We had heard so much about Cruising being the right way to have a family holiday and we chose the MSC because our travel agent recommended it for our first experience. We decided to celebrate my Dad's 70th Birthday on the MSC as a gift to him as a family holiday.
Durban as a departure city is known to us, and it was lovely to see the harbour on the beautiful morning we departed. We did have a little bit of a hiccup at departure - my niece Amy didn't have an abridged birth certificate (she had an application for it, it was not ready at time of travel) and so she could not board with us. She was left in the safe custody of family who reside in Durban, but this delayed our boarding did put a damper on our first afternoon aboard.
The welcome and the staff on boarding the ship were excellent and very friendly...we were however not in the right frame of mind (after having to leave my niece onshore) to meet a sales person with drink package vouchers as soon as we boarded and I am afraid to say that he was greeted with our dismal no to any suggestions...no his fault I am afraid.
We found our cabins, clean and well appointed. Everyday after the cabins were maintained and kept in clean order...The cleaning staff were always very pleasant, helpful and very accommodating.
We really enjoyed the experience of sitting down for formal meals and also having the choice of self service - this broke the monotony of having just one choice. The food was really good, fresh and appealing, and the variety was impressive. The desserts and cakes at breakfast, lunch and supper were superb. The one thing that we struggled with was boiling water for tea (the water was hot, but not hot enough to steep a tea bag) and getting hot milk at the tea areas, but if asked the Staff they were really helpful to arrange this. One suggestion if I may, there were water dispensers on deck 13 only in the Restaurant...it would be great if there were water dispenses on each deck...until one is familiar with the drinks packages and how they work, one is sort of stuck for a basic need for hydration.
We were all thrilled at how much there was to do aboard the ship, the programmes presented each day catered for young and old. We loved the variety shows and quizzes and the demonstrations to educate ones self with activities like food carving and flower arranging, the games and the music entertainment in the various different lounges. The staff onboard were ever ready to assist and point you in the right direction and never minded to help. The evening Shows were really world class and we enjoyed it immensely, we went to all :). I was super thrilled that the Shows were suitable for young and old.
We travelled with my 7 year old twin and we discovered the Children's facility on the second afternoon of our cruise. The children's programme was excellent and we loved that there was such good security around their safety. I loved the fact that ship had a Library onboard and the children and I visited to take full advantage of facility. They loved the Adventure of being on board and the Children's Club most, pirate treasure hunts, food activities, taking part in shows, birthday parties, dress up and like activities, it was all wonderful. One comment if I may though,children between 3 to 5, 6-8 and 9 to 12 should be in separate groupings for entertainment, their interests and level of capacity is different...my children were grouped with Children from ages 3 years to 11 years, they sometimes got lost with what was expected of them, follow the babies or follow the older ones and on one occasion a bigger boy called my son a stupid, my son was able to respond with, that's interesting, that is not what my Mum calls me :) my name is Tait. Both my children were not happy with the children's pool, it was too shallow, suitable for toddlers and the big pools were too busy with Adults and bigger kids but this they overcame with all the other activities they engaged in.
The service we received from all staff onboard was excellent, we had problems with our cabin door when we boarded and Diego helped get it sorted and after that sent us a complimentary sweet plate for the inconvenience, this really stood out as appreciation for us as guests and every time after that when we saw Diego he would call us by name and enquire on our wellbeing, we felt really special and looked after, right up until we settled our bills on departure.
The excursion to the Portuguese Island was such a surprise highlight, the way in which the MSC provide for this experience is exceptional...I have never been on an island holiday, but this short experience left a lasting standard of impression of how this should be...definitely the cherry on the top of this cruise holiday. Most organized and pleasant experience in any transfer that I have experience from one space to another - and to be able to do this for so many people and make sure all are comfortable and taken care of is most impressive.
We want to go again :) !!! we have already spoken to our travel agent and are making enquiries for next year to go to Mauritius, unfortunately your Family Cabins are already booked :( so must consider this for the following year.
Thank you MSC and all who make such a wonderful experience possible - you certainly gave this Family memories to last a life time :)
We had a Cabin sleeping 3 - it was spacious enough and clean always. The sound proofing is amazing. Once in the Cabin we heard nothing in the passages or elsewhere in the ship.
This was a real highlight on our trip, MSC took care of it ALL...very impressed with the experience. We just enjoyed, enjoyed, enjoyed.