Last week I was invited to do a mini cruise with MSC FANTASIA, for professional reasons. My bonus: plenty of opportunities to be creative with the camera.

The reason for the mini trip was the annual MSC Cruises All-Stars event, which awards the best travel agents and tour operators.

The journey started and ended in Genoa, one of my favourite Italian ports and cities. In between the MSC FANTASIA visited Barcelona and Marseille.

Cruising in mid November means that it gets dark early. The weather can be bad too, but we have been very lucky.

Let’s start with some pictures I took in Genoa, just before leaving.

I was so happy to have bought a mini tripod the day before. Having to carry a suit, some shoes and a normal tripod often means my luggage reaches the 20kg limit. Last time I had some pain in the back because of the heavy weight. Don’t forget, this suitcase comes with a photobag which includes a computer, and weighs up to 10kg.

Hence my decision to buy a small Manfrotto tripod, for the ridiculous price of €70. It is lightweight, and although stability could be better, it is a perfect just-in-case tool. Bellow photo could not have been made without tripod.

And then it was dark, and time to shoot the All-Stars award ceremony. This is one picture, just to show.

The morning at sea, on our way to Barcelona, was sunny and windy. It was nice to be back on MSC FANTASIA. She was the first ship of a series of four, and I remember my intensive photoshoots when she was new. Most of these photos are still available for journalists on the MSC press area.

The view from my stateroom #11093

The Belgian MSC ladies

Around noon we took the pilot and entered the Port of Barcelona. The nice thing is that our ship had to go all the way to the berth closest to the bridge and the town, and that she had to swing around to get alongside. That gave me plenty of nice angles. Sometimes it was as if I was flying in a helicopter, especially when standing on Deck 15 or 16.

After arrival we had a press conference with MSC’s CEO, and afterwards I decided to go for a 6km run on the quayside. After a quick shower I was ready with my little tripod to catch my favorite “dusk” moment.

Incredible how fast time flies when you are having fun. Sunday, Genoa. Monday, Barcelona, and then it was already Tuesday, where we were going to berth in Marseille.

I set my alarm at 06:45 to be ready before sunrise. It was still a bit chilly but the light conditions were excellent. The first thing I did was to try to make a picture of the famous supermoon. That was not spectacular at all.

This, a supermoon?

The time of arrival could not have been better. We entered the port before sunrise, which was perfect for a very colorful start of the day. It was good that I remembered the qualities of the highest sundeck, just in front of the funnel. I was alone and had a wonderful view over the swimming pool area. It was also the best place to take some shots from the port.

And then it was the last day… Back in Genoa. Again I had an early wake up in order to be out to take photographs. A sunrise is always nice.

After we took the pilot I enjoyed the magic moment of golden sunrays making their appearance and giving the landscape a golden light bath. 

What I appreciated in Genoa was the line-up of veteran ferries from Moby Lines. Most of them are used during the season to connect Italy with islands such as Elba, Sardinia and Corsica. In a previous life they sailed in Scandinavian waters.

Pilot on board

Photos & text: Mike Louagie, who travelled with MSC Cruises.