Finally getting the opportunity to review the week we spent on Musica. (June 5th 2011 - June 12th 2011) I know ther are plenty of very long and very detailed reviews so i will try not to rehash the same stuff however as I found it difficult to get information in relation to Kids activities and also as there were specific questions around aft cabins I will comment on these specifically later in the post.
So to summarise i will start by saying it was our first cruise and I dont have experience with all those other cruise lines and companies so i dont have anything to compare it to. All my previous trips have involved either snow/skiing or driving holidays around Europe as I dont have an interest in being stuck in one spot for 2 weeks just lazing about and seeing very little. this is why a cruise seemed somewhat attractive.
I chose MSC Musica 1.) because a friend of mine did the exact cruise last year and loved it 2.) It was a 7 day cruise with daily stops and I felt it was enough to see if I liked cruising and if I didnt enjoy the ship at least there were some great stops. Have always wanted to see Santorini/Akropolis Dubrovnik etc.
So did i enjoy it? did i what...it was a super holiday from start to finish and I can honestly say i would find very little I could complain about.
the ship is beautiful. It is a fairly large ship and very modern but to my mind it has a real touch of Italian class and styling that I wonder if youd get elsewhere, as I say I havent been on other ships. We frequently saw other cruise liners both in Port and on sea and I can honestly say Musica looked better than most and was from what I could see on a par with some of the larger ships we saw.
Other stuff has been said about it and I dont think Ive seen any negative comments about the ship itself so wont say much more.
People have complained about the crew but I can honestly say that my overall experience was a good one. the cabin staff were fantastic and so nice. Our 2 kids got on so well with them giving them high fives and chatting to themn every time we saw them. the cabins were well maintained and we were well looked after. Ther restaurant crew were also very nice specifically at the evening meal there was the beverages guy who was Italian I think, he was extremely nice and kept our kids happy making animals from napkins each evening for them. they were fascinated. One thing I would say about the crew is that there are 1 or two (there always is) that were unhelpful and one quite rude. On the evening pre debarkation my wife went to the Accounts Desk to ask could we settle our bill early and the response was "Madam , I told you already! you will have to return between ......" you get the gist. the funny thing is that was my wifes first visit to the accounts desk all week. I quickly pulled her away from tthe desk as I knew what type of personality we had before us lol and we went to the information desk where the girl asked the correct question (Cash or credit card!) When I informed her we used a Credit card at boarding she informed us that we just had to sign the bill we would get that night and pop it back to the reception. Easy Another observation was that if you had a question about any port of call that wasnt related to an organised trip the answere was not very forthcoming. Thats kind of understanadable until you ask about transfers from the ship on debarkation to LIDO direct from the port and no one in the desk has heard of Venice Lido???She sails out of Venice every sunday for Gods sake.Cant imagine they wouldnt have heard. Anyway sorted that quickly outside the termoinal as there were ticket offices there for water transfers but it would be nice if the info desk had told me that these offices existed on debarkation!
A lot of complaints in the past more about beverages rather than fo0d. On the food point, it was fantastic . the Buffet was Open pretty much all day from breakfast bar closing to restock in between and the range and quality of this food was super. Good choice and lots of it. This is new I believe. You could also get water and Tea/ Coffee here at all times. The rooms had still and sparkling water for around 2euro er litre I think and we used one of each of these daily also. The evening meal was fantastic and there were so many courses I frequently had to leave one or two courses out as I had eaten plenty that day already lol. Had a beer package for around 70 euros and this allowed me have 14 beers so had 1 wwith lunch and one with dinner each day.Seemed reasonable to me so no complaints there. A nice bottle of Chardonnay is all we were after when it came to wine and at less than 20 quid for a nice bottle we were happy with that.
We had an aft cabin (deck 9) with a very large double bed and a sofa that converted to two single beds for the kids. The cabin itself was very nice and very comfortable with a very nice power shower and of course the aft balcony. Some people have asked about aft cabins and in my opinion they are the way to go. I sat on the balcony each evening book and glass of wine in hand and nothing beat that feeling of watching the trail from the ship disappear in the distance as you relaxed. Also you had a great view port and starboard leaving venice and sailing around the Greek islands.the balcony was nice and sheltered. One thing i would note on the negative side is there is significant vibration on docking at Port. in general i had no issues but we docked at port very early one morning and the vibration woke me. But this is small drawback as far as im concerned as i soon went back to sleep and the pluses of the aft cabin far outweighed that 1 minus.
In short, they had a ball. They loved every minute of it. They are 3year old and a 5 year old and they loved everything about the trip. they were excited by the ship, the pools, the food lol and they really got on well at the mini club! just a note on the mini club as I personally found it hard to get reviews on this pre cruise. it was nice for our 2 as the mini club was from age 3-6/7 so they were together which made it easy. the first night they were reluctant to stay and while i was there i found it strange to see the rules of the games being explained in 2-3 languages. That said my wife stayed for the hour with them and they were so engrossed at that stage they agreed to let her go for 30 minutes. After that first night they positively begged to go. We mostly kept them with us in the day apart from the odd hour here and there and tended to drop them up at 8.30 each evening after dinner for 2 hours. They really looked forward to it and we had that 2 hour downtime to pop to the bar for a glass of wine or visit the theater. They were taken to the theater by the club one night and there was even a short show just for the kids one of the days.The staff of the club were very nice and seemed to be quite good with the children. They kids especially loved using their doremi points(they got for playing games etc.) to claim prizes on the last day :-) While our kids would never be up at home till 11 they seemed to stay up late on the ship every night with no adverse effects - they were on hols so that ok......
The stops are well covered in previous reviews. I will just add - i paid for no official tours preffering to do my own thing. In Bari we got the free shuttle bus from the boat to the port entance and hopped on a Road train type tour. it was 20 euro per adult, kids free and it took 2 hours or so. It was a perfectly adequate view of BARI with an English Speaking guide and dropped us back to the ship directly.
In Santorini I hopped off the tender , queued for the cable car and wandered myself while my wife happily stayed by the quiet pool on the almost deserted ship with the kids. I walked back down the path carefully avoiding the ponies and donkeys and had time for a beer port side before rejoining the ship. In athens I left the port termonal, turned left and within 3 minutes was at a Red tour bus (Hop on/off ) and took the bus to Akropolis and returned about an hour before the ship left . Again 20 euro. In Mykonos the ship wanted 10 euro per adult and 7euro per child over 2 for the transfer. Leaving the ship there are taxis available and no one had to wait more than 5 minutes for those that dont want to pay this. In Dubrovnik we would have to pay something similar for a transfer. We exited the ship and got a local bus at the port top the old town (Number 3,1, or 1a ) for a few Kuna 2 euro or so I think and the kids were free. In corfu we gaian took the free shuttle bus from the ship to port terminal and outside got a normal city type bus for a few euro (kids free) and wandered around Corfu town which I thought was the nice surprise of the trip. One other note. In Katakolon there are buses that leave the port to Olympia and return in plenty of time to make the ship. the fare is 10 euro for the bus. Just another option. They are advertised on the main street just as you leave the port. there is usually someone trying to sell the tickets so u hardly even need to look for them.
Of course if you want to leave the kids on board while visiting a port MSC insist an organised tour. makes perfect sense as they will not leave an organised tour ashore and so there is no risk of your kids being temporary orphans. i was lucky as i like to visit what my wife terms "stones on stones" like acropolis while she likes to stay by the pool so it suited us to leave me do my archeological digs alone! To be honest the orhganised tours are probably reasonable for an adult however the price for a child is almost as much so given the lack of interest for these trips in a 3 and 5 year old wasnt much point in us all going. I do think MSC's prices for the shuttlel bus services are a tad cheeky especially for kids but as ive said doing this yourself is quite easy at those ports.
Never had an issue with queue jumping or rudeness as suggested before. there is plenty of food and plenty of buffet counters. if someone jumped forward it was usually cos they were skipping sections to get specific food (Salds,vegetarian etc.) I have no issue with this. Dont think a vegetarian should have to file past Goulash,fajitas and steaks or burgers to get to the green stuff :-)
thats it for now. Anyway Im sure I missed aspects here. If anyone has any specifics feel free to PM me. i will be happy to provide info.