Hi there, and Happy New Year to all.
The cruise was wonderful with many fantastic aspects besides the horrible weather we had.
Embarkation was swift as always. Our cabin was ready as early as we boarded which was about 11:30 am. There were staff to walk us to the cabin but we told them we did not need this and to show another passenger to their cabin instead. With a slight glitch in dining for my parents who were on this cruise, we waited until the time of 1 pm to meet in the meeting room near the Zebra lounge and it was fixed my the restaurant Manager, Giovanni, who remembered me from each of my other cruises.
Each time in the dining room I would get a warm welcome and some conversation with Giovanni and Luigi who is a wonderful host to the dining room on deck 5. We ate dinners on deck 6.
They have continually tried to please American passengers with more dining options and extended times. Now you can eat in the buffet on gala nights. It is now open each night.
They had a beverage station which served American coffee, tea, ice water and had extra ice 24 hours a day on deck 13 by the grill station.
They had the lunch buffet open from 11:30 -2:30 and then the grill and pizza open from 11:30-4, then tea time from 4-5, then the great pizza began from 6:30 to 9:30 and the regular nightly buffet was open from 6:30 -8:15.
They had nightly selections of sandwiches and other stuff from 11:30 -? and one night freshly made crepes with ice cream was served. On some other nights they had savory items brought to the lounges and served by a waiter.
The ship was clean as always and sparkling. One thing I did notice was the man who usually is there the entire cruise polishing the brass rails of the stairways was not there at all times. This was a big difference from our other cruises.
Dining was wonderful for us. We had late seating and the only big issue was that there was an infant sitting around the corner from us who screamed the entire time while we ate each night. We asked why they could not take care of this, and it seems the European way is to include the kids no matter what. Our answers to this was "its a baby, how do we control this?" We thought, its the parents who need to take the baby out..."
It did not happen and this was our only sore spot. We did an"occupy Poesia" the last formal night and we all dressed nicely but not formally in protest of the screaming baby in a fine dining experience. It was one of the nicest formal nights I have ever had.... no more need to glam up and glitz up for us to sit at a table and then change after.
Drinks were great and the most inexpensive on any cruise line. They have the best and freshest Mojito at the Mojito bar on deck 13. They now also have frozen Mojitos. They have wonderful drink packages that you can get once on board. Either the drink package or the one that is just non alcohol which one of our friends got for 25$ for 12 drinks, including tax and tips.
We had a big surprise with this cruise being " baseball Greats" instead of what I thought it was all along, the memories of conway which was listed.
My father got a kick out of this as did many others on board.
The food was wonderful. One of our table mates, a friend we meet on RCI 5 yrs ago is a foodie. He loved every meal with standouts and ordered many other entrees to try it. Heck he can, he is a guy with no body fat....
The standouts were the veal, lamb and the fillet. The lobster was to die for , over the top fabulous. I had told them all not to expect anything from the half split lobster we have always had issues with in the past. WHAT A NICE SURPRISE....they got LOBSTER TAILS and they were done to perfection.
They were generous with them and I had 5 myself!
The fillet was done perfectly with a wonderful sauce on top. They did a great job with the vegetables and one night served the cutest little squashes and root vegetables.
We were on the 10 night and had nice menus. If you see Canneloni for entree I would suggest getting it as appetizer. It is wonderful but not enough as a entree. They serve 2 of them, and nothing more on the plate.
The pasta dishes that were special were just that. The pasta served at poolside for demo was out of this world. The dish Giovanni made with the black olives and garlic was a treat. They also made a wonderful lemon shrimp, YES LARGE SHRIMP, but they did not serve it over pasta so the wonderful sauce was wasted on this dish, although it was very good.
The desserts were mostly very good. The panna cota is wonderful and unlike the junk you get on other cruises. A standout was the REALLY FABULOUS baked ALASKA. They do the parade of them with real fire, one of the last cruise lines to do this. They have the best baked alaska also. The meringue is done perfectly with the right amount of sugar and baking to make it perfectly blend into the ice cream. They used a coconut or banana ice cream, we could not tell. Last year it was butter pecan , and the yr before it was pistachio ice cream. The sponge cake was the perfect size for the bottom layer. You could actually taste it and it was more than just a sponge cake. The flavor was great.
The entertainment was a bit different this year. The dancers really were not up to par as the other years, but still way better than on any other cruise line. Just inferior to what we have seen in the past. Nothing against girls from England, but this dance crew was mostly English not Italian and a lot of their sensuality in dance was not there this time.
The singers were the highlight. Better than mere words can give them.
Mimma has always been our favorite and she was a joy to see and listen to again. Her set on Barbra Streisand is the best that she does. She did this years ago and to our joy it was done again this cruise. Also, the best of Broadway was a delight for us too. The tenor was brilliant as was the soprano. There was another singer too, I forgot her name, she was very talented too and added to the shows.
We had a Russian bar act that was a bit different from this act we saw years ago. We had the scarf act which was wonderful and the trapeze couple that was fabulous also. They are a couple and you can sense their connection throughout each performance they did.
Although I do not like jugglers, they had a wonderful one who did very different things and his finale with the speed of the juggling was awesome to see. They had a trick bike artist and a female body contortionist also.
They added Tyler who is the American game host. It was very interesting to get to know and we shared many a story with him. He is now doing "American" trivia and games at times that do not conflict with the wonderful MSC animation team trivia games.
As always the animation team was brilliant. They are the host and hostesses with the most on the cruise. They work night and day. They dance with you and my mom loved this. My dad does not dance anymore especially with the ship rocking as much as it did this cruise. We hit really bad weather on the ocean.
The bands were very good: There were old time classics: Fillipoand the trio Stravinsky. The band in the BAr Dei Poeti was Duo Jazz and Cart Aria,
in the Zebra Lounge they had The Metrotone Band and Duo Hot Pepper which was very good.
For the Latin lovers they had in the Pigalle Lounge the Mambo Kings.
Angelica was the piano player in the wine bar.
The days were filled with non stop fun around the pool.
They had wonderful arts and crafts which my mom did and really enjoyed. They had ceramics with real clay and then when it dried they painted it. She is the artist in the family. They also made paper flowers and hand painted t shirts with markers. Her t shirt is a piece of art. ALL this was free.
She also won the fill in the entire card of bingo once again. She won this last year on the first day of the cruise winning over 800 $ last year, and this year she won the last one of the cruise, winning over 500$.
Embarkation was swift and easy. You go to a designated area and wait to be called. You get called and you walk right out. We were done and through customs swiftly.
Thank you MSC to another wonderful cruise with brilliant entertainment, wonderful cuisine and wonderful hosts and hostesses of the MSC cruise line. We thought the staff was fabulous and it was once again, OUR FAVORITE cruise again.