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Sail Date: January 2019
Food in main dining in Covo restaurant was very good and our waiters were superb but that’s where the good food ends .,Buffet food boring and not very nice also the area far to small for the amount of passengers.The outside pizza and ... Read More
Food in main dining in Covo restaurant was very good and our waiters were superb but that’s where the good food ends .,Buffet food boring and not very nice also the area far to small for the amount of passengers.The outside pizza and hamburgers were terrible but good fries.Also no other restaurant on board where you could eat.Entertainment very poor especially during the day no music playing bands .And in the evening only one bar with any atmosphere the Manhattan if you were lucky to get a seat.Cabins very nice we had a balcony cabin small but clean and moder n.1074 o the tenth floor.Drinks so expensive nearly$11 Australian dollars for a small bottle of beer and a glass of wine the same.The ship itself is small but in good condition just found it to small for 2600 passengers prefer a larger ship.in the future but not with MSc will stick to Princess Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise with MSC. We have cruised 15 times in the past with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. Overall, we were pleased with this cruise. Accommodations were comfortable, the food was good, and the staff were ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC. We have cruised 15 times in the past with Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. Overall, we were pleased with this cruise. Accommodations were comfortable, the food was good, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The destinations were amazing. The simple decor was nice compared to some of other lines like Carnival. Embarkation and debarkation were refreshingly easy. They have some incredibly talented performers for the shows and we enjoyed them all for the most part. However, we really didn't understand why every show had a "strip joint" element to it. We had My Choice dining so the first day we went to the dining room we were assigned to and picked the time we wanted to eat each evening. The first night we were not happy with our table location (next to loud service station), but they gladly changed it for us and the rest of our meals were great. The menu lacked options and you do have to pay more if you want lobster or steak for gala night, but the food was good and we enjoyed it. The prime rib was thinner than any we have ever had so you might want to order two entrees if you choose that. Also, beware that you have to pay for water as well as any other beverage. The staff were very nice, but we missed the shows that other cruise lines put on. The buffets were adequate, but there was not much variety. The hamburgers were high school cafeteria quality, but the fries were good. Also, there are no frozen yogurt machines and the gelato station was never open. The pizza was great, but there were only three varieties. We found the Buddha Bar and Irish Pub made the best drinks. The casino drinks didn't have much alcohol. Also, they are more generous with vodka in drinks than rum so my husband quickly learned to love Moscow Mules. The gym does not have enough treadmills so I had to wait in line for a machine every time I went. Although putt putt is located on the top deck, you have to find the mobile entertainment stand (on deck 6 in one of the bars which rotates constantly) to check out the equipment or to borrow games. We didn't try the pools because it was too cold outside. We had to pay for shuttle services to reach the port on several occasions so be prepared for that additional cost. It ranged from 12.99 to 15.99 per person for a round trip. There are lots of bars to hang out in and they have fun themed parties every night. Most of them start after 11 so we didn't make it to any of them. The staff were very interactive with passengers and we really enjoyed talking with them. Ports: To reach the port in Barcelona you will need to take the blue bus located at the Columbus monument which is a block from the Drassanes metro station. The bus is $3 euros per person. Valencia: You can pay for a shuttle to reach town, but we chose to take a taxi directly from the ship to the aquarium. We also bought our aquarium tickets online ahead of time. Taking the taxi saved us a couple of dollars. We walked around the aquarium area afterwards and then walked back to the aquarium to catch a taxi back to the ship. Palma de Mallorca: We walked off the ship and caught a bus #1 (3 euros per person) to the city center. Then we walked to the cathedral. We walked around for a couple of hours and then took a taxi back to the ship area and went on an excursion we had booked on our own. We had a great time hiking and exploring a cave. Malta: We did not get to dock here due to rough seas, but we did get to Messina that evening at 5 pm and stayed until 2 pm the following day. Messina: We had a lovely dinner in town. You were able to walk right off the ship in this port. We also enjoyed walking around a cathedral and shopping in some of the stores. The following day we went on MSC's excursion to Taormina. We highly recommend this tour. Taormina is beautiful and we loved walking through the city and walking around the ancient theatre. There is a cost for that. If you have children under 18 there is a very reduced fee (or maybe free?) but you have to have their passport to show them in order to get the discount. Citavecchia: We took MSC's excursion to Rome on your own. So much fun. The Coliseum and ruins are within walking distance. I bought a package ahead of time to go into the Coliseum and Palentine/Roman Forum. We chose 1 pm for our time to go into the Coliseum and that worked out perfectly. Livorno: We took MSC's excursion to Florence on your own. We had a wonderful time walking around. Genoa: No excursion. Just walked around the city. We didn't need a shuttle this day. Marseille: We had to utilize the ship's shuttle for 15.99 per person. From the drop off point, we were able to walk to the Basilica de Notre Dame. It was wonderful. We also had a wonderful meal in town. Barcelona: We took a high speed train to Girona to see the cathedral where some Game of Throne scenes were filmed. One of the best things we did on the whole trip. We booked the Renfe train tickets ahead of time. Once we got to Girona, we were able to walk to the cathedral and old wall. This is an amazing place even if you're not a GOT fan. We loved every minute of it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was a chance to break up a Scottish winter, which it did. The weather was great the destinations were superb. The ship was a complete let down . The embarkation some 10hrs late due to problems with the ship. A promised free meal ... Read More
This was a chance to break up a Scottish winter, which it did. The weather was great the destinations were superb. The ship was a complete let down . The embarkation some 10hrs late due to problems with the ship. A promised free meal consisted of I roll and 1 hot drink. We had to spend the next day in port while the ship was fixed causing us to miss one destination. The cabin was clean and comfortable. Dining was a nightmare people scrambling for a table and food that at best was ok. The entertainment patchy and the activities were ok if all you wanted to do was learn the samba. Service was surly or unhelpful most of the time , the exception being the cabin staff. In the main service is poor and I would inform reception that you do not want to be charged a daily service charge . The drinks come with a 15% service charge anyway . The ship offers a shuttle bus at most ports however these are expensive and they will not tell you about any allternatves The port of disembarkation had a taxi and partial bus strike which had been on the news for 3 days MSC said they were unaware of it and basically it wasn't there problem .This resulted in elderly and infirm people being dumped at the port with their baggage in the rain and expected to get on with it. If you think MSC might be for you please THINK AGAIN . Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the amazing price, itinerary and length of stay on board. We did not read any of the online reviews when we booked the cruise, so we was really disappointed in reading all the negative reviews the day before we ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the amazing price, itinerary and length of stay on board. We did not read any of the online reviews when we booked the cruise, so we was really disappointed in reading all the negative reviews the day before we set sail. If we did we would not have booked. Let me say, this cruise was fantastic for the price we paid £280 for 10 days. Yes £28 per person per day. The ship is very nice, it’s an older ship but is still a good cruise ship. We did go through force 7 rough seas and the ship hardly rocked. In the past we have been on many MSC cruises including the new mega ship MSC Seaside, all have been good. Our cabin looked new and very clean cabin 7110. We did book an inside cabin but they upgraded to outside at no charge. All the bars were good. Bar staff are very friendly especially Vic and Askar from Mauritius, that really looked after us extremely well. The ship was full occupancy and there was no waiting time for drinks at all. I was so impressed I tipped the bar staff on last night. We booked the drink easy package, although a bit annoying that all the nicest cocktails wasn’t allowed so I had Heineken lager, wine and cocktails of the day. Made the most of it though as it was all you can drink. The theatre shows was fantastic and definitely not to be missed. The dancers were fabulous especially the girl dancers from England. All the shows were great but the London’s Calling was the best. They did “candle in the wind” for Princess Diana, my eyes filled up, great show guys. We met some great guests onboard from USA , Holly & Bobby and Marli & Dave that made our cruise extra special. Unfortunately due to the weather in Malta we could not go there but MSC gave us a refund 100euros compensation which we used on the photo service. In all what a great cruise and better than staying at home which costs us more. Thank you MSC for ai great cruise “PING” Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I liked the itinerary and it fit my timeline for my trip to Europe. The price was also very good. Disembarkation was a disaster due to a taxi strike and rain in Barcelona. MSC should have provided more transportation to the airport for ... Read More
I liked the itinerary and it fit my timeline for my trip to Europe. The price was also very good. Disembarkation was a disaster due to a taxi strike and rain in Barcelona. MSC should have provided more transportation to the airport for its passengers. I had a terrible time getting to the airport (Uber would not come downtown after an Uber car was set on fire on Friday and a few drivers were beat up!!) and I worry about older passengers with more mobility issues having had an even worse experience than me. Overall the service, food and ports were very good. The cabin had some water damage of the wall beside the shower and a number of passengers complained about sewer odours emanating from their bathroom facilities. There could have been more entertainment and activities for us. A number of buses used for shore excursions were older and unappealing in their interiors. Some of the tour guides could have used a speaker system e.g. the lady in Taormina. I was disappointed in the lack of communication when the Sinfonia was many hours late into Barcelona; we all communicate with our mobile devices nowadays and electronic communication from the company would have been helpful. But the disembarkation fiasco was the straw that broke the camel's back, as they say. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise and we had no idea what to expect or what kinds of things were abnormal or normal for a cruise. Our travel agent, a good friend of mine, had never booked through MSC and could only give us expectations based on ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we had no idea what to expect or what kinds of things were abnormal or normal for a cruise. Our travel agent, a good friend of mine, had never booked through MSC and could only give us expectations based on other cruises he had been on. He left me with the assurance that we would be well taken care of and guided through the whole process so we could relax and not stress for 10 days. This did not prove to be true. Embarkation was a nightmare. We flew from Chicago to London, then from London to Marseille on the day of the cruise arriving at around 10, with boarding presumably going from 1400 to 1800. We called an Uber from the airport to take us to the port, thinking we would hang out there for a few hours until boarding started. When we arrived there were no ships in port and our Uber driver, who only spoke French, looked over the paperwork to make sure we had the right date and location. God bless that driver who went and talked to the French security for us and nailed down the details, then translated for us with his google translate app because nobody there, not the MSC staff or security or even any other passengers, spoke English. Turns out our ship was in Nice, 200km(120mi) away. It was too windy in Marseille for them to dock there. They put us on a bus to Nice for two hours to get to the ship. It would have been nice to get some kind of heads up that this was the case. They must have known even a few hours or a day ahead of time that they wouldn’t be docking in Marseille. We are thankful we decided to show up early because otherwise we wouldn’t have made it. Once we got to Nice, there were a bunch of cruises there with different luggage vans and security spots to get through. All of the MSC staff we could find were smoking or on their phones not paying attention or giving good direction so even if we did understand French who knows if we would have been less confused. We prayed we put our luggage in the right spot because none of the vans were marked with our boat name. We followed some people we thought looked familiar from our bus to check in. Nobody at MSC spoke English, so, again, we stayed confused. We followed the line to a small boat which took us to our cruise boat which was sitting in the middle of the ocean. Once we got through yet another security line, we had no idea where to go. Where was our room? Was there another security point? There is some kind of cruise card we need, right? How do we get food, we’re starving and jet lagged! For some reason they took all of our paperwork at check in so we had nothing to reference anymore. We were immediately bombarded with people trying to sell us things...in French. Scrambling, we again couldn’t find a single person who spoke English or Spanish(which we also speak fluently). After kind of wandering for a few minutes, we found someone who would help us at the guest services area. They asked for our room number which we had no idea because they took everything we had printed. With a sour face, the woman gave us the number but could not answer our questions further. We found our room with some semi-helpful documents on the bed and no luggage. We had a carry-on with us with extra underwear so luckily we were able to shower then locate our restaurant. On our way to dinner, we found my luggage chilling on a totally different floor in the walkway which was a huge relief because at least we knew it got on the right van. It wasn’t until after dinner that we went exploring other cabins and found my husband’s luggage also chilling in the middle of nowhere. At dinner, we found that our waiter did not speak English. We communicated by pointing to what we wanted on the menu and he wrote it down. The wait times for food were terrible, we waited at least 30-40 minutes every night for our first course. The portion sizes were very small. Theoretically we could have ordered more, however we were so tired of waiting for our first helping of food that we just left hungry most nights. The first night we arrived to water in our glasses and a 4 Euro charge we had to sign for at the end of the night. It sounds small, but after the long day we had, I just broke down that I couldn’t go without a charge for my dehydration. We planned to go through the cruise without any charges. We did end of resolving our water charges a full week later when we finally received our drink vouchers included in our booking. We took the number of vouchers needed to the restaurant to refund our money, which we found out they did not do at the end of our cruise right before we were about to disembark. They fought us for a few days saying we did not have drink vouchers and had to contact the American booking representative on land who took a while to respond. It didn’t get much better after the first night. We booked 5 excursions which were all cancelled. We rebooked different ones in their place which weren’t as good and were disappointing. The staff at the excursions desk were not helpful and again, didn’t speak English well at all. For one excursion, she booked the wrong one for us which we only found out when we showed up for the excursion. We ended up just rolling with it because they were similar. We were booked for another excursion that didn’t even exist. The girl put an excursion number in our tickets that was only offered on another cruise line so when we showed up the morning for our excursion we weren’t able to go. We tried to turn in the tickets for these excursions as soon as we could, which was around 4 or 5 most days because that is when the desk opened. By that time, it was hard to convince them to give us a refund because the excursion was over and somehow they thought we had gone on the excursion with invalid tickets. Speaking of operating times, almost everything opened after 5, sometimes not even until later. Almost all of the bars and the gelato and vitamin bar areas were never open at all. We weren’t able to get good food when we wanted because the main buffet always seemed to be closed and our seating time for dinner was at 9pm which is honestly when we usually go to bed. The pizza area was open longer, but they only served two kinds of bread with sauce and maybe cheese and usually there was a long kind of people waiting for more because what they took out of the oven was grabbed really quickly. In general, the food was below average. There wasn’t much variety in the buffets and the main buffet food was never fresh. The restaurant food was better, but the portions were too small and the food was tasteless. I personally have an allergy to cheese and almost every dish had cheese in it. I asked if it could be removed from any of the dishes and was told no. I’m not talking about from lasagna or something that was probably cut from a large dish in the back. I’m talking meals where cheese was obviously sprinkled on the top or included individually on the plate. That was too much to ask for someone to deviate a little from their preparation of the plate. This left for little choice for me. There were a few times that we ordered room service which took forever. They always quoted us twenty minutes, but it took over an hour every time. Twice they got the order wrong. I ordered a soup (#1 on the menu) at around 4pm when other food places were closed, and I got a veggie wrap instead(#12 on the menu.) I went down to guest services to get a refund(room service is not free which is ok, but in the American booking site it says it is so whatever) and was told they don’t start serving soup until 6:30pm. The second time they got it wrong, I ordered a BBQ chicken wrap which I had ordered before that didn’t have BBQ chicken. When I went down, they told me it was actually correct because they said their recipe changes every day. Finally, there wasn’t much to do outside of the shows in the evening. After talking to others, it has been confirmed that this is unusual. On days when we returned early from an excursion or on sea days, all we were left to do was sit in our room (which was a wonderful, clean safe haven!) and watch the same three movies that cycled through. We were stuck with more free time than we had hoped between our cancelled and ever changing excursions and the extra time given by the ever changing itinerary. We spent most days sitting on our bed bored. We purchased a day of WiFi to combat boredom which was not worth it because it wouldn’t go on any of the American websites that I wanted to visit like my work intranet or the county library to check out more ebooks to read. It was slow on the few that we could connect to. I’m sitting in a hotel in France writing this and their WiFi connects fine to the US websites so I know it isn’t a Europe IP address thing or something. We were supposed to dock in Barcelona first, but there was a storm which pushed our arrival into Barcelona a day late. They canceled our trip into Valencia, then rerouted at that last second so we did arrive in Valencia, then shortened our day in Palma, then cancelled our day in Malta which we were really looking forward to. Our arrivals into Italy went as planned. We looked forward to the shows as they were the only entertainment on board. It was hit or miss. The opera shows and the Flamenco dancer show were great, but the shows or bits of shows revolving around other singers or the MSC Sinfonia dancers were terrible. These were supposed to be family shows and the costumes on these girls showed almost everything. Maybe it is a European thing, I don’t know. The stereotype is that Europeans are big on nudity. There were a lot of tacky strip teases. The singers mostly sang in English and it was terrible. They should have sang in their native tongues. They did a few shows trying to showcase British and American culture that were cringey and almost disrespectful. The only good thing I have to say is that our room was wonderful, the view was amazing and the guy that cleaned our room was very kind and attentive. The excursions and places we visited we also great. We were disappointed that all that was offered were city tours and all of the fun activities(the ones we booked before) involving biking, swimming with dolphins, trying food, visiting caves and a volcano were cancelled. However, our tour guides we very well versed in the places we visited and made the tours come to life. It was worth the crappy onboard experience to see these wonderful places. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose this cruise because I had travelled on MSC Armonia to the Carribean in February 2018 and it was excellent in all areas. The cruise on MSC Sinfonia to the Mediterranean was terrible. I waited for one hour at the airport for a rep. ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I had travelled on MSC Armonia to the Carribean in February 2018 and it was excellent in all areas. The cruise on MSC Sinfonia to the Mediterranean was terrible. I waited for one hour at the airport for a rep. to arrive and got more and more stressed. The emergency number did not answer and when the rep. eventually arrived he did not speak English. The wi-fi on board did not work. The staff at Guest Services were incompetent and not prepared to help. Their main objective was to get rid of passengers as quickly as possible. One was particularly rude to me. I obtained what I was entitled to only because I screamed the ship down as well as an officer. My main exercise and entertainment were queuing at guest services to try to sort out in vain all the problems!! The ship arrived back at its final destination more than 10 hours late because of the rough seas and I missed the flight I had booked through MSC. I was told to sort out another flight myself !!! Unbelievable. The transfers to the airport to fly back were so badly organised that I reached the British Airways check-in desk 2 minutes before it closed. So I nearly missed my flight. And to add insult to injury, I was so late that my suitcase was not put on the plane and I arrived home without luggage !! Having said that, my interior cabin was clean, well-equipped and comfortable. My cabin attendant was charming and very helpful as well as all the bar staff, waiters and waitresses. The entertainment team did a good job with stretching an aerobics every morning, lots of dance lessons during the course of the day. Unfortunately, nothing was organised for New Year's eve apart from dancing in couples, no disco, so for solo travellers like me, it was a very lonely time an I went back to my cabin before midnight I will not travel again with this cruise company. I sent them a 3-page long detailed report by e-mail on Sunday 14th January and today (Wednesday 16th January) I still have not had an acknowledgement. Nearly 2 weeks later, I still have not had an answer. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Our experience on MSC Sinfonia first departure Genoa Dec 27 2018 and stayed on for the next cruise total 21 days I have done over 7 cruises now on Holland America, Princess, and Celestial. Asia, Panama, Europe, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico ... Read More
Our experience on MSC Sinfonia first departure Genoa Dec 27 2018 and stayed on for the next cruise total 21 days I have done over 7 cruises now on Holland America, Princess, and Celestial. Asia, Panama, Europe, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico Riveria. The boarding process seemed to be a shamble, we had to stop at at-least 5 different locations We were told the cabin card would be awaiting us in our cabin after 2.00pm, we found the cabin card in the unlocked cabin, we then had to load credit on the card at a special re charge station. We were surprised at the lack of personal security as our cabin number was on the card, if we lost the card anyone finding it would know which cabin, they could access. Unfortunately, we boarded in Genoa Italy, while we expected a lot of Italians, we were not prepared for the culture shock associated with Italian people, their rudeness and loudness. We realised that there would be a lot of children and teenagers on board, but they seem to be out of control with no parental checks and no staff monitoring their behavior. Playing in elevators and running around in the late-night disco is common. We observed 1 group of teenagers at breakfast that appeared as if they had not been to bed and their behavior was that akin to addicts coming off a high. Smoking and non-smoking areas do not seem to matter, people were allowed to smoke where they wanted to. Possibly as much as 15% of the passengers were English speaking, most signage is in English only, but the majority of guests do not speak English, while we were prepared for every announcement to be in several languages, we found many non-critical announcements and social activities to be only in Italian, even the call for excursions were mostly in Italian, leaving us confused on where to go. This appeared to improve on the second cruise. The in cabin TV only had 3 or 4 English speaking channels BBC world news, Hong Kong TV news, an American news and a movie channel, showing the same 5 movies over and over with the words demonstration?? Going across the screen. The behind bar staff, restaurant staff and cabin staff were excellent, however as on many cruises the table waiting female staff (in bar areas) fall well short of expectation. The Cruise line wants to align itself with the TV series Masterchef, well they really need to look at this alignment, the buffet food fell well short of expectation of any cruise we have done, at breakfast the bacon was always overcooked, the fried eggs were always under cooked and the omelets were unrecognisable. At the lunch buffet asking for carved beef or ham made me feel like Oliver twist “please sir can I have some more” butter was never put out at lunch time we always had to ask for it. The general seated dining food in the evenings was only just acceptable with some ingredients (mainly the meats) were of low quality. Free cordial soft drinks from the buffet area were only available at breakfast, the all-day hamburgers and fries were disgusting, they clearly tried to unsuccessfully imitate a major leading burger chain. The ice cream booth service is very poor at 1.00 pm, 1 day I waited over 20 minutes for someone to arrive to serve, I asked a passing officer he said wait, about 15 minutes later someone finally arrived, in the mean time about 10 guests gave up waiting. A few of the shows were not of the standard we have experienced on other cruises but others were very good, the Cruise director? compare was very hard to understand. The ship itself leaves a lot to be desired, the ship has been extended by several meters in length. 1 corridor on deck 7 is split. To access part of the corridor one has to go up to deck 8 walk along to the next stairs or elevator then go back down to deck 7. The elevator in 1 place only goes from deck 5 to deck 9 so to get to deck 11 (pools and buffet) so to get to deck 11 you get out expecting to get the stairs to deck 11 but no--- the stairs only go to deck 10, then you have to go along a corridor to another stairwell. Once in a corridor there was no indication which was forward or aft, port or starboard. If you want to go to deck 5, (dancing reception etc.) 1 elevator that you take to deck 5 finishes up between 2 restaurants in order to go forward or aft (dancing, reception etc.) you have to walk through the restaurants, they may be full or closed with the doors closed. On at least 5 occasions the toilets would not flush, every time we rang reception, we were told they were aware of a general problem. Often there was a strong sewage smell in part of our corridor. I assume the ship was extended to accommodate more passengers, the issue here is the buffet and the theatre weren’t altered to handle the additional capacity. The trip was like a hop on hop off bus journey with passengers getting on and off an most ports of call, this became a huge issue when due to bad weather we had to divert to another port, luggage and people had to go ashore and board in tender boats. This caused people to need transport back to their assigned port and the ship to wait for passengers, to be bussed in from other ports. All this while shore excursions were trying to leave; the whole thing was a total disaster as the buses couldn’t turn because people waiting for transfers wouldn’t move out of the way of buses trying to turn around. Tempers became very high. We were given a 100 euro on board credit. I believe we were told a lie regarding weather issues, I checked internet for the actual weather for that day and it was not that bad, a day later we had to miss a port due to technical non-safety issues. I heard people that were checking out after the first cruise say to reception stating to reception in loud voices “the worst holiday ever”. The bar staff were the only saving grace for the whole cruise, I think if we didn’t enjoy a drink, we would have been very unhappy. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Earlier in 2018 a deal on the MSC Magnifica caught our eye, for 5 nights over the Christmas period, however when looking further we also found a longer cruise on the MSC Sinfonia. 10 nights, departing Barcelona on the 19th December worked ... Read More
Earlier in 2018 a deal on the MSC Magnifica caught our eye, for 5 nights over the Christmas period, however when looking further we also found a longer cruise on the MSC Sinfonia. 10 nights, departing Barcelona on the 19th December worked out not all that much more money, so we decided to go for the longer cruise particularly as we’re currently having building work done so Christmas at home was not a possibility. Our travel agent packaged the cruise with a 2 night pre-cruise hotel stay, flights and the All Inclusive Deluxe drinks package and we were good to go! As this was such a long cruise I won’t go through a day by day account, and will just pick out some of the highlights. Barcelona is a city we’ve visited many times as we’ve completed numerous Mediterranean  cruises, and on the Western Med itinerary it’s as certain as taxes and death. We enjoyed our time spent at the Barcelona House hotel – it’s location is very central, just off La Rambla and the Placa Reial with it’s bustling restaurants and grand architecture. Ship Profile MSC Sinfonia is the second oldest in the current MSC fleet (MSC Armonia is slightly older) and was originally built for Festival Cruises. At just over 58000 tonnes and a passenger capacity of 2163 she is small compared to the mega ships we see being launched in recent years. As a comparison, the current world’s biggest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas weighs in at 228000GT and can hold 6680 passengers. All of the Lirica class cruise ships (Sinfonia, Armonia, Opera and Lirica) went through the ‘Renaissance Programme’ in 2015 which added extra cabins and altered public spaces. The previous lounge above the theatre was removed and cabins added, with a new lounge in the new mid-section and an extended dining room, plus children’s spray park. We sailed on MSC Lirica before the stretch, and MSC Armonia after the stretch, and it is somewhat difficult to tell that this has been done as the design flows well and the new public spaces are in keeping with the original design. On embarkation morning we took a steady walk down La Rambla and caught the cruise bus at €3 each which took us straight to the terminal where MSC Sinfonia was docked – we were the only ship in port which made things very easy. The usual check-in procedures commenced, and we were the first passengers to be onboard at about 12.45pm – one of the benefits of the MSC Voyagers Club black card is priority boarding. Cabin Our forward facing cabin on deck 9, cabin 9001 was spacious and a different layout to other ocean view cabins we have had. There was plenty of storage space for the duration of our cruise, and our cabin steward was friendly and efficient. The configuration of the cabin worked really well. There’s no escaping the ship is showing her age in places but is kept very well. The shower was small in comparison to Meraviglia and Seaview with a shower curtain rather than enclosure; the bathroom is looking dated however cleanliness is the most important thing in my view. I should also add that the hairdryer was one of the old fashioned on the wall with a hose type and not much use for anyone with thick, long or afro type hair! The window over the bow offered excellent views when sailing in to ports, and one of the highlights has to be the sail in to Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Our itinerary for the cruise was port-intensive, with only one sea day. That’s actually pretty perfect for a ship of this size, however one draw back is that the bow thrusters to help steer the ship in to it’s berth made the room shake. The noise woke us up every morning – not great as we’re usually late to bed. Our table mates had cabins midships and didn’t even know we were docking, so it goes to show why location can be everything! Dining Excuse the length of this paragraph, but food is a major part of the cruise holiday experience, so naturally it will be longer! On our first day, we headed to the main dining room, Il Galeone on deck 5 for lunch. On the older MSC ships we have noticed that the main dining room offers a hybrid buffet and a la carte service at breakfast and lunch. Presumably this is to take off some of the pressure from the main buffet on deck 11 which was not extended during the Renaissance project. You are shown to a table by a host, and then asked whether you would like to order from the menu or to use the buffet. Drinks service is via the waiter. The buffet options are generally the same as those on deck 11 with the exception of burgers / pizza which is not available, so for cruisers who enjoy buffets I’d recommend using this option as it avoids any hassle trying to find a table. This concept does have some drawbacks though. The a la carte menu selections seem to be much smaller with often only one option per course. This is somewhat surprising, however soups, salads etc are available from the buffet section, as well as a daily carvery selection with fresh vegetables. We found that the lunch service could be very slow and actually quite chaotic, and in our ten days only went for lunch three times, one of which was Chirstmas Day. Don’t get me wrong we didn’t go hungry (is it possible to?) but compared to the MSC ships we have sailed on we found this worse. On our third and final trip to the restaurant we were sat for ten minutes before a waiter asked if he could help us. We hadn’t even had a menu at that point! That being said, the Christmas Day lunch service, where the buffet in the MDR had been removed and it was pure table service went much better. We were seated with a couple from the UK and a lady and her friend from Hungary, who by chance we had met on our previous Christmas cruise on the MSC Fantasia! It’s a small world hey! For our evening meals we were allocated table 504 in what would have been the corner of Il Galeone restaurant prior to the stretch. Our table for 6 on the first sitting at 6:30pm consisted of ourselves, two gentlemen from the East of England and a couple from Brisbane, Australia. We’ve not shared a dining table for two years and were somewhat apprehensive that we might not all get on. All I can say is we hit it off like a house on fire and have made good friends! Thank you to our four companions for all of the laughs over the cruise. Dinner service took around two and a quarter hours each night so it was a massive relief that we all got on so well! Our waiter Maharta was very friendly and knew his job, however we wonder if he perhaps had too many tables to look after and this is what caused service to be slower than you would expect. His assistant, Jonathan was also scarce meaning that drinks service in the restaurant could be slow. Maharta was fantastic in asking each night what wine we would prefer the next evening so as to have it ready for us and try and speed things up a little. The food at dinner over the week was of a very good standard. Portions as ever could be a little on the small side but well presented. We’d highly recommend anyone with an appetite orders two appetizers, or an appetizer and salad as well as their main course, or extra vegetables. The food highlights of the cruise for me have got to be Ramon Freixa’s Duck Royale which we first discovered on our honeymoon, the pan-seared duck breast with currant and chilli sauce, the veal shank on Med night and the Indian butter chicken on Christmas night was the perfect antidote to all of the rich food! In addition to the main dining room and buffet, the Lirica class ships also serve food in the pub located on deck 5 forward. Shelagh’s House is an ‘Irish Pub’ with a range of beers including Guinness and Murphy’s. The food on offer includes club sandwiches and a roast beef platter. This makes a great lunch option if you’re too late back from an excursion or sight seeing, or if you just fancy a light bite. Service I’m not sure if ‘service’ is the right heading to use but I just wanted to touch on how we found the onboard experience. We know we have been spoilt with cruises in the Yacht Club, and we knew that the experience would be somewhat different with fewer crew to assist more passengers in bars etc. In all honesty, the service and customer experience from that perspective was absolutely fine. I’ve read numerous reports of cruisers who say they wouldn’t go with MSC unless they could go in the Yacht Club. There was absolutely nothing wrong in terms of wait times or attentiveness. During the cruise we were really lucky to meet with Juli who we had met on another cruise on MSC Fantasia, as well as Vickee, Ketut and others from MSC Magnifica and also Melissa who was on her first contract. As many of you will know, MSC announced a change to the drinks packages last year, and now these are in play with the simultaneous running of the old drinks packages it has caused confusion, and this is completely understandable. We’ve now completed twenty cruises and therefore know what we are entitled to based on our drinks package code. Unfortunately this period of confusion lead to a number of occasions where the bar man advised the waiting staff the drinks we had ordered were not on our package, when we knew full well they were. Entertainment The shows on the Sinfonia were very good, with some excellent performances. One advantage to fixed dining and a smaller ship with more limited facilities is that you find yourself going to more of the shows than on the big ships with lots to see and do. Highlights have to be ‘Paris after Dark’ a dance show based on the city of love – amazing tango and popular routines, and of course a Can-Can dance. The opera gala was also excellent, with a live pianist and violinist to accompany the singers and their renditions of favourite opera songs such as Nessundorma and O Mio Bambino. The staff show is also not to be missed as regular crew members take over the entertainment with dancing, singing and music. The main party bar, The Manhattan Bar, is the place where you would find the Animation team causing havoc with a multitude of party games in between music from a live band playing dance music and typical pop party hits. We also really enjoyed pre and post-dinner cocktails in the Buddah Bar, which is the ship's mixology bar offering a range of standard and crafted cocktails. As it could be cold during the day, the activities that would usually take place around the pool such as dance classes and stretching were also held in this bar. Overall Opinion The cruise was a solid 4 stars out of 5. The issues that we experienced did take off some of the shine, but the overall friendliness of the crew, the fun we had in the evenings made up for those shortcomings. There’s no escaping the fact the ship is smaller and therefore activities and options are limited, but you can only be in one place at one time. We have another cruise booked on the MSC Opera, which is in the same class. We’ll have then completed a cruise on each of these ships, and we both feel that after that we wouldn’t book another Lirica class unless the price and itinerary were very attractive. Read Less
MSC Sinfonia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 3.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.7
Enrichment 1.0 3.7
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 3.6

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