August 6, 2013

Sailing on the MSC Sinfonia: Cape Town to Walvis Bay

I have been dying to sail the coast of Southern Africa so when I saw that the MSC Sinfonia was in town and had a Cape Town to Walvis Bay route, I was booked and ready to go before you could say “Ahoy, Captain!”

We have a 4 year old daughter and thought this would also be very exciting for her.  We were right. She was counting down the sleeps and was so excited we were going to board a ship with a pool on it - something she could not really grasp as yet.

Little did we know that the Cape of Storms was going to disrupt our departure. When we got to the harbour it was a bit chaotic. We were told that due to the extreme high winds the ship could not dock and was spending another night out at sea. There were 2000 guests all stranded at the harbour.  Most of the Cape Town locals all went back home and the out of towners were put up by MSC Cruises for the night. Up early the next morning, the first thing we did was put our heads out the window - no wind yeah! We called upfront to check and yes the ship had docked and guests were disembarking. Off we went back to the harbour and got ready to board the MSC Sinfonia.

Our 4 night cruise had now become a 3 night cruise which did not deter us, but the captain had changed our routing. This was rather disappointing, but then who would not trust any Captain’s decision to change route - so off we headed for Mossel Bay.

On board, our little one was now beside herself with excitement.  We had booked a balcony room and we loved it.  It was a spacious room with a sleeper couch for our little princess, plus a bath!  (It might sound a bit weird that I am getting excited about a bath, but when you have little ones these things become important. Most MSC cabins have showers only). However, when we headed out on the balcony we saw there were huge gaps between the railings and I started thinking maybe this was not a good idea.  The little one was immediately informed of the cabin rules especially when going onto the balcony - she could not go out unless one of us was with her.

Our cabin attendant then came in and quickly briefed us on all we needed to know – what a friendly and welcoming fellow.  We quickly put on our swimsuits and headed upstairs for the pool.  Our daughter was so impressed - there was more than one big pool plus little Jacuzzis’.

With the festive music playing and cocktails floating around, everyone soon forgot the earlier bad weather drama and started enjoying the experience.  We waved goodbye to Table Mountain and set sail. (Apparently we were the last ship to leave the port that night as they closed it again due to the wind picking up. I could not imagine that anybody would have liked the idea of spending a night in the harbour - I felt sorry for MSC as this was really not their fault and there is nothing they can do about the weather!)

Now that we were off, hubby and little one could not wait to jump into the pool. But they didn’t stay in for long! As soon as they got in, they came up gasping for air and flew out on the other side of the pool. I thought this rather unusual as they both love swimming but soon discovered that the pool was freshly filled with our freezing Atlantic water.  So the Jacuzzi was very welcoming indeed.

Later on when we entered our cabin we immediately noticed that some netting had been strapped onto our balcony. We were so impressed that our cabin attendant took his own initiative to ensure our little one’s safety.  What great service.

We then popped into the Kiddies Club to see what it was all about and before we knew it, she waved us off and said to come back later.  This was a first, so we left our telephone number with the staff, and off we went to explore the ship on our own.

We went straight downstairs and explored the entire ship - lots of bars, a theatre and casino, curio shops, and many lounges and restaurants to relax in.  Upstairs, besides the Kiddies Club, there was also a teenagers club, miniature golf, basketball and soccer with pool bars everywhere and live entertainment, gyms, hairdresser, beauty salons and lots of loungers to soak up the sun on.

That evening it was our princess’s first formal dinner out so she got dressed up in her princess outfit, complete with handbag and jewellery. The staff members were amazing - they treated her like royalty and she got to choose her own meal off our menu. The menu had a good variety of options so parents could comfortably dine there without having to go upstairs and eat at the buffet area.

That evening when we entered our cabin her eyes lit up - the sleeper couch was no longer and she had her own bed! Plus the staff had used her little elephant as inspiration and had shaped the bathroom towel as an elephant.

We all rocked to sleep that night.  Up early and off to breakfast we went - and what perfect weather we had.  We tried and tested everything on board and before we knew it we were off to our last dinner on board. We also took our little one to the show - she was in awe and just loved the live entertainment - which I can confirm was brilliant. In the morning we decided to see the magic show - another big hit.  And then before we could blink, we were back in Cape Town waters and it was time to disembark.

We had such an amazing time on the MSC Sinfonia and could easily have spent another day on board.  MSC Cruises - You will be seeing us next season with all our family and friends so that we can share the experience with them too.

Having cruised the Antarctic, seen the Orangutans and Proboscis monkeys in the jungles of Sarawak, Borneo, and experienced the Trans-Siberian railway, Odete is a world traveller. She has visited all the continents, except Australasia, and would love to visit the Fiji Islands on her next holiday.


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