We've cruised on many different lines (Regent, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Cunard and were somewhat leery of MSC due to some of the reviews we had read and reviews we had heard from friends. Despite that we took the advice of a friend and decided to try the MSC for two reasons. One they had a great itinerary....7 islands in 7 days, no days at sea. Two, they had something called Yacht Class which gives you your own personal part of the ship with a private dining room, private pool/hot tub area, private bar/lounge and even a butler. The bulk of this review will concentrate on our experience with the Yacht Class part of the MSC Preziosa.
One of only a couple of things that I will complain about on this trip. We arrived around 1pm to coincide with what our instructions were. There were already around 50-75 people waiting to get allowed into the registration area. We were not allowed in until after 2pm, with a crowd of easily 200-250 others who were all made to wait in the hot sun for 1-2 hours. Once we got in to the registration area, our butler met us and the process went quite quickly. We were escorted to our room and everything was rady for us.
This was the largest ship we have been on with approx 4000 guests. Because we stayed in Yacht Class I can't really comment on how crowded or not crowded the ship was. In Yacht Class, there was never any issues with seating in the dining room, around the pool (One Pool) or in the Top Sail lounge. We really felt like we were on our own ship within ship. When we did wander around the rest of the ship it certainly seemed to be nicely laid out, always clean. The main pool area is quite small and during the day, most of the lounge chairs were taken. At night, on the odd occasion that we wandered from bar to bar, they never seemed to be too crowded. It seems the fan favorite was The Green Sax which always had a pretty good crowd.....probably something to do with the live music that was played in that particular bar. One small negative was that all announcements were made in 6 languages, but I guess that's what you get being on a very international cruise. I our itinerary began and ended in Guadeloupe. Along the way we picked up a few hundred Brits in Barbados and around 1800 Europeans in Martinique. I would estimate that probably 60-70% of the passengers were from Europe with a huge French, Italian and British influence. From what we were told, the crew needed to know at least English as one of their languages. So as English speaking Canadians, we never had a problem with language.
Cabin was very good....see my full review below
As part of Yacht Class we ate in the Palmeraie restaurant, reserved strictly for Yacht Class. I would rate our experience in this restaurant as an 8.5/10. I'd give the food a 7 out of 10 and the service a 10 out of 10. There was plenty of selection, the food always arrived hot. Selection was good and changed every day. We ate all our dinners there and a few of our breakfasts. When we were on the ship we tended to eat our lunches at the Yacht Club pool area. There was a decent selection of sandwiches, pasta, salads and you could always order a burger or pizza if you wanted to. Back to the service...our main server for the week was Joyce Anne from the Phillipines and she was incredible. Always attentive, very engaging and always with a smile. Her assistant, Ric, was also excellent. Both of them spoke were good English, so never a language barrier. After our first night, we were always greeted by the Maitre D', Giuseppe (known as Pepe). He along with the Head Sommelier, Filippo, made our dining experience truly incredible. Pepe and Filippo always had recommendations for food and wine and they always hit the mark.
Because we tended to eat dinner each night around 8pm, we rarely were available to see either the early show or the late show. We did get to one show, the "Crew Has Talent", which was ok but not great. A couple of the crew could really sing but the "comedy" act was terrible. We didn't get to any other shows but heard from friends on the ship that they were hit and miss.
As an avid Craps player, I rate the Casino a 0........ie no Craps. Also, there was only one "quasi" BlackJack table. The reason I say quasi is because they used a deck with no 10s and some slight variations to the normal BJ rules. There were a couple of roulette tables which were usually crowded, and one Texas Hold'Em table game. The rest of the rather small casino was made up of slot machines. Also, the casino is very smoky......allowing smoking at all tables and slots. Worst casino I have ever experienced on a cruise.
Gym/Spa - We made use of the gym a couple of times. Although we didn't use the weights or attend any classes, I would say the cardio equipment was quite good and there were plenty of machines available. We did not take advantage of any of the spa services although friends of ours did and loved the massages they received.
I've pretty well detailed our experience with the service on the ship. Again, commenting as a Yacht Class passenger, I will say that the service we received from our room steward, Butler, Palmeraie dining staff, Concierage were all top notch as I've already commented. I also want to say that the staff that worked in the Top Sail lounge and around the One Pool area were also top notch. I'd like to point out that we had especially excellent service from Anna (from the Ukraine). Always knew what we wanted and when we didn't, she would make some recommendations.
Ports/Shore Excursions -
We arranged our own Excursions in three ports
St. Lucia - arranged through Rainforest Adventures - A Zip line, Aerial tram and a hike. All in all, a very good tour (8/10). Terry and Junior were excellent guides.
Barbados - arranged through Viator Tours - A Glass bottom boat, snorkel with the turtles. It was a relatively cheap ($35USD each) tour otherwise we would have been disappointed. The boat literally took us a couple of hundred yards off the shore of Carlisle Beach) for a short swim with the
sea turtles and then a short swim to see a sunken shipwreck. Also, there really wasn't any glass bottom to speak of......a very small piece of glass, maybe 3-4 ft in diameter to look through. Once we finished the boat portion of approx 90 minutes, then we got to relax on Carlisle beach with lounge chairs and an umbrella included in the excursion price.
Grenada - Again organized through Viator - An ATV excursion on either one person or two person ATVs. In a word, this excursion was fantastic. There were only 4 of us on this tour so our guides, Lyndon and Sasheem (not sure of the spelling) gave us a private off-road tour of a decent chunk of Grenada. We rode for about 2 hours or so, spending 90% of the time off-road. We had a short 20-25 minute break at a beautiful beach so the tour was around 3 hours in length. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes some exhilarating adventure.
For the other ports, we just tended to get off the ship and wander around. In Trinidad we hired a cabbie to take us around for about 90 minutes and saw some of the island that way. In St. Vincent we took the ferry (which was right beside where our ship docked) to Bequia, a beautiful, tiny island an hour away. The 1 hour ferry ride tends to be quite rough so if you can't handle rougher seas, don't take the ferry. We only had an hour on Bequia due to the ferry schedule, so it wasn't really worth the 2 total hours of ferry time for the 1 hour of time on Bequia.
So to summarize, besides the poor Embarkation experience, the crappy casino and a couple of ports that weren't great, the rest of our experience was amazing and we would definitely consider another MSC tour.....as long as they offered Yacht Class.
The cabin was exactly what we expected. Quite spacious, queen bed, sofa, decent size bathroom with tub. The room was always kept clean and the bed and bathroom were taken care of as soon as we left the room. The mini bar was kept stocked for the most part although we had to ask a couple of times for certain drinks or snacks. The bed was very comfortable and the "pillow menu" gave us a choice of 4 different pillows. Our butler was at our beckon call night or day although we really didn't use his very much.
Hired a private cabbie to take us on a 90 minute ride around the island.
Fantastic ATV tour around Grenada. Off-road 90% of the time. Recommend this to anyone who wants a great adventure to places not normally seen.
Zipline, Aerial tram and hike. Great trip. highly recommend it.
Part of tour above. Got to sit on Carlisle beach for a couple of hours with lounge chairs and umbrella provided.
A bit disappointing. Very short boat ride (literally a few hundred yards off shore). Short snorkel (no fins provided) with the the turtles and then a short swim to see a shipwreck.
Very French island. Brush up on your French or you will have trouble getting around here.
took the one hour ferry ride to Bequia. then hired a taxi to show us around. dont take the ferry if you cant handle fairly rough seas.
Wandered around the town in the rain. Didnt get a great impression of Martinique.....probably due to the rain. Language barrier unless you can understand French and at least converse a bit in French.