We sailed 10/5/16 from Southampton. We were on the MSC Preziosa several years back with extended family and were overall disappointed, so we chose to check out the Yacht Club this time around. Although it wasn't cheap (I think it doubled the price for 2 of us), I must say that it was an enjoyable experience and I would consider repeating. Most of this review is focused around the Yacht Club experience.
Easy, stress-free embarkation, led by a butler to our room even though we arrived 11am. A small 30 minute immigration delay and then we were on board.
Cabin-15019, nice layout, spacious (But not really to a suite standard for size on some other mainstream lines), good storage and nice but small bathroom with tub. There was a refrigerator that was restocked daily with water, snacks, alcohol, all complimentary. Ice buckets refilled, fresh fruit, newspaper daily, and slippers/robes in the room. Also of course, the butler, who seemed to have a 6th sense on our whereabouts. We would leave the room for just a minute and magically he would appear to clean, each morning. We had wished there was a quick evening clean up included, as often times our room service trays were still on our table as we arrived back to our cabin each evening.
There was also complimentary room service which was quick and tasty, but very limited in selection. We missed ordering full in suite breakfasts like we did in a standard cabin on our last Celebrity cruise. However, we really enjoyed ordering beer/wine from room service as we got ready for dinner each evening.
The pool bar area had a wonderful breakfast each morning. We really enjoyed going out for a relaxing, quiet breakfast each morning. Compared to the chaotic buffet, this was a completely different experience. There's a small buffet with some eggs, bacon, and potatoes as well as some pastries and fresh cut fruit. On request, each day I was given toast as well. Service here was quick and efficient. It was never busy. On a port day in La Coruna, my husband and I wanted to just stay behind and relax and we were the only 2 people on this entire deck for about 2 hours which was amazing. There is also a small pool and 2 hot tubs here, and they did get quite busy on the days where the sun decided to make an appearance.
The Top Sail lounge was a great place to grab a drink or a quick snack. Probably our greatest disappointment is that this indoor lounge allowed smoking. At times, it got overwhelming and we had to leave. This should not be allowed, it is time for a change here. People can go outside if they really need to smoke, why should the rest of us have to suffer? Anna, who is Ukrainian, was a pleasure to talk with. At times, especially later in the evening, it got very quiet and boring in here, so we would leave to go explore the other lounges on the ship, outside of the yacht club. Unfortunately, drinks were only included in the YC area, so we spent quite a bit of extra money on a drink package that worked throughout the entire ship.
We dined at the YC restaurant only twice, but both times were very good. We had alot of family members on board who did not stay in the YC, so we often joined them for dinner in the main dining room. Food and service were fairly average here. In the beginning, the waiter seemed a bit annoyed by our loud and boisterous group. He soon mellowed out and we got along well. We had a birthday for a 10 year old in our group, and he truly went above and beyond to ensure it was special for her, with singing and a cake.
And for our experiences on the rest of the ship:
We tried the tex mex specialty restaurant once, and it was delicious. It was a little surprising that the chef refused to make a small modification on my entree, but I overlooked it.
The ship itself was absolutely breathtaking! It was spotless at all times.
I think we went to 3 of the shows. 2 were great, and one wasn't so good. I think Dante's Inferno was enjoyed by all. Casino was fun too, but again, there was a real issue with the smoking indoors. The night club was fun we stayed out way too late on most evenings!
I also went to the Spa and had an absolutely amazing massage. I went to the hair salon, and did not have the same experience. I had made a reservation for 2 people and they could only find one of the reservations. It got a bit uncomfortable, but I stood my ground, because I had made the reservations only hours before. The Cuban staff were a bit stand offish, and the styles were average, not great. We left feeling a bit disappointed, rather than excited.
It was chaotic at best trying to get off the ship with so many others for our day in Lisbon. It took about an hour and was very frustrating.
Another disappointment was all the drink charges on our bill, when we were in the Yacht Club and had bought a drinks package for the rest of the ship. The concierge took care of them, since they were all in error. My biggest concern with the Yacht Club Concierge (and the reason I would second guess another sailing on board) was our disembark experience. I reviewed the bill and again found errors. It appeared that the hair salon had billed me for myself and 2 children although it was just me and one child. I assured her there was not another child and she seemed to not believe me. She called the hair salon, who continued to insist that I had brought 2 children, which was ridiculous and untrue. She called the hair salon again stating that I disagreed. They continued to insist that i wait while they locate the signed receipts for the visit. I wasted about 20 minutes more, until finally they called up and said they made a mistake. The concierge apologized, but it was too late, a very bad taste was left in my mouth. All this over 30 Euros. By this time, it was late in the disembark process, and the butler led us off the ship into another extremely chaotic experience of cutting people in line and getting angry looks and comments from all the people who were patiently waiting. It was actually quite embarrassing. However, it was such a nice touch to find our luggage awaiting us in a small private room away from the crowds of 1000's who were hunting for their luggage.
Overall, this was a fun cruise and a great experience and we very much enjoyed the YC. Is it true, 5 star service? No. Was there value for the money? Yes, and I would most likely do it again. MSC needs to implement small changes that will have a huge impact on the service level. Staff training would lead my list. In addition, add some longer sailings and broaden the port times. I think we had a day in Barcelona from 9-3, which isn't enough time to enjoy a city. You need full days in port, not 4 or 5 hours.
Add all inclusive throughout the entire ship for YC guests.
This port was a ton of fun! We walked into town a bit and found a tuk tuk for rent. What a blast!! Highly recommended! We had a 1.5 hour city tour and then visited the Castle and walked back to the ship.
We loved Gibraltar! We walked into the city center and found a taxi tour that would accommodate our large group in a mini van. We went to the caves and the Ape Den and stopped for pixs with the monkeys. A great experience!
We have been here many times before, but we went to visit La Sagrada Familia and it was very enjoyable. Be sure to pre book your tickets, they sell out.
The ship docked far away from the main port here, so pay close attention. We Walked and it felt like miles.