in short a wonderfull value for money. far better then the low score the ship gets in reviews
beautifull and top maintend ship,a wonderfull service, it operates smoothly.
the food was excelent (bear in mind it's a medetenian cusine)
the main theater evening shows are a hugh cross family fun.
the entertainment in the bars and venues need some improvment.
the announcements in 5-6 different languages are a menace
thing to keep in mind:
most of the passengers are european, and the ship is tuned to it's european audience.
* While reading keep in mind that it's my first cruise so I got no other cruise expiriances to compare with, and that I was cruising with young kids, so my focus was on getting them entertained.
First impressions, cabin and public areas:
MSC Fantasia was evrything but what I expected. I read many reviews in advance. many of them gave MSC low rates, there for I came to Venice with a slight negative opinion about the MSC Fantasia. Most of the things mentioned in those reviews turned out to be false.
What striked me most at my first impression of the ship was her elegance. The combination of a Italian elegance (my spouse thought it to be a little kitsch, but I absolutely loved it ) and the top shape of it. It looked like a brand new ship . I would not guessed it's a 5 years old ship.
It is spotless clean and beautiful and this is true all over the ship.
The cabin was more roomy then I have expected. We were 2 adults and 2 young kids sharing an interior room, with the kids sleeping in bunk beds. I was so relived to see that the room size was not an issue (as I feared before hand that a too small cabin may ruine our vecation)
Everything works smoothly on the MSC fantasia. I expected a long embarkation process, but the opposite was true, the embarkation and disembarkation in Venice really were a great surprise. I belive it took less then 15 minutes since we set a foot in the terminal and until we were in our cabin. Our luggage was brought to the room just a few minutes after.
the service was super. Always there was a crew member near by, and they were always handy and willing to help.
Most of the crew members were not a native English speakers, but their English level was adequate. You can manage easily onboard speaking English, if you don't mind the forign accent (did not bothered me, as my accent also is far from being perfect)
The multilingual announcements were too tedious. I joked on it saying each time they announce, it was my q to take an aspirin.
This brings me to another crucial point, the fellow members on board.
As mentioned in many discussions over the message boards, the main part of the passangers are eauropeans. There were lots of Italians, French people and many Asians. The first time I came across Americans during this cruise was on the 4 day on shore. We met a couple who cruised with NCL. For sure there were Americans and Brits onboard ,but they are the minority.
An Italian (low budget) cruise ship sailing from Venice, it is not a surprise that the majority of the people onboard were Italians.
I find it a lovely expiriance. Even if you are accustomed to American fellow passengers, I Suggest trying this European atmosphere at least once.
Food and beverages:
The food was another great surprise. The level of the food in the M.D.R moved from very good to brilliant (on our second night there was a tribute to Italy night. That was one of the best Italian meals I have ever had. Not falling from the standard of a fine Italian restaurant).
Bear in mind that the ship presents an Italian/medetreniane cuisine. If you are fine with that, then expect to have great culinary moments.
The buffet was super as well. Always had a fresh and warm supply with a large verity. almost never have we encountered long queue.
I wish there was a widder selection of speciality restaurants. But there is'nt beside the tex-mex restaurant (we tried it once and we were very content with it)
There were no vegtebals in the breakfast buffet (I assume it's just a matter of different cultural preferences
As for beverages, so many was written about this point.
The price of beverages onboard in my opinion is reasonable. A 2.5$ (2 euro) for a cup of cappuccino, or 1.5$ for an espresso is more than ok. Same goes with cocktails.
There is no free coffee in the m.d.r. but there is a superb coffee bars nearby.
There's the Allegrisimo all inclusive package. It costs 30$ per person per day
It was absolutely irrelevant for me, as it means I had to pay 90$ per day for my entire family. I did not even came close to spend that amount of momey each day
I bought a soft drink package in 50$ + a wine package for another 100$ and that pretty much covered this need.
I strongly suggest not to preorder any packages or services in advance.
a. Prices can drop sharply during the cruise.
b. See what your actual needs and preferations in real time
The shows in the main theater each night were a huge fun.
A combination of singers, dancers and acrobats (cirque du soleil style). It was a great all family entertainment.
There was a good atmosphere in the bars ,casino and venues, as there were plenty of night owls on board.
I did not like the live music in the different bars, Too much of a kitschy music.
I wish they put a jazz quartet to play live jazz rather than "the lady from ipanima" and Frank sinatra kind of music.
The kids club work just fine. I wish my kids were more willing to stay there for longer hours. I did spoke with parents who's kids stayed there most of the day.
(it was cute to see a chain of club kids holding hands together and crossing the lobby on their way to the buffet for lunch, or entering the main theater to watch together the main evening show)
I read complainets about being nickel and dimed on board MSC ships. ( I named it MSC -More Sure Charges:) ) but seriously now, I don't see why. Rather than the issue of coffee and water outside the buffet, the entrence to the solarium costs about 50$ for a cruise long pass, and the relaxation zone in the spa also as an entrance fee (you can get a cruise long access for a couple for a sum of 100$) according to what I saw in other cruise lines websites
many of them also charge entrance fee for those areas.
The aqua park was fun for the kids. Not too crowded. Also there is a lovely aft pool on deck 15 (it suppose to be for adults only, but no one enforce that).
there is a small water slide. Far more moderate then the monster slides you can see on board other ships, these days. In a strange way it was sufficient for my kids (the older is 8 y.o) as I believe a faster and longer slide might have frigthend them.
There is no kids aqua park, and this is a little miss.
on the msc Prezosia (msc Fanatasia bigger sister) they put a kids aqua park instead of the sports arena, which in my opinion is a better choice.
as I said, it's a great ship, we had a wonderfull holiday and got a great value for our money.