Having just returned from an 11 nights cruise inboard the MSC Fantasia I feel I can give an honest account of the experience I had.
Time from leaving airport to entering our cabin was just short of 60 minutes. Check in procedure was flawless, we had not taken the opportunity of online check in prior to departure. A smooth and well organized operation this gave me a false sense of security with that which was yet to come. Our cabin had a large porthole window and having found a double bed we asked if it could be converted to twin beds. Our cabin steward who was throughout all our cruise invisible but extremely attentive saw to this whilst we were at dinner on our first evening. Our cabin was spacious and spotless. This was a theme which ran throughout the ship as it was hard to find any area which one could describe as neglected or dirty. Indeed you would pass innumerable cleaners whilst venturing out of your cabin.
We were vastly outnumbered as British passengers on the ship, and if you can stand your ground with the more ebullient members of our European neighbours then the battle is a little more on your side. We thankfully were dinner partners with a group of Australian tourists who through their effusiveness and love of life made the cruise more bearable than we could have hoped for.
We took meals in various eateries throughout the ship and without reservation can say that the cafeteria area served food that was luke warm at best. An outstanding choice of foods could be taken here if you were content with the quality and the overwhelming crowds that descended at every meal time. We took our main evening meal in the Red Velvet Restaurant. Waiting staff in this area were outstanding and went far beyond their roles to ensure your every need was met.
Menu was varied and extensive, portions were small but if you required more than one of a particular course to satisfy your hunger this was easily catered for.
Now to move onto the dress code for the cruise. Casual, informal or formal wasn't really an issue. People on the whole dressed smart but there is no need at all to go to the trouble of packing men's suits or long dresses for the ladies. Indeed on every night of the trip we saw men and women in the dining room dressed in jeans and tshirts.
Drinks were extremely expensive in our opinion. Add to this the 15% service charge credited to every purchase at what was already over priced becomes extortionate. So beware of cruises with a good number of days at sea. This is where you become the ships money making machine. Any drinks you need on these long days have to be purchased from them. At least on shore days you nip off the ship for drinks at upto a quarter of the price.
In addition each adult pays a â‚¬6 gratuity daily to their inboard account. This company has money coming from all angles. One of the most infuriating aspects was the Grand Bazarre, basically overpriced gifts and duty free that were wheeled to various parts of the ship to ensure they missed no one. Closely followed by the ship's photography department who snapped you at every opportunity. Then on deck 7 you could view their art and gaze in wonder at the amount of Euros they want you to part with for one single print.
Now onto the ships entertainment attempts. We attended two of the evening shows in the theatre and I can unreservedly say that I have paid to see far worse. These were very professional and entertaining.
Overall and without doubt I can say that I would not consider undertaking another cruise with this company. I will in future pay more for the initial cruise outlay and hopefully pay far less for the essentials once you get cruising.