Okay this is will be a long review so I apologise in advance!!!!
We had sailed with MSC Fantasia in 2010 and had a wonderful experience so I was very eager to sail with them again. The ship was immaculate, the staff were great, the entertainment fantastic and my daughter just loved the kids club so when it came to booking our next cruise I couldn't go past MSC. In fact I didn't even look at other liners.
MSC were fantastic as always with Embarkation. We had our MSC club card which meant we could go into a shorter line at Barcelona however we didn't even need to use them. Port staff seen that we were travelling with kids and gave us a priority card which meant check in was much quicker. Queing time was no more than 5 minutes and we were on the ship quicker than you could say bon voyage!!!
Disembarktion was a completely different story. Our ship didn't arrive into port until 1pm yet we had to be out of our rooms at 9am. Our cabin steward knocked at our door at 9.10am and kindly asked us to vacate the room and preceded to stand outside our room till 9.35am until we left!!! I would say something if Barcelona was the main stop but it wasn't and with a 3&5 year old I thought we could have been given a little bit of grace. Surely when ship arrives into port at 9am the passengers aren't expected to vacate their cabins at 5am!!!
The ship was immaculate. Extremely beautiful lounges etc and as always spotlessly clean. Every deck you go to you will see staff constantly cleaning.
We were in Cabin 13007 on the 13th deck. Room was beautifully appointed and large enough for us and we were travelling with a 5 and 3 year old. One thing I will mention is that the lock for the balcony door is at kids level however our door was quite stiff so the kids didn't have a chance of opening it. Not too sure if it was as stiff in other rooms and this would be a concern for me.
Oh dear where do I begin!!! What a let down. Having previously travelled with the Splendida's sister ship I was utterly disappointed with the shows etc. Honestly I found that there wasn't one good show. Now in fairness I did only go to 3 but my husband endured all 6 for the kids sake. I say 6 as one night for some reason there wasn't any. Now don't get me wrong there were some elements of some shows good. For example one night consisted of a hula hoop girl who in fairness only made two mistakes and was mildly entertaining. Following Hula hoop girl a juggler came on and his slot seemed like an eternity. Rubbish was not the word for the juggler and he made 8 mistakes while juggling only 3 pieces in his 15 minute slot!!! However, before I was ready to jump overboard a chap came on that did hand silhouettes and he was absolutely fantastic!!! But in all honesty and Im trying to be nice here most of the shows were rubbish. My husband did enjoy the acrobatic show immensely though. One night the sound was turned down as kids from the kids club were performing before the main event but they fogot to turn it back up so the show was like watching a 14 year olds school performance!!!
The singers etc in most bars were ok nothing great but I enjoyed having a dance with the kids. I will say this FOR ALL THE CASINO STAFF as I promised them I would. The musicians in the bar above the casino are absolutely brutal!!! I'm a terrible singer but I would be more enjoyable to listen to than they were. The casino staff are out of their minds with crazy having to listen to them and the players at the tables were complaining. One nice player for Isreal actually brought ear plugs with him one night!!! How those musicians got that job is beyond me. Honestly you have never heard worse!!! The casino staff were begging us to go and complain!!!
Oh don't even get me started on this one. Rude is not the word. I loved the staff on the fantastia however this ship is a very different kettle of fish. I was shouted at by the maitre d of the Villa verde restaurant on my first night as I was trying to get our daughter gluten free food. He shoved the GF menu at me and stood over me while I read it shouting "order now I have better things to be doing and I have to go to a completely different floor to order this for you". Our tablemates were flabbergasted and at this point we didn't even know them. Honestly he was so rude and as Im a fairly non confrontational person I ordered the first thing I read for her!! I felt so under pressure and embarrassed and honestly I have not been spoken to that way since I was a child. That same maitre D spoke to another couple while escorting them out of the dining room for complaining saying well next time choose a different cruise!!! That man was so rude and nasty I wouldn't put an animal down by likening him to it.
This seemed to be an ongoing theme on this ship. A waitress in the wine bar firmly gave out to my husband for taking our glasses of champagne the night previous to the dining room. Ok I can understand that they don't want glasses taking to the restaurant but we honestly didn't know but the way she spoke to my husband was downright rude. This same waitress scowled constantly and never smiled in the 7 day trip. My 3 year daughter loved the croquettes in the wine bar and I asked for some more for her and the response I was given by her was well you already had one and threw her eyes up to heaven while she went off to bring 1 more croquette back to the table!!! Now every parent thinks there children are adorable and mine are absolutely adorable and playful however my 3 year old tried to speak to her and she very rudely ignored them and walked away. Your heart would melt if you seen my 3 year olds face.
Many staff members were similar albeit not as rude as the two previous examples. Saying that we did encounter some fabulous staff. Our waiter at Villa Verde Surisia was a gem and very nice as was our cabin steward. The staff in the casino were great (if not too lucky!!!) as were the cleaning staff who always had a friendly smile.
Now before I start on this don't get me wrong I believe in having extra perks when travelling in the Yacht club, this is why you pay extra money but for YC passengers the priority given for elevators causes major inconvenience for every other passenger. Now there were 4 lifts on our floor which was the 13th floor and there were many many times that all lifts completely passed our floor to go the YC floor. Now I wouldn't at all mind 2 lifts but all 4 being available for priority is a bit much. Taking the stairs wasn't a viable option for us as we had 2 push chairs.
Loved loved loved the food on the Fantasia but again this is a very different story. In the end I eneded up ordering one from each of the eight course so I could be assured of getting at least one edible dish. We generally ate in the restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner but did try the buffet also. The breakfast was much better in the restaurant compared to the buffet. I will highly recommend the salmon omelette!!! The juices are from concentrate and not quite nice but still drinkable as is the coffee etc. Regarding the lunch and dinner, I had better food in hospital!!! There were some nice dishes but they were few a far between.
The Kids Club
As mentioned earlier my daughter just loved the kids club last time however this time my girls lasted just 15 mins. They said it was boring and the staffs were cross. I asked them to try it again however when I brought them up there were about 15 kids there, half of whom were asleep and the other half watching a movie in Italian with one male staff member. The staff member looked so disinterested so we decided not to leave the kids there. When we were leaving we heard him aggressively saying shhhh!! to the kids. MSC claim to be a family line so why not hire some qualified crÃ¨che teachers. We left the ship 7 days ago and my 5 & 3 year old are still talking about how cross the teachers were.
Ok all in all it was a very different experience to our first MSC cruise. Did we have a good time ... yes we did as we made it ourselves. I went on the ship beaming and I came off it beaming!! The kids loved dancing in the bars in the evening and we loved watching and joining them. They loved the pool and we loved sharing it with them. I loved our allegrisiomo package and used it to it full extent!!!! The gym was great with good opening hours of 6am -- 10pm. All in all would I sail with MSC again I'd say maybe. We didn't NOT enjoy this cruise infact we had a great time as we made our own fun but our experience this time round will make me check out other liners first which I didn't do last time.
OK very rude staff, terrible food, shockinginly bad kids club with inexpierienced and disinterested teachers and terrible entertainment but great kids, one great husband and some fantastic and interesting table mates made one GREAT holiday.