We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise with MSC. We booked the cruise in Jan and then started to read the reviews, so to be honest we went with very little expectations. Bearing in mind also that we paid only â‚¬1000 in total, including tips, for myself and my husband.
We boarded in Barcelona. WE stayed in Barcelona the night before and therefore took the metro to the port (Drassanes stop) It is a good 20-30min walk from the metro to where the ship was docked. When you arrive at the port area where all the tourists are turn right and continue walking with the ocean to your left. You will eventually see the ship and a big bridge that you need to walk across to get to the ship. WE had checked in online so all we had to do was drop our bags and we were on the ship in a matter of minutes. AS we boarded we were met by lots of MSC staff trying to sell us everything from spa packages to drinks packages. It was a bit overwhelming. I would definitely advise you to take the info and read it in your own time. All the offers are available throughout the cruise.
The ship is magnificent. We had an inside cabin and being slightly claustrophobic I was delighted to see that the room was quite spacious, especially in comparison with most European hotel rooms.
In regards to the food, I could not see what other people were complaining about. Ok it wasn't piping hot but you're on a ship and they're trying to feed maybe 2000 people at the one time. What do you expect? We ate almost all our meals on the ship and every day we got to try something different. The buffet and the dining room are included in the price and there is plenty of choice between the two. We ate the last night in the Tex mex just to see what it was like.
We knew when we booked the cruise that we would have very little spending money so we did some research before we went and decided to try to find our way around the port stops by ourselves
We quickly realised that the ship had docked a long way from the port entrance and nowhere near where we expected. MSC were running a shuttle to city centre for â‚¬15pp but we decided against this. If you walk for about 20 mins following the signs for the public bus/city centre you will get to the port entrance . Take bus no 35 and this will bring you to La Jolette metro stop. There is no way you could walk to here, it's a busy road and took about 15min on the bus. WE walked from La Jolette to the old port and got the petit train to notre dame de la garde, This cost â‚¬7 each and was well worth it.
We docked in Genoa on a Sunday. The port is right in the city so you do not need to use public transport. The street markets were open all along the waterfront and we were quite happy to amble around here and around all the little streets. We decided against the aquarium as it was â‚¬20pp but if you do plan on going I suggest you go early as there were very long queues there by lunchtime.
We planned on using the local bus to get to Pompeii and had our research done for this. However when we got off the ship and started walking around Naples, we didn't feel comfortable. It felt unsafe and was dirty and just horrible, so we took a tourist tram out to Pompeii with "Tram Via del Versuvio" for â‚¬18pp. It left just outside the port terminal at 12.30 and had us back to the ship at 16.30. Pompeii was amazing but I would recommend either getting a guided tour or at least the audio guide so you can understand what you're looking at!
We really enjoyed Palermo but are probably not the best to review it as we found a lovely little park in the city and spent a few hours just chilling out there eating ice cream. We did wander around the shops for a bit and we liked the mix of chain stores and independent shops.
WE did the MSC Carthage & Medina excursion this day and it was well worth the â‚¬51pp. Our guide was brilliant. He had so much knowledge and was able to deliver it in a very entertaining way. This tour had a nice mix of history, culture and shopping. I would defiantly recommend it. We were advised where to buy when we were in the medina as there are certain shops that just sell cheap imports and others that are run by a co-operative where local people make the products.
Other things that probably need a mention are:
Drinks: Alcohol is expensive and you have to remember that 15% service charge is added to all drinks. My husband bought 14 beer vouchers for â‚¬62 but they still worked out at â‚¬5.10 per beer and it was less than a pint. A can of coke/sprite was â‚¬3.11. A litre of bottled water was â‚¬2.65 which we didn't find expensive as there was water available in the buffet 24hrs so the only time you needed to buy water was at dinner in the restaurant or maybe to have a bottle in your room.
We read lots of complaints about smoking. We didn't find this an issue and we are both non smokers and come from a country where smoking in prohibited in most buildings.
We also read complaints about the lack of English spoken. Every member of staff we met could speak perfect English among other languages. Yes we were probably in the minority as English speakers but you're on an Italian ship in the Mediterranean. What do you expect? If you want to be surrounded by English speakers then just go to an English speaking country!!!.
If we were to find fault we would have to admit that the evening entertainment didn't suit us. The shows in the Theatre were great but very short. There were other forms of entertainment but these were all in the bars and we're not really drinkers and would have preferred if there was a better choice of entertainment or even a cinema to go to at night.
To concluded, we had a really enjoyable time. The staff were amazing and extremely friendly, the food was plentiful and tasty and it gave us an opportunity to visit new places.
Our total onboard bill for the 7 days including purchasing 2 MSC hoodies came to â‚¬330 so we're not complaining.
Thanks you MSC