53 Hamburg Family Cruise Reviews

We have previously sailed exclusively with NCL and 1 time with Royal Caribbean. This was our first experience with MSC Cruises and we were pleasantly surprised with our experience onboard. We chose this itinerary because it was the ... Read More
We have previously sailed exclusively with NCL and 1 time with Royal Caribbean. This was our first experience with MSC Cruises and we were pleasantly surprised with our experience onboard. We chose this itinerary because it was the ship's inaugural cruise and the stops were all new locations for us - Hamburg, Southampton, Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseille. After reading many reviews here on Cruise Critic we were very concerned about choosing MSC. Everything from the service, the different languages during announcements, food portions, taste, etc. But from our experience, it was absolutely fantastic. Mind you we did have a very unique experience on a few fronts. Because it was the inaugural cruise, the ship was not full and we were well looked after from the staff onboard. Embarkation was very smooth. Easily the fastest we have ever embarked on any other cruise (that's even sailing in the Haven with it's own private check in desk). Also, unlike in US embarkation ports, the handlers in Europe do not have their hand out asking for tips for taking your luggage onto a trolley. The staff who takes your luggage are MSC staff and take it away for you. The one small little thing was that we downloaded the MSC for Me app so that we can do all the pre-check in ahead of time. Taking our own photos, setting up our credit card information and doing the check in. But when we got to the port they still had to do the photos and check in. Anyone who has sailed with MSC knows that your credit card payment is done at the small kiosks throughout the ship. I was unsure of this idea but it actually works very well. Disembarkation was a breeze. We had some help with guest services because we have two small children a ton of luggage. They were able to assist us getting off the ship. Excellent. The ship because we were the first paying customers was in perfect condition. No complaints whatsoever. And the staff did an amazing job taking care of it while in its infancy. The gym though was quite small. Considering that our ship, from what we were told was only at half capacity was full most days and using the equipment was difficult. I cannot imagine that a full cruise you would be even able to use any equipment. Oh well, use of stairs and walking everywhere became our work out. Because of large swells, our 1 day in Southampton ended up becoming a multi-day stay. You can't control the weather right? So even though we were disappointed to miss our Lisbon stop and lose our full day in Marseille it didn't stop our family from enjoying more time on the ship. Our family doesn't do the shows in the theater on any cruise. We have dinner a bit later so we miss them. So I cannot comment on the quality of the shows. But we were invited to watch 1 show of our choosing since it was the inaugural sailing, EXENTRICKS with dinner and it was amazing! Our children loved it and so did we. But near the end of our cruise, we were invited to watch Cosmos as well. We loved it just as must as the previous show. This time we didn't have dinner, just drinks. I have read that the drinks given aren't very good. But there were 3 choices, a tropical drink, gin and tonic and a non-alcoholic. We had the gin and tonic and we enjoyed them. Our cabin was 10281. Aft facing balcony considered a "suite". We didn't have any extra perks but our room was huge! We have a regular balcony but it was wider by about half. So we had our queen bed, a sofa bed, and a bunk bed built in its wall. We have read that storage is a problem in most rooms, which we have seen with the demo rooms onboard. But our room had 2 large size closets, and the bunk bed area had 2 extra drawers, 2 smaller closets, and a head area in the bunk that could store more items. We had plenty of storage and we needed it since we were on the cruise for 12 days. Our balcony was huge since it was aft facing. Wish it was warmer out so we could use it more frequently, but still amazing. Our cabin attendant kept our in fantastic shape the whole cruise. When passengers mention that they never see their cabin attendant, I never believe it. We would see him multiple times during the day as we were in and out of our room. Zoe in the room unfortunately is not very good. We are very optimistic people, but we tried using it to get some answers and it couldn't answer any of them. Not even basic questions. We just used it as blu tooth speaker which was fine for us. But it needs lots of work still. Dining, what can we say. Probably the best food we have ever had in all honesty. Food portions were totally normal, not small like some people have posted about. And if it was small, just order more! The variety was great and the desserts were fantastic. We dined in Il Campo which is reserved for Suite guests so we had anytime dining. We just showed up and we were seated immediately. We never waited once. Not for 1 second. it was fantastic. Service was impeccable every single night. We did not dine in the specialty restaurants since we felt that the food and service was perfect for us. The buffet was incredible as well. Easily the best pizza we have ever had. Mozzarella made fresh everyday. Choices were plentiful and good variety. Breakfast was pretty much the same, which it is on every ship. Again, because our ship was at half capacity, finding service or a seat was never a problem for us. The children & family buffet seating area was always available for us. We liked it there. Our only comment is that like others have wrote about, MSC does not enforce hand washing or sanitation. We would like for them to be more strict on it to help prevent contamination. Because of the cool weather, we were not able to use the outdoor facilities. Except for 1 day when the weather was warm. Our son and I used the slides, amazing fun! We just wish it was warmer. It will be a great area if the ship is in better temperatures. Our children had never used any kids clubs on any other ship before but absolutely loved and enjoyed the kids club onboard the Grandiosa. The staff there did a wonderful job with the children and they had such a great time. Highly recommended. Service was great! We didn't have the feeling that staff were trying to sell us on everything. They were polite and very nice everywhere we went. High marks to all. Guests services manager and hotel director were fantastic as well. The captain (master) was also incredibly nice. We were able to meet him on 3 occasions and it was an amazing experience. The photography team took excellent photos. We love taking photos on cruises so we don't shy away from taking pictures. But from what we could see, passengers who didn't want them taken were not pestered or bothered further. I know passengers complain about aggressive photographers, but they were not like that at all. Our children can be a handful taking photos and every person worked with them patiently and the photos turned out awesome. For the ports, we didn't use MSC. We roamed around on our own and I had set up tours prior to us boarding. We wish there was comment cards so that we could recognize great service to the staff who deserve it. Again, we don't know what it would be like if the ship was at full capacity. I'm sure there might have been some line ups, waiting for tables in the buffet area, etc. But we cannot comment on that since our ship was half capacity. Our cruise was wonderful and based on our experience we would 100% sail with MSC again. Some people go on cruises just to complain about everything. Others enjoy it to the fullest. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We are Platinum card members having been on all three queens several times. Our trips have always been good and so have the on board photographers. We did a mini cruise from Hamburg to Southampton with all the family for a seventieth ... Read More
We are Platinum card members having been on all three queens several times. Our trips have always been good and so have the on board photographers. We did a mini cruise from Hamburg to Southampton with all the family for a seventieth and a fortieth birthday - so rather special. A rare treat to get the family all in one place. Smart attire evening photographs were so badly posed (not) that we rejected them. The Gala night photographs were out of focus - we were finally told this just before we debarked. We asked, during the evening, four times to see them and were told to return in 30 minutes. IF we had been told that they had gone in the bin earlier we would have had time to have them retaken. Now we have to drive 180 miles each way to meet up with the family to try and get more photographs done by a professional to recapture the special days. To add insult to injury, our complaints to Cunard have been ignored. No e mail no phone call - silence . Four weeks later having rung five times and finally a brief email today - our case is still being investigated and we still have got nowhere. Lovely cruises but total failure when it comes to after care of customers. It is out of Cunard’s control apparently. We await the photographer’s reply - 18 days and ... The menu was not quite as good as it used to be, one gets the feeling that there has been cost cutting . Our grandchildren were quite happy with their menu and amount. The waiters on this trip were not as good as the past, possibly because it was a short trip.The extra vegetables asked for arrived too late ...... As usual the entertainment was of a high standard though a bit loud for our grandson. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I had experience on Costa and NCL before this cruise. So, I was comparing with that lines. We decided to choose Aida this time as we wanted to experience German style cruising and found a good price for transatlantic cruise with return ... Read More
I had experience on Costa and NCL before this cruise. So, I was comparing with that lines. We decided to choose Aida this time as we wanted to experience German style cruising and found a good price for transatlantic cruise with return flight to Germany. Also, I liked itinerary with stops at: Hamburg, Southampton, La Coruna, Lisbon, Tenerife and several Carribean islands. Before the cruise, Aida sends you a small book with all tickets (flight, stateroom, transfers) and baggage strips. Very nice. Also, they send you a book with short description for port of calls and another book about the ship. Very nice as well. But all in German (but it possible to understand most of the information) Embarkation: it happens in Hamburg in Steinwerder terminal. This terminal is located in industrial zone without good public transport connection. But, you have an option to choose Aida transfer from rail station for 6 euro per person. Or choose taxi (Uber or Free-now) for approx 13-15 euro from city center. Embarkation time is assigned to you and it is in range of 1 hour. So, there is no big queue in terminal as everyone have it's own time. Disembarkation: this process was combined with registration for return flight from Barbados to Germany. This process was not organized well. We stay in huge queue in old warehouse for 1 hour. There are was no place to sit or no water to drink, no air-conditioning as well. Everyone was upset with this process. All tickets were pre-printed and we stay only to but luggage tags and get our boarding pass. I think this all can be done on the ship. Transfer to airport was ok: small bus but with air-conditioning. And return flight was nice: blankets and pillows for everyone, water was served often, we got food 2 times during the flight. Ship. Ship feels new. All environments are in good condition. Dining space is in great condition and designed well. A lot of fast elevators on the ship. Having the ship was full we didn't experience any issues waiting for the elevator like on most of the ships. Pool area is very small but there are a lot of places on sun deck with sun beds. No problem to find a place to sit. What I didn't liked in the ship: on most of the decks it is very narrow. Even inside cabins doesn't exist on most of the decks. You simply do not feel that you are on the quite a big ship (~3200passengers). It feels very small. Around exhaust pipes always bed smell (like on other ships, but I think more here). Also, a lot of small black exhaust from the pipes. All this goes on the railings, on the floor, on the sun beds and is not cleared by personnel. Dining. Aida gives a different experience in dinning options comparing to the most of the cruise lines. Probably dining was what we liked the most. One disadvantage: there are some gaps in time (half or hour in the morning and around 2 hours in the evening) when all buffets, except of Fuego, are closed. I didn't liked that. You can get food in 1 of 5 different buffet: Eastrestaurant, Bella-Donna restaurant, Market restaurant, Weite Welt restaurant and Fuego restaurant. They all have a similarity and some difference. First 3 are main buffets, Fuego is located close to Lido deck and provides quick snacks (burgers and pizza and pasta) and drinks Breakfast in main buffets offers: eggs in all forms (all have egg station where you can request type of egg you want and select additional ingredients: ham, cheese, onion etc), sausages, beans, cheese, great selection of yogurts (including natural), cereals, juices (orange, apple, tomato, grapefruit) etc. Starting from the lunch you can get alcohol: good beer (Berliner) and good white or red whine. For the soft drinks you can get: sparkling water, water, cola, cola zero, fanta, sprite and selection of juice. Soft drinks are available during the whole day in buffets (when they are open) For lunch pretty standard selection of food everywhere: soups, meat, fruits, desserts. On dinner selection of food differs in each restaurant. In Bella Donna you can find grilled shrimps everyday, grilled pork liver, lasagna, pasta of the day and italian salams. In Market buffet you can find better selection of fruits (it have whole wall of fruits which you can pickup), fish from ship own smokery, red caviar and lobsters on pre-disembarkation day, grilled stakes, selection of marinated vegetables. In Weite Welt you can find grill as well, pasta, soups. But nothing extra comparing to other buffets. In East restaurant you can find soup station where you can ask to prepare soup with ingredients of your choice and what they teppanyaki station where they can grill what you want (you can pickup meat, shrimps, calamari, noodles and vegetables). In each buffet you can find selection of 1-2 desserts (unfortunately, on Aida you will not have a great selection of dessert, only a couple and they almost do not change during the cruise), carved fruit, ice cream with toppings. There is 3 restaurants where you can get free food but you need to pay for drinks: French Kiss, Casa Nova and Brauhaus. Drinks are from 2.50e for lemonade and 3.90e for 0.5 beer. In French Kiss and Casa Nova you get standard a la cart selection from 5 course menu. Meals are good, but nothing special. In Brauhaus you can get half of duck or traditional pork knee. Not the best I've eat. They try to serve food fast so it is pre-cooked. But beer in this place is awesome. They serve Aida brewed beer which is on top with best Germany private breweries. And cost is 3.90E for 0.5. Also, there are several paid restaurants. We didn't visit any as selection of the food was amazing. Entertaiments. I didn't like that Aida Perla doesn't have normal theater like on other ships. It have so called "Theatrium". Which means they made area in Atrium to be the main place for all the shows. This area too small. Probably can fit not more that 500 peoples and some of the places on 2nd and 3rd level even don't have direct view on scene, guest must look onto TV screen. All entertainment are in German (of course some live songs are in English). Scene too small. So, no Broadway shows. Just mall entertainments: comedians, live singing, Voice of the Sea, Who wants to be a billionaire and so on. For non-German speaking guest I think there is nothing to watch during evenings. At 10PM there is live music on top deck. Different styles (rock, pop etc). Good to spend some time at night. Also, there are was some coaches on the board who had private sessions for guests who willing to pay extra. Service. Service on the ship is bad. And this is not because of bad personnel. There are just not enough peoples to serve such a big ship. Perla have 900 crew for 3200 passengers, comparing to 1700 crew for 4100 passengers on NCL Epic which I sail before. So, on perla, for 1 crew 3.5 passengers, and on Epic for 1 crew 2.5 passengers. This results in: - tables are not cleared promptly (especially in Fuego) - room service happens 1 time per day. Steward starts clearing in 9 at the morning and finish all his duty at 16-00. So, of course he don't have enough time for towel animals, to organize your cables and other handy things that you may find on other ships. - towels and linens are not changed every day - sun deck is not cleared at all. If there are was rain - water on the floor remains until everything become dry naturally. The same with black exhaust from pipes. Sometime you can't seat on sun bed because it is in black spots on it. I saw one case: there is a board on the floor for some game similar to cerling (don't know the name). And there are was a water licking from somewhere. Guests was not able to play. And no one from crew helped with this except they gave a cleaning tool to one of the guest so players can help themselves. - In restaurants crew pay more attention to older peoples. Don't know why, may be they are tipping them. Language on board. It's easy to cover what you can get in English: safety announcements, menu in specialty restaurants. Some messages to cabin related to visa processing on shore. Once i've contacted service desk to change the room as there are was an issue with balcony. I've got refuse letter in German! Disappointing. Disembarkation instruction was in German as well. And it was including instruction for the flight. 2 sided A4 paper. A lot of information. It was tricky to translate without internet. Conclusion. I've tried to cover negative more so everyone will be prepared and will enjoy all nice aspects of this company and this ship. Definitely it was a great experience for my family. For us it was a great value for the price of 100E for Balcony room per person per day with return flight included. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Pros = 1) Service at the dinner - Waiter always friendly 2) Service and cleanliness on our Room 3) Pre paid internet was 4gb for 4 devices and it was cheap comparing with other cruises that I´ve made 4) Pre paid digital ... Read More
Pros = 1) Service at the dinner - Waiter always friendly 2) Service and cleanliness on our Room 3) Pre paid internet was 4gb for 4 devices and it was cheap comparing with other cruises that I´ve made 4) Pre paid digital pictures was very cheap. I got in the end a pen drive with 120 pictures taken during the cruise and it costed 90 euros. During the cruise, they were charging 30 euros for EACH picture 5) Pizza was very good Cons = 1) Overall the bar staff was not trained at all. First night at the Cruise, I ordered a bottle of Champagne, the lady came after 10 minutes with the Bottle saying that it was the first time that she opened a Champagne bottle and tried to close it with the Cork again. 2) The food at the buffet was terrible and always crowded. It was always stressfull getting food, find a table 3) The cruise only offers free Water (when other lines offer Iced Tea, etc). The places to get drinks were dirty and some of them had only Coffe and not hot milk 4) The portion size of the dinner was terrible ... everyone at our table asked always 2-3 main courses because it was impossible to have food enough with only 1 main dish. 5) The shows during the evening at the theater were very poor. Comparing with other cruises that I´ve been, it was by far the worse. I even slept because if was boring. 6) The overall entertainment during the cruise was very bad... other cruises that I´ve been, have a Cruise Director that cheers up the entire ship with lot of enterntainment and parties. At the Preziosa, and I dont even know if we have similar role during the ship. 7) Basic stuff like NUTELLA... it was not offered during the breakfast for my Daugther, but it was available if asked.. so every time i needed to go to the bar and ask for Nutella and the waiter passed me a few nutella hidden like he was giving me drugs. 8) The overall service was so bad that I went to the guest services and asked to remove the service charge. I then paid good service at the dinner and room directly to the waiters. 9) I´ve been in many different Cruise companies before and this was the first that THEY DONT OFFER FREE ICE CREAM. All other have free 24h ice cream. They charge at Preziosa for everything. Worst cruise experience I ever had, and i will never get on a MSC ship again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
To start at the beginning embarkation took over 3 hours, 2 sat in the waiting area and an over an hour queuing, the luggage got to the room before us! Muster drill was chaotic, people stood chatting and not everybody attended so it had ... Read More
To start at the beginning embarkation took over 3 hours, 2 sat in the waiting area and an over an hour queuing, the luggage got to the room before us! Muster drill was chaotic, people stood chatting and not everybody attended so it had to be repeated for them. Main dining room menus were very mixed and not appetising, presentation was very lacking (fruit platter was 4 chunks of fruit with no slicing or arrangement) and the food was at best okay and some foods unpleasant. Staff were distant and didn’t interact with you. There wasn’t any tea or coffee after dinner but strangely you were given bottled water for free. Lack of vegetables and oddly - Italian dishes. Inca / Maya buffet - Pizza was very good as were the breads and pasta and generally the small dessert dishes. Yorkshire tea available too. However the food was at best luke warm, the salads were limited and overall there were few choices so that you ended up thinking what shall I eat rather than what shall I not eat as I can’t eat it all. The staff were slow to clear away and most were not very friendly or interested in you. There were not enough serving implements so there was cross contamination between foods. With regard to sanitisation this seems to be low key, no encouragement to disinfect hands near eating areas and rarely noticed public areas being checked. Entertainment team worked hard and interacted well with guests. But there was a lack of organised activities and on the sea day unless you wanted to go to a dance lesson there wasn’t much going on. voyager club offered very little as it was only a three night cruise. The pool areas were nice and plenty of loungers. Not many sports facilities. Lots of extra charges for things such as TV films, using sauna, bowling alley. Overall the ship lacks atmosphere, the hotel staff are generally not friendly and many don’t even acknowledge you. The continual embarkation and disembarkation process leaves it lacking a community feel. The food is a huge disappointment especially when Italy has such a wonderful range of cuisines. I don’t know whether this is indicative of all MSC voyages or whether we were unlucky. But it felt more like a budget cruise than a luxury one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The ship was beautiful but not many windows in bars and coffee shops. The staff were hit and miss many of them could not speak English , some were just plain rude. The food was mediocre no where near as much choice as other cruise lines ... Read More
The ship was beautiful but not many windows in bars and coffee shops. The staff were hit and miss many of them could not speak English , some were just plain rude. The food was mediocre no where near as much choice as other cruise lines . Ice cream was chargeable so was cinema bowling etc. the daily activities were sparse . We travelled with a five and a six year old who only went to the children's club once as they found it confusing as they cannot speak Italian or German . The pools were a joke as they were all at least five foot deep, the aquapark is only open when the conditions are right so be mindful of this. We were promised a status match as we are Diamond+ on RCI it sounded amazing before boarding . We did not receive all that was promised due to the fact it was a 3 day cruise. We did get priority boarding (thank god) as some passengers took hours to board the ship. The bottle of Prosecco arrived eventually after a lot of badgering a complimentary meal in Butchers Cut , so glad we did not pay for it as it was average to say the least. We ate once in MDR that was enough. The Inca Restaurant ( Buffet) was very nice it was a shame the food did not match the surroundings. The photos were of high standard. The theatre was lovely the shows were good . The one positive we did not have to stand in line on the ship for the face to face passport checking procedure we went straight to the front . The price we paid was good for the four of us we had a great deal with Criuse Nation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens. We have cruised many times with Royal Carribean and had Junior suites and up, so for this cruise we booked inter connecting balcony cabins on Deck 9. I had read many reviews about MSC and The ... Read More
We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teens. We have cruised many times with Royal Carribean and had Junior suites and up, so for this cruise we booked inter connecting balcony cabins on Deck 9. I had read many reviews about MSC and The Preziosa, and have to say was a little bit concerned about all the negative reviews about service and food. We had booked the Fantastica package that came with drinks up to a value of €10 per drink for the adults and soda and soft serve ice cream for the teens. We flew from Dublin to Hamburg with Ryanair and arrived on time. We took a taxi from outside the airport to the Renaissance Hotel. Hamburg is a beautiful city with lots to see and do. A couple of things we did was eat ice cream by the lake, visit Minatur wunderland and the Hamburg Dungeon (English speaking guide on Saturday & Sunday @ 10am). We took a taxi from the hotel to the Steinwerder terminal. We arrived at about 12.30 and after giving our luggage to the porters we entered the terminal and were given a number 4 ticket and told to wait till it was called. 4 was called after about 20 minutes, so we joined the que to check in. At the desk they verify your passport and documents and give you your sea pass card. We then went through security and proceeded onto the ship. When we got on the ship our photos were taken. In total from arriving to ship took about 45 minutes. Now on the ship in the atrium, staff were welcoming you on board and saying if you want food the restaurant on deck 5 or the buffet on 14. Up to 14 we go, come out of the lift and are greeted at the entrance to the buffet by 2 staff, 1 with anti bacterial spray and the other guy saying 4 of you, let me find you a table (Wow). We are sat at a window and the girls went and explored the buffet, while I kept the table. On the table is a button for bar service, so I had to press it and along came a waiter who got me some drinks. (I’m impressed with this so called bad service and rude staff) I must say the buffet restaurant is big and plenty of choice. I had read that the pizza was good, It is delicious and fresh. So after we eat, it was time to explore the ship, and then find our cabin. We had Cabin’s 9126 & 9124, interconnecting balconies. I noticed that we had early (6pm) seating in the Golden lobster restaurant, so I went to see if we could change to the later @ 8.30pm. No problem, but it is a shared table with other English speaking guests. Now the last time we did a shared table did not work out well, my kids were age 6 & 8 and the others were 3 generations of the same family aged from 87 to 43. Well I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed our table mates, The service was fine, nothing special, or nothing bad. The choice & quality of food was not great in my opinion, but to be honest it didn’t really matter as we were having great conversation at the table. We went to 1 show called the Mask, which was ok. We eat Breakfast and lunch in the buffet, food was perfect, however coffee was weak, but just press that button or go to the bar and get a fresh cappuccino included in the drinks package. The weather was not great so the indoor pool was packed. There is a pool and bar at the back of the ship that would be nice on a warm sunny day. We were only on board for 3 days but we all really enjoyed our first MSC experience. I did miss the not been able to walk around the ship on a lower deck close to the water. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise after browsing the MSC Cruises website for a itinerary that was a little out of the ordinary. We found this itinerary very interesting because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland. We are former non-adventurous ... Read More
We chose this cruise after browsing the MSC Cruises website for a itinerary that was a little out of the ordinary. We found this itinerary very interesting because of the stops in Iceland and Greenland. We are former non-adventurous travelers/backpackers (enjoying street food and restaurants, friends' places or motels and hostels, and public transportation or rental cars and, of course, planes for longer distances) converting to the convenience of cruise travel. CHECK IN: We had the Aurea experience and we were assigned a time when to arrive for the check in around 4pm which gave us time to buy things in town, later i'll explain why. The embarkation was very easy, we arrived to the terminal by taxi, dropped the luggage at a designated place and walked to the main entrance where the security and check in was. We were offered a cup of fruit juice. The process was very quick. We did not know the luggage had to be dropped at a separate entrance from the main one, but our taxi driver knew, so that helped. We were given a time when to check in. After the check in they took our souvenirs pictures that were later available at the photography point. As soon as we boarded they took our pictures for the passengers database and they told us that the cruise cards would be in our cabin which they were. Our friendly cabin steward Leonel came to introduce himself to us after 30 minutes. Our hand luggage arrived one at the time in the next couple of hours. We boarded without our big suitcases because they were lost at the airport and we took this three weeks cruise without them. We waited for all our hand luggage to arrive to count what exactly we had with us. We had a baby with us so all the baby stuff was in our hand luggage, leaving not much space for our clothes. We shopped briefly at a couple of stores for basic clothes and toiletries before boarding. We had travel insurance and after we came back we placed a refund request to get reimbursed. This seems a common issue occurring at the Hamburg airport. THE EMBARKATION TERMINAL: The terminal in Altona itself is quite a big space, but everything was marked and easy to follow. The luggage drop point was not intuitively placed, but, as I mentioned, our taxi driver knew where to go. Employees spoke multiple languages. All seemed done quite efficiently to us. THE CABIN: We got the balcony cabin with the Aurea experience which included alcohol and non-alcohol drinks under 6 Euro, a couple of massages per cabin that my wife enjoyed very much, a few cabin amenities, and the choice of dinner time. Cabin space was good and we could move comfortably around. We had a travel crib with us that we moved on the bed so my wife could sleep next to our baby and attend her by night in case, while I slept on the extended sofa bed. The bathroom was on the small side and the shower curtain would occasionally stick to parts of my body during the shower if the hooks were not properly set apart. 3 or 4 inches wide on each side would have been better, but i understans space is at premium on a ship. There was shampoo and shower gel as detergents in the shower cabin and hand soap similar to the shampoo in the sink. We washed several clothing items and baby bottles in the small bathroom sink (especially baby items) and hang them to drip and partially dry on the clothes line inside the shower and then to dry either on top of the mirror frame or on the AC vent in the middle of the room. The Aurea experience included a bathrobe each, slippers, a room scent diffuser and 2 complimentary bottles of water. The small cabin fridge had several snacks and drinks that we did not use because the aurea package included them at the bar upstairs. On top of the fridge there was a TV set which was quite small and offered some channels in several languages probably based on the most common nationalities of the passengers including English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese and a few channels about ship safety, excursions, and destinations plus finally a general welcome channel with time and date. We did not find movies in demand included in the offering, but we did not really watch much TV. There were 2 mirrors, one small in front of the sofa over the desk, and one big in front of the bed. The desk had 3 drawers on each side and one central which we used to keep baby stuff. Over the desk there were 2x110V and 2x220 electric outlets. I suggest to bring a cord extender if you need to charge multiple devices, use a CPAP or just need extra outlets on the other side of the bed. There was one small square ottoman and a small table which we moved under the desk. On each nightstand there was a lamp. The main light switch would turn on all the lights in the cabin. The card slot was on the right near the front door. The main closet provided enough storage for us especially since we did not have many clothes anyways and no big luggage , which could have been stored under the bed. The two door wardrobe offered space for clothes to hang and the third had 6 drawers and 2 shelves including one for a combination safe. The life jackets were on top of the wardrobe. The bed was a double twin bed that could be separated on request. We kept it together and we used to for our travel crib. Beds were quite hard for my taste as I prefer softer beds. There were 2 pillows each. The sofa was a sleeper one with room for 2 children or one adult. It also had 3 sofa pillows. Overall the decor was very simple and well made. All seemed very easy to clean and maintain by the crew. Room was quiet and we could hear the sound of waves through the window doors, occasionally people walking outside, but on strong wind days the wind would pass under the main cabin door making some noise which was annoying. Maybe the door seal needed to be replaced. Our cabin was on deck 12 under the spa so there were not many people walking because the nearest elevator was used to reach the spa, the gym and partially the pool, while to access other public areas one had to get to the the elevator on the opposite side, as the middle one would not reach the upper floor because of the pool area (or else they would have had to create an elevator exit in the middle of the pool!) It was also near the curved shape of the ship so we were a little more sheltered from wind and weather than those who had the cabin mid-ship. Our cabin steward Leonel was very friendly and always greeted us with a smile. We liked the balance between days at sea and days at ports and we actually spent some time in our cabin to relax during sea days. FOOD: We are not picky passengers, at least, I think. We found the cruise food quite good and varied. Quality was not gourmet/fine dining, but was very enjoyable. Some items were always available like pizza and french fries and some others appeared on rotation and some once including some ethnic ones like Indian tikka masala or Sardinian malloreddus pasta. I could not often find beef dishes in the buffet, but there were other choices of meats like chicken and pork and some unusual wild board (cooked in red sauce) or others more ordinary like hot docs and burgers. Some dishes featured cuts of meats that I feel not all passengers will like, or bacon cooked British style, not crispy American style, or pasta too overcooked to please Italians. My breakfast was very protein-rich with eggs and bacon and potatoes and roasted tomatoes which I loved. We are not vegans or vegetarians, but there were many options if we were. My wife got "food bored" a couple of times, but I was always able to find something just walking a little further. The buffet area is big and tables are sometimes full at peal times, but we always found a table for us. Sometimes restaurant employees would take us to a free table, which was a nice personal touch. Near each entrance there are tables reserved for people on wheelchairs. When we ordered drinks, or more often mineral water at the table, service was quite quick. One of our favorite waitress was Elizabeth Jirwa who would also stop a bit to entertain our baby. We tried the Shanghai restaurant on board (not included in the cruise fare) which offered a sampler dinner composed of salad, dumplings, sushi combo, sashimi, pad thai and fried banana dessert. The sashimi and the dumplings were really good. The other restaurants seemed to serve similar food that was served at the buffet, but with table service. A few times waiters would go around the tables serving risotto from a half Parmesan wheel of cheese which was really fun. THE AUREA EXPERIENCE: We were pleased with the level of comfort of our cabin. I wished the beds were softer, but the rest was of a very good value. We liked that we could conveniently order many things without surcharge because they were included in the cruise fare. We are not big drinkers and a glass of wine a day, not even every day, was just fine with us. We drank 2 or 3 bottles of water a day per person depending on the daily activities and gym use and prepared our baby food with it. We also like the fruit juices and a few energy drinks at the bar, and tea/herbal teas that were available in the buffet. The cabin was on desk 12 which offered nice views and the position was on a quiet area of the ship directly under the Aurea spa. I brought earplugs with me but I did not have to use them. My wife enjoyed the two free massages included and purchased a third one and a facial treatment. We purchased a couple of products at the Aurea shop which seemed discounted compared to normal prices. The had very good brands like Occitaine, Aveda and a few luxury brands as well. ITINERARY AND EXCURSIONS: As I said, we liked the combination of days at sea and days at port which offered a good balance between relax in cabin and a few sleep-in and days ashore visiting new places. The stops in Invergordon (fun visit to the Loch Ness and the castle nearby, but not much else), Seydisfjordur (nothing to see there, we spent time at a local bar under the sun like most of other passengers) were those we liked less. We liked the other ones more. Greenland is not like the polished Alaska with all the buildings freshly painted, but something more rustic and authentic with many chances of taking great pictures and meeting friendly locals, really a frontier country. Iceland was beautiful, modern and wild at the same time with all the old geothermal fields and recently built cities. While I was writing this review, I just found out that next year this cruise will be repeated without Invergordon (we did not see the monster of Loch Ness anyways, haha) and with an extra day in Reykjavik which we would have loved, because one day was not enough in our opinion. The excursions were well organized, but were expensive and we heard the same comments from other passengers. We did some on our own just using public transportation to reach a single place, and did others that involved several spots or a day tour by booking them on board. By the time we made up our mind, some were sold out, so my suggestion is to check and book a bit in advance, or while you decide, ask how many spots are left. We simply found out that in the smaller ports like Ilulissat, they don't have the capacity to accommodate many tourists at the same time for the same excursions, so availability was really limited not just by booking through the cruise line, but also through local tour operators. The geothermal tour in Akureyri and Reykjavik, the Ilulissat tour of the icebergs, the Italian Chapel in the Orkneys were our favorites. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: The main theater shows were fine, they were entertaining, based mostly on singing and dancing and made for an international crowd. We liked more the live bands in the bars and in particular the blues rock guitar player was amazing, but I can't remember or find his name in my notes. We liked both passengers and crew members talents nights which showcased some fun acts. Many evenings we were too tired to go out with our baby and we stayed in the cabin. My wife really enjoyed doing Origami classes held by Angela and I took a few dance classes which were fun. We never felt bored on board. I also went a few times to the gym to do steady bike and lift weights. The gym in deck 13 and faces the front of the ship which offers great views, so it's also a good photography spot. SUMMARY AND SOME PERSONAL NOTES: Before booking this cruise, I spend quite a lot of time reading review of this ship MSC Orchestra, about the cruise like, the Aurea experience, ports and experience on board in general. I encountered several one star reviews which almost made me not book this cruise with MSC. Most of them described rude crew members or handling of problems and described issues with food, shows, lack of English language on board and bad customer service in general. We eventually booked it because of the interesting itinerary in Iceland and Greenland where we have never been, and probably we won't have the chance to visit again. We did not have previous cruise experience with MSC and we did only one other cruise together with HAL. This said, during our 21 days on board, we were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the crew and staff on board. Our cabin steward Leonel was great and it was fun to practice some of my rusty Spanish with him, but he definitely spoke good English. He fixed an issue with the sink that would not hold the water when we pulled the stopper. We spent some time in the cabin, sometimes getting up late after 10 am, or waiting for our baby to wake up in the afternoon and we did not experience particular noises from other passengers or rude behaviors, running kids and noise from activities on board. A few times we heard the wind blow under the cabin door, which was annoying because it went on for quite some time. We wished the TV set was bigger and entertainment system was faster with a wider choice of channels and free movies, but we did not watch TV that much. We saw a couple of movies which were just fine. As announced by the daily program, we lost satellite coverage at the upper latitudes and no channels were available after a point during navigation. We spent quite some time going around the ship in the public areas and everything seemed well kept and in good order, including public bathrooms and light fixtures, clean floors and surfaces. We never saw long lines of people at the customer service desk, but only a few times in the buffet restaurant. We had to walk a bit to find a table at peak lunch and dinner times, like everyone got hungry at the same time including us, but we were always able to find one for the three of us. On several occasions one of the waiters personally helped us to find a table and a baby chair. We found a couple of times high chairs had problems with straps (maybe it was the same chair twice?), but when we asked the waiters they brought us another one. Announcements were in five languages, but done once or twice a day, and if done more, that was for exceptional things like bad weather forecast when they announced they closed the outdoor deck doors or to advertise a special event somewhere on the ship (themed parties, or crossing the polar circle), but never at inconvenient times. The urgent ones were played to all the speakers including those in the cabins, and one unfortunately woke up our baby, while the "fun" ones only to those in the public areas. We never encountered hordes of hungry passengers emptying the food trays or running children in the cafeteria. We saw and heard a few times children running in the long cabin corridor. We purchased a few items on board, but we did not experience the pushy or salesy attitude of anyone on board. We saw a few shows and they were enjoyable, not memorable, but, again, enjoyable. I know that the newer ships have the Cirque du Soleil on board, but this one is not one of the last generation and did not. Nonetheless we found them worth our time, especially the live music acts in the bars, the guitar player in one of the bars and the classical music trio. We like the white attire themed party where passengers and crew are invited to dress all in white. My wife loved the origami lessons. I went several times to the gym and except for one of the 6 or 7 treadmill that had problems and was switched off, the rest of the equipment was in good working condition. My wife went several times to the spa since basic access was included in our cruise ticket and enjoyed the steam room and the Jacuzzi pool. She went once to the hairdresser and had one facial treatment done and she was happy with the results in both cases. We booked a few land tours with the MSC excursions desk which we found quite pricey compared to an equivalent self organized tour with local transportation or a tour purchased on land through local tour operators or at a local tourist welcome center, but nonetheless well done. The buses picked up and dropped us back on time and we had enough time to visit at each stop. I understand that there is a lot of competition in this cruise market and that reviews play a big role when making a choice and putting one's money towards a holiday, that every experience is different and each trip is different and each one of us has different expectation, but will all what we experienced on board my wife and I can hardly agree with some of the one star reviews.except those experienced theft and few others who complained about bad service or communications issues in English. We found this cruise experience between life on board and excursions, food entertainment, itinerary and ports visited of very good value. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We originally were looking into taking a Hurtigruten cruise (on one of their smaller boats) up the Norwegian coast. I had seen an amazing video on Netflix documenting the beautiful scenery. My son and I started planning our trip, and were ... Read More
We originally were looking into taking a Hurtigruten cruise (on one of their smaller boats) up the Norwegian coast. I had seen an amazing video on Netflix documenting the beautiful scenery. My son and I started planning our trip, and were dissappointed that Huritgruten was so expensive! My son then suggested that we check out an MSC cruise up the Norwegian coast instead. I was hesitant at first because their ships are so big. We then decided to book our family in Yacht Club, the most exclusive level of the MSC Preziosa. We are so glad we did. Our room was very comfortable, near the top of the ship and in the front. We were only steps away from the Yacht Club private lounge, which was hardly ever crowded, and superbly staffed. We had unlimited alcohol and were surprised at the high quality and variety of the wines. For meals we headed to the Yacht Club private restaurant in the back. This was perhaps the highlight of the cruise. The staff were so welcoming, and got to know us and our preferences. The food was incredible, offering many excellent choices, as well as the option to order more if you were still hungry. My complaints: the musical entertainment, overall... in the Yacht Club Lounge (in the front) it was too sleepy. I believe that the musicians were instructed to keep it very mellow at all times. As a musician myself, I thrive on contrasts. One pianist obviously had talent and a great harmonic understating, but never played with a beat or performed anything medium or up-tempo. Elsewhere on the boat, many of the musicians relied on tacky rhythm accompaniment from their computer. We enjoyed the excursions, especially the bike rides. We arranged for our own excursions with third party companies on two occasions, and enjoyed kayaking in beautiful fjords and rivers. Recommendation can be found on TripAdvisor. We found that the areas outside of Yacht Club were chaotic and mostly unappealing. Overall, we were able to afford a Yacht Club experience for our family for a longer cruise than Hirtigruten. What I regret is the the MSC boat did not hug the Norwegian coast, so I feel that I missed a lot of the scenery as we were often at open sea or far from the shore. MSC, as a European line, was also catering to a largely European crowd. Every announcement had to be repeated in five languages. Got tiresome. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Today we came back from the cruise on Aida Perla. We had 7 days cruise starting from Hamburg. It was our third cruise. Two previous were on Italian ships. The first on Costa Fascinoza and the second on MSC Precioza. The Aida Perla is new, ... Read More
Today we came back from the cruise on Aida Perla. We had 7 days cruise starting from Hamburg. It was our third cruise. Two previous were on Italian ships. The first on Costa Fascinoza and the second on MSC Precioza. The Aida Perla is new, modern and well maintained ship. We came to the port by a shuttle from the Central Bus station. We booked it via AIDA site. The same was on the way from the port. An embarkation was well organized. The dinner is different from the Italian ships. There are few buffet restaurants in various styles. First two days we got upset searching a free table (they don't set you in 1st or 2th dinner shift. You come when you want). But then we learnt to check via screens on every deck, indicating where are free tables. Also you may come after the planned break and to have free tables abound. The food is hot, not like sometimes on Italian ships. You have real abundance of food and they always add after it ends. The cuisine is German cuisine but plenty and variety may supply every taste. Red and white wine and beer are free. I very liked a possibility to prepare a tea with big choice of various kinds either in bags and either in boxes but they provide paper bags to fill with a tea you choose. The water for tea is very hot (again, it is not similar to Italian ships). Twice we ate a dinner in restaurants requesting to made early reservation. You pay for drinks but don't pay for the food (you commit to order the drinks). But the service was excellent. You feel as VIP, not like one of hundreds in crowded restaurant we were accustomed of it in previous cruises. We had a balcony cabin on 14th deck. The cabin was excellent. I especially liked big closet and also enjoyed wooden floor in the bath room. There is a folded hammock on the balcony. The cabin is equipped with two USB connections to charge your devices. I appreciated that smoking was limited to few areas (in my review for MSC last year I wrote the it was the ship stinking with cigarettes due to almost free smoking). You don't need to pay automatically tips. Even if you want to pay, you hardly have to whom you may pay. We left banknote for our room servant despite I didn't meet him. In the buffet restaurants you take a food by yourself and there is now your own waiter. A swimming pool is big and clean (essentially bigger than on Italian cruises and the water is warm. On Italian ships you have to be a hero to immerse in the cold water of the swimming pool. Also an aqua park for children is located in close space and it creates good vibe in Northern waters (our last cruise also was in the Northern Sea and nobody dared even to look at open aqua park exposed to wind and cold). I have to say that nobody touts on AIDA and photographers don't hunt you. It is big advantage. Spa prices are the same for every day. They don't raise the price for a sea day. Wi Fi works excellent in every spot in the ship. And now that's a time to count few downsides. The most frustrating is that the ship is oriented to serve only German-speaking clients. Almost every letter (including daily on board newspaper) comes in German. I appealed to reception and asked to have the same in English. It was not possible but they invited me to come with the message or newspaper ant to get their translation. I suppose it's not a solution. Very often they announce something in German but it is not followed by the same in other languages. I felt not important and not valued guest. Stew names in the buffet are written in German. We paid for musical party in the evening but left disappointed after they had started to manage it in German only. Ship shows looked poor in comparing to Italian ships. The best were on Costa Fascinoza. And if you don't come at least a half an hour before, you don't have any chance to find a seat. The theater is small and it isn't built as amphitheater. So a back of a person sitting in front of you avoids you to see. Also the theater is not built as a separate department in front of the ship. It is located in the middle and people walk freely via both sides of every theater deck. Dancing parties were boring. A folk hardly danced and nobody tried to pull them for dancing. Last year on Precioza guys and girls from entertainment team knew how initiate the dancing. There was no discipline of disinfection. Nobody verifies usage of hand sterilization devices at entries of dining rooms. Sometimes there is no sanitation liquid in the devices. Also the trash is built so that you can't litter the paper into and not to touch it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the ... Read More
This cruise was chosen for its itinerary. The ship is a fancy barge where you pay extra for anything you may need. We were expected to pay for a glass of tap water in the formal restaurant. They do not provided any facial tissues in the balcony stateroom. They allow open smoking in several areas inside the ship which permeayes the showroom and other bars! There are over 21 points for improvement with this cruise company. The entertainment us cheap, appears unrehearsed and karaoke like most nights. Embarkmemt required showing proof you were a real person I've 3 times and queuING each time. If you are a first timer cruiser this cruise may be good for you as you would not know how low a standard MSC is. Of course you may like to pay to have open dining but other crise companies have all the above plus more included in their offer Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our families 8th cruise and I don't typically leave reviews but I had seen such poor reviews for this particular ship I felt that I should leave my feedback. We chose the Magnifica mostly because of the itinerary (embark ... Read More
This was our families 8th cruise and I don't typically leave reviews but I had seen such poor reviews for this particular ship I felt that I should leave my feedback. We chose the Magnifica mostly because of the itinerary (embark Southampton, Le Havre, Brugges, Amsterdam, Hamburg) and the long amount of time it stays in port. We are Americans so we flew from NY into London a few days early so we could do all of the typical touristy things before our cruise. On cruise day we had booked in advance a national express bus ride (much cheaper than the train) and arrived at the cruise terminal around 4:00. Embarkation was the smoothest I had ever encountered, we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. Everything moved very smoothly. Once on board our cabin was ready (hooray!) and our bags were delivered rather quickly after that. We decided to hit the buffet for dinner that evening and was very pleasantly surprised with all of the selection. Was is crowded and somewhat chaotic? Yes, but I've never been to a cruise ship buffet that wasn't. I felt that food was replenished quickly and the dining room staff even helped us to find a table. The remainder of the evenings on board we ate dinner in the more formal dining room. I felt that our server was a little frosty at first but by the end of the trip he really grew on us and he even began to smile and kid around a bit. I did feel that some of the bartenders and other wait staff were a little bit less than enthusiastic about doing their jobs but the majority were very pleasant. Im certainly not going to let a few bad apples ruin my vacation. My ten year old son really enjoyed the kids club, the ladies there did a great job of engaging him and made it fun for the kids. Our stateroom was a nice nice and the pull out couch was very comfortable for our son. The room steward did a good job of keeping up with the room and the balcony. Overall for the money and really good cruise. We didn't see many of the shows but we did enjoy the pools, hot tubs and game room. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this NCL Jade cruise for its itinerary: up the western coast of Norway and into the Arctic Circle. We were very pleased with most aspects of the cruise. The Jade is a comparatively small ship, comfortable and tastefully ... Read More
We chose this NCL Jade cruise for its itinerary: up the western coast of Norway and into the Arctic Circle. We were very pleased with most aspects of the cruise. The Jade is a comparatively small ship, comfortable and tastefully decorated. There is a wide variety of dining venues, along with bars/lounges, spa areas, and casino. The passengers on this cruise appeared to be there for the scenery, rather than being a party crowd that you find on shorter, more tropical cruises. Embarkation and debarkation went smoothly. Our balcony room was comfortable, and well maintained by our attentive steward. Of note, there were quite a few outlets and charging ports in the cabin, more than most hotel rooms offer. The lighting could have been a little better. The food and service in the four specialty restaurants we dined in were outstanding. These dining areas were rarely busy. Buffet and main dining room food offered good variety, but average quality. Service in the Grand Pacific main dining room tended to be inconsistent, but better in the second dining room, the Alazar. Finding seating at the buffet, the Garden Cafe, was challenging, particularly at breakfast time. O’Sheehan’s bar and grill was overlooked and rarely busy, so offered a good alternative for breakfast. While spa services were expensive as is typical for this type of environment, the thermal spa pass was a bargain. For a flat rate, we had unlimited access to the private hot tubs and saunas in the spa. A limited number of passes are sold, so these areas are not typically crowded. This was a very worthwhile investment. Due to the climate, passengers made little use of the pool deck. As is common for cruise ships, the pools and hot tubs are too small, probably of necessity, to accommodate the demand when the weather is warm. The bars and lounges were ok. There was a nice mojito bar on the 13th deck that was rarely open and usually empty. Entertainment of varying quality was offered in most. The “Show Band” was particularly good. We did not visit the casino or attend any specialty shows, though several people commented that the shows were quite good. I don’t really understand the draw of art galleries, jewelry, and watches on cruise ships, but they tend to be a common element for some reason. The main attraction for us was the ports. We were not completely satisfied with the cruise line sponsored excursions, opting to schedule only one of them. The one that we chose, a waterfall hike in Geiranger, was excellent, however. At the remaining ports, we researched and booked excursions independently that were of more interest to us, or simply ventured out on our own. One unpleasant aspect of the cruise was the tendering process. The ship docked in three ports and was tendered at three. The latter process was a nightmare. Very small boats were used to transport passengers rather than the larger ferry-type boats that I am more accustomed to. The process necessitated passengers to line up for tendering passes the day before, and in order to get a relatively early boat, one had to spend an hour or more in line for these tickets. Guests would be lined up halfway down the length of the deck at these times. This does not make a positive impression. Fellow passengers remarked that this experience would prevent them from booking with NCL in the future. Even excursion operators commented on the ongoing inefficiency of the NCL tendering system. Cruise directors frequently reiterated the advantage of not needing tendering tickets for excursions booked through NCL, but I don’t feel that I should be extorted into booking a less interesting excursion because of the dismal tendering process. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The goods: 1. The embarkation process was very fast and smooth. 2. Prices on the ship (drinks, etc) were very reasonable The bad: 1. Disembarkation process was awful. We were sitting (if lucky enough to find a char) for hours ... Read More
The goods: 1. The embarkation process was very fast and smooth. 2. Prices on the ship (drinks, etc) were very reasonable The bad: 1. Disembarkation process was awful. We were sitting (if lucky enough to find a char) for hours waiting for our turn 2. Most of the staff was rude and not friendly. For example: i. We had to call several times for someone to come and order drinks at the buffet ii. We sometimes had to clean tables ourselves on the buffet iii. Almost never smiling iv. Not giving priority to customers (at corridors, elevators, etc) 3. Food at the buffet was just a bit above average. Not quality meats, no big variaty. During the last days we were not able even to find fork and knives at the back area for ship. In addition you were closing parts of the buffet one by one during the last days 4. Food at the main dining area was AWFUL. Tastless pasta and soups, awful risotto, bad meats and so on 5. Staff at the dininng area was also not good enough. For example we had every night to ask for butter. Once i asked where to put the stoller and the staff simply ignored me!! 6. It is unacceptable to close the juice machines during lunch and dinner in the buffet 7. It is unacceptable not to offer tap water in the main dining area 8. There were not enough chairs to sit on the 6th floor (cafe) nor at the bar outside at the 18th Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
It may seem odd that I do a review nine months after it ended. However I found that among all the other reviews that I read there are some aspects concerning this ship, that have not been pointed out before. It is even harder to read a ... Read More
It may seem odd that I do a review nine months after it ended. However I found that among all the other reviews that I read there are some aspects concerning this ship, that have not been pointed out before. It is even harder to read a cruise review for this particular itinerary. As a consequence I will mainly focus on aspects not mentioned by other reviewers. Embarkation was at Steinwerder Cruise terminal in Hamburg, Germany, for a fourteen day cruise that took us to the Norwegian coast, north cape and the remote island of Spitsbergen. I have to say that exactly one year earlier we had already taken a cruise to Iceland starting on this same embarkation port and once again aboard a vessel from MSC, the Preziosa and were not at all thrilled with the overall organization of that ship. Anyway MSC was the only cruise company doing this route on the time frame me and my family (my girlfriend and our nine years old daughter) had. It is difficult not to draw comparisons with the Preziosa, but fortunately I got to see that aboard the Meraviglia the experience was better, although in early evening the ship was as crowded as a shopping mall on weekends. It seems the crew is better prepared to tackle with the huge number of passengers on board. First of all embarkation and disembarkation were well organized, shore excursion desk is much better, no cues to come aboard on the different ports of call we were in, as it frequently happened on my prior cruise with MSC. If there is a place that needs to be completely reorganized, this is the buffet they call Market Place. Almost everything is wrong because it is too big and messy. It was the same aboard the Preziosa. MSC does not understand that in order to cope with a big number o passengers using this venue at the same time, the answer is not a bigger restaurant but rather a disciplined organization, even if this disciplined attitude is made at the cost of freedom of the passengers to choose a particular table to sit. At breakfast and lunch time on sea days it is impossible not to bump with other passengers who wonder around with trays of food on their hands while trying to find a place to sit. The answer would be for the management to assign the families or groups to the table, the moment they enter the buffet. With such a big place it was also easy to arrange this venue in a way that starboard partition is closed for cleaning and repositioning of stands for a 30 minute period, while port side is open also for a 30 minute period. What most chocked me was the small device they put on the tables to call the servers who take the orders for the beverages. In fact, if you want a special drink, you press that device and a server quickly comes to take your order. While the system always worked efficiently with me, I think that danger of norovirus widespread lurks around, as these devices were almost always noticeably dirty because of the huge number of fingers that touch them. My advice would be not to touch them with your bare finger tips and use instead a paper napkin to do it. And the same should be done whenever you press a button on a lift, even if around here dirt was not perceivable. Concerning the cabin we had chosen a Fantastica class balcony stateroom in the aft of the ship (9271). Prior to booking, I had studied the deck plan layout and noticed that there was a bank of lifts close by. However, once on board we realized that these particular lifts are for crew only. The consequence was that every time we wanted to go anywhere from our room, we had to endure long and fatiguing walks on a long and uninteresting corridor and again on the way back. Be aware of this fact if you book one of these staterooms. Another warning concerning staterooms on the aft of the ship but only on deck 9, is that you are directly above the Carousel Lounge. This is a sort of disco lounge with an height that spans on two decks and it is at moments very noisy, mainly at night when you want to rest. There is another advice that I cannot refrain from doing: You should avoid, at all cost to book a cabin on deck 14. Our tablemates at dinner had their cabin immediately under the Bamboo Pool and had to complain frequently at reception at two or three o’clock in the morning because of the unbearable noises coming from deck 15 while maintenance to the pool is being done. They said they had the feeling of being close to a big washing machine while on spin cycle. After having complained for three or four nights in a row they managed to be reassigned to a cabin on deck 5 and were thankful for the change. Other cabins on deck 14 are also noisy because they stand immediately below the Atmosphere Pool or the Market Place Buffet. My advice to future travelers would be for you to save some money and go to a lower deck while choosing your cabin. As said before the itinerary was for us the main reason for this cruise. We were very keen to visit Norway and above all to set foot on the northern most parts of the country, as our route included the north cape and a stop at the Svalbard archipelago. However, I have to say that these two spots were the only that turned out to be somewhat deceiving. Honningsvag is the port of call to visit the North Cape. It is just a fishing village and totally uninteresting. We had booked a shore excursion that included the transfer to the North Cape - a windy spot by the way- and a King Crab tasting. We were unlucky with the trip to the north cape because of the fog but on our way back the sky had cleared up and enjoyed very much the landscape that was definitively beautiful. Longyearbyen was our port of call at the Svalbard archipelago and just to get there it is necessary a full day at sea and another one to return to Norway mainland. It was a complete dud. The most interesting shore excursions were all sold out the moment we boarded the ship in Hamburg. I had even tried to make a booking some weeks before the cruise through MSC webpage, as this is also possible and in fact very convenient if you want to avoid the crowds around the shore excursion desk, but the most interesting excursions were already sold out at that moment too. As a consequence we just booked an uninteresting drive to a place where they breed Huskies. There is a museum in town that is moderately interesting and shops (expensive) for tourists. It is a very short walk from the ship to downtown Longyearbyen, but a dusty one on a road full of heavy trucks and with no sidewalks. By the way, this is a place with lots of coal mines which explains this pattern of dusty traffic around the existing few roads. Coal exploration is in decline as a source of energy, so the economy of the archipelago relies mainly on tourism. You cannot venture on your own outside the village because of the risk of attack from polar bears, whose population has been steadily increasing anyway. While walking around the main pedestrian road of the village I spotted inside a shop some photos of the place taken in late winter or early spring while the island was still covered with snow. Judging from what saw on those photos, it seems that’s the ideal time of the year to enjoy a wonderful scenery and with luck seeing the northern lights in the sky. If you want to visit this place, do never take a cruise in summer just to go there. Finally I would caution future travelers disembarking in Hamburg as MSC does not organize a transfer to the airport. This is a pity as many of the passengers that I saw around the airport on the afternoon of disembarkation day had also been aboard the Meraviglia. And the same happened to me one year earlier upon disembarking the Preziosa, again in Hamburg. We had our flight back home early afternoon on disembarkation day and had to take a taxi. The ride to the airport was time consuming because of the heavy traffic around the port. It took us almost one hour to get to the airport terminal and that was after we had to wait in line for 30 minutes in front of the cruise terminal on a hot sunny morning with no shades at all, just to get a taxi. Still it would have also been even worse should it be raining. Taxis were just slowly coming to the cruise terminal. Take that into account on your post-cruise arrangements. Other travelers may think differently, but personally I prefer much smaller and better organized ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I have cruise with different company's during my 7 years experience but this is the worst experiences ever. I was stupid I didn´t read all the reviews about MSC. If this will be your first cruise I will guarantee this will be your ... Read More
I have cruise with different company's during my 7 years experience but this is the worst experiences ever. I was stupid I didn´t read all the reviews about MSC. If this will be your first cruise I will guarantee this will be your last if you have some self respect. Ok first the few positive things, cabin (5050) real good and our cabin steward was one of few service minded persons on the ship and actually she saved our cruise so we didn't jump of the ship during the cruise. The food standard it´s quite good and even the desserts. The disaster starts already during embarkation, rude personnel during check in and then it starts with this "istanbul bazaar" with all kind of selling tricks. It took me 5 min argument even before entering the ship that I don't want have any cruise selfie and relay not on display on the ship ( and I don´t mean the security photo). The rules for the drinking package is so complex that even the personnel don't always now what is including or not. No of the drinks taste or look the same way in different bars ex. gin tonic in one bar is without lime in another with orange and in the third with no sparkling water. Why have drink list on drinks when you don´t can serve as they should or is this the MSC standard, for ex bloody marie without celery during the hole cruise!!! Everything cost extra, even the movies in your cabin 7€ for 5-10 years old movies, and they still have porn movies on demand 2018!!! come on!! 30 min bowling for 25€ !!!! and so on. The food in buffet dining is quite good but the dinning space is not dimension for all guest, you have to fight for a chair and if this is not enough the MSC crew is occupying lots of guest seats for their dining and drinking coffee. The main dining is another disaster you have 2h to eat 3 dishes and when your service is so slow that your main course is coming after 1h 45 min then you have skip the dessert before you will be kick out. MSC have some strange attitude to their guests ex when you are entering the ship in different ports MSC crew is letting their own personnel off the ship first so you have to wait to entering the ship just because their crew will have some more spare time. The transfer buses to the ship and from the ship is filled up with crew before guests, so guests have to wait!! I could keep on but I will stop here so choose a another company and save some frustartion Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The pros: * You can enjoy a variety of included food options, plus you can roam freely, even throughout one evening. No fixed timing or location. That’s quite unique and great! * ship feels like new, nice cabins and (small) ... Read More
The pros: * You can enjoy a variety of included food options, plus you can roam freely, even throughout one evening. No fixed timing or location. That’s quite unique and great! * ship feels like new, nice cabins and (small) bathrooms * superfriendly and efficient staff. Doesn‘t go that much for the rarely visible officers nor the reception desk. The cons: * Bagage drop in Hamburg (terminal soley used by NCL that day) 1 hour wait * followed by checkin (no status line) 2,5 hours wait * waiting lines to get a tender ticket * always waiting lines when tendering ashore (groups are called way to early) * 1 hour wait tendering back in Geiranger, 20+ min waits on other tender and bus transfers (very last seat must be taken) * waiting lines at favorite included restaurants like Jasmine Garden as you can’t make reservations for these restaurants (advantages see above) * ok food at buffet restaurant Garden Cafe got really boring after one week (being rethemed, rearranged, regrouped but not really altered) * Internet connection (I’m aware of ship/satellite implications) really bad. Picked the $35/day (it’s 2018, guys!) unlimited streaming package. Worked fine next to the Internet help desk but not properly in my midship room or other public places (long blackouts, long waits when loading, error messages on YouTube, ...). Insanely unfair offering. Not sorted throughout the cruise. * NCL refused to honor our Cruise credit despite it being stated on their very own booking confirmation. Couldn’t be sorted. Got phone number in Southampton to discuss. * 45 min bus ride (no guide) to north cape for 2 adults and 2 kids (aged 15) comes at a total of $600 * booked, among others, the “Lavazza Coffee specialities package”. The only (!) decent coffee at java cafe comes at an hefty extra charge. Same goes for fresh juices. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
MSC MERAVICLIA / 5 – 19 JULY 2018 / CABIN 8020 (Inside) “L’Olive D’Oree” Dining room We had an early – on time request – via our travel agent for a table of two. Instead of this, MSC gave us a table (Nr 797) which ... Read More
MSC MERAVICLIA / 5 – 19 JULY 2018 / CABIN 8020 (Inside) “L’Olive D’Oree” Dining room We had an early – on time request – via our travel agent for a table of two. Instead of this, MSC gave us a table (Nr 797) which actually was a table for 4 persons, divided in 2 parts, right next to each other. So, as a real fact, we were all the 4 persons in the same table! The food choices were so few and the menu options were extremely “strange”, with a poor quality and quantity. Generally we have serious doubts about the Chef’s “choises” and dining decisions. Nowhere hand sanitizer ! A sterilize liquid machine might be everywhere, especially at the dining areas ! “Market place” Dining Room Few staff can not serve so many people, or keep the dining tables and the floor clean, on time. We rarely could see supervisors and foremen checking around the extremely noisy dining area. Quite poor quality and quantity of meat and fish. The same not delicious foods were repeated every lunch and dinner. Limited food variety and none difference in the menu every day ! Most of the simple food choices were unacceptable tasteless (f.e. pizza, kinds of cheese etc.). Generally we have serious doubts about the Chef’s “choises” and his dining decisions. Nowhere hand sanitizer ! A sterilize liquid machine might be everywhere, especially at the dining areas ! Room amenities None – at least 1 bottle in the embarkation day – complimentary bottle of water. A small table with one small armchair could be placed into the cabin. An offer of a goodnight small chocolate on the bed, must be cost a lot to the MSC Co., on the contrary of the others cruise companies. Bath amenities Total lack of bath toiletries (hair conditioner, body/hand lotion, cotton pads, ear cotton buds, etc.). No hand towels, no wardrobs, no slippers, no shoe shiner, not a cheap cotton bag. Bad quality of the shampoo, bath gel and toilet paper. Photo Shop Annoying photographers were hunting for a shoot, any time, anywhere. They sent us in the cabin, the embarkation photo – which they forced us to take -that we didn’t want to bye, warning us that otherwise, they were going to charge our bill ! English beer pub The cuisine was any time “closed”, so the beers were coming without any chips or nuts, as everyone knows that nuts or chips need cook / baking ! Shuttle Bus in Tromso Shuttle bus service from port (Fredik Langes Gate 4) to Tromso city center, total 6 Km (actually 4 Km), 19,90 Euros per person round trip. None announcement / information on behalf of the bridge regarding the navigation, or the passage of the Arctic Circle. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Chose this cruise because the ship was new, despite the negative reviews. We suffered none of the problems reported by the others 1. Check in was super quick, was done in about 10 minutes with zero length queues. You leave your bags at ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the ship was new, despite the negative reviews. We suffered none of the problems reported by the others 1. Check in was super quick, was done in about 10 minutes with zero length queues. You leave your bags at the port, and they show up outside your room in a couple of hours. Check in started at 1PM and the rooms were ready by about 2PM. There is a line for the info to activate your card using cash, however if you choose to do it by credit card there are machines to do so. 2. The cabin is well designed. The toilet is large and comfortable. We had 2 little children, so the sofa became a double bunk bed. There is a lot of space below the bed for the suitcases (we had 4!) and ample space in the cupboard. There are USB ports to charge the phones and large writing table for things and power sockets. The room is very well sound proofed, and the curtains can make the room completely dark. We took the large balcony, which had 2 chairs and a table 3. The Ship is spanking new and very stable. You can barely feel it move except for one day when they had to shut the pools due to the swaying. 4. The Dining was very good most days. For dinner and most lunches you can choose between the buffet and the restaurants that serve the same food. You are allocated a place for dinner and a head waiter, but you could also go to other restaurants. There is a on board mozzarella factory near the buffet. 5. There are 4 paid-for restaurants too. We never used them, but they seem value for money. The tepanyaki started at just Eur29 for instance. 6. The entertainment facilities for children were excellent. The staff are lively and much adored by our kids. We had a tough time getting our kids to return from the kids area on most days. You check them in and specify who could check them out. They have lego, art, craft, gaming, face painting, parades etc. They also take them to the kids area of the buffet for dinner. You can leave your kids there till 11PM. 7. There is an arcade with simulators etc, that is good for one or 2 visits 8. There are 17 bars spread over the ship, almost all of them full in the evenings. 9. The cirque-du-soliel was good, but not as good as the stuff you get at Vegas. We preferred the "Sonora" sound act over the Visual act. 10. The shows at the Broadway theatre were fabulous! We watched nearly each one and loved almost all. The cast is very versatile and pulls off many forms of singing and dancing with practiced ease. Near the theatre the bars have many evening entertainment programs that seem like fun and are staffed by very lively people. 11. The Service was good and the crew by and large friendly . There were a few instances of the opposite, but then other crew members made up for them. E.g. when I went in search for a banana at the buffet for my sick child, one member claimed if I couldnt see it, there probably wasnt a banana available. However member Ravi Bhosale over heard this, and got hold of one from the kitchens. Many thanks. 12. The excursions were horribly over priced. We took just one of them at the north cape and busted our budget. The problem with such a large ship visiting a small town is that the cab and transport facilities are sometimes overwhelmed. Arrange your own in advance if possible. 13. Embarking and disembarking at various ports was easy, except at one port where we had to tender, i.e. use the life boats to go the port. There systems broke down and tempers frayed. There were delays of upto 1.5 hours. 14. We took the fantastica package that had 12 drinks vouchers per head. Wifey obliged by not drinking much of her share, leaving me well hydrated throughout the trip. Some of the drinks are not available against these vouchers. 15. My kids would like you to know that there is no chocolate fountain on the ship, despite the official videos depicting one. They condemn this act of over selling. 16. There are many pools of which just one is heated. They use salt water. There is an unheated section with water slides that we used despite the freezing cold Overall it was great and the kids are already clamoring for another MSC cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our 6th cruise and have loved all previous cruises. This was our first with MSC. The first day was terrible. I queued for nearly two hours to speak to guest services. The man that served me was unbelievably rude and purposely ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise and have loved all previous cruises. This was our first with MSC. The first day was terrible. I queued for nearly two hours to speak to guest services. The man that served me was unbelievably rude and purposely unhelpful. He was so arrogant and spoke to me as if I was annoying and irrelevant and that my problem was not his problem. I guess that just set the mood for the rest of the cruise. Where were the happy smiling staff? Fun? Laughter? Not on this ship. My husband was 'told off' by a female staff member in the dining area for pressing the service button which he hadn't pressed. When he told her he hadn't pressed it she got even angrier. !!! The food was good but long queues and not enough seating was a big problem. MSC are mostly about making money and they don't really care about giving good service for it! Everything costs extra. We paid extra for Cirque de Soleil. It was pretty mediocre. Not worth the hype. Long waits for tenders and buses. Yacht club members seemed to get all the good areas. You couldn't get a view from the front of the ship as it was only available to Yacht Club members. They still owe us money for a shore cancellation cancelled 2 months prior to cruising. Although they have been given all information many times they just ignore all correspondence. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We booked a 3 day leg of this cruise to celebrate my wife's 50th birthday. We had a terrible time and MSC succeeded in ruining what should have been a landmark celebration. There were 18 in our party and we have a long list of ... Read More
We booked a 3 day leg of this cruise to celebrate my wife's 50th birthday. We had a terrible time and MSC succeeded in ruining what should have been a landmark celebration. There were 18 in our party and we have a long list of issues we have taken up with MSC, which includes: - Almost 4 hours to board the ship at Hamburg - no water, no assistance, we had a 4, 6, 8 and 71 year olds in our group. Shocking! - Contents of our suitcases soaking wet - not just one or two cases, literally most of them. Clothes had to be dried out overnight in our spread out in our room - Late arrival of our cases onboard (after dinner) - Over 3 hours to leave the ship at Southampton - Staff Attitude - Rude, arrogant and ill informed - too few staff in general (restaurant waiting staff and cabin staff were great) - We spent literally hours queuing to get issues sorted with guest services including key cards that continually failed for several of our group, drinks packages they took multiple attempts to add to our key cards and room charge issues - Consistently long waits of between 20-30 minutes to get served at bars - At the dinning table during my wife's 50th birthday evening meal, our aperitifs arrived just before the main course was served, almost 1 hour after we had ordered them - Lack of consistency on what is and is not included in the MSC 'All-inclusive' Drinks package - Food was OK, nothing special with few choices. Buffet was very limited. - Bars consistently ran out of basic supplies such as Gin and Cola - Cannot pre-register a payment card to your key card...you have to queue to add this onboard the ship at a small number of machines - Lack of announcements and general information around the ship - No water available in the gym - Mandatory Onboard immigration check - even though passports had been checked twice whilst boarding. Everyone had to queue to have their passports checked again - Hand sanitation at dinning rooms not enforced as it is on other cruise lines - Before you board you have to print out 13 pages of check-in nonsense. For a group of 18 that was a nightmare, not great for the environment and not good for passengers! You really did feel like you were onboard with the Mediterranean Shipping Company, which is MSC's parent company. Maybe they need to adopt their parent company name as we often felt like 'cargo' not fare paying passengers. You have been warned. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We have heard very mixed reports about MSC, some saying they are dreadful, others saying they are making great improvements so we thought a simple couple of nights on the ship from Hamburg to Southampton would be a good way to experience ... Read More
We have heard very mixed reports about MSC, some saying they are dreadful, others saying they are making great improvements so we thought a simple couple of nights on the ship from Hamburg to Southampton would be a good way to experience it ourselves. It was a shambles, I don't actually think shambles reflected the level of disorganisation experienced on the trip. We arrived at the terminal, luckily I had seen it was different to the normal terminal but this was by luck and other passengers had gone to the wrong one. We are used to queues waiting to get on board but nothing like this, it took over three hours to get on the ship with zero explanation from the cruise terminal or the ship. It was a poor experience for us but even worse for those travelling with older relatives or young children, no attempt was made to look after them, not even water was offered. Eventually we got past security to be confronted by photographers asking for us to pose with a ships wheel, when I declined I was told it is part of the embarkation process, I then firmly declined as this was nonsense. More queuing ensued just in case we hadn’t had enough queues again no reason or explanation given. We finally reached our stateroom and although I had requested a double bed I found the room was set up for two single beds. The room was ok but the TV was tiny and the interactive features didn’t work, there was a kettle but no milk, sigh. The buffet was carnage but that is more of a reflection of some passengers inability to form an orderly line. Dinner was very nice both evenings and staff very friendly The one obvious thing was too few staff on the bars and because of this they kept their heads down rather than acknowledge you, very frustrating. They had also run out of various items like diet coke and bottles of water, I'm not sure if MSC hadn’t paid their bill or just were as badly organised with food as they were with everything else. The second day at sea everyone had to present their passports for checking, not a big deal but MSC couldn’t get the scanners to work used for verifying who had been through, I complained and got a "not my problem" shrug so left. Disembarkation should be very straightforward but no, it was chaos, it took hours to get off the ship with some passengers doing laps because the system hadn’t cleared their account, madness! It’s a shame the ship was nice, the staff friendly but massively overstretched, would I sail MSC again - no. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I have been on numerous other cruises but the MSC Preziosa was the worst ever. Even though it was supposed to be a new ship, the décor was out-of-date, dark, and tacky looking. The cabin was dirty and there was some trash under the bed ... Read More
I have been on numerous other cruises but the MSC Preziosa was the worst ever. Even though it was supposed to be a new ship, the décor was out-of-date, dark, and tacky looking. The cabin was dirty and there was some trash under the bed from previous guests. We had to request the cabin be properly cleaned. The ship seemed overcrowded. There was no where you could go without having to weave through a crowd of people. You always had to wait for a seat or a place at the bar or a chance to play a slot machine. The hot tub was always at capacity, you couldn't get to use any of the machines in their small gym, the bowling alley was broken, and the pools were always closed due to the weather. The only time you could get some peace and quiet was in your cabin. The food was terrible. We were given fish that was cold and raw inside. The pork was rancid and the vegetables were always overcooked and so salty that you could not eat them. I was given silverware nicely wrapped in a napkin and when I unfolded it, the silverware had not been washed. It had chunks of food dried all over it. The "fine dining" that you paid extra for was a joke. It was located right next to an arcade so you had the noise of the games and unruly kids running in and out of the dining room. The food during the specialty meal was a set menu that you could not change, even though a few of our group had dietary restrictions. The chef refused to make any adjustments so they basically had bread and some cheese for dinner. The buffet was even worse. There were not enough seats and we had to eat two meals standing up. They only opened a few food stations, not all of them, so the area around the buffet was crowded and food kept running out. The ship kept changing our itinerary. We were supposed to go to France but they cancelled that completely. They also cancelled Belgium but went back to it two days later. We were constantly late getting into ports and the process for disembarking was horrendous. The first day they only had one person checking each person off the ship. It created long lines of very angry people that were pushing and shoving. Some tried to cut in line and that almost ended up with violence breaking out. There were no staff members in attendance to deal with the problems or let us know why we were lined up in hot crowded hallways for over an hour trying to get off the ship. Some of the days they allowed people to disembark from two areas but it was still chaos. Because the ship was always late into port, and some of the ports didn't expect us due to the change of itinerary, the transportation was always messed up and the excursions were always delayed. One of the excursions was a two hour bus ride and was supposed to give us five hours in town, then a two hour drive back. Because they were so disorganized we only got two hours in town. Definitely not worth it. Another time people got off the ship but had to wait for a shuttle to take them off the port property. There were not enough busses so it was a two hour wait outside in cold rain with no shelter. Most people gave up because they were chilled and soaked to the bone. They had to return to the ship. We were supposed to get two days in Amsterdam but instead, we got in at 10am and the ship was now leaving early, the following morning at 9am. We were so sick of the crowded, dirty ship with bad food and no time in ports that we jumped ship. As soon as we got into Amsterdam we left the cruise. We stayed in a hotel and enjoyed two full days of touring the city. We then returned to Hamburg by train. It was much faster and nicer than traveling on the ship. I will never take a cruise on an MSC ship again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We cruised on MSC Preziosa from Sept 10 – 17, 2017. We’ve cruised 5 times with Royal Caribbean International (“RCI”) and absolutely loved every one. While we were hesitant to try another cruise line, we decided to try MSC as they ... Read More
We cruised on MSC Preziosa from Sept 10 – 17, 2017. We’ve cruised 5 times with Royal Caribbean International (“RCI”) and absolutely loved every one. While we were hesitant to try another cruise line, we decided to try MSC as they had a two for one sale and appeared to be more economical. Let me start with the positives. The ship was elegant, the state rooms were great (we had a balcony), our room steward was attentive and friendly (not that we asked for much) but he was there if we needed him. The entertainment staff in the Safari Lounge and Green Sax Lounge were awesome as they would pull people up on the dance floor and ensure you were having a good time. We met some amazing people (other guests) and one I can tell will be a lasting friendship I’m sure. This is where any positives end. The excursions were run by privately owned companies and were top notch and our experiences there could not have been better – except, many were cut short because MSC could not maintain their schedules and this of course reduced our expected excursion times; there was no rebate or apology from MSC as we missed some of what was promised. We were a party of 5 and had the 8:30 pm sitting in one of the dining rooms. Our waiter and assistant waiter were not friendly at all; they didn’t even seem to like each other and were noticeably impatient if we took time deciding what we wanted. Menu selections were ordinary, uninspired and the food portions were meager The first night we all ended up going to the buffet afterwards as we were still hungry. We all started ordering two entrees the rest of the cruise and our waiter did not hide the fact that he was displeased with this. As noted, the food was OK, but nothing to rave about. They do not serve water, tea or coffee in the dining room. If you want water you must buy a 1 litre bottle of room-temperature mineral water. If we wanted coffee or tea, we had to go to the buffet or the coffee bar after supper. Three of us went in on a wine package, one ordered wine by the glass and the 5th person drank beer. Wine was served no problem. Beer was a different story. We were told it was ‘too far’ [to get it] by the waiter. So, one of our guests had to go to a lounge every night and bring back a beer so he could have it with his meal. A maître d never once visited our table. MSC automatically adds a tipping charge to your bill. The problem with this is that staff do not have to work for the tips and just don’t bother giving good service. Two days before the end of our cruise we had the tipping charges removed from our bill. Obviously, they are accustomed to passengers not getting good service as they did not ask why. We did give a very generous tip directly to our room steward as he deserved it. It did seem as if our waiter had gotten wind of the tip cancellation as the last night in the dining room he was attentive, friendly and delivered beer! The 24-hour Reception Desk was not opened 24 hours and was often closed. There were very few activities on board, so our first two days at sea were quiet. Everything was so disorganized. The ship was late coming into all but one port and this affected the length of our excursions. The first port was supposed to be Le Havre, France. But we never got there. We were advised the day before that due to a strike we would not be able to go to the port. It was rescheduled for the 3rd day in port. That didn’t happen either. While terribly disappointed, as this was one of the reasons we chose this itinerary, we understood these things were out of the ship’s control. Since our trip; however, we have heard comments by other cruisers that sailed different dates with MSC that they never got to La Havre either. Seems strange that this would happen on different cruises. Perhaps a lure for a visit to Paris which never materializes. Beware! It ws difficult to find your way around the ship; plenty of elevators (many that go nowhere you need them to – e.g., the dining room floor you had to access from the deck below – not friendly at all for mobility impaired). The decorators really overdid the black marble theme with black, grey and chrome predominant, so the overall effect is not colorful or vacation-friendly inspirational. The ship’s engines were loud and the entire ship vibrated every time coming into and out of port. On MSC Preziosa, a non-smoking lounge is open to the casino deck below which renders non-smoking status completely pointless. Custom officials from Zeebrugge came onboard to meet with all non-Europeans. We had to see them before leaving the ship. MSC staff had no idea what they were doing. Those in our excursion group were to follow a guide who would take us to custom officials. He brought us to 3 different locations, going up and downstairs, as each spot he was told we had to go somewhere else. After we finally got to see customs officers we were brought out and told to stand off to the side in the hallway. The hallway was jammed with hundreds of passengers. Two women asked our guide where they could go for customs as they were just going off ship on their own. After he told them where he thought they should go one woman totally lost it. She said she was told 4 different places to go and he just told her one of the places that she had already been turned away from. She started yelling that this was a terrible cruise line, terrible ship, terrible staff, terrible everything. At this point the many of the hundreds standing in the hallways erupted into yelling as they were also fed up with the disorganization, and whole experience as well. Crew members really did not seem to know the ropes; it was like this was either their first time doing this, or, MSC just did not care. It would do MSC well to send themselves and their crews on a competing cruise line’s vacation to see how it really should be done. Announcements were often not broadcast in the cabins, so you had to open the door to hear them and sometimes they could be missed. There was a time change for one port that was noted in our daily newsletter but no announcements were made regarding this. We read the newsletters but not everyone does. I did hear that some excursions were missed due to people not aware of the time change. This was our first AND LAST cruise with MSC. We now say MSC stands for 'Many Scheduling Changes' or 'My Sucky Cruise'. We’ve had 5 phenomenal cruises with RCI who recommend, but does not automatically charge you for tips. You decide what you pay each person either using RCI’s tipping guidelines or paying what you feel the person deserves. You can pre-pay these or pay at the end. We usually pre-pay based on their tipping guidelines and then give additional tips to those who deserve it. Everyone deserves their tips on RCI; a well-trained, entertaining, and engaging crew. Quite the opposite on MSC. RCI dining room staff have always been nothing short of amazing. You have a lead waiter, waiter, maître d and bar staff that you see every day. The maître d ensures that your service has been good. The bar staff will deliver any beverage you want. All dining room staff are friendly, get to know you, advise you of special notices you should be aware of for the next day (e.g. time changes, weather, different currency, etc.). Water, tea, and coffee are standard fare in the dining rooms, as we North Americans would expect. We always pay RCI dining room staff above the minimum tipping suggested as they truly deserve it. The food in the dining room is phenomenal and the portions are great and you are not hungry afterwards. It is not merely re-plated items that can be found on the buffet, as were the MSC desserts. We all accept that weather conditions dictate cruise itineraries once you set out. Not once in our 5 cruises with RCI were we ever late arriving into port. The ships have sometimes been delayed in leaving the port due to weather, etc, but always made up the time while the guests slept. The engines are quiet, the ship does not vibrate and you could be at dinner and suddenly realize we had left port. Important announcements are always broadcast in the cabins so you are aware of any events, time changes activities, etc. There are so many activities on RCI that it is hard to decide which one you want to do as they all sound great. RCI will certainly continue to have my loyalty. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I always read user reviews before planning a trip. Since I was with a group who wanted to take the MSC Preziosa tour to Northern Europe. I tried to ignore the negative comments that I saw concerning this ship. How sorry I am that I did ... Read More
I always read user reviews before planning a trip. Since I was with a group who wanted to take the MSC Preziosa tour to Northern Europe. I tried to ignore the negative comments that I saw concerning this ship. How sorry I am that I did this! Here are some of my many complaints: (1)Overcrowded ship and poor crowd control . We often stood for hours in lines among rude cruisers who pushed and shoved and yet received no reprimands for their behavior. (2) Mediocre food .There was little variety and uncomfortable seating, since the number of diners that crowded the buffet left no open tables. (3) Boring entertainment (4) Smoky casino (5) Long waits at the elevators (6) Costly entertainment charges. The "two for one" option was a nice perk, but the hidden costs without using "special ship tickets" quickly added up (7) Delays at EVERY port. This cut the time we had on all excursions. I enjoy writing positive reviews for travel experiences I have had, but this time, I unfortunately cannot find any reasons to do that. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017

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