I have made it a specific point to leave a review here to dispell some of the negative things that are being said. I am a 30 year old American single white Christian female travelling with a relative. I chose this cruise based solely on the itinerary and price. I assumed that all cruise ships were pretty much the same at the time, but later decided to read all the good things about the ship I would be on. I was shocked at what I was reading here, but experienced cruisers told me that I shouldn't go by those and that I would probably have a good time. I also thought I would have a good time, I mean how do you go on vacation and have a bad time? I DID have a good time. This cruise was excellent, and I will tell you about it.
We embarked in Genoa. We spent the night at hotel Vittoria in Genoa. We very much enjoyed walking around and site seeing in Genoa. The hotel Vittoria was extremely charming, the rooms and bathrooms were spacious, however I think the mattresses were air mattresses, but it was cool for one night. We checked out of the hotel at 11AM and took the taxi straight to the ship. This taxi trip was more expensive than the airport to the hotel despite being a very short ride. We breezed right through check in and were on the ship in no time, went right to our room. The guys had set up the beds as King, but they were across from us working and were happy to reconfigure it to 2 twin beds. The rooms were extremely spacious and clean. We felt like we were in a nice hotel.
Some people say that the cruise ship workers on this trip are not nice and do not smile. This could not be farther from our experience. Any floor we ever walked on, any part of the ship, the room attendants were so kind to us. They were always smiling and greeting us when we walked by. They are so sweet and adorable, you can't help but love them to death. We wish we could have taken the two guys who worked in our area home with us, they were so wonderful and helpful. The room attendants were great about speaking to people and being friendly. I would say the people at the reception desk were not as friendly, but I really don't have any complaints about them. They did get the job done. Other than them, everybody was great.
Some people say the food was not good. I'm just a country girl from North Carolina, but my aunt and I did not have any problem whatsoever with the food. We liked the food very much and did not have any complaints. I thought there was a great variety, you could always find something you like. My aunt had been on one other cruise (Caribbean) and said that the food on this ship was better than the last cruise she was on. Now, I will explain the dining options. The buffet on deck 14 at the Zanzibar Cafeteria is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and some snacks at "tea time". Water, coffee, and tea is free there (and juices for breakfast) and you can get water any time up there for free. The other option is your assigned restaurant where you have assigned seating. We ate in that restaurant 3 times. We loved the people we were seated with. They were very nice and it was our chance to meet and talk to someone we could communicate with (there are so many languages represented on that ship!) However, you do have to pay for any beverage there, so the cheapest you can come out is a water shared with your party which is $2.65. So we went the first night to meet someone and see what it was like and the 2 formal nights. We never ate breakfast there b/c the buffet was so nice, but we heard good things from people who did eat breakfast there. The paying for drinks is why a drink package might be nice. However, we were so well fed, I had my sights on ordering the dirty banana shake, but there was never a time I was actually hungry enough to pay for food when I could just get it for free at the buffet. Now the only thing is at the buffet it is a little hard to get to the water at times. They don't always have all of the water stations available. Passengers on the ship are from many different cultures, and it seems there are some who do not understand about lines. You can definitely have a line going and some people will just hop in there. The best thing to do is if more water stations are open, go to one that is not one of the first ones you come to. Other than that, I thought the passengers on the ship that I came in contact with seemed nice. Leaving Genoa airport, we heard other people talking. We heard two sets of people say the food on the Princess cruise was better, but the ship was not as nice as the Fantasia. But my point of view is that I do not have any need of my food being better than satisfactory, I enjoyed having a beautiful ship, and now I am a loyalty club member and will get a discount if I book again. I would sail with MSC again very likely.
Speaking of the ship, I thought all ships were equal, but I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the ship was. Of everyone I ever heard talking, everyone said this was the nicest cruise ship they had ever been on. I am very proud to say I was a passenger on this ship. I have bought a model of the ship and a t-shirt. This was first-class cruising.
We heard that the shows in the theater every night were nice. We never did go b/c we had first dinner seating and we were supposed to go to the 2nd theater show. It seemed a little late to us. We did go hear Alessandra sing one night in the Manhattan bar. She's a great singer - we had a good time. My aunt was a bit disappointed in the activities offered on the ship. She said her first cruise had more interesting things to do. It is one of those things, maybe it could have been better, but my trip was still awesome. We took part in the animal quiz, the elvis quiz, and the italian lesson. I would have liked the tennis tournament, but that was at the end of the trip and unfortunately I had come down with a cold by then. I should have changed my hand washing habits. They have hand sanitizer by the doors of common rooms and by elevators. Looking back, after I used the internet cafe, I should have used the santizer, after pushing buttons on the elevator, etc. Next time, I will know.
Disembarkation was a little crazy! The being out of your room at 7 and getting off at 9 is not a big deal. The having your bags out at midnight is not a big deal. Being out of the room at 7, you just go up to breakfast, maybe linger there a little longer than usual, enjoy the views, and then go to the theater where you are supposed to assemble. I did not see anyone smoking there. Although there was some smoking on the ship and I don't like being around smoke, it never bothered me, it was always I was just passing through past someone who was smoking, it wasn't like some smoke factory anywhere on the ship. This was not an issue to me. OK, so non-EU guests, the ship keeps your passport the whole time. They call you "extra-schengen's" like they think that means something in every language. Anyway, they tell you you will start disembarking around 9AM, and you can only get your passport at around 9AM. I asked one of the employees about my passport as I was sitting there; he told me I could not get it yet, but an English speaking lady walked by and she said I could get them now, they were giving them out upstairs and there was a long line already. So, I ran up there, stood in line and got mine. They started calling zones to unload early, so a some people missed leaving with their zone either b/c they were planning to assemble on time (not early) or they were in line getting their passport. When I got my passport, I ran back downstairs. They had already called several zones, and they had called my zone as soon as I got our passports. We were able to tack onto the back of the line. So, that was a tiny bit chaotic, but the question is are you an adult or not? If you can be responsible for yourself and get yourself off of the ship, it's not a big deal if you are with your zone or not. You all go to the same area and it's just your bags have tags with your color on it. Once we were off, we got our bags straight away and just walked right out to the taxi and got in. We had plenty of time to kill in the airport before our 1pm flight. Incidentally, that is the tiniest little airport I have ever been to. I didn't realize it coming in, but wow it is small. And I'm from a small town.
So, in short, my trip was great. I have no complaints, only fond memories of the trip. I would do it again. Oh, and children cruise free if you have any.