Cruise review: MSC cruise on Euriba
by Louise Atkinson
Louise Atkinson takes a trip on board MSC’s newest ship, Euriba
Most chefs wilt at the prospect of adapting a set menu to accommodate one meat eater, one pescatarian and one vegetarian, but the man flamboyantly juggling the metal spatulas at the Kaito teppanyaki restaurant onboard MSC’s newest ship, Euriba, clearly relishes the challenge.
As we perch on high stools in front of his shiny silver hotplate he deftly flips and chops egg, salmon, steak and prawns in a choreographed display of culinary expertise enhanced by comedy theatrics (an egg thrown precariously high in the air is caught it in the top of his chef’s hat, but when he reaches to find it he pulls out a fluffy toy chick).
We are giggling like school children as he produces perfectly ginger-infused just-cooked salmon and prawns (for me), garlicy tofu for my veggie companion, and tender slices of pink sirloin for the meat-eater in our midst. Treating yourself to the occasional ‘speciality dinner’ like this is, in my opinion, absolutely key to making any cruise holiday sing – even if you have to pay a little extra.
Cruise companies like MSC are crunching the cost of their trips to the point that you can get a comfy en-suite cabin, all the food you can eat plus a riot of entertainment (swimming pools, a gym, kids clubs and water slides) for peanuts. My seven-day sailing to and from Southampton via Hamburg (Germany), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Zeebruger (Belgium) and Le Havre (France) can cost a bargain £57 a night, per person (depending on the timing and availability) plus children under 10 go free. That’s cheaper than a night in a Premier Inn, so it is hardly surprising these sea holidays are so popular.
Cruising newbies need to watch out, though, as the on-board costs can quickly creep-up. You’ll be paying more for a cabin with windows, more still for a balcony. Drinks are at London prices (£7 for a beer), it’s £70 for an hour or so in the thermal spa, around £100 for a facial, £10 for 24-hours of wifi, and unless you’ve bought a £28-a-day drinks package you’ll be charged extra for each latte and bottle of water.
Although there are plenty of all-inclusive dining options on Euriba (a vast and buzzing self-serve buffet and table-clothed restaurants with five-course a la carte menus that change every day) these places are catering for the masses and, in my opinion, the food has a bit of a school dinners vibe. However, our delicious teppanyaki set meal is £34 a head, and I can heartily recommend the £15 ‘all you can eat’ option (I’m still drooling at the memory of the spicy tortilla soup) at the Hola! Tacos & Cantina.
Cruise holidays are not exactly eco-friendly, but a Southampton departure means you’re not adding the carbon emissions of a flight, plus Euriba is making strides towards environmental efficiencies with a ‘dual fuel’ option which means she can chug away on LNG (slightly better for the planet than diesel) when supplies are available, an enhanced wastewater filtration system, efficient recycling and reduced use of single use plastics (though it would be great if MSC stopped selling plastic bottles of water and fitted water refill stations around the ship instead).
What type of cruiser are you?
In my opinion, there are two very distinct types of ‘cruiser’: you either relish the idea of exploring an exciting new destination each day, travelling in comfort without the hassle of having to pack and unpack your suitcase, or you just love everything about life on a cruise ship and you don’t really care where she sails. My guess is that most of my fellow Euriba passengers sit in the latter category.
There’s a Eurovision holiday camp vibe with children running around, relishing the freedom and facilities on board. The ship is HUGE and in warm weather, the hoards are well dispersed on the 1000 sun-loungers however on cold days you might struggle to find a quiet corner to curl up with a book. But the canny cruiser can work any cruise to suit her travel style. How else could you be cycling around Rotterdam on one day and tucking into mussels (and waffles) in Brussels the next? And at the end of each day, if you run the gauntlet of the vast smoky casino on deck 7, you’ll find yourself in the Carousel lounge right at the back of the ship, where you can sip a chilled glass of champagne and tap your toe to a seriously impressive MSC big band.
How to book
A 7-day sailing on MSCEuriba starts at £399 per person; msccruises.co.uk.