The MSC Armonia does have some mixed reviews but really you do have to have an open mind and just go with it, and not get too worked up over little niggles.
We have just returned from a cruise we took on 25th may 2012, visiting Venice, Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Argostoli, Athens and Kotor.
The transfer and check-in procedure from Verona airport to Venice terminal was very straightforward.
We spent some time having a wander around the ship and having lunch, while we waited for our bags to arrive. People were complaining at this point already about their luggage, they just needed to chill.
Rooms were great with lots of storage as has been described in past reviews.
Staff were welcoming, and a smile went a long way. If you saw how some of the passengers treated or talked to them, you could understand how a few of them could look fed up. But we had no probs with any of the staff we encountered.
Yes, some parts of the ship, e.g by the pool area could be noisy but More
there were lots of quiet areas to escape to.
Past reviews have complained of overcrowded lifts but if you avoided the middle of the ship and went to either side, there was no problem.
Food has always got a mixed review, and it is just that, but I found the MDR for breakfast was great.
I would strongly recommend a few sessions in the spa, it was relaxing, and cheaper if you pre-booked. However, by day 4 of the cruise, they would normally have some really good deals.
The allegrissimo drinks package is a must. You save loads, even if you take the non alcoholic version.
We found the cappuccino gorgeous but avoid the hot chocolate, unless you like it thick.
Duty free shops- know your prices before you go, we saved an absolute fortune on watches. Some of the fragrances were reasonably priced also.
Shore excursions are really easy and much cheaper to DIY in most ports except Ancona and Santorini.
In Ancona, we did a ships tour, not too far out but just to riviera del conero. This meant you did not spend hours travelling and the tour was not as expensive as other tours. Very glad we did this tour as we were taken to some beautiful parts. There were not many taxis seen, no English speakers and not much to see in this port otherwise.
Santorini was best done by ship's tour. You paid more but got off the boat quicker. As this was a tender port the queues were long. If there were more than 2 ships in port you could be waiting more than 45 mins just to get to Thira town.
We did a taxi tour in Argostoli and recommend a visit to Assos instead of Drogarati,(you can just go to wookey hole to see stalactites and stalagmites). I booked with a company called First Class Taxis in Kefalonia over the internet (no payment req until after the tour) and highly recommend them.
Athens was a bit of a dump, so just do a taxi tour. The drivers all speak good English and are quite cheap at the moment as there are so many of them. Do not do hop on hop off, as although it seems good value which it is, it is very frustrating, as you have to wait for the bus to turn up to take you to the next site, which can take up to 20 mins so lots of time is waisted.
We found the cruise exceeded our expectations especially from some of the negative reviews we had read.
But, you woke up to a different port of call everyday, you did not have to keep packing and unpacking, you could do as much or as little as you liked and the weather was fab, what more could you ask for. Less
It is very easy to just get off the cruise ship and take a 2 euro ride on the bus into town. They run very frequently just outside the cruise terminal gates.
Again, a taxi tour is very easy to do, but a walk around the old town is quite pleasant.
A beautiful port and very easy to do a taxi tour. However, the old town is worth having a stroll around in. It was definitely worth the climb up to the old fort and castle ruins, but this does require moderate fitness.
Have cameras ready either when you approach motor or leave as it had some stunning scenery.
If you know there are going to be more than 2 ships in port (look up cruise timetables.com), definitely do the ship's tour as this saves time both in disembarking and queuing, and there will be a shortage of taxi drivers and buses.
The little towns of Oia and Fira can be a bit packed with tourists but the views are lovely.
It is not worth taking any sunset tours as the views from your cruise ship are the best.
It is very easy to catch the people mover from the port to venice main terminal. From here, you cross over the main canal and catch the vaporetto no 1 which is the scenic route of the grand canal. Venice is very busy, but if you want to do something a bit different then visit murano and burano which are easily accessed by the vaporetto (water taxi).
If you just want to meander through the narrow streets, no problem, but the walk from the people mover can take approx 1 hr especially if you get lost!
St Mark's Square is really just a place that is on people's tick list, but really there are lots of beautiful buildings and churches that are easy and free to view.