Before beginning this review I feel the need to preface with a personal disclaimer of sorts. This is the first cruise hubby and I have ever been on, so we really have nothing to compare it to. And we did not have to pay for this cruise as it was through an incentive program through my job, however, I am setting that aside and basing my opinions as if it had been my own money that had been spent. The company that treated me to this cruise DID spend their money and they deserve that.
The program we were offered started with a 2 day land stay in Venice which was wonderful. I am convinced that you could live in Venice and still never see everything it has to offer. At the end of our stay in Venice we boarded the Musica for our 7 night cruise.
GENERAL SHIP AMENITIES
The ship itself was absolutely beautiful! We loved the whole "music" theme and on the evening we ported in Mykonos we decided to stay on board and enjoy what the ship had to offer. We ordered non-alcoholic cocktails and enjoyed a couple of the lounges and the music offered in the reception area of the ship. Since many of the passengers had debarked for the evening, we pretty much had the ship to ourselves. It was a lovely, quiet evening.
We did play Bingo a couple of times. Once in one of the lounges and once up on the pool deck. It was fun in both cases. We saw one show in the theater. I would have gone back, but hubby said the seats weren't very comfortable. And we did spend a little time in the casino, but not much as we did not wish to part with a lot of money.
We had photos taken by the ship photographers and did purchase several of them, but they were on the pricey side.
We did book an excursion off the ship in Santorini. The price was fair and the excursion was great - but BEWARE the wait for the cable car coming down off the mountain. That was a nasty end to an otherwise wonderful day.
Our cabin had to be one of the best on board. We were in 11248 on the very back of the ship (I have learned they call this an "aft" cabin). Some reviews I've read say that this is not a good spot to be due to vibrations and engine noise but we did not find that to be the case except during the times we were pulling into and out of ports. Perhaps it was because we were on the 11th deck. Our room came with a lovely little balcony and we kept the doors open most of the night which made for very nice sleeping. (It is necessary to close them during the night as they spray the ship down in the wee hours as part of the maintenance routine and there is the possibility of having water sprayed into the cabin).
We packed plenty of trial size toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc) after reading poor reviews of the dispensed items in the cabins showers. This was totally unnecessary unless you are a true "brand loyal" individual. The body wash and shampoo provided were just fine and they were not stingy with changing out the bath linens, although we did have to request washclothes a couple of times. Is this a European thing? We had to do the same thing at the hotel in Venice. Our cabin steward was very nice and the service for the cabin was top notch.
FOOD AND DRINK
We had a water package, compliments of the company. We considered purchasing a soft drink package, but decided against it. At the end of the trip we tallied up our beverage tab and buying the soft drink package would not have saved us a significant amount of money. That being said, my hubby is a coffee drinker and I love my "Coke Light" so we did purchase those drinks at meals and we even tapped the mini-bar in the cabin a couple of times. In the morning, when we disembarked for our various shore excursions, we stopped at one of the bars and cashed in a water coupon which gave us a large bottle of water to take ashore for our day. It worked fine for us.
We were a bit concerned about the food as we had read some really poor reviews of the food on this board. And I got a firsthand report from my boss who took this same trip about 3 weeks before I did. Everyone complains that the portions are small and the food is mediocre at best, my boss included. Even in my little 2 person family we have mixed feelings on this. My husband did not enjoy the food much. I thought, for the most part, it was fine.
Our group was assigned to the First Seating dinner at Le' Maxim's each night. The dinner was an Italian themed dinner from a different region of Italy each night and was a true dinner served in courses. Being Americans, it took a couple of times to realize how this is done. We are used to having everything all at once. This is a cultural thing and not a cruise ship thing. Once we realized how it is done (yes, you DO order an appetizer, a salad, a soup, a pasta or risotto AND a main course) then we understood how you get enough dinner to keep you from being hungry. My husband's complaint was the TYPE of food. He was not fond of the strange dishes and food he couldn't pronounce. Again, that is a cultural thing, not a cruise ship thing. There are some items that are "always available" like chicken or beef, and a pasta dish. We did skip the dining room one night and opt for the dinner buffet and I will admit it WAS a disappointment. There was not much in the way of selection and the food really WASN'T very good at the buffet.
For breakfast, we learned much too late that we had a choice of the buffet or seated breakfast in the dining room from the menu. The buffet was very crowded, but I found the choices to be better than in the dining room. Our one trip to have the seated breakfast was okay, but I preferred breakfast at the buffet. My husband preferred having coffee, juice and croissants delivered to the cabin by room service. And this is an option that is offered free of charge.
We had lunch at the buffet on board one day of our trip and the lunch buffet was very good. There were several good selections and plenty of salad and fruit for lunch. Why they don't carry that over for the dinner buffet is something I don't understand.
We were excited when we read that MSC was going to offer free coffee, tea and water all day, but found that it really didn't matter. Because we left the ship for several hours at port every day it's not like we were on board to sit around sipping free coffee and tea anyway. It's something that was a non-issue for us.
PORTS OF CALL
We were amazed at the places we went and the things we got to see. If there is any complaint about the ports it would be that you don't get to stay long enough in some of them. Santorini and Corfu are 2 that could have used at least another 3 hours each.
We enjoyed our stay on the Musica. Our time on the ship has definitely left us wanting to try another cruise but perhaps on a different cruise line. We are more suited to the Caribbean, but for first time Mediterrean cruisers we were very pleased with what we got.