There could only be one answer to an email asking if I’d be interested in teaching cake decorating onboard the MSC Magnifica, as part of the enrichment team, for their world cruise 2019 – YES!
Making it happen…
I thoroughly enjoy both teaching and travelling, never-the-less eight weeks to get everything organised and prepared, is quite challenging. Especially when that time includes Christmas and New Year. I just about managed to juggle everything and the weeks vanished in a haze of coloured icing and spreadsheets.
I was stepping into the unknown. This was the very first time MSC were offering a cake decorating cruise enrichment activity. It was also the first MSC world cruise – so no pressure then!
Pre-departure I couldn’t help but wonder…
- Would I manage to prepare all my classes on time?
- Will I be seasick?
- What happens if the sugarpaste, being kindly sponsored by Renshaw Baking, isn’t delivered and transferred to the ship successfully?
- Will the classes be the success we all want them to be?
- Will I like cruising?
- Might I find the trip too long?
- Who exactly will my students be?
Cruise enrichment – my brief
To run cake decorating sessions twice a day on all days the ship is at sea, between Genoa and San Francisco. My sessions were to be engaging, easy projects. I had to ensure that the participants created something that they were pleased with and that they enjoyed themselves.
Sea days equal cruise enrichment activity days
Life on board ship takes a little getting used to, but after a while, days fall into a natural rhythm. A rhythm that my cake decorating cruise enrichment classes became a part of. The classes, as we’d hoped, proved popular. I was in my element! I’ve never taught such a diverse group of students before but I loved every minute. The classes were full of fabulous people from all around the world…France, Norway, Argentina, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, UK, Canada, Israel, China, Japan, Hungry, Australia, South Africa, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Ireland, USA, Switzerland, New Zealand. Some students even proudly told me that they were attending two classes in one – Cake Decorating and English Language classes.
My classes were open to all ages, which meant that children, young families, couples, friends and even great grandmothers all shared tables and created together. It was wonderful seeing everyone enjoying themselves and very rewarding seeing talent grow. Many passengers became regular students and once they discovered me came to every session (twice a day) or every other (once a day).
During the five weeks, I was onboard I taught twenty-seven classes in total. Every class was different and based around a relevant topic. For example, the ocean, the countries we visited, Chinese New Year (a special request class for Dora, a very talented 11-year-old Chinese student) and Valentines.
Creativity is king!
Looking back, I think these classes were partly so successful because of where we were – in the middle of the ocean. We were away from everyday distractions. People could relax and enjoy themselves as the pressures of everyday life were not present.
My students told me, what they enjoyed about my classes was, not only did they have the chance to be creative and learn useful skills, they could also use their own creativity. I particularly noticed this when we reached the Pacific. By this stage, my regulars were all adding their own embellishments and trying out different ideas towards the end of each session. How wonderful to see.
End of class – what to do next?
When I usually teach, students can take their creations home to share with family and friends, but when you are on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, that is not possible. So, I found it very interesting what people did with their creations after class:
- Many sent photos of their work to family and friends back home. To say happy birthday, happy anniversary, good luck etc.
- Some gave their work to fellow passengers and staff for onboard birthdays and thank you’s — apparently, in some quarters these became the talk of the ship!
- I believe most treasured their creations and had them on display in their cabins.
- A few, of course, enjoyed eating what they had made!
For me, once everything was washed up and put away, it was time to attempt to jump on social media. If you’ve ever travelled on a cruise ship you will know that currently, satellite internet at sea is not the most reliable, it’s often incredibly slow and sometimes doesn’t work at all. However, I did sometimes manage to post fairly regularly on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. So please take a look to see more photos.
All good things come to an end
By the time the ship reached San Francisco, I’d spent 35 days onboard, visited 21 ports and 16 countries. I’d also taught 27 classes, met lots of amazing people from around the world and made new many friends. My students told me they didn’t want me to leave the ship and I didn’t want to either. But all good things must come to an end.
I just hope that I get the opportunity to press the repeat button on this whole adventure another time!
In the meantime, if you are interested in taking a class with me or you would like to host a session, please don’t hesitate to get in touch
‘Bringing world-class sugarcraft into your kitchen’