My hubby (44) and I (46), have sailed only twice before having discovered cruising only last year. We have sailed with RCI and plan to cruise twice a year now. We did not want to get hung up on a particular cruise line and wanted a good cruise and a bargain cruise each year.
We opted for MSc as the price was good, *cheap! The itinerary was good and only a four hour flight to the sun. Having read all the negative reviews, we decided to not expect too much but to keep an open mind.
I won't go into flights, transfers, embarking, disembarking etc but will try to remain factual about the ship and facilities. Apparently, this ship sailed with only 700 ish guests and can accommodate at least 1000 more so by no means full. This needs to be considered in relation to how I found things.
Armonia is spotlessly clean and I thought it had a very nice atmosphere. A mix of nationalities and I think mostly Spanish with a smattering of Brits but enough to make friends with. We met some lovely people. There was no evidence of the pushing, screaming and running riot that others have mentioned. Kids were impressively well behaved but there were few on this trip.
Food: Food in the main dining room was mostly very good. Service was impeccable. Five courses, pick and choose. Small portions but never cold. Soups were especially good as was the bread. I was not so keen on the buffet. However, there was an adequate choice and salads were good and varied. Hot choices not great and not very hot. My hubby however never had a problem. Maybe I am too picky. Cakes were yummy. Pizza bar was excellent. Always fresh. Also hotdogs/burgers/fries always available at next bar. You could eat for approximately 22 hours a day I think!
Entertainment: We went to every show. They were good without being overly impressive. Some stand out moments included the Flamenco night (Spaniards went crackers for it) and the Can-Can. Pleased the boys! Mostly dance with some contortionists thrown in. If you want hypnotists and comedians, not for you. They work very hard to engage 5 or 6 nationalities and do it very well.
Pool/Spa/Gym. Pool area was ok. Always managed to find a sunbed and yes, many reserved for long periods. Might have been different if ship was full. Pool (2) was cold salt water with 2 jacuzzis. Gym used by hubby and he said it was well equipped. Never used the Spa but they reduced prices massively so watch and wait!
Bars: Loads of bars. Mostly used the "English Pub" which was as far removed from an English pub as one could be! But this was the smoking bar and was therefore lively! Other bars larger and had entertainment. Mostly stupid games, talent shows etc. and the WORST duos (they alternated loungers) I have ever heard. If you pretended they were singing that badly on purpose, they were actually funny!
Staff; Amazing. They work so hard. I NEVER once felt they were being nice for a tip! They seemed to be everywhere serving, The entertainment staff worked tirelessly to engage passengers. They seemed to genuinely get along tohether and enjoy each others company.
Cabin: Inside 9034 9th deck. Well placed to access the lifts/stairs up to the pool bar. Spacious (Bigger than RCI). Plenty of hanging space. Old tv but a good choice of channels (Movies and sky news). Bathroom adequate with perhaps the worst shower I have ever experienced. Tiny!
Itinerary. Good, Agadir, Casablanca, Lanzarote, Tenerife. All ports you could walk off. However, be warned that Morocco is NOT a nice place. We walked throught the port in Agadir (as I had researched it was ok), but it was a 25 minute walk through a run down, dirty and scary area. The taxi drivers followed us relentlessly. One even followed us into town and stopped his car. I told him NO again, we want to walk and he said yes but I need to work! He had a nice expensive leather coat on though and an up to date mobile phone! Casablanca was an easier walk and took 45 minutes from where ship berthed to the mosque. The mosque was quite spectacular to see.
The Canarian ports were easy to reach and Tenerife had a free port shuttle although MCs did not tell us this we spotted it.
Can't comment on disembarking as we loitered on the ship as we had a mid afternoon transfer. We just strolled off when we were ready.
One big criticism is the lack of hand sanitisers. Now I am not a clean freak but in a buffet? Most people did not use it. Even staff walked in and out without using it. No wonder ships go down with bugs. One minor is the seemingly spontaneous itinerary changes while the ship is actually sailing. It seems to come and go at will sometimes. And an extra unplanned sea day? Great if you had not made plans and had the all inclusive! That, by the way, is a no brainer! £20 pppd in advance. You get your moneys worth in tea, coffee, soft drinks and ice cream. The cocktails by the pool are a bonus! I would never not get one!
All in all, we had a great week. We were pleasantly pleased with the ship and the trip overall. We made great friends and enjoyed mostly glorious weather. MSc? Yes I would use them again if the itinerary and the price was right without a doubt!
Happy to answer any specific questions!