We have just returned from our first cruise with MSC on the Fantasia and although we enjoyed our 11 day excursion, it just didn't come up to the standards we had experienced on Carnival Cruise Ships.
Ticketing and Flight connections from Gatwick to Nice with BA were very good although it wasn't possible to check in on line and seats were available on first come first served basis. The connection transfer to Genoa was excellent with well organised and efficient staff on hand at the airport. Disembarkation, return transfers/flights equally as good.
Arrival at the port however was somewhat hectic as we joined other passengers in departures to go through the usual embarkation routines. Didn't feel things were as well organised as they could have been due to lack of communication/directives from greeting staff. Once on board welcome drinks and buffet lunch was provided.
Although a beautiful ship with excellent cabin facilities, we were disappointed with the standard of food in the main formal dining room at night. Portions were small and the presentation poor. The overall menu was no different to that available in the self service buffet restaurant. There was an opportunity to go Mexican in a speciality restaurant or to up grade to a steak but both at an additional and expensive charge.
There was a lack of finesse generally and we felt that those little extras we have experienced on other cruise ships was missing.
We were very disappointed with the poor English communication throughout the cruise. The level of spoken English on board was poor from Guest Services/Deck Officers and "management" generally. The waiters, cabin boy and bar staff were far more fluent.
Evening shows we went to were very good and Children's clubs seemed well attended and popular.
We had decided to pre-book our excursions on line and although we got most of our initial preferences, we were advised that some were already fully booked some 3 weeks before the cruise. We choose alternatives only to find that our original excursion choices were still available once we were on board. However, once we had finalised our itinery everything went well without a hitch, buses always of a high quality. The English speaking guides were excellent and tours we choose full of the cultural information we had hoped for. We would not recommend much of this cruise's excursion itinery for disabled people due to the terrain encountered and not really suitable for children due to the cultural nature. Many of those children (under 12's) on our trips appeared bored and disinterested and indeed were often annoying.
When at sea, we took advantage of the Spa facilities and signed up for a package of massage and spa treatments. Facilities and staff were excellent!
Overall we enjoyed our first cruise around the Med and on reflection found it value for money. We still feel that MSC didn't quite come up to our expectations on this occasion but maybe we have been somewhat spoilt on previous ventures around the Caribbean with Carnival.
Beautiful and well presented balcony room (even though we overlooked the lifeboats) - well proportioned and with adequate storage cupboards. Mini bar available but expensive. Bathroom just about big enough but ample hot water and regular towel exchanges. Cabin boy very obliging and discreet at all times.
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