We are from the US.... Maine, specifically. We've been on Carnival & Norwegian and have been to the other islands before on other cruises.
THIS WAS BY FAR OUR BEST CRUISE EXPERIENCE!!!!
After reading the reviews posted on this site, we had reservations and concerns, but we figured that there are over 3000 on the ship EVERY week and there's a little over a hundred reviews on this ship over the past number years. We figured that the only ones who are going to post a review are the ones that had a really great experience and the ones who like to complain and want to find something wrong!
After reading the reviews, we were very worried about embarkation and the food, so many complaints....
For embarkation, we were trying to work out a strategy to avoid all the trouble.... It was the farthest thing from the truth!!!! The boat was to depart at 10 or 11 at night and check in time was stated as 4pm. We got to the Santo Domingo cruise terminal around 3:45pm and it was so easy breezy. We were easily directed to where we dropped off our luggage, then went through a couple different stages up to check in & pictures. We were in the cruise terminal all of maybe 20 minutes before we were on the boat and escorted to our room, where our luggage was already there..... We, too, found out that they embark & disembark in every port, which was really interesting & cool.... Martinique was the biggest with a third of the passengers getting on & off there. There was absolutely no trouble & no hassle with this. They came & left from separate gangways and were in separate parts of the cruise terminals. We think it's wonderful that they offer that service.... Asid from many French & Italians, there were alot of Caribbeans taking the cruise from their home islands....
I don't know what 5 star restaurants that many of the negative reviewers regularly eat at, but we found the food to be very, very good overall. We ate breakfast, lunch, & pre or post dinners at the buffet and ate almost every meal at the restaurant. Food at dinner was always hot!!! There was plenty options to choose from the 5 or 6 coarses offered on the menu. We were extremely delighted. This is a European cruise, and yes, they don't have free water, tea, and coffee at dinner like on US cruises. However, they do give vouchers to US & Canadian travelers for still or sparkling San Benedetto Italian water. The food in the buffet was very very good, as well. SO MUCH VARIETY, so much food. They had the cheeseburger and fries available daily, REAL pizza... I could go on and on.... Much of the food in the buffet was prepared RIGHT there behind the buffet line.... I did miss standing in a long line for a fresh omelette, which they don't do, but they had eggs there, 5 different ways. Sure I missed the smoked salmon that was always available on Norwegian, but MSC had the charcuterid with sliced meats and cheeses. FOOD is not a problem, it was extremely delightful, almost too delightful. Traffic flow was a little tight around the salad & fruit bars because of the design, but so what!! You're in the caribbean on vacation being taken care of, doing whatever you want with endless options. The buffet was very crowded only one day, when we had a short day in the itinerary. We would have liked to experienced the restaurant for breakfast or lunch, but were very content with the quality and options and HOTNESS of the food in the buffet.
Stunning, beautiful, clean, well run....
Very talented crew, very good shows.... A few of the shows were yawners for us, but that's ok. We think alot of the shows were acrobati, dance, and strength, with a bit less singing because of different languages. Beautiful theatre, amzing lighting, great sound.... We missed the edgy comedy shows that were on Carnival every night, but again, so what.... so much to do, so many options...
Amazing.... We got to leave from somewhere different, the Dominican Republic, and got to go to the other more unique islands, instead of St. Thomas, & Puerto Rico. A stop EVERY DAY!! got to see & do so much, we were downright tired and needed a vacation after our vacation. Some places we felt we don't need to evergo back and others we look forward to going back.... We always liked St. Maarten, and we really likes Antigua and Tortola. We were lucky and rarely saw another ship in ports. In Antigua, there was 2 others and somewhere just 1, as opposed to being in St. Maarten when there are 6 or 7 there....
The staff was so very helpful. Everyone understood and could speak English. We were at the front desk for 5 or 6 different occasions and they were extremely polite and helpful. Our room was always super clean and they took wonderful care of us at dinner.
We thought that it was very cool to be surrounded and immersed in such an International community. We really had no problems with anyone and enjoyed the greetings and conversations going on in all the diffferent languages. All though there may have been a whopping 14 or so Americans on the boat, I never felt lost or unable to understand anything. All of the signs are in English, all printed info was offered in 6 different languages, and the announcements were made in all languages.
In the reviews, there seemed to be a big deal about announcements. Farthest from the truth, not an issue at all... Unlike on Carnival & Norwegian, with their endless announcements and sales pitches, the only announcements were informing the newly boarded passengers when it was time to go to their safety orientation. The only other time you heard all 6 languages was before and after the Theatre shows. And at bingo.... that was a riot, having them announce each ball in the different languages.... maybe not 6, but just 4....
PRICE & VALUE
Amazing!!! I got a balcony on one othe top floors, for the cost of a Royal Caribbean interior room on the bottom floor with only 3 or maybe 4 stops... You cannot beat the price! I agree that they are trying to attract the Americans to their cruiseline and that's fine by us. We quickly booked 2 more cruises with them that we just couldn't pass the price up and that's for us, who have only gone on a cruise every 3 or 4 years.
So overly impressed. As stated, we are sailing again, Divina out of Miami, and surprisingly, Orchestra out of Germany. Where can you get a balcony on a European cruise for 7 days for $599 a person.... Great ship, can't say enough great things about the experience, especially to negate all the other not so great reviews posted.
AGAIN, it's what you make of it. We went in with a completely opened mind to form our own impressions, and we were pleasantly delighted all around. The ones whoe look for fault and like to have something to complain about, you can't help them.... So be it....