From start to finish MSC exceeded all my expectations (OK well maybe not right at the start but I will explain that in a moment), I am not sure where the critical reviews come from for MSC Armonia as in my view everything was a pleasurable experience. I do think that some people just like to moan. OK be warned this is a long review, but i have tried to capture everything.
We booked a 7 night, 8 day cruise through IGLU cruises - My first bit of advice is DON'T BOOK THROUGH IGLU! complete an utter shame and disappointment, but that's for another review.
Our package was return flights and the cruise, our flights went into and out Verona even though our cruise left from Venice, we were a little disappointed with this especially as we were not informed by Iglu until 5 days prior to leaving that this was the case. Even so the transfer from Verona was efficient and easy, it took approx 1hr 30 mins to arrive at the ferry port. Our flight arrived in Verona at 1110am and we were at the port by 130pm - However we did not arrive on the ship until 1700!
The embarkation was a complete nightmare, we waited around in the terminal with no information for nearly 4 hours. 2 days later we discovered that the reason it took so long was due to the ship arriving in Venice 3 hours later earlier that day, meaning that by the time everyone was arriving to embark people were still waiting to disembark. I have to be fair and say MSC could have done better in this area and some sort of explanation would have been nice, even someone coming round with a drink or something, but we were left with quite a unsatisfactory impression in our mouths.
So upon arriving on the ship everything was great - we wanted to see about changing our dinner seating and even if possible get a table for 2.... Rocco in Marco Polo restaurant was SO helpful, nothing was to much problem for him, we changed our times and he even managed to obtain a table for 2 for us.
THE CABIN - (1089) was spotless, plenty of room for clothes and suitcases, a nice little dressing area and mirrors everywhere. The room itself contained, 2 separate shelving cupboards with 6 shelves in each, a double wardrobe with 6 drawers and a top shelf (plenty of hangers). The bathroom was fine with everything you needed including a bath. There was body wash and shampoo in pumps attached to the wall - no conditioner or moisturiser. 2 shower caps and 4 towels and 2 flannels. In the main room we had 2 twin beds as requested, a desk with a chair, sofa, small round table and cosy armchair, flat screen TV, mini bar and more cupboards. Beside each bed was a bedside table with lamp and cupboard with a shelf. Only thing I will say with this cabin and i believe quite a few either side, was that it could be very noisy in the morning when they clean the deck above - we didn't have an issue with this as we took ear plugs so just to be warned.
The balcony was spacious with 2 very nice chairs and a small table.
THE RESTAURANTS - We ate twice in the buffet for dinner and each time we were slightly disappoint with it, the food was a lukewarm at the most however apart from that it was fine, there was plenty of choice with a roast meat each night, pasta choice, salad, vegetables and fruit, deserts were delicious cakes or jelly. We ate in La Pergola and thought the food was fantastic, 7 course meal if you want each night with 2 choices for each, plus a vegetarian option. The food was hot and seemed fresh enough, we never felt rushed and the staff were attentive and polite.
There are also 2 outside eating areas on deck 11, one side being a grill serving burgers and chips, salad etc, this was nice with them varying the meats each day with chicken, sausages, meatballs etc. The other side was a pizza place, serving 2 or 3 different kinds of pizza - not the best pizza i have ever had but certainly nice enough. The pizza place also doubles up as a lite bite breakfast area with croissants, muffins and pastries served until around 1130.
Breakfast in the cabin was OK - we had this a few times the selection is slim and the toast was always warm/cold but again it was nice to have a light breakfast in the comfort of the cabin.
We didn't use room service at all but noticed that they charge EUR3 per plate but it is served 24hrs a day.
THE ENTERTAINMENT - We thought this was excellent, having been on P&O Ventura before i thought the entertainment was a way better than P&O, we went every night and each night there was something different. They had the usual cheesy dancers and singers (who weren't very good) but along with that they had different acts, such as trapeze artists, jugglers, Balancing and muscle acts and a few hilarious acts that I couldn't dream to explain. I think what surprised me was the originality of it all.
THE POOLS & COMMON AREA - There were 2 pools, neither of which i went in (far to cold) but they were very clean, plenty of sunbeds around and staff were always serving drinks. 2 nice Jacuzzis in the middle of the pools.
We didn't use the bars very much but there were plenty of them and all with a nice atmosphere. The coffee bar was great with excellent Italian coffee and the most delicious think hot chocolate I have ever had.
My one complaint with MSC is the drinking water, You are provided with absolutely NO drinks whatsoever - even at lunch and dinner, they have 2 water machines on deck 11 by the grill area, however the water tasted disgusting forcing you to by bottled water all the time, I was a bit surprised that even at dinner you are not offered a jug of water you are expected to by it by the bottle. Oh and the milk and the tea and coffee stations is UHT milk just so you know.
When we completed our cruise in Venice our flight was out of Verona at 1930, we were advised by the reception that our transfer to the airport would take us as soon as we disembarked in Venice at 10AM! We were not to happy about this as we had not seen Venice at all and it was advertised on the itinerary as a destination. Quite a few of us from the transfer got together and complained to guest services who eventually agreed to contact the transfer company and change the pick up time to 1400. We were thankful to get the time that we did but still ended up at Verona airport 4 hours before our flight was due to leave.