My wife, teenaged daughter, and I just returned from a seven-day cruise aboard the MSC Musica. We departed Copenhagen, with ports of call in Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, and Kiel. This was our third sailing with MSC, having been aboard the Divina and the Musica’s twin -- the Opera -- previously. As with all of our previous MSC sailings, we went in with eyes wide open in terms of expectations, particularly for this sailing, which was our second Europe-based MSC cruise, which are inherently different than those geared toward the North American market. All that said, the MSC product was relatively poor for this sailing and has made me hesitant to sail them again; at least until a newer ship launches.
As noted, we boarded in Copenhagen, and were only among a handful of people (easily fewer than 30) who joined the sailing in Denmark. The vast majority (more than 2,000 people) had boarded the previous day, in Kiel. MSC must make a very limited number of berths available at “out ports,” as soon after we booked, no cabins were shown as available out of Copenhagen in any class. Copenhagen is a MUCH easier port for travelers from North America, so I’m surprised they would limit themselves with such a small allotment of cabins. We sailed out of Kiel two years ago – aboard the Opera – and the process of getting to and from Kiel from our flight (coincidentally out of Copenhagen) was a hassle I will not repeat. If MSC is serious about trying to attract more North Americans to their European sailings, they will need to focus on larger ports.
As with all of our prior MSC cruises, documentation before the sailing was poor, at best. We repeatedly requested information on the boarding process and times in Copenhagen and never did receive a specific answer (more on that later). Unlike prior sailings, we booked an airport transfer through MSC, as it looked to be a better price than a taxi (that ended up not being true). When we arrived early on the morning of our cruise, a gentleman with an MSC sign was waiting in the baggage claim area, which was nice. We were his only people for that transfer. He led us through Customs and outside, and then promptly put us into a taxi to the port. He gave the taxi driver a voucher for the ride, and we soon learned that we’d paid a premium for someone to walk us to the taxi. We used a taxi for our return to the airport at the conclusion of our cruise, and the price was just over half of what we paid for the MSC transfer for three people.