I read lots of reviews when deciding on booking this and lots worried me so I was very nervous of how much we would enjoy it...so my review below I hope will help answer the initial questions I had, without duplicating all the other ... Read More
I read lots of reviews when deciding on booking this and lots worried me so I was very nervous of how much we would enjoy it...so my review below I hope will help answer the initial questions I had, without duplicating all the other reviews you will read .....im not a complete novice as have done Cunard Queen Victoria cruises before.
Embarkation was excellent...slick, friendly welcoming and efficient....I read lots of reviews about peoples packages not being correct...I didn't hear any guests complain and when we arrived our cruise card was ready at checkin desk, with all trips credited, wifi package code , dining and drinks package all tabled...all worked fine immediately so no arguments on entitlement .
The food was excellent....in the self service restaurant there was always plenty of choice and it was hot. It varied a lot in the choices . We had "my choice dining" in main restaurant which was lovely as we were not bound by a set table time..I would recommend this, as you get complete flexibility depending on your days activities.But if not 6.30 or 9pm sitting seemed to be well organised. Food and service were good...if you wanted more they happily offered another course or an extra sweet etc.Breakfast service was good with excellent choices and fruit you could take with you for snacks...there are also areas like an Italian patio area that did wonderfull cake selections in the afternoon..all included.
Drinks packages are confusing to understand but staff on first day were helpful in explaining (although they will try and upgrade you..more about this on why I only gave 4 stars further down)...we had the basic package and we had plenty of draft beer, choice of red, white, rose and prossecco, unlimited speciality tea and coffees and even some of the basic milk shakes etc were included ,so for us who had a few pre dinner drinks, wine with dinner most evenings and also had several coffees as well as a beer or two by the pool etc during the day it was well worth it...it also included bottled water...this is a must if you go when its hot or on trips etc as water isn't cheap outside of packages or locally and given if you book before you go you get upto 20% off and don't pay any service charge....we felt it was good value....and you had peace of mind no big bill to challenge at the end.
Guest services always had huge queues....ive seen it on all cruises so I especially liked MSC has installed some mini account registration stations...like an iPad where you can register you cruise card, set a limit for any charges on your credit card, link people in your party etc etc...this saved loads of time not queuing after checkin and also made check out easy too.
Dress code varies....so simply its seems what you like goes...there are gala dinners so dress up and party away...but if you want to wear smart Casual to dinner that too was acceptable...most ladies wore a cocktail dress and men smart casual and a suit on gala night...this pleased my hubby as he didn't want to wear a shirt and tie every night like on Cunard.
Staff I found spoke multiple languages and were always very happy to help ..guests varied from German, American, Italian ,French and English so I found a real cultural mix which I loved...yes announcements on the Tannoy can seem a little long as they do them in several languages but I didn't find it annoying at all....as it only happens once or twice a day.
Theatre evening shows are mainly dance routines so that the language barrier doesn't impact enjoyment...its only 30-40 mins and after dinner, with a nice cocktail its a lovley way to unwind...all included.
If you prefer to party there are lots of things every night in Jazz Bar, AFT bar etc to suit all tastes from Abba and 70s nights, Jazz to classical singing.
Excursions are a personnel choice but we loved the variety..from coach tours sight seeing to mountain bike excursions.....booking via MSC does have advantages as if there are delays due to weather..or in our case a medical emergency meant the ship had to turn around overnight for someone, so that meant we were a few hours late for the next destination...excursions are reorganised and times amended ..if you have booked yourself independently then you will need to reorganise or possibly loose some time...but id say some are over priced so make sure you read the fine detail of what the trips includes...for example we thought we were having afternoon tea in the Ethiad tower.....it turned out to be a 30 min viewing platform with a small slice of cake and small china cup of tea....so expensive for what it was!
All the destinations on our trip had "hop on hop of buses" right at the port entrance/docking point easily booked direct and seemed good value, so if your on a budget or want to have more freedom then this is a great way to explore the cities.
So overall we loved it and are planning next years trip on the same ship as there was so much to do ,it was very clean as well as noise levels good in the rooms etc...so why 4 stars and not 5......I thought having spent quite a lot on a balcony package, with drinks, spa and excursions etc MSC should not be hard selling...when you arrive to check in you almost have to fend off the mass of sales teams , pitching from the excursion desk, spa treatment, drinks packages etc ....when you are tired after a 10 -12 hour journey then this I felt was unnecessary...then on board for the first 2 days sitting in a bar for instance you were constantly asked if you wanted to upgrade your drinks package or try and sell you a meal deal for the more expensive Butchers cut restaurant...but the final straw for me was the SPA girls....constantly asking if I wanted a massage at "very good price" , and asking why didn't I want to buy products all at discounted prices etc..I had a spa package included for unlimited sauna etc so everyday I had to pass this line of ladies trying to sell me stuff.....after day 3 I did speak to the manager to ask them to stop which they did but to me you should not encounter such hard sales....this I have not experienced on Cunard...hence my 4 star not 5. Read Less