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We just got back this evening, and I wanted to be so much more positive. We're Americans living in the UK, and we've cruised once, in the Caribbean, with RC, and maybe we were just spoiled, but... The layout of the ship isn't too bad, although the closing (and locking) of certain restaurants for most of the day means you'll have to go up and over quite a few sections of the ship if you go from back to front. And the cabins fill decks in between the top decks and lower decks (with most of the restaurants and bars and shops, etc) so you'll find yourself taking the (usually quite crowded, and our cruise was not that full) elevators to cover the gaps from decks 13-16 to decks 5-7. 8-12 are all cabins, which were quite nice. Balconies on most of them (including ours) and there were small but laid out quite nice. The TV was worthless, but we didn't come on a cruise to watch TV anyway. It would have been nice if the frequently changing TIME shown on the TV was correct for the ship. It was never even close. The food is my biggest complaint. For starters, I got food poisoning on day 2. I had nothing on shore, so I know it was from ship food. Fairly certain it was roast beef on the deck 13 buffet. But, hey, nobody's perfect, but it did not make for a good start. On top of that, then menu - What is labeled on the buffet, or what your options are in your designated "fine dining" restaurant. We had about a 1/3 chance of getting what we ordered, getting something that was on the menu or just getting...something. My son ordered from the kids menu (in the "fancy" dining restaurant) a ham and cheese sandwich. It's on the menu. "Hot ham and cheese." They first brought him an appetizer plate of cold cuts and then brought him 3 cheese pizzas. In the buffet, what's labeled is NEVER what you're getting. Fish sticks? Nope, rice croquettes - shaped like fish sticks. Roast pork - naw, that's a chicken breast. Beef - there's your pork. Also, they must have been rationing ketchup, salt & pepper, and spoons, because good luck finding them. The quality of the food was pretty good, and the variety was ok. The pizza, while lacking the American quantities of cheese, was also consistently good and always available. Very good, thin crust and well done but never burnt. There is tap water always available at the buffet, in little cups, juice only for breakfast, all other drinks are extra. The "fancy" dinner provides ONE 1L bottle of water per party, anything else is extra. Drinks. I like drinking! Should have gotten the all-inclusive drinks package and spent the cruise smashed. Drinks are predictably expensive, and had we known the cabin tap water was potable, would NOT have gotten the bottled water package. All-inclusive is pricey, but would have covered cola for the kids, fruity drinks for my wife and beer and cocktails, even milkshakes and ice cream. Wine for fancy dinners, too. As it was, I stuck to the "14 beer coupons" package (I got a second one later) and drank only beer (and 2 ciders) from a limited selection. If you drink, get the all-inclusive package, even with kids (you have to get one for every person in your party) it's worth it. If you don't drink, you'll pay individually and the rest is tap water all week. Activities and entertainment. I need to draw a line between what was simply BAD and what was BAD FOR US. Bad for us is the song-and-dance show in the theater every night. It was good, but the same thing each night, just with different costumes and sets. With 5 languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, mostly, English/Italian were usually first) it's hard to cater to all that AND maintain variety. But the activities... Ugh. They had an "arts and crafts" that we wanted to check out on our day at sea (no port stops) and they were using markers to color T-shirts. Ok, not super crafty, but it has a simple and broad appeal. My 8 year old son couldn't do it because it was "for adults." Coloring. For adults only. Not welding or woodshop or even using scissors. COLORING. I also went to a "music quiz." I like trivia. It was "Michael Jackson or Queen." No other bands. I chock that one up to the five languages. Most of the activities that were available (but did not interest us) were dance lessons, or a few early morning exercise pool games. And most activities were distinctly Italian-language first. Also, I know this is typical in most of Europe, but many activities or events start quite late, as in the ship really comes alive at about 11:30 pm. This isn't a bad thing, just be aware of it. Oh, our kids (6 and 8) were in the "Kids Club." Great idea, childcare for excursions and dinnertime and other things. The kids generally had a good time, but the HOURS. They would open and close at seemingly random times. We'd always know when to get the kids, but sometimes we'd drop them off only to have to get them 45 minutes later, to open back up an hour after that. It was bizarre and not as useful as it could have been, and you need to make sure they know if you're going on an early excursion without the kids, because most excursions leave at 7:30 and the kids club doesn't open until 9, although IF you book an excursion WITH THE SHIP, you can drop them off if you show the Kid's Club folks your excursion ticket. Non-cruise line activities and you're on your own, or taking the kids. Getting on and off the boat wasn't bad. Be aware you need to settle your balance with ALL cards on your account, they can bill your room in a linked fashion, but cannot accept payment the same. Other than that, it was simple and painless. As I said, the cabin and facilities themselves were all quite nice, although the layout was a bit odd of the ship as a whole. I "blame" the tradeoff on so many external cabins with balconies. The shore excursions weren't bad, but overpriced. And do not buy things where the excursions take you, go off on your own. I would book the activities outside of the cruise line. Getting BACK on the boat will often take nearly forever, they need more security checkpoints (or less actual security requirements) so head back to the port early. Also, we lost our Croatia stop because of bad weather the night before, but I can't blame them for that. All in all, be prepared for lackluster food choices, and don't trust what you read to be what you end up eating. Just bite the drinking bullet and go all out. Childcare is effective, but unpredictable, although they were VERY good with the kids. Activities - bring your own entertainment or learn Italian. I don't think we'll be cruising with MSC again.

Felt Like They Just Gave Up

MSC Magnifica Cruise Review by captainregular

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We just got back this evening, and I wanted to be so much more positive. We're Americans living in the UK, and we've cruised once, in the Caribbean, with RC, and maybe we were just spoiled, but...

The layout of the ship isn't too bad, although the closing (and locking) of certain restaurants for most of the day means you'll have to go up and over quite a few sections of the ship if you go from back to front. And the cabins fill decks in between the top decks and lower decks (with most of the restaurants and bars and shops, etc) so you'll find yourself taking the (usually quite crowded, and our cruise was not that full) elevators to cover the gaps from decks 13-16 to decks 5-7. 8-12 are all cabins, which were quite nice. Balconies on most of them (including ours) and there were small but laid out quite nice. The TV was worthless, but we didn't come on a cruise to watch TV anyway. It would have been nice if the frequently changing TIME shown on the TV was correct for the ship. It was never even close.

The food is my biggest complaint. For starters, I got food poisoning on day 2. I had nothing on shore, so I know it was from ship food. Fairly certain it was roast beef on the deck 13 buffet. But, hey, nobody's perfect, but it did not make for a good start. On top of that, then menu - What is labeled on the buffet, or what your options are in your designated "fine dining" restaurant. We had about a 1/3 chance of getting what we ordered, getting something that was on the menu or just getting...something. My son ordered from the kids menu (in the "fancy" dining restaurant) a ham and cheese sandwich. It's on the menu. "Hot ham and cheese." They first brought him an appetizer plate of cold cuts and then brought him 3 cheese pizzas. In the buffet, what's labeled is NEVER what you're getting. Fish sticks? Nope, rice croquettes - shaped like fish sticks. Roast pork - naw, that's a chicken breast. Beef - there's your pork. Also, they must have been rationing ketchup, salt & pepper, and spoons, because good luck finding them. The quality of the food was pretty good, and the variety was ok. The pizza, while lacking the American quantities of cheese, was also consistently good and always available. Very good, thin crust and well done but never burnt. There is tap water always available at the buffet, in little cups, juice only for breakfast, all other drinks are extra. The "fancy" dinner provides ONE 1L bottle of water per party, anything else is extra.

Drinks. I like drinking! Should have gotten the all-inclusive drinks package and spent the cruise smashed. Drinks are predictably expensive, and had we known the cabin tap water was potable, would NOT have gotten the bottled water package. All-inclusive is pricey, but would have covered cola for the kids, fruity drinks for my wife and beer and cocktails, even milkshakes and ice cream. Wine for fancy dinners, too. As it was, I stuck to the "14 beer coupons" package (I got a second one later) and drank only beer (and 2 ciders) from a limited selection. If you drink, get the all-inclusive package, even with kids (you have to get one for every person in your party) it's worth it. If you don't drink, you'll pay individually and the rest is tap water all week.

Activities and entertainment. I need to draw a line between what was simply BAD and what was BAD FOR US. Bad for us is the song-and-dance show in the theater every night. It was good, but the same thing each night, just with different costumes and sets. With 5 languages (Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, mostly, English/Italian were usually first) it's hard to cater to all that AND maintain variety. But the activities... Ugh. They had an "arts and crafts" that we wanted to check out on our day at sea (no port stops) and they were using markers to color T-shirts. Ok, not super crafty, but it has a simple and broad appeal. My 8 year old son couldn't do it because it was "for adults." Coloring. For adults only. Not welding or woodshop or even using scissors. COLORING. I also went to a "music quiz." I like trivia. It was "Michael Jackson or Queen." No other bands. I chock that one up to the five languages. Most of the activities that were available (but did not interest us) were dance lessons, or a few early morning exercise pool games. And most activities were distinctly Italian-language first.

Also, I know this is typical in most of Europe, but many activities or events start quite late, as in the ship really comes alive at about 11:30 pm. This isn't a bad thing, just be aware of it. Oh, our kids (6 and 8) were in the "Kids Club." Great idea, childcare for excursions and dinnertime and other things. The kids generally had a good time, but the HOURS. They would open and close at seemingly random times. We'd always know when to get the kids, but sometimes we'd drop them off only to have to get them 45 minutes later, to open back up an hour after that. It was bizarre and not as useful as it could have been, and you need to make sure they know if you're going on an early excursion without the kids, because most excursions leave at 7:30 and the kids club doesn't open until 9, although IF you book an excursion WITH THE SHIP, you can drop them off if you show the Kid's Club folks your excursion ticket. Non-cruise line activities and you're on your own, or taking the kids.

Getting on and off the boat wasn't bad. Be aware you need to settle your balance with ALL cards on your account, they can bill your room in a linked fashion, but cannot accept payment the same. Other than that, it was simple and painless. As I said, the cabin and facilities themselves were all quite nice, although the layout was a bit odd of the ship as a whole. I "blame" the tradeoff on so many external cabins with balconies. The shore excursions weren't bad, but overpriced. And do not buy things where the excursions take you, go off on your own. I would book the activities outside of the cruise line. Getting BACK on the boat will often take nearly forever, they need more security checkpoints (or less actual security requirements) so head back to the port early. Also, we lost our Croatia stop because of bad weather the night before, but I can't blame them for that.

All in all, be prepared for lackluster food choices, and don't trust what you read to be what you end up eating. Just bite the drinking bullet and go all out. Childcare is effective, but unpredictable, although they were VERY good with the kids. Activities - bring your own entertainment or learn Italian. I don't think we'll be cruising with MSC again.
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