When we booked this stay (30 June-4 July 2016) on the MS Michelangelo for the six of us (two seniors, two middle-agers and two teenagers), it was after a lot of research on Venice hotels and convenience. We wanted to be near the water, ... Read More
When we booked this stay (30 June-4 July 2016) on the MS Michelangelo for the six of us (two seniors, two middle-agers and two teenagers), it was after a lot of research on Venice hotels and convenience. We wanted to be near the water, close to St. Mark's Square and have convenient transfers to-from the airport. We knew the Michelangelo clientele would be predominantly European and that English would be a second-language rather than primary for shipboard activities. Also, the cuisine would be focused toward European versus American tastes. For us, these were plus factors.
Embarkation-Debarkation. Coming from the airport our transfer driver was able to drive directly to the Michelangelo which was docked for embarkation-debarkation at a side quay (San Basilio) next to the main cruise terminal. We arrived at 11AM and dropped off our luggage. We then went on a walking tour along the main canal, stopping for lunch along the way at a sidewalk bistro. About 3PM we were back at the ship and got a quick nap before the ship left the San Basilio quay for the 30-minute trip to the primary docking site near the Arsenale vaporetto station. The ship remained here (except for a three-hour lagoon cruise) until the fourth-day trip to Chioggia. From Chioggia the ship sailed directly back to the San Basilio quay for final night and passenger debarkation the next morning. We skipped the scheduled excursion to Padua, opting instead for the tranquility of the Chioggia-to-Venice cruise.
The Cabin - Small, to say the least. It was functional and spotlessly clean, which were the most important things to us. Time spent in the cabin was minimal at best, as Venice sightseeing filled most hours of the day. The cabin is 220VAC, so bringing a plug-in converter for 110VAC devices is a must. The beds were much more comfortable than I expected.
Shipboard Activities - Very few entertainment activities, but none really needed. The draw is Venice, not shipboard entertainment, and the docking location made having access to Venice sights very convenient. Venice at night is beautiful and deserves some time to experience it. There were crew performances and a fabulous local entertainer (singer/clarinetist) for evening onboard entertainment.
The Shipboard Food. Breakfast was a European-focused buffet, and Americans expecting piles of crispy bacon, American-style scrambled eggs and such are in for a culinary shock; as European breakfasts involve different items (cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, etc.) preferred by Europeans. The breakfast baked goods were superb, and my grand-daughters devoured the croissants and rolls. Lunch and dinner were set-menu three course affairs, and even if a person only ate two of the three courses (tastes and expectations vary), the food was good and plentiful. We can't complain about the shipboard food at all, but we also had a couple meals at Venetian restaurants for the sheer fun of it.
Crew. The crew:passenger ratio is roughly 5:1. About half of the crew were fluent in English, with most having some basic English skills. The captain, purser and cruise director were personal, very accommodating and helpful, more so than I have experienced on the "big boat" cruises. The waitresses and bartenders were wonderful, always smiling (real smiles, not the phony industrial type!) and kind. They all seemed to really care about what they do and to do it well.
Special note. Our group included two teenagers who were under the legal "alcohol" age. At both "captain's events" there were specially-made alcohol-free drinks already prepared and served to them (and a couple other youngsters onboard) which looked exactly like what the adults received, so when drinks were served the youngsters were not left standing there empty-handed. This attention-to-detail to insure all passengers regardless of age were fully considered and included is something I have not seen at "captain's events" on "big boat" cruses, and it was very appreciated. High marks to CroisiEurope for having this insight.
Summary. Hindsight being 20:20, we would still have made the same choice. For folk who are relatively self-sufficient tourists the Michelangelo has all that's needed. For those non-Europeans who demand things (especially the food) be "exactly like back home" while supposedly experiencing Europe, they won't be happy. We (six Americans) came to Venice and the MS Michelangelo for a European-immersion vacation, and the CroisiEurope staff fulfilled every expectation.
The Michelangelo is indeed a floating hotel which occasionally cruises the area. Despite the limited cruising, having the convenience of shipboard meals when we didn't want to dine "ashore" made things easier. The reception/concierge service was exceptionally efficient the couple of times we needed it, and the ship's primary docking location couldn't have been much better located. CroisiEurope has made us very satisfied, and probably repeat, customers. Read Less