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307 Genoa to Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Review on MSC Divina Cruise November 5 - 25/2019, 20 days Genoa to Miami Arrival: Received no information on how to pick up access card to our cabin Cabins were not ready, they informed us to go and have lunch, followed by an ... Read More
Review on MSC Divina Cruise November 5 - 25/2019, 20 days Genoa to Miami Arrival: Received no information on how to pick up access card to our cabin Cabins were not ready, they informed us to go and have lunch, followed by an announcement. The promised announcement we could not hear, because of the masses of loud guests. Waiting with our carry on, we finally heard from other guests, that the cabins were open and the cards, pre-ordered excursions packages will be on our beds. That is security? Security: Access cards, with either Visa or cash added, also packages loaded for drinks and Spa, had all information on it, like full name, cabin #... We do travel a lot and most 3 to 5 star hotels have blank cards in case guest loose the cards or if they are stolen. We found and returned 2 cards, and an other guest found a card in Bridgetown. Just luck if someone honest finds these cards. Cabin safety box malfunctioned once and could not be opened without assistance and resetting the pin#. The assistant said that this was normal and would happen to everyone eventually. Nobody we talked to encountered this issue. It left us wondering if someone tried different codes and left us locked out? Safety: At MSC restaurants there seems to be no consideration for food allergies. I have a walnut allergy. I talked to chefs, and other staff, they just say ask. Two kind of muffins and in 20 days, not ones they could confirm no walnuts/nuts in their baking/muffins. Instead they covered walnuts over fruits, all cheeses. Even airlines take nut allergies serious. The air in the cabins was extremely try. They were so many guest/staff coughing. No wonder, the hand sanitizers did not work well, people tried, than walked away without. Excursions: We pre booked 6 Excursions, 7 months prior online from MSC, fully paid in US $s. When booking 6 excursions online, twice it said not completed, the 3rd time “Success”. After checking our Visa, we discovered 3 x 6 excursions charges. In our cabin we only found 4 out of 6 excursions vouchers. We expected good quality excursions, as we booked direct from MSC. What a disappointment! 2nd tour in Spain, was the worst tour we ever experienced. The tour guides microphone did not work, two languages, the French group was 75% and loud without consideration for others. For US $120.- left without learning anything, just frustrating. After reporting all to the Excursions desk, we only heard sorry... After our second excursions to Valencia Spain, we decided to cancel all our other 4 tours. Contacting MSC (prior to cruise):impossible! We sure never got through direct. Hours wasted. Staff: The waiters, helpers and room cleaning staff were very efficient, friendly, courteous, and performed their jobs to perfection and interacted with the guests. The reception and excursions personnel were not helpful and rude, not customer friendly. They also showed a lack of experience. Everything went wrong in our Puerto Rico docking. It would have been our longest port stay, but turned into the most frustrating experience on such a lovely island. Only a day prior they informed us that all passengers and crew must go off the ship, and go through USA immigration border control. No one was allowed to go back onto the ship till everyone had USA clearance, planned for 17:00 hrs. The numbers associated with disembarking times were not respected and honoured. Total chaos! On top they ordered that day a huge safety drill on the same deck as embarkation. Passengers were herded like cattle, and 3 hours delayed schedule. On the return to board the ship, passengers got frustrated with the time delay and disorganized crowd control. Even fist fights erupted and wheel chairs were not given a safe entry, again total chaos! The higher up white jacket staff in restaurants, were bullies telling us where to sit at table for 9 with 4 different languages, no choice given. There were not enough tables for 2 or 4. We learned quickly just to ignore them and choose our own table. MSC Photographers were extremely aggressive, and did not respect the word no. They were a total attacking nuisance in the hallway, dinner table, on shore etc. Many glossy photos had to be scrapped, what a waste. Shows: only 3 out of 20 shows were okay, all others boring and repetitive. 4 were one man shows, for this large theatre? Accounts: charity charges were added without our permission after our final bill was settled at 20:00 hrs the day before departure, to our surprise they added a charge from the room fridge, that had been locked 24 hrs prior. We disputed it, since we never consumed any items from the bar fridge. This was not an easy task. It meant a second time standing in line and wasting time. Closure: I don’t use the word never often, but in this case never MSC again! We are not first time cruisers, and thankfully did not have these major issues with other cruise lines. Many of our fellow passengers felt the same. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This was my first cruise on MSC. I was very apprehensive, as all the reviews were negative. Embarkation was find. Our cabin and steward were great. The food in the dining room not so great. Food had no flavor and meat was tough. ... Read More
This was my first cruise on MSC. I was very apprehensive, as all the reviews were negative. Embarkation was find. Our cabin and steward were great. The food in the dining room not so great. Food had no flavor and meat was tough. One night they had crab cakes. I could not find an ounce of crab. Only mashed potato filling. Food in dining room was a step above dining room. Waiter in dining room was a little disorganized. His manager watched him constantly, which made him nervous. Lounge entertainment was lacking and boring. A lot of entertainment started too late at night (disco 11:30 pm). I enjoyed the theatre shows, but they could have been longer than 30 minutes. 1 English channel until crossing the Atlantic. After that we lost it for the rest of the trip. They offered us free movies, which had problems with the pixels halfway through the movie. Others had the same problem. Communication was bad. Usually you have tv channel with cruise director informing you of all activities. Everybody was confused what time the ship was leaving San Juan. The time was not clear. Everybody had to get off ship until immigration was completed. Some were not able to get off before 5pm. Nobody had a clue when we could get back on the ship. No announcements, different answers. Elderly sitting in terminal in wheelchairs waiting to get back on. We finally got back on at 7pm. Left San Juan at 1:30 am. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I love cruising and have been on many before. My partner however had never been. We thought a Costa short break would be a great way to introduce him. I’ve travelled on Costa before so I knew it wouldn’t be the same standard as Royal ... Read More
I love cruising and have been on many before. My partner however had never been. We thought a Costa short break would be a great way to introduce him. I’ve travelled on Costa before so I knew it wouldn’t be the same standard as Royal Caribbean or Princess but we are so disappointed with Costa after this trip that I will never cruise with them again. The apathy of the staff and customer service representatives are the most disappointing elements. We decided to get a suite which came with some nice perks like a free pass to the spa, a drinks package, personal butler, and free access to the club restaurant. Most of these things were not worth the ticket price. The room was great and always clean - we really cannot complain about the quality of the rooms, they are dated but comfortable. This is true for the entire ship really- everything looks like it was designed in the 90s but is still clean and functional. However this is not enough to make me consider cruising with them again. Our main complaints surround their customer service. 1) before we left for the cruise we called up to find out the itinerary- with most cruise lines they give these to you in advance so you know dress codes and arrival times for the ports. We never received this so I called Costa (I massively regret not emailing now). They told me we arrived in Barcelona at 8am and could disembark at 9am. We booked a tour of Sagrada Familia (not with Costa) for 12:30. Well it turns out that was incorrect and we didn’t arrive until 1300. We wasted 50€ on tickets that were unusable (we tried but failed to get in). We returned to the ship and spoke to the hospitality desk. They told me I was too vague and they couldn’t do anything. Despite phone records proving I made a call to them they decided I was wrong and simply misunderstood what I was told. No compensation given. 2) when playing in the casino one evening we won 180€ playing poker. We cashed out on our Costa card and left for our cabin, we were pleased and thought hey this compensates a bit for the missing 50€ from earlier. Unsure of how the casino works we just assumed this credit would be applied to our final bill but we didn’t receive the final bill until the morning of disembarking. Highly unusual for a ship as it give the customer no time to register any issues with their final bill. This is when we realised that we needed to get the cash from the casino directly. Again we went to hospitality who said no problem it will open at 9and we can get the money then. We waited for 45 minutes and no one came. They kept saying just wait someone is on their way but if we stayed any longer we would have missed our flight so we had to leave. We instantly contacted Costa and asked to be compensated and we were told too bad. This left us 230€ in the hole with the two issues combined. It’s interesting that they have no problem charging the room for the casino but have big issues crediting the room. Other issues we encountered: Using the spa - they fail to tell you that you can only use your free access to the spa when in port. We came back early from Marseille to use the spa and the entire time we were there they had tours going through the spa. I was changing in the change room and had a constant stream of new passengers taking a tour of the facilities. I found this very humiliating and uncomfortable- not the relaxing experience I was hoping to have. The club restaurant - you get the same food as the main dining hall. We saw no difference except we didn’t have a set dining time and it was quieter. However with this also meant we missed out on some of the fun of the main dining hall and didn’t get the farewell celebration that the main restaurants got. The drinks package was great - no complaints on this end. Definitely worth it to not have to worry about your drink bill. Our butler was polite but I’m not sure what he did. Definitely wasn’t worth the extra service charge we were charged for his apparent services. Anytime we spoke to someone we simply asked for on board credit - we would have happily spent this money on board or something towards future travel but every time Costa replied too bad and they hope it doesn’t affect our trust in Costa. Well it certainly has and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convince my partner to cruise again. If you decide to cruise with Costa get everything in writing and remember that this is a budget cruise. They couldn’t care less about your experience and are simply packing people on board to take as much as they can. We’ve been burnt by them and will avoid them forever. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We chose this repositioning cruise because of the itinerary and wanted to do more of South Africa. Overall the ship was clean and tidy, the staff must take a lot of credit for this. But we were disappointed over a lot of things such ... Read More
We chose this repositioning cruise because of the itinerary and wanted to do more of South Africa. Overall the ship was clean and tidy, the staff must take a lot of credit for this. But we were disappointed over a lot of things such as the following (some can be attributed to the staff having to say it in several languages and people talking over it). - The mandatory emergency drill briefing was not clear or audible -Deck 7 (promenade deck) wasn’t made use of by the shipping line as they could have put chairs on it to encourage people to use it - slow restaurant and wine service - food served was poor, what highlighted this was the tv kept on showing a 5* meal being created for passengers but it was never served or seen on any menu - Some wines ran out at the beginning of the voyage. Also some bars ran out of a type of wine yet other adjacent bars had it - the savannah bar didn’t have enough staff when busy yet in the adjacent bar they were standing around doing nothing - the staff and management were confused over what you were entitled to re your bar package (why not simplify it?) - a lot of the shows were poor (a lot of people also voiced this), the shows kept on having a circuses act in the middle!,!!! In fact there were a lot of people including us, who had to leave as they were so bad The TV service was almost non existent especially galling when we couldn’t see the rugby. - the ship’s captain was changed during the cruise but the passengers were not told until after the event (not that we needed to be told, they could have announced it during the “meet your (now previous) captain” cocktail party / black tie event. - the ship’s hygiene controls were poor until 1/2 way through the cruise. They didn’t encourage anyone to use the hand sterilisation stations when you went into the restaurant. The passengers and had a bad upper respiratory infection (including us) it was so rife, the small shop ran out of cough treatment and some passengers and staff were going to the medical centre for treatment (during the shows, there was a constant chorus of hacking coughs!,). After it became a real problem, then finally the hygiene controls were improved - we booked a ship’s shore excursion which wasn’t to the standard we were led to believe. During the journey back, the excursion manager was sitting next to us and he also agreed it wasn’t right. We wrote to the excursion desk who didn’t even bother reading it as when I enquired they hadn’t looked at it!! So don’t bother complaining!! - the activities on board were mainly biased to dancing or drinking!! In summary, I believe the management controls and understanding of the market they have sold to needs improving. Will I go on another MSC cruise, probably not unless the venues and costs are something that we cannot refuse. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Good Itinerary. Unfortunately, as usual, many whinging & moaning passengers on this good value for money cruise. Our only complaints were related to the slow embarkation in Genoa and lack of satellite TV reception while cruising ... Read More
Good Itinerary. Unfortunately, as usual, many whinging & moaning passengers on this good value for money cruise. Our only complaints were related to the slow embarkation in Genoa and lack of satellite TV reception while cruising the Indian Ocean. The ships passengers were multi-national with Australians, British, Germans, Swiss, Italians, French, South Africans etc etc. Public announcements and entertainment, were therefore conducted in several languages. The food was acceptable, and we were on the early restaurant sitting in the Borghese Restaurant. We sat on a table for eight, which slowed down our meal times. The entertainment was average but there was a generally a good variety. The crew & service was generally very good. This was our first cruise with MSC and we boarded with an open mind. This cruise was very reasonably priced and we thoroughly enjoyed all our ports of call. The itinerary and price was the main reason for choosing this cruise which lived up to our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We booked Costa Pacifica for 10 night Mediterranean cruise for our wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise and i would say that it met and sometimes exceeded our expectations. Value for money was great and with few exceptions ... Read More
We booked Costa Pacifica for 10 night Mediterranean cruise for our wedding anniversary. It was our first cruise and i would say that it met and sometimes exceeded our expectations. Value for money was great and with few exceptions everything was awesome. Cleanliness overall was top. Reaching places on the ship was easy after we discovered the interactive screens. Sadly, always some of the elevators were out of service. With the exception of our dinner waiter who was later then other waiters, the staff was very helpful and friendly. Food quality and variety for us was exceptional. Many serving buffets and hours. We loved sea fruits, bakery, grills, pastas and desserts. We dinned in My Way restaurant. The menu was different each night, with 3-5 options for each meal, italian cuisine at it's best. Daily and evening events, some free, some paid. We were clearly explained that this is an italian ship and although we enjoyed the italian atmosphere, we felt that some events were for italian guests mainly. English is the second language here. Theatre shows were ok with some good singers, decent dancers and great acrobats. Some comedy also. Internet packets are expensive like all cruises, but there are some social packets and even one option to pay for minute. Excursions were worth it, some a little expensive but it was the best option. We booked northern part of the Lanzarote, Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, and the 9h all around Funchal (fabulous experience). We chose to visit Marseille and Malaga on our own and it was a good plan. We absolutely loved the condition of the ship, the design and decorations. Everything reflects a musical theme. Recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The Ship: A brand new, gleaming white ship. I was in awe of the size as I walked towards the harbour at how high she sits above the water. The embarkation in Genoa as absolutely seamless. Basically no queues and excellent service. From ... Read More
The Ship: A brand new, gleaming white ship. I was in awe of the size as I walked towards the harbour at how high she sits above the water. The embarkation in Genoa as absolutely seamless. Basically no queues and excellent service. From arrival to boarding it took about 15 minutes. There were plenty of check in staff, so i have no idea why there have been so many people complaining on the forum about embarkation being stressful. Issued with room card and wrist band which we could use to open doors and pay for goods, an excellent idea. Once onboard security was quick and easy to get through. Initially we were asked if we wanted to avail of package upgrades, but because we already had premium plus drinks package all we did was politely decline. I can see why some people think there is a "hard sell", but we didn't experience that. You can choose to just walk on, stop stressing out! In photos and videos I got the impression that the ship looked a bit tacky in places, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It really is very tastefully done and looks beautiful in all areas. The layout of the ship is excellent, easy to navigate and has interactive screen throughout to help you find where you are going, make bookings and see what is happening each night. Plenty of lifts and never waiting more than a minute or two for one to arrive. Deck areas are nicely laid of and plenty of places to lounge in. I tended to find the aft (Horizon Pool area) of the ship a bit quieter and more chilled, especially on a day at the dock. We had access to the aurea package members only 'Top 19 Solarium Deck' which was nice. Its a little quieter and has plenty of loungers if you want to chill out. The only thing I would say is the MSC could make it feel a bit more special. Some plants and greenery wouldn't go astray to give it a more exclusive feel and the service here wasn't always very good to be honest. There is no bar, you have to order from the attendant or go to the "pantry" which looks like a little kitchen and i found this a bit odd. Dining: Ok people, the food on board is incredible. Let's start with the Marketplace Buffet. I really do not understand all the moaning about "lack of choice" and so on. Seriously I never found myself wanting, which begs the question, what do some people want!!?? I found all the found tasty, fresh and plentiful. They put a lot of pride into onboard cooking and food presentation. From the mozzarella factory to the breads, cakes, pizza and beautiful pastries etc. If anything it appears that a lot of people are just downtright greedy and wasteful gluttons. Try a little of everything, but waste less people! Yes, the Marketplace can be busy at peak times, but a top tip is move to the rear of the ship and you'll find lots of space, emptier buffet points and a more calm atmosphere. We ate 50/50 between the assigned restaurant and speciality restaurants. Both were fantastic. The lighthouse restaurant had great set menus and plenty of selection. Service was top notch, we never had to ask for service, they always anticipated our needs. Top tip is to go slightly earlier, about 1900 and you'll find it less busy and bag a seat by the amazing aft full height windows. We tried The Butchers Cut and teppenayki restaurants, both had fantastic service and it was well worth the extra supplement - you're on holidays, spoil yourself! **DRINKS PACKAGE** we took the premium plus package and I have to say it was well worth the money! We had whatever we wanted, when we wanted it. Everything is included on it. Everything. Even if you're not a big drinker I think it's worth it. We had champagne/cocktails in the champagne bar before and after dinner every night. We got to know the champagne bar staff well and they were absolutely incredibly good to us. We tried every cocktail on the menu, Moet and Chandon, Veuve Cliquot etc, I really can't think why you wouldn't get the drinks package!? Entertainment and activities: There is so much to see and do on board, particularly at night that you really do need to be well prepared. I suggest planning your evening carefully around theatre shows, dinner, galleria light shows and Cirque du Solei. The evening along the Galleria were my favourite. It's a real riot of colour and fun. Lots of music and dancing made it a sociable and interactive experience. The entertainment staff were excellent. For those moaning about this being a "party ship", well you need to wise up. If you don't like the music and dancing there are plenty of places for you to go, like the jazz bar (Sky Lounge) or the British Pub. You're on holidays, enjoy yourself and embrace there relaxed European vibes.... or alternatively go on a Cunard cruise if you're worried you might have fun, good forbid! Cirque at sea was a great experience. The purpose built theatre was wonderful and the shows incredible. One of the evenings it was used for the MSC Got Talent show where crew members from around the world sang and danced - Don't miss this!! Honestly it was one of the most fun and enjoyable parts of the cruise, especially the Haka Dancing ships firemen from Maori. The whole crowd was wild for it. The theme nights were fun - White night, 70s night, space night and pool party - the staff put a lot of effort into making sure people have a lot of fun and you can see it when you look around and see guests dancing and smiling. Service: Again I cannot find any reason to complain here as so many feel the need to! Never once did I find myself wanting for anything. All needs anticipated and catered to. Once some of the staff got to know my name they greeted us personally. Plenty of people on deck taking orders for drinks and atttending to all needs. On a side note it's not all about who you see, it's what you see. The ship is spotlessly clean, shining and well maintained. I never once saw a grubby surface or dirty public area. Well done to all behind the scenes staff. Recommendations: book the aurea package if you want access to the spa, it's well worth it! Great facilities and really relaxing. Because I had this package I rarely got off the ship and spent most port days here chilling out. One of the nicest spa areas i have ever used. Ignore the hard sells in the spa and you'll be good. The Sky Lounge seems to be very under used which is a shame. Head there for unique cocktails and great service with special treats! We didn't travel with children, but I think my nieces and nephews would have really enjoyed this ship and I'd love to take them some time. Great places for kids to be entertained all day. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Last year we cruised the Mediterranean on the MSC Opera- this time we chose the Costa neoRiviera. The ships are similar, although the MSC Opera was lengthened a few years ago. The Costa neoRiviera is leaving the fleet in November and ... Read More
Last year we cruised the Mediterranean on the MSC Opera- this time we chose the Costa neoRiviera. The ships are similar, although the MSC Opera was lengthened a few years ago. The Costa neoRiviera is leaving the fleet in November and will be transferred to their German division, AIDA Cruises, so this review won’t be relevant for much longer. The good points: it was a very affordable cruise in peak season for 11 nights. One of our party was travelling as a single passenger and Costa’s policy (in certain markets) is to only levy a 30% surcharge- this is another reason we chose this trip. Atmosphere: Costa neoRiviera is a smaller intimate ship and is easy to navigate- the only trick to remember was the middle elevators didn’t go past deck 9. The crew were fine and we encountered no constant upselling like on MSC. The only disappointments were a confusing 30 minute life boat drill and crew not always enforcing the pool age restrictions, although considering this voyage was mid August this was often an impossible task. Most of the passengers were Italian, the remainder French, German or Spanish. There were perhaps 20 native English speakers on board so if you were looking to expand your Anglo social circle, this wasn’t the ship for you- English speaking guests are targeted by sister company HAL. Since Costa and MSC are mass market cruise lines, the demographics of your fellow passengers come from a wide social spectrum; therefore, standard Anglo behavioural norms/etiquette are often lacking. Being in the minority, the only solution is to modify your own behaviour: “when in Rome…” Dining/Food: Hurray! After last year’s MSC disgusting culinary experience (straight from the microwave to your plate) and rude Maitre D’ attitude, it was great being on a ship where you could actually eat well and alter dining arrangements without any fuss. Except for one night featuring a brand new celebrity chef menu (resulting in many half consumed meals) which the dining staff observed, the quality and portions were very good in the main dining room and buffets. Cleanliness: The ship was clean (not MSC obsessive compulsive clean) and satisfactory although some open deck areas on level 12 required attention. As the ship is being refurbished soon, perhaps it was decided to wait until then to perform the necessary work. Having said that, there were sufficient deck chairs on board (an MSC Opera problem) and the ship never felt crowded. Entertainment: This is the only area that needs improvement compared to MSC which was exceptional. While the special guest acts were quite entertaining, if the night involved the neoRiviera singers the performances were too repetitive- I think we saw the same prancing/dancing moves a number of times- just in different costumes. There is also a design flaw in the Ravello theatre- rows are tiered, but there are two rows in every tier so the second row can’t see over the first so you need to arrive early to get a seat with a view. Overall verdict: yes we would cruise with Costa again. Our expectations were met and the overall experience far surpassed MSC. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
OK, The ship, absolutely beautiful and huge!!! We have cruised twice before with royal Caribbean and Carnival but this ship leaves the rest in its wake. The cabins were great, I travelled with my husband and my 6 foot teenage son and we ... Read More
OK, The ship, absolutely beautiful and huge!!! We have cruised twice before with royal Caribbean and Carnival but this ship leaves the rest in its wake. The cabins were great, I travelled with my husband and my 6 foot teenage son and we had enough room although we did have a balcony. The beds were so comfy I dreaded leaving it behind. Also the shower room was bigger than any we have had before. Now dining, anyone that says there was not enough to eat must have been on a different ship than we were! The market place was open all of the time serving salads, chips, burgers, pasta, pizza etc etc, I just don't understand the complaints about the food. We ate in the restaurants at breakfast and for our evening meals. No the portions in the restaurants were not American size portions, its an Italian ship so Mediterranean food and portions. In saying that the food in the restaurants was beautiful and changed every evening. We had the Aurea experience and if possible I would go Aurea or Yacht Club. No queuing for embarkation or restaurants as you get anytime dining. Cirq de Soleil meal and show were definitely worth the money although once we went to the normal nightly entertainment I couldn't get my husband and son to go to another one!! Service was fantastic, I read somewhere on here that you don't have to pay the tips at the end, no you can have them removed but why? The staff were happy, attentive, helpful! Why wouldn't you tip? For the 3 of us the tips added were approx £200, I can remember exactly but no way would I have cancelled them, so just DON'T!!! Get off in Marseilles, it was our favourite. Approx £10 each for a transfer into the town, coffee shops, little side streets with wall out, really enjoyed it. Pompeii was worth the money although take plenty of water, 40 degrees when we were there, really interesting. Went to the beach when in Valetta, 19Euros each for the bus. Could have stayed a little longer, you get around 3 hours on the beach after travel. All in all we had a blast, it's what you make of it. I was really apprehensive before w went because of the reviews but I shouldn't have been worried. One thing, the market place is a bit of a cattle market and as one other person mentioned on here, watch out for the rude French. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Pro's: Clean cabin and ship Friendly staff Con's: tea and coffee only available with breakfast or afternoon tea (which only lasts an hour) Charge substantial service charge per person per day Ice cream not ... Read More
Pro's: Clean cabin and ship Friendly staff Con's: tea and coffee only available with breakfast or afternoon tea (which only lasts an hour) Charge substantial service charge per person per day Ice cream not included Pizza not included (yes this is an ITALIAN cruise ship) Water has to be paid for with evening meals! Very crowded pool Cigarette Smoke where ever you go Tried to sell you add ons for evening meals that you have already paid for Charge a lot for shuttles into town from ports (they didn't tell us that there were free shuttles provided by the port authority, we had to work that one out ourselves) kids events at anti-social hours (10 pm onwards!) Fitness and beauty "seminars" where they basically try and sell you something every time! They just want money money money, very greedy. The list goes on and on. Basically, don't waste your money on Costa cos it will Costya. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have chosen this cruise like most people because of the itinerary. 11 NIGHTS WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN - an amazing itinerary.We sailed on 11 July from Savona. Reading reviews I knew the cruise line is not perfect and did not expect ... Read More
We have chosen this cruise like most people because of the itinerary. 11 NIGHTS WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN - an amazing itinerary.We sailed on 11 July from Savona. Reading reviews I knew the cruise line is not perfect and did not expect much, but what we have experienced was so much worth! Starting from the drill - which took at least an hour or more. English speaking people were wondering around the decks asking where to go. Eventually we were put on one of the outside areas under the sun (no seating and no sun protection) where we had to stay for at least 30 mins prior the briefing which we cant hear due to noise. By that time older people were not able to stand longer and some were shouting at the staff who were saying that it was not their problem - go and talk to the management. That was a big waring flag of what would follow. - No good service (except our stuart) - Poor quality towels and bed sheets, poor quality of linen at the restaurant . - Food of low quality and variety - what was not eaten on breakfast was used for lunch and then for dinner. - I had twice food poisoning from the dinners' dishes - Horrible service during dinners, when we had to wait for one hour to be served. - Only 2 properly trained and knowledgeable staff at the excursion desk, the rest could not do the job and were asking them to book or change tours and it took really long time to rebook excursions which were cancelled. I can continue, but really don't want to as it makes me so upset. The reason of all that - poor management on this ship. I would never step again on any of the Costa ships or recommend this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Stunning ship. A few minor teething issues but all round excellent. Sky bar was our favourite with stunning views. Card de soleil. Two options .. a meal or cocktail. We took the latter and went to both shows. This is a must do so book ... Read More
Stunning ship. A few minor teething issues but all round excellent. Sky bar was our favourite with stunning views. Card de soleil. Two options .. a meal or cocktail. We took the latter and went to both shows. This is a must do so book as soon as you’re on board. Food really nice although buffet can be busy go to the rear and much calmer. Drinks package. You will get asked multiple times. Basic package covers a few wines , Gordon’s gin and tonic, Heineken or Amstel beer . All coffees and water .so good value. Cabin ,,, balcony on 8 floor. Large balcony so very happy .. only issue with noise coming from party night in floor below. Staff excellent .. friendly and efficient Shore excursions far too expensive. Do it yourself.we boarded I. Barcelona which is a fantastic city. During the cruise we visited Marseiile ... take free shuttle that drops of at dock entrance and walk 20 minutes to old port. From there we took le petit train (8 euro) to Norte dame for fantastic views over city. About 30 minutes to top and 10 minutes Dow. Compulsory to get off train .... about 15 mins in queue. Genoa.... walk out of terminal and pick up map for free from tourism booth. Shows a few nice walks going initially through market then heads into old town. Walk takes a casual two hours taking in all the old buildings and squares of note. Real authentic feel to the town. Naples.. ship right into town where you can get ferry to sorrento, capri etc. We have been here before so took hop on hop of bus tour. 2 routes , B route round coast far nicer and no car congestion. Approx 23 euro. Messina. Not a lot to do in the port but walk round old town. Valletta.. lift from cruise port to town cost one euro. Lovely town to walk around and sip an aperol spritzer. Walked to ferry point for sliema ... approx 3 euro return. Nice shops and a mall if interested. Lastly, In room smart assistant Zoe good for Bluetooth speaker not much more. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I had read about MSC's Yacht Club being a less expensive rival of NCL's Haven. We had really enjoyed the Haven, but the prices are getting crazy! So, I called my TA to find a cruise in the Yacht Club. Boy, did she! We were in ... Read More
I had read about MSC's Yacht Club being a less expensive rival of NCL's Haven. We had really enjoyed the Haven, but the prices are getting crazy! So, I called my TA to find a cruise in the Yacht Club. Boy, did she! We were in the Royal Suite on the Bellissima, which wasn't even built when we booked! Also booked a Deluxe Suite for my son and his wife. Our cabin was FABULOUS! The beds were blissful. We had 2 balconies and a hot tub on our deck, which we made use of! The Yacht Club was truly relaxing and enjoyable. Everyone was friendly and wanted to ensure our experience was positive and memorable! We ate in the YC restaurant almost exclusively....we did eat in the steak house 1 night, as we had matching Black status. The bar in YC was pleasant, with hors d-oeures available and often entertainment (piano, violin, etc) playing. We didn't use the pool on top, since we had our own hot tub, but there was a cabana available for us, if we had wanted it. Appreciated the wrist band to open cabin door---I didn't have to carry anything! Food: we kept to the YC dining room. The portions are smaller on MSC, but that is actually a good thing....they are more in line with what a portion SHOULD look like, instead of the huge portions Americans are used to eating. Of course, they will bring additional or even cook up something special! (Yes, we did ask if they were going to have creme brulee, which they were not planning, but made special for us! Bend over backwards service!) AND, there was lobster on the menu one night, which has basically disappeared from other lines! The only disappointing experience we had was in the steak house--and it really wasn't a bad experience. We were full from our dinner and wanted to have our dessert sent to our room. They would not acquiesce, but they would allow us to come back later and have our dessert. I have a suspicion that if I had mentioned it to the YC folks, they would have been aghast and rectified that immediately, but it wasn't a big deal---as I said, we were full! Drinks were included and we never went to any other bar (except for the Cirq shows---we had the drink and show tickets. The drinks were horrible at the show! Just figure the cost of drink/show package as the cost of the show. Learned to take a drink from the YC bar and pass on the show drinks.) We purchased a spa package on-line and enjoyed our experiences. In fact, both of us ended up adding another massage. We did go to the thermal suite, but only once, but it was quite nice. What can I say....when you have your own hot tub on your balcony, where else do you want to be? Getting on and off the ship was a breeze when you are escorted by your butler. In fact, he escorted us to shows (allows you to walk right in and avoid the line), and although the shows only run about 30 minutes, we enjoyed the 3 we attended (and the 2 Cirq shows). The elevators even have a priority call for YC. BIG TIME SPOIL ALERT! We used to always lose weight on a cruise because we took the stairs. Nope, not this one! When the elevator comes direct and takes you direct, it is really hard to walk those stairs. I will say, that if you have someone with limited mobility issues, this is THE WAY to go. This was our first Med cruise. I loved the shore excursions (and the MSC prices if you purchase before boarding were more reasonable than other lines, I thought), but the flights are what keep me from doing overseas more often. I think I will wait a couple of years before doing that again. Or, maybe I'll do a transatlantic on either end of a cruise (guess that will have to wait until I retire!) Until then, I have already booked 2 more MSC YC cruises out of Miami. I am still looking at NCL Haven, but only because it is going somewhere I can't get MSC (or MSC is already sold out!) Thanks CC posters, for cluing me in to the Yacht Club! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Yes, MSC is a cheap price and you pay for everything on board, including water at the evening meal. We filled our water bottles up at the buffet and were able to take them off the ship and back on,. Tea and coffee available all day from ... Read More
Yes, MSC is a cheap price and you pay for everything on board, including water at the evening meal. We filled our water bottles up at the buffet and were able to take them off the ship and back on,. Tea and coffee available all day from the buffet. The meals at the buffet were of a good assortment including carvery, eastern, spaghetti, hot dogs, hamburgers, chips,soup, salads,pizza,vegetarian and plenty of desserts. We ate at the restaurant for breakfast and dinner. You could also eat at the restaurant for lunch if you prefer to dodge the buffet. There was never a time that we couldn't get a seat at the buffet. Meals of average size but you could ask for seconds. There is a steak house at extra cost. We did not have the drink package preferring to buy as we needed it because we were in port every day except one, Plenty of staff constantly there to serve you. Such a sparkling ship with the staff constantly wiping, dusting and vacuuming. At least 10 very hot spas to each accommodate 8 people with warm showers afterwards, not cold. Plenty of pool activities and fantastic childrens rope course, water tubes, etc. Embarking and disembarking very smooth and well organised. The staff were very helpful and polite. I find it hard to believe that some passengers comment otherwise. Only downfall was the at least 5 different nationalities on board which didn't help if you wanted to have a conversation with someone whilst sitting around the deck. May be this was because it was a Mediterranean cruise. We did not take the shore excursions because we found at every port there were local buses or hop on off buses which were a quarter of the price of MSC. We would definately cruise on the Bellissima again, a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Dining: There is a german and spanish chef so seafood was not as good as with an italian chef. Dinners are fast, our waiter was really nice. In the free buffet (Deck 15) there is a huge choise of food, and really good quality as ... Read More
Dining: There is a german and spanish chef so seafood was not as good as with an italian chef. Dinners are fast, our waiter was really nice. In the free buffet (Deck 15) there is a huge choise of food, and really good quality as well. Embarkation: The embarkation and disembarkation was really fluent on this ship, everything went well. I recommend Park TorreSud if you want to park in Genoa, it is cheap and fast and working with MSC. (60-70 € /week) Entertainment: There are good parties at night. Apart from the free (daily 35min) theater, wich is also really good, you can try Circue du Soleil, which is 15€ + 15% /person. There are two shows for this price with coctail included, Syma and Varélia. We went on Syma, it was 42 minutes long (measured it) but I think worth the price and iunique opportunity. There are some other options to entertain yourself, but those are not so cheap. 30€/30min at bowling, or 55€/hour, or F1 racing for 10 minutes which looks amazing but also costs 10€. There is VR maze or XD cinema as well. But there are more free programs as well: football and basketball court, AQUA PARK WHICH is AMAZING, and also a climbing circle at the aqua park, which is really scary and fun. Fitness&Recreation We have gold voyagers membership club card, so we can enjoy the spa one hour for free, but it is a huge hipe. I would give 2,5/5 for it, nothing special, and there was no tea, wellness feeling, and nor outside view. The gym seems to be to small at first sight for a ship with this size, but it was not full. It is a really techie gym, powered buy technogym, eg. the running machine has an option to compete with others, etc.. Pools and Jacuzzi were good, and there were nearly always space int them :). Onboard experience: There is a really nice shopping hall inside the ship, with ~5 restaurants, swarovski stairs, very nice led ceiling with good animatoons, and phermacy. There are really good programs and big parties, we love italians:). Public rooms: Especially the theatre, the LED dome, the reception and the covered pool area were the most amazing. Also the aquapark was really really good as well. Service: Reception There is a reception guy usually in the middle, and he is simply such an idiot. We asked him about voyagers system, and he acted like we didn’t know english, but he couldn’t say a normal word, and he really liked z-s. When he said to us “Zathz not zrue” we were close to call his manager, but at the and we did. The others are helpful. Cabin The cabin boy looked liked trying to fight his depression. Animators were really nice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This was our first time with MSC, we've previously sailed with RCI, Princess and P & O. Having read reviews on this site we were really apprehensive. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation and disembarkation were ... Read More
This was our first time with MSC, we've previously sailed with RCI, Princess and P & O. Having read reviews on this site we were really apprehensive. However, we were pleasantly surprised. Embarkation and disembarkation were extremely smooth. Our cabin was spotless & had everything we needed except tea/coffee making facilities. All of the staff on board were excellent and extremely hard working. The entertainment we saw was good and unlike other ships we've sailed on we never struggled to find a sunbed or somewhere to sit in the evening. The biggest let down for us was the food. There are limited places to eat and the buffet restaurant is very small with not much choice. The a la carte restaurant had very few choices and we often struggled to choose something from the available options. The tender operation in Kotor was very slow and it took forever to get everyone ashore. We wasted most of the day waiting for our tender number to be called so our time in port was very short. Overall we really enjoyed our holiday and would consider another MSC cruise if the price and itinerary were right. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise for the ports and to try a new line. MSC has the status match program which also helped. This cruise was from Genoa, Italy to Kiel, Germany with stops at Marseille, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, and Southampton. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the ports and to try a new line. MSC has the status match program which also helped. This cruise was from Genoa, Italy to Kiel, Germany with stops at Marseille, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, and Southampton. Embarkation: This was a disaster. I am not sure if Genoa was not equipped to handle this many passengers, or if they were just not prepared to turn over the whole ship as MSC frequently interports in Europe. Whatever the reason, we arrived at the port at noon and eventually made it onboard around 4pm. Ship: The Meraviglia is a beautiful ship. Every area has something unique and stylish about it. That being said, many areas seemed choppy and without a good flow to them which created bottlenecks at certain areas. Cabin: We had a Fantastica Ocean View (O2) and while the cabin was spacious enough and well appointed, the storage space was nearly non-existent. Especially for a twelve day cruise. We were on Deck 5, just down from guest services and the Atrium bar and I thought the location was good. easy to get everywhere. Dining: This started out poorly, but eventually ended up fine. We had no dining time assigned, we just kept being told that we would get our time once on board...that never really worked out, mainly because we boarded so late, the dining table had closed. Finally we were assigned a table/time and that is where we sat the rest of the cruise. Food in the MDR was fair to good; In the buffet was mostly fair with some good, and at our one specialty dining experience, The Chef's Table, was spectacular. Entertainment: MSC really shines in this area. Shows were good to great and Cirque at Sea was amazing. Service: Across the board service was friendly and professional. Never had an issue there. Ports & Shore Excursions: All were booked through MSC and all were either good or great. Arles and Vigo were the standouts. We did not do an excursion in Barcelona. Disembarkation: Another disaster. I had priority debarkation and while I was off the ship in a reasonable amount of time, I then stood around for over an hour waiting for my luggage to make it off. Overall, the ship was beautiful, but I don't think I would use MSC in Europe again. I haven't written them off completely so I may sail them again in the US, but I will choose other lines when sailing in Europe. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Booked this cruise nearly 2 years ago. I have sailed with MSC a couple of times beforehand so I had an idea what to expect. We embarked at Genoa, as we had stayed overnight in a local hotel we boarded early so that part was very ... Read More
Booked this cruise nearly 2 years ago. I have sailed with MSC a couple of times beforehand so I had an idea what to expect. We embarked at Genoa, as we had stayed overnight in a local hotel we boarded early so that part was very easy. What we did not like was we were hassled to have our photo taken prior to passport control. We told the photographer the we did not want these as we would not buy them as we were in our travelling clothes (not a good memory) in order to get past them we eventually let them take our photos (more on this later in review) On boarding the ship we were impressed with the interior all nice and sparkling, we took our hand luggage to the cabin. First impressions very fairly positive. We got changed and quickly headed for a hot tub as we thought ship was going to get very busy later on. We headed for the buffet, seemed to be a good selection to choose from. Later on we looked at the daily program, this advised as that our 8.00pm dining time had been put back to 8.30pm, so we decided to watch the show. when the show had finished we made our way to the lighthouse restaurant on Deck 6, we met the lady at the front door and she said that we were late and the restaurant was closed. We told her that the program said dinner was at 830 but she did not know this. She called over the restaurant manager and explained the situation. he eventually let us in together with about 50 of us that had also read the program. Food was OK but portions small, as most days the food was warm but not hot. The menu makes food sound spectacular but it is as most places nice patterns on a plate with a bit of sauce applied with an upside down spoon, We went back to cabin to unpack, by this time the bed located in ceiling void was down, only problem was poor design that the ladder stopped the wardrobe door from opening (if wardrobe had been located 1 foot nearer to door the would not have been this problem) Bathroom is small but adequate, nice shower but not enough room to dry yourself. We could not find the bin at first but we eventually found it under sink by giving a panel quite a tug. As the cruise progressed we wanted to try out some of the things on offer on top deck, I wants to do the Himalayan ropes course so I got up there quite early. when it was my turn the chap said where is my blue wristband (I had no idea what he was talking about) he told me to go to reception on deck 5 to get this. (I was not happy) Later in the day I went to reception to get this wristband, reception did not know what I was talking about. I went back up top and saw a different person and he said I had to go to a little table the was hidden by the top of the slides to sign some for of waiver. (I did a ropes course of the Carnival Horizon and there was no such hassle, they even had little lockers to but your pocket stuff in as you were not allowed it on the course). I said can I leave some stuff here but was told this was at my own risk. It was soon noticed that there is a lot of charging for the extra activities. this annoyed me as I had been on the Splendida a couple of years ago and to do the bowling, racing car and 4d cinema was a fixed price of 35 euros for everyone in cabin for the whole cruise (7 days) no such luck on this, MSC operate a thing called fun pass which I think is the wrong choice of phrase. it is not a pass in any way. It is a scheme where you but so much credit a you are given a little extra for free, only trouble is that the racing car is 10 euros a go and only lasts 5 minutes so entertainment will not last long unless you have very deep pockets. the 4D cinema was excellent but again very expensive as was the 10 pin bowling. Only on the last day did I do any of the activities (my son 1 go on the racing car and each of us 1 go on the 4D cinema and boom 15 minutes later you are 25 euros worse off. A few days into the cruise there was a photo package on our bed, we had a very quick look and realised that these were the photos they had taken when we boarded, they looked awful. We put them in the pocket shelf under the TV. A couple of days later. I noticed there was a charge on our account of 35 euros from the photoshop, we went to reception to complain as we found there was also a little slip of paper in this folder that said I had to tick a box to say If I wanted them or not. The reception said that I should fill this in. I pointed out that this practice is unfair, I told them that if I want something I will go to the place, pick it up myself and go and pay for it in the standard tradition. I did say to them that if a were to leave a dirty sock in my cabin with a note inside asking for 10 euros with a tick box yes/no (same difference). Zoe (the in cabin assistant is a total waste of space, less said the better on this so called technology) Plenty of storage space in a relatively small cabin, 2 large wardrobes and a very small safe. Buffet food during the day times could be a bit hit and miss Breakfast was plentiful but the 2 downsides of the buffet are 1/ People wandering aimlessly about, not realizing that a queue is forming 2/ The button to press when you want a drink you might have to press it at least 6 times. We had the Cirque du Soleil including in our booking. It was Ok but nothing to write home about. The Galleria Bellisima is quite spectacular looking but that is about it, the tiny area where entertainment takes place is too small With such a large ship I think they need to have 3 decks of entertainment as the galleria is a huge void of space covering two floors where on smaller ships the are more bars and areas to watch something a little different. This does not exist on the Bellissima so that is a big no from me. The theatre is Ok, thankfully the shows are only 35 minutes long and too samey too much dancing. When shows finish the galleria gets packed very quickly, I found it easier to go up to deck 7 and walkalong With a ship of this I was surprised that we were bobbing up and down from Malta to Barcelona via a sea day. on board Activities via games and quizzes were virtual non existent We had the Easy package which you are limited to Heineken if you wanted a beer, Bar list state 40cl but when you get your drink you find the glass is only just over 3/4 full. We did order a smoothie but when we saw the banana they put in it, there is no way we were going to drink that. Be careful if you have allergies in the MDR as the waiters seem to be a little vague on what this means. 2 on our table had a nut allergy. so the head waiter had to really look after them as some of the items bought out DID contain nuts. My wife booked a hair appointment, she attended on time but was told she was an hour late. they did realize that they were wrong but did not apologize, to a woman getting your hair done is supposed to be a pleasurable thing, but my wife was not happy with this experience. Disembarkation was very easy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise as it was stopping at ports we wanted to visit on dates when we wished to be away. The Bellissima is a stunning looking ship and has something for everyone. Our cabin was on deck 10 midship and was lovely with a ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was stopping at ports we wanted to visit on dates when we wished to be away. The Bellissima is a stunning looking ship and has something for everyone. Our cabin was on deck 10 midship and was lovely with a balcony, reasonable space and being a new ship did not show any signs of wear and tear. Our cabin steward Genesis was attentive, friendly and always happy to see us. He maintained our cabin beautifully and recognised a particularly special date that we celebrated whilst on board ship. At this location on the ship it was difficult to know whether the ship was moving it was so quiet with no noise from adjoining cabins or fromthe engines. Our allocated restaurant was The Lighthouse on deck 6 excellent choice for us as we had a table for 2. The menu was varied and offered something different every day to suit most requirements. Meals were well presented and of good quality. Service was excellent and the staff who served us each day at table 479 were Carissa and Abdul and are worth a special mention for their professionalism and attention nothing was too much trouble and again went out of their way to celebrate our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Breakfast and lunch served in the Marketplace was a challenge. There was plenty of choice and something for everyone but the shear numbers of diners at any one time made the experience quite stressful. The staff were as efficient and patient as they could be given the logistics of numbers and seats available at any one time. There were good shows on board and plenty of entertainment for all ages. The musicians who played in all of the areas were first class with music choices to suit all tastes we particularly liked the Jazz trio who played each evening on Deck 16. We purchased the Cirque Soleil show and dinner at 40 euros each which was very good value for money . The show was excellent, food very good and Alwyn and his team served everything beautifully so that dinner was served before the show commenced. We have scored food at 3 because of the breakfast and lunch experience. Weather whilst on board ship was not particularly good so consequently much of the outdoors facilities were not in use. They were however very clean and well presented with water facilities to suit all tastes the water park on deck 18 would be great fun for families. We enjoyed our holiday we would cruise again but not for cruising sake but to see particular places that are included in the itinerary. We did not book MSC excursions but instead booked with local providers in Naples we did a tour if Naples and went to Pompei in a small group of 6 with a very knowledgeable guide. In Messina we did the same and rode the cable car to the top of Etna and visited Tourmina. Again an excellent excursion with small numbers and a local guide. Every other port we did our own thing and really enjoyed. This cruise met our expectations and we would consider MSC in the future provided the itinerary met our requirements. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We embarked on at Genoa. The cabin was a good size, the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Everything we needed was at hand. The bathroom although small, served our purpose. Unfortunately Zoe was unresponsive. The ship is ... Read More
We embarked on at Genoa. The cabin was a good size, the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Everything we needed was at hand. The bathroom although small, served our purpose. Unfortunately Zoe was unresponsive. The ship is beautiful and lived up to the hype. The personnel were friendly and courteous at all times. I know the waitrons and entertainment personnel work exceptionally hard in ensuring the client enjoys the experience. Our dining experience was good. We had interactive personnel which we appreciated and engaged with every evening. Food was excellent as well. We unfortunately missed out on the captain’s dinner since we attended the Circ du Solei performance which was entertaining. The buffet areas were a bit noisy, but then that is expected. We only did one excursion and that was to Pompeii, which was well organized. The downside was we were not able to enter certain sections since the operators had not informed the tour operators in their new times. We will most definitely plan our next MSC cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We booked this cruise a year in advance with an inside guarantee quad cabin. We were given a free upgrade to an outside cabin with a porthole #5078. Room was well laid out, enough room for us and 2 teenagers. The couch lifted to form a ... Read More
We booked this cruise a year in advance with an inside guarantee quad cabin. We were given a free upgrade to an outside cabin with a porthole #5078. Room was well laid out, enough room for us and 2 teenagers. The couch lifted to form a bunk bed. Shower was larger then other cruises. We had mid dining 730 and ate every night in the dining room. Because we are from the states, msc included free bottled water while in dining room during lunch and dinner. We did late shows every night and loved all the singers and dancers. The pools and water slides were nice. Had fun doing the bridges. The shops on board offer designer labels and prices! They really push drink packages. We opted to save money and just go with what is included. Odd- no coffee in dining room with desert during dinner time. Buffet was good selection. They automatically add a donation to UNICEF on your account everyday that will be removed if you call down and ask for it to be. We pre purchased internet package 4gb for 4 devices that worked for our family for the week. Signal was good enough for chatting with clients and checking emails - not enough to stream. Food in dining was good - no lobster (available as an upcharge.) No menu posted for dining room as with other ships but we asked each night to see the next night menu so we could decide buffet or dining room. We ended up eating every night in the dining room. For such a large ship, tons of elevators and never had to wait long. People embark and disembark at each port of call. Smooth process both times. FYI- need to be out of room the day you leave by 8am. We planned a later flight thinking it would take longer. We were off the ship with luggage in hand by 930am. All and all I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Overall, this was an enjoyable cruise and I would sail on MSC again. My husband and I sailed with our 13 mo daughter and both sets of grandparents (in their 70s). We have all cruised several times on a variety of cruise lines. This was ... Read More
Overall, this was an enjoyable cruise and I would sail on MSC again. My husband and I sailed with our 13 mo daughter and both sets of grandparents (in their 70s). We have all cruised several times on a variety of cruise lines. This was our first time on MSC. EMBARKATION: We spent a week traveling around Italy prior to making our way to Genoa, where we embarked. We found the locals in Genoa to be the least friendly (and some even hostile) to tourists, compared to the rest of Italy. We were glad we were only spending one night there. The port itself was quite confusing. We took the metro to the stop close to the port. Once we arrived, there were very few signs. We followed what signs there were, which sent us upstairs, only to have to go back downstairs to drop our luggage off. Luggage drop off was not labeled. We ended up at a tent that looked like the right place, only to be told (after waiting a few minutes) that we were in the Yacht Club drop off. Steerage passengers needed to just leave their luggage in the road. It was a little odd. But we eventually got it to the right place and got ourselves on the ship. Our luggage arrived without issue, despite our misgivings. Once embarked, there was definitely a push for up-selling drinks and dining packages, but the staff members left us alone when we declined. We were able to immediately drop off our hand luggage in our rooms and head up to the buffet for lunch. All in all, it took us about an hour to get from the port entrance to lunch at the buffet. So despite the lack of signage and the confusion about luggage drop-off, it was a relatively quick and easy process. SHIP: The ship was stunning and always clean. There are multiple dome shows daily and it's worth catching at least one. The area that felt the most crowded was the Bamboo Pool area and the buffet (partially because they would block off parts of the buffet seating at various times). DINING: BUFFET: There was always seating at the very back of the buffet--even during peak times. The lines there seemed to be the shortest, as well. The stations repeat themselves a handful of times throughout the buffet, so there's no need to stand in a long line at the beginning of the buffet. Staff members from the pay-for-restaurants would walk around asking if we wanted to make reservations for dinner that night. Again, they left us alone when we declined. We found breakfast at the buffet to be one of the best meals of the day. There was a good variety of food, although it did not vary from day to day. There was an omelette station, a ham carving station, eggs, bacon/sausage, yogurt, fruit, cereals, muesli, Asian rice and noodles or dumplings, pancakes, waffles, sticky buns, etc. Lunch at the buffet was also pretty good. The pizza, pasta, and fresh mozzarella were always delicious. A few members of our group had pizza that had been sitting out for awhile and it wasn't as good as the fresh slices. There was also a salad station, bread, carving station, and a variety of dishes of the day, some of which were good, some not. The mass-produced desserts were similar to other cruise lines--usually not delicious, but ok. There were a few that were really enjoyable. MDR: We ate dinner in the MDR each night. Our waiters were very friendly, but hadn't been trained as well as on other cruise lines. They weren't trained to pay attention to details or anticipate needs. Some nights there would be butter for the bread, but no butter knife. Other nights there were small dishes for olive oil and vinegar, but no olive oil and vinegar. Some nights there would be a place setting for the baby, other nights there wasn't (there was always a high chair). The staff were always responsive when asked to do something, but failed to anticipate needs. Not a deal breaker, but something the training could improve upon. The food quality was inconsistent. Some nights the food was really good (ie the mushroom risotto), others it was quite bland or even not good (ie the prawns). CABIN: We had an inside cabin that was relatively spacious. Obviously smaller than ocean view or balcony rooms, but larger than the one other inside cabin we've had on another cruise line. The bathroom was small, but well designed. Our cabin steward was very attentive and always called our baby by her name when he saw her. THEATER SHOWS: There was a really great variety of shows ranging from rock to opera to flamenco. The dancers and singers were more talented than I've seen on other cruise lines. The singers did sing in English with an accent, but overall put on excellent performances. The one miss was when they had the opera tenor sing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" during a tribute show. Opera just isn't the right style for Sinatra. On the sea day, there was an opera, which was really well done in less than an hour. They had some subtitles, but they were intermittent. Unclear why they didn't provide full subtitles, which would have made it even better. GYM: The gym was small and crowded no matter when we went (early morning, mid-day, or evening). There's a waiver that has to be signed to use the gym, but they didn't ask us to sign it until our last day. ROPES COURSE/WATER SLIDES: There's also a waiver that has to be signed to participate in the ropes course and water slides. There are no signs to advertise this, so you could end up waiting in line for some time, only to find out that you had to go two decks down (to the Sportsplex) to sign the waiver and get your wristband before being allowed to participate. Once the wristband was obtained, both the ropes course and water slides were fun. The waits were never very long. POOLS: The outdoor pool didn't get much use given highs in the mid 50s to low 60s for most of the cruise. The indoor Bamboo Pool was almost always packed when we saw it. At one point on the sea day, there was a 15 person line for one of the hot tubs in the Bamboo room. This is likely less of an issue in the summer/warmer climate as passengers are more willing to use both the indoor and outdoor pools. GUEST SERVICES: I'd read several very negative reviews about Guest Services, but had no issues with their services. I went to Guest Services twice. Once was to have the UNICEF donation removed. The line was short and they were quick to comply. The second time was the last night of the cruise at 22:00. We found the embarkation pictures in our room, but left them there based on what other reviewers have said. The last night, we read the fine print that we were to return them to our cabin steward 48 hrs before the end of the cruise or we'd be charged. As we were packing up the last night, we saw this and I thought we'd have to eat the $E30 since we hadn't returned them, but thought I'd give Guest Services a try. I got in a line of about 10 people, but there was a guest services team member going through the line asking people what their issues where. He redirected me to the Photo Shop. I figured I was really out of luck at that point given the late hour, but they were still open and quick to take back my photos and refund the money. PORTS: As others have said, the published port hours are different than what actually happens--by up to an hour on both sides. For example, we were to arrive in Barcelona at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 6:00 p.m., but we arrived at 8:00 a.m. and left at 5:30 p.m. This is important to keep in mind if buying timed tickets for something in port. Civitavecchia: There's a free port shuttle from the port to the city. There are many taxistas waiting where the shuttle drops passengers off ready to take passengers to Rome and show them the sites. They were quite persistent despite declining their offers, then offended when they finally realized we weren't interested. We walked the mile or so to the train station and took the train into Rome for the day. Round trip it was Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Summary: Good vs. Bad These are just things to be aware of - some of them aren‘t easily changeable, some are management issues. Good Food quality in the buffet restaurant. Really quite new and showing it. Cirque du Soleil ... Read More
Summary: Good vs. Bad These are just things to be aware of - some of them aren‘t easily changeable, some are management issues. Good Food quality in the buffet restaurant. Really quite new and showing it. Cirque du Soleil on board. Bad Ship design and construction: There are many issues with the way the ship was designed and built that I found to be quite negative as compared to other ships I‘ve been on. Customer-facing personnel: Unfortunately, the few black sheep amongst the crew really pull the average down, though the people we dealt with generally seemed subdued. Ship interior is quite drab. My Take: There are other ships and other companies out there... The Ship The Meraviglia is huge - at the time of our cruise, I believe it was the second biggest cruise ship in the world, taking on up to 5.714 passengers at fully booked (which likely rarely happens, as this means 4 to a cabin for many cabins on the ship). We had a good size comparison to an older MSC ship in La Valletta (the „Sinfonia“) and the difference is just stupendous. With its Christening in June, 2017, it had just over a year and a half of service under its belt when we were on it. The condition of the ship is in line with its age. Our cruise was in the 3rd week of February in the Mediterranean, so likely the ship was not near booked solid. We didn’t get stats like „passengers on board“, unfortunately, and interestingly, people got on and off at nearly every port we stopped at. There are several aspects to this ship that make me subjectively think they have to do with the French manufacturer. I‘m not a great fan of French technology products and this ship makes this feeling all the more assertive. The creaking in the cabin (remember, it‘s a pretty new ship) and the odd, intermittent shuddering or continuous vibration despite absolutely reasonable wave levels gives me the impression that the engineering that went into the ship isn‘t on par with other builders. In fact, it brought back a memory from high school Physics class, where we watched a video of the Tacoma Narrows bridge getting driven into its resonance frequency by a storm and then basically „exploding“. Not a nice thought and certainly not a noise to make you sleep well without ear plugs. While then central Promenade with a projection ceiling is a nice touch, reminding me of some casinos or even the downtown area in Las Vegas. The possibilities of such a projection screen are not utilized fully, in my opinion. Think of the Venetian, where a complete day/night cycle is gone through every half hour or so, it would have been simple and a real added value to make more of this feature here on board. The rest of the ship is rather drab. The staircases (which we used frequently - who needs a stairmaster?) have identical pictures all the way from the bottom to the top and the carpeting is held in the same rust color. I‘m not a fan of overly colorful interiors, but this is boring even for me. You have the occasional piece of art (mostly around the reception area) and one or two other highlights, but really, the ship is poorly decorated. The same goes for many of the bars. A real downer is the „Studio Bar“ - seldom have I seen a place so lacking in luster. On the other side of the promenade, the "pub" tries to add some flair and comes fairly close to looking like a British pub, though it looks like one that was just built and never used before. This is a shame - a touch of relicing would really have gone a long way here. Another negative aspect to the ship‘s construction is the way the movement of groups is restricted. As an example: all the ships we were on before (Celebrity, Norwegian and Costa) have had multiple entrances into resp. out of the main theater. This ship only has a single way out. If you‘re not sitting at the top, don‘t bother getting up until the masses have pushed their way through the catheract of an exit. It really isn‘t a pleasant experience. Lets hope there is never a mass panic in this theater or there will likely be people trampled to death. The same goes for the Carousel Lounge, where they have Cirque du Soleil performances 6 nights a week. The only entrance to the theater is through the casino. This is annyoing for two reasons: for one, the casino is a smoking zone, and while the air is obviously vigurously exchanged you still smell it quite clearly. It is also annoying if you‘re with kids, because you will be told quite rudely that you can‘t be standing near any of the gambling machines even if you‘re behind the cordon that at least optically separates the entrance to the theater from the casino floor. The impression that employees of MSC are less happy about their jobs comes across too often. From people that deal with customers being rude or just unfriendly to being told that „this is the first time working for MSC and hopefully the last“, one gets the impression that MSC is not a company with the best people management, nor one that educates customer-facing employees on the proper way to deal with those that, at the end of the day, pay their wages. The Cabin The cabin (we were in 10212) is modern and - at first glance - spacious for this category. However, that spaciousness comes at a cost: there is very little room to put stuff, especially when the couch is converted to bunk beds. Essentially, you have a double sliding door closet with hangers and a few shelves. The only drawer is in the desk, and a good quarter of it is taken up by the hair dryer. Other ships we‘ve been on provided a whole series of drawers next to the desk and cubbyholes around the TV. The bunk beds that are made out of the two-seater couch are fullsize single beds, the best I‘ve seen in a standard cabin. These come at a price, however - the unneeded upholstery from the couch goes under the bed, which leaves less space for your luggage. In fact, we weren‘t even able to fit two medium-size, upright suitcases under the bed without one of them sticking out about 10cm. Luckily, our kids had cabin-size suitcases with them, otherwise we would have been stumped at a place to put them. The bathroom is the most modern I‘ve seen (then again, the ship is quite new) and quite spacious. The shower is great, with a glass door and large enough to not feel cramped. Two drawbacks: the air is - as is the case in every cruise ship I‘ve been on - sucked out of the cabin here (which makes sense), but apparently the opening is so small that the sucking noise is very loud. It is so loud that inside you can‘t hear that people are conversing in the cabin, much less what they are saying. The other drawback is that there is no built-in nightlight, something we‘ve had in older ships. I can‘t think of any reason not to put a nightlight into a modern bathroom, but it fits with my general opinion of the ship‘s planning and construction. Because we‘ve had ships before without a nightlight in the bathroom (mind you: older ones), I had brought one with me. Unfortunately, the same „reasoning“ used throughout the ship’s design has been applied to the receptacle in the bathroom as to many other aspects of the ship: when you turn the lights off in the bathroom, the power is turned off here, too. How annoying is that? So: no nightlight. Nor can you charge your shaver overnight. Oddly enough, the TV works even without a keycard in the central power switch... There are two European (Schuko) outlets, a USB charging outlet and two US-style outlets at the desk - and the shaver outlet (110/220V) in the bathroom that turns off with the light switch. That‘s it. The cabin door provided absolutely zero sound proofing towards the hallway, which is unfortunate when you have neighbors that find it adequate to have a conversation right in front of your door at nearly midnight. Actually, you get a lot of audio from everywhere around you - subjectively a lot more than on other (older!) ships. Put that on the „bad design“ list. What also surprised me in a negative way is the poor air circulation. When you have a small cabin with four people sleeping in it, continuously getting fresh air into the cabin is absolutely imperative. In spite of the very loud suction noise in the bathroom, either the air fed into the cabin wasn‘t fresh or there simply wasn‘t enough of it, as the air quality in the morning was attrocious. This is an issue I‘ve had on no other cruise ship, not even ones as old as the Norwegian Jade! Poor ship design, once again. Food - Marketplace Buffet As our kids are not old enough to enjoy a sit-down dinner, we mostly ate at the buffet restaurant. While the food quality is really very good (better,subjectively, than on the Costa ships we were on), it is very limited in variability, all stations basically seem to have 90% identical food every day - for both, lunch and dinner - with variance only in things like the rotissary meat or salads. It is perhaps an unfair comparison to make, but if you consider the unbelievable choice in food we found on the Celebrity Constellation, this ship’s buffet restaurant comes across like a food court at a shopping mall. Unfortunately, it is way too busy for making for a pleasant meal: as with many other cruise ship buffet restaurants, the „Marketplace Buffet“ on the Meraviglia is often packed to the hilt. Sometimes, we weren’t even able to find seating anywhere. Especially beverage stations can be annoying, not only because there are obviously too few of them, but also because especially coffee seems to run out frequently. When the coffee isn‘t out, the coffee cups are. One morning, the cups were out at every station I squeezed my way to! Picking up used plates and silverware - or wiping down a table - is also something that can be improved on. It sometimes seems that there are more people walking idly around to provide (paid) bar service than people to do basic restaurant service. Unfortunately, this was also the case when the buffet wasn‘t as busy, which is disappointing. Food - L‘Olivio d‘Oro Restaurant We only visited the assigned restaurant once, without our kids. As we later found it, it was a specialty evening and the food was quite good, albeit not extraordinary. The table we were at was oddly US football-shaped and the two of us found sitting in this configuration to be a strange experience. Unfortunately, the noise level in the restaurant is so high, that aside from the friendly personnel serving your dinner at our table, we didn‘t see much of an advantage over the buffet restaurant, especially since there apparently isn‘t a kids menu (this we heard from other people). The Shows We visited both Cirque du Soleil shows: Viaggio and Sonor in the „Cocktail & Show“ variant. Without knowing the menu, we were glad not to have booked the dinner & show version, as you simply sit at tables around the circular stage and listen to guitar music while eating. Unfortunately, here too we found employees dealing with customers that would better be placed in the kitchen or in the engine room. You are led to your table by a waiter. The table number is on the paper tickets you get the night before in your cabin, and you pass by a table that holds various drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which are the cocktails for the evening. An older gentleman in group before us was yelled at by the waiter „one drink per person, one drink per person!“ when he picked up the drink for his wife with his other hand (she was right next to him, not carrying a glass). Not a good impression. Both shows were a flurry of impressions and really quite good, though both were completely different. For small children, Viaggio is your better choice - at least our kids liked it better than Sonor (and I did, too), but both are impressive. Beside Cirque du Soleil, we also took in a very good live music and dance show and a magician. Pools + Other Entertainment There are various pools on the 15th and 16th decks, as well as several hot tubs. One pool and one hot tub are in an enclosed area (with a roof that can slide to the side). Due to the air temperature, we really only used the indoor pool, though this only made sense at offpeak times. With just one pool indoors, you can imagine how crowded it got at other times. The ship also has what they call the „Himalayan Bridge“ (a rope walking parcours) and a cool-looking waterslide that takes you over the side of the ship for part of the „ride“. The rope walking parcours is pretty cool - I did it with both kids, though you really have to hang on to your camera up there when the wind blows (and anything else that isn't attached to you)! Unfortunately, it was only available while docked. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have taken more than 50 cruises on nine different cruise lines, but this was my first cruise with MSC, and the new Meraviglia was a very pleasant surprise. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship with a very polite and helpful crew. I had ... Read More
I have taken more than 50 cruises on nine different cruise lines, but this was my first cruise with MSC, and the new Meraviglia was a very pleasant surprise. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship with a very polite and helpful crew. I had seen all the western Mediterranean ports on our itinerary before, but they are some of my favorites. I will give you ideas on what to expect on your cruise and how to enjoy each port on your own, at minimal expense. Because this review is so long, I will divide it into sections so you can skip to the parts that interest you. THE SHIP: The MSC Meraviglia is enormous, one of the largest cruise ships in the world at 171k tons, with more than 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. The interiors are stunning, mostly white and shades of gray in the public areas and muted colors in the cabins, with none of the cheesy decor that one often sees on low priced cruise ships. There is a good online video from MSC that will give you a look at the Meraviglia's elegant (contemporary Italian design) interiors. The deck plans are standard for the industry, with a few exceptions. Long hallways are zig-zagged into shorter segments, and the two elevator silos (forward and midship) are in alcoves, which can be confusing as one exits them. The open deck was too cold and windy to be enjoyed midwinter, so I cannot comment on how well the pools, sundecks, and jogging track might function in a tropical environment. The spa and gym are separated, and the gym is relatively small for such a large ship. As a result, the usual complimentary stretch and exercise programs had to be given among the chairs in the public lounges since there is no aerobics area in the gym. There is a large indoor basketball/soccer court separate from the gym, a court that was rarely used on this cruise but is probably busy during school vacations. I did not use the spa so I cannot comment on its services or prices. As on other ships, most dining, entertainment, bars, and lounges are clustered on decks 6 and 7. The central promenade between these two decks is open and its ceiling is covered with an enormous LCD screen that provides glamour in the daytime and entertaining sound and light shows each evening. The best place to view these LCD shows is from the balcony on deck 7 at either end of the promenade. MSC uses similar large LCD screens instead of the usual stage scenery in its main theater and circus lounge, and also next to its open-deck pool. This is ingenious and entertaining, and is one of the highlights on this ship. Kids of all ages will love the effect. The atrium spans decks 5 though 7 and sparkles with millions of glass crystals embedded in its spiral staircases. Similar sparkle is present in the walls shelving wine bottles outside some of the dining rooms. Reception and cruise services are clustered on deck 5. I found the personnel there were very helpful and efficient. Waiting lines for these services are common on a ship this size, but the lines moved quickly on the Meraviglia. As an aside, we experienced two nights with hurricane force winds (72 knots actual, 83 knots perceived, Beaufort scale 12) and the ship handled them with ease. There was minimal list in spite of the ship's enormous wind profile, and I felt minimal rocking and no pitching in my upper deck cabin, which was far above the ship's center of gravity. There was the usual thud of the hull against waves that one hears in severe weather, but no noise from structural flexing. I felt very safe and would trust this ship to be comfortable even on a transatlantic itinerary. FELLOW PASSENGERS: On this western Mediterranean itinerary the passengers were an enjoyable mix of nationalities -- something I enjoy when I travel in Europe. Based on overheard languages, I estimate that about 20% were native English speakers, 20% Chinese or Japanese, 5% Russian or South Asian, and 55% an equal mix of European languages (Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French). Announcements are multilingual but reasonably infrequent. Ironically, the Japanese and Chinese announcements were the easiest to understand because they were done by native speakers. The European languages were sometimes less clear because they were often rushed and given by non-native speakers. In this age of smartphone apps and smart TVs (each cabin has a smart TV), MSC would be wise to give all (except its safety and emergency) announcements via smartphone or TV. The ship already has a TV channel in each language where announcements and updates could be posted. Overhead announcements could be limited to one sentence in each language, giving the topic and referring passengers to their smart devices for further info. Also, most announcements are standard in content and could be pre-recorded at reasonable speed by native speakers. In any case, the variety of nationalities and languages is one of the pleasures of traveling abroad. If you want a Disney version of the world, then stay home. CHILDREN: I am not fond of children running loose on cruise ships, which is one of the reasons I chose a midwinter departure. Another bonus is that we were the only cruise ship docked in each port, and each port was relatively free of tourist crowds during the off-season. Our cruise had about one or two hundred children at most, preschool age or Australians on school summer holidays. The children were easily accommodated by the extensive play areas and children's programs on this ship. The school holiday calendar and a ship's quota on younger passengers is something to consider whenever booking cruise. CREW: All crew members I met were very polite and did their jobs very well. Even though this is an Italian cruise line, the crew were of diverse nationalities and usually used English as their common language. A special effort is made to provide some crew members for each language group, although passengers and crew were not always matched in this regard in the dining rooms or cabins. The ship is new, and it is maintained spotlessly clean by an excellent housekeeping staff. The officers are not as visible as on some other cruise lines, although opportunities are made to introduce high ranking officers to passengers. This is a non-issue for me as long as the junior officers maintain the safety standards of the ship so that fires and evacuations can be handled well in an emergency. CABINS: MSC is unusual in that it has relatively uniform cabins over four cabin grades called "experiences" -- Bella, Fantastica, Wellness, and Aurea-- based on what amenities are included at each price level. In addition, there are are the Yacht Club cabins, which I believe are not that much nicer than standard cabins but are isolated in a locked area of the ship with special dining, decks, and lounges (corresponding with the old first class). You can read further about this system on the MSC website. I was fortunate in that I applied to MSC and was ultimately given reciprocity (MSC gold status) to correspond with my elite status on some other cruise lines. In addition, I booked this cruise relatively late before departure when the price was so low that I thought it must be an error, but fortunately was real. It was by far the most "bang for the buck" that I have had on any cruise. I also got the 12 free drink vouchers with my Fantastica level cabin, a bonus that will be discontinued in late March 2019. My upper deck mid-ship Fantastica grade balcony cabin was absolutely beautiful. It was a little larger than the standard for the industry. Most of the extra space was devoted to a long (2m) sofa that could be converted to a queen size bed for two more adults. The cabin came with all the usual amenities, but no robes and no body lotion, so bring your own if needed. The bathroom was compact but had a shower large enough for almost anyone. The balcony was large enough for two standard chairs and one ottoman/table. The glass wall of the cabin and glass railing of the balcony offered beautiful views. Given the choice, I think that a starboard cabin provides nicer views in most ports on this itinerary. I did not realize how enjoyable a balcony view can be, even in winter, in this part of the world. For those with an inside cabin, there are two TV channels showing the view to the port and the starboard sides of the ship, which is an improvement over the usual single forward-facing bridge-cam channel. My cabin was especially well-maintained by my cabin steward. After a severe wind storm that coated my balcony with sea salt, the huge glass windows were immaculate the very next day. I did not go on a cabin crawl on this ship, so I cannot comment on the inside cabins or the suites. My cabin was a wonderful respite in the evenings, when the public areas and the entertainment venues tended to get too loud for my taste, as is too common on cruise ships. I do not understand why louder entertainment is considered better. To me, louder entertainment just sounds more amateur. DINING: The food on the Meraviglia is usually good to excellent, with only a few disappointments. For me the buffet breakfasts were by far the best meal of the day, equal to or better than that of any other cruise ship. The light and flaky croissants are some of the best I have ever had. The meats, fruits, cereals, and eggs at breakfast are all very good. The waffles (tough and soggy) and the orange drink (real orange juice is available at a surcharge) were breakfast disappointments on this cruise. I cannot comment on the coffee and tea, since I tried neither. There is only one sea day on this itinerary, so I tried the buffet lunch once and the dining room lunch once (I skipped Rome because of heavy rain and the usual transportation hassle of going from Civitavecchia port to Rome and back). The dining room lunch menu is limited but good, and the buffet lunch on the Rome day featured the best beef (rare filet mignon) of the cruise. The afternoon buffet snacks are also good, although the pizzas are surprisingly soggy rather than crisp. No free ice cream is available in the buffet (it is a favorite of mine on other ships), but very good ice cream at dinner in the main dining rooms is free. The food and service in the main dining rooms (based on my limited experience) is not up to the level of that on other cruise ships. The menu tends to be limited compared with other cruise lines (one appetizer, one soup, one salad). Upscale choices (lamb, beefsteak, lobster, salmon, etc.) are absent, although some of them can be purchased with a surcharge of about 15-20 euros. The fish is invariably the best main course on the menu, in small portions but perfectly prepared. The beef at dinner was often a disappointment on this cruise. The "chef's special" prime rib, for example, was a thin slice of lean, over-cooked beef that was as tough as leather. My waiter offered to bring me another item from the menu, but I was already running late for a show I had reserved. Similarly disappointing, the veal shank was a large cross-section of bone with a scant rim of meat along one edge. The dining room service is also not on par with other cruise lines for several reasons, and not the waiters' fault. There are fixed dining times -- early or late. Only the most expensive cabins have the freedom of flexible dining times. Diners are supposed to arrive within 15 minutes of their designated time, but they tended to wander in gradually. With flexible dining, a table fills quickly and the service begins promptly. With a fixed dining time, I usually spent the first 20 minutes eating bread until there were enough diners at his station for the waiter to start service. There are no sommeliers in the dining rooms, but if you enjoy wine and know your labels, you will do fine. There are multiple choices of wine by the glass in each major category (red, white, rose, sparkling). Unfortunately, the waiters are delayed in starting service in part because they show newly embarked diners to their assigned tables. Also, table assignments did not make sense on my cruise. Waiters' native language often did not match that of their diners. Worst of all, my waiter and his assistant were at a work station up one level and around the corner from my table even though my table was just a few feet away from another waiter's work station. My waiter had no way to anticipate my needs or see any of my requests. Finally, all waiters are burdened with bulky touch screen tablets the size of a library book. Most restaurant waiters make written notes at table and then enter them into a computer at their work stations. Entering each order in the computer as it is given slows down the entire process. If MSC spent just a little more on ingredients (especially the beef), trained and assigned waiters in a logical way, and allowed dinner service to start promptly and progress efficiently, dining on the Meraviglia could be second to none. The one thing that disappointed me the most in the main dining room was the absence of free drinking water. If one wants to drink water at dinner, one must pay for it -- a new bottle of water with each dinner. If only half of the 4,500 passengers have water with dinner, that generates more than 800,000 bottles of plastic waste every year, not to mention the fossil fuel wasted in shipping bottled water to various ports. Since water is free in the buffet area, making bottled water a requirement in the dining rooms is hypocrisy for a cruise line that claims to be environmentally sensitive. Bottled water should be available for purchase in all venues for those who need it, but it should not be the only source of water in any venue. DRESS: The Meraviglia passengers were well-dressed (no ball caps, rare slashed jeans) but were still casual during the day. There were two formal nights when about a third of men wore a suit and tie, a third wore a sport jacket, and a third wore a good shirt with no jacket. Women dressed correspondingly. SANITATION: Hand washing is much more effective than alcohol gels at killing bacteria and viruses. The good news is that MSC wisely installed multiple hand wash stations at the entry to the buffet and in restrooms near the main dining rooms. The bad news is that almost no one used them. There is no one to remind passengers to wash hands, and unfortunately the automatic sinks in the restrooms rarely functioned properly -- the spigots and sensors are hidden by a shelf, and it takes multiple attempts to get any water. Those sinks would never pass a health inspection. Not once did I see a man successfully use the sink in the restroom. To protect my own health I not only washed my hands before each meal, I washed my hands again after touching any buffet tongs, which hundreds of passengers had already touched. Then again, I am aware of infection risks because my former profession involved infection control in hospitals. ENTERTAINMENT: The Meraviglia has very talented singers and dancers on the main stage, and talented musicians in the lounges and atrium. Because of the multiple languages represented, almost all entertainment is musical -- no lectures or enrichment activities. Most of the music is popular and familiar to Americans, but there is one abbreviated opera performance (La Boheme) by two well-trained opera singers. The opera used ballet dancers onstage to interpret the music, which added interest for those not used to opera performances. As I mentioned, the scenery relies on huge LCD screen backdrops, which worked very well and added interest (and sometimes humor) to each performance. In addition, Cirque du Soleil presents two different shows (Viaggio and Sonor) on various nights during the cruise. These can be reserved online prior to the cruise, but schedules usually change, so check soon after embarkation to verify your reservations or to add new ones. The Cirque desk is adjacent to the reception desk. Of the two, Viaggio is probably better for kids since it involves a little more clowning around. Both programs are surcharged via a drink or a dinner package. Ironically, the less expensive drink package offers the better seating. The problem with all of the entertainment on the Meraviglia is the decibel level. Singers are over-amplified to the point of distortion -- one can feel the sub-woofer bass in one's gut. I tried the stage shows each evening (wearing ear plugs) but gave up after a few days and instead just relaxed in my cabin in the evening. This problem is not unique to MSC -- it occurs on most cruise ships. Only the luxury cruise lines seem to keep the amplification at a reasonable decibel level. Parents taking their kids to the Cirque performances should definitely consider ear protection for the younger ones. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION: This cruise was unique in my experience because passengers embarked and disembarked at every port. This made embarkation much easier -- just 1,000 new passengers daily instead of 4,500 on a single day. I am not certain, but I believe that demand and pricing varies by embarkation port, so check this if you want the best price for your cruise. This system also makes disembarkation easier at the end of the cruise -- far less baggage to offload and claim each disembarkation day. It does add a bit of a disturbance each afternoon as the newly arrived passengers are summoned to their mandatory safety drill, but this is a minor inconvenience. If you are just spending the day ashore and then returning to the ship, check the daily program since the arrival and departure times for several of the ports were changed from the original cruise schedule. SUMMARY: The Meraviglia is a beautiful ship, the crew is wonderful, and the western Mediterranean ports are enjoyable. At the right price, you will enjoy this cruise very much. WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN PORTS ON YOUR OWN AT MINIMAL EXPENSE: GENOA: I love Genoa because it seems so completely Italian, especially in the historic center, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Our ship docked in the main harbor in the middle of the city's waterfront -- an easy walk to almost any attraction and just a few minutes from the main (Principe) train station. Genoa is built on a hillside, so there is some climbing, but the waterfront alone has enough attractions to fill a half day for those with mobility issues. Pick up a map in the cruise terminal and exit right (east) along the waterfront until you reach the Galata Museum del Mar (Museum of the Sea). This is a large, modern, very enjoyable museum that is worth at least an hour or two when you are returning to the ship. See their website for hours and current prices. From the museum, cross the street and head uphill through the narrow lanes (gritty but safe) to the main street (Via Balbi). From there continue east to the Palazzo Real. There are five major palaces remaining from the days of Genoa's peak power and wealth. The Palazzo Real is the most interesting, but combination tickets are available, and it is fun to see more than one. From the Palazzo Real walk farther east to Via Garibaldi, where there are beautiful historic buildings and three more palazzi -- together called the Palazzi dei Rolli on the Strade Nuove, designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Combo tickets for the palaces are available at the nearby bookshop. The fifth palace, and the one with the most art is the National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola, on Piazza Pelliceria nearby. From there walk downhill to the cathedral and nearby fountain on Piazza de Ferrari, where you will find the Genova sign/sculpture for a photo op. The view down the historic Via XX Settembre is grand. It is an easy walk back west to the waterfront for either (or both) the maritime museum or the modern aquarium. Even if you do not enter the aquarium, there is a cute floating park at the end of its pier, with good views of the ship and the city. From the aquarium and maritime museum it is an easy walk back to the ship. ROME: I usually skip Rome when it is just a single day visit from Civitavecchia. The shuttle/walk/train/metro each way takes more than an hour (about the same as a rental car). If you decide to go into the city, I recommend getting a BIRG ticket, which covers the regional train and all transport in Rome. Rick Steves guides have excellent info on what to see and do in Rome, with self-guided walking tours. His Mediterranean Ports of Call guide includes detailed info on how to get from the port to the city. Highly recommended guides. PALERMO: Palermo has a gritty beauty and vitality that I always enjoy. Some of its main streets have been blocked off and are now pedestrian friendly. The ship docks at the maritime station near the ferry terminals. As you exit the port, pick up a city map at the TI in the small wood cabin near the gate. From there it is about 15 minutes to the Teatro Massimo, another 10 minutes to the Quattro Canti intersection, and another 15 minutes along Via V. Emanuele to Piazza Independenza where you will find the bus #389 to the fabulous Cattedrale Monreale. The best place to get on the bus is at its rest stop on the far (inland) side of the plaza across from the row of small gas stations. You are more likely to get a seat from there because when the bus starts up, it swings past the wall of the Palatine Chapel and quickly fills with tourists. Check the schedule on the internet -- I believe there is a convenient departure at 10 am and about every 30 minutes thereafter. The trip into the hills takes about 30 minutes and costs 1.80 euros each way, ticket purchased from the driver. The cathedral is near the end of the bus line and there is a gorgeous view of the entire Palermo city and harbor from the walk between the bus stop and the cathedral. Inside the cathedral are the most extensive and beautiful byzantine mosaics in the western Mediterranean. It is absolutely breathtaking. For a restroom there is a friendly cafe across the plaza, and there is a small park ideal for picnics if you pass the front of the cathedral on your left, and walk under two arches past the mini-post office. The return bus leaves from exactly the same spot where it dropped you off. Back in Palermo, the new tourist entrance to the Palatine Chapel is on Piazza del Parlamento, on the opposite side of the palace from Piazza Independenza and the former tourist entrance. If you are there Fri-Mon when parliament is not in session, you can see the royal palace at the same time that you see the chapel. The chapel is a mini-version of the Cattedrale Monreale, and just as breathtaking. The chapel can be a mob scene in high season, so go early or during the lunchtime lull. From there it is a leisurely walk back to the ship. A detour through the Palermo Cattedrale and the Ballaro street market is worthwhile. On your way back, near the Quattro Canti, is the too-sexy-for-prudes Pretoria Fountain. Near the fountain are some old Norman churches, useful because all the Norman sites have free wi-fi access. VALLETTA: Almost the entire walled town of Valletta on the island of Malta is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ship docks on the waterfront below the city walls. The easiest way to enter the city is by the new elevators which are an easy 10 minute walk to the right (northeast) as you exit the port (the TI has free maps of the city as you disembark). The elevator costs just 1 euro to go up and is free to go down. Best of all, the elevator leaves you in the upper Barrakka gardens, which have a fine view over the harbor. From the garden make your way to the Triton fountain, which is at the new gate to the city and is the terminus of bus lines that cover the island (in case you want to take a bus to one of the beach towns or to the historic town of Mdina. Bus fares are cheap and many towns are within 30 minutes by bus. From the Triton fountain walk down the main street (Republikka) to visit the spectacular St. John's (co-) Cathedral, the impressive Grand Master's Palace, and (least interesting) the archeology museum. In high season the cathedral can be a mob scene, so best to go when it first opens before the tour groups arrive. In the afternoon you can take a bus to picturesque Mdina (again, heavily touristed) or to a beach town. The only annoying thing about Valletta is that the return to the ship zig-zags through a gift shop with no apparent exits. BARCELONA: Barcelona is so heavily touristed (and so filled with scams and pickpockets) that I tend to avoid the crowds and spend my time on the periphery. The Gaudi sites, Ramblas, Picasso museum, and Gotic old town area are all worthwhile, but not fun in crowds. From the cruise ship I like to walk over the bridge (30 minutes) to the Drassanes metro station near the Columbus monument at the base of the Ramblas. Most ships offer a pricey shuttle, and later in the day the city offers the T3 shuttle bus for about 4 euros round trip. I buy a T10 packet of metro tickets (about 1 euro each, can be shared) and am on my way. I take the metro to Paral-lel for the funicular up Monjuic or to Placa Espana when the funicular is closed (it is under repair as I write this in early 2019). Bus #150 goes up the mountain from Placa Espana, with spectacular views over the cruise ships from the fort at the top (terminus of the bus). Along the way I always stop at the Catalan National Museum. The view over the city from its entrance is worth the trip, but the museum is also one of my favorite museums in all the world -- I usually spend 2 hours there every time I visit Barcelona (seniors are free -- a bonus for the elderly). The museum has Catalan art from the Romanesque through the 20th century, an amazing collection in a beautifully modernized building. I also check the Caixa Forum near Placa Espana to see what special exhibits they have. In the afternoon I usually visit some of the other tourist sites or simply amble through the old town. There are nice bike tours, walking tours, and many other things to do. The Rick Steves guide to Barcelona has great suggestions. Be aware that the current price to enter Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is now 33 euros! TOULON (and La Seyne-Sur-Mer): If you are on a large ship, you will probably dock across the bay from Toulon at La Seyne-Sur-Mer. From that dock you exit the port and turn right (west) to get to the ferry (#8M) dock about 10 minutes away. It helps if you view the port area from the upper deck of the ship first, so that you can see where the ferry stops -- it is at Espace Marine in a somewhat bleak industrial area. Any local can show you the way. The ferry costs 2 euros each way, but is included in the day pass available at the Toulon tourist information office. If you are on a smaller ship, you may dock southeast of Toulon's center, just a 10 minutes walk away from the tourist information office. Whichever dock, I suggest that you first go to the Toulon tourist information office at Place Louis Blanc. They have all the information and maps that you will need to enjoy your day. They also sell the 4 euro transit pass, which is good for all buses and ferries in the area. Just outside the office is an enjoyable street market that extends for several hundred meters up the hill. There is a pleasant walking tour of Toulon on the tourist map, or you can hop on a bus #3 or #23 to go to the attractive beaches and parks of the Mourillon district southeast of town. Alternately, you can enjoy the beach and park at Sablettes, south of La Seyne-Sur-Mer. From Toulon ferry # 18M (or less enjoyable bus #18) goes there. Bus #18 passes a few blocks west of the La Seyne-Sur-Mer cruise dock on its way north to Toulon or south to Sablettes. For those who want to see Marseille rather than Toulon, bus #23 and bus #3 go from near the waterfront area up the hill to the train station (Gare Toulon) for the ride to Marseille's St. Charles train station. Check the internet for prices and schedules. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We have been on 17 MSC cruises now and wouldn't consider any other cruise line. We tend to pick cruises based on dates rather than itinerary as we just go to relax. This time was a bit different for us as it was the first time we ... Read More
We have been on 17 MSC cruises now and wouldn't consider any other cruise line. We tend to pick cruises based on dates rather than itinerary as we just go to relax. This time was a bit different for us as it was the first time we had been away for New Year, and the first time cruising in winter. This was also the first time being on such a large ship so we were a bit apprehensive especially with all the negative reviews, but as a seasoned MSC cruiser, I know to ignore most of the bad reviews on here as they are mostly unfounded. Our overall experience was very good and I would travel on the Meraviglia again if that ship was the only one available at my chosen dates, but if given the choice I would pick a smaller ship or try to get a much bigger cabin. We travelled with our 6 year old son, another couple with a 5 year old and a childless couple. We arrived at Genova by train and walked the short distance to the port arriving around 11.30. We all had Aurea cabins so had priority boarding and had no waiting around we got straight on, however even the other queue was not very long. I think later on in the day, queues can get to be quite long when the transfer buses arrive but if you get there early enough you won’t wait very long. Our cabins weren’t supposed to be ready until 14.00 but we went straight there to drop off our bags and they were ready. One negative point was to register the credit cards, the machines on the Meraviglia are slightly different to other ships and there was a bit of confusion as it was not clear which part was to pay in cash and which was for credit cards but we got there eventually. We all had Aurea balcony cabins, but we were very disappointed with these as they were tiny. It’s amazing how the biggest cabins we’ve had were actually on the smallest ships, I get the impression that they just try to squeeze in as many cabins as they can to make more money. The wardrobe was much too small for 3 people, although we did manage to squeeze all our clothes in there and stored our empty luggage under the bed as usual. The bathroom was small but well designed with a proper glass shower door and very powerful hot shower. Disappointing that we didn’t have a bath as we usually do with Aurea cabins. Some of the Aurea/black member perks were missing at first but as soon as housekeeping/reception were informed they appeared. So make sure you know what you should expect. The ship is very beautiful and plenty to do, so much that we didn’t get to do everything. The extras were quite expensive (bowling, 4d cinema etc) – even more expensive than on other MSC ships, but you can buy Fun Passes on board which are quite good value. Little tip, don’t expect to just turn up and do bowling, especially on the day at sea as there are only 2 lanes and you need to book in advance. We did it at 14.30 on the Marseille port day and were on our own. If you have small children ask the to put the gutter barriers up, I didn’t realise this was possible at first and it was only after a few loud tantrums from my 6 year old when he kept going in the gutter, that the staff member told us about this. It was a much more enjoyable game after that and my son ended up winning! I would also not recommend the flight simulator for young children, my son was tall enough to go on, but we didn’t realise that it actually went upside down and was very scary for him and even me as we were unable to control it, I laugh about it now as we were completely safe but wouldn’t take him on again until he was much older. The promenade was a great atmosphere for parties, but not well designed for parties due to the lack of bars. There is one bar at the far end then it is all shops, so we tended to go thirsty and dance rather than wait ages to get a drink. What is missing on this ship is little bars with music to have a drink and a dance, I think they could have created more of these rather than have so many specialty restaurants. The New Year’s party was amazing and best New Years Eve I have ever had. There was also the flower power party, white party, fluo party which were all amazing, great atmosphere and great music. This was a winter cruise so we didn’t use the outside pools at all (although some crazy people did) and only used the inside pool once. They seemed to be quite spacious but I can imagine how busy they would be on a sea day. We had a massage each included in our Aurea package, and I also had an eyebrow wax at the spa. The spa therapists are all very professional and the massages are excellent. They are quite expensive though, but I think you can get some good packages, I go on a cruise for family time though so didn’t look into this. It was quite hard to get an appointment for the wax as they only have one beautician that does this, but I suppose most people do their waxing before going on holiday. The theatre shows were quite disappointing, still high quality but not as varied as on the other ships we’ve been on. I think with them having the Cirque du Soleil, they don’t want to have any acrobatics in the ‘free’ theatre any more. It was mainly singing and dancing, which was quite boring for the children. There should have been a magic/puppet show on our first night but the magician missed the boat so this show was replaced by a classical concert. Cirque du Soleil was excellent but a little short, I would’ve been prepared to pay a little extra to see a longer show. We just got the show & cocktail tickets which I would highly recommend, when you already have dinner included in your cruise I don’t see the point in reserving a dinner with the show. The dinner started an hour before the show so you didn’t get to eat while you watched the show and the drinks only seats were much better – although the Carousel lounge is so small there are no ‘bad’ seats. Be aware that these shows can be cancelled in bad weather. Foodwise I am always amazed at how people can criticise the food on MSC as for us it is always amazing and one of the main reasons we like MSC cruises. I think there is something for everyone. I am a vegetarian and I never have to eat the same dish twice – unless I want to. The food is high quality, and if you think the portions are small in the restaurant, just order double! We rarely went to breakfast as we like to take it easy in the mornings on holiday. On the days that we did get up in time we just went to the buffet, there was plenty of choice, and we especially liked the made to order omelettes that you don’t usually get on MSC. We also went to the buffet most days for lunch as we find that there is more choice for everyone here at lunchtimes and more relaxed. The buffet can get very loud and crazy, but for the whole week we always found a table easily even when we were a group of 8. The trick is to have one person reserve a table while the others get their food, to avoid your food getting cold while you search for a table. It is also easier to find a table near the back end of the buffet. On the day at sea we preferred to go to the Panorama restaurant, although there is not as much choice here and not as well organised at lunchtimes as it is in the evenings. Dinner was in the Panorama restaurant. We had My Choice but it wasn’t as flexible as usual as we were a party of 8 so not as easy to get a table with the same waiter whenever we wanted. We ate at 19.15/19.30 every night apart from new year’s eve when we were able to get a table at 21.15. Our waiter Ashveen was excellent and we were very disappointed to hear that 2 days before the end of our cruise he had to return home due to personal problems, he was very professional and gave 120% to make sure that everything was perfect for us and we were able to have a laugh with him. One thing to note during winter cruises is the risk of bad weather. We were generally very lucky with the weather apart from the sea day. During the trip from Malta to Barcelona we encountered gale force 9 winds which made it very bumpy. A few of our party felt ill during the afternoon, and 2 had to leave the restaurant early in the evening. In all my 17 cruises I’ve never experienced seas that rough before, it was so bad during the night that it felt as though we were going to tip over. I always thought that the bigger the ship the less you felt the sea, but I’ve now realised that the bigger ships get knocked around more in high winds. A note on the photos, the MSC photographers are always excellent and the photos are always perfect but I always feel I am conned on these as they are always so expensive. On the other cruises we have managed to negotiate a price on board for all the photos usually €150-200, but this just means I have hundreds of photos hanging around at home that I never look at anymore. This time I decided to book in advance a 10 photo package (any size) for €80, still pretty expensive but limited photos. As soon as we got on the ship our friends were able to book packages for all photos – digital and small printed copies for €130. I wasn’t able to change my package but I was able to add all the digital photos for €60, so not as good a deal as my friends got but I much prefer to have the digital copies than the printed ones. I am also always surprised that people on here criticise the MSC staff, I find the staff to be highly professional and pleasant. I always get a smile and a hello out of anyone I pass in the corridors and always try to have a chat with staff I see regularly. Our group was a mix of 4 nationalities – English, Italian, French and Cuban with all of us speaking at least 2 different languages and none of us had any communication issues. All staff are required to speak English so I don’t understand how any English speaking passengers have communication issues. Passengers are a mix of all nationalities and personalities which I always find really interesting. If you want to be surrounded by English-speakers then please stay away from MSC and stick to the hundreds of English speaking cruises and leave the multinational cruises to us multinationals. We never choose our cruises for the destinations and do tend to repeat ports often. My main reasons for cruising are to relax and spend time with my family, this time especially as I was recovering from a foot operation and was not planning on doing too much walking. Civitavecchia – I had planned on going to see the nativity scenes at the nearby fort, but as the weather wasn’t great when we first got up we decided to stay on the boat instead. Palermo – we took a taxi tour with our friends €120 for 6 adults and 2 children. Saw most of the sights over 2 hours and had a wander round the food market. Malta – new years day so wanted to take it easy, took a horse and carriage ride around the city for €40 (or €50 can’t remember but was negotiated €10 cheaper than the ‘official’ price) 2 adults one child, then a wander around the shops near the port. Barcelona – a city I never tire of and so easy to get around on your own. We got the port cruise (blue) bus from right outside the terminal for €4 return each which leaves you near Plaza Colombo (as does the MSC shuttle which you have to pay €8/9). We then got the Metro from Drassanes to the Sagrada Famiglia (changing at Passeig Gracia) we got a 10 trip ticket for €10.20 as we were 8. Wandered round the outside of the Sagrada Famiglia, then got the metro back to Plaza Catalunya (changing again at Passeig Gracia), and walked back down the Ramblas stopping at the food market near the middle. Marseille – stayed on ship, had a lazy morning then took advantage of the quiet ship to do bowling and 4d cinema) Overall I’ve given the Meraviglia 5/5 as I feel that MSC needs a little boost and none of the negative points I’ve mentioned ruined my holiday in any way, I am already planning 2 cruises with MSC for 2019. I would recommend to anyone taking a cruise, no matter which company, to do your research on what to expect, to avoid disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018

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