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This is a long review, but I hope it will help you to understand the MSC experience. Like most folks, we (my DH and I) selected this cruise for its destination of Cuba. We’ve cruised about 20 times, but this was our first on MSC. Expectations were low due to the reviews; however, we were pleasantly surprised with our experience and in some cases liked MSC better than RCCL or other “American” cruise lines. Embarkation was quick and easy. Just like other cruise lines, complete the registration on line and have your tickets printed, filled out and signed when you arrive. Also, have the “Guest Certification for Authorized US Travel to Cuba” printed, completed and signed. To note – our etickets said we were to arrive at 4:15, but we like to be on board early, so we arrived about noon with no issues. I assume they do this to stagger the amount of people arriving at one time. The only unusual issue is you will not be asked for a credit card for onboard expenses until you get on the ship. Once on board, you need to go to an ATM-type machine and enter your credit card. There is a big queue when everyone is getting on board, but you can come back anytime within the first 48 hours to add your credit card which will save you time in the queue. Be sure to let your credit card company know you are traveling, as the ATM-type machine looks to them as an Italian purchase. Once on board, you are bombarded with the selling of drink packages and spa packages. We’ve never been on a ship that didn’t do this. We love the spa and they had a great deal if you bought 4 or 6 services. We bought 6 services (split between us) which got us 30% off and free use of the thermal spa area for the entire cruise. In the end, this was MUCH less than we usually spend at the spa! They also had a package for 20% off if you bought 4 services. Like any of the packages, you need to figure out if it will be saving you money or not. We did not buy the drink package. You will immediately notice most of the passengers are not Americans. I’d estimate about 30% Americans, mostly Europeans and 10% Asian. This means all the announcements are in at least 4 languages every time. We had an inside cabin - Bella experience. The cabin was typical inside cabin, but seemed to have more storage than some. There were about 8 decent-sized drawers next to the closet. I had forgotten to bring extra hangers, but our room steward brought some in the evening. The worst thing is the shower curtain. I had seen a tip of bringing clothespins to put on the bottom to “weigh it down” so it doesn’t blow around so much. This did help. I also brought bar soap. They do have liquid soap at the sink and shower gel and shampoo in the shower, but I prefer my own. The cabin was clean and functional. As many have commented, the ship is smaller than the mega ships which are so popular these days. If you’ve been on any of the other lines smaller ships, this is comparable, if not better. It was clean and the service was excellent. All the staff we came in contact with were friendly and happy. We did a status match with our Diamond RCCL and became “black,” which is their top tier. We got invited to a few of the private parties with the crew which were nice. We also attended the Meet and Mingle which was also nice. Every time we ran into one of the staff we met at the parties, they would stop and chat a bit to make sure we were enjoying our cruise. The food was mostly fine. We did like the pizza, although you can’t compare to “real” NY pizza, it was better than any other cruise. Of course, the gelato was excellent (what’s not to like!). The buffet for breakfast and lunch were adequate, but less selection than other cruises. We had dinner in the main dining room and with a few exceptions, it was fine. One night they had prime rib, which was by far the best thing we had all week! The service was excellent! One night we did eat in their specialty restaurant, Surf & Turf. This came free with our “Black” status. The lobster was much better than in the main dining room, but the filet mignon was lacking. This didn’t compare with Chops Grill or other special restaurants from other cruise lines. We didn’t attend any of the shows, so can’t comment. The casino is very small and never very crowded. They had 2 blackjack tables and one each 3-card poker, Dream 21, Texas Hold ‘Em, and roulette. The slots were all penny slots, which we did not play. The pool was typically crowded, but plenty of chairs. I never had any trouble finding a chair in the sun or shade. We loved the spa and went to the thermal spa to sit on their heated loungers every day. All the massages and treatments we had were heavenly! Havana is the main reason we took this cruise. Miguel, the cruise director, gives a great talk about what to expect the day before we arrived. It was very informative, and I would highly suggest you attend. MSC will give you the visa which needs to be filled out. You’ll be charged $75 per person. Miguel goes over how to fill this out, too; however there is a sample in the letter which comes with the visas. We had an excursion, so were first off the ship. As Americans, it seems intimidating to go through Cuban immigration, but honestly, it is a non-event. Show your passport, give your visa, they take your picture, stamp your passport and you’re on your way. Once you go through once, every time after, you just show your passport stamp and walk right in. Havana is a very interesting place. There is beautiful architecture and some restoration being done, but most of the areas were extremely neglected, dirty and crumbling. The people are very friendly and willing to answer any questions. Embarkation was quick and easy. Overall, we both had a good time and were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked the MSC experience. Go and enjoy and don’t worry

Pleasantly surprised! Go, enjoy and have fun!

MSC Armonia Cruise Review by cruiselover44

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Cuba
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom – Bella
This is a long review, but I hope it will help you to understand the MSC experience. Like most folks, we (my DH and I) selected this cruise for its destination of Cuba. We’ve cruised about 20 times, but this was our first on MSC. Expectations were low due to the reviews; however, we were pleasantly surprised with our experience and in some cases liked MSC better than RCCL or other “American” cruise lines.

Embarkation was quick and easy. Just like other cruise lines, complete the registration on line and have your tickets printed, filled out and signed when you arrive. Also, have the “Guest Certification for Authorized US Travel to Cuba” printed, completed and signed. To note – our etickets said we were to arrive at 4:15, but we like to be on board early, so we arrived about noon with no issues. I assume they do this to stagger the amount of people arriving at one time. The only unusual issue is you will not be asked for a credit card for onboard expenses until you get on the ship. Once on board, you need to go to an ATM-type machine and enter your credit card. There is a big queue when everyone is getting on board, but you can come back anytime within the first 48 hours to add your credit card which will save you time in the queue. Be sure to let your credit card company know you are traveling, as the ATM-type machine looks to them as an Italian purchase.

Once on board, you are bombarded with the selling of drink packages and spa packages. We’ve never been on a ship that didn’t do this. We love the spa and they had a great deal if you bought 4 or 6 services. We bought 6 services (split between us) which got us 30% off and free use of the thermal spa area for the entire cruise. In the end, this was MUCH less than we usually spend at the spa! They also had a package for 20% off if you bought 4 services. Like any of the packages, you need to figure out if it will be saving you money or not. We did not buy the drink package.

You will immediately notice most of the passengers are not Americans. I’d estimate about 30% Americans, mostly Europeans and 10% Asian. This means all the announcements are in at least 4 languages every time.

We had an inside cabin - Bella experience. The cabin was typical inside cabin, but seemed to have more storage than some. There were about 8 decent-sized drawers next to the closet. I had forgotten to bring extra hangers, but our room steward brought some in the evening. The worst thing is the shower curtain. I had seen a tip of bringing clothespins to put on the bottom to “weigh it down” so it doesn’t blow around so much. This did help. I also brought bar soap. They do have liquid soap at the sink and shower gel and shampoo in the shower, but I prefer my own. The cabin was clean and functional.

As many have commented, the ship is smaller than the mega ships which are so popular these days. If you’ve been on any of the other lines smaller ships, this is comparable, if not better. It was clean and the service was excellent. All the staff we came in contact with were friendly and happy. We did a status match with our Diamond RCCL and became “black,” which is their top tier. We got invited to a few of the private parties with the crew which were nice. We also attended the Meet and Mingle which was also nice. Every time we ran into one of the staff we met at the parties, they would stop and chat a bit to make sure we were enjoying our cruise.

The food was mostly fine. We did like the pizza, although you can’t compare to “real” NY pizza, it was better than any other cruise. Of course, the gelato was excellent (what’s not to like!). The buffet for breakfast and lunch were adequate, but less selection than other cruises. We had dinner in the main dining room and with a few exceptions, it was fine. One night they had prime rib, which was by far the best thing we had all week! The service was excellent! One night we did eat in their specialty restaurant, Surf & Turf. This came free with our “Black” status. The lobster was much better than in the main dining room, but the filet mignon was lacking. This didn’t compare with Chops Grill or other special restaurants from other cruise lines.

We didn’t attend any of the shows, so can’t comment. The casino is very small and never very crowded. They had 2 blackjack tables and one each 3-card poker, Dream 21, Texas Hold ‘Em, and roulette. The slots were all penny slots, which we did not play.

The pool was typically crowded, but plenty of chairs. I never had any trouble finding a chair in the sun or shade. We loved the spa and went to the thermal spa to sit on their heated loungers every day. All the massages and treatments we had were heavenly!

Havana is the main reason we took this cruise. Miguel, the cruise director, gives a great talk about what to expect the day before we arrived. It was very informative, and I would highly suggest you attend. MSC will give you the visa which needs to be filled out. You’ll be charged $75 per person. Miguel goes over how to fill this out, too; however there is a sample in the letter which comes with the visas. We had an excursion, so were first off the ship. As Americans, it seems intimidating to go through Cuban immigration, but honestly, it is a non-event. Show your passport, give your visa, they take your picture, stamp your passport and you’re on your way. Once you go through once, every time after, you just show your passport stamp and walk right in. Havana is a very interesting place. There is beautiful architecture and some restoration being done, but most of the areas were extremely neglected, dirty and crumbling. The people are very friendly and willing to answer any questions.

Embarkation was quick and easy. Overall, we both had a good time and were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked the MSC experience. Go and enjoy and don’t worry
cruiselover44’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Dining
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom – Bella
Cabin I1 9025
The location was great for us. Front of the ship near the spa and gelato! Bring extra hangers and clothespins to weigh down the shower curtain. Small, but plenty of storage. Cabin was always clean.
Ametista Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • City Tour
    We booked the City Tour and San Jose Handcraft Market tour for our first day in Havana. Best part was, we were the first off the ship with no lines at Cuban immigration. Super easy and nothing to worry about. We boarded a bus and were first taken to a cigar/rum factory. Our guide was very knowledgeable and told everyone about the different types of cigars. We then went to Muralandea which is an artistic area where they teach art and music to children. They had art and jewelry which you could buy. I wish I would have bought something because these things were MUCH nicer than anything at the San Jose Flea Market. We drove all around the city and saw all the sites, getting out along the way. The San Jose Market was a BIG disappointment. Tons of stalls with cheap t-shirts, caps, ashtrays and frig magnets that you can find in any Caribbean island. Nothing special or "handmade." The tour was about 5 hours which was much longer than we expected. I think they may have gone even longer, but some folks wanted to get back to the ship because they had an evening excursion to Tropicana. I would definitely recommend this tour for a good overview of Havana.
    View All 212 City Tour Reviews