After just returning from 7 nights on the MSC Fantasia, I felt compelled to write my first vacation review ever given the discrepancies reported by others regarding the food and service on this ship. Fortunately, I came across the negative reviews after making a non-refundable booking and I'm very glad that I didn't alter our vacation plans!
Briefly, my wife and I are in our late 20s, have busy professional lives and were looking for a unique vacation for a couple. We've taken numerous trips in the States, the Caribbean, South America and Europe and this cruise certainly met, if not exceeded, the highest standards of decor, food and service from numerous other 5 star venues that we've previously visited.
The Ship - 1000 feet long with 18 decks. We didn't even see the entire ship during our 7 nights. No costs were spared in terms of decor and amenities. The Turkish baths are well worth a visit as are the various bars. Cigar room had great selection and value for well More
kept Dominican and Cuban cigars with excellent ventilation even for non-smokers. Plenty of Designer shopping if you're into that and amazing live music in all areas of the ship every evening. There's an F1 simulator and a 4D theater that we found on our 7th night.... The fitness center occupied the entire front end of a deck with great views of the ocean, great Top40 remixes, free weights and brand new machines but lacked a water station/cooler - even a water bottle vending machine would've sufficed.
Service - 1300 crew members for 3300 guest: you do that math. There's always someone available to serve you in the language of your choice. The crew members all work extremely hard day and night (literally) to clean every inch of this massive ship and meet all your requests. Our maid turned our room over twice daily and there were always plenty of fresh towels available. The evening service was even coordinated with your dinner time so as not to disturb you. Our room was always meticulously cleaned. In dining areas, you'd have at least 2 servers waiting on you and providing anything the ship had to offer. We heard of some service issues from other guests but every case seemed to stem from basic misunderstanding/language issues. English was never an issue for us and the service definitely met USA standards.
Food - Italian food almost anytime you want it. Unlimited served courses at breakfast and lunch, or buffets if you prefer with enormous variety and a great 5-6 course dinner with a new menu every single night. Not to mention the wonderful dessert menu that also changes routinely! Wine prices were very reasonable - comparable to a decent steakhouse - and selection was excellent. At one dinner alone I counted at least 60 servers just carrying dessert cakes!
Cabin - we booked a balcony cabin on the 13th deck. Noise was seldom an issue and the views were stunning! ...especially at the ports. There was plenty of storage space in the cabin and bathroom/shower was above average in size. The only drawback was that all the English channels were news networks discussing the Euro crisis and Greek austerity which may be the last thing you'd want to see while on vacation. The German, Russian, Italian and French channels seemed to have other shows though. You could order a bunch of Hollywood movies for 5 euros anytime though.
We noticed lots of families with kids who seemed to be enjoying themselves as well but as far as cruises go and after sharing experiences with other well-traveled family and friends, you really can't go wrong with the MSC Fantasia.
Find a good deal online and book it! you won't regret it! Less
Gorgeous city with incredible subway/public transport. Benefit of tours would be to avoid huge lineups but we just wanted an overview of the city for future visits and flexibility but heard that the excursions were great as well.
Unlimited metro/subway pass is only 6 euros per day!
Should've done an excursion but had already rented a car to drive along the cote D'azure but ended up driving to Avignon to see the palace of the popes and to the notre dame church overlooking Marseille. Could've done it all with a guided tour for the same costs and saved the trouble.
Very impressive guide who knew 6 languages and even stopped outside Carthage for a quick tour/overview. Highly recommend an excursion at this port since it's not located centrally and taxis for tourists can be quite expensive.
Be prepared to negotiate up to 90% of asking price in the markets.