This cruise was a great deal for a family with two teenagers, and we got two very nice balcony staterooms for a great price for the holiday season.
CONS: The ship had a very diverse crowd, which was quite interesting and nice, but keep in mind many cultures have different ideas of what is polite. As a very diverse crowd promises many languages, there were no comedy shows, because they would have to tell the jokes in 6 languages XD there were a few things to do on sea days like one arts and crafts table for an hour and a half in one of the restaurants, but most passengers swarmed the pool. The ship's layout in my opinion has way too many passenger decks, and not enough places and activities to facilitate this number of people. (over 4,000 people) On embarkation day, the process was decently quick and nothing too complex. When we boarded, like most passengers, we went to the buffet. This was the equivalent of the hunger games. At first, we assumed maybe the buffet was hectic because it was embarkation day, like most ships, but it did stay busy during mealtimes. This is understandable, but the ship description does include the statement "20 hour buffet" but if you go to eat during off hours (late morning, afternoon, before and after dinner times) you will only find pizza and a salad bar with maybe some fries and one type of pasta. The ship did also charge for almost anything they could. With the lack of sea day entertainment, the cruise line did offer some fun things, like a ship tour of the bridge, kitchen, etc. but it was fifty dollars!! Insanity!! We did find ourselves bored on sea days. because we aren't the kind of people that enjoy sitting around and eating for hours-on-end, but the casino sold void decks of cards and I enjoyed drawing on the balcony. The few activities that appealed to me were: Bingo (40 dollars, the machine broke and we all got a refund so at least we didn't lose money) T-Shirt coloring (I really enjoyed this, but I was sad to see people hogging some shirts for other people and the little girls who came with their parents and did not get to make one and cried) And the movies shown on the pool deck.
PROS: Ok so it is rare you find decent food in a dining room, but the food was actually pretty good (portions are small but you can always go find the same pasta in the buffet the next day) The buffet has the best pizza I have ever had on a ship, hands down. The rooms were very nicely decorated, and were very clean upon embarkation. The staff was friendly and happy, but they were not over-the-top enthusiastic, like service I have had on a Norwegian Cruise. The ship itself is very beautiful, the public areas were limited for the massive size of the ship though :/ I can say, that I never had anything horrible or repulsive to eat, merely just bland at the worst case scenario. The entertainment staff who organized activities by the pool or things such as arts and crafts or bingo were very friendly and generally fun people to talk to or be around.
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Ok, so embarkation was standard, nothing too complicated, and from entering the terminal to stepping on a ship was maybe an hour. Disembarkation was really unique, because we chose self carry because it is usually the faster option. We went to our meeting place in the casino for our disembarkation group around 6:45, and then they announced us, and people rushed into a line, when an MSC manager told us we need to go to the end of the line. The whole process was a mess and little-to-no organization. We came to the consensus that we had to jump on the bandwagon of rushing into the back of the line, and we waited on the ship for maybe 45 more minutes. as soon as we got out of the anarchy that was deck 6 and we were on the gangway, it was smooth sailing. There were no people at customs, and we sailed right through to the end of the terminal in mere minutes. over all, the process was quick, but maybe we got lucky, because the cruise line did little to organize the mob in the casino waiting to leave the ship.
This part of the cruise really made me question MSC's integrity. My family has never been to the bahamas, and we thought it would be fun to try it because it seemed to have a lot to do. Since Nassau is depicted and a rough scene, we thought it would be smart to book an excursion through the cruise line, just to be safe. We are the kind of people that like to go to see sights and take pictures on cool things like forts or pretty hikes, not so much wallow in a crowded water park. So naturally, we chose the excursion that was described as a driving tour around the city and a Balmoral Island beach day. The tour was 55 dollars each through the cruise line, so this was an expensive tour. Our tour met in the theater on the ship, where we sat for 40 minutes waiting for our guide to take us off the ship. People were getting agitated because we wasted so much time waiting, but we finally left. The guide took us off the ship as a group to a parking lot adjacent to the cruise port, where we waited for our motor coach. The bus was rather small and nothing special, but no big deal. The "tour" around the city consisted of a description of an old library, a restaurant that sounded like a commercial, and an old fort, that we didn't actually get to go and take pictures of. Our guide dropped us off at a boat next to señor frogs, where we got on the boat to go to the beach. We sat on the boat at the dock while we waited for more busses of passengers dropped off other beachgoers, and fyi, we only had 5 hours in Nassau from leaving the ship to All Aboard. We ended up waiting on the boat for 45 more minutes, at this point it was roughly 3:00, we had to be on the ship back at 5:00. My family and other passengers were getting angry as our day in the bahamas was being waisted away as we waited on a parked boat for more passengers to be dropped off by one last bus. We decided this was enough, as the tour guides from the ship did not seem to care, and we decided to get off. Almost half of the group got of the boat because we were fed up with never getting to actually do anything interesting. The driving tour was a bust and we were going to have almost no time at the beach. We were incredibly disappointed in the lack of organization and the fact that we wasted 220 dollars and most of our day in the bahamas.
Our cruise was enjoyable overall. There were a few things at the fault of the cruise line that were minor setback, but it was nice to relax and enjoy the ocean. If you are someone who is looking for the bare necessities if a cruise (buffet-pool-dining room-enjoying an ocean view) then this cruise is right for you. If you are an adventurous person looking for an engaging week of fun and social activities, I would check Norwegian or Royal Caribbean.
They gave us a handicap room, so it was huge, but it was very clean, well decorated, and the cabin steward was very thorough and friendly.
We took a taxi to see the iconic Maho Beach. The beach was crowded and the bar was somewhat pricey but the airplanes landing right over the water is priceless!! I recommend going to Maho Beach for the view then going back to the free beaches near the ship in downtown Phillipsburg. (buckets of beer are available for cheap!)
This was the most beautiful port I have been to in the Caribbean. Hands down. 100% recommend going to Fort Cristobal and then walking around San Juan and getting some puerto rican food. Would definitely go again and maybe even cruise from San Juan.
Read review for description of Nassau 360 tour nightmare. Waste of money and time. I never understood why people stayed on the ship in ports, but Nassau is just trashy bars and overpriced tourist stores. Atlantis may be interesting, but thats not my cup of tea. If the ship had more actual entertainment and things to do I probably would have stayed on the ship instead of wasting my last day of vacation and 220 dollars.View All 351 Island Tour Reviews