So there you have it in a nutshell. We loved our cruise overall but ended up practically bronchial from the vast cloud of cigarette smoke that plumed out of the casino and into much of the surrounding areas.
Perhaps you are considering sailing with MSC and would like more information than that one tagline.
Would we sail with MSC again? Absolutely.
This was a fine place. I was surprised that we were not upgraded considering that our "guaranteed cabin" cruise was booked a full year in advance and we paid full fare, when I noticed some really impressive sales as the year progressed. We made friends with a couple who had paid much less than we did and were in a much bigger cabin on deck 12. I'd say this was probably due to the Australian MSC booking office's way of doing things. If you do book through the Aust. office be aware that some of the most important information you need to action prior to your cruise is found only in the small print at the base of some, not all, of your documentation. I gave them feedback to this end suggesting they use at least bold text for this in future. So if you see your online booking form information appearing in bold, you can put it down to that :-) Or use a good travel agent. That should circumvent such issues.However, we were perfectly happy with our cabin.
This bus effectively transports you from the ship to the end of the port. If you want to make some headway into Barcelona I'd recommend choosing the blue bus that goes up to the top of Las Ramblas and much closer to the incredibly spectacular La Sagrada Familiar. This is well worth visiting. (Understatement!) If you want to go inside you'll need to organise tickets ahead of time as the queues are long and if you've just trekked all the way from the port, as we did, you won't have time to stand in the queue for hours and then make it back to the ship in time.
We took the wiki-train tour around Palermo because every review I read said that we'd be pickpocketed before we knew it if we struck out bravely on our own.So here's the thing. Put your valuables in a safe place. How you determine this is up to you, but don't carry a designer handbag over your shoulder with a wallet poking out one side and a camera sticking out the other ... get it?The wiki-train tour was good and I'm glad we did it but I didn't understand a word the tour guide said when she was speaking in English. I did pick up a few words in French so if you're French you'll be better off.After the wiki train we headed into the pedestrian mall area on foot and enjoyed coffee and sweets at a lovely cafe. We didn't get killed even once!Now I know the reputation for this place is pretty bad but from what I can tell the whole world is a dangerous place once you leave the shores of Australia. I'd never come across so many warning signs and loudspeaker warnings prior to this trip ... but I digress. Sicily is really, really beautiful. There are nice people in Palermo. We met some of them. As to the rest, put your money and phone in a safe place.
We loved Genoa! It was pouring with rain and we loved it! Not the rain, Genoa. The cafes, the square, the medieval architecture, the lovely Genoans. So you walk off the ship and into town. That's it. Easy.There are two places we really want to re-visit. Marseille and Genoa. Via a road trip visiting all the towns, cities and villages between them. Then off to Rome for a good look around before flying home.So as tours go... leg it.Oh and the umbrellas are much cheaper in Genoa than in Rome lol.
Marseille was our starting and ending port.We took a taxi from our hotel, the excellent Grand Hotel Beauvau, to the port. Do this as the port is a lot bigger than you think it's going to be and the large ships are way down the end.If you are here on a day trip use the shuttle bus to get into town and then wander around the beautiful Vieux Port or ... and here's an insider tip. Take a taxi up to Notre Dame de la Gard and then walk down to the port before returning to the ship.Marseille is lovely. I was full of trepidation when I read all the stuff about Marseille. We loved it and would happily revisit.One thing though. We did take the TGV from Paris, and on advice from someone on the Marseille forum we walked from the station to the Grand Hotel Beauvau at the Vieux Port. Don't do this. Unless you are NOT wearing a very heavy European winter coat and dragging heavy suitcases.