We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We had never been to Iceland and we thought this would give us an idea of what to see there.
The embarkation process was horrible. Long lines and only two windows open when we arrived. We had to drag our luggage with us through the whole line.
We were assigned the wrong dining time. It took us three days and a lot of haggling to get it changed. The head maitre d “ Anton” was not helpful or caring.
Every employee on the ship seemed as though they had never cruised before. No one knew what they were doing and could not make a decision by themselves.
We were offered a “welcome” cocktail party one evening. The waiters were very efficient bringing out dozens of trays of cocktails for the guests. However, not one officer from the ship showed up to “welcome” us on board.
When we bought our cruise we were offered an incentive of 12 drink coupons per person. When we arrived on the ship there were no coupons. We asked at reception and were told that the offer had expired so we would not get the coupons. I sent an email to my travel agent. The next day we received a message in our cabin to come to reception. Our coupons were waiting for us.
Usually on other cruise lines I have a case of water sent to our cabin. MSC did not offer only water. You have to buy a drink package that includes water.
Our interior cabin was adequate. It did have two closets which was nice. No one had tissues in their cabin. We were told it was an environmental reason but if we really wanted them we could call the front desk to request them which we did. If it was environmental there were a lot of other things they do they could change.
The food in every venue was horrible. The buffet was so crowded at all times. The food was comparable to a low end restaurant. The dining room was the same with food that could have been prepackaged frozen items. Mushy shrimp cocktails, fishy fish and white rice with everything. Our server Widiana was excellent and the head waiters Mircea Bercaru and Jamal also went out of their way to make our dining the best they could with what they had to work with.
We bought a specialty dining package they offered online. When we got on the ship we had so many conflicts with shows we wanted to cancel it. We were told anything we bought online was not eligible to be cancelled. We juggled our schedules in order to fit it in. We were very disappointed in all the specialty restaurants. All the food was no better than the dining rooms. Also, you expect a more upscale dining room. This was not the case. The rooms were just an area stuck in the side of the ship painted a different color.
The shows were typical MSC. There was a lot of opera and classical music. The production shows were mediocre. The premise for some of the shows was something you would make for grade school. One of our seatings was cancelled in the middle of the show because the curtain got stuck and the could not open it. However, the dancers were exceptional. They all deserve a better place to work. The Cirque de Soleil show “Sonor” was cancelled for the whole cruise. We did not find out until we arrived for the show after having skipped our dinner because of the time conflict. The other Cirque show “ Viaggio” started on time only to stop three times due to “ technical difficulties “. All the shows such as the ventriloquist had to be translated into five or six different languages which was very annoying. The showroom was beautiful but the stairs had lighting that was very bright and blinding. We saw three people fall at different times. The grand staircase in the atrium was the same but accented with crystals which was supposed to be beautiful but was only blinding.
Our room steward Dixon did an excellent job. Most ship employees were good. A lot were unfriendly. The captain interrupted our day every day an noon to tell us the weather and the ships position. Then his announcement had to be translated into six languages again. They did not make any other announcements on the PA system leading to the passengers not having any knowledge about what was going on.
The ports were very nice. We only took one excursion with the ship. It ran smoothly. We were told by other passengers that the excursions in Iceland left so late they were touring in the dark and visited the stops in the dark. They went to see the geysers in the dark.
The restrooms on the ship were all outfitted with new fixtures that were supposed to be automatic but never worked. You could never get any soap and the water was always running all over the floor.
Every charge on the ship was in Euros. Even if you registered your credit card online before you left as you do with every other cruise lines, you had to go to a kiosk on the ship to authorize a minimum $250 (275 euros) before you could buy anything on the ship.
One thing we learned that was very upsetting was that even though all their charges were in Euros they pay their employees in American dollars. They lose a lot in the exchange rate.
The Meraviglia was the largest cruise ship to ever dock in New York. We were to spend two nights on the ship in New York. We were advised to leave the ship on our full day there and not return for at least 6 hours. This was because customs would be coming on the ship and they were not sure when they would finish. We did this only to return to the ship full of outside people touring the ship.
We and many other people on the ship that we spoke with have decided this is the last chance for MSC. We will never travel on one of their ships again.
Our cabin was very adequate. The bathroom was a good size. Our cabin configuration came with two closets. The air conditioning worked well.