Fantasia come through


  • Travel
  • Saturday, 04 Apr 2009

Luxury cruise operator MSC Cruises is luring landlubbers to sail the Mediterranean with an unbeatable deal. They will fly passengers gratis from Kuala Lumpur to Genoa in Italy for an eight-day cruise aboard MSC Fantasia.

Now that times are bad, even luxury cruise operators have that sinking feeling, as more and more passengers decide to stay away, especially for those cruises that take place somewhere faraway like in Italy.

MSC Cruises’ Fantasia Mediterranean cruise costs RM14,888 per person on a twin-sharing basis. That’s a lot of money, even for a luxury cruise, so to sweeten the deal on this eight-day cruise to Tunisia, France, Spain and the Balearic islands, MSC Cruises is throwing in free return air tickets from Kuala Lumpur to Genoa, Italy where the MSC Fantasia is docked.

“We are the first cruise line to have this innovation. The return air ticket we’re throwing in is nearly RM3,500, so the actual cost of the cruise is around RM11,000!” says Clement Li of MSC Cruises SE Asia.

Is there a catch somewhere? Well, rest assured that the airlines chosen by the company are among the best and not dubious chartered flights, as the cynic in us may be inclined to think.

“We only fly our guests on Malaysia Airlines, Air France or Lufthansa. A maximum of three children under 18 years stay free with parents in the same cabin. The parents only need to pay for their children’s air tickets. You can even extend your stay and divert free of charge to Milan, Rome or London if the ticket permits.”

If for some bizarre reason you decide to cruise alone, then you will have to pay double for the cabin, or around RM29,776, so you might as well bring the family or companion.

The RM14,888 single fare includes air ticket, private car transfer between airport and pier, VIP meet-and-greet service at Genoa airport, eight-day Mediterranean cruise, drinks, meals and entertainment on board the MSC Fantasia.

“Best of all, you get to enjoy our celebrated Yacht Club hospitality which includes butler service!” adds Li.

MSC Cruise’s Yacht Club services are in a league of their own, being the only liner service in all the seven seas to be rated six stars.

Apart from being welcomed like a celebrity upon arrival, you will also have your suitcases sorted by the butler, who will unpack and pack them, collect and deliver laundry, arrange port excursions, and basically wait on you 24/7.

These superbly trained butlers in their morning coats and vests are a sight to behold, and make one feel manor-born.

Your cabin will be in the prestigious upper decks which will give you a bird’s eye view of things, and you will get access to private facilities like pool, bar, lounge, library and the top-of-the-line Aurea Spa.

Yacht Club members may descend to the lower decks, if they so please, but those below cannot come up to your levels unless invited. Mind you, they are not exactly slumming it out down there, either, and you may — despite your exclusive surroundings — wish to join them for meals in their stylish restaurants!

“You suite is also something to write home about,” beams Li.

“Each comes with spa bath, Samsung LCD screens, Bose home theatre system, Egyptian cotton sheets by Mascioni Italy, pillow choices by Dorelan, Myform Memory ergonomic mattresses, good night chocolates by Venci, and full complementary mini bar. Your exclusive toiletries allow you to choose the products according to your mood.

Kids will get to enjoy the latest Nintendo Wii consoles which are universally available on Fantasia.”

The Aurea Spa is the last word on decadence and offers such esoteric delights as four-hands massage and aromatic hydrotherapy. You can have treatments inside your cabin but why would you when the spa is so expansive and expensively appointed?

Ditto for gourmet meals. Why have it in your suite when Top Sail Lounge has all-day dining, L’Etoile offers gastronomic cuisine and Cerchio D’Oro dishes out superlative Italian fare?

You will be fed breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and midnight snacks throughout your stay, so be prepared — bring loose pants! And say death to dieting.

Free drinks include beer, aperitifs, sparkling red, white and rose wines, and liquors.

You can, however, try to get rid of the surplus calories at the gym, jogging track, pools, basketball, tennis and squash courts or on the dance floor at Liquid Disco. Of course, the Avanguardia Theatre with its host of entertainment acts may offer a more preferable way to spend the evening, or perhaps Dell Palme Casino is the way to go?

Your trusty ship MSC Fantasia is not some leaky, dilapidated sampan but the latest, brightest and biggest ship ever built for an European ship owner. It weighs a hefty 133,500 tonnes and was launched only recently in December 2008.

MSC is the only cruise line to have won the coveted Six Golden Pearls Award from Bureau Veritas for its consistently high standards.

For bookings, visit www.msccruisesasia.com or call AF Travel (03-2687 9688), Jebsen Travel (03-2148 5583), Apple Vacation (03-2145 2026), ACE Tours (04-261 1205) or Chan Chee Keong & Brothers Travel (05-2541 1244).

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