MSC Grandiosa seemed like the perfect solution to the problem at hand – visiting Norway and its breathtaking fjords without driving 3000 km with unhappy kids in the back seat of the car. After a short deliberation and checking the competition the decision was taken, we will board the Grandiosa on the 31.7.2022 for a 7 days cruise. Ship ahoy!
The first experience was very negative. I went online to the official website of MSC to book the cruise. Zero results – ongoing trials and attempts but the website was slow and unresponsive. So I went to seascanner.com. Seascanner which I didn’t know before is a Cruise Online Travel Agent (like booking.com for cruises).
The experience was very good. The website gives a lot of information and is fast. The support is very helpful and responsive. We got all the answers and booked through them. I can recommend it – it is a very professional service. The only problem which they informed in the advance is that all the correspondence I will get will be in German.
Pre-Cruise – 48 hours in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Day 1 & 2
We had a couple of days in Copenhagen before the Cruise – so here is what we did and ate in a nutshell.
Our hostel – the Generator was well located in the city center. A family room (bunk bed and a double bed for 250 euro). Prices in Copenhagen are very high so don’t be surprised to pay such prices for accommodation. The room was well maintained and clean also all the hostel services were very good.
On the first day, we took a long walk through the city center of Copenhagen from Nyhavn until Christianshavn. The long and broad pedestrian walks surrounded by endless shops is a nice outdoor experience and defiantly if you want to shop. Nyhavn is a long street on a canal spotted with old colorful buildings and a wide choice of cafes and restaurants. A good stop for coffee or beer. Chirstianshavn is a laid-back neighborhood – another great outdoor urban walk.
The second day was a beautiful sunny day and we managed to do a few must-visits of the city – the reffen food market, an art exhibition (Light and Space), the little mermaid statue, and Tivoli gardens.
I recommend going about your next visit to Copenhagen following this day plan– the mermaid is a must photo-op, the street food markets were tasty and Tivoli gardens are a mixed amusement park for both adults and kids.
Cruise Must-Knows before boarding the ship
This will be a general paragraph to let you know what you have to do in advance and the first onboarding procedure I recommend.
My first and foremost advice – read all the emails you get from MSC. There is a lot of information there.
Unfortunately, there are more upsells than informative emails so it is easy to get confused. There was one email a few days before the cruise saying that we need to present a negative covid test approval before boarding the ship. Great luck that we saw it in time. It was not clear if is a PCR or Antigen. All efforts to get an answer for MSC were unsuccessful. We arrived at the embarkation and many people were sent off to do a COVID test. Many people missed this email and I am not surprised. MSC has a very bad customer service. Some people complained they never got the email and some complained that they couldn’t get answers from MSC.
I do recommend going through the emails and buying services you like drink packages, wifi, and excursions because they are cheaper if you buy them in advance and you have time to think what is right and best for you.
Also, download the MSC ‘for me app’. It is better than the website and lets you see your itinerary in a very clear manner.
Once you get on the ship your MSC ship card is your ID and credit card. Charge it with money at the special MSC – ATM machines. It is a fairly simple process. Also, don’t forget to bring a string and or clips so you can carry it around easily especially if you have kids. MSC doesn’t supply it.
First thing we take care of is the internet package – we bought the 3 device stream and browse for 251 euro. Do pay attention that once you connect these devices you can’t change and you can’t turn any of the devices into a hotspot because it is connected to your wifi and not your cellular 3G or 4G. It is a one-off thing. Also important to know that the internet is slow – can’t do social networks like TikTok or films and sometimes you are cut off because there is no communication in the fjords. I think it is quite unbelievable that there is internet, but because it is satellite internet it has its limitations.
And last but not least – take a rain jacket, proper shoes for rain and an umbrella. It is summer but Norway is rainy also at July and August.
7 days aboard the MSC Grandiosa – our detailed itinerary
Day 1 & 2 At see and Geiranger Fjord
Embarkation – The first impression is that the staff is very helpful and friendly. From the first encounter with their crew at embarkation until now I found the crew, nice, friendly, helpful and professional.
As for me it was the first cruise there is a lot of information to gap between the digital information and things you need to know and the crew does this perfectly.
First action item was dinner at our restaurant La Loggia. It is a sit-down dinner with a la carte food. All in all the service was very good and the food choice and quality also good taking in consideration that the dinner was served at the same time to over than 4000 guests on board. All the food is included in the pre-paid cruise price.
Second day – Breakfast on deck 15 (marketplace). It was too crowded and too noisy with hundreds of people. Still, we could sit ourselves and get breakfast. The food itself is in abundance with a huge choice. The quality in my eyes is somewhat between a 3 to a 4-star hotel.
We arrived at Hellest/Geiranger a world heritage site and decided to take 2 different tours – a 3 hours bus ride to the mountains (Herdal Mountain Farm and Spectacular Views) overlooking the fjords and a 1-hour fast boat tour through the fjord. The price 115 euro X 4.
Both of the tours were good but very pricy. The organization of everything was very good and professional. MSC is a well-trained organization that moves hundreds of people very fast from one place to another.
In the evening we saw a very good circus show. A 45 minutes show (Sweet) that included singers, acrobats, jugglers and much more. We went with our kids. Very professional and enjoyable. Price 15 euro X 4.
Day 3 & 4 – Alsund and Flam
After a night’s sail, we arrived at Alsund. We decided not to take the ship’s excursions but to explore Alsund on our own. When we disembarked a few tour providers waited outside the ship. We decided to take the hop-on-hop-of bus. It has 7 stopping stations on the island. Buses depart every 40 minutes. Price for 4 was around 120 euros. The bus headed directly to Alska panoramic view. It poured rain like from a bucket. Once there the rain stopped so we could see the view. The weather cleared and we walked down to tour the city center walking the streets. Many of the buildings are from the beginning of the 20th century as the city was completely rebuilt after a fire
wiped out the city in 1904. Only 1 person was killed in the fire but all of Europe sent supplies and money for the rebuild. We had lunch at a nice local fish restaurant (Fisketorget), visited the pier and then for a little bit of culture went to the Kube museum. An art-nouveau and jugendstill museum. The museum is very small but nicely done and very pleasant to walk through. The next day we arrived at Flam. Flam is a small village sitting on an amazing fjord the Aurlandsfjord. Flam is an excellent starting point to many hiking trails in the area. We decided also this time to take matters into our hands and didn’t book the tours with the ship. Some of them did look very interesting like the railway tour. If you are interested in this tour I suggest that you book train tickets in advance and not with the ship in order to save on some costs. Anyhow, we chose to go on a short 3 km hike to Brekkefossen waterfall. The hike goes along the mountainside and up the hill for 1.5 km and back. It is an easy hike until your start climbing the mountain slope up to the waterfall. It is a hard 0.5 km climb.
The spot where you get to see the waterfall is worth the climb. You get to sense the pure energy of nature gushing through the water. On the way back we stopped for a nice craft beer and at a Viking brewpub – Aegir BrewPub.
Day 5 & 6 – A day at sea and a visit to the city of Kiel
A day at sea is a day on a floating luxury hotel. The day we had was sunny with lots of options onboard. The kids choose to spend most of the day playing football and basketball with other kids and then some sunbathing at the poolside. Other activities we the adults choose are the gym, a walk on the deck (a trail around the main upper deck around 300 meters in length), and a lecture about the history and mythology of the Vikings. The next day we went off ship to visit the city of Kiel. Kiel is a beautiful and
well-organized German northern city. The shore stay was until 1900 leavening a long day to spend in the city. The center city (Altstadt) is a 10 minutes taxi ride from the port (Ostuferhafen). The city center is a beautiful pedestrian walking zone filled with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. After a walk at the city center and Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), we went north to visit the port. It is a nice walk along the waterfront. We had a nice lunch at Moby – a kind of food truck that serves fish and chips. It has a nice own beach where you can sit at a nice sandy beach setting and enjoy the sun, food, and beer. After that, we went and visited the Zoological Museum with interesting sea life preserved specimens. It has 4 floors of exhibition rooms filled with 100 of animals that are preserved from the 18th century until today.
Day 7 – Copenhagen – Land Again
After returning to the ship at around 19:00 we started sailing a couple of hours later.
During the night we made the distance back to Copenhagen where we disembarked in the morning.
Best & Worst Moments of the Ship
5 best moments on the MSC Grandiosia
- Deck 16 – outside Jacuzzi. Taking a warm dip while it rained outside
- Deck 16 – basketball court. Playing 5 on 5 while sailing
- Deck 7 – Carousel Theater. Sweet theater show.
- Deck 6 – La Loggia restaurant. Enjoying a good gourmet dinner
- Deck 14 – Sailing into Flam seeing the beautiful fjord.
5 worst moments on the MSC Grandisosia
- Deck 6 – Shopping mall. Way too crowded to enjoy the facility.
- Deck 16 – Inside pool. A day at sea and the pool was too crowded.
- Ongoing upsells on the cruise. Sure if you want to get stuff you need to pay, but the upsells must be much more subtle.
- Deck 15 – Marketplace. First day of breakfast. Way too crowded and noisy
- Not too happy with myself taking part in mass tourism
MSC Grandiosa – General Information
After being on the ship, this is the information I managed to gather. Some is official and some from personal experience.
- Sophia Loren is the godmother of the ship that was inaugurated in November 2019
- Medical Assistance is useful – call 115 and they answer quickly. There is a doctor and a nurse 24/7 available.
- Market Place deck 15 – 24/7 food is being served.
- There is a barber on board.
- You can a manicure and pedicure during a cruise
- A shopping mall with high-end products and brands – deck 6.
- The is a water park on deck 17
- There is a rope park on deck 17
- There is an indoor compound for soccer and basketball – deck 16
- There is a video arcade with a big choice of games
- There is a bowling alley on deck 16
- The ship can host more than 4800 guests
- The ship’s crew is more than 1700 workers
- 2,421 passenger cabins
- MSC Grandiosa length 331 meters
- MSC Grandiosa beam 43 meters
- Decks 19
- Weight – 181 tones
- By the launch time the second largest ship by tonnage after AIDAnova
- Maximum Speed – 41,3 km
- Eco-friendly – a catalytic system that reduces the ship’s nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%. An improved exhaust system that reduces sulfur emissions almost by 100%
Offical Video Clip MSC of the MSC Grandiosa
Summary and takeaway – 7 days on Grandiosa fjord excursion
MSC Grandiosa is a huge floating amusement park for adults and kids. My first takeaway as first timer is that it is an overwhelming experience. My first advice for first-timers is to read and watch as many videos as possible to get ready for this boat experience. It is important to learn as much as possible about the coming experience and to choose your tailor-made personal vacation. Because there is so much to choose from and enjoy you need to find the best fit for you – dance lessons, lectures, sport, daily gym, manicure and pedicure, beer tasting, kids Ping-Pong contests, and the list goes on and on. Plan in advance to make the best of your time and money.
My personal opinion – I enjoyed my time on the ship. This is mainly because it is hard not to appreciate the huge effort the company does in order to make your stay pleasant and full of events. The staff is very professional and very friendly. The MSC Grandiosa operates like a well maintained machine that everyone knows its part and the result is a smooth working ship with happy customers.
The part which I found hard for me is that the sheer size of the ship is a manifestation of mass tourism. Taking part in a ship’s visit to a little village like Flam – seeing thousands of people in its streets is a disturbing picture. Many people at once using local resources and energy, disrupting people’s life is unpleasant to me. Another issue that makes you think and wonder is the first world vs. the third world. 4000 guests being served mainly by crew (more than 1700 employees) from the third world. Most of the crew comes from Indonesia, Philippines, India, and countries from Africa and South America. It is a strange feeling to have that the first world is buying workforce from the third world for a good price in order to enjoy a luxury vacation. I can’t really say if it is bad or good because it might also be a good option for people from these countries to earn better than in their home countries and improve their life conditions. I assume the answer lies with the working conditions and salary. These are questions for MSC to answer. I did make an attempt to hear them and sent them questions about this issue and others but never got an answer.
Here is the list of questions I sent them and once I get answers I will add their input to the review and score.
7 days Cruise – 2,043 euro
3 device browse and stream internet package 251 euro
Excursions – 4 tickets – 460 euro
Shows – 4 tickets – 60 euro
Drinks – 65 euro
Expenses when visiting Flam and Kiel – 220 euro
Miscellaneous on the ship – 80 euro
Total – 3,171 euro
This is my rating for the Cruise on the MSC Grandiosa
Comfort and Luxury – 4.4
Sports and Fitness – 4.7
SPA and Wellness – 4.3
Food – 4.3
Child-friendliness – 4.7
Overall Rating of the Ship – 4.6
Activities – 4.6
Service – 4.8
+ Energy (Co2) footprint
+ Fair Employment
+ Waste disposal
+ Plastic use
+ Impact on local communities
Value for money – 4.3