6 Malta (Valletta) First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

To be quite honest I was not too keen on the idea of going on a cruise. My Sister who lost her husband almost two years ago was a frequent cruiser and had often said how much she enjoyed it. If fact they would sometimes manage to do two ... Read More
To be quite honest I was not too keen on the idea of going on a cruise. My Sister who lost her husband almost two years ago was a frequent cruiser and had often said how much she enjoyed it. If fact they would sometimes manage to do two a year. Alnong with two other very close friends we all decided that we would go on a cruise and selected Oceana for our maiden voyage together. We opted for a fly cruise for seven nights, flying out to Malta to pick up the ship. Our air transport was provided by TUI the newly branded Thomson airline. Even the cabin crew were getting confused with the change. Sadly this is where the cattle truck system does not make for comfortable travel. Myself, being almost 6ft and not too slim could just about squeeze into the seat. There was no legroom, fortunately I was able to change seats to an aisle seat where I could at least squeeze in with an arm rest placed in the upright position. As to being able to drop the table to a flat position, that was impossible. The upshot of this was that every time the trolleys went past my shoulders and elbows bore the brunt of the collision. It was no different on the return flight. Anyway, I’ve always believed that the flight forms part of the holiday so I would score this a poor 2 out of 5. On a brighter note our arrival at Malta was on time and we were swiftly directed out of the airport by a myriad of helpers brandishing P&O signs and on to coaches. Sadly these coaches had their seats crammed in to maximise the discomfort of tall or not so slim passengers. Some 20 minutes later we got off the coaches and stood in line whilst we all went through the process of being photographed and processed. This procedure seemed to take some time and the standing around in the heat was starting to wear thin by the time we actually arrived under our own steam onto the dock where the Oceana was tied up. We had been travelling for over 14 hours and I for one was getting tired at this time. Our ascent up the gangway onto the ship was very smooth and it was great to be able to sit in a comfy chair and grab a drink before finding our cabin. Initial impressions of the atrium and its lighting seemed to pick me up a little and i thought that if the rest of the ship is as welcoming as this then perhaps it might not be too bad. Drink, Drunk and we moved off to locate our respective cabins, directions were well signed and we soon entered the corridors for A deck. On arrival at our cabin our luggage was outside waiting for us. Brilliant! On opening the door and entering my first impressions were very good. Nice size for two of us with basically all that you need. On drawing the curtains and opening the balcony door there was ample room to sit and chill. Now it’s starting to impress me a little. We planned to meet by the lifts then go up to the sun deck for a drink or two before grabbing a light snack from the buffet. The sun deck was impressive although some fixtures and fitting looked as thought they had seen better days but I’m sure they were on the list of jobs to do. Dinner that evening was casual and the menu was very interesting. I chose for my main course Whole Wytch Sole, which when it arrived was not whole but de-headed, skinned and very over cooked to the point where it was inedible. I had no option but to send this back and chose a lamb dish which when it arrived was excellent. In order to keep this somewhat short as a review, the meals throughout the week in the Buffet and the Ligurian Restaurant were very good to excellent. The formal nights we all enjoyed and even got time to chat to one of the senior officers. Drinks were priced at hotel prices which was not too bad. The service throughout was very good. Our cabin steward was excellent and nothing was too much trouble for him. I for one used the gym a couple of times and was quite impressed with the available equipment. We spent plenty of time on deck either walking round the promenade deck or just leaning on the rail watching the world go by. Going in and out of the ports we visited would find us up on deck of on our balcony watching the procedures. We also did a couple of trips off the ship which we enjoyed but these really are documented by many that have gone before us. We went to a couple of shows which we all enjoyed and all in all spent a very enjoyable week. Needless to say I have now changed my mind about cruising. Would I do it again? Let me think? Yes of course! In fact we have already booked our second cruise on Britannia for 14 nights out of Southampton. No more fly cruises though! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We thought the ship was magnificent and the crew first class.Special mention should be made of the cabin steward and the waiting staff in the Velvet Lounge who were exceptional.The food we found was not as good as expected and the helpings ... Read More
We thought the ship was magnificent and the crew first class.Special mention should be made of the cabin steward and the waiting staff in the Velvet Lounge who were exceptional.The food we found was not as good as expected and the helpings were small.Saying this you could have as many courses as you wanted and we did not leave the table hungry.Our main criticism was concerning the tour staff. We had booked tours at every port but we're only told the Monday before we sailed that the tour to Portfino had been cancelled. We asked how we were to be refunded but they were no help at all and we are still awaiting the refund.The two members of staff thought it was a big joke and one of them was chewing gum.We later found out that the tour operators wear MSC livery but work for some faceless company.The tour to Capri was really enjoyable but we were not told anything about the island by the tour guides. No mention was made of famous people who had resided there such as Axel Munthe and Gracie Fields.The ferry to Capri was not particularly clean and the toilets on the island were a disgrace. The tour was about an hour too long because towards the end it was dark. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first cruise. Embarking from our own country saved a lot of hassle. As soon as we went to the Lobby we were given our cabin card. We were on deck 5 to the front. Our twin cabin was very comfortable. It was cleaned every day. ... Read More
This was our first cruise. Embarking from our own country saved a lot of hassle. As soon as we went to the Lobby we were given our cabin card. We were on deck 5 to the front. Our twin cabin was very comfortable. It was cleaned every day. Our cabin stewardess, Marlete was very friendly, always with a welcoming smile. The shiip in general was always nice and tidy with staff doing their work. With regards to breakfast, there was a large variety of food, from cereals, joghurts, really good freshly baked bread, eggs, omelettes, sausages, salads, fresh fruits, pastries and sweets and juices, teas and coffees. The buffets were exquisite as well with so much variety, from pizzas and pasta to ready made dishes of fish, meat and carvery and salads. Juices, soft drinks and wine were also there. The main restaurant, Le Flamboyant, offered fine dining with a la carte menu. It had a lot of variety too, from fish, veal, rabbit, duck and other meat. Starters included mouthwatering soups, pasta and salads. Dessert was really delicious. Besides there were different bars open nearly all the time. Service was good with friendly staff always helping you when in difficulty. Entertainment was also very nice. With the pool, jacuzzi and gymn, it was really great! Activities throughout the day for different categories, such kid's clubs, karoaki, demonstrations, well-being talks and also on request religious meetings such as Mass. Everyone was taken care of. In the evening one should not miss the shows in the theatre. Very well prepared shows by very professional bands, singers, dancers and animators who made the public participate. We really enjoyed them! Good presentations by Kamel, Maria Paz and Claudine. Then there are the disco and the casino too! With regards to excursions, we only had the Marseille excursions organised by the ship management. Which was nice and interesting. The other excursions were bought from the travel agency we booked from. They were all nice but travelling so much for all those days was a bit tiring especially where the weather was a bit hot. So next time we will not buy the package of excursions when booking the cruise, so that we choose daily whilst on cruise, which ones we feel like going. But on the whole, the places we went to were very beautiful. As a first experience, the Zenith offered us a very enjoyable cruise. It was very worth it and so we hope to go on another one in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My mother has always wanted to go on a cruise, particularly after watching a tv show set on the MS Deutschland (she's German, my dad's Maltese, so I'm split down the middle!). I was never that enthusiastic, but I decided to ... Read More
My mother has always wanted to go on a cruise, particularly after watching a tv show set on the MS Deutschland (she's German, my dad's Maltese, so I'm split down the middle!). I was never that enthusiastic, but I decided to make her happy this years, and I honestly was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Also, we live in Malta, so getting on board was simply a matter of driving down to the harbour and getting on - although be warned - there's a long line for passport control and to get the board card which you use to buy anything and as a key card, so you might want to board a couple of hours later than the travel agent advises. The cruise itself, though, AMAZING. Of course, my mother and I are both fluent in German, so we understood everything, all the announcements, all the signs, etc. However I don't agree with whoever said non-Germans were not welcomed. Every week there's a group of between 100-200 Maltese on board the Mein Schiff, they have their own tour leader aboard, and they seemed happy whenever we chatted with them. Why do so many Maltese go on the Mein Schiff cruises? I suspect the reason is the all-inclusive concept, which was one of my reasons for choosing the cruise - to give an example, it's not just the usual pizza/pasta/burgers that are free (and being Germans, some sausage too), but two huge restaurants with varieties of dining, and a snack bar, a pizza place, a tapas bar. Talking about the buffet alone, you had so many varieties of food, whether meat and potatoes, salads, pasta, etc. My highlight was a Wok station where you could choose noodles/rice, different fresh meats (duck, beef, etc) or fish, veg, sauces, and the chefs would stir-fry it there and then. And the breakfasts! OMG, the breakfasts. Oh dear. I must stop writing about food, but just let me mention that on the last day at sea there was a champagne and caviar breakfast. Yes, as part of the inclusive breakfast. For those who prefer to get their nutrients in liquid fashion, all the bars were fee-free, except for some items, clearly marked on the menu, which you had to pay extra for. My mum and I worked our way through a whole list of cocktails, with or without alcohol, all without shelling out an extra penny. Our balcony cabin was comfortable and clean, and every evening Fedel, our cabin attendant left a choccy on our beds! I do have some niggles - yes, Germans do have a habit of racing to any dining area 2 minutes before opening time and then occupying their seats until the restaurant closes. And Maltese in large groups can be pretty loud and obnoxious. The only thing that really bothered me and I couldn't shrug off that easily were the children. So many children packing the relatively small pool day in day out. And even as I complain, I remember my last day when I was feeling a bit low and three preteen German kids gave me a ship newsletter they had prepared during their stay - so, I guess they weren't so bad, either. I wasn't too happy with the excursions organized by our local agency - they showed the typical Maltese obsession with packing as many sights and visits into one trip so as to feel we got value for money. All I got out of it was tendinitis of my Achilles heel tendon (my most hated tendon, now) which I'm still feeling now. I do agree with another reviewer that the tendering was a bit of a pain in the neck, but what can you do? I would recommend this to anyone who feels like a holiday where they can be pampered for a few days! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was really looking forward for this as other members of my family, including my wife had gone on cruises previously and were really happy with them from all aspects. However, I must say that I ended up as disappointed with this cruise as much as I was looking forward for it before! First of all, before going any further in my review, I have to tell you that the main reason I was looking so forward to the cruise was food. I love food and had been advised previously that on cruises you get the highest quality food and in abundance! As soon as we got onto the ship we went for the lunch (mid-day) buffet and I was already disappointed. There were 4 or more different kinds of pizza - but which tasted all the same and all had the same ingredients. There was also carvery which usually tastes quite good, but this tasted like the frozen meat you boil to make broth. No drinks were free, except for two small, out of the way, ice dispensers which incidentally dispensed water too. However, you need to hike from your table to reach the dispenser, and usually the nearer one was switched off so you had to walk to the second dispenser. Anyhow, I said to myself that probably this was a bit bland because it was just a mid-day snack and reassured myself that dinner would be fantastic and I could order two juice medium-rare steaks to make up for that. Alas, dinner time came and was so shocked when I looked at the menu. NO STEAK! Blimey! The menu was in a number of languages, so I looked in the English section, Italian Section and French section to figure out if there was anything that looked like steak. The nearest to steak I found was in the English section, in the "Always Available" menu. This was a "paillard of beef" or so it was written if I recall correctly. So I asked the waiter if it was a beef steak. Getting a blank look I asked if it was a "bistecca di manzo" (same thing in Italian) - to which the waiter eagerly nodded. Well... so that's what I ordered. Guess what I got? I got a tasteless piece of dried up cube roll cooked without any gravy over which I spent around fifteen minutes munching. It seemed to grow bigger in my mouth the more I chewed on it! Besides being tasteless, it was so small that I remained as hungry as I had been before I started eating. So I went through the menu again and saw that they had chicken breast. I ordered that too. It looked nice, but again, although it was not as dry as the previous cube roll it was as tasteless! The food cans I get for my dog will probably taste better. So that was day 1. By the way, between the mid-day buffet and dinner there was a tea-break - but I'm not even going to bother about that. Basically all you have is a few colourful trifles and some jellies if I recall correctly. There wasn't even any ice cream! Second day the food wasn't that bad and on the same day or the third one we had a Gala night. The food was much better this time, but funnily enough it was a one off. We had steak on that day and it was good - but only lasted as far as it went as the rest of the days we had bland food again (although not as disastrous as that on the first day). Portions were pretty small and presentation was greatly lacking. Drinks had to be bought, including water. Nothing free. One particular day we also had a midnight food display and buffet. There was octopus (one of my favourites) so I got some for me amongst other stuff. As soon as I tried to pick up the first bit, the rest came up with it stuck with fatty sludge - same thing that happens when you cook octopus/meat in stew or gravy and leave it overnight in the fridge! So I had to leave it there against all I wished for! Another thing to mention is that you can barely communicate with the waiters as they hardly speak any English and only little Italian. However, what really got on my nerves was that the waiters just literally threw the cutlery on the table instead of placing it nicely. I know, you're still going to do the same job with a fork whether it's put nicely or not, but when you pay so much money you would expect at least a certain level of cordiality. What got on my nerves even further was the fact that the waiters differed between tables, and treated certain tables better than others. Please note that this is an Italian ship, and Italians are known for their exquisite cuisine! I must say that this ship did anything but give a good image of the Italian cuisine! -------------------------- So anyway, besides the biggest food disappointment I could have ever expected, there was other stuff on the ship. The rooms were OK, quite clean, and they used to be done around 3 times daily I think. The bathroom was clean although the toilet was a bit uncomfortable to sit on, small diameter and a bit too high above the floor - and might make your feet go numb if you are one of those persons who sit on it for a lengthy period! Air conditioning was great - kept temperatures quite cool (although you can set it to a higher temperature if you feel cold). The pools were OK. There were 2 pools in the main area and another one in a secluded area that didn't allow children. The jacuzzis were nice too except for the fact that people were at time a tad too rude and took up all the space or pushed you over. Entertainment was OK but in my opinion a bit childish. Another thing was that we had a cocktail night, where we had 1 hour free cocktails in the lounges. Although there was only one type of cocktails (or so it seemed) they were quite sly in reducing the amount of free alcohol distributed. The machines could dispense alcohol as per their timer. However the timer was set around 10 or 15 minutes fast, so whilst the period should have been 18:30 to 19:30 (if I recall the times correctly), in actual fact it was 18:15 to 19:15. So by the time people start gathering at the lounges, which would be around 18:45, the free cocktail period would already be half way through, and in fact when I asked for a cocktail at 19:20 my request was rejected. Notwithstanding that, the trays were arrayed with 25% cocktails and the other 75% juices or whatever they were. That wasn't a very honest gesture was it? It would have been better if they had not done the "happy hour" at all rather than take us for a ride the way they did! -------------------------- We only took 2 excursions, the one going to Rome and the one going to Portofino. The visit to Rome was accompanied by a guide whose English was hopeless. I was on the verge of asking her to speak in Italian. Otherwise, the visit was nice. The one to Portofino was sort of OK. The drive was pretty boring and the guide (although her English was comprehensible) didn't have anything better to say other than "look at the nice valley" or "this is the pencil shaped building" or "this street has old houses on one side and new houses on the opposite side". I felt as if I was was in a pre-grade class with children trying to make up coherent sentences. Anyway, humour apart, the destination itself was nice (but very expensive) and besides the picturesque views not much to do except have an expensive ice cream (which tasted really good by the way) and wait for the time to return back. -------------------------- The price... one of the most important determining factors! My wife and I travelled alone, although we were part of a group of 15 people. However we booked one room alone. However, families with children under 18 do not pay for the latter. So what does this mean? It means that my wife and I, or a family of 4 with the children under 18 would pay the same price. This means that some lack of service would be acceptable for a family of 4 paying the price of 2. However, people like my wife and myself would not find that worth it as they're paying the full price and getting a lousy package. You don't get the towels in animal shapes on your bed spread, or the chocolates when the rooms are done like you get on other cruise liners. I know you can still live without these things, but especially if you're paying full price and if you've already been on other cruise liners where you experience these things you'll feel neglected. Mind you, as I said in the beginning this was my first cruise, but I was well prepared by my wife and family and had high expectations which where totally let down on day one of this cruise. Overall I would never go on a cruise with MSC again and would not recommend it to anyone, except maybe if you have kids under 18 and would get 4 for the price of 2! However, as long as I'm going to pay full price, I will go on an American cruise liner such as Carnival, Holland America and the sort. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
First impression: The ship is huge. Even walking from one end to the other takes time, and this creates a 'village' feel, where numerous people attend any event or activity, be it lunch, darts, aerobics, casino or nightlife. ... Read More
First impression: The ship is huge. Even walking from one end to the other takes time, and this creates a 'village' feel, where numerous people attend any event or activity, be it lunch, darts, aerobics, casino or nightlife. Meals: Breakfast is on par with a land-based good 5-star hotel. Cooked varieties of all types, including custom-ordered pancakes, eggs or sausages. 4 choices of cereal in the normal section, and 2 more choices in the 'healthy' section. 3 choices of milk including soy. Fresh fruits, yoghurts, sweets and pastries. French toast, bread of all kinds and everything in between. The missing component: A good (Italian) coffee. Granted, you can help yourself to unlimited machine-poured coffee or take a sachet of Nescafe's "Grand Aroma" available in sachets, but if you want a proper Espresso or Capuccino, you must pay for it. More about pricing later. Lunch is a choice of the buffet on the 9th floor or free seating on the 4th floor (My Way and New York, New York). We preferred the 9th floor, where the food was simply incredible. At the extreme end of the restaurant next to the pool there was always some cooking station going on, which cooked fresh pasta, fresh fish, spicy beef on the Mexican night, and so many other delicacies which would have cost an entire day of cruising in an equivlent restaurant. Portions are unlimited, and the food quality was excellent. Desserts always included a huge variety of fresh fruit, unlimited ice-cream in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, and a massive variety of mousse or cream-based sweets which were individually presented in bowls. Pizza in 4 flavours was available 24-hours, as was (machine) coffee, ice and water. Water was also freely served during dinner, in jugs which were continuously re-filled. Tea-time was 1 hour between 4pm and 5pm. This offered a huge variety of sweets and fruit. Tiramisu featured regularly, as well as apple strudel, cream cakes, and fruit cakes of all types. Not to be missed! Dinner was based on 2 fixed-seating arrangements. The tables are huge so it is shared with other families. Our table seated 11. Food was a' la carte, with a 7-course meal with choices at each stage. You can also choose 'off-the-menu' dishes, such as spaghetti bolognese, fries, chicken and meat choices .. the meal always included a cheese platter and dessert. Food quality again was extremely high and presentation of dishes was superb. My only complaint would be the cheese platter, where the same 4 cheeses were offered each night, even though the menu stated things differently! If you fancy wine at dinner, a purchase of 6 bottles as a 'pack' will set you back 99 Euro. The wine itself is usually sold closer to 4 Euro a bottle from a normal shop, but I expect you need to pay the premium as in good quality restaurants. We were almost 'conned' by the waiter telling us that the menu we had picked up on deck was the 'old' one, and the 'new' one offered 5 bottles of wine for 92 Euro, but we held firm and got the 6 bottles after all. On deck they were still touting what had been called the 'old' menu. On the 7th night there is champagne served during the Gala dinner anyway. Entertainment during dinner was great with waiters doing their best to dance and sing. Highly entertaining, and very enjoyable. On the Spa/gym side, there is a gym reserved for over-18 although it said over-16 in other places. However, the staff insisted on over-18. Gym is very well equipped, lots of machines, although it can get pretty full at peak times. The view from the gym is incredible while using the treadmill or cycles. On the cruise downside, you feel that there is an element of over-selling. One time during lunch we were approached 7 times or more by waiters selling the drink packages, which we had already bought anyway. Also, several Spa 'informative' sessions are just marketing their products and treatments. No hard selling however - the moment you indicate non interested you are set free :) Pools are crowded as expected with some 3,000 people on board. Of course it depends on timing - the decks get very quite when ashore and during lunch. The water slide is pretty cool, and the jacuzzi was fun too, although kids were uncontrolled, and were jumping the queue to the water slide, or jumping wildly in the jacuzzi. Could have been just the group of kids on our cruise though :) However the crew did nothing to prevent it happening. Excursions were either pre-booked or else there was usually a help-desk at port to help the individual travellers. Usually offering some money-saving advice too, like purchasing the day-card in Rome (Civitavecchia) and taking the public shuttle (rather than the Costa shuttle) in Barcelona! Midnight buffets were especially spectacular. Ice sculptures, carved fruit, staff entertaining .. each night was an event by itself. This was mainly on the deck on the 9th floor. Apart from this, the Stardust theater had a performance nightly - some were absolutely fantastic events, but other nights can only be classified as amateurish. It was all good entertainment, however. On the 'good' nights the place gets crowded, with people even sitting on the stairs and standing all around. After midnight, two areas were heavily attended: The Rhapsody bar with dancing for the older generation, and the Fever disco for the younger generation. On some nights there were parties on the 9th floor in front of the massive screen, with animators leading the way. Incidentally, the animators had an excellent control of english, but this varies in the ship. A large percentage of the crew are either from the Philippines or possibly Brazilian, so both English and Italian were not their native language! The Playstation area was a disappointment, since the consoles were there but you needed to somehow purchase the games to play. On the other hand, the F1 simulator was great. Although it was not as realistic as promised, since there was no 'manual' mode, it was great fun. Euro 10 gets you the sample 3 minute ride, then Euro 20 gets you into the feel of racing. Excellent fun, and the feel of the full-sized car is incredible. Overall, a cruise to remember and recommend! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010

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