MSC Armonia 12-24-18 Cuba Cruise Review
The MSC Armonia is an old lady when it comes to cruise ships.
Originally from 2001, she was refurbished in 2014. She does not offer the glitz of the new ships, but is in very good shape. Armonia still offers plenty of things to do, including space on the pool deck, even at full capacity. MSC is very popular in the European and Asian markets, so expect the passengers to reflect this mix.
Fast and efficient. It took us about 30 minutes from being dropped off at the port until our first cocktail at the pool bar.
We walked off with our luggage and again the entire process took about 30 minutes from ship, through customs, to uber.
We were located on the 9th floor in a forward facing Ocean View cabin, Fantastica Experience. Our cabin was very roomy and clean. There was plenty of storage space. Cabin service was offered twice a day. Our cabin stewart was very friendly and kept our cabin in top shape. We did not care for the very small shower, with clingy shower curtain. Shower gel and shampoo were offered and of nice quality.
Note that the higher and forward your cabin is, the more you can feel the ship move.
Food & Beverage
We enjoyed all our dinners in the Marco Polo Main Dining Room. Our service team was very kind and efficient. Meals were well prepared and seasoned. Some did not look attractive, but had great flavors. It was nice to have meals matched to the ports of call. Choices are geared more towards European clientele. Do not expect traditional cruise fare. MDR Breakfast service was good, but not the always friendly. Again, meals were well prepared. We missed variety on the buffet for breakfast and lunch. All offered items were good, but they repeated every day. Pizza is probably the best at sea. It was always fresh and delicious. Burgers from the Grill were good as well.
For one night we treated ourselves to specialty dining at Surf and Turf. The steaks were cooked to perfection. Appetizers, sauces and desserts were wonderful. Sides however lacked flavor. Service was friendly, but could have been more refined for the upcharge.
MSC does a wonderful job with cocktails. They are always served in the proper stemware and with the right garnish. Bar service was very friendly. Remember that on MSC you should always order with a bar waiter, not the bartender. Pool cocktail service on the seaday was slow and more staff should have been servicing the area. Bars ran out of certain mixers during the cruise. Maybe the purchasing department is still getting used to the American market.
Specialty Coffee is once again best at sea. Cappuccino’s, Lattes etc. are just perfect. Large format still and sparkling water bottles are a refreshing service element as well.
MSC is known for their lavish Vegas Style revues, and Armonia did not disappoint. There was also a small movie theatre. Live Music is being played in all venues. On this itinerary it was almost exclusive latin and we wished for a little more variety. Kevin and his team of entertainers really made this cruise so much more fun. They were friendly and engaging without being obnoxious. There were games during the day and nightly theme parties with matching décor and dances. The White Party was an absolute highlight for us. I don’t think I can ever dance on a ship in the middle of the ocean without a snow machine ever again. So much fun!!!
Christmas on a ship
Armonia offered subtle Holiday décor. Nice touches were the Christmas cookies being delivered to our cabin on Christmas eve and the entire staff in Santa hats. Cute. Santa Claus visiting the 500 kids on board and having a lego or chicco gift for each was impressive. The gala dinner in the MDR on Christmas Day offered a champagne toast and upgraded menu and décor. That night a special, very good show, was offered in the theatre. This was our fourth Christmas cruise, first on MSC, and we felt they did a very good job with this special Holiday.
Most cruisers probably choose this ship because of the overnight stay in Havana. MSC arranges the visa for you. Your on board account is billed the appropriate fee. Very convenient. Getting off and on the ship was fast and easy. You can enter and exit as often as you wish. After your passport is stamped the first time the process is even faster. You do NOT need to arrange for a shore excursion through MSC. You also do not need to book a shore excursion for each day in Cuba. Upon entry back in the USA you will need to provide proof of one excursion. This can be a ticket stub, email confirmation number etc.
We arranged our excursions through a third party. Havana was an amazing experience and we hope to return some day.
We had a wonderful time on Armonia with her global flair. Service was friendly. Food was good. The ship was very clean and entertainment was fun. Think about her as a well lived in resort, not new and shiny, but comfortable. We are looking forward to another adventure with MSC. Actually, we are already booked on the MSC Meraviglia for New Years.
Happy cruising everyone!