15 April 2011

MSC Sinfonia interiors, May 2009

MSC Sinfonia

IMO 9210153
Built 2002, Chantiers de l'Atlantique St. Nazaire, France
Tonnage 58 625 GT
Length 251,20 m
Width 28,80 m
Draugth 6,80 m
2 223 passengers
2 223 berths
4 Wärtsilä diesels, combined 31 680 kW
2 azimuth pods
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20,8 knots

MSC Sinfonia was built in 2002 for Festival Cruises as European Stars, their third (and last) newbuilt ship. The European Stars and her sister European Vision were essentially enlargened versions of Festival Cruises' first newbuilt ship, the Mistral. Festival Cruises were one of the first companies attempting to offer a "pan-European" cruise experience, but the company was not wholly successful and in early 2004 they went bankrupt. When Festival Cruises' ships were placed for sale, the expanding Italy-based MSC Cruises purchased both sisters, renaming them MSC Armonia (ex-European Vision) and MSC Sinfonia (ex-European Stars). Since then the ships have remained in service with MSC Cruises.

I sailed on the MSC Sinfonia in May 2009 on a Western Mediterranean cruise, hoping for a European cruise experience as (supposedly) MSC Cruises has taken over the mantle of a pan-European cruise line following the demise of Festival Cruises. In this respect I was somewhat disappointed as the onboard product was heavily aimed at Italians and Spaniards, at the expense of us North Europeans. But enough of that.

According to Douglas Ward, the author of Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising, the MSC Sinfonia's interiors are "decidedly European Moderne" with "clean lines" and "minimalism in furniture design". I'm not sure if I agree on the decor being neither European, nor moderne, nor minimalist. There is clear moderne influence in places, but on the whole this is not, in my opinion, moderne. And while the decor is certainly less ostentatious than on many ships designed for the North American market, it's hardly minimalist. But as said, that is my opinion and you can draw your own conclusions from the photographs below.

Click on the individual images to view larger size.

The radar mast as seen from the forward sun deck on deck 13. The ship was dressed overall for the call at Naples, the location of MSC Cruises' head office. 29 May 2009.
The funnel lit by the setting sun while en-route from Valencia to Ibiza. 25 May 2009.
The ship's observation lounge cum discotheque, Club Pasha, on the aft of deck 12, below the funnel. For some unfathomable reason they didn't start playing music at the disco until way after midnight. This was particularly annoying as the entertainment in all other public rooms consisted of Italian popular music from the 1950s and 60s. 25 May 2009.
More of Club Pasha, 25 May 2009. There was a large number of teenagers and 20-somethings onboard who had no entertainment for them for most of the evening, ending up sitting up in the hallways and stairwells to escape the constant onslaught of "Volare". Personally I never managed to stay awake until the disco actually begun playing music, being too tired after a day of wondering around various ports of call.
The bustling sun deck on deck 11, photographed from 12, facing forward. 25 May 2009.
Capri Bar in the forward section of the sundeck on deck 11. The rock climbing wall above the bar was apparently purely decorational; all the handholds in the lower part of the wall had been removed and as far I could notice, the wall was not open for use once during the cruise. 25 May 2009.
More of the sundeck, facing aft. The evening crossing from Valencia to Ibiza had a tropically-themed deck party. It was quite cold and I certainly did not envy the entertainment crew in their shorts and see-though t-shirts when even the cold-accentuated and much warmer-dressed Finns had to escape indoors after a while. 25 May 2009.
Moving downwards a few decks, to Deck 7 and the Sinfonia Lounge with a very neat bar counter. The lounge was the only place onboard with a actual live band playing, making it a favourite haunt for us. The Volare-percentage was also slightly lower than in the other bars. 25 May 2009.
Another shot of the Sinfonia Lounge. Being located on deck 7, somewhat removed from the other public rooms (on deck 5 & 6) meant the lounge was always relatively empty. Sad, as this was probably the best spot on the ship in terms on entertainment. 25 May 2009.
Moving to deck 6 and the Galleria Mazzini jewellery shop, located forward from the Il Covo dining room (where we ate - I do not have photographs of the dining room as I've made my policy not to take photographs while dining). The dark-haired lady in a somewhat unladylike pose is Mrs. Id. 25 May 2009.
The policy on MSC Sinfonia seems to be to give silly names to public rooms: Buddha Bar on deck 6, forward of the Galleria Mazzini from the photo above. I actually liked this particular spot, as the decor really has some discernible moderne stylings. The name of the bar doesn't really match the decor though... 28 May 2009.
Another Buddha Bar shot. The baby grand piana was, as far as I could tell, decorational, as all the music "played" came from a tape (and more often than not, had no piano parts at all). 28 May 2009.
Le Baroque Café on deck 6 had, as the name implies, baroque decor. It's located on a sort of a terrace above the reception area, with a neat two-deck high fountainthat's just visible on the right. Despite (or perhaps because of) the central location, the café was largely deserted for the duration of the entire cruise. 25 May 2009.
The fountain on the reception area on deck 5, photographed down from deck 6. 25 May 2009.
Manhattan bar on deck 5. A pleasant enough space (except for "Volare"), but who on earth picked the 80s-esque colours for the furniture? 28 May 2009.
Finally, a bonus image: Tendering in Monaco on the morning of 24 May 2009.

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