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First time cruise for us. Options were everywhere - but we settled on the MSC Armonia, for..... CUBA!!!!! and well overall cost. Opting for an Oceanview room, and Fantastica level. First off.... One huge turn off for us - MSC TAKE NOTE: You don't need to harass your paying customers to purchase the more expensive drink packages ($189 per person to upgrade from Easy Drink - to Premium) Neither myself nor my wife, drink enough to justify the extra expense. Yet every single time I ordered a drink that was off the "Easy" menu, I was hounded by staff to upgrade. BIG Turn-off. Ok other than that one issue, the rest of the cruise was good, there were a few notable "maintenance" items - public restrooms that were out of order, wall panels behind toilets that appeared to have been ripped out of the wall. Oceanview Fantastica - Now we were warned that the overall rooms were smaller than a regular hotel. Understatement - One queen sized bed, had just enough room to squeeze around both sides, and the foot of the bed. I think the term my wife used was "Cozy" but it was comfortable for 2 people. The bathroom, now I read ahead of time that the shower was tiny. Well that is very true - if you turn around inside you will hit the curtain which will stick to you, and of course end up soaking the floor outside the shower area. The toilet was different than we have experience before; when you flush you need to close the lid, and it sounds like a jet engine going off, on occasion, you would have to wait a couple min before it would actually flush. Storage space, we were able to completely unpack 4 large suitcases, and 2 smaller carry-on bags and still had room to spare. NOTE: if you need to charge anything - there are only 2 plugs in the room, both located on the desk, beneath the mirror. The safe, and additional storage is located behind the mirror. Housekeeping staff - These guy's were phenomenal!!!! If I had to guess - they would check on your room at least 4 times a day. Once mid morning - to make your bed, and change out towels. Once mid day to tidy up - Once early evening to drop off the Daily Planner for the next port - Once mid evening to turn down your blankets, and change out any towels. Room Service - Now here is one area that was confusing - We had been told prior to the cruise that "Fantastica" level did not pay the "$8.95" for room service delivery. HOWEVER - aside from the basic continental breakfast - we were charged for the "Delivery" charge, plus gratuities. Now the Continental breakfast was good, fill out the card, and hang it on the door before 2am, and they will deliver to you at the time slot you requested. Mind you - pay attention to the time you request vs time of arriving in port. The "Hot Breakfast" morning - was ok, nothing to write home about..... Waffle, egg's, omelet, bacon, sausage, fruit plate, with coffee, and juice. Certainly more food than we expected, but was still basic. La Pergola - The more elegant of the dining rooms - we did not have the pleasure of eating here. But was informed that it was the same fare as found in Marco Polo. Surf-n-Turf - the newest addition to the ship. $35 per person for dinner. Menu was basically just as it sounds - Steak and seafood options. Once again - we did not have the pleasure of eating here. La Brasserie - Buffet - was acceptable - a typical buffet with less than flavorful food selection - and well generally people were more rude in the buffet than anywhere else on the ship. Staff were doing the best they could muster. Marco Polo - portions were well lacking - food for the most part was quite good - but seriously 2 ravioli's served on a rather large bowl? Staff here were quite good, they were friendly, and remembered everyone's names, and generally what each of us drank regularly from the first night. Pizza / Pasta Bar - Pizza, what can I say, typical Italian fair - probably one of the best meals found on the ship. However in 7 days, I honestly cannot recall ever seeing Pasta offered. Grill - Burger / Hot Dog Bar - As one of the cruise members stated - "We are Italian, we do great Pizza, but not the best Hamburgers" I shall leave it at that. Bar Del Duomo - the center for most of the interior late night entertainment. Arrive early, else there will be no seating for you. Staff were exceptional the Entertainment Cast were good, the live band was acceptable - the singer was worth the listen, even when she was singing in other languages. Rum Bar - Serving, well mostly Rum options - but also everything else, the music was a heavy Latin flair, good for dancing, and even just enjoying a Cuba-libre - or Mai-Tai. White Lion Pub - A replica of an English pub, with a concentration on higher end drinks - think Gin and on Tap beer's (best selection on the ship) only draw back - It is adjacent to the Cigar Room. If you have any allergies to smoke, not the best place to congregate. Il Lido Bar - Pool bar - more often than not this place was busy, and the general customer was rude, and discourteous to everyone else. The staff were once again - doing the best they could to keep everyone happy, while attempting to go above and beyond. Library - A good semi-quiet place to relax during most hours of the day and night Palm Beach Casino - Small maybe 100 video machines - with approximately 5 table games (1 Roulette, 1 Blackjack, 2 others (three card poker I believe)) The only place on board that Cash was gladly accepted. MSC Business Center - AKA the movie theater. Seats about 150 people and offered movies throughout the cruise. Granted they were not first run movies, but a season or two back. Teatro La Fenice - The meeting place for almost all Excursion's, as well as the live entertainment theater for nightly shows. During our cruise, 6 nights of song and dance, 1 night a Beatles tribute band. Show's were good, not exceptional - ONE note here something we noticed, as well as several other guests noticed. Most of the singing (if not all) was lip synced. Hardly noticeable, until you do, then hard not to see it happening. Overall the work, costumes, and general planning that went into each show was worth it. Quite entertaining. Shopping - Each day there were tables setup with sales on everything from souvenirs, perfume, watches, clothing to electronics. Some sales were WOW 75% off Invicta Watches..... and loads of inexpensive jewelry for your wife, mother, daughter, or significant other. In addition - there were specialized shops, a Clothes store, Pharmacy/Perfumeria, Swarovski, Effy, a Watch/sunglasses/ electronic's shop, and of course a Duty Free shop (yes alcohol can be purchased by the gallon bottle, but you will not receive it until the last night of the cruise.) Pool / Hot tub area - ok we made the mistake of crossing through here one time. Way overcrowded when at sea. The pool and hot tub area was full of kids, as was the Doremi water park area. Mind you for the most part - the kids appeared unsupervised and were left to run rampant. Aurea Spa / Beauty Parlor - Ladies, if you want to partake in any of the optional (Cost involved) treatments - Make your appointment early on in your cruise. This place books up fast. Overall cost - comparable to any land based spa / beauty parlor.... Tip - buy products from the beauty parlor to get exceptional discounts on treatments..... ($70 hair treatment was free, after an $80 purchase of specialized shampoo/conditioner/style cream) Ocho Rio's Jamaica - We opted for a "Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae" an hour of a slow river relaxing ride. Couple of things to note - this is probably one of the farthest commutes offered (1.5 hrs each way) so - do not expect to get any time at the port to shop. Also the planning was lacking - once the rafting experience was over, we were shuttled to a church that was locked up tight. Then one stop "Bathroom" break at a small souvenir shop, arriving back at the port with just enough time to board before departure. Grand Caymen - Stingray City - Approximately 3hr's total - 15 min bus, 30 min boat, and about an 1.5 hrs in the water. Cayman Express crew were great, informative, and helpful, drinks were available for purchase on the boat trip, As was a single changing room/bathroom. Bring your waterproof camera, a towel, and a change of clothes - oh and plenty of sunscreen. Cozumel - We opted to self tour the island - Ernesto's Rentals - $60 a day for a jeep wrangler - one word of caution - these are well used, and abused vehicles, and not up to "American Rental Company" standards. But we were able get around the island without any problems with the vehicle. Opted for a stop at El Cedral, Playa Plancar, San Gervasio, and a Tequilaria. Eastern beaches were inundated with the Sargassum seaweed, the beaches and water were turned a dark reddish brown color, and in many places smelled of rotten egg's..... Costa Maya - Once again - we opted for self tour, specifically looking for the "Maya Healing Ritual" think of it as a themed day spa. $89 per person for approximately 1.5 hrs of uber relaxing time. First a soak in a deep heated herbal bath, with a head, neck and shoulder massage. Then to the "Mayan Sweat Lodge" for a traditional Mayan song, and some history of the practice while you relax in the "sauna" type room. Then face painting time, well ok not really, but you do a white clay mask, while relaxing and another song by the local "shaman" Then off to a cold shower, and into another deep soak in coconut milk bath (ok so it is not 100% coconut milk - it does have a coconut scent, but it is mostly just hot water bath, along with some more head, neck and shoulder rubs. Lastly, the "Hammock Massage" you will be wrapped in towels, then cocooned within the hammock. where you will get an coconut oil rubdown on your arms, and leg's, then a full back of body work over by the masseuse that is laying beneath you, using their legs and feet. OMFG it was certainly an experience.... Granted it is not completely authentic, but it is still a relaxing time that you can decompress and forget the rest of the world. Afterwards, a quick drink in the complimentary lounge chairs at the white sand beach (part of the "Healing Ritual Package" chairs were free, drinks were not) Then on to the Aviary "Aviarius" - Not the greatest for to cost, but you are right in the middle of many birds, while perched atop tower's connected by swinging bridges that zigzag over the port. The birds will come sit on your hand, shoulders, arms, head.... while you offer up some feed that is given to you when you enter their world. While you traverse the Aviary, you get a chance to look down upon the Dolphin experience. Now let me tell you this - the water that the people were waiting to swim in looked absolutely filthy, the green algae was floating everywhere. (see pic's attached) Now one warning about Costa Maya - IF you opt to stay in the port, the vendor's are super aggressive. Every single shop had someone trying to drag you inside to peruse their wares. All in all - The cruise was enjoyable, relaxing, and just what we both needed, would we opt for the cruise again, yes - but we would do many things differently....

First time cruiser's eye openers.

MSC Armonia Cruise Review by panajack

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2019
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Stateroom – Fantastica
First time cruise for us.

Options were everywhere - but we settled on the MSC Armonia, for..... CUBA!!!!! and well overall cost. Opting for an Oceanview room, and Fantastica level.

First off.... One huge turn off for us - MSC TAKE NOTE: You don't need to harass your paying customers to purchase the more expensive drink packages ($189 per person to upgrade from Easy Drink - to Premium) Neither myself nor my wife, drink enough to justify the extra expense. Yet every single time I ordered a drink that was off the "Easy" menu, I was hounded by staff to upgrade. BIG Turn-off.

Ok other than that one issue, the rest of the cruise was good, there were a few notable "maintenance" items - public restrooms that were out of order, wall panels behind toilets that appeared to have been ripped out of the wall.

Oceanview Fantastica - Now we were warned that the overall rooms were smaller than a regular hotel. Understatement - One queen sized bed, had just enough room to squeeze around both sides, and the foot of the bed. I think the term my wife used was "Cozy" but it was comfortable for 2 people. The bathroom, now I read ahead of time that the shower was tiny. Well that is very true - if you turn around inside you will hit the curtain which will stick to you, and of course end up soaking the floor outside the shower area. The toilet was different than we have experience before; when you flush you need to close the lid, and it sounds like a jet engine going off, on occasion, you would have to wait a couple min before it would actually flush. Storage space, we were able to completely unpack 4 large suitcases, and 2 smaller carry-on bags and still had room to spare. NOTE: if you need to charge anything - there are only 2 plugs in the room, both located on the desk, beneath the mirror. The safe, and additional storage is located behind the mirror.

Housekeeping staff - These guy's were phenomenal!!!! If I had to guess - they would check on your room at least 4 times a day. Once mid morning - to make your bed, and change out towels. Once mid day to tidy up - Once early evening to drop off the Daily Planner for the next port - Once mid evening to turn down your blankets, and change out any towels.

Room Service - Now here is one area that was confusing - We had been told prior to the cruise that "Fantastica" level did not pay the "$8.95" for room service delivery. HOWEVER - aside from the basic continental breakfast - we were charged for the "Delivery" charge, plus gratuities. Now the Continental breakfast was good, fill out the card, and hang it on the door before 2am, and they will deliver to you at the time slot you requested. Mind you - pay attention to the time you request vs time of arriving in port. The "Hot Breakfast" morning - was ok, nothing to write home about..... Waffle, egg's, omelet, bacon, sausage, fruit plate, with coffee, and juice. Certainly more food than we expected, but was still basic.

La Pergola - The more elegant of the dining rooms - we did not have the pleasure of eating here. But was informed that it was the same fare as found in Marco Polo.

Surf-n-Turf - the newest addition to the ship. $35 per person for dinner. Menu was basically just as it sounds - Steak and seafood options. Once again - we did not have the pleasure of eating here.

La Brasserie - Buffet - was acceptable - a typical buffet with less than flavorful food selection - and well generally people were more rude in the buffet than anywhere else on the ship. Staff were doing the best they could muster.

Marco Polo - portions were well lacking - food for the most part was quite good - but seriously 2 ravioli's served on a rather large bowl? Staff here were quite good, they were friendly, and remembered everyone's names, and generally what each of us drank regularly from the first night.

Pizza / Pasta Bar - Pizza, what can I say, typical Italian fair - probably one of the best meals found on the ship. However in 7 days, I honestly cannot recall ever seeing Pasta offered.

Grill - Burger / Hot Dog Bar - As one of the cruise members stated - "We are Italian, we do great Pizza, but not the best Hamburgers" I shall leave it at that.

Bar Del Duomo - the center for most of the interior late night entertainment. Arrive early, else there will be no seating for you. Staff were exceptional the Entertainment Cast were good, the live band was acceptable - the singer was worth the listen, even when she was singing in other languages.

Rum Bar - Serving, well mostly Rum options - but also everything else, the music was a heavy Latin flair, good for dancing, and even just enjoying a Cuba-libre - or Mai-Tai.

White Lion Pub - A replica of an English pub, with a concentration on higher end drinks - think Gin and on Tap beer's (best selection on the ship) only draw back - It is adjacent to the Cigar Room. If you have any allergies to smoke, not the best place to congregate.

Il Lido Bar - Pool bar - more often than not this place was busy, and the general customer was rude, and discourteous to everyone else. The staff were once again - doing the best they could to keep everyone happy, while attempting to go above and beyond.

Library - A good semi-quiet place to relax during most hours of the day and night

Palm Beach Casino - Small maybe 100 video machines - with approximately 5 table games (1 Roulette, 1 Blackjack, 2 others (three card poker I believe)) The only place on board that Cash was gladly accepted.

MSC Business Center - AKA the movie theater. Seats about 150 people and offered movies throughout the cruise. Granted they were not first run movies, but a season or two back.

Teatro La Fenice - The meeting place for almost all Excursion's, as well as the live entertainment theater for nightly shows. During our cruise, 6 nights of song and dance, 1 night a Beatles tribute band. Show's were good, not exceptional - ONE note here something we noticed, as well as several other guests noticed. Most of the singing (if not all) was lip synced. Hardly noticeable, until you do, then hard not to see it happening. Overall the work, costumes, and general planning that went into each show was worth it. Quite entertaining.

Shopping - Each day there were tables setup with sales on everything from souvenirs, perfume, watches, clothing to electronics. Some sales were WOW 75% off Invicta Watches..... and loads of inexpensive jewelry for your wife, mother, daughter, or significant other. In addition - there were specialized shops, a Clothes store, Pharmacy/Perfumeria, Swarovski, Effy, a Watch/sunglasses/ electronic's shop, and of course a Duty Free shop (yes alcohol can be purchased by the gallon bottle, but you will not receive it until the last night of the cruise.)

Pool / Hot tub area - ok we made the mistake of crossing through here one time. Way overcrowded when at sea. The pool and hot tub area was full of kids, as was the Doremi water park area. Mind you for the most part - the kids appeared unsupervised and were left to run rampant.

Aurea Spa / Beauty Parlor - Ladies, if you want to partake in any of the optional (Cost involved) treatments - Make your appointment early on in your cruise. This place books up fast. Overall cost - comparable to any land based spa / beauty parlor.... Tip - buy products from the beauty parlor to get exceptional discounts on treatments..... ($70 hair treatment was free, after an $80 purchase of specialized shampoo/conditioner/style cream)

Ocho Rio's Jamaica - We opted for a "Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae" an hour of a slow river relaxing ride. Couple of things to note - this is probably one of the farthest commutes offered (1.5 hrs each way) so - do not expect to get any time at the port to shop. Also the planning was lacking - once the rafting experience was over, we were shuttled to a church that was locked up tight. Then one stop "Bathroom" break at a small souvenir shop, arriving back at the port with just enough time to board before departure.

Grand Caymen - Stingray City - Approximately 3hr's total - 15 min bus, 30 min boat, and about an 1.5 hrs in the water. Cayman Express crew were great, informative, and helpful, drinks were available for purchase on the boat trip, As was a single changing room/bathroom. Bring your waterproof camera, a towel, and a change of clothes - oh and plenty of sunscreen.

Cozumel - We opted to self tour the island - Ernesto's Rentals - $60 a day for a jeep wrangler - one word of caution - these are well used, and abused vehicles, and not up to "American Rental Company" standards. But we were able get around the island without any problems with the vehicle. Opted for a stop at El Cedral, Playa Plancar, San Gervasio, and a Tequilaria. Eastern beaches were inundated with the Sargassum seaweed, the beaches and water were turned a dark reddish brown color, and in many places smelled of rotten egg's.....

Costa Maya - Once again - we opted for self tour, specifically looking for the "Maya Healing Ritual" think of it as a themed day spa. $89 per person for approximately 1.5 hrs of uber relaxing time. First a soak in a deep heated herbal bath, with a head, neck and shoulder massage. Then to the "Mayan Sweat Lodge" for a traditional Mayan song, and some history of the practice while you relax in the "sauna" type room. Then face painting time, well ok not really, but you do a white clay mask, while relaxing and another song by the local "shaman" Then off to a cold shower, and into another deep soak in coconut milk bath (ok so it is not 100% coconut milk - it does have a coconut scent, but it is mostly just hot water bath, along with some more head, neck and shoulder rubs. Lastly, the "Hammock Massage" you will be wrapped in towels, then cocooned within the hammock. where you will get an coconut oil rubdown on your arms, and leg's, then a full back of body work over by the masseuse that is laying beneath you, using their legs and feet. OMFG it was certainly an experience.... Granted it is not completely authentic, but it is still a relaxing time that you can decompress and forget the rest of the world.

Afterwards, a quick drink in the complimentary lounge chairs at the white sand beach (part of the "Healing Ritual Package" chairs were free, drinks were not) Then on to the Aviary "Aviarius" - Not the greatest for to cost, but you are right in the middle of many birds, while perched atop tower's connected by swinging bridges that zigzag over the port. The birds will come sit on your hand, shoulders, arms, head.... while you offer up some feed that is given to you when you enter their world. While you traverse the Aviary, you get a chance to look down upon the Dolphin experience. Now let me tell you this - the water that the people were waiting to swim in looked absolutely filthy, the green algae was floating everywhere. (see pic's attached)

Now one warning about Costa Maya - IF you opt to stay in the port, the vendor's are super aggressive. Every single shop had someone trying to drag you inside to peruse their wares.

All in all - The cruise was enjoyable, relaxing, and just what we both needed, would we opt for the cruise again, yes - but we would do many things differently....
panajack’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin O2 1153
Oceanview Fantastica - Now we were warned that the overall rooms were smaller than a regular hotel. Understatement - One queen sized bed, had just enough room to squeeze around both sides, and the foot of the bed. I think the term my wife used was "Cozy" but it was comfortable for 2 people. The bathroom, now I read ahead of time that the shower was tiny. Well that is very true - if you turn around inside you will hit the curtain which will stick to you, and of course end up soaking the floor outside the shower area. The toilet was different than we have experience before; when you flush you need to close the lid, and it sounds like a jet engine going off, on occasion, you would have to wait a couple min before it would actually flush. Storage space, we were able to completely unpack 4 large suitcases, and 2 smaller carry-on bags and still had room to spare. NOTE: if you need to charge anything - there are only 2 plugs in the room, both located on the desk, beneath the mirror. The safe, and additional storage is located behind the mirror.
Tormalina Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Mayan Temazcal Ceremony
    Maya Healing Ritual think of it as a themed day spa. $89 per person for approximately 1.5 hrs of uber relaxing time. First a soak in a deep heated herbal bath, with a head, neck and shoulder massage. Then to the Mayan Sweat Lodge for a traditional Mayan song, and some history of the practice while you relax in the sauna type room. Then face painting time, well ok not really, but you do a white clay mask, while relaxing and another song by the local shaman Then off to a cold shower, and into another deep soak in coconut milk bath (ok so it is not 100% coconut milk - it does have a coconut scent, but it is mostly just hot water bath, along with some more head, neck and shoulder rubs. Lastly, the Hammock Massage you will be wrapped in towels, then cocooned within the hammock. where you will get an coconut oil rubdown on your arms, and leg's, then a full back of body work over by the masseuse that is laying beneath you, using their legs and feet. OMG it was certainly an experience.... Granted it is not completely authentic, but it is still a relaxing time that you can decompress and forget the rest of the world.
    View All 5 Mayan Temazcal Ceremony Reviews
  • Grand Cayman (Georgetown)
    The guys on the Cayman Express were great...
    View All 3,379 Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Cayman (Georgetown) Cruise Port Review
  • River Rafting
    Rafting the Martha Brae - over an hour drive from the port - an hour on the river, with a local guide, but way too much time wasted going out of the way to a historic church in Falmouth, that was closed upon arrival, and too much time wasted at an overcrowded souvenir stand.
    View All 39 River Rafting Reviews