This was our first cruise with MSC. The seven day cruise was part of a two week European tour package. Before we left on our trip, I read the reviews for the Magnifica and MSC and was not impressed. At that time, if I was shopping for a cruise company – it would not have been MSC because of the bad reviews. Being that this cruise was part of our package, we did not have a choice; but I must say that my husband and I were pleasantly surprised. I don't understand the bad reviews. Yes, there can be some improvements in décor, service and entertainment, but overall - we enjoyed our cruise.
Embarkation and Debarkation: MSC was very organized and I felt that even though we waited in long lines, the process went smoothly. Once aboard, you will need to link your onboard payment method to your cruise card. They have kiosks near the customer service desks that you can use to link credit cards and debit cards. I would recommend using these kiosks because the process was fast and easy and avoided the long lines of people using the customer service desks.
Drink packages: While waiting in line to embark, employees of MSC will approach you selling their drink packages. Buy the package. Before you leave for your trip, do your research and choose the package that best suits you and your family. Ours was prepaid and was the Allegrissimo package. There was a huge selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from – just not top shelf brands. We felt we definitely got our money worth when you take into account the daily drinks consumed including the wine at dinner, alcoholic beverages as well as coffee and bottled water used. The bottled water, in your room as well as the minibar, are not included in your drink package, so if you use them you will pay extra. We were not confined to drink our drinks in the bar where purchased, but enjoyed walking around the ship with them and taking them to our cabin. We also made sure to get bottled water before leaving the ship for excursions. It seemed that the service in the afternoons was slow in getting a drink. It was our experience that you didn't order from the bar tender directly but from the wait staff, so there could be a short to long wait for the drink.
Cabin: We had a balcony stateroom which was a good size in our opinion. I did like that you had the use of a 110 volt socket as well as the European 220 volt. There were more than enough clothes hangers, closet space and drawers for our clothes. Our cabin maid was very friendly and cleaned our room at least twice if not three times daily. You will receive a daily program in your room which will provide information from the weather, your port of call, daily entertainment and the dinner theme.
Safety Drill on day one: Everyone is expected to attend the safety drill bringing your life jacket with you. There is a short video you can watch in your room that is very informative. Watch this video because you will not get much information at the in-person drill. MSC needs improvement on their group drill.
Food/Dining Room: We thought our food was good whether we ate in the dining room or buffet. I read horrible reviews about the food, but we had no complaints. Everyone at our table loved our waiter. He was friendly and had our wine and beer on table ready to go as soon as we sat down. I would suggest to MSC to include the dinner themes on their website so that passengers could pack clothes accordingly. I knew of some of the themes because of reviews I read, but did not realize that we would have two formal nights. I read in a review that the dining room did not allow blue jeans, but many people wore jeans in the evenings, even on the formal nights.
Our only complaint was breakfast in the dining room. It was time consuming and some of the wait staff were not that pleasant and slow to serve. We are used to being served a drink then your food all at one time. In the dining room, you were served bread and your drink. If you ordered eggs and pancakes, they were served separately and given only once you were through eating one or the other. The buffet breakfast had an excellent assortment of food to choose from with the exception of "hot meats". It was either bacon or little sausage links.
Entertainment: We did not attend any of the onboard daily entertainment venues but did enjoy the nightly entertainment/music/dancing in the lounge areas. It was my understanding that you would need to purchase an entertainment package to use the bowling lanes and ping pong table, etc. Check your daily program for daily activites. My husband and I were disappointed in the nightly theater productions - improvement is needed with their acts. This would be my one major complaint of what was expected and not provided.
Excursions: We booked an excursion for Bari, Italy directly through MSC, but it was cancelled the night before due to lack of participation. We then walked into Bari and explored the medieval streets on our own. We did use the bus provided by MSC to transport us from the cruise line to the city in Mykonos and Dubrovnik, but toured the cities on our own. A person could walk the distance from the port into Mykonos, but it is a rather long walk. In Dubrovnik you will need to use the bus or grab a taxi from the port to the historic area. In Katakolon and Piraeus, we booked private tour guides in advance of the cruise using TripAdvisor.
We would use MSC again for future cruises.
We felt the cabin was spacious enough for the amount of time we spent in the room. Loved the balcony! It was nice to stand outside and watch as we came into port and to sit on the balcony at night with a drink. A 110 volt and 220 volt socket was handy to have - we didn't have to use our European converters. Our wonderful maid kept our cabin and bath clean and tidy and kept the bath gel and shampoo containers filled. There was a spacious closet which included clothes hangers and drawer for all our clothes. Luggage can be stored in the closet or under the bed giving more space to your room.
We were only in Venice for half a day. In that time, we were able to do a self-guided walking tour of the area around St. Marks Square and a gondola ride. Our group of 40 took a taxi boat from where our tour bus was parked to the Square and was able to see a lot of the beautiful buildings and bridges along the way.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We walked from the Magnifica into Bari and explored the medieval streets on our own. As in any port, there are taxi's awaiting to take you on city tours. When you first walk into the city, there is a small green site-seeing train that will take you around the historic city for a minimal price.
We hired an individual to take a group of 8 on a tour which included Olympia, a wine estate and the Kremasti Monastery. Our tour guide was wonderful and very knowledgeable. - His name is Andreas Stamos and can be found using TripAdvisor. Be prepared in this port to see two years of garbage piled on the sides of the road.
This port was cancelled and replaced with Mykonos, Greece. We used the MSC bus to transport us into Mykonos - the walk into town was just a little too long for us. This was a beautiful city of white buildings with colorful doors and shutters. The people were so friendly and there are lots of little shops where you can find the cheapest souvenir to expensive designer clothes. We did our own self-guided walk around the town. Some of the sites not to miss are the 16th century windmills, the Archeological and the Folklore Museums. We had a lovely lunch in a restaurant in Little Venice overlooking the windmills and the sea. You also will need to explore the city and search for the 500+ year old bakery - Gioras Wood Medieval Mykonian Bakery. Hopefully, you will also see Petros the Pellican.
Istanbul was cancelled and Athens, Greece was added. We used a private guide that took us to many of the sites such as the Acropolis, Syntagma Square for changing of the guards, the Ancient Agora, and the Panathenaic Stadium. After touring the city, we went to the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio.
Dubrovnik had to be the most beautiful port call on our cruise. We used the MSC bus to transport us to the ancient city. We did a self-guided walk through the historic city and walked the wall. There are a lot of steps and a lot of walking - wear good shoes. We had lunch at an outdoor café called Penatur. Excellent meal and service. If we would have had more time in port, I would have taken the Game of Thrones Tour.