This was our 2nd sailing with MSC. Fantasia is just as beautiful as Splendida, with a good layout with plenty of space and is very impressive. We chose this as we saw it as an ideal way of visiting the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Food and drink:
Always a subjective topic, but we enjoyed what we ate. The main dining room was well staffed and enjoyable. There is plenty of choice but 2nd sitting is a bit late at 9:15 pm. We didn’t need to try room service so we cannot comment on that.
The complimentary coffee is quite good, as are the fruit juices.
There is such a wide choice of beverages, both alcoholic andnon-alcoholic, that there are no complaints from us. The prices, even if we didn’t have a beverage package, are far more reasonable than some other lines. A very nice touch was the serving of ‘nibbles’ be that olives and/or chips with a beverage. However, as mentioned it was a little frustrating to be able get a specific brand at one bar, but not another, especially La Cantina Toscana the wine and beer bar!
Now I did find it strange that the receipts you get, even if you have the Allegrissimo Premium drinks package, although you have to sign and they show a zero value, the prices charged for exactly the same drinks, in the same bar, can differ from round to round. Obviously doesn’t affect you if you have a drinks package, and so I’m not sure if that would happen if you were actually paying. Just something I noticed and perhaps to be aware of if you don’t have a package and are paying as you go. The main issue is the addition of a mixer, say the tonic with my Gin. Sometimes shown as zero, other times shown as €1.50, other times a can at €2.50.
The buffet is well laid out with a great variety of food stations and having 2 full bars for beverages, especially specialty coffees is a very nice option.Great opening hours, especially late evening/night. Never a problem finding a table, even when fairly busy.
Main dining rooms are nicely decorated and staffed byfriendly, professional and helpful staff. We did find the fixed time dining a little limiting as we are now used to ‘anytime’ dining on other cruise lines.However, MSC did a good job of matching those on our table, which as one for 8 (although only 7 dined), was a good size.
El Sombrero Tex Mex - well laid out if fairly basic, but not a great deal of food choice.
Sports Bar – didn’t use so can’t comment but appeared morepopular than on Splendida.
Piazza San Giorgio – great venue for casual snacks, gelato,coffees, cakes and pastries!
IL Cappuccino - wonderful location with fantastic staff for those specialist coffees and complementary pastries.
Entertainment and Venues
Casino – well laid out so not feeling too cramped, smoking still allowed on one side which is a little inconvenience, but not as bad as on some other lines, but more noticeable on Fantasia than Splendida but that can obviously vary from sailing to sailing depending on the passenger mix.
Theatre – well designed modern venue with ample seating and views of the stage, although the lack of bar is a little downside. Only had chance to watch the Michael Jackson tribute show and it was entertaining.
Entertainers provided a good variety of choice and music/dancing at several venues around the ship.
So many great venues located primarily on deck 7 which made passing from one to the other very easy as the layout flowed well from one to another. All others located around or near the atrium provide a huge variety of venues for pre or post dinner drinks and relaxing throughout the day.
Liquid Disco has a great location with great views and is very popular which is great.
L’Insolito – didn’t use this as we did on Splendida (Aft Bar) as the blinds were always lowered in the evening so even though has agreat view of the wake, you can’t see it.
IL Transatlantico – a piano bar, just above the casino (with a staircase down to it) and our favourite bar on this cruise, olives and chips provided with your drinks and great service. This was also the ‘mixology’ bar on this trip.
La Cantina Toscana – great service in the wine bar (with one exception, who wasn’t happy on whatever bar he worked!) and fantastic tapas provided.
Gaudi Bar on deck 15 handy for drinks to take back to thecabin, if like us, your cabin is located nearer the aft (we were 12223 on deck 12).
Manhattan Bar – did not use but great space with live music and was popular.
Fantasia Bar on deck 6, always popular and busy.
With 3 pools, Fantasia provided plenty of choice, with one covered for the chillier climate, but opened on this sailing when at Sir Bani Yas Island as the temperature was climbing.
Great to have 2 Guest Service areas which ensured lines were small.
Cabin attendants provided a fantastic unobtrusive service and the wait staff in all dining and lounge venues were smiling, approachable, helpful and very professional.
Future Cruise Desk - always appeared busy and so appears to be too small with insufficient staff to cater for the guests wishing to book future cruises with extremely limited opening hours.
Shore Excursions – good selection of trips but strange that if you pre-book online, it is recommended that you check with the desk once you embark (which was always busy) that your order has been communicated to the ship, so keep all emails/documents you receive in case they are not registered with the ship.
Another slight inconvenience to me is that even when your tickets are delivered to your cabin, it does not show any times of when or where to meet for the start of the tour, even when you book online you don’t know whether it’s a morning, afternoon or an evening start. Even the tour desk may not know on the day of boarding for example as we had a tour on day 2 in Abu Dhabi and was advised that I’d have to wait until you receive the Daily Program (which for us was never before 11pm as it would be delivered whilst we were at dinner). You can phone the desk but they are always busy and don’t always know until the evening.
As there were minimal announcements, there was little disturbance during your time relaxing on board.
Photo services – the photographers are not at all pushy and so are not ‘in your face’ all the time.
Seems to run so differently on this ship as opposed to our experience on Splendida.
We were never offered robes, whereas on Splendida they were there from day 1 without having to ask.
Complementary invitations/vouchers were delivered hap-hazardly throughout the cruise, mostly on the later days, whereas again on Splendida they were there on day 1.
Only 1 speciality dinner voucher, but on enquiring was told it could be used by each guest (2 on Splendida).
Complementary bottle of fizz and chocolate covered fruit only delivered on first Gala evening but then not until after 6pm when a lot of people may have already gone for dinner or drinks.
Chocolate ship delivered very late on last day and gifts not delivered until day 4.
At the end of the day, all things (except robes which I know we could have asked for) were delivered, just as I said, at various times throughout the cruise.
Dubai - vibrant with so many attractions - quite spread out for example Burj Al Arab and Jumierah beach some 20 kms from Port Rashid and the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall about the same.
Abu Dhabi - 'quieter' than Dubai, but never the less interesting, but I would recommend a tour here.
Muscat - Mutrah is the 'old town' just outside the port and well worth a short walk to explore.
Khasab - not a lot visible but we only did the Dhow cruise to the fjords as this is a tender port.
Si Bani Yas Island - great if you want a beach stop, but unless you take a ships tour not much else available independently as you can't go to the main part of the island unless on an official tour.
All things considered, would we still recommend MSC? Oh definitely yes! The ship design is wonderful, the venues spectacular, the furnishings plush, the value for money fantastic so very hard to beat.
A very nicely decorated stateroom with huge beds,ample space in the bathroom and attractive looking furnishings with expensive feeling and looking drapes.
Though storage in the closet area was a little lacking and the entertainment in terms of TV could be larger. The balcony was huge with minimal furniture, as it was large enough for lounge chairs. However, overall the cabin was extremely comfortable which resulted in a great night’s sleep!
With such an early arrival after an overnight flight I did hope it could have been available a little earlier as others have found, but I know better for next time!
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