I've sailed several times on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, and I really wanted to experience the MSC brand and Meraviglia, despite the mixed reviews, because the ship seemed very impressive in videos. I got an excellent last minute deal and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, the bad aspects of it outweighed the good ones.
- Our cabin was very nice, very clean, and had modern amenities. We got upgraded to a balcony cabin for free, so our experience started off excellent. If not for the cabin and upgrade, my review would be 1 star.
- The shops on the ship were nice, especially the Jean Phillipe Chocolatier and gelato. It was very cool to see the chocolate sculptures being made.
- The shows were actually quite good. We saw Digital in the main theater, and it was modern and interesting compared to most cruise ship shows. We also saw Cirque du Soleil Sonor (for an extra $18) and it was pretty good also. A 1-hour Cirque show for $18 is a bargain. Some friends brought their daughter who really loved it.
- The buffet was actually pretty good and expansive, as was the dining area around it. You can also order drinks at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, I got VERY sick from some late night snacks here on the last night. Avoid anything with mayonnaise or dressing at this hour. The rest of the group had pizza and no issues.
- The food in all the Main Dining Rooms was HORRIBLE. The entire main dining experience was HORRIBLE. Tables are packed 3 inches apart and you wait a very long time for what looks like something that came out of somebody's butt spilled all over a plate. Other diners were very loudly making fun of the food. Entire groups of people walked out of the MDR when the entrees arrived and you can overhear their negative comments. I'm a fan of MDR dining on other ships, and tried breakfast at another dining room on our sea day, and once again it was just slop on a plate, with bad service. I've attached a photo of our first appetizer, for which we waited 45 minutes.
- The service at the main dining rooms was very bad for many reasons. To sum it up, there were many angry guests yelling at the Maitre D. I spoke to several people who said their groups were split at dinner (same party at different tables with strangers) and that the Maitre D could offer no resolution.
- This ship felt very overcrowded, and the guests were mostly very loud and obnoxious people. It felt a lot more like a busy airport (a nice airport) during the holidays than a cruise.
- The cruise director was obnoxious and there weren't many activities throughout the sea day. His one joke before the theater shows was to talk bad about Carnival. That got old really quick. The announcements in 7 languages each time he spoke on the announcement system were annoying as well.
- Only 2 elevator banks for a ship of that size is a bad design decision.
- Customer service throughout the ship was just messed up. Very long lines at the Customer Service desk whenever we walked by. The process of adding funds to your card was very confusing to many. The big lines have infinitely better processes for doing this.
- I went to the Medical Center to report that I had what I believed to be food poisoning (first time ever) and, while they were nice, I was told that I would have to pay $115 to see a doctor. This is a serious problem in my opinion.
- One thing that seems small but very annoying: On seemingly every screen throughout the ship were videos on replay of a gala with the MSC board of directors (speaking on a stage, dancing on a stage, clapping, then clapping some more.) Who wants to watch this all day, or even at all?
Overall, the MSC Meraviglia left a very bad taste in my mouth, no pun intended. I definitely would not choose to sail on Meraviglia again, but based on others' reviews, I would consider trying out the MSC Seaside. But only if it's at a very good price.