6th April 2014: Genoa – Naples – La Valetta – Sea Day – Athens – Corfu – Dubrovnik
Flights and Transfers : Rating 5/5
I bought my flights and transfers through MSC so thought I would include them in this review as very little has been said about them on the boards and I was quite nervous about this before I went. Turns out I didn’t need to be worried our flight with BA was on time and when we arrived at Nice there was an MSC representative waiting for us. The long transfer from Nice to Genoa went without a hitch, in fact it had some of the most stunning views of the entire trip as we followed the coastal route.
Embarkation: Rating 3/5
When we arrived in Genoa our cases were unloaded off the coach for us and we entered the cruise terminal. The place was packed, they handed us a number and told us to wait for our number to be called before we could go up the mystical elevator to embark. Well this did not work at all, only one poor lady was trying to control the crowds and people were going up to queue for the elevator willy nilly. Eventually we made it up the elevator only to join a queue to register our passport details and cards. This queue luckily moved quite quickly and we were registered and on board within half an hour (which considering the amount of people was impressive).
Cabin: Rating 4/5
We had cabin 12135 which is one of the squarer inside cabins. It was the biggest cabin I had ever had (we only ever stay in an inside cabin as we prefer to spend out pennies elsewhere), it was spotlessly clean and both the room and the bathroom had plenty of storage for the two of us. When we arrived the beds were laid out to be a double, we searched for our cabin steward but they were nowhere to be seen so we went down to reception and the beds were separated when they turned down the room during dinner. We never actually met our cabin steward, unlike on other cruises I;ve been on where they were always lurking around they were never there which meant we had to trudge to reception to deal with any issues.
The ship was simply stunning. It was clean and well maintained throughout. My annoyance though was with the lifts, there seemed to be an inadequate amount for the number of passengers, I thank god I am young and fit enough to climb lots of stairs and I have some impressively toned legs now. There was also an issue that some floors you couldn’t walk along due to the red velvet restaurant so you found yourself having to go up floors to come back down again, which again I see being a big issue for those who struggle with stairs.
Food: Rating 4/5
Previous to the cruise we had requested the first sitting (6:15) but we were allocated second sitting (8:45) but this actually turned out to be a blessing as we would have missed the sail away from most ports with the first sitting. The food in the restaurant was always fantastic (except for the cuttlefish which was just a chunk of rubber), our waiter, Dwi, was very attentive and provided outstanding service. The first night was a bit arduous as due to getting everyone to their correct tables and getting to know new customers dinner took about 3 hours however this got quicker every night and I very much enjoyed a leisurely dinner and chatting to the company we have. It seems that MSC try to not only pair people with the same language but also people with people of similar ages which was nice.
The buffet was great always plenty of variety available and even though I’m a picky eater I never failed to find something delicious. I have to thank everyone on the boards for saying to go to the back of the buffet, the views were simply amazing and it was always much quieter down there. We didn’t eat in any of the speciality restaurants so can’t comment there.
We had the Allegressimo package and boy was that a deal, we easily got our monies worth by the time both me and my friend had ordered a bottle of wine for dinner. The drinks menu was much bigger than I thought it would be and even the items not on the package were reasonably priced (though I didn’t feel the need to stray from it many times). One of our favourite bars was the wine bar; they had the most amazing range of nibbles available in the evening which was very welcome considering dinner was so late. Another nice little touch that you got all over the ship was if you ordered a drink in the evening they automatically bought round little bowls of bar snacks (pretzels, crisps and the like). On a few occasions service was very slow this is the only reason I rated 4 instead of 5.
After hearing numerous CC posters complain about service I was on the lookout for grumpy staff but only found smiley and courteous crew. As long as you smiled and said please and thank you the staff seemed willing to go out of their way for you. We had no issues with language, most crew spoke adequate English to deal with any issues and many knew enough to hold a decent conversation, I was expecting there to be a much bigger language barrier but was pleasantly surprised.
Entertainment: Rating 3/5
The entertainment was OK. Only a few of the shows interested us and they had some fantastic acrobats however the singing and dancing was rather average. We attended 3 of the international quizzes and won 2 of them so no complaints there. Other than that the entertainment was very limited but then that’s what I had expected being a Brit on an Italian ship. We made our own entertainment and played lots of cards and drank lots of wine.
Ports and Excursions: 4/5
The ports are the reason we chose this cruise and they didn’t fail to disappoint each was absolutely stunning. We went on three excursions: Pompeii at Naples, Harbour Cruise and Wine Tasting in La Valetta and Paleokastritsa and Wine Tasting in Corfu. Pompeii and Corfu were excellent, well organised and very entertaining. The harbour cruise though was pretty dire, it dragged on and everyone was freezing cold and bored witless by the end of it, the thought of wine at the end kept us from jumping ship and swimming back to the Fantasia, well the ‘wine tasting’ turned out to be one small glass of wine, very disappointing, we returned to the ship having had a pretty wasted day.
Top 18: Rating 5/5
On the day at sea we paid 10 Euros to go to the top 18 solarium and it was worth every penny. While the deck was packed below we relaxed in the space and calm in our little haven never having to fight with kids for the hot tub and enjoying great service. The cherry on top was the misters they bought out in early afternoon so you could mist with water and stay cool, loved it!
Other Passengers: 4/5
The ship seemed to me to be mainly full of Germans (50%), which a then equal split of Americans/British (25%)and Italians(25%) but this is purely my perception and it may be that I truly suck at gauging what language people are speaking. Nearly everyone on board was friendly and chatty, I encountered a few rude passengers but hey I can't expect MSC to vet the passengers so it's not their fault.
A fantastic holiday!!! I would definitely sail on MSC again though perhaps not on such a big ship as it on occasion felt very crowded. Holidays are what you make them and with the help of fantastic crew, ports and dinner company we had no problem making ours truly amazing.