We took advantage of a last minute special offer MSC were offering about 2 weeks prior to sailing. We received our Schengen visas the day before we set sail. I had decided beforehand not to set my expectations high, nor to sweat the small ... Read More
We took advantage of a last minute special offer MSC were offering about 2 weeks prior to sailing. We received our Schengen visas the day before we set sail. I had decided beforehand not to set my expectations high, nor to sweat the small stuff, things that typically irritate when on a budget type cruise. I had read some pretty poor reviews about the ship before sailing. Our cabin was on 9th deck, ocean view, Fantastica experience (although I honestly couldn't find anything to differentiate it from the Bella experience which is just below on the scale).
The cabin was smallish but fine. The bed was comfortable but the bed linen had seen better days, sheets had holes in them, but they were clean. The shower was tiny! And the plastic curtain would cling to you while you showered away. Plenty hot water though. Dubious looking shampoo and shower gel in dispensers in the shower. We opted to use our own products. The cabins and bathrooms were cleaned daily and the cabin assistant was very pleasant and cheerful. (I did lose a pair of diamanté earings that I left on my bedside table but I have no idea who else was in our cabin, i.e.: staff, servicemen or whoever...) basically I blame myself for leaving them out of the safe.
My husband became critically ill within the first 3 days on board. We suspected food poisoning, but the MSC doctors would not entertain that diagnosis...the treatment they offered was absolutely useless....at one point I thought I was going to lose my previously perfectly healthy and fit husband! We are both in our mid 50's, healthy and active. Without wanting to bore you with all the details of his illness and misdiagnosis, I will just say that he was critically ill and confined to cabin for 7 days. The doctors had arranged for him to get off the ship at our next port of call which was Senegal, Dakar, to seek treatment there! Fortunately I managed to find a South African medical practioner on board (a passenger) who offered immediate assistance to us on day 6, and we were saved the ordeal of having to go to hospital in Dakar! We are beyond grateful to that kind Doctor and his wife!!
Week 2, we began to participate in the cruise and explore all her offerings. Better late then never! the dining room and bar staff offered excellent service, they always managed a smile and were polite and friendly. the food was seriously disappointing...there was lots of it but mostly everything started tasted the same. However, the freshly baked breads in the dining rooms were delicious and we had to ration ourselves to one small slice per meal because it can become very moreish! The dining rooms offered a better quality of food, but that also became very repetitive by week 2. This was not really a big deal for us, we were happy to just have a yogurt and fruit in the mornings, salad and soup for lunch and either having a snack in the buffet or choosing from the set menu in the dining room. There was a pizza station on deck 11 which offered freshly made slices of pizza which was very good. On the same deck, there was a "grill" station, which offered burgers, hotdogs and fries which all tasted like cardboard. The gelato ice cream that one could buy on deck 11 was not worth going back to...once was enough.
We had purchased coffee, drinks, water and cocktail vouchers online before we sailed, as well as a wifi and laundry package. These were well worth it. We loved the speciality coffee shop on deck 6 which also served free mini pastries until 11.30am each morning. In fact I mostly skipped breakfast and just visited the coffee shop! We didn't attend a lot of nightly entertainment, but the few classical concerts and operettas we went to were of a very high quality and were excellent. The talks we went to were also excellent and we really enjoyed them. We enjoyed a couple of soaks in the jacuzzi which we always managed to find unoccupied which was great! a few exhilarating swims in the sea water pool when the weather was warm enough and lots of brisk walks around the decks.
We visited some picturesque ports, such as Valetta in Malta, Gran Canaria, Dubrovnik and Venice, and some lesser attractive ports aswell, but all our stops where interesting and exciting. We didn't do any ship excursions preferring just to explore on our own by foot, bus or tram. The musicians, solo artists, duos and bands in the pubs and relaxation areas were all very good! Passengers where mostly 55+ age group, I think I only saw about 5 children during my whole time at sea. There was a nice mix of nationalities amongst passengers who as far as I could tell all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely! It was also very nice to have such a large contingent of South Africans aboard, they really are friendly and relaxed, and so many of the crew that I spoke to, said how much they just love the SA passengers! I met lovely people and made friends from all walks of life. Would we go again? Sure, it's very good value in terms of what it costs. But we would make certain to travel with more emergency medical supplies next time and keep a wide berth from the medical center!
I have previously cruised on MSC, Costa and Carnival lines. Read Less