We booked this cruise with mixed feelings, based on the reviews we've read before. We live in USA and cruised in the Caribbeans with Carnival (Legend and Valor) and Norwegian. Overall, we thought that MCS was better that Carnival, and that was a surprise for us. Sure, there were some negatives with MCS, and I will list bellow some of them.
Here are some of the things we liked:
1. Design of the ship is pretty nice, modern, good quality and public area very clean
2. Room was clean and more spacious that those on Carnival (last cruise on Carnival was a room with Balcony too). Keep in mind that we have our two kids in the room, so space is important.
3. Pretty good quality food, at least comparable with Carnival. Sure, they did not have lobster, but I think the choices at the restaurant was very good too, always having a main course with fish, and other types of meat, and vegetarian.
4. Lunch buffet has a good selection, very crowded though. I didn't feel like people More
were rude and cutting in front.
5. Very good shows compared to Carnival. Million times better! They had some acrobats in their team that were quite amazing. The music was much better. And they stuck to the dancing, rather than the lame singing that the entertainment team does on Carnival.
6. TV channels on all languages, including Romanian (which is my original language)
7. You can order from the menu at the restaurant as many items as you like, and if you do not like something, you can order something else. Our waiter, DinDin was amazing.
8. The midnight grand buffet (only one night) was amazing! Besides the food which was so yummy, there was an extravaganza of arrangements made out of fruits and veggies that were extremely creative.
9. Shows were like 45 min, which I thought was the perfect length.
10. The performers in the lounges were much better quality than on Carnival
11. Check-in process was very good, because we did the check in online. Highly recommend to do that, that way you save a lot of time waiting in line.
12. We were able to drop off our bags early (around 11 am) in Barcelona, and then go back to the town and do some sightseeing, given the fact that ship left at 8 pm.
13. When you get on the ship, you have someone escort you to your room, that I found different than Carnival.
Here are some of the things that we did not like:
1. Breakfast buffet was the same every morning, no much variation from one morning to another.
2. Biggest complain was the lack of cups and glasses at the Drinking stations. They would ran out of them so quickly, and usually there was a group of people waiting around for new ones, and there was a little bit of a mob scene right there to try to get some.
3. No juices at the drinking station for lunch, just morning. Did not go for dinner buffet so not sure if the same.
4. Big push for buying bottled water, even though the drinking stations have water. This is an European thing: people don't trust water sources unless they come from a bottle. And obviously the company is banking big time on this fear, trying to sell you the bottles of water. They do give you 7 coupons for first bottles of water free (1Liter costs about 2.3 Euro plus 15% tip). Also, Europeans drink a lot of sparkling water. At the restaurant they do not bring you tap water, and I did not ask for them to bring me some (I am sure I would have gotten some strange looks had I). So we always drank bottled water.
5. Coffee is free!!! Someone said you need to pay for coffee. If you take regular coffee, no, you do not need to pay. But if you drink speciality coffee, like cappuccino, etc, then you pay. But that you need to pay on Carnival too.
6. Every announcement you hear, you have to listen to it in 5 languages. Italian is the first language. English is spoken, but not widely and not that good. Took the kids to Kids Camp and they hate it! None of the people there spoke English, all kids spoke different languages, so they had no one to interact with, other that another British little girl.
7. No animal towel (only one night) to the disappointment of my kids. :-) No biggie from me.
8. They did not refill the shower gel, so we ran out. Also of hand soap. Last night we had no soap, I called the reception, they said will take care of it. Never did.
9. You cannot order from the bar inside the restaurant or inside the theater.
10. You cannot leave restaurant with your half drank glass of wine. But if you order a bottle of wine and didn't finish it, they will keep it for you for the next evening.
11. Too often, in some of the public restrooms, we found them our of toilet paper and paper towel. Once we inform someone. It was the same 2 hours later.
In terms of excursions:
We stopped on Tunisia, Malta, Messina, Roma, and Genoa. All stops were wonderful, especially Malta. In Messina, I highly recommend to take a taxi or an excursion to Taormina (beautiful little town). Genoa is not that great, but take a trip to Portofino. Wonderful little town.
As of Tunisia, a couple of warnings:
We booked a trip for Carthage and Sidi Bou Said city. It had nothing to do with shopping. Yet the guide dragged us in some stores to see some "authentic" souvenirs. We have 15 min to visit the ruins, and 30 min to browse a shop. We had to sit and listen to a guy talk about how they extract the perfume essence from various plants (I am sure that is true, but still be aware of the trick). DO NOT BUY that 10 Euro ($15) bottles of perfume oil the way I did. It is a hoax. You might as well throw that money out the window or give it to a poor person out in the street. Also, in another store, everything was "negotiable" (they are very aggressive). The guide tries to "negotiate" a price for you. I would not recommend using your credit card there. It was obvious that the guide has arrangements with all this shops to bring the tourists there, and there was a big push for us to buy. But that was so maddening, because that is exactly what we tried to avoid, to be dragged into a shopping trip.
Then we had like 20 min to visit the museum house in Sidi Bou Said. We felt always so rushed, you barely have time to take in the places around you. Less
MSC Splendida Cruises to the Western Mediterranean