We were delighted to find that the MSC Musica was relocating from the Med to South Africa, and booked Venice to Durban (24 days) as the conclusion of a long trip away from home in South Africa.
By way of summary, our experience ran along these lines:
1 - The web site is a monster and needs some serious attention from someone who understands UX ('User Experience' - the trending approach to web design today?).
2 - The four options (Bella, Fantastica, Aurea and Club) have preset options none of which really suited us. We chose Fantastica because it assured us we would get the best cabin in the category (see 4 below!). That did NOT work!
3 - Embarkation in Venice involved a LONG walk, in the blazing sun, from the Venice 'People Mover' (which links the city to the port) to the ship. Once we were in the shade it took about an hour (long queues) and it would have been smarter to arrive much closer to the deadline, when there were no queues.
4 - The cabin (11195) was a disappointment. We chose inside because we are happy not to have views or balconies, but we got one of the inside cabins with BUNKS. They are turned up to the wall, but there is inadequate space to get into bed standing upright; the solution was to get into bed by crawling up from the bottom. Further, there is NO SEATING - just a padded box that sits under the very small dressing table. I see on the deck plan some of the inside cabins have black blobs - because ours has four I guess that means it sleeps four people? Pity there is no legend to explain that!
5 - Hence, we found that MSC have a problem with information management. I had two reasons to request on board that Reception assist me: first, I was listed as 'Mr' (my correct title is 'Dr' or 'Prof', as indicated at booking time) and it ought to be SO easy to correct these small things; 'they' were simply not interested. The other issue was with the door to the Library, which made a dreadful screeching sound every time it was opened. The library should be a sanctuary of peace and quiet, but it was horrible for that one reason (actually, there were VERY few books, which caused people to come in and noisily discuss how shocking it was to find that there were no books to read - no reference books such as atlases and travel guides, only a selection of fiction, in several languages, that quickly reduced as more than 3000 'guests' helped themselves).
6 - Previously we have cruised with no internet, and as I had work to do I was delighted to see that continuous internet is offered, and although the log on was somewhat convoluted it worked most of the time. But forget the service that you might get at home, this was SLOW and in 24 days I used about 3Gbytes, that cost me 95 Euros. Some people had bought a cheaper package that, astonishingly, did NOT allow access to email services.
7 - There is a 'CyberCafe' but nobody in attendance to assist with problems. The young man sitting there - confusingly - was the Voyager Club representative. His response to any assistance with the cybercafe (that he was sitting right in the middle of) was abrupt almost to the point of rudeness. I guess we all have bad days ... I took my laptop to the cybercafe to try and get faster internet (I think that worked) but there are NO power outlets there, just standardised screens with a keyboard, a mouse and a small USB accessory for your memory stick or whatever you have.
8 - There were some glitches with the excursions. On the catamaran trip (Mauritious) two passengers were sent to the wrong coach, and so the whole remaining party of 23 had to sit or stand on the catamaran for more than an hour, with only partial shade. When the late-comers arrived, one of the sun-drenched (German) passengers asked - rudely and without any evidence - that the late-comers should apologise; well, they were from Australia and the anglo-saxon expletives and tears flowed freely. I mention this because it is the sort of incident that should be managed by the cruise staff, and I would have expected some apology from them. As it was, it took half of the day for the tempers to cool down and it was the fellow-passengers who did more to manage the situation than the 'staff'.
Having said all that, what was good?
The entertainment was excellent, although it was inevitable that over 24 days the song and dance crew, the acrobats and the classical musicians had to include some repetition. Not really a problem. We enjoyed the Queen (Freddie Mercury) entertainment so much we watched it twice (there are early and late shows, for the later and earlier sittings in the restaurants.
The food in the restaurants was a little variable - we had just one main dish that was inedible and had to go back to the kitchen, but the starters and deserts were excellent. Portions were modest, and that suited us perfectly! The cafeteria was, well, rather like a cafeteria.
The cabin and restaurant staff were excellent. The deal is that MSC add 10 euros per person every day for service (and that is in addition to the 15% surcharge on drinks from the bar), and so we were wondering how much of our 480 Euros (about one third of our 'ticket' price!!) would go to the front-of-house workers, and how much gets put into the slush fund. At the desk they admitted that the 'standard' 10 euros per day per passenger was actually optional, and I 'renegotiated' it. One of our fellow passengers told us that he went to reception on the FIRST day to tell them that he did not agree, and did not want to pay, and they agreed that it was at his discretion.
See above. We were disappointed and felt cheated that we paid for the best-in-category and got the worst.
Just a couple of comments might assist others. This is a huge ship, and it takes more than five minutes to walk from one end to the other! At one end you have the restaurants, and at the other the theatre. Your priorities might indicate to take a cabin at one end or the other, or you might sensibly decide to book somewhere in the middle. Our cabin was at the rear, and so it was convenient for both the cafeteria (for breakfast) and the restaurants (for lunch and dinner).
Wonderful to sit and sip retsina while the world went by on the street below.
A lifetime ambition realised but a long hot walk. Beware the horse-ride back to the Visitor Centre (promised for free on the back of your ticket) - we were asked to TIP the two lads leading our horses back up the hill and they refused 30 Euros, saying they wanted more and Euros were worth nothing in Jordan! 30 is all they got and I have a feeling we were cheated ...View All 92 Petra Walking Tour Reviews