Check in procedure:
It is strongly recommended to do the Internet check in. It saves you enormous time on arrival. With this little pre-work done check in goes smooth.
"Valet" parking worked very well for us, turn over and return of the car was one of the most positive experiences of the trip.
We booked a balcony cabin on 10th floor in the center of the boat. Sufficient space available both in cabin and bathroom.
We recommend to take two things along: Hooks to be attached to the cabinet doors for jackets as well as a multiple socket to charge your electronic equipment (There is only one socket available in the cabin)
The description on the web site is in line with what we found on board. the facilities are mostly well maintained.
Enjoy the fitness area early morning on arrival in the new harbour. You have the best view and hardly anyone is up there at 7 am in the morning.
On board you have the option to go for assigned tables in the Red Velvet restaurant at two different times (6.30 pm and 8.30 pm) or you choose the buffet breakfast/lunch/dinner on Deck 14.
Our initial desire to be in the first flight was ignored, the restaurant manager was willing to change our assignment starting on day 2 of the cruise.
This happened to many passengers, question is why does MSC ask your before starting the cruise if they finally ignore majority of the choices.
We considered the food quality as good for both the buffet restaurant and the Red Velvet. All food comes with an Italian touch, different variations of pasta/pizza define the base.
For the buffet: Prepare your mind for Chaos. Best strategy: find a table first as an "anchor" point for you and your company. Only then go for hunting food. Food will always be replenished. Once we overcame the first Chaos experience we enjoyed the buffet more than the seated dining.
Big compliment to the cabin cleaner, waiters in the restaurant and different barkeepers. The cabin cleaners were very attentive, efficient and nearly invisible. Cabin was made up in the morning and evening. Towels changed twice a day on request. Very good job.
The waiters were very attentive also catered for special dietary needs with no hesitation. Very professional in remembering names and special wishes already on day 2, excellent job.
Exception: Receptionists were not always supportive, it sometimes takes minutes before they answer the phone. Accounting staff extremely arrogant and inefficient.
This is where the negative touch came in. The excursions are by far overpriced. Transfers to the cities (Barcelona, Marseille) way too high, you can easily get a taxi transfer for the charge of the bus transfer.
Excursion to Vesuvio was done despite the fact that there was no visibility. It is a phone call away to check these things out, it was a big disappointment and waste of time and energy, no visibility at all on the peak.
Our recommendation is dare to organize your own excursion. Even in Tunis we managed to organize our private tour with a local Taxi driver. We saw all the highlights mentioned in the combination of three offered excursions, paid a fraction of the price and had a lot of individual, local touch to it.
Disaster from the beginning to the end. Each and any disembarkation was delayed. Information was given only on request, not proactively.
Our recommendation: Add one hour to the planed disembarkation time. Enjoy a prolonged breakfast on Deck 14 while most guests are stress-fully waiting in the lobby for the doors to open. You will arrive relaxed for your trip, no queues when leaving the boat.
Final disembarkation back in Genoa peaked all previous experience. Leaving the cabin was requested at 7 am, we finally managed to leave the boat by 10.30 am.
3 1/2 hours of wasted time sitting on your hand luggage with hundreds of stressed co-travellers.
Complete chaos with returning passports for all "Extra-Schengen" guests. We received a time schedule the night before, planed out to 5 minute intervals. All a joke, not a single time target was kept.
Our recommendation: Extend the time in the cabin to minimum 8 am. Leave some extra tip for the cabin cleaning staff to compensate. You will evade the stress created by poor process management on your final hours on the boat.
One additional point became annoying over time. All activities on the boat and outside the boat are an effort to maximize your spend during your trip. Be aware of the fact, MSC tries to take money out of your pocket at any moment of the trip. The 15% service charge on top of the 7 Euro/day is only one example. It is ridiculous and obviously contributing to finance the staff costs.
In summary we enjoyed our first cruise to full extent, exceptions as written above. Fantasia is a great ship, with unlimited opportunities during a 7 days cruise. We received a service level that met our expectations, especially from the Asian staff members.
We chose our trip outside of main holiday season. This helped a lot to limit the negative experiences other travelers shared in their comments.