This was our first (and last) cruise on the MSC Cruise line. We left a day early and had flight delays so did not arrive in Miami until 6 PM instead of 1:30 PM. We stayed at the Best Western which had an airport shuttle and arranged a shuttle to the cruise port.
We had booked a Yacht Club cabin # 12025 and that is the only thing that made our cruise bearable at all. I probably would never get my husband to take another cruise except for that.
The ship itself is beautiful with very classy interior design and who can say enough about the crystal staircases! Lots of marble, mirrors, and statues. This ship does not have a giant TV screen in the atrium. The pools were very nice and one had a retractable roof which was handy if it rained.
FOOD: This was NOT good. We were so glad that we could eat in The Muse restaurant for breakfast and supper. We did not use the Main Dining Room and I expect the food there was the same as The Muse so that food would have been good.
The buffet however was a different story…TERRIBLE to say the least. No people preparing made-to-order eggs or omelettes; the eggs were pre-cooked and sitting under heat lamps. All the other food was the same except for the carving station which was good. The set-up of the buffet is horrible; over-crowded and confusing. There are about eight different entrances so you get very disorientated when you are walking around.
For some reason they put eating bars with bar stools in the middle of the buffet area which made it even harder to maneuver with a tray of food.
There was no fresh pineapple and only occasional watermelon. Instead there were whole apples and oranges? There were whole pineapples as part of the décor but they were not being served. Once there was CANNED pineapple and canned pears and that is pretty bad for what I presumed was a higher end cruise.
At lunch and supper there were pre-made hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries which were all in cardboard boxes under heat lamps. You would think you were in MacDonald’s. I tried one hamburger and it was lukewarm and the bun was naturally mushy since it had been in a box with the burger for a while. Gross.
The best part of the buffet was the bread which was all freshly baked on board and very tasty.
The set up of the food was not what we are used to. The carving station was surrounded by bread, soup and pasta. The hot side dishes like potatoes and vegetables were at another station about 50 feet away!
There was tea, coffee, water and juice but no hot chocolate mix. Ice cream was NOT free except about twice when you could find the soft ice-cream machine on the pool deck. Most of the time it was not working and covered over! Gelato was $2.00 minimum.
Deserts were good and there was quite a good selection.
If the food in the MDR was similar to what was served in The Muse restaurant then you were in for a treat: salmon, prime rib, beef filet, duck, lamb, and even mackerel.
You could ask for appetizers that were not on the menu and the same with side dishes. The service was superb and the staff could not do enough for you.
ENTERTAINMENT: We only managed to get to one show and that was the Michael Jackson impersonator which I had read great reviews about.
But I was not very impressed. He often did not lip-sync in time with the music and sometimes did not even bother lip-syncing at all. He was a good dancer but was sometimes not in beat with the music. They had two solo singers (man/woman) who did three songs and they were excellent. I enjoyed the Michael Jackson music and dancers but was not impressed with the impersonator.
ACTIVITIES: This was extremely poor. I was looking forward to the mini-golf, the 4-D theater and the bowling alley. Ha.
The bowling alley is basically like an arcade game. The lane is about 20 feet long, the balls are the size of “5-pin” balls, there are 10 pins that are attached to strings at the top and you get to throw 2 balls per frame. Scoring is automatic on a screen on the wall. To play this game, which is on Deck 7 in the Sports bar, you have to go down to Deck 5 to the Reception Desk and pay for “tokens” which are $7.00 each. So we paid $14.00 to “bowl” one string. VERY basic entertainment but if you are a “real” bowler, don’t expect much.
Then there is the 4-D theater which is again like an arcade game. I thought it would show some type of short, 3-D movie with your seat moving, etc. The “show” is SIX minutes long and it costs $7.00 per person as well. The shows all have the same theme: coasters and racers! So if you get sick on a roller coaster I would not try this thing. It is 3-D and your seat bounces and sways so be prepared. I found it very uncomfortable as well since the large hard plastic seats hurt when you are being tossed around.
We never actually tried the mini-golf because the attendant at the 4-D theater showed it to us and it was in a cardboard box! Basically a piece of green mat that they laid out on the deck and you putted a ball around. Not my idea of mini-golf.
There was a shuffleboard court on one of the outside decks but the scoring area was not like our game so we never tried it.
CABIN: Our cabin was very nice and we had a lovely walk-in closet and a bathtub but I was quite surprised at the condition of the room. There were several large stains on the carpet and the bottom sheet on our bed actually had holes in it. The balcony was quite small and the chairs had very low backs so you could not lay back in them at all.
SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: I was planning to have a nice dinner for Valentines’ Day in their steakhouse which is called the Eatally Restaurant. I couldn’t believe it when we found this place and had a look around. I thought I was in MacDonald’s again! The chairs were all made of Plexiglas (Lexan) and the tables were just square fake wood. The “fancy” area of the restaurant had round tables with tablecloths and PLASTIC chairs! Apparently this is a franchise in Europe and the décor is always the same. Perhaps the food is good but I wouldn’t pay to eat there.
POOLS and AREA - Too crowded would be an understatement. On sea days it was wall-to-wall loungers and everyone was taken. There were practically none in the shade at all. Instead they had tables and chairs in the shaded areas where you could smoke.
CASINO: This was a basic cruise ship casino and the good news is that it is totally non-smoking. We only play the slot machines and on this ship you can use your cruise card to play the machines by putting the charge on your card. A bit dangerous for additive slot players
You have to be very careful if you put $20.00 or more on your card in the beginning they will give you a $10.00 bonus slot play amount. If you want to cash out before using the entire $10.00 amount you have to hit the “Cash Out” button TWICE. Once to get the bonus money which is only “playable” and then AGAIN to get your own money which you can either use or cash out at the cashier’s wicket. Be very careful. We had never seen this before and had to get the staff to help us or we would have left $20.00 on the machine.
The best part of this cruise was to be in the Yacht Club section. We were greeted at the dock and escorted to a private lounge to await boarding. There were free drinks and snacks available and comfortable chairs; then our butler came and escorted us on to the ship and to our cabin. We had a bottle of wine on ice waiting for us as well as a bowl of fresh fruit. This area has its own pool deck with lots of comfortable loungers, two whirlpools, a bar and a beautiful lounge at the front of the ship. Our butler (Brian) unpacked our suitcases for us and we had priority for getting off and on the ship at all the ports. The service in the restaurant and lounge was beyond anything we had experienced. There was “high tea” everyday at 4 PM in the Top Sail Lounge and that was wonderful. Our waiter, Albedin knew our tastes, etc after the first day and he was so much fun.
In the Yacht Club area and our cabin all drinks (alcoholic and sodas) were included and that was a very big perk.
So we will not be sailing with MSC again as the Yacht Club was a one-time extravagance for us. Without that we would have been miserable.