We regularly cruise but this was the first time we had selected MSC for our cruise holiday. After reading the reviews I did have some concerns as to what to expect but I worked on the principle that the itinerary was excellent and the price very reasonable so that was the starting point if you want luxury then book another cruise line. However I was really impressed with all aspects of the cruise which far surpassed my expectations. We flew from Edinburgh as it is nearer our home in Northumberland and it was a very painless process. Upon arrival in Venice we found we were the only couple on the flight going to the Port we were then joined by an Italian couple and had a seamless transfer by private coach.. It was only 12 noon when we arrived so we expected some delay in boarding but we were advised we could go straight on board and our cabin was ready for us to use. A very short while later our luggage arrived and we were able to enjoy all the ships facilities. The ship was very well laid out public areas were bright ,clean and well maintained. We had an inside cabin on deck 11 towards the rear of the vessel. A few steps and we could be out on the rear deck to enjoy superb views over the ports of call. The only down side was we were directly under the buffet restaurant and it could be noisy when food preparation cleaning etc was taking place.
We paid for the Allegrisimo all inclusive drinks package which cost us 20 uk pounds per person per day which we felt was good value as it included soft drinks water coffee icecream as well as a reasonable selection of alcoholic drinks.
Settled with a glass of wine in hand we then enjoyed the most spectacular views as we sailed out of venice port. Wonderful a highlight of the trip.
The next day found us in Ancona and we opted for a trip to the seaside town of Serola it was a good opportunity to take in the local countryside but that was the only trip we booked. The town of Ancona has some interesting buildings and monuments and is worth an explore but it doesn't have the breathtaking architecture of other Italian cities.
Our next stop was Kotor in Montenegro and we opted for a local sightseeing bus tour along the Fjord to some of the nearby villages really picturesque and at 10 euros a head good value. The bus is open topped and has a personal headset to listen to the narration. The whole trip was added to by the fact that it was such a beautiful warm sunny day.
Corfu is a regular holiday haunt so we opted to take the shuttle bus into town and have a walk around the bay towards Mon Repos Palace very pleasant the only down side was we left Corfu so early in the afternoon for our next stop Santorini so I always felt I was watching the clock here.
Santorini was a first for us and I was so impressed with the Island .We got on a minibus and went to Oia stunning scenery but very busy I would hate to see it when there are several cruise ships in.
Kefelonia is an old favourite of ours and instead of following the crowds we walked away from the town to the right over the small hill to the Italian memorial which is signposted and then around Finari point and lighthouse and then back along the road to Argostoli. Its a three mile round trip but there are a couple of bars to stop at. So quiet and peaceful and we didnt see another tourist until we got back to Argostoli.
Dubrovnik was very easy to visit as the ship put on a shuttle bus but if there are more than a couple of you check out the prices of the local taxis at the port as you may find this is just as cheap and saves the hastle of queueing for the buses.
We were very fortunate to be placed on a table with three other English couples who were of similar ages to ourselves and we had a ball. We were always the last out of the restaurant on an evening and we could not speak highly enough of the wait staff and the service we received. The food was really good and I am quite a fussy eater but the pasta and risotto served every night were delicious and there was always plenty of choice. If you like great big American size steaks this isn't the cruise for you but I thought the food was some of the best I 've had.
All in all I have no criticism other than the conduct of some fellow passengers who seemed to think that they were above queueing. We had a very large group of Austrians on board who wore bright red tour company lanyards throughout.and, whilst I know not all of the group were guilty of this behaviour, it seemed that forming an orderly queue and waiting your turn did not apply to them. The staff did their best but when you have one person controlling access to the bus you can't see who is coming in from the side and circumventing the queue. It could have really spoiled our trip but we made light hearted banter of it each night when we compared notes to see which of the four couples at our table had witnessed the most devious queue jumping. I saw one elderly lady with a tender ticket number 5 turn it over so the number was hidden and join the queue for the second tender cutting a good hour off her wait time in Santorini. Ingenious we should all do that.
The other issue that wasnt really enforced was the hand sanitisation which I think is really important. Sanitisers are available but no one monitors the use before entering a restaurant or food service area which is usually a pre requisite on other cruise ships.
All in all an excellent good value for money cruise and i wouldn't hesitate to book again with MSC .