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MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
469 Reviews

MSC, not for me!!!

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review by Roundy78

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2019
  • Destination: the Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Fantastica Inside Stateroom


This was our first cruise on MSC so we were excited to try a new company after a couple of friends had recommended them. The ship itself is nice enough but found the many staff members to be quite rude. We visited some excellent ports. Food was decent. Most shows were dreadful. We had a couple of good party nights where we could dance until late. As it was winter the indoor pool and pool area was packed with families (this is the only ship I’ve been on and not been in the pool). We decided that 4 days was enough on this ship and after that kept saying ‘MSC, not for me!’.


On arrival at Barcelona we were given a number and told to wait until our number was called. After a 20 minute wait our number was called and we went to the check in desk. The man on the check in desk was unfriendly. We showed our passports and signed documents even though we had previously filled out the online check in. Then we had to have our photo taken with a picture of the ship behind us (which were left in the cabin a few days later with a sticker on saying we will be automatically charged €29.99 unless we return them to the cabin steward within 2 days). We then queued to get onboard for another 10 minutes. We then showed our passports again to the security staff and then again to another member of staff who took our photo for our cruise card (even though we did this on the app before boarding).

Finally on the ship and we were shepherded through some bar staff who asked for our card and swiped it on their tablet computer and said ‘That’s ok’. We asked what he was doing and he said he was checking we had a drinks package. We had paid for a drink package online so we asked what drinks we could have. He swiped our card again and said the drink package we paid for no longer exists and would be somewhere between package A & B and that we would have to ask if we could have certain drinks each time we ordered them.

We had requested late sitting for our dining and as the time of 7.30pm was printed on the card we went to have a look at the dining room and see if we could change to a freedom dining or a later sitting. At the dining room we were ignored for a while and when finally spoken to, told as we weren’t in a suite we could not have freedom dining and we had to go upstairs to the other dining room if we wanted to make any changes. We decided not to change our time as the the later sitting was 9.30pm and the staff so far had been so unhelpful it wouldn’t be worth trying. First impressions not so good.


We had an inside cabin 12054 which was the only inside cabin available when we booked. The bed was comfortable and there was plenty of space to put stuff for a 7 night cruise. It was quite dark and could do with better lighting. The room was very noisy, lots of banging & knocking and could hear the family in the room next door.


We only ate in the Marketplace buffet and main dining room. There aren’t any other places that we found where the food was included but there were quite a few pay extra restaurants.

The Marketplace buffet was very busy at lunchtime. We never had breakfast onboard so can’t comment on that. We would usually lunch here after a gym session so around 12.30pm. You would quite often be barged into by somebody. The food was good. A large variety of foods like pizza, salad, Mexican, pasta, roast meat or fish. Our biggest gripe is that even though there were many hand wash basins at the entrance nobody was being encouraged to wash their hands which meant that you rarely saw people actually doing it. My wife and I washed our hands before each meal but would spend time going from sink to sink to find a soap dispenser with soap in as they either didn’t work or were empty.

The main dining room food was good. Our waiters were attentive and friendly. The Italian foods were the best, like risotto and pasta. We had roast turkey one day which was very bland. Apple tarte tatin was excellent. The water was all poured from plastic bottles which in this day and age is a bit of a no no. The tap water would’ve been ok for us but this wasn’t provided anywhere onboard.


We had many emails to remind us to book everything before we boarded the ship so prior to boarding we checked in online, paid for a drinks package, booked tickets for both Cirque Du Soleil shows and paid for the week pass to the thermal spa. Most of this was completely pointless and a waste of our time.

We had to check in normally at the check in counter in Barcelona and even show our passport 3 times before getting onboard. With the online check in you have to take a photo of yourself for your cruise account but this also had to be done onboard the ship. The lengthiest check in of any cruise we’ve been on.

The drinks package had changed from the one we had booked leading to much confusion with the bar staff and us constantly having to ask what we were allowed to have.

Cirque Du Soleil tickets do NOT get booked for you when you book online even though you book a date and time of show. We had a note in our cabin a couple hours after getting to the room asking us to go to the Cirque Du Soleil desk. Another 30 minute queue to get to the front. I was told that it is easier for me to book these shows whilst onboard even though I’d already booked them. I asked the lady to tell me the times and dates that I had previously booked as I couldn’t remember and they suited us. The reply was ‘you tell me what time you want and I will see if is available’. I then rebooked the shows. The person being served beside me was being talked into buying a package of restaurants and Cirque with dinner. They were there a long time before me and were still being seen to when I left and the queue had doubled in size.

The thermal spa was the only thing we booked online that made it onto the ship.


The MSC For Me app worked pretty well when onboard. I couldn’t get it to work in the check in hall but worked all round the ship when connected to the ships wifi (no charge). It shows all the activities going on that day and you can book seats for the shows in the theatre. I couldn’t check my account which is advertised, I had to check this on the tv in the room.


Great fun to try. We chose a day when the wind wasn’t too high. Legs were quite shaky after completing a couple of rounds.


The Cirque show lounge is located at the far side of the very smoky casino. We held our breath and rushed through. Who wants to get dressed up for a night out and end up stinking of smoke in this era? Not us!

We paid €15 each to see the “Sonar” show which was great. It comes with a cocktail too. There are amazing balancing acts & beat boxing.

We had also paid to see the “Viaggio” show however the day we were supposed to see it the show was cancelled and replaced with “Sonar” again. I phoned the Cirque desk to get a refund and was told we could just see the next Viaggio. The next show was on our debarkation day so again I asked for a refund to my credit card as that was how I paid for it. I was quite rudely told this wasn’t possible but I could have onboard credit instead and get that refunded. That proved to be an exhausting process on our final evening. 3 trips to the main desk and the refund machines each and finally we had the cash back.

Despite the shows being advertised as being on 6 days each week it was only on 5 days. This meant Viaggio was only on once during the week so we missed it.


The only show we enjoyed was “Paz”, the flamenco & Spanish dance show.

“Show of Hands Magic” was a magic show straight from the 70’s. It was supposed to be sleight of hand but you could see everything. He lit a cigarette and blew the smoke into bubbles, with kids watching. The performer left the stage to get a puppet for the ventriloquist’s section so we took the opportunity to leave.

“Virtual”, a show about mobile phone overuse (while half the audience were videoing it on their phones) started well but got more and more irritating.

“Way” had a good bit from Dirty Dancing.

“One Day More” with songs from musical theatre was bad especially the bit from Oklahoma. We waited until the end for the Les Mis songs but they sang the wrong song to the music that was playing.

The dancers are very good but it is really difficult to understand the singers. It was quite comical trying to understand what they were singing about.


The thermal spa was our favourite part of the ship. We went in nearly every day. There are 2 steam rooms, 2 saunas, 2 spa pools, an ice room, hot and cold sensory showers and some heated beds. Each day we spent at least an hour in there. We were told we had to wear swimming costumes but 1 day there was a naked lady walking around (much to the amusement of some of the men). On the day at sea the spa was heaving and many of the rooms were quite cool as people kept opening the doors and not shutting them.


We used the gym every morning. I cycle and my wife runs. The gym is good. It has treadmills, bikes, weights, weight machines, etc… Our last day was a (rainy) sea day and the gym was packed. There was only 1 towel left on the shelf but we couldn’t get a treadmill or bike so we went for a walk on the running track instead.


We really enjoyed Genoa, Palermo and especially Valletta. Each port we did our own walking tour as the towns are easily walkable from the port. In Valletta we paid to be close to the noon gun canon which was a great experience. Getting back on board in each of these ports involved at least a 30 minute queue to get through the scanners which we’ve never experienced before. We once had somebody complaining on a P&O ship because we had to wait 2 minutes in the sun to get onboard, they would’ve had a huge tantrum on this ship.


The majority of guests onboard are Italian & then there were a mix of other nationalities. We found many guests to be quite rude especially during the theatre shows. So many people were talking loudly, videoing the whole performance on their phones and using flash photography. I don’t know how the performers can cope with this. We always went to the 10pm show and people were still arriving at 10.25pm trying to find seats and generally getting in the way of the other guests watching and shouting to each other. The shows were only 40 minutes long so why not just sit at the back for 15 minutes.

On our first evening I went to the toilet and I could hear somebody swearing outside the door of the toilet (there were no urinals in this particular toilet). When I came out the man said “Thank f*** for that” and burst into the loo , sat down and started pooping with the door wide open and he was still swearing but in relief this time.

Another evening we were sat at the bar in the Meraviglia lounge and a group from the MSC Yacht club were ordering champagne and were constantly knocking into my wife and I. When they returned for a second bottle and kept knocking into us again we decide it was time to go.

We saw an irate man telling his kids off as they’d been playing and woken their baby brother. He grabbed his childs hands, put them behind the boys neck and rammed him head first into my wife’s stool making it tilt. I told the man he was out of order but I don’t think he understood me. He then carried on telling off his son and hit him round the head. Again I told him stop. This was followed by a huge row with his wife right behind our chairs. I asked them to stop arguing or move elsewhere but they didn’t even acknowledge me. We moved in the end.


We had some good experiences on this ship but we had so many bad ones. Every day there were more disappointments. We will never try MSC again as the staff can be rude, the pushy sales tactics and awful shows. There is a muster drill every port day with announcements being made ship wide as guests can embark at any port. Trying to relax around the ship, your cabin or the spa is impossible whilst this is going on. The ship was very smoky as the smoking in the casino oozes to the bars surrounding it and people smoking on balconies meant the corridors would often stink of it too.

MSC, not for me!!!

Roundy78's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Fantastica Inside Stateroom
Cabin I2 12054

We had an inside cabin 12054 which was the only inside cabin available when we booked. The bed was comfortable and there was plenty of space to put stuff for a 7 night cruise. It was quite dark and could do with better lighting. The room was very noisy, lots of banging & knocking and could hear the family in the room next door.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Barcelona is a fabulous city. There is much to see and do. We stayed in the Hotel Gaudi pre cruise just off La Rambla which is perfect for. We've been to the Aquarium, the musical fountains, Guell park, many Gaudi buildings, shopping, indoor markets and watched street entertainers. In the evening Boadas Cocktails is great little bar for a classic cocktail served by tuxedo wearing mixologists. The city is easy to navigate by foot and public transport. I recommend arriving at least couple days before your cruise starts to have time to explore.

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