Prior to this cruise we sailed with all major cruise lines except for Costa & MSC. Our best overall line is Princess cruises, but also for different reasons we love Celebrity, NCL and RCI.
Reading various review about MSC we were a bit confused. Beautiful ships, but so many negative reviews. We just could not believe it. What we found was a very nice and interesting experience, with its own strong and weak points.
Things that we found to be wonderful. Absolutely gorgeous ship. Great European ... I'd say Italian design and decor. Very modern and stylish. Beautiful atrium, large and small cozy lounges. Terrific entertainment. We attended nightly shows in the main theater, and found them interesting. In addition from great ... even opera-like voices there were nice dancers, and amazing gymnasts, acrobats etc, different every night. During our cruises we enjoy smaller scaled entertainment... and I feel this is one of MSC's very strong points. Music was everywhere - atrium, More
Poeti lounge, Zebra and in many other venues. I do not remember all names of entertainers, but especially we liked Italian guitar duo, Trio Stravinsky, English popular song singers in Poeti bar, tenor Giuseppe, both females singers in the Theater.
We try to go to Europe as often as we can, but with our American short vacation it is not always easy. On this cruise we enjoyed a company of people from all over Europe. I met and had interesting conversations with the guests from Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Switzerland etc.
Our cabin was 9187, regular balcony room. I find its design pretty modern and convenient. I think bed was a bit hard, but my husband could not agree with me. Cabin had everything necessary bathrobes, fan, shampoo and gel dispensers, shower cap. We like balcony furniture, and balcony glass.
Food is usually a very controversial topic. We enjoyed it overall. Breakfasts in Lido buffet were usual cruise breakfasts with everything necessary, except for salmon, although smoked herring was pretty good. There was no service for juices or coffee, so we used juice machine for cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit and orange juices. I think adding several more machines would be helpful as very often there was a line. Juices, water and coffee was available throughout a day. I heard some complaints that before this was not an options, as well as free water with ice in the Main dining room. We used Pompiano buffet for our lunch, and found selection of meats, fish, pasta, salads (both pre-made and salad bar) to be more than adequate. We usually do not eat pizza and other fast food on our cruises, but liked focaccia. Dinners in the dining room were enjoyable as well. Nice, attentive service, various selections of international menu, everyday menu etc. One thing we felt MSC could improve on was steaks.. They were very tough, and we felt that it was not cook's fault, just not the best pieces of meat. Other offerings - salads, soups, pasta, other meat, fish, seafood, desserts were quite pleasant.
We cruised in Caribbean and Bahamas about 15 times, and picked this itinerary, because we wanted to see Jamaica and Honduras for the first time, as well as our previously enjoyed Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Although we usually prefer Eastern Caribbean we had extremely nice time in all ports. Drove around Cozumel stopping in developed beach areas and wild ocean coast, had a great time with Victor Bodden tour in Roatan, snorkeled right near the port at Wreck of the Cali (tons of fish!!!) in Grand Cayman, and had very unusual excperience rafting on Martha Brae in Jamaica. The last tour was MSC sponsored one, nicely organized.
Couple of other observations. We had a balcony, so my husband who usually tries to get away from the crowds could enjoy time outside. If we did not have this luxury, he would be outside on promenade deck... and here is a problem. No chairs or loungers to seat on.
Another thing I liked was lectures. Usually most lines have port talks about jewelry and other stores on shore, but lectures are something you do not see very often. Poesia offered four lectures. I attended two of them - about Mexican civilizations and Pirates of Caribbeans, both of which were very interesting.
One small minus - we usually like to play mini-golf, but do not like to go to a special place and wait for special ours to get equipment. Also 15 Euros security deposit for a book seemed strange.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized and smooth.
Will I sail with this company again? We would love to sail with MSC again. Probably not in Mediterranean where stops are somewhat short, and from what we heard too many kids on-board. In other places, including Caribbeans (if itinerary will fit our interests) most definitely. If MSC starts cruises out of NYC area, or Boston - definitely! Absolutely loved ship and ambiance! Less
Our cabin was 9187. Great views, quiet location, right distance to the elevators. closets were normal size, enough for two people. Bed was a bid hard for my taste. Nice balcony furniture. This cabin had a chair instead of a sofa, if you want sofa, you need to book larger balcony room.
We did not take ship excursions as it was our thirs visit, but rented a car. Went to southwest beach area and then drove to Punta Sur, and Eastern side of an island. Loved wild wavy uninhibited beaches and lagoons. In our previous visits we went to San Gervasio ruins which while we enjoyed.. are not as interesting as in main land Mexico. Pier Punta Langosta where our ship was docked is a nice, modern place with many stores for last minute purchases.
Last time we missed Jamaica due to the strong winds. We had a great excursion booked with Marva (Dunn's falls, White river tubing, beach), but all we could do was to waive to the island. This time it was somewhat short stop, only till 3PM, so we did not want to drive for too long. We picked ship's excursion - Rafting on Martha Brae river. It was great and unusual experience. We were brought to a beautiful area, which looked like a botanical garden and offered welcoming punch, later we were seated into the rafts. Two people per raft. Then we had 3 miles of turquoise water, surrounded by tropical forest. Nice and relaxing. Time to time we saw sellers on the banks of the river which offered souvenirs, drinks. Our "driver" was telling us about his life, singing songs, trying to sell his crafts :) (well we were going to give him a nice tip anyway :) ) Port area was nice, and welcoming.
This was our 5th visit of the island so we have done it all before. Previously we snorkeled with Captain Marvins and swam with stingrays, attended Hell & Turtle Farms. This time we did not have any special plans, but somebody recommended me snorkeling just of the shore at Wreck of the Cali, which is right in George Town. What can I say? It was great... right of the shore you are getting into a sea of fish! Large silver one, smaller yellow with stripes, purple ones.
We booked a tour with Victor Bodden. Had great communications before our stop, and nice tour. Our guide drove us around the island showing East side.. beautiful, but very poor place, then we went to the Victor's Monkey Business. Small zoo. We were able to get into the cages and had fun playing with monkeys and birds. Then we spent some time at the West beach. Beach itself was really nice and pristine, although very crowded and filled with local sellers. Roatan was a short stop 8AM - 2PM, so we did not have a time to enjoy beach at Mahogany bay were ship was docked. It looked lovely.