SINFONIA

If you would like to unwind and push the reset button a cruise is a must. How about a weekend aboard the MSC Sinfonia?

The Sinfonia cruises South African waters from November to April. Most of the cruises are a 3 night weekend (Friday to Monday morning) or a 4 night cruise during the week (Monday to Friday morning). Most cruises are from Durban however the ship does go to Cape Town for a few weeks and operates a few cruises up the west coast to Namibia. For something longer there is the north and south bound cruises which are normally about 24 days.

I did a 3 night weekend cruise which is very popular for families, friends groups and couples. It’s a great way for people to get together for a fun, relaxing weekend. I highly recommend pre-purchasing beverage packages as well as special occasions packages eg Birthday cakes etc. Priority Boarding can also be pre-purchased and is often worth paying the bit extra to be able to skip the queue.

On arrival at the harbour, your luggage is taken from you (make sure it is labelled with the labels provided on your tickets before you get there) and you don’t see it again until you get to your cabin much later in the day, so it is advisable to take a little bag with a cozzie, towel and sun cream so you can relax on the deck until you can go to your cabin at approx. 13h30. There is a pool, jacuzzi’s and a small waterpark for children and plenty of sun loungers so you can relax on deck from the time you embark.

After entering the Passenger Terminal, join the queue where your cruise tickets and documents are checked to make sure everything is in order. Once they have stamped your ticket you move on to the Immigration queue. This one usually takes a bit longer. After this you may board the ship and let the fun begin. You can pre-purchase “priority boarding” which has a separate queue.

Once you embark the ship you can collect your pre-ordered beverage vouchers and can start using them immediately. The bars and food stations on the deck are usually open so you can order a drink and get a snack and start the holiday relaxing on board with a cocktail in hand. There are pizzas and burgers available all day long at the deck restaurants.

Just before the ship sets sail an announcement is made and you may find your cabin, collect your cruise card, get your life jacket and make your way to your muster station. This is a compulsory safety drill where they advise what to do in the case of emergency. Once this has been done the ship starts pulling out of the harbour and the real fun begins.

Always make sure you activate your cruise card before midnight on the day the cruise begins. There are machines around the ship and it entails swiping your cruise card and entering your credit card details. With this you can buy drinks and make purchases at the bar, shops and spa. At the same time as doing this, book your shows as you can’t enter the shows without a booking however they are included in the cruise price. There is a different show each night and you need to book each day.

The great thing about cruising is the relaxing pace of your days. Wake up, stroll the decks, have a slow breakfast, read a book or relax on a lounger with a cocktail while watching the sea. Take a spin in the casino or dance the night away in the nightclub.

The excursion to Portuguese Island is great. On the day, after breakfast you need to collect a ticket which will tell you what time your boat will be leaving the ship for the island. You are taken across to Portuguese Island where everything is set out for you. They ferry everything across from the ship to the island - all the food and drinks etc. Afterwards they clean up and take it all back to the ship – quite an amazing operation.

The island has wooden thatched structures built on it with bars, an eating area and lounging area as well as shaded areas on the beach. Beverage vouchers can be used at the bars and the food buffet is set for you to help yourself all day. There is a band playing and it is a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

There are traders on the beach where you can do your shopping – sarongs, t-shirts, local beers and rum and curios.

For a bit of R&R and a fun time away, a cruise on the Sinfonia should be on your list of things to do.

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