1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2018
I will start at the beginning. It was my husband and I travelling Our check in time was 13.45 hours, but we thought we would try our luck at we arrived at 12 noon. When we arrived they were making people wait in the first area of ... Read More
I will start at the beginning. It was my husband and I travelling Our check in time was 13.45 hours, but we thought we would try our luck at we arrived at 12 noon. When we arrived they were making people wait in the first area of the cruise terminal, not in the departure lounge. It was announced to make sure you had your tickets and passport ready, so everyone started to queue, thinking we were going to be allowed into the departure area; to be then told they will not let us through till 12.30pm. While we were waiting we then realised that Southampton was a Port of Call as well as us getting on. We were let through at 12.30pm; surprised to see on 2 security scans in operation; then only 3 book in staff on duty; as we were close to the front of the queue this was not as issue and went straight through and straight onto the ship. I have to admit the ship was beautiful, we were not really greeted much on board, we had to find our free drink, left on the bar. There was the usual, buy drinks package etc.... We had missed the note on the programme to say cabins ready at 2pm and thought we would have a wonder to see where it was; to find it was ready so just made ourselves at home; our cabins keys were there waiting. The cabin was a bit smaller than we were used to, only one seat to sit on, so one had to sit on the bed. One of the first things we do is always check our dining, as we like a table of 2. We found out we were on a table of 4 and got told they do very few table of 2's, so we had to stay where we were. We were lucky and sat with a lovely couple. We worked out they must of put all the English in one corner of the restaurant. We did not sail till 8pm, so no sail-away celebration. Food/drink - the choice was okay, but don't expect a hot meal - anywhere. Water at the dinner table comes in a bottle and you are then expected to look after yourself. At dinner you have to chose all your courses in one go. We never bothered with lunch. In getting a drink, don't expect one to come quickly. In all the bars there was only ever 2 bar tenders on. I spoke to one man who came to the bar we were sitting at, as he had waited an hour to be served in another one. It did take us a couple of days to work out what drinks were included on the drinks package and what wasn't, but did make the most of that. Entertainment - this was not too bad, as we understood they had to try and make this as diverse as possible. This bit that drove us crazy was having to sit there for 15 minutes, while the 2 cruise directors translated everything they said into 7 different languages (this is the only time we ever saw the cruise directors). They did make a big hype about them getting an English Comedian on board, whoop, whoop. He was quite good though. Service - i cannot really say the service was bad. The staff were not rude or unpleasant, but if i saw what smile; that was very rare. I think they were very over worked, under staffed and under appreciated. There was one bar waitress in the Ruby Bar, who was great, she remembered our names, already had a smile and never saw her stop for a second. Ports of call/ shore excursions - ports of calls - no issue. if you like to be organised, when it comes to your Ports of Call and Shore excursions, this is NOT the ship for you. If you book a Shore Excursion with them, you do not find out till the day before what time you are going. There is very little information given on board about your Port of Calls, even down to the shore excursion staff knowing whether the Tourist Information is going to be in the terminal, need to do your research before you go. Finally; I was disappointed the pool was kept at 23 degrees on all the days in Port, when i would have liked a swim, but that is too cold. On sea days they put it up to 26 degrees, but then you could not get near it due to the children on board, Only 2 channels on the TV that are English - Sky news and one other, which appeared to be Play Top Gear every day. All movies cost extra. The rest were all English and American programmes dubbed into another language The library was stripped bear of all English books by day 2; glad i packed one. Be prepared that the English are doing this cruise back wards. Hamburg was our last Port of Call, but he ships first. The night before we got to Hamburg we had a farewell party bit in the theatre, but the next night we had the welcome party. This was when we got introduced to the crew ( the one and only time you will see the Captain). We did not let the disappointment spoil our cruise, but we did feel very much the second class citizens compared to the Germans. We adhere, this was a cheap cruise and you do get what you pay for. Would I go on MSC again - NO NEVER. We have done: P&O, Princess, Royal Carribean, Celebrity and Cundard; so feel we have a good comparison to make to other cruises. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this mini cruise for the Easter Weekend and were keen to visit Hamburg. The time spent in Hamburg was great and we were looking forward to a leisurely trip back to Southampton. Embarkation was a joke 2.5 hours of total chaos with ... Read More
We chose this mini cruise for the Easter Weekend and were keen to visit Hamburg. The time spent in Hamburg was great and we were looking forward to a leisurely trip back to Southampton. Embarkation was a joke 2.5 hours of total chaos with no apparent management in attendance. Having cruised many times we know that we would be required to attend the mandatory drill, however there were no instructions as to when this would be. We went out for a drink at 8pm, then 5 minutes later there was an announcement to say that any passengers who had not attended the earlier drill had to go the theatre immediately and you were not permitted to take your drink with you! We therefore lost our drinks! The drill in the Theatre was a total joke, people arrived wearing their life jackets and blowing their whistles all though the demonstration, again there were no officers or managers to be seen. On our late arrival in the restaurant due to the drill, we were presented with the menu, which can only be described as limited. I ordered the Minestrone soup and grilled chicken, followed by the cheese board. The soup was OK, however what followed was hard to believe. The grilled chicken dish was a butterfly chicken breast and some frozen chips that had been thrown on the plate. I asked if there were any vegetables and was informed that this is how the grilled chicken was served. The waitress then got some broccoli and cauliflower for me. I then attempted to eat the chicken, however I couldn't cut into it it was that tough. The cheeseboard that followed was just tasteless processed cheese. The head waiter came over at the end of the meal to apologise and said that they were low on stock as they had come across from Brazil, strange when the ship had come in from Southampton? He promised that the menu and food would be better the next night, which it was. Thankfully the Pizzeria was very good! The buffet breakfast is poor and there and we were not able to get bacon or sausage as the trays were empty and not being replenished and this was 9:45am! Many of the bars were out of stock, there was not Diet Coke anywhere on the ship. Very few bars had tonic water or the ingredients to make cocktails. I asked for a Guinness and after 10 minutes was informed they didnt have any but I could have a John Smiths! Finally disembarkation, it made embarkation look organised. At the gangway there were no officers and it was a free for all with people pushing in and even taking down the barriers to get to the front! I can honestly say I was just glad to get off! Thankfully we have cruised many times before and know just how good cruising can be. MSC clearly do not know how to operate cruise ships Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We saw this short cruise as a quick getaway for the Easter weekend, with the cruise section going from Hamburg to Southampton.Having cruised from / to Hamburg before we’ve seen all of the main sites, therefore decided to fly direct from ... Read More
We saw this short cruise as a quick getaway for the Easter weekend, with the cruise section going from Hamburg to Southampton.Having cruised from / to Hamburg before we’ve seen all of the main sites, therefore decided to fly direct from Birmingham to Hannover and stay there for a couple of days before moving on to Hamburg and boarding the ship. Hannover is a fairly compact city with some interesting sites. The Herrenhausen Gardens – the former gardens to the royal palace of the House of Hannover were very well kept and worth a visit – number of pretty gardens with fountains, statues and a maze. €3.50 per person seems relatively cheap. We ate dinner at the Brauhaus in Hannover – a traditional German brewery that crafts it’s own beer on site and offering traditional food – Andy, my partner, had a currywurst whilst I attempted to eat a schweinsackser (pork knuckle) – needless to say it was huge and I couldn’t finish it, but it was nice to try something different. The following morning, Easter Saturday, it was on to Hamburg on the ICE train, first-class. Great experience and I think we caught a glimpse of Bergen-Belson concentration camp. Arrival at Hamburg HauptBahnHoff was smooth. There was a gazebo set up outside with tickets being sold for the transfer to the ship at €5 each. We seemed to be waiting a long time, and were advised that there were problems at Altona port, meaning the coaches couldn’t take the passengers to the port. We were waiting in the cold for quite a long time, and it was trying to snow. As we have another cruise coming up we didn’t want to risk catching cold so decided to get the S-Bahn line 1 to Hamburg Altona station. A short taxi ride from the station to the cruise terminal (€7.50). The cruise terminal was heaving! We dropped our suitcase at the bag drop area and went to join the queue. Luckily as loyal MSC customers we have learnt the Black Card, their highest status in their reward scheme. One of the perks of this is priority boarding. It still took about 45 minutes to an hour to get onboard. I believe the issues with embarkation were the culmination of a few factors. MSC usually pick up passengers at a number of ports. As it was Easter weekend and there had been a number of deals there were many more passengers joining than there normally would be The Altona cruise terminal is relatively small, with only three x-ray machines (this is managed by the port, not MSC) A good majority of passengers had a later boarding time, but all turned up as early as they could, which created a glut. Apparently there had also been further technical issues (I think a scanner broke but not sure) Whilst I can understand people being annoyed at it taking a few hours to board a good number of those who have complained about this should remember that they shouldn’t have even been at the cruise terminal for a few hours! Once we got onboard we purchased the deluxe drinks package at €50 per person per night. This is more expensive than previously but in our opinion it was well worth it. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted about drinks packages previously so won’t go in to all of the details! Following a glass of wine it was up to the cabin to collect our cruise cards. We had a lovely, spacious Fantastica balcony cabin on deck 10 – a bottle of Asti and a couple of bowls of fruit were waiting to greet us – a very nice touch and another perk of having the black card. As we’d missed lunch we headed to the buffet for a snack – the welcome onboard buffet was still in full swing with plenty of choices – traditional Italian dishes, roast beef on the carvery station and even shepherds pie so a really good variety to suit most tastes. After a bit of food it was off to explore the ship. I’ll be open and honest here – I really love MSC Fantasia, it almost feels like home. Knowing Magnifica is a different class, we went with an open mind. We were not disappointed. The ship is frankly absolutely stunning. Whilst there are no Swarovski crystal stairs, there is a grand atrium spanning three decks with sweeping marble staircases. The focal points of the atrium are a back-lit, colour changing water feature which has a beautiful grand piano on an ‘island’. The multitude of bars around the ship are all well executed, each with a different colour schemes and decoration themes. Topaz, Tiger, Amethyst, Sports Bar… the list goes on! The bars are constructed of high quality marble or granite, with a great standard of furnishing. The maintenance on MSC is second to none with an exemplary level of cleanliness. This ultimately means that an eight year old ship looks as good as it did the day it was Christened in Hamburg by Sophia Loren in March 2010. Our first night’s dinner was taken in the Oriental Plaza Asian Fusion restaurant. A set menu with a number of different courses, savours and flavours was offered free of charge to us as Black Card holders. MSC Magnifica had just completed a Grand Voyage from Brazil, which ultimately meant that several items were missing or unavailable – noodles being one of them. Whilst frustrating, this does unfortunately happen after long cruises. We’ve previously taken one such cruise and have another coming up. As the stores start to run out of stock items will disappear. The ship is then re-stocked but it takes time for this to be sorted – having seen the stores on MSC Splendida it is like a military operation in warehousing. The first evening (and early morning hours of the second day) were spent in the various bars and the disco, Our second day was a full day at sea. We got up fairly early and had breakfast in the main dining room – eggs Benedict with smoked salmon for me and a cooked breakfast for Andy. Quick, attentive service in the dining room provided for a great experience first thing in the morning – very easy and no searching for a table etc. A day at sea provides a brilliant opportunity to get to know the ship, the crew and have a relaxing time, and enjoy yourself. When breakfast had settled I went to the gym and enjoyed a run looking out over the bow of the ship – what a great view and how motivational. As we moved around the bars during the day we met several crew members we’ve seen on previous cruises. The most notable was probably Anastasia in the Tiger Bar – she was very pleased to see us again and gave us a hug to say hello and welcome us back! The morning’s entertainment was an Oktoberfest theme party, with a good selection of bottled beers available (not included in the standard drinks package), sausages, pretzels and sauerkraut to give that authentic German feel – as we had spent two days in Germany we decided not to indulge in the food but to just have a beer in the spirit of good fun! Lunch was taken in the main dining room – a very interesting menu, with starters of spring rolls, salad and soup and main courses of pasta, sandwiches and octopus! Whilst all of the options were tempting I opted for salad and octopus. The octopus came and it was hot, well presented and well cooked – it can go rubbery if over-cooked but this was perfect! It might not be a dish for the squeamish as it was a bowl full of baby octopi but I thoroughly enjoyed it! During the afternoon the sun came out so we took the opportunity to go for a swim – even the outdoor pool is heated which was great as on other ships the outdoor pools have been incredibly cold and a shock to the system! The hot tubs were also quite welcome when the sun started to shine through. The final night of our cruise was a gala night – we aren’t dinner suit people unless going to a ball so took dark lounge suits. The whole feeling of a gala night is that it is something special. Passengers get dressed up, the crew have a smarter than usual uniform (bow ties etc), the menu is something extra special, there’s the opportunity to have a photo with the Captain etc. We’d had a card put through the cabin to let us know our dining table had been changed to a different number. A lovely table for two was waiting for us, in a good spot of the restaurant. The Easter Day gala menu was a completely new one on us, with some wonderful different options any foodie would love! The scallops, turkey, risotto and guinea fowl were excellent, followed by a melt in the middle chocolate pudding. A bottle of Muller Italian white wine accompanied the meal, with a glass of dessert wine as a digestive. I think this was one of the best meals I’ve had on cruises so far. We had intended this cruise to be a taster of the changes MSC are making to cater more to the British market, however the official cruise season from Southampton didn’t start until today when we disembarked. This meant a number of the tweaks weren’t available. Before disembarking we spoke with Alastair, the hotel director this morning and had a great chat about the ship and intended changes. Alastair has a fine background, having brought Princess and RCCL ships to the UK market previously. A British chef will soon be onboard, meaning roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding will be available on Sundays, there will be British comedians and tribute acts. The menus will stay largely the same but there will be some more British themed items to suit the palate. I think that this formula seems completely the right way to go for MSC to attract more British cruisers and the season will be a success once the changes are embedded and settle down. Thank you to MSC for another wonderful cruise – we look forward to being on board again very soon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
I have been to some destination of this cruise, but it wasn't any problem! All of them are wonderful. The best: the itinerary and the ship (and the people that work there). Your employees are very kind, respectful and helpful. ... Read More
I have been to some destination of this cruise, but it wasn't any problem! All of them are wonderful. The best: the itinerary and the ship (and the people that work there). Your employees are very kind, respectful and helpful. Excursions: they were too expensive. We reserve with others cheaper companies. To improve: 1) Cleaning of the exterior of the ship and the windows in the buffet area. In others companies they do this dayly. 2) Little amount of food in the restaurant at night. I was still hungry after every plate of food ... but it was delicious. I always asked for one or two plates more, without problems! 3) space for smokers - smoking room: it is allowed to smoke in the casino, but it was awful and incorfortable for non-smokers. The whole lounge smells bad. It is a passage area to the theater and go throught that part was nasty for us. Read Less

Find a Cruise

Email me when prices drop