We had just gotten off an NCL transatlantic, which was heavenly, and stayed on La Rambla in Barcelona for a few days. Then we boarded the MSC Fantasia for
Marseilles, France, Genoa, Naples, and Sicily, Italy, and then finally Tunis in Tunisia. We had been on the MSC Orchestra and Poesia in the Caribbean so we knew MSC was okay, or so we thought, but mostly it was the itinerary that caused us to choose this ship.
We never had such an easy embarkation as we had in Barcelona. We and another couple were the only two registering at 12 noon, which surprised me a bit. Later I learned that the Fantasia picks up and leaves off passengers at every port. Therefore, there were just a few embarking in Barcelona. Only about 50 people showed up for the boat drill.
The first culture shock was at dinner in the restaurant when we asked for water with ice. The waiters only serve BOTTLED WATER which you have to pay for. You cannot get a cup of coffee nor tea to have with dessert in the dining room. You have to go up to the buffet for these beverages, and the buffet was always a madhouse. Since we chose to dine in the restaurant as opposed to the buffet, at lunch and at dinner we had to purchase water.
Second, the first night we embarked was the FAREWELL show and it was a formal night. Of course we learned later about the policy to pick up and drop off passengers at every port but who felt like dressing up on the first night?
Third, english speaking people were in the minority. The only way to meet other english speakers was on excursions, which were usually spoken in 2 languages. And the people we met were getting off before we were so it was difficult to make any acquaintances.
There is no trivia, movies, and no lectures because of the language problem. The english TV shows were very very limited and boring. Announcements were made in 5 languages. Even BINGO was played in 5 languages!!!
Fourth, I didn't like the fact that MEN cleaned the WOMEN's bathroom. I didn't like entering a restroom and finding a man in there. This might be okay in Europe but it's uncomfortable for Americans.
Fifth-the worst part of the journey was the smell of cigarette smoke everywhere!
The lounges had a smoking and nonsmoking section but the smoke drifted and stunk up the entire lounge. The same is true in the indoor pool, which happens to be gorgeous, but the smell of smoke is a turnoff. You can also smell smoke in the hallways. It was everywhere! It was awful.
One night while I was sleeping I smelled smoke seeping into my room. I called the customer service desk who said they'll take care of it. This also happened during the day one afternoon. Well, when they say they'll take care of it, they mean in a couple of hours if at all. Service is not a priority.
Children under the age of 10 are free on MSC so there were kids everywhere! I felt sorry for the kids because of all the smoke getting into their little lungs.
On the positive side, the food was very good. We enjoyed the different pastas and other italian food offered. The ship is the most beautiful ship we've ever been on in our 30 plus cruises and it is extremely well kept.
Our balcony room was large by ship standards and very comfortable.
Also, we enjoyed the ports very much.
However, we will not be going on an MSC ship in the Mediterranean again.