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First time on MSC and from all the reviews I had read I went in with low expectations. Embarkation was a nightmare. There were long lines that moved very slowly and there were large groups of very noisy people cutting in the line and pretending they did not speak English so they didn't need to explain themselves. Immigration and security was very slow and we even saw one of the officers asking the check in team to keep things slow as security was taking a long time so there were lines everywhere. The ship itself is old but has been quite well maintained although it is showing a little wear and tear in some areas and they have a tendency to try to mask funky smells with very strong sickly sweet floral scented air freshners. We did encounter a few maintenance issues like one of the public bathrooms not having water and water dripping from the ceiling in one of the cabin corridors. The cabin was one of the positives as it was a nice size and we were expecting it to feel small but it was very reasonable in size and we liked the decor. Shower was a little cramped and they still have shower curtains which is a shame. Dining was ok at the restaurant in the evening. As we tried the buffet for lunch and were not impressed, we had dinner at the restaurant every evening. We got a table for four but were by ourselves every day which we did not mind at all. Our waiters were friendly and fast. As most of the tables around us were either empty or half full the service was fast and efficient and food was normally always hot although quality and variety were sometimes lacking. As we had never done a new MSC cruise we did not know the type of food they served. It was just ok for us although at least we tried new things as we feel that most cruise companies tend to offer the same type of food through their fleet. However we did miss the quality in the food that other companies offer and that this one seemed to lack. We had a basic drinks package offered when we booked our cruise so that was a bonus as we normally do not get drinks packages. The package did not include a lot of choices but they were enough for us and we were especially glad to be able to have good expressos at the coffee shop. At the buffet the food was pretty bad in my opinion and breakfast was just ok but a little repetitive. They could have tried to at least vary the pastries and bread offered so there was some variety. The only food we liked in the buffet were the pizzas. Entertainment was also one of the positives. Although the shows were nothing fancy and the ship performers (evening shows) were not very good, they actually had some good side entertainment which they included in most of the shows such as a good tenor, an excellent mesosoprano, and other acrobatic performers from Russia and Mongolia. They made the shows enjoyable. The opera singers also performed in other bars throughout the ship a few times which was nice. We aren't really people who sit at bars listening to music so we cannot really comment on the musicians that were around the ship. They also had some good Cuban music one evening which was nice. Overall there were not that many activities offered compared to other ships I've been on but no complaints. Announcements in 7 different languages was a little bit of a pain but understandable due to the number of different nationalities on board. Now the service...that was the biggest negative for me of this ship...most members of staff are not very friendly and looked bored or annoyed most of the time. Security members getting us in and off the ship were sometimes even rude. They didn't acknowledge anyone, didn't even say thank you or welcome back or anything. Or at least answer the guests when they wish them a good morning. I believe that they may be understaffed so everyone has to work a lot so they are tired but that is definitely not the guests fault so at least try to be friendly. Bar service was slow at most bars and the staff went as far as ignore us completely even though we were standing there waiting to be served for a long time. The buffet waiters and bar service were the worst. Most of the time there were no waiters getting drink orders and when they were there, they took a long time to bring drinks and most of the time the beer, water or soft drinks were warm. We chose this ship and company because of the itinerary so we enjoyed the ports although we did not do any shore excursions offered by MSC. Getting on and off the ship in port was ok except in the Cayman Islands as we had to tender and that was very badly organized. Firstly they announced that the ship would leave at 2:30 pm when on the internet they always said 3 pm and then the last tender was at 1:30 pm which meant lots of people were scared to book tours outside the ship so as not to be late. We had booked a tour long in advance and were lucky enough that they are used to these changes and guaranteed they would get us to the last tender on time and they did so we really enjoyed our day. But we really waited a long time to get on and off the tenders which was a pain and definitely due to bad organizational skills from the MSC staff. Disembarkation was a little better although the immigration and security in Cuba takes so long we were inevitably in a long queue again. Suitcases were ready for pick up and taxis were available in Havana although we did have to walk a while after leaving the port as police in Havana doesn't allow the taxi drivers to pick up passengers in front of the port unfortunately for them and us passengers. I have another MSC cruise booked for next year on one of their new ships so I am hoping that service and food is better. I am willing to give them one more chance to change my mind. Another big negative for the MSC company is that they do status match for frequent passengers meaning that if you are a Top tier member in another cruise company they match your status...HOWEVER...they only do this for some nationalities and mine wasn't one of them so I was very disappointed and hope they change this very soon!

Some positives but lots of negatives

MSC Armonia Cruise Review by TheCruiseSearcher

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2018
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom – Fantastica
First time on MSC and from all the reviews I had read I went in with low expectations. Embarkation was a nightmare. There were long lines that moved very slowly and there were large groups of very noisy people cutting in the line and pretending they did not speak English so they didn't need to explain themselves. Immigration and security was very slow and we even saw one of the officers asking the check in team to keep things slow as security was taking a long time so there were lines everywhere.

The ship itself is old but has been quite well maintained although it is showing a little wear and tear in some areas and they have a tendency to try to mask funky smells with very strong sickly sweet floral scented air freshners. We did encounter a few maintenance issues like one of the public bathrooms not having water and water dripping from the ceiling in one of the cabin corridors.

The cabin was one of the positives as it was a nice size and we were expecting it to feel small but it was very reasonable in size and we liked the decor. Shower was a little cramped and they still have shower curtains which is a shame.

Dining was ok at the restaurant in the evening. As we tried the buffet for lunch and were not impressed, we had dinner at the restaurant every evening. We got a table for four but were by ourselves every day which we did not mind at all. Our waiters were friendly and fast. As most of the tables around us were either empty or half full the service was fast and efficient and food was normally always hot although quality and variety were sometimes lacking. As we had never done a new MSC cruise we did not know the type of food they served. It was just ok for us although at least we tried new things as we feel that most cruise companies tend to offer the same type of food through their fleet. However we did miss the quality in the food that other companies offer and that this one seemed to lack. We had a basic drinks package offered when we booked our cruise so that was a bonus as we normally do not get drinks packages. The package did not include a lot of choices but they were enough for us and we were especially glad to be able to have good expressos at the coffee shop. At the buffet the food was pretty bad in my opinion and breakfast was just ok but a little repetitive. They could have tried to at least vary the pastries and bread offered so there was some variety. The only food we liked in the buffet were the pizzas.

Entertainment was also one of the positives. Although the shows were nothing fancy and the ship performers (evening shows) were not very good, they actually had some good side entertainment which they included in most of the shows such as a good tenor, an excellent mesosoprano, and other acrobatic performers from Russia and Mongolia. They made the shows enjoyable. The opera singers also performed in other bars throughout the ship a few times which was nice. We aren't really people who sit at bars listening to music so we cannot really comment on the musicians that were around the ship.

They also had some good Cuban music one evening which was nice. Overall there were not that many activities offered compared to other ships I've been on but no complaints.

Announcements in 7 different languages was a little bit of a pain but understandable due to the number of different nationalities on board.

Now the service...that was the biggest negative for me of this ship...most members of staff are not very friendly and looked bored or annoyed most of the time. Security members getting us in and off the ship were sometimes even rude. They didn't acknowledge anyone, didn't even say thank you or welcome back or anything. Or at least answer the guests when they wish them a good morning. I believe that they may be understaffed so everyone has to work a lot so they are tired but that is definitely not the guests fault so at least try to be friendly. Bar service was slow at most bars and the staff went as far as ignore us completely even though we were standing there waiting to be served for a long time. The buffet waiters and bar service were the worst. Most of the time there were no waiters getting drink orders and when they were there, they took a long time to bring drinks and most of the time the beer, water or soft drinks were warm.

We chose this ship and company because of the itinerary so we enjoyed the ports although we did not do any shore excursions offered by MSC.

Getting on and off the ship in port was ok except in the Cayman Islands as we had to tender and that was very badly organized. Firstly they announced that the ship would leave at 2:30 pm when on the internet they always said 3 pm and then the last tender was at 1:30 pm which meant lots of people were scared to book tours outside the ship so as not to be late. We had booked a tour long in advance and were lucky enough that they are used to these changes and guaranteed they would get us to the last tender on time and they did so we really enjoyed our day. But we really waited a long time to get on and off the tenders which was a pain and definitely due to bad organizational skills from the MSC staff.

Disembarkation was a little better although the immigration and security in Cuba takes so long we were inevitably in a long queue again. Suitcases were ready for pick up and taxis were available in Havana although we did have to walk a while after leaving the port as police in Havana doesn't allow the taxi drivers to pick up passengers in front of the port unfortunately for them and us passengers.

I have another MSC cruise booked for next year on one of their new ships so I am hoping that service and food is better. I am willing to give them one more chance to change my mind. Another big negative for the MSC company is that they do status match for frequent passengers meaning that if you are a Top tier member in another cruise company they match your status...HOWEVER...they only do this for some nationalities and mine wasn't one of them so I was very disappointed and hope they change this very soon!
TheCruiseSearcher’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin I2 8117
The cabin was actually a nice surprise as I went in with low expectations and it was actually nice. It is a little smaller than other inside cabins on other ships I've been on but as it was wider it felt about the same size. The decor was nice and only the bathroom was showing some wear and tear although everything worked properly. The biggest negative is the shower which was quite small with the ever annoying shower curtain.
The room had two top pull down beds which did not bother us but are an eye sore.
We were not very pleased with our room attendant. Although he was friendly and left everything clean when he did the daily service, he never did turndown service. He just left our daily program in the cabin for the following day and even though sometimes we had had an afternoon nap or taken a shower after a shore excursion he didn't make up the bed again or change the towels in the evening. Not sure if this is company policy but if it is they should change this as all other cruise companies I've been on offer this service. Especially on caribbean cruises when most of the time you go out swimming during the day and you take a shower before dinner.
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