Booked this cruise 4 weeks before we travelled. We still enjoyed a the "free" kids price and got a 5% discount as this was our second MSC cruise and had joined their cruise club last year. The only compromise was that we couldn't get a balcony cabins as they had all been sold so we opted for an oceanview on deck 8.
The itinerary was Venice-Ancona-Dubrovnik-Corfu-Gythion-Cephalonia-Kotor-Venice. Time in each port was ok with one exception, Kotor was far too short as you need longer.
Venice is a great port to embark any ship. The airport is nearby and if time allows I recommend you get the water bus from the airport to the cruise terminal. It costs 15 Euro each, takes 2 hours but is a great introduction to Venice and delivers you straight to your ship.
Armonia was a great ship. It is smaller than the Musica we sailed on last year but amenities were just as good and we found the smaller ship less busy and friendlier. As always with MSC the ship was always clean and well cared for. The ship is easy to find your way around although not all the lifts and stairwells access all floors.
Our cabin was small. It would be ok for two people but we had our 14 year daughter with us too. Thats said it was comfortable enough and the weather was great so we didnt have to spend too much time in the cabin. Cabin was clean and serviced twice a day. Lots of storage space (even for 3 of us) but the room lacked a safe and I never got to the bottom of whether or not this was the case in every cabin or just ours.
Food in the main dining room and buffet was generally good quality; we only had one bad dish. Like all buffets on larger ships it was manic at times but with careful planning you could find a seat easily. The pizza station was really popular and the guy making the pizza deserved a medal as he made pizza 13 hours a day non-stop and as fast as he made it it was eaten! Drinks were reasonably prized and comparable to the ports we visited. We bought the DoReMi kids drinks vouchers (28 Euro for 10) as they allowed you to have all soft drinks including non-alcoholic cocktails, smoothies and ice cream.
Service on Armonia was better than Musica but still not 100% perfect. Bar service could be painfully slow particularly in the two pool bars, even when youve waited to order it could take up to 15 minutes for the drinks to arrive! Thats said service was friendly and English is well understood.
Excursions were expensive as a 14 year old pays adult prices on MSC. The two we took were ok but the one in Kotor was excellent thanks to our guide.
Entertainment on MSC is fun but not great. Passengers are from many countries so shows have to be visual in nature. Armonias entertainment team worked hard but its not West End standard. The night time pool parties on deck 11 were always fun and rounded off a good day.
Disembarkation worked well. We booked a St Marks Square shuttle boat with airport transfer. This worked easily but you will arrive at the airport by 4pm so if your flight back is later this may prove too early for some (we had to wait 5 hours for our flight).
Overall a great cruise. MSC wont be to everyones taste but for a family looking for a relaxed cruise in the sun we feel you cant beat them. Well done MSC and thanks.