We traveled on the Sinfonia from Durban to Maputo and Barra Lodge during January 2011. We were a group of about 40 friends who shared this experience.
1. The embarkation process is absolutely chaotic. It took more than 2 hours to get through the formalities of getting on-board.
2. Activating your on-board card is a long and tedious process. Everyone had to stand in a long line and load funds on the card via cash/credit card. This added another hour to the formalities.
3. The accommodation on-board is good and we enjoyed our cabin with balcony.
4. The food quality varies depending on where you eat. The food in the upstairs buffet is sub-standard with little variation, where-as we found the food in the sit-down restaurant to be good. Service was indifferent with many waiters unable to understand basic English.
5. We enjoyed the entertainment on-board; this included the shows and various bands in the pubs.
6. This is clearly a family orientated cruise and there were many children on board, to such an extend that adults rarely got a chance to enjoy facilities like the Jacuzzis.
7. The ports visited included Maputo and Barra Lodge. We did not go ashore at Maputo, but enjoyed the snorkeling at Barra Lodge.
8. The disembarkation process is the complete opposite of embarkation and was smooth and quick.
This was our second cruise in 6 months (previously on Royal Carribean) and comparing the two the following are clear:
1. The RC embarkation process is 10 times better that MSC.
2. Food quality on the RC cruise was better.
3. The day-to-day expenses on MSC were lower.
4. Accommodation quality is similar.
We found that 4 days are long enough for a cruise with so few stops. In retrospect, the 7 day cruise in the Mediterranean was more enjoyable than the second cruise.