We have sailed mostly with RCL previously and was looking forward to sailing with a different cruise liner. This was our first time sailing with MSC.
Embarkation process was alright. We embarked from Salvador (Cruise started in Santos, Brazil a couple of days before we embarked) and therefore they only had 2 staff at the check in desk which probably took longer than it should have.
As soon as we got on the ship, my first impression was what a stunning ship! There is a lot of mirrors which makes the ship look even bigger. It looks very extravagant. It has a water slide, jungle pool, pools, jacuzzis, zipline, bowling alley, arcade, library, theatre, cinema etc.
Our rooms were also ready unlike RCL where you have to wait until 2pm (we were in the ship around 12ish). We had a balcony room and it is very spacious and the bed is comfortable. Also the wardrobe space is adequate.
They describe the ship as a smart ship. I recommend purchasing the wrist band (about $5) as you don’t have to worry about your cruise card at all. But you will need your cruise card when you get off the ship. You can use the wrist band to purchase things and for reserving theatre shows if you haven’t done it yet on your TV. There’s about 11 free movies and some of them are quite decent. Live TV channels are also available that caters to different language speakers (we’ll come to that in a moment). You can also check menu from the dining room on your TV and book spa/excursions.
I would also recommend downloading the MSC for Me App as you can use it onboard to check for activities and book stuff without having to pay for the internet. You can connect to the ship WiFi and then use the Internet ID that you can find in your cruise card and cabin number to log in. This will not work unless you are connected to the ship WiFi, i.e. will not work outside the ship.
Now for the not so good reviews.
Food - If you are looking to go on a cruise and worried about gaining weight- this is the cruise for you. The food is not great in the dining room - with the exception of desserts, they’re pretty edible. The buffet isn’t great either. No comparison with RCL on this one - RCL’s food is definitely better!
Service - In comparison with RCL, I missed the smiley faces of the crew regardless of who you are. In RCL, they greet you in the corridors with a big smile, everywhere in the ship. In MSC, you’ll be lucky to get one. The staff are pleasant but they don’t go that little bit extra which makes your cruise special.
Entertainment - In terms of activities throughout the day - you’ll get bored. There’s nothing fun. This is what the ship lacked - a sense of fun! A waste of a beautiful ship! However, the in-house entertainment is definitely better than RCL. In fact RCL can learn from MSC in delivering a great show. Also the staging and costumes are phenomenal. However, the guest performers on some nights are quite so-so.
Language issues - It gets a little bit exhausting when they had to repeat the same thing 7 times in different languages. It’s mostly a Brazilian cruise but dear God, apart from Portuguese, it was translated to English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish. So an announcement that should last 30 seconds, lasts about 10 minutes. They need to learn from RCL on this one on how they make it work.
Disembarkation - the disembarkation is also an issue. We were delayed in our stop in Malaga due to three medical emergencies during the cruise (one was a pregnant woman who had to be taken off the ship using via an air ambulance). So when we disembarked in Malaga, we had to queue for about an hour before we were let out and there was no queuing system so people started overtaking us. It was a shamble!
Overall, I think it’s a nice ship and I would go back only if it is destination heavy. Will never go back on a transatlantic cruise, it was a slow death!
Cabin is magnificent. No complaints! See above.
This is the second time we’ve been in Tenerife. We went to the Palmetum this time. Entrance is quite cheap and the views are spectacular from the top. Not much to do really.
This port surprised me. Really lovely walk along the cruise port, went to Gibralfaro. Stunning view of Malaga from the top. However, there were a lot of ladybirds!!! If you don’t like insects, don’t go up to the very top as there’s a lot of them! But other than that, I would go back to Malaga and explore More of the city. This stop is surprisingly clean considering there’s a lot of tourists!