We traveled on the MSC Musica April 17-24 from Venice to Greece and Croatia. Our group consisted of 8 people, four couples. This was my fifth cruise, second in Europe, and first with MSC. I used Cruise Critic extensively prior to the trip, and so was well informed on what to expect. I was somewhat apprehensive, having read such mixed reviews, but the itinerary and timing were perfect, so after discussion, we all decided to give it a go.
We spent 3 days prior in Venice, highly recommended, as it is a fantastic city. We used the People Mover tram to the port. A bargain for 1 euro, but was still quite a walk to the boat. Embarkation was very efficient, less than 1 hour. We all agreed the ship is beautiful, as people have stated, much more elegant than any we had been on before. Marble, glass and brass everywhere, with very chic furniture, and very clean and well maintained. Public rooms are gorgeous, with live musicians always playing. Cabin was fine, ocean-view, deck 8, though the view somewhat impeded by a lifeboat. Only body wash and shampoo in dispensers, no conditioner. Nice towels and sheets (and we did get washcloths). Cabin service was great, cleaned several times a day. We used the menu card to order coffee and warm croissants and rolls in our room each morning-very nice.
Though I read many complaints about pushy and rude Europeans, we experienced none of that-no problems on elevators at all, though the buffet was somewhat crowded, it was fine. Service was good, we never encountered any rude staff, the few issues we had were dealt with promptly and professionally. I did witness some passengers treating the staff quite rudely, especially at the reception desk, and I thought they were remarkably patient. All staff spoke English, though sometimes communication could be a bit of a challenge, which some people tolerated better than others. We had no trouble at all.
Dining was fine, some items very good such as pasta, risotto, eggplant, and lasagna and the bread was great. Seafood was hit or miss, the fish good, but we weren't keen on the shellfish-being from New England, we are spoiled by being used to fantastic seafood and it didn't quite measure up. Each night had a regional Italian menu, and those seemed to be the best choices. We found the desserts good. Buffet food was adequate, pizzas, cold cuts, cheese, salad vegetables, and lots of fresh fruit. Coffee and water were the only beverages. They would do well to add lemonade or iced tea. Juice was available in the am, but it was more like a powdered mix. We all received vouchers for bottled water. Beer and wine were reasonably priced; we got carafes of wine each night at dinner for 7 euro each, a good deal.
We really enjoyed the shows. They were visual fast paced and fun, though short, about 30 minutes. Usually a combination of singing, dancing, acrobatics, and magic. Performers were very talented.
The itinerary was fantastic, all ports were wonderful. Getting on and off the ship was very organized and efficient, the best we have experienced. I was worried that the port times were too short, but they turned out to be just fine. We did not do any ship excursions; we hired private drivers in Olympia, Athens, and Santorini. For Bari, Corfu, Mykonos, and Dubrovnik we took cabs, and walked around on our own. The ship had shuttle buses at these ports for 8-10 euro each, but the cabs were readily available, and cheaper. There were not a lot of announcements, so it was important to read the daily newsletters.
Weather for our whole week was great, only rained one day for a couple of hours. We were 1 hour late back to port, due to very heavy fog in Venice the port closed temporarily, but disembarkation was fine, we waited on the pool deck till they called our luggage tag color, and luggage was easy to retrieve. All in all, we were satisfied with our cruise. The many positives outweighed the few negatives. Though it is probably best suited to people who enjoy and easily adapt to cultural differences, our whole group enjoyed the experience and had a great time.