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7 Genoa to Africa Cruise Reviews

We had read previous reviews and we must have been cruising on a different ship as the ship was beautiful spotless good furnishings and fabrics and the public toilets were kept spotless.The itinerary was 27 nights from Italy to Mauritius ... Read More
We had read previous reviews and we must have been cruising on a different ship as the ship was beautiful spotless good furnishings and fabrics and the public toilets were kept spotless.The itinerary was 27 nights from Italy to Mauritius ports included Crete Suez Canal Jordan Israel Maldives Seychelles Reunion Island.We could not call at Oman due to a Cyclone so much value for money on this cruise even with gratuities and drinks package we paid half for a four week cruise compared to a two week cruise on other companies. All the staff spoke english and were very friendly. The food was very good five courses every evening in the main dining rooms so much choice and of a good quality . Water was available free all day in the buffet restaurant until about nine in the evening .You only had to pay for water lunch and evenings in the main restaurants.Our cabin was kept spotless as was all the ship cleaning was done 24 hours a day. There was so much to do during the day and every evening there was a show. The entertainment team were a credit to the company especially Marco and the rest of the team. The english speaking guests had their own dedicated english speaking customer service advisor as did french german and spanish speaking guests. The daily information newspaper was printed in English and other languages. The cruise was magical and we have no hesitation in recommending Costa and Costa Victoria this was one of our bucket list cruises we travelled a quarter of the world and received so much value for the price we paid. We will be looking forward to booking another cruise with Costa for next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
After chaotic embarkation arrangements at Genoa we were pleasantly surprised at first by the quality of our suite. We soon found out that the advertisement of the suite as offering internet connection (with fee) was incorrect (we were ... Read More
After chaotic embarkation arrangements at Genoa we were pleasantly surprised at first by the quality of our suite. We soon found out that the advertisement of the suite as offering internet connection (with fee) was incorrect (we were simply told to go to reception and buy wifi time for connection in some public areas). My netbook had no wireless adapter! We complained and pointed out the adverts were illegal. Forward facing, giving stunning views when passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Surprisingly not too breezy when sitting on the balcony area. No problem of sea spray which did affect some suites on the side of the ship. Internally very comfortable with good wardrobe space. Just a problem of MSC not actually delivering their advertised internet connection point - and continuing to advertise the facility in spite of their knowledge that it doesn't exist. Take care - we no longer trust MSC or their advertisements. The buffet was good; the set dining arrangements were initially hopeless, but settled after a change of table. But all water at dining had to be purchased bottles rather than service from jugs. The food was average and generally lacking heat. Beware the Deals of the Day - they come to you in misleading literature - we were caught out by it and the ship would not respond with any degree of understanding to our complaint. On 11 December 2013 we complained post-cruise re internet and "Deals". After some chivying we got a reply on 31 March 2014 thanking us for our patience but telling us that our concerns had been dealt with onboard! (ie get lost). They are still advertising the internet connection point that doesn't exist!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We sailed from Genoa to Cape Town departing 25 October. Embarkation was chaotic and despite being a member of the MSC club we were denied priority boarding and it took over 2 hours. Upon arrival aboard at 17h50 we found that the Lifeboat ... Read More
We sailed from Genoa to Cape Town departing 25 October. Embarkation was chaotic and despite being a member of the MSC club we were denied priority boarding and it took over 2 hours. Upon arrival aboard at 17h50 we found that the Lifeboat drill had already taken place at 17h30 even though over 200 passengers had still not embarked. We received a letter in our cabin mildly rebuking us for not attending the drill and advising we were expected to attend a further drill next day at 12h30 in Villefranche. We arrived back at the port in good time for the last tender at 12 noon. Embarkation then took an hour and in consequence missed the second boat drill held at 12h30 whilst many passengers were still ashore. This is what is known as a re-positioning voyage because MSC has to move the vessel from Europe to S. Africa for the summer season in the southern hemisphere. Consequently they price the cruise at what appears to be good value but this is where the value ends. In order to recoup the money they then rip off passengers at every opportunity. In Valencia they announced that the city centre was a 15 minute bus ride away and that they had therefore organised a shuttle bus at a price of 15.50 euros per person. Upon disembarkation we found that the city of Valencia runs a similar public service for 3.00 euros return. We arrived in Valencia at 13h00 on a Sunday. Spain is a very religious country and therefore everything is closed. What idiot at MSC scheduled this call on such a day? No such shuttle bus was offered at any of the other ports of call despite the fact that most are located a considerable distance from where the ship docks and in some cases taxis are not allowed to enter the docks so passengers must walk to the dock gates, sometimes as much as 1 km. Any request to the reception staff for details of the next port are met with an aggressive reply and no information. Either they are not worthy of the job or are instructed by MSC not to answer such question unless the passenger has purchased an MSC Shore Excursion at exorbitant prices. A "service charge" is added to your account each but this will be deleted if you insist but for passengers booking in S. Africa this charge is collected before travel and therefore cannot be deleted. In addition 15% is added to the cost of anything purchased on board including purchases made from the mini bar, on board shops, ice cream parlour etc. It is not possible to purchase over-the-counter medicines like aspirin without first consulting the doctor at a cost of 600 euros.I made a similar trip on the Sinfonia last year in the opposite direction when all prices were in US$s but now they simply change the dollar price to euros at par making all costs about 40% dearer. I could go on and on but think this report is now long enough. My only advise is not to take an MSC cruise but especially one designated as a "Grand Cruise" Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We sailed from genoa on the 24 October to Cape Town on the MSC Opera. It is an amzing ship and had just come out of dry dock. Leaving from Genoa was with mixed feelings, a dirty port city with not much to be positive about - rip off taxis ... Read More
We sailed from genoa on the 24 October to Cape Town on the MSC Opera. It is an amzing ship and had just come out of dry dock. Leaving from Genoa was with mixed feelings, a dirty port city with not much to be positive about - rip off taxis from the airport to poor service in restaurants. That said the ship itself was first class with brilliant service. The downside was the food. If you like your meat cooked in the morning and reheated for dinner - that is what you get. The main restaurants menu was poor ( in quality), the pasta was very good as was the Risotto. The vegetables were boring and steamed to oblivion. The shows were excellent but became a little repetitive. Worst part was the cost of drinks and excursions. Beware. I bought a water package, a coffee package and a wine package before boarding. The coffee package I found only later did not include capucinno, only espresso! Best part was the service and the cabins (small but very functional). The gym was small, but functional and at times very busy. The worst part of the trip was from Walvis Bay to Cape Town - it was very rough, but the ship handled the 140km head wind very well. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We booked this trip because of its interesting itinerary, 3 nights in Genoa, followed by the cruise and ending with 3 nights in Cape Town. Previous reports of the ship were not very encouraging. Embarkation was a terrible start as it took ... Read More
We booked this trip because of its interesting itinerary, 3 nights in Genoa, followed by the cruise and ending with 3 nights in Cape Town. Previous reports of the ship were not very encouraging. Embarkation was a terrible start as it took 2 hours as previous reviewers have said. Surely it could have been handled better. However, once on board we were delighted to find the ship gleaming, elegant and comfortable. The staff were very friendly, everyone had a smile and all trying to make your voyage as enjoyable as possible. The food in the buffet was very good. Lots of fruit and salads. Plenty of choices at lunchtime for both hot and cold meals aiming to please different nationalities. All the different types of bread and rolls were very good indeed. Tea, coffee and iced water 24 hours a day somewhere on ship. Afternoon tea was a treat! The special events in the dining rooms e.g. the Italian Night were splendid with the staff giving their all. The service at second sitting in the dining rooms was very good and relaxed and you could have any table seating arrangement you wanted. On occasions the main course was a bit disappointing but on the whole the food was good and plentiful. Delicious ice-cream! Special mention has to go to the Animation Team, they were all splendid and really made the holiday. If you wanted to join in anything, and lots of people did, you were made welcome and really part of things. Aerobics and dance lessons in the sun on deck were great. If you wanted quiet sophistication there were plenty of lovely venues for you too. Crossing the Equator has to have a mention as this was a great event finishing with everyone who wanted dancing on deck in the sunshine. If you wanted fun you got it! The ports of call after Casablanca were very disappointing if you did not want to use the organised tours. I realise the Customs requirements are no fault of MSC but the arrangements at Walvis Bay were really bad and along with others, we gave up and did not go ashore which was disappointing after 6 days at sea. The views from the ship arriving into Cape Town on a sunny day with Table Mountain as a backdrop were truly memorable, you could not help but be thrilled. Disembarkation again, possibly not the fault of MSC, was very long and drawn out. Customs officials were very friendly but slow and there were approximately 2,000 people getting off the ship. Fortunately, we had booked transfers from ship to hotel and were met promptly but the queues for taxis were very long and outside the port was chaotic. Again, not the fault of MSC. Overall opinion, getting on and off the ship drawn out and tiresome. The ship itself, clean, elegant and well maintained. Food good, entertainment: shows good, Animation Team excellent. Overall memory, I feel as though I have been to a rattling good party and would travel with MSC again. It was good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our second 'relocation' cruise (the transfer of ships from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere for the summer and then vice versa in March / April); this time from Genoa to Cape Town and many exotic places ... Read More
This was our second 'relocation' cruise (the transfer of ships from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere for the summer and then vice versa in March / April); this time from Genoa to Cape Town and many exotic places in between. Last year we travelled on MSC Opera from Venice to Buenos Aires and had a similar experience. We both agreed that this year's cruise was even slightly better, in that MSC seemed to take on board our recommendations from the earlier cruise and implemented them. For example, the laundry package could now be renewed. This is essential on a 19- night cruise. Additionally, there were improved hygiene precautions at the water dispenser, lower sound levels in the theatre shows, and several other minor, but important changes, put into effect by MSC. As with all MSC ships, their hallmark is impeccable cleanliness and Sinfonia is no exception. Embarkation was painless in Genoa with modern facilities, a queue for on-line check in and another for non-online check in. Both moved quickly. We were able to book excursions and, for those who wanted to, buy drink packages before going onboard. Accommodation: We chose a balcony suite. We only choose balcony cabins on ships so that we can have fresh air and not have to sit up on the main decks all the time. The only balcony cabins on Sinfonia are balcony suites, which are more like junior suites and only cost a little more than outside cabins, so are well worth it. They are spacious with a bath in a reasonable size bathroom. There was more than enough storage space with the large bags under the bed, together with lounge area and an extra foldout bed if needed. On deck ten amidships. Meals: There are two a'la carte dining rooms, and passengers are allocated to one of these for dinner. All other meals are a free choice of time and place. There is a very good buffet restaurant, which we found ideal for lunch. Breakfast in the main dining room was pure luxury with waiters hovering around to provide everything you want. Dinner is a gourmet's delight every evening with many theme evenings from different countries. The meals are Italian- style in that there are many courses. The meals are well designed to provide a vast array of nutritional options. We felt so healthy when the cruise finished and did not put on any weight; a light lunch and regular workouts in the very well equipped gym helped this. It would be easy to put on weight as there is no limit to the food and it is all fantastic. There are other non-stop eating options of pizza and another grill bar that serves burgers, grilled meats etc. Lounges and Amenities: These are all first class; beautiful Italian decor with a mixture of art deco to modern chic. The theatre is designed to be part nightclub part theatre so drinks are served before shows and chairs can be turned around to form group sitting. We had mixed feelings about this arrangement. The pools, sporting and gym areas were excellent with a golf simulator, putting greens, and a mini soccer/basketball court at the top of the ship. There are many bars and lounges to suit all tastes and they were used for many activities on a daily bases. There was everything from games to Italian lessons. There were lectures in the theatre and plenty of information in a choice of six languages. The shows at night ranged from West End style cabaret to classical music evenings and the performances were unbelievably professional. It was hard to imagine that we were on a ship at sea. The Animation team were excellent. They work very long hours and provided tireless and cheerful entertainment and activities all day and late into the night. The Passengers: As usual, on a European ship, there was a variety of nationalities and this is the most attractive part of MSC cruises as far as we are concerned. It was great to practice other languages with different people and was a good way of making new friends. On this cruise, most people were South African so English was the most common language. The staff and crew: We enjoyed the company of very hard working, friendly, professional people from a variety of backgrounds. The waiters and housekeeping staff were excellent and loved our attempts to talk to them in Indonesian, French, Spanish, and other languages. If you want to brighten up their day learn some greetings and how to say thank you; they appreciate it and you will be rewarded. Excursions: The Excursions offered were very good and catered for a variety of tastes and time lengths. The Tour staff were very friendly and professional. It is worth going on excursions arranged by any ship as you are guaranteed that the ship will wait for you if something goes wrong and a tour staff member accompanies each tour. The tour guides in each port are locals, friendly and very well informed. The transportation is always the best available. We make it a practice to go on the most comprehensive tour, as many of the places visited are not easy or cheap to return to by plane for an extended holiday. The overall experience of MSC Sinfonia is unforgettable Relocation cruises are offered as two for the price of one or equivalent. There is nothing compromised. The food service and standard of accommodation etc. is all first class. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Background I'm a single European woman in her forties who has travelled extensively in the last 30 years. This was my tenth cruise with MSC although my first on this ship. I normally travel alone and enjoy a laid back, relaxing cruise ... Read More
Background I'm a single European woman in her forties who has travelled extensively in the last 30 years. This was my tenth cruise with MSC although my first on this ship. I normally travel alone and enjoy a laid back, relaxing cruise experience rather than an energetic 24/7 party atmosphere. My reason for choosing this particular cruise was the opportunity to have 3 weeks of relaxation, sunshine, lots of days at sea and the opportunity to visit South Africa. The great price, with the 100% single supplement waived was also a deciding factor. Getting There I'd originally booked the fly/cruise package from MSC but changed to cruise only when I discovered that the flight was to Nice and coach transfer to Genoa and they were not flying us to Pisa to join at Livorno. I received a refund of £620 which more or less covered the costs of BA flights the day before from Edinburgh to Pisa (changing at Gatwick) and the return flight from Durban. On the recommendation of other people on cruise critic, I stayed in the Max Hotel in Livorno which was a nice modern hotel with a good restaurant and pleasant modern rooms which was only about ten minutes away from the port by taxi. It is on a business park outside the town centre so not very good for exploring the town on foot but ideal for a pre cruise stay. Embarkation The ship docked at 9am from the previous cruise and they were expecting to embark passengers at Livorno and set sail by 11am before embarking more passengers later that day in Genoa, This was really too ambitious and although I arrived at the port to check in at 9am, passengers were still disembarking from the previous cruise so we had to wait just over an hour before they were able to start the boarding process. They attempted to save time by getting us all onboard and checking us in in theatre which was quite a good idea as it meant we had a comfortable seat and refreshments whilst we waited for our turn. Unfortunately we were still late in sailing which meant that the many more passengers embarking at Genoa had a very long wait. Many were very disgruntled when they finally got onboard and it had been made worse by the fact that port officials had been unable to provide any info. After checking in, in the theatre, I was escorted to my cabin by a cabin steward wearing white gloves, which I think a nice touch. In the following days there were further embarkations in Monte Carlo and Valencia. This is quite a common feature on MSC cruises Ports of Call I don't do shore excursions. This is not a reflection on those provided by MSC but rather my aversion to getting up early whilst on holiday and being shepherded about in a group. I'm far too independent and I prefer being on my own or with a few friends to being in huge groups. I've also travelled fairly extensively in Europe over the past 30 years so my preference now is just to wander about for a few hours and feel the atmosphere of a place, rather than rush around trying to see every monument or tourist site listed in a guidebook. So anyone expecting lots of detailed information on any of these ports had best read someone else's review! Monte Carlo - stayed onboard as I'd visited before and it was an early morning arrival - much preferred to sleep in after 2 days of travelling. Valencia - visited here several times before but accompanied another passenger in to town as I knew how to get there by bus and speak Spanish. Take the free port shuttle to the port entrance. Cross the road and catch the no19 bus in to the city centre. Takes about half an hour. They have a very nice cathedral and lots of lovely squares and old architecture. Casablanca; Agadir & Dakar - stayed onboard as I did not consider these the safest of places to wander about on my own, particularly in Dakar where there were real security issues (tours had armed guards) and there was a yellow fever outbreak (we'd all had to be immunised to go on the cruise). Some of my dinner companions did the City Tour & Hassan II Mosque Tour (54 euros) in Casablanca and the Taroudant tour in Agadir (42 euros). They though the first one good and the second excellent - they were all raving about tree climbing goats! They also had good shopping opportunities on both tours and came back with a selection of beautifully embroidered kaftans (one lady wore a gold one to a formal night later in the cruise and it was gorgeous) and beautiful hand made slippers. Walvis Bay - by this time I'd made good friends with 2 other solo passengers and we'd agreed that we'd do this one on our own. We weren't sure what to expect but we all absolutely loved this port and the people and places we saw. A few taxis (very few) are allowed inside the port gates. The drivers are pretty aggressive and their prices quite high (no doubt because they have to pay for being allowed in to the port). We decided that we did not want to go with them so walked to the port entrance. It is a very large commercial port and takes over 20 minutes to walk it, so not for those with mobility issues. We managed to find a lovely driver (Jacob) who had a nice car and agreed to drive us around for 3 hours for Namibian $300 (equiv 300 rand or about £25). He took us to the delightful city of Swakopmund whack took about half an hour to reach. Enroute we had the coast on one side with some very attractive new developments, gorgeous ocean views and the endless deep ochre coloured sand dunes on the other side. Jacob drove us around the city showing us the main sights. He also stopped and accompanied us to a few shops that we wanted to visit. We were very impressed by how spotlessly clean the town was and how polite, courteous and friendly the locals were. There was no one begging or trying to take advantage of tourists. We got some lovely children's clothes at bargain process and some really nice locally made handcrafts at a great shop called Kirikara (definitely recommend a visit) After that he took us to the beach and we walked along the esplanade for a bit and admired the view before heading back to Walvis Bay. On the way back we were teasing Jacob about his girlfriend and quizzing him about his marriage plans, he offered to let us meet her and before we knew it we were heading in to a Township near Walvis Bay. We were slightly apprehensive but need not have worried at all. When we arrived at her home, it was tiny but spotlessly clean. There were 4 adults and 5 children living in what appeared to only have 2 rooms. The coffee table appeared to be a crate but had a beautiful hand made lace tablecloth on it and fresh flowers in an old jar. The children were all dressed in their best clothes as it was Sunday and so polite. They spoke very little English (amazing they understood any at all) and all politely shook our hands and smiled at us all the time. I had been expecting degradation, danger and rubbish everywhere like I'd experience in a deprived area in my own country but instead we found a proud people with manners and dignity and self respect who made the best of what they had and took pride in keeping what little they had clean and tidy. They weren't looking for hand outs, didn't think they were entitled to be taken care of by the state or anyone else. I found this a wonderful and thought provoking day. It certainly made me realise that whilst we have so much more wealth and possessions in the West, the people of Namibia have so much more than we do. I shall never forget meeting the lovely Joseph and his beautiful family.( We ended up paying Joseph double what he asked for (about £50 between the 3 of us) - a 2.5 hour ship's excursion to Swakopmund was 49 euros each) Cape Town- V&A waterfront and another in the city centre. We did not buy tickets for this as we felt that it would only be a very short walk to the V&A hop on hop off bus stop. We were right it took just over 5 minutes so definitely not worth buying a ticket if you were getting off at the first stop. We bought tickets for both the blue and red routes. (R200 appx £15) We took the route that took us through the city centre and then up to Table Mountain first. Unfortunately we could not get the cable car because it was too windy. We then continued on to camp's bay where we had a lovely lunch in a seafood bistro on the waterfront. Also had a glass of bubbly and the meal was only about £12 each. We then went on to finish that route and swapped over to the next route where we went to Kirstenbosch gardens, Hoit Bay before ending up at Seapoint in the early evening. We went to the bar which is on the 26th floor of the Ritz hotels and provided fantastic views of the sun setting over the city. We had a few glasses of bubbly each (for about£1 a glass!) before grabbing a taxi back to the ship (about £5), All in we spent 11 hours ashore and had a great time despite rather cool and windy weather. MSC's 4 hour City Tour & Table Mountain tour was 55 euros and 2 hour Sundowners Tour to Signal hill (including one glass of wine & canapEs) 49 Euros. Total 104 x 3 = 312 euros versus our equivalent which lasted 5 hours more and included lunch and lots of bubbly was R1200 about a third of the price Durban - we disembarked here. Most of the passengers who had MSC provide their flights had afternoon flights back to the UK connecting in Johannesburg. I'd arranged my own flights and had decided to stay a couple of days in the Beverley Hills Hotel at Umlanga Rocks. This was a fantastic hotel right on the Indian Ocean which I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone. They had a restaurant, continental cafe and a good room service menu. Service and friendliness of the staff was second to none. Had lots of nice little touches too like hand written weather forecast for the next day with a nice hand made chocolate at turndown service, welcome pack of fruit, Lindt chocolates and a nice bottle of Pinotage. Cabin I booked a suite as these are the only cabins to have a balcony. It was located starboard at the front of the ship on deck 12. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table and is fine for 2 people but would be a bit of a squeeze if there were more than that. Unlike some suites it doesn't have a separate bedroom from the living area, just one long room (about the same width as a standard cabin but double the length) There is a sofa (which I think converts to a sofa bed), coffee table, mini bar with cupboards either side and the TV. The bed is queen size (although can convert to 2 twins). It has a bedside cabinet either side. The wardrobe is much larger than the standard cabins and is the walk in type. There is also a dressing table that is fitted with 2 European and 2 US power sockets. The mirror opens out to reveal yet another cupboard and the mini safe. Along side the wardrobe are 2 further full height shelved cupboards with a large mirror and glass shelf unit in between. The bathroom is the same width as a standard cabin but longer, so has an additional cupboard in the vanity unit below the sink and has a bath rather than just a shower. The bath is not huge but at 5'7" was absolutely fine for me. I certainly appreciated it the days we had extremely rough seas, as I don't think I'd have managed to stay standing up having a shower! In addition to lots more space, other extras in the suite are a real hairdryer with diffuser attachment (rather than the horrible wall mounted variety with the bendy hose) and robes. I found the bed extremely comfortable and whilst I would have preferred a duvet rather than sheets and blanket, the bedlinen was of a good quality. The cabin was well maintained and my cabin steward kept it spotless. I liked having a fresh fruit bowl too which was regularly replenished. Bathrobes are provided but they are not that big. Ladies if you are bigger than a size 18 you'll need to bring your own. Bars and Lounges There are a number to choose from both day and night. . They serve a range of soft drinks, beers, virgin cocktails, cocktails and spirits and coffees. Le Baroque (Coffee shop) - deck 6 aft above the reception area. Wide range of teas and coffees (including hot, cold and liquor). Also serves full bar menus of soft drinks, spirits and cocktails. It's a nice meeting point and a great place to people watch I strongly recommend the Amaretto cappuccino. Sometimes has live music in the evening. It's open 6.30am-12.00 midnight and is completely non smoking Shelagh's House (Irish Pub) - deck 5, stern below the theatre. It closely resembles an Irish pub but I would not recommend it, unless you are a smoker as it is the smoking bar. Opens 10.00am - 2.00am The Manhattan bar - very pleasant lounge that has a programme of live music and other entertainment (musical quizzes, art auctions etc) (many of the shops run alongside it). It has a small dance floor and opens from 07.00am until 1.30am. Non smoking Buddha - martini Bar (piano bar) - midship deck 6 handy for the smaller Il Covo dining room and directly above the entrance to the main dining room Il Galeone, It specialises in Martinis and has live music all evening (but just to listen to as there is no dance floor). Open 5.00pm-1.00am. This was my favourite as I loved the atmosphere and the live music particularly the classical duo of flautist and pianist although Alberto the pianist who sang easy listening and mainly well known Italian and English songs was quite good too. Non smoking. Sinfonia bar & Lounge - the main show lounge directly above the theatre. Has live music and dancing every evening as well as a variety of other entertainment hosted by the young and energetic Entertainment team (cabarets, competitions, games, talent shows etc). The captain's cocktail parties are also held here. The live band Corazon Latino was very good. The Entertainment team were invariably present and frequently got passengers up to dance especially those travelling solo or with a partner not inclined to dance. Opens 8.00pm-1.00am. Non smoking Casino Bar - opens 4.00pm until the last gambler leaves! Smoking bar Pasha Disco - aft deck 12. Opens from 11pm until late (after 1am depending on when passengers leave). This is quite a nice relaxing place to chill out and read during the day as it has great views. On our particular cruise it was a Bridge themed one and some of the competitions were held here during the day. There are 3 bars on deck 11 (pool deck). Capri Bar top end of the pool 08.00am -11.00pm. Bolero Bar, bottom end of the pool and beside the open air Grill and pizza bar - 10am -8.00pm, Caffe Del Mar (Buffet Bar) aft in the buffet itself - 6.30am-08.00pm Drink packages Soft Drinks - 28 euros - 14 drinks Small beers - 35 euros - 14 beers Large beers - 59 euros for 14 Cocktails - 69 euros- 12 drinks Water - 20 euros - 14 still or sparkling 75cl bottles There are also wine packages available but I did not note the prices. Restaurants and Food Breakfast - You can choose from continental served in your cabin 7.30-10am but needs to be ordered before 3am), buffet in La Terrazza on deck 11 (7.00-10am)or a la carte breakfast in the main dining room (7.30-9.30am). If you can't wait for your caffeine intake there is early birds coffee served from 6.30 -7.00am' These times were for At sea days and were occasionally earlier when we were early in to Port. I didn't use the buffet at all on this cruise as I prefer waiter service of the dining room. The choice there was reasonably extensive with a variety of fruit juices (carton variety rather than fresh squeezed), fruits, cereals, variety of bread, rolls and pastries (I particularly recommend the pain au chocolat - avoid toast as they don't make it like you'd expect - stick to the fresh bread, rolls etc). You can have eggs pretty much anyway (the omelettes are very nice as is the scrambled eggs), bacon (bit on the crispy side for British tastes0, ham, sausages, potatoes of the day 9usually sautEed), grilled tomato. They also have smoked salmon which you can have on its own or with cream cheese and a bagel. You can have pancakes too and they also have yogurts. Lunch - if you want to dine in the open air on the pool deck, then your choice is the pizzeria which makes a variety of excellent pizzas or the grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads both open from 12.00-2.30pm. There is also the buffet on deck 11 from 12.00-2.30pm or the main dining room 12-2.00pm. (again these are the At Sea times and sometimes changed when in port) Lunch in the dining room has a selection of 6 courses available - appetizers; salad; soup; pasta and rice: main; dessert. Meals at lunch time tend to be more international than in the evening. I particularly liked the variety of soups especially the chilled consommEs and fruit soups (very varied and absolutely delicious). Appetizers were invariably good and very varied. Pasta was always good too, although the rice dish which was usually some kind of rice salad, which could be a bit bland or dry on occasion. Main courses would always include eggs (e.g. omelette. Eggs Benedict; a fish dish; meat and a sandwich (which could be on ciabatta, foccacio or just bread) they always have hamburgers, cheese burgers etc available too. Desserts always include the ice cream of the day as well as sugar free alternatives and fruit is also available. On the whole I enjoyed most meals. Sometimes the food was warm instead of hot. I was less keen on the chicken dishes, simply because they do not use boned pieces and I can't be bothered trying to get the meat off the bones, especially when it is smothered in a sauce. Afternoon tea - is served 4-5pm. They have a selection of teas (Prince of Wales; Assam; English; camomile; peppermint and a few other herbal & fruit infusions) Coffee is also available. The cakes, and biscuits are Italian and may not be what Americans or the British are used too, but very nice. They also served dainty little sandwiches and filled rolls. Dinner is served in the dining rooms at allocated tables. There are 2 sittings; I chose the second at 8.45pm as the first at 6.30pm was too early for me. Dinner also has 6 courses available which are less international, usually with the food from a different region of Italy each night (although on a longer repositioning cruise of 18 nights earlier this year, they did do themed dinners from other countries e.g. Middle East, orient, Greek etc) they also have grilled salmon, chicken or steak available every evening and spaghetti Bolognese, if you don't fancy the main courses available. We had 4 gala dinners in the 20 nights we were onboard. I was seated with 7 other British people, 1 couple and the rest solos like me. We mostly got on well together and had good conversation each night. We had a really good assistant waiter but our main waiter whilst competent was clearly disinterested in his job and just wanted to be back home with his family. This was my tenth cruise with MSC and I found that overall the quality of the food was the best on this particular sailing. I heard almost no complaints from other English speaking passengers about it either. Like lunch my favourite courses were the appetizers, soups and pasta although I also enjoyed the risotto too. Most main courses were either good or excellent. I rarely had a dessert but when I did, usually the ice cream or something lighter like mousse or crème brulee, I enjoyed them. Unlike on European sailings, free iced tap water was available in the dining room. Midnight buffet /snacks- there was only one Midnight buffet - the Buffet Magnifique on the evening of the last Gala night. Every other night snacks were served just outside the Buddha Bar on deck 6 served from 11.30pm and had a different theme. Can't comment on this as having just finished 4 or 5 courses an hour earlier, could not contemplate eating again. Crew For me the real stars (as always on MSC) were the dining room, bar and cabin crew. Gilbert my cabin steward was an absolute delight and kept my cabin immaculate. He always had a smile and a few words of welcome every time I saw him. When I didn't go down to dinner one night because I was feeling a bit ill with a sore throat, he came to check that I was ok. Many of the dining room staff were Balinese and absolutely charming. They always had a welcoming smile and soon got to know and recognise passengers. The bar staff were friendly too and happy to chat to passengers. From previous cruises with MSC I knew that the Italian Officers and Reception staff were usually aloof and often unhelpful. However on this sailing that had improved too. I found all the reception staff to be very pleasant and efficient I also had to see one of the officers about my account and he was absolutely charming. If you passed any of the officers, the majority would greet you with a smile and a few words of greeting. "Buon Giorno or Buona Sera" goes down a treat with them and guarantees you a smile! Entertainment There were 2 showings of the main show in the Broadway theatre each evening to coincide with the end of each dinner sitting. The theatre itself is beautiful and has good sight lines regardless of where you sit. Unlike other MSC ships, there were tables in here and waiter service before the show, but personally I prefer the other more usual style of theatre they have with no drinks or food. The shows had to cater for 5 languages so tended to be either visual acts (such as cirque oleil style acts; magicians; dancers; or musical. There were 3 opera singers onboard (2 tenors and a soprano) and 5 classical musicians. 8 of the 18 shows were classical concerts. These were extremely popular as they were incredibly talented musicians. One of the tenors in particular could easily have graced the stage at La Scala or Covent Garden, he was that good. Many of us were of the opinion that we would have gladly bought tickets to see them and were disappointed that they did not have any CDs we could buy. They got standing ovations every night and frequently either moved me to tears or had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. They also did a Michael Jackson Tribute one night which was amazing and I don't think there was a dry eye in the theatre. There was usually some kind of entertainment hosted by the very energetic group of young Italians forming the Entertainment team going on day and night. Day time tended to be dance lessons, quizzes and bingo (in 5 or 6 languages); competitions and games on days at sea there were also Italian lessons, arts and crafts and other demos and talks). As this was a Bridge themed cruise there were daily lessons as well as competitions. Gym, Spa and other facilities The gym had recently been kitted out with new equipment and there was never a problem getting a treadmill or a bike (the ship was at less than 50% max occupancy though). They had a good range of free weights and weight machines. The gym is situated right at the front of deck 11 beside the spa and you got great views from up there. It did however mean it also felt the motion of the ship the worst when the sea was rough... The thermal area was situated here too and it was absolutely beautiful. I really loved the dEcor in the large Turkish bath and the showers were great with, overhead, side and rain effects. They also had huge ceramic loungers that were heated. I could happily have spent hours in this area, relaxing and staring out to sea. The normal price was expensive at 16 euros for an hour but they also introduced a number of specials (2 for 16 euros or unlimited use throughout the cruise for 99euros) I used the spa a lot as I'd bought 2 spa packages pre cruise. This included (total cost £308 for 9 treatments that included a number of different Balinese massages, a pedicure, manicure and a few others. It was supposed to be a saving of £172 on the onboard price but with the pound having fallen dramatically against the euro, I saved much more than this). Not many passengers were using the spa either, so there were always offers to be had where you could get free treatments if you bought products or discounts if you bought more than one treatment. I'd certainly recommend the Balinese massages with hot lava stones - it was bliss. They have a hairdresser too, The outdoor pool is salt water and not heated, so is fine when in hot weather but can get a bit chilly. The pool area itself and deck above have lots of sun loungers available (which are all fitted with an adjustable face shield). Even on sea days, there was never a problem finding a lounger (but then the ship was not full). At certain times of the day there are activities by the pool - quizzes, games, dance lessons etc which can be a bit noisy sometimes so if you fancy some peace and quiet then head for the small deck areas aft from deck 8 upwards to 12. There is also a small library which I did not use but from previous experience of MSC ships would expect it to have only a small selection of books in English. There is a well equipped medical centre (with extremely proficient and friendly staff), A casino; slot machine area; cyber cafe; photo shop and a variety of other shops (clothing;; duty free; perfumery; electronics and a limited range of toiletries) There is also a children's club on deck 11 but as I don't have children, can't tell you anything about it. There is no self service laundry onboard, but they do have a laundry service which is quick and good. MSC Club members get 10 items of laundry done free of charge. Disembarkation We were supposed to vacate our cabins by 8am and be ready for our "colours" to be called by 9am. (They call passengers off in groups depending on the colour of the luggage labels you've been given. Those with early flights get allocated colours for the first group, likewise any doing a disembarkation tour). I was in about the 3rd or 4th group to be called at about 9.15am, however as I'd arranged with my hotel that they'd send a driver to pick me up at 10am, I waited until just before 10 and left with another group. . Overall Opinion The Good The food, my cabin, the shows especially the operatic singers and the great relaxed laid back atmosphere and the lovely people I met onboard. With this being a relatively small ship by today's standard and being just under half full, it was easy to get to know the other passengers and there were a significant number English speaking (Lots of Brits and South Africans and a few Americans, Canadians and Aussies) The Bad The weather was fine and sunny until the day before we reached the equator but then it turned chilled and windy for about 6 or 7 days and we had some rough seas. We'd been informed that the onboard currency would be the US$ but we were all rather annoyed to discover that it was still in Euros and did not change to dollars until the cruise after ours. This made the onboard prices more expensive especially as the pound had fallen more against the euro than it had against the dollar. The 3 flight, 20 hour marathon return home. With hindsight, I think it would have been better to have done the Northbound sailing in April that way I would not have had some of the benefits of 3 weeks of relaxation undone by the overnight cramped flight home, before going straight back to work. The Ugly A hardcore of passengers (about 20) who were so incensed about the "currency issue" that they made it the entire focus of their cruise. They were organising petitions, organising meetings with officers, harassing other passengers to take part in a sit in at disembarkation, protest by not spending any money onboard etc. I may not have been over the moon about the prices being in euros but overall I'd had a great price for a suite and had had the usual 100% supplement waived, so ending up spending an extra £100 or more onboard was no big deal and certainly not one important enough to ruin my cruise or let the "protest group" ruin it. Fortunately you could usually hear them before they saw you, so you could take evasive action and take another route to where you were heading! So in Summary this was a great cruise despite the sometimes uncooperative weather. Had exactly what I wanted a very relaxing time, being waited on hand and foot by fantastic friendly staff who could not do enough for me. Met some great people and visited some unique places. Postscript After returning home, I wrote to the MSC UK office to complain about having been misinformed about the currency and also the issues at embarkation. I was extremely pleased with their response which included a full apology, percentage refund of my onboard spend, an onboard credit for my next cruise and a discount on the cruise price of any cruise booked up until the end of 2011. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009

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