We are both in our 40's and fairly laid back cruisers. We travelled with our teenage children (13 & 17).
We have cruised with Royal Caribbean 31 times (Diamond Plus) and this was our first cruise with MSC. The main reason for trying MSC was firstly the price, half what RCCL wanted cruise only on the Splendour and secondly the itinerary was better with a port of call everyday.
We flew into Marco Polo on the day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Crown Plaza Venice East, which is on the mainland. I would highly recommend this hotel, it was half the price for a 4* hotel compared to a 2* hotel in Venice itself. Directly next to the hotel is a Train Station costing 2.80 euros into Venice.
We spent the whole of the 1st day exploring Venice before returning to the hotel via the train - all very simple.
The second day was very problematic! We caught the train to Venice, it was a very wet and windy day, while crossing the 'bridge' to Venice we noticed there wasn't a single cruise ship in port - the port had been closed for High winds!!
We made our way to where the ship should have been and were told at the terminal that the ship was making it's way to Ravenna, 2 hours down the coast from Venice. We would be taken there by coach. This is when the waiting and lack of organisation began. On the side of the terminal our bags were taken away and we were given boarding numbers for the coaches, ours was 14, we proceeded into the terminal waiting area to find they were still only on number 3!! 3 hours later we boarded the coach for the 2 hour drive to Ravenna.
the arrival in Ravenna was were the lack of information really started, it was 7pm and we were tired, hungry and thirsty. We followed the group in front of us into a very large and cold marquee. We were greeted with the sight of at least 500 massed in a large 'scrum', trying to get to one gap where the security was. It took us 2 hours to get through security and have ourselves and our bags screened. We then had to had over our passports in another shorter queue to get our cruise boarding cards - we got through there around 9.30pm. We were let out of the building and were told were to walk to the ship, we thought 'that's it we can get on and the holiday starts here!' OH NO NO!!! We turned a corner, all the 500+ people how had been waiting in the Marquee were there queuing to get on the ship - WE HAD TO GO THROUGH SECURITY AGAIN to get on the ship - NOT HAPPY, this was just stupidity. We got on the ship at 10.40, then to be told we had to got to a lounge to have our credit card swiped before we could use the cruise card at the bars!! 11.20pm we sat down to eat in the buffet b/c the dining room had closed.
I tried to put the embarkation out of my mind, purely so I could then try and enjoy our holiday together, I'm pleased I did because we all had a wonderful time on board the MSC Musica.
I thought the ship itself was excellent, modern, very clean with very good public areas. The cabins were good, a little smaller than RCCL, our carpet was starting to show signs of wear and tear but nothing bad.
The ship is let down generally by the Bar Staff, we struggled to find a waiter who wanted to 'wait' and very few of the crew have smiles on their faces. I'm not sure if this is from lack of training or lack of incentive with money. Most of the passengers seem to be on some sort of drinks package, we had the Allgrisimo package, and I think MSC need to sort a better way of the crew receiving tips. We paid for our package before the cruise and I'm wondering if the crew receive anything at all for the drinks they served us?
I would be prepared to pay 10% of the cost of every drink a waiter brings me as a service charge. We only paid around Â£20 per person per day for the drinks package and after around 4 drinks we were 'in front' but struggling to get service, or at least someone who wanted to serve.
I enjoyed the food, I would say it's not quite upto RCCL normal cruise food, but not far off. The buffet (Windjammer on RCCL) had good food but not as good choice as RCCL. The dining room had excellent menus each night, there were 8 courses if you wanted but the food was a little bland on a few evenings.
We enjoyed all the ports of call and the weather was very kind to us once we set sail from Ravenna.
1st port was Bari, Italy - We enjoyed walking around the old town, very pretty.
2nd port was Katakolon, Greece - We have been here before so we walked to the shops had a look around and then had a few drinks next to the harbour.
3rd port was Santorini, Greece - We had to leave here at 2pm b/c we did 2 ports in one day, sailing to Mykonos for 7pm. We rode the donkeys up the hill (the donkeys are a lot better cared for now from when we last visited 6 years ago). We walked around Fira anf found an excellent rooftop Restaurant with views over the back of the island.
In Mykonos we walked the streets, shops and bars. A very enjoyable stop, very pretty town.
In Athens we did the hop on hop off bus tour which leaves from the port, this was very good value and took us all around Athens and to the Acropolis. We enjoyed the tour but not too keen on Athens - very very run down.
The next port was Corfu, we have been here a few times before, even though it's lovely we decided to stay on the ship and have a day of rest seeing the sun was blazing down w/o a cloud in the sky.
The last port was Dubrovnik, we walked to the old town, taking 45 mins, and paid 70 kuna for the 'wall walk'. We loved Dubrovnik, so quaint and very clean.
Debarkation was as per RCCL, wait for your colour to be called and walk off the ship to claim your luggage in the hall.
Overall I was very pleased with this cruise, the first day was a nightmare but from then on we really enjoyed ourselves apart from the service being hit and miss.