As a total newcomer to cruise holidays, a long weekend cruise sounded like a risk-free trial, and the prospect of shopping in Rome, followed by exploring Genoa and Portofino, plus tapas and the beach in Barcelona, was very exciting. Ana Silva O’Reilly, aka Mrs O Around the World, decided to give it a go

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First impressions

We flew to Rome early on a Friday, and after spending our day shopping and having a wonderful lunch at a taverna, transferred to the magnificent Splendida. I tried really hard to take a photo of the ship, but it was impossible – it was just too big.

On board, we were lucky enough to be staying in the Yacht Club and were met by our personal butler, who quickly helped us check in and ensured our luggage magically appeared in our stateroom.

The Yacht Club has 71 suites and its own lounge, bar, pool deck and spa. Like a small ship inside a ship – or a boutique hotel inside a big resort. All the staff learnt our names pretty quickly, which was a really nice touch. After we’d settled into our stateroom, which was nice and modern, we went for drinks at the Top Sail pool bar, which felt wonderfully exclusive.

All guests in this area of the ship have meals in the fine dining restaurant included, as well as drinks (there is a supplement for premium spirits such as Tanqueray Ten and fine wines), but I knew it would be OK when I realised Prosecco was on tap. I couldn’t get over the wonderful views – and the excitement of being in the middle of the ocean. It was simply stunning.

The Yacht Club rooms are great; everything worked perfectly, and of course I loved having a butler. I was an easy passenger really as I didn’t ask for much but I can see the appeal of having your ironing done, which I would totally use, if necessary.

Relaxing on board

Ana with her husband Simon

I adored the Yacht Club pool deck, a huge area with a bar, lounging chairs, a pool, two Jacuzzis and a viewing deck. It was super spacious and not crowded at all. There are more sun loungers than guests… so even at full capacity, it would never look too busy.

The Aurea spa was wonderful – it was one of the best experiences ever, and I have had a few massages and facials around the world. The treatment rooms are state of the art, and the view… wow, that will be difficult to replicate anywhere else. The Yacht Club lounge is fabulous – just like any luxury hotel lounge – with simple meals and drinks available throughout the day.

Incredible sightseeing

Our visit to beautiful Portofino was magical, and we had plenty of time to explore Genoa – the home of focaccia, pesto and Christopher Columbus. It made me want to return again. In Barcelona we relaxed on the beach before catching our flight home, which was just what we wanted.

We had an amazing weekend on our first cruise – not a lot of sleep, but we returned to the UK feeling happy and chilled. Next time I’d love to go with a big group of friends.

For more on MSC Cruises see

Ana Silva O’Reilly is a luxury travel blogger known for her blog

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