We had such a wonderful cruise, I just had to share it with Cruise Critic. We joined the roll call on this cruise and found that it really added to the enjoyment of the cruise. We felt at home because we had been corresponding with the other members of the roll call for over 3 months. The thread was started almost a year ago and I am sure our group must have broken some kind of record for having the most posts over 2600 and it is still growing. Our group decided to wear Mardi Gras beads so we would recognize each other on day one of the cruise. We met our first Cruise Critic member wearing the beads in line during embarkation (Debbie). I can not tell you how much it added to the cruising experience already feeling like you had a friend before boarding the ship. The next person we met wearing the beads was on the gangway. I called out to her "Cruise Critic?" holding my beads. She responded "no Red Lobster." I couldn't stop laughing. Here she had never heard of the roll call and had been given the beads the night before while dining at Red Lobster and decided they looked very festive and kept them on for the cruise. Well we educated her about Cruise Critic and told her to keep the beads on and she probably would make about 50 friends by wearing them.
Well back to the cruise. Embarkation went smoothly. We thought the port employees were so friendly and the process was very organized. We made our way to our cabin immediately to drop off our carry-on luggage. There we met Jimmy, our cabin steward. He said it was perfectly fine to leave the luggage in the room. We had a balcony cabin which we found delightful. The bed was comfortable. We had enough storage space for everything. We found the bathroom also had a lot of storage space. The terry bathrobes they provided were very nice. Their towels were soft and thick. We had a welcoming bowl of fruit to greet us. This was around 11:30 am. Jimmy always kept the room clean and well supplied.
We then made our way to lunch on deck 13. We had heard through cruise critic that the buffet towards the rear of the ship was the least crowded, but we were disappointed because it was closed. This was one of the few complaints we had about this cruise that the buffets all close too early. (7pm). They should keep at least one buffet line open until 11 pm. We had requested first seating for dinner but were given second. It was very difficult to find the room where it could be changed. There was no sign to tell you and when you asked the staff they did not understand English well enough to direct you. The food on board was excellent. The first formal night was the best. They had escargot, French onion soup, sirloin steak, baked potato, and Crème Brule. The only dish we found less than excellent was the lobster. It was mushy on mine and over cooked and dry on my husbands. Our waiter was Dewa. He was excellent. He served us quickly and was very attentive to our needs. Every night he had our ice tea on the table and kept it refilled. When we asked for fresh garlic he made sure there was a plate of chopped garlic waiting for us. One night I asked for chives and he had a plate of chopped chives ready in no time. He was a dream. On deck 13 after 5 pm they have Pizza and one of the waiter's sings opera while you eat it. The gelato on deck 13 is excellent.
The pool was a little cool but the hot tubs were perfect. Temperature was perfect and had a strong massage. The pool chairs were very comfortable. They had a little roof on them to shade your eyes. There were indoor Jacuzzi's as well near the gym. The gym was small but adequate. They had a nice view of the ocean. No TV. Unfortunately they also close down the gym and the pools at 7 pm. They should stay open until 11 pm.
The entertainment was very good. The best was on the first night. Don't miss this show! They had the best acrobats from Africa perform. They were amazing. The cruise director is Marco. He was a disappointment. He was not very outgoing and friendly as previous cruise directors have been. Very dry, always on the phone. The entertainment team were a lively bunch. They were a lot of fun and we always enjoyed seeing them. The trivia contest was a lot of fun, especially since my group won the grand prize and I won the drawing after one weeks worth of trivia. They also had an Italian Language class which I did not attend but many did. There was a talent show the last night that was entertaining.
The ports of call were nice. The only one I had never been on before was Semana. We found it very clean and relaxing. We had fun bargaining with the natives for souvenirs.
We were sorry to see this cruise end, but it did. Disembarkation was easy and the people working the port were very welcoming and friendly as they had been on our departure.
Oh I forgot to mention one thing. Rick Sasso, the CEO of MSC, upon our request arranged for a Seder to be held while we were on board the ship. This meant a lot to all the Jewish cruisers on board as well of those from other faiths who were interested in seeing this religious ceremony. Thanks again Mr. Sasso. GREAT CRUISE!!!!