We took a cruise on the MSC Sinfonia from Cape Town to Durban, South Africa in December 2013. Overall, the experience was really, really good and actually compared very well to cruising internationally - we have been on the Costa Victoria along the Vietnamese coast previously and the Sinfonia experience on board and the ship itself was very similar.
The experience of South African ports however was shocking - Cape Town is a shed that took 2.5 hours in a queue to embark, most of that standing in the sun! Compare that to Singapore where we just walked through and that included immigration!
As with any trip, there is good and bad and its worth mentioning both:
- The entertainment and shows on board were really good, high quality. We experienced 4 theatre shows and each felt like an extravaganza. Have to specifically mention the gymnasts.
- Have to give a special mention to the cruise director, Stephen Cloete - he does amazing stand up comedy and made every annoucement into a comedy show so everybody actually listened
- We had an internal cabin as we didn't plan to spend much time there. However, the cabin was well laid out and felt 'spacious' - OK, we have stayed in Paris, so take that as a comparison. The cabin also felt bigger than those on the Victoria - we didn't fall over each other when moving around the bed
- The cocktails were great! And bar staff were very good - the ability to remember multiple orders and get all to the right table was amazing
- The food generally was excellent. They put on a special Indian menu in the restaurants (guessing this was for SA only?) and we ate almost every meal on that menu - the veg and fish dishes were really good
- timing - we almost always docked or departed ahead of the time we had been told. We would have liked to watch both going into a harbour and leaving it as this is a big part of cruising, and even woke up early so as not to miss it - we missed all but one of these!
- Embarkation and disembarkation - as mentioned above, the SA ports are shocking, but the MSC staff were a bit slow and didn't help the experience. More info about what was happening would have been good
- The lamb was very low grade, to the point it would have been preferable to omit lamb from all menus. Breakfast cereals were also not so good - Bokomo doesn't make cereals!
- Restaurants seemed understaffed and waiters were run off their feet, and some of their English was a bit poor
- the PE excursions were not listed on the web and hence we didn't have a chance to research these in advance - for the price, the short description provided in the brochure was not adequate
Overall, we will cruise again and possibly with MSC, but not likely in SA as the cruises are a bit short and the ports are bad. A cruise is such a relaxing experience that you always want more!