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7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami

7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami

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MSC Armonia
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Itinerary

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  • Day 1
    Miami
  • Day 2
    Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
  • Day 3
    Cruising
  • Day 4
    Ocho Rios
  • Day 5
    Grand Cayman (Georgetown)
  • Day 6
    Cruising
  • Day 7
    Key West
  • Day 8
    Miami

MSC Armonia

MSC Armonia - MSC Cruises

Pros

Five kids' clubs and partnerships with Lego and Chicco make Armonia a hit with families.

Cons

The ship is 15 years old, and the food can be hit or miss.

Bottom Line

A low-cost option for a family cruise on a mid-sized ship with plenty of activities.


Cruise Reviews

We were looking for a last minute cruise deal in the Caribbean for a family of 5 and this fit the bill perfectly. The price was well within our budget and were even able to upgrade to an unobstructed window cabin for very little extra. ... Read More
We were looking for a last minute cruise deal in the Caribbean for a family of 5 and this fit the bill perfectly. The price was well within our budget and were even able to upgrade to an unobstructed window cabin for very little extra. One huge benefit of this cruise was a special offer to add a third person to a room at no extra charge. This was an excellent value for a seven day cruise. Embarkation was a breeze and the rooms were ready when we boarded around lunch time. After unpacking in the cabin we went down to activate our cruise cards. One negative of this MSC Cruise was the tiny help desk, long lines and the feeling we were not understood when we asked questions in English. Half a star was knocked off for the time lost in help lines over the week and the difficulty in communication. The ship was a good size and we really enjoyed the international flavor of sailing with cruise-mates from 30+ other countries. We did not mind the PA in several languages. Spanish, French, Italian, German, Latvian, Tagalog, Indonesian etc.. could be heard every day. It was fun for us. Day one was at sea and after my family realized the shopping presentations were nearly a complete waste of time, we focused on relaxing and having fun. Our cabin steward, Michael Quitorio, was excellent! He took great care of us for the week and we could not be more pleased with his service. Same was true for our servers at the assigned dinner, Surya and his assistant Wency were excellent! The quality of the food at dinner varied greatly, from some of the best prime rib and Lava Cake we had ever tasted, to some of the not so tasty Italian night selections where it seemed Chef Boyardee met Stoffers and decided to cater the event together. The great news is, if you don't like what you ordered, you can always order from a standing menu of other selections. The always offered French Onion soup was very good and the strip steak more than acceptable. Of course there is always the buffet at the fantail if all else fails. We are not big drinkers so we did not spring for one of the overpriced beverage packages. A minimum of three premium drinks per person per day was the break-even point we calculated to make the beverage package worth the price. I ordered a $6.00 glass of wine occasionally at dinner and had a cocktail on other days and felt this was a much better value for us. Our teenage daughters enjoyed several of the "mocktails" as well. Concerning cocktails, another half star was taken off for a negative experience I had at one of the lounges. An Old Cuban was a cocktail offered at one of the lounges. While passing thought another, I asked for one and was laughed at by the waitress and was told a Cuban was a sandwich, not a drink. I got up and went to bar and asked the bar tender, he had said he had never heard of it and asked me for the ingredients. I was eventually served what tasted like a virgin Hemingway. A simple search on google could have saved them from the embarrassing review and lowered points. Later, I did find the Bacardi Lounge with excellent live music and actual Old Cubans on the cocktail menu. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was fine. There was always a varied selection of foods. Unlike a previous review, we did have coffee and juice available 24/7. The water and juice glasses are small. The desserts at the buffet lacked distinct flavor for the most part in my opinion. The fruit was always fresh and available. The entertainment was as varied as the menu. It was great most nights with two nights of outstanding performances and one night when armature cruise staff took over that was not so great. Usually family friendly but a bit "burlesque-ish" on one night with lots of derriere flashed. We departed the ship at all the ports. Roatan was the first and we decided to venture out on our own. After being harassed by a gauntlet of men following us and pleading for our patronage, and eventually cat calling after my daughters when we rejected their advances, we found a simple beach close to the port and hung out for a while. Having lived in Africa for several years we were not shocked by this, however for the less well traveled this might not be the most pleasant of experiences. It was super unprofessional on their part. Someday they will likely get a clue about customer service or suffer the economic effects of its lacking. I recommend going on a prearranged excursion or hiring a taxi or a guide on this island. We purchased an excursion to the Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya through Trip Advisor and Costa Maya Tours. It was awesome and I highly recommend both. Brian, our guide spoke excellent English and a fun and informative time was had by all. Cozumel was, well, a cruise port island. My opinion is due an excursion or stay on the boat. We ventured out, over paid for a bunch of tourist junk, and went back to the boat. The vendors were nice to chat with and friendly. We did purchase some tasty Mexican vanilla, but I probably could have done that online for nearly the same price. Grand Cayman was great. We overpaid on the last minute MSC deal to bus us to Seven Mile Beach, the public portion, without much around as far as amenities. I would recommend taking a taxi to one of the many resorts and hang out there, or save yourself a few $ and take the bus to one of them if you have the time. As far as the beach itself, it was awesome and by far the favorite of my teenagers! They all spent the entire afternoon snorkeling and having fun, even my one that normally does not like the beach had a great time. They all want to go back. Next day was at sea, and then the next morning back at port. Disembarkation was the easiest of any of our previous cruises. Would we go again? Absolutely! Pros- A great value (if you avoid the expensive packages) a midsize ship with an international flavor. Overall more than acceptable food and entertainment. Excellent cabin steward and wait staff. Good choice of ports and excursions. Cons-Long lines at help desk, at times less than clearly understood at help desk. Lack of an onboard laundry room for guests. Inconstant quality of service by some staff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
The number one reason we booked this particular trip was an overnight in Cuba, someone make sure that didn't happen, MSC went above and beyond in my opinion to make it up to us, they exceeded our expectations in that regard, the ... Read More
The number one reason we booked this particular trip was an overnight in Cuba, someone make sure that didn't happen, MSC went above and beyond in my opinion to make it up to us, they exceeded our expectations in that regard, the embarkation was smooth and the cabin was ready for us, our cabin attendant was extremely good, courteous and knowledgeable, the only gripe was the horrible and tiny shower in our cabin a cloth shower curtain that was eating us alive! The Pizzeria is open all the time, food was good, in the dinning room we requested at table for two and got it, but we were practically on top of the tables next to us, the food needs to be improved, the steak was tough and tasteless, prime rib night the bake potato was served with no butter, no sour cream, just plain, the staff was superb and they brought us anything we requested, for breakfast in the restaurants when you ask for cream for your coffee, they act like they have never heard such a thing! The shows for the most part were really good, the cruise director wasn't on board, but his assistant took over and he did a fabulous job, they were always smiling and cheerful. The most annoying gripe happened while having breakfast, I asked a waiter for water, his reply, "I only take breakfast orders" I told 1 of his supervisors and they apologize. We have done the Caribbean plenty of time and were looking forward to Cuba, it didn't happened :( I would sail again with them and for an old ship, still looks good and it is not a tacky palace like some other line :) We met great people at the meet and mingle, the Captain didn't see fit to join us! The MSC Divina's Captain make sure to meet us back in March of this year With a few flaws I would still sail again on the MSC Armonia Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I'm really NOT a cruise snob! I don't go around telling people how many I've been on in the first five seconds of meeting aboard a ship. I don't even display my card(s) around my neck and I'm a Chaîne des ... Read More
I'm really NOT a cruise snob! I don't go around telling people how many I've been on in the first five seconds of meeting aboard a ship. I don't even display my card(s) around my neck and I'm a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs reject. I choose my ships and cruises based on the price, itinerary, ship and if I'm solo or not. This one was offered by MSC as a 7-night leg on a 14-night back-to-back originally to Havana, Montego Bay, Georgetown and Cozumel. Political winds changed their direction and blew away Havana and Montego Bay, in blew Ocho Rios and Key West. (Note, I'm from Miami, born and raised. Sailed the Caribbean since a kid.) So if you add it all up, I embarked and disembarked like...ten times on this ship and each one was a breeze. I never had one problem getting aboard or off of the Armonia, unlike every darned ship I've ever been aboard! I mean it. No delays. No unwanted searches. The worst thing was this "Face-To-Face" intrusion imposed by the US Immigration Service. What a joke! I'm not going into the politics. Bottom line: despite lines to tenders and the gangway, they move pretty briskly. Maybe the ship was quite less than full on that cruise. Cabin was sized about right for two--another inch shorter in any direction would be cramped. Plenty of storage space, cleverly concealed. Nice touches absent such as towel animals, facial tissue or chocolates on the pillow. Equipped to the standard: flat screen TV (with very few channels), desk with electrical outlets, mini-bar, window clean enough to shoot video/photos through, direct-dial phone system, programmable safe and plenty of mirrors. Air conditioning worked great, the bed(s) was comfortable and a nice selection of pillows. Bathroom was the smallest one in which I've ever taken a shower. Love the ship. I truly respect her, as I would an aging duchess. She's gleaming, clean as a whistle yet nicked, cracked,worn and dented in places you'd expect after being trod on by millions of feet or sat upon by hundreds of thousands of buttocks. She has a lovely profile, looks like a ship instead of a hotel parked atop a slab of hull. She's gorgeous inside and outside, not screaming, projecting a luxurious and vibrant vibration. Colorful with taste, a bit dated in that Art Deco-inspired Starlight Disco. Comfortable public rooms, well-appointed Library, Bars, and my favorite space--the Cigar Room. Entertainment was enchanting. I was so impressed with how much they do with nothing onstage, it's mind-boggling. Ingenious use of minimal sets and props coupled with pre-recorded audio allowed for the performers' physical gifts and voices take over. The dancers were fluid and acted as well, the singers were excellent in several languages and the gymnasts and balancing act were superb. The DJs had an international flavor to the mix, sounded wonderfully exotic to our ears trained on disco, hip hop and rap. The lounge acts were professional, multi-cultural and talented. Service was modeled on Carnival, the leader in providing personal service in mainstream cruising. On MSC Armonia they ALWAYS remembered your name after hearing or seeing it the first time, they never abused the knowledge by shouting it out in false camaraderie at every opportunity. Everyone who has any contact with guests was polite, friendly without being overly solicitous or fake. They were quietly friendly. They took wonderful care of their guests. Particularly worth mentioning are my wonderful cabin steward, Shella and the best darned member of the waitstaff, Made. Ports-of-call were...well, I'm probably not the one to ask after this cruise. I've been there. It was fortunate I have a friend in Ocho Rios who was wonderful about meeting me just outside the pier and conducted me on a terrific unauthorized shore excursion. As far as the other places, well...except for my quest for Cuban cigars, I could have stayed aboard. I did find the best lunch and Cuban cigars in Cozumel, and the best cigar experience in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Whatever you've done there, I got the t-shirt. Key West? I got off of the ship, walked far enough away to activate my cell phone, bought a bottle of water and a hunk of fudge from this lovely lady inside this old historical warehouse, smoked a cigar next to a Rastafarian playing a steel drum for an hour, angering the anti-smoking Gestapo tourists (not the Rastaman) and walked back to the ship. (Via tram) Dining was a minor disappointment, after reading so many of the previous reviewers' opinions of the food. Food is what I'm about. Some people eat to live...you know the rest. Nothing aboard MSC Armonia will kill you. Except for the corned beef hash at breakfast. That stuff is poisonous. On the other hand, the polenta was divine. The pizza, especially the whole-wheat crust, was AWESOME! The gelato, especially the straciatella was INCREDIBLE! I should have just stuck with Italian breads and ice cream the whole darned cruise. The lack of fresh fruit in the buffet area was embarrassing. No bananas! They were all at the Vitamin Bar, or they were grabbed by the bunch by my fellow banana lovers. One bowl of pineapple disappeared immediately. One bowl of watermelon walked away by itself. Too much emphasis on melons, not enough on berries of any kind. They had a couple of Italian cold cuts, but no prosciutto that I noticed (some Oscar Meyer ham) to go with their endless parade of melons. The best cuisine on the ship was the Indian, followed by the Italian. Not enough of Asian cooking. The biggest problem: serving hot food HOT and cold food COLD. The carvery was a hit-or-miss affair. I was TOLD the prime rib was great. Everything else that I saw was mediocre (pork roast, turkey breast) to horrible (meat loaf). Why were all of the hamburgers overcooked and dry? Why were the cheeseburgers covered with ONLY American cheese? No choice, not even PROVOLONE?? Thank you, chef, for staying away from attempting barbecue. With the buffet, it's purely a coin toss. In the Marco Polo Main Dining Room, I made the mistake of failing to communicate my preference to eat alone. I also failed to notice that dinner was at 6:00, a crucial half-hour before I'm used to settling down to eat--even on other cruise lines. These two mistakes forced me to record video with unusable audio thanks to excessive noise created by my dining partners Night One; and to miss out my MDR meals (that I usually enjoy) three out of seven nights. Of course, I completely missed out on "Elegant Night." Both nights. My fault. Lobster is something I like, but it's not worth sacrificing an $11.00 cigar I'm smoking in the Cigar Room in order to eat frozen fish. The only Asian-influenced dish I tried was the Thai shrimp. Horrible. Tasteless. I had to scrape that breading off to reveal the skinny shrimp. If you think that by waving the hot chile flakes over them works, you're wrong. The Asian-influenced salad was good. The pasta was al dente. That was good. There was only ONE pasta dish or sauce offered. That was bad. The lamb was served two-sided: rare on one, medium-well on the other, AND it was lukewarm and fatty. I didn't order ONE steak the entire trip. I just didn't trust the beef, I suppose after eating one bite of their hamburger and gagged. Dry as a hockey puck. The Duck L'Orange was so fatty and so lacking in orange flavor, it was a total waste of a bird destined for duck soup. The sauce coating the mussels tasted as if it came right from a Lipton Soup package. The asparagus were delicious.The Indian dishes were superb! The desserts were pedestrian. Most of them were just too darned sweet, missing the rich flavor of chocolate or fruit! The banana and coconut tart was wonderful, marred by that raspberry coulis. I'm not going any further with this. What's the point? I got what I paid for. Canned peaches and cheap chocolate. I went to that Surf & Turf Restaurant sampling meet and greet. Everything was grabbed by the early-arrivals and cleaned off every darned tray. I got one half-flute of faux-champagne, one crab cake and one piece of that disgusting pseudo-cheesecake. A complete waste of time coupled with a hustle. Overall, I'd say the food available in the restaurants was average, mediocre--a "C" grade. If you like congenial conversation with civilized people, the Cigar Room is the place to meet. Of COURSE the place smells! Of COURSE sometimes people get a little bit boisterous--there's a bar 7 meters away. OF COURSE you can watch your favorite sport sitting in a comfortable leather lounge chair smoking your favorite stogie. They have a limited but well-chosen selection of cigars available to buy at typically inflated prices. Bottom line: it was an exceedingly pleasurable cruise, subtracting the expected food fails. I had plenty of good food and drink, lovely ladies to keep me company and a diverse crowd to enliven the conversation. Watch for my videos appearing on my YouTube channel, TeachinTV. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
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