Now that’s big!

As Irish consumers begin to vary their travel diet more and more, some of them are starting to discover the joys of cruising. Long considered the preserve of the `newly-wed, over-fed and almost dead’, cruising still suffers from an image problem — mostly, it must be said — in the eyes of those who have never stepped aboard a cruise ship. The fact of the matter is that there are as many cruise products as there are hotel styles to choose from, ranging from the small & super exclusive to the large space-age floating cities that the largest of their kind can now be easily compared to. Even moderate sized cruise ships (by today’s’ standards) can weigh upwards of a 100,000 tons and carry the population equivalent of a small town. All this talk of cruise ships in today’s blog has been prompted by the fact that I fly out tomorrow to join one such vessel — the MSC Fantasia — weighing in at a respectable 137,936 tons and carrying a crew of 1,313 and a maximum capacity to accommodate 4, 363 paying passengers.

Now consider those numbers just for a moment! With a combined crew/passenger population of 5,676, the Fantasia — were it to be an Irish town — would in fact be larger than Roscommon, Roscrea, Tipperary or Kilcock! Boasting 18 decks designed and decked out (pardon the awful pun!) to accommodate every possible whim of an extremely demanding and sophisticated travelling public, the Fantasia sole purpose in life is to help you chill out, relax and let time slow down. My trip tomorrow is business related and will only last a couple of days but even during that short time, I will get to enjoy the attractions of three great cities in three different countries: Barcelona, Marseilles and Genoa! Best of all though, from my point of view (and I suspect, yours also) is that I will only have to unpack once; waking up in a new port and new country on each consecutive day. In the interim, I won’t have to worry about getting lost. I won’t have to concern myself with my personal security and I won’t have to put my hand in my pocket each time I elect to have a meal or a snack. The few items that I will have to pay for (drinks, spa and on-board shopping) will all get charged up to my room and I can settle my overall bill the night before I disembark. Oh, and I forget to mention that all the entertainment and the music on board is free and there is also 24-hour room service — also free!

The MSC Fantasia is a great ship which is just one of many operated by MSC Cruises — a cruise line probably doing more than any other cruise line these days to introduce new people to cruise with prices that can sometimes be so low that peoples’ first reaction is usually that ‘there must be a catch’ somewhere. Trust me, there’s not and if there is, it’s just that should you succumb to one of their offers, you’ll soon find out what you’ve been missing all these years and probably kick yourself for having resisted for so long!

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