I sailed on the 11/30/2013 sailing to the Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Great Stirrup Cay.
I have previously sailed on NCL, Royal, Carnival and Princess. I went into this cruise with an open mind about MSC and did a lot of reading about the line before cruising.
The check-in at the port of Miami was quick and easy. No Issues.
The staff welcomed us on the ship and from the first moment I was in awe of the ship’s beauty. She is certainly the most beautiful ship I have ever been on and she sparkled. The mirrors everywhere took some getting used to, but by the end of the cruise I got used to staring at that handsome guy looking at back at me.
Cabin - I had a category 6 balcony stateroom which is the smallest balcony cabin (no couch or chair), but was plenty of space for me. I found the décor to be pleasant, dark woods with white, red and black accents. The bed was comfortable, and the balcony contained two chairs and a foot rest. The bathroom was very standard cruise bathroom. I found there to be enough space, outlets and storage. I did miss not being able to check my account on the television, but I was told that it will be available in the future. My steward was efficient and unseen; my kind of steward.
Food – I liked the food. The dining room service was spot on. We were sat at table 904, a table of 8 in the Villa Rosa dining room. We had Rennga and Putu, both from Indoneisa. They were personable and efficient. We did not wait long for food at all, and in fact, some nights felt rushed. They actually turn up the lights in the dining room at 10:30PM which we found a tad odd. I did found something tasty to eat each night, and never left hungry. I really enjoyed the buffet for lunch; fresh pasta and a carving station every day. A very extensive selection of cheeses, breads and freshly sliced deli meats (there is a person slicing all day). There is a children’s section for things like chicken nuggets, hot dogs and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast ).
Entertainment – Second to none. I loved the MSC production shows and the Pantheon Theater is the nicest theater at sea. We saw the Witches of Paris, Pirate Show, Wonderland and the Michael Jackson show. All were modern, fresh and unlike anything I’ve seen on another cruise lines. I thought the entertainment was better than I’ve seen on the Epic and Breakaway.
General Observations –
The very best coffee I have had on any cruise line. I usually spend a good amount at the coffee bar on board. I didn’t spend a dime this cruise. The coffee was strong, dark and always served with hot milk. Awesome.
The very best pizza I’ve had on any cruise line. Starting at lunch they will have one freshly baked focaccia, one white pizza, a cheese pizza, a pepperoni pizza and a couple specialty pizzas out. Thin crust, great sauce and spices and perfectly cooked.
There were many complaints from fellow passengers about the service, mostly from the bar areas. I purchased very few drinks on this cruise except at dinner, but the cocktail service at dinner was great.
The tender process for both Grand Cayman and GSC worked very well.
Staff ratio – In regards to staffing; I felt that the staffing was lacking in some areas and overstaffed in others. For example; a scheduled open bar cocktail party for 500 was only staffed with three bartenders and two cocktail waitresses. While up in the buffet, there were four or five servers milling around a section of 20 or so tables at each meal. I will give MSC credit though; when a supervisor came in and saw what a mess the party was, she immediately got on her walkie talkie and in about 5 minutes streams of staff appeared to help out. Nice service.
VERY, VERY few announcements which was quite refreshing. NO activity announcements like bingo, art auctions and the like.
Very little sales pressure on this cruise. No in your face cocktail waiters shouting at you on the pool deck; though there was always a server around.
I didn’t get any soft serve on this cruise. Machines were only open 2-5PM and that was usually my nap time. Oh well, I guess I’ll live.
All around, I had a great cruise. Never had a bad one, and never will.