We have just returned from a week long cruise on Armonia from Venice to Ancona,Dubrovnik,Corfu, Gythion, kefalonia & Kotor. We booked direct and had seen reviews of the ship so knew what to expect.
flights were booked as part of the package and were with BA from Gatwick. Transfer was included but lacked information from MSC staff on arrival. It was a bare minimum welcome. A bit more info on check in/embarkation would of been helpful. Arrived after short transfer at Venice port, off loaded from coach, dropped luggage then directed to cruise terminal for chaotic check-in. Despite having done the on line check-in we queued for approx an hour in a hot stuffy terminal building with what felt liked a thousand other cruisers. There were just five desks checking-in all guests then there were more queues if you wanted to embark the ship. We opted to go into Venice. We had three hours so concentrated on St Mark's square and grand canal. Easy to find monorail gets you to water busses on Grand Canal. Water bus was expensive 15 euros per adult return on number 2 line to St Marks square. Water bus is a great way to see the grand canal. Be aware the time it takes to get on the water bus back from St Marks Square. So many tourists! Absolutely crammed but a great experience if you take it in your stride. This is your first lesson to think like an Italian!
Embarkation was straightforward and we had our first of many photos taken as we stepped on board. Cabin was good, plenty of space for three and lots of storage. Very clean and In good condition. Bags took a while to arrive so a bit rushed before dinner.
We had first sitting at 18.45 in La Pergola restaurant. We were seated with a lovely family also from South Wales. Not sure if that was by chance but well done MSC if it was planned. Dinner menu was good. 7 courses each night if you wanted it but we picked and chose from the different courses and there was always steak and chips or chicken as alternatives if nothing appealed. Service was extremely friendly and efficient. Our waiter was very polite and helpful.
We were not impressed with the bar service throughout our cruise. With a few exceptions the bar staff were not friendly and lacked service training. Table service on the lido deck was seldom available despite there being staff that liked to hover around the bar! We did complain to the bar manager who shrugged off the comments so I complained formally at reception on day 3. We chose the all inclusive drinks package at 161 euros. Well worth it as you don't need to drink constantly to make a saving. Typically a beer was 4.90 euros, bottle of house wine 18.00 euros, sprite or fanta 2.70 and cocktails 6.50 euros. Plenty of choice and non alcoholic cocktails for children. Another advantage of the package is that the service charge of 15% is also included.
Breakfast was taken on the lido deck which was busy and chaotic. Lesson two of being like an Italian in the buffet queues! Go with the flow and expect an Italian or French guest to push in or shove in front of you. Quality of food in buffet restaurant generally good with plenty of choices.
There was a constant supply of pizza, burgers, hot dogs and chips each day as well from the grill.
Ports of call were very good.
Ancona - easy short walk from port into town. Nice traditional indoor fruit and veg market and outdoor clothes market.
Dubrovnik - we took the shuttle bus as the port Is approx 30 mins from the city. 12.90 euros but efficient. Dubrovnik was very busy so we headed for the cable car trip first. Fantastic views not be missed. Dubrovnik was lovely but crowded. MSC had well marked pick up in main square amidst the chaos of dozens of cruise shuttles.
Corfu - the port is a 20 minute walk from town but easy and you can't get lost. Great for browsing and shopping and locals so friendly. We got a taxi back to ship.
Gythion - tender service to the shore was efficient and quick. Pretty fishing town with a few bars. We took a dip in the sea from the small beach.
Kefalonia - lovely port. Easy walk to town. Look for the turtles in the harbour. Good shopping and browsing.
Kotor - beautiful stunning scenery. Good tender service to shore. Tip - ignore your ticket time and jump on an earlier tender. Nobody checks tickets. Lovely old town.
We didn't go on he organised excursions and were happy with the itinerary. There was plenty to see in a few hours at each port.
At some ports the ship sailed quite early but we liked being able to relax on the sun deck with a drink or cocktail. In the afternoons the pool was busy but more peaceful on the upper level.
We watched one show after dinner which was very visual but no singing etc as so many different languages spoken on ship. Pretty average quality but ok.
Check out / disembarking was good. Luggage collection chaotic but go with the flow Italian style again. Good transfer to airport.
Overall a good cruise. An experience mixing with lots of nationalities on the ship but that added to the fun and was educational too. Good for families. Not a top end cruise so go with realistic expectations and you will enjoy. We had a great holiday.