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MSC Sinfonia Cruise - What to Expect
Waiting to board MSC Sinfonia
We embarked at around 10h00 with sailing time set for 15h00, the queue to get on this ship was filled with excitement which made the wait fun and tolerable. Once aboard you are only allowed in your cabins after 13h00, which gives you plenty of time to explore the ship. There is a lot to see and you are welcome to enjoy a buffet style lunch as soon as you arrive. This is also an opportunity to survey your fellow travellers and update social media before you lose cell phone signal. There are Wi-Fi options available to purchase, however, I preferred to stay off the grid for a while and have a real holiday.
What you pay extra for
Drinks, including soda's, ice-creams as well as alcohol. The bars have an impressive cocktail menu however, I stuck to my favourite - beer (yes, I know, I'm classy like that) which, even considering the exchange rate was comparatively priced. There was a spa on board and on some days massages were offered by the pool. There are shops - jewellery and watches, promotional as well as regular clothing, a pharmacy (awesome), an alcohol/cigarette shop and souvenir shop. A speciality coffee shop is onboard for the more discerning coffee drinker.
Casino - well, there they have employed the nicest people. A shout out to Dante whose infectious laugh and love of life made every moment special. A great place to relax, we never won money, but with all the friendly faces - it took the edge off. In addition, there is bingo every night which is always great fun.
There is a closed off quite section on the top of the deck, which for a fee you can relax, suntan away from the crowds and is equipped with showers.
While you do not pay for the tender boat to go to shore at Pomene there are numerous shore activities available for a fee.
What Is Free
Food - loads and loads of food. The buffet was incredible, a constant stream of your favourite things, including salads, cold meats and cheeses. You are welcome to have breakfast either in a restaurant or at the buffet, we chose the buffet - I eat with my eyes. Lunch is at the buffet and you would think that with 2,500 people on board that the waiting times would be excessive, this was not the case. For dinner, you are allocated a restaurant (this will be stipulated on your cruise card) as well as time to attend. You can choose an early or late setting, depending on your personal preference when booking.
You can of course also have dinner at the buffet, if you love desserts as much as I do it seems to be a better option. There is always a vast selection of fresh fruit and approximately fifteen different desserts available. I am confident I tried them all.
There is a different cabaret show every night with an early or late performance to coordinate with your dinner time. The MSC staff have numerous events that they host by the pool, including games where you can win prizes.
In the morning you are welcome to help yourself to fruit juice and teas, coffees and ice water are available throughout the day.
On the top deck, there is a pizza section as well as a burger/hotdog section which you are welcome to help yourself to all day until late at night.
What surprised me
From watching numerous movies, I expected the pool area to be surrounded by models, this was not the case. The pool was a firm favourite with the kids and as can be expected was surrounded by family groups. Smokers are catered for with more than enough areas allocated (should the urge be irresistible).
MSC Staff were efficient and friendly, taking the time to greet and chat with passengers and answer any questions. The public areas and restrooms were spotless. Admirable considering a large number of people in a relatively small space.
I expected to feel seasick as I suffer from motion sickness. We were blessed with amazing weather for the entire trip. There is medical assistance available on the vessel.
What you need to take with
Take that bikini, there are all shapes and sizes and you are on a cruise - get that tan. You should also take sunscreen and any medications you may need. All are available to be purchased however, they may not be the brands you are familiar with. Although in theory, you don't need money as all your needs are met, your "wants" are not. I spent $200 over five days and that was spent on Bingo, drinks, two souvenirs as well as a carton of cigarettes. If you are a smoker buy beforehand, single packets are not sold. You may end up purchasing a whole carton (and your brand may not be available). For the excursions you will need hard currency should you wish to purchase local merchandise. All cruise expenses are charged to your cruise card, where you load currency using your debit/credit card.
Pomene is situated 605km north of Maputo and you transfer to the resort via tenders, which is an exciting experience. There are numerous shore activities available including snorkelling, renting paddleboats or visiting a historical landmark called “The Old Pomene Hotel”. The hotel was abandoned in 1974 during the Mozambique civil war. The visit to the resort was an adventure in itself and shore activities were not participated in. MSC purchased the resort solely for the use of their guests.
You spend the entire day at the resort which is fully equipped, complete with a bar and swimming pool. A buffet lunch is offered and there is plenty of seating available in the shade. It was very hot, and this is where your sunscreen will be essential.
Lifeguards were on duty on the beach. There is also swimming allowed in the lagoon which was not as popular.
Presumably, due to the smattering of unrest reported in Mozambique, there were various police officers patrolling. With such an idyllic setting, it could have been to stop guests settling there forever.
We are warned that there were plenty of snakes in the area, unfortunately, we did not see one.
Glimpses of Pomene
The worst aspect of the cruise
When you arrive back at home and realise it is over and wishing you were still sailing with the beautiful blue sea as your view.