MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review by Babyeddiedog
- Sail Date: February 2018
- Destination: Mediterranean
There were some very positive aspects to our cruise, I’d read many reviews before we went and changed my booking based on what I'd read. A huge thanks to those people who took the time to write both positive and negative points about their experience, I hope my comments will also help others make decisions about what is right for them.
We wanted to love this ship, and we did, unfortunately there were areas that we didn’t like at all. Most of those issues were caused by the number of passengers and the limited amount of real space for them to share. This was low season, and because of the weather most adults passed their spare time on just 3 decks. We travelled outside school holidays and hardly noticed any children or young people (apart from the indoor pool) whether that was because they were enjoying the facilities, which looked very good, or whether there just weren’t many of them I don’t know. We walked around the Himalayan Bridge and the Water Park and I’m sure this would have been great if the weather had been in double figures.
Big, bold and beautiful, Meraviglia is just as its name suggests a ‘wonder’. When you step onboard for the first time, you can’t help but be blown away by its open space and shiny interior. This is probably one of the advantages of having guests arrive and depart every day; when you arrive many guests will be on shore so you get a really spacious, uncrowded feeling. The casino entrance, the entrance to the dining room, the sports court, there were big spaces everywhere and lots of big glass windows to look out from. First impressions count, and this impression was 10 out of 10.
Deck 6 is the centre of the ship. Forward was the theatre closely followed by the beautiful galleria, the perfect place for an evening passeggiata. This is also the spot to find the shops and bars (and Eatly) as well as the excursion desk. It’s a similar experience to Royal Caribbean, but this definitely has a real Italian feeling. One deck up on 7 were the speciality restaurants and pub with close up views of the dome, the spa, casino and the Carousel Lounge for the Cirque du Sole. In the winter these two decks, along with deck 5 below are the main areas of the ship, and we found them easy to navigate.
These are the spaces we used onboard Meraviglia.
This is a beautiful space. We didn’t use any of the speciality restaurants but liked the light and bright atmosphere. We loved the lounges on MSC Splendida, but as far as we could tell, the largest lounge on this ship was the Meraviglia Lounge on deck 6 just off the Galleria. Be prepared to hover if you want to sit down, and guard your seat, otherwise if you get up to dance you could loose it. There wasn’t a lot of space to dance, and when the galleria show started it was a mad dive to get a good position. Sadly we thought this lounge and dance floor was way too small for the number of passengers.
I’m not sure why, but we thought the dome show would last longer and it would have a huge wow factor. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. We caught a couple of the shows but didn’t make too much of an effort to see the rest.
A great addition to Meraviglia is the availability of changing rooms at the gym. It’s much better than dripping around the ship on the way back to your cabin after working out. There were a good number of machines; it was also nice to have rowing machines. There was a good choice of free weights but sadly only two bench presses.
Anyone who uses a ship’s gym regularly knows sea days and after the ship sets sail is not the best time to work out, as they are always full, the same is true for this ship. However, at times it was also dangerous and the staff just couldn’t keep their eyes on everyone. There is a very small area for floor exercises and stretching, at the centre of which are pull up bars and an area to use a barbell. The area is probably big enough for a maximum of 6 small people at the most. There was a separate room with spinning bikes that was always locked.
One day we walked in and there was nobody at the desk to check our cards, often the staff appeared to be helping people in the changing rooms unable to remove their belongings from the lockers. We found a small corner to lay our mats, but then we noticed a young man trying to put weights on the barbell. He was clearly struggling. Moments later he left a weight on one end and tried to move to the other side without locking the bar in place. It tipped and very narrowly missed a lady who was doing floor exercises nearby, she was extremely shocked as were we, the heavy bar only narrowly missed her head. There was quite a lot of shouting, as you can imagine. After that, we only entered the gym during mealtimes or when we could see there weren’t too many people around. Perhaps a good idea would be to have an entry system linked to a passengers cruise card, to allow access to only those who had received an induction and to help keep numbers to a safe maximum.
The Thermal Area
I’d seen lots of pictures of the thermal area and it looked wonderful. I’d read about the different experiences - relaxing, invigorating etc, and the coloured wristbands that go with them. I was keen to try them out.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get off to a good start. The first day we attempted to visit it was absolutely packed. Not knowing quite what to do I went to the reception desk to ask for help. I explained that I couldn’t see any of the notices without my contact lenses (which you can’t wear) and I didn’t know what to do. I was told…just go in…. I asked about the experiences; I was shown the bands and told to follow the symbols. No hope, I couldn’t see a thing; that's why I asked for help :-(
So I did as suggested and went to try things out. My first problem was trying to find somewhere to put my robe and towel. There were things everywhere, in the clean towels racks, any available horizontal space, even on the floor. When I eventually nabbed a hook I tried to find a place to relax. The only places that weren’t full were the ice flow room and the cold showers. Not surprising as it was freezing outside. We queued for the walk through shower; there were two ways in, the hot way and the cold way. My ‘thoughts’ were that it would get hotter or colder as you went through but it didn’t seem to. It started cold went to hot, back to cold and then warm (with rather a nice coconut smell) and you had to wait for the water to change it didn’t move with you.
In our 4 visits we could never get to use the 3 hot stone beds as they were either fully occupied or had towels spread out on them. We did use the Jacuzzi with the metal beds and the standard Jacuzzi, which we found more comfortable. We also liked the Finnish sauna and the light steam rooms, we found the dark ones a bit….dark, with people lurking in the corners :-) The Mediterranean rooms, and even the ice flow room, were also good when you visited at meal times and there was enough space. I never found out about the coloured buttons outside some of the rooms, I can only guess they were to be pressed when you wanted a specific experience. Although I’m not sure the other people already using the room would be very pleased if you changed it!
We were really looking forward to seeing some live shows, and the fact that you have to book made us think that we were in for something rather special. We booked ‘Way’ which was music through the years. We love music so we thought this would be a great start.
We booked through the TV in our cabin, which wasn’t too difficult. There were 6 singers, dancers and a band on stage. We’re sure that all the performers were really good, but the sound system was so bad we spent most of the time wincing with our eyes closed. The sound system was way too underpowered to cope, it was painful, especially when everyone played and sang at the same time. We would have left, some people did, but we were in the middle of the row and didn’t want to appear rude. We stuck it out but ever returned.
The Yacht Club
The Yacht Club was our saving grace. It really is as good as every review that has been written, and every member of staff tried their absolute best to please.
We had an inside cabin. Winter in the Med is no time to be sitting on a balcony so that wasn’t an issue, we had the virtual webcam to see what the weather was like outside. The cabin had just enough cupboard space for two people for a week and was kept spotlessly clean. We were onboard in minutes after arriving in Civitavecchia, and enjoying lunch in the restaurant within an hour. Every meal we had in the YC restaurant was tasty, well cooked and diverse. We especially liked the pasta and fish courses, but everything was perfect. The waiters were wonderful too.
The YC lounge was a very relaxing place to read, listen to music and enjoy ‘High Tea’ at 4pm. This was proper tea, with scones, cakes and sandwiches on a stand. It was a real treat. There were always snacks available throughout the day and drinks were served quickly. There wasn’t anything not to like about this place.
The sundeck was a little under used on this trip. We did brave sitting on the sun loungers on a couple of occasions and used the outdoor Jacuzzi once. Despite the air temperature, the water was lovely and we really weren’t expecting to use this area at all so that was a great surprise.
The Pianist Edo was wonderful. His sets were diverse and he could play everything from Dire Straits to Frank Sinatra, he sang beautifully as well. Once we found him there was no need to go anywhere else
The Yacht Club gets 9 out of 10 from us. One point was dropped not because of the staff, but for the design of the ship, and the sometimes temperamental ‘priority’ lifts. Thankfully even one of the butlers had problems with getting priority, which he seemed embarrassed about, especially as he had insisted that everything worked perfectly! The gym location was the only real problem during wet and cold weather. The YC is deck 16 forward, the gym 16 mid ship. To get there you have to go outside, not great when it’s pouring with rain and cold. You could try going down to deck 15 then run to the covered area by the pool and walk along outside. The concierge advised the best way was to go down to deck 6, walk along the galleria then take the mid ship lift to deck 16…hmmm not great.
In conclusion we had a lovely trip on Meraviglia, we chose our experience level well and it suited our needs perfectly.
Would we go again? Yes without hesitation in the Yacht Club.
Would we recommend it? Yes, for families with children and maybe in the spring or autumn.
Would we recommend a drinks package? Every time.
Would we recommend a weekly pass for the Thermal Spa? Maybe in better weather when other parts of the ship could relieve the pressure.
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The bathroom was well laid out and we had plenty of space. The shower door was good, and the mirror didn't stream up so was good for putting on makeup. The virtual webcam was great to see what the weather was like outside.
It was was kept spotlessly clean by our cabin steward.