Po Tsai, until they were defeated by the Portuguese Navy at the Battle of the Tiger’s Mouth in 1809. Madame Ching kept her pirate loot, however, and set up a gambling establishment in Macau, where many pirates had settled. Macau is accessible during a cruise to Hong Kong.

 

Port Royal (Jamaica)

Possibly the most well-known pirate haven is Port Royal in Jamaica – once referred to as ‘The Wickedest City on Earth’. Located close to modern-day Kingston, Port Royal was able to become such a place because the Jamaican governors offered it to pirates in return for help protecting against Spanish invaders. This led to the opening of many taverns and brothels, thereby attracting more pirates. Eventually, authorities began to intervene and by the mid-18th century, Port Royal had become a common location for pirate hangings – including those of Charles Vane and ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham. Visitors can see historic pirate and Jamaican Royal Navy paraphernalia at the archaeological museum here today.

 

 

Ile Saint-Marie (Madagascar)

Also known as St Mary’s Island, this small piece of land off the coast of Madagascar was once a popular spot among pirates. It is thought that a kind of utopia called Libertalia was developed among the pirate community here, although there is no real evidence of this. It is known, however, the pirates such as William Kidd and Edward Teach once walked here, and today there still stands an eerie pirate graveyard.

 

Charlotte Amelie (St Thomas)

Famous English pirate Edward Teach – better known as Blackbeard – lends his name to an important site in St Thomas’ capital; Blackbeard’s Castle. Built in the late 17th century by Danish colonists, the castle was originally known as Skytsborg. It is not known when or why the name was changed, but local tales say that Blackbeard regularly used the castle as a lookout point during his years of piracy in the Caribbean.

 

 

These destinations can be explored with a number of different cruise lines, on some fantastic modern cruise ships. Alternatively, if you’d prefer an experience more akin to those of a pirate, consider cruising with one of the more traditional tall ship style lines such as Windstar Cruises and Star Clippers. The beautiful ships in these fleets have been designed in an authentic, traditional way using plush, dark wood furnishings and rich colours.


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