Daniel Bailey embarks on a week-long European voyage of discovery.
Sea legs on and suitcases packed, my wife and I were really looking forward to our week of sunshine at sea.
As fairly inexperienced cruisers, we knew we were venturing into the unknown with MSC, but were excited about what the European liner had in store.
Magnifica is not only a beautiful ship, but a floating resort combining cutting-edge technology and timeless glamour with a sprinkle of top-class service.
After a flight to Venice, we were greeted by an MSC crew member who escorted us to the bus for our 15-minute transfer.
The cruise had an immediate global feel as I noticed the plethora of different nationalities on board from Italian, English, French and German to Japanese, Korean, American and Indian.
Cabins equipped with balconies are recommended as it’s the best way of enjoying the stunning views, none more so than on the first day as we sailed along Venice’s canal of St Marco, taking in the city’s famous plaza and breathtaking architecture.
Purchasing one of the on-board drinks packages is a must. From £20 per person per night, it’s the best way of keeping tabs on your spending without the fear of over-indulging.
First port was Bari, the main city of Italy’s Puglia region with its labyrinth of narrow streets, closed courts and tower houses. Then it was on to Greece and the gateway to Olympia Katakolon, before setting sail to stunning Mykonos with its pristine white buildings and streets where you can hear a pin drop.
The last Greek stop was Pireaus, the largest passenger port in Europe, before we set off for Croatia with a day at sea in between.
Rain greeted us in Dubrovnik but with the city’s old town only a short distance away, it’s worth venturing out. If you want you can see the city by Segway by booking through the ship’s shore excursion desk.
Dining is an important part of cruising. Some prefer to eat in more casual surroundings, but there’s two great formal restaurants for those wanting a bit more sophistication.
You can sit at your own table, but if you’re feeling sociable you can opt to share and make new friends while tucking into six courses of great food.
The menus have a European feel - with lots of fish, pasta and salad dishes - and the two ‘gala’ evenings give men and women the opportunity to don their tuxedos and ballgowns.
It’s worth trying Magnifica’s Oriental Plaza restaurant, where you can enjoy some sublime Asian food taking you on a culinary journey through Japan, China and Thailand.
Evenings are planned around the spectacular shows in the glitzy Royal Theatre, where the highly-skilled entertainments team put on a different performance each night.
Other features on Magnifica include a spa, fitness area and kids club.
This isn’t just any cruise. MSC has been sailing the world’s seas for generations and it’s the attention to detail that makes them stand out.
MSC Cruises Tel: 0203 426 3010