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I booked this cruise for my mom as a Christmas present. Originally it was supposed to go to Cuba, but the US government imposed restrictions in 2019 so I presume they lowered the price to fill the ship after people who wanted to go to Cuba pulled out. Both my mom and I are first time cruisers. We did hear a few experienced cruisers tell us "don't judge all cruises based on this one." I'll review the cruise as a first timer, since all first time cruisers I spoke with felt the same as I did. CHECKING IN We flew in on the day of our flight (a risky move!) and arrived 3 hours before departure. This meant we were one of the last people to board, and as a result there were no lines! It was an extremely smooth process and we were in our cabin within about 10 minutes after dropping off our luggage. We did the muster drills after disembarkation. It was done in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian) so it took a bit longer than I imagine it takes on less international cruises. When we returned to our room from the muster drill, our bags were already there. We were impressed at how quickly that happened! The buffet and bars were open right away, so people could have lunch or gelatto when they entered the ships. They also had activities planned for whenever people arrived on the ship, like dance classes and other group activities. SHIP SIZE The ship was smaller than others we saw in the sea, and one of the smallest in MSC's fleet. The ship size had its pros and cons: Pros: -It could stop at smaller that larger ships would need to tender to (see cons) -You don't need to reserve a space in the theater -- everyone was able to see the shows if they want -Disembarkation is faster when you have fewer people leaving -The staff know the names of each individual on the ship Cons: -The wind rocked our ship larger than other ships. This caused us to miss our stop in Jamaica (it was a small port we couldn't stop in) and leave our stop in Mexico two hours early (as a larger ship was blocking us from the wind) -There were fewer amenities on this ship as compared to a larger ship PASSENGERS The passengers on this ship (and with MSC in general) were very international. I met people from everywhere, but the largest portion of passengers that I encountered were from the US, UK, Canada and Brazil. Still, you can find a lot of people from all over Europe, South America and South Africa. People were friendly. I'd guess the average age was late 40s/early 50s, but we met many people in their 20s and many retirees as well. There were singles meet and greets, but these were largely empty. It felt like the passengers were mostly couples, but we did find a lot of people on friends trips. ENTERTAINMENT The ship had regular entertainment activities (daily trivia, dance classes, game shows). The gym is open from 6-10 and the pools and hot tubs open early. There are TVs in the rooms which show one movie, TLC, Food Network and a few kids channels. There's a cinema which shows a new movie (all movies were from 2019) every night, and four times a day on days at sea. There is a kids and teens club for younger people, and there's always live music playing in the various bars. We went to the theater every night. It was enjoyable, but there wasn't a large variety in the shows. Since the crowd was so multilingual, the shows were mostly singing and dancing. There were also "strong men" (a few guys who were able to hold up their body weight and the body weight of others with one hand. Their "tricks" (for lack of a better word) were impressive. There were also women showing impressive flexibility "tricks" during the shows. The dancers were flexible and talented, especially the salsa dancers. Every night after the theater there were game shows. They always handed out a free drink to someone at the shows and during the games, and they also gave prizes to the winners. These were entertaining, whether you were just watching or only participating. After the game shows, there was live music in all of the bars, but also parties in the disco each night (white night, silent disco, glow party, etc). STAFF The staff was wonderful. Everyone I talked to, from first time cruisers and people who have been on dozens of cruises, all agreed on this fact. The ship was always clean. Our room attendant managed to always clean our room while we were gone, so it was as if our room was cleaned by magic. We had a light go out in our bathroom. We mentioned it to the reception desk and by the time we got back to our room, someone had already replaced the switch, and were in the bathroom to also replace the light. When we returned to get ready for dinner, they asked us what time we'd leave for dinner, and returned at that time to avoid being in our way. We also had great luck in dining. Our server Andrea and assistant Neelesh were very attentive. My mom is quite picky. She quickly learned what she thought my mom would like, and always steered her towards things that she loved, that she wouldn't have ordered otherwise. When someone at the table wanted a drink she personally got the bartender to make sure we had fast service. Our cups were always full and we left satisfied. Mansur always checked to make sure everything was to our liking. Even though we were happy with the meals, it was really nice to interact with him. The entertainment staff was great. My mom loved Wally, Alex and Chante in particuar. Chante had an uncanny ability to remember everyone's name. She was bubbly and friendly and made everyone feel special. Wally and Alex were always silly and made shows more amusing. Wally was also extremely friendly, and was great at getting people involved and on the dance floor, especially people you wouldn't expect. Ebony was also friendly. DINING The buffet was open for all meals. They had a variety of pastries, meats, cheeses and breads for all meals. There were also different types of entrees for each meal. The restaurant also served 3 meals a day. They have pancakes and waffles and omlettes, among other things. Lunch offered a smaller menu, mostly of sandwiches and pastas, but the options changed each day. Dinner had a page of items that they served every day (salmon, steak, grilled chicken, etc) and a menu inspired by a common theme (mediterranean, Jamaican, etc). We appreciated most of our meals. As a foodie they weren't the best meals I've ever had but I did appreciate the meals. They had a good variety. My mom and I managed to order meals that we were satisfied with, but when the people at our table had something they may not have liked, the server quickly replaced it with an item of their choosing. PORTS This cruise stopped in Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands, Costa Maya Mexico and Ocean Key (Private Island) Bahamas. JAMAICA: Unfortunately we weren't able to stop in Falmouth. The winds were really bad and it was just too difficult for us to dock. The captain did it for our safety so we understood, but this is a risk for this boat in particular, as other reviews I read said that they had cancelled stops as well. We were going to go on our own excursion (take a taxi to Martha Braw and go rafting down the river), so we didn't have to worry about cancellations or refunds. GEORGETOWN: The Cayman Islands were beautiful. It was a tender port, which greatly shortened the duration of our time. We were able to get off the boat early, so I was on the tender boat at 7:45 (we were supposed to start at 8). Our departure time was at 2 so the last tender boat was at 1. We got on the port and went on an externally booked excursion to Sting Ray City and Starfish Point. We also went snorkeling. It was beautiful and we made it back before the last tender boat. That said, there was a very long line at the port for the tender boats, so people were still able to return through 1:30. COSTA MAYA: The wind was very bad in Costa Maya as well. Fortunately a larger boat from another company was parked next to us, so we were able to be shielded by then. I heard there were other boats who were unable to make it in so we were lucky. We were supposed to be there from 11-7. In the end we were able to go from 12-5 because we wanted to make sure we were shielded from the wind. Some excursions were cancelled due to the time change. We had booked an external excursion to Chacchoban with Native Choice. It was supposed to depart at 12. Since we didn't get off the boat until 12 (people on excursions booked on the ship left first), we arrived later than expected. The company sent the MSC passengers on their own bus with their own tour guide and managed to get us back earlier than scheduled to make sure we made it back to our boat. We were happy we went with them due to their flexibility. OCEAN CAY: This was MSC's own private island. We had beautiful weather and were fully able to take advantage of the day at the island. We rented an umbrella and raft and spent the day at the beach. There was a lunch buffet which was included. They also had a parade and bonfires and a lighthouse show at the end of the night. The beach closed around 5:00, so we went into the ship and had dinner and went back out at 8:30 for the parade. It wasn't a large island, but was beautiful. SUMMARY I was very happy with our first cruise, and I'm glad that we went on the Armonia. We always had something to do, we felt welcomed by the staff, and we met many new friends from around the world. The biggest complaint we had was the weight we gained from all of the tasty food we ate on the cruise! If you're used to a lot of luxury, this may not be for you. If you want to get away for a week and have a good time, I definitely recommend sailing on the MSC Armonia.

MSC Armonia, A great cruise for first timers

MSC Armonia Cruise Review by urshula

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2020
  • Destination: Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Interior Stateroom – Fantastica
I booked this cruise for my mom as a Christmas present. Originally it was supposed to go to Cuba, but the US government imposed restrictions in 2019 so I presume they lowered the price to fill the ship after people who wanted to go to Cuba pulled out.

Both my mom and I are first time cruisers. We did hear a few experienced cruisers tell us "don't judge all cruises based on this one." I'll review the cruise as a first timer, since all first time cruisers I spoke with felt the same as I did.

CHECKING IN

We flew in on the day of our flight (a risky move!) and arrived 3 hours before departure. This meant we were one of the last people to board, and as a result there were no lines! It was an extremely smooth process and we were in our cabin within about 10 minutes after dropping off our luggage.

We did the muster drills after disembarkation. It was done in 5 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian) so it took a bit longer than I imagine it takes on less international cruises.

When we returned to our room from the muster drill, our bags were already there. We were impressed at how quickly that happened!

The buffet and bars were open right away, so people could have lunch or gelatto when they entered the ships. They also had activities planned for whenever people arrived on the ship, like dance classes and other group activities.

SHIP SIZE

The ship was smaller than others we saw in the sea, and one of the smallest in MSC's fleet. The ship size had its pros and cons:

Pros:

-It could stop at smaller that larger ships would need to tender to (see cons)

-You don't need to reserve a space in the theater -- everyone was able to see the shows if they want

-Disembarkation is faster when you have fewer people leaving

-The staff know the names of each individual on the ship



Cons:

-The wind rocked our ship larger than other ships. This caused us to miss our stop in Jamaica (it was a small port we couldn't stop in) and leave our stop in Mexico two hours early (as a larger ship was blocking us from the wind)

-There were fewer amenities on this ship as compared to a larger ship

PASSENGERS

The passengers on this ship (and with MSC in general) were very international. I met people from everywhere, but the largest portion of passengers that I encountered were from the US, UK, Canada and Brazil. Still, you can find a lot of people from all over Europe, South America and South Africa.

People were friendly. I'd guess the average age was late 40s/early 50s, but we met many people in their 20s and many retirees as well. There were singles meet and greets, but these were largely empty. It felt like the passengers were mostly couples, but we did find a lot of people on friends trips.

ENTERTAINMENT

The ship had regular entertainment activities (daily trivia, dance classes, game shows). The gym is open from 6-10 and the pools and hot tubs open early. There are TVs in the rooms which show one movie, TLC, Food Network and a few kids channels. There's a cinema which shows a new movie (all movies were from 2019) every night, and four times a day on days at sea. There is a kids and teens club for younger people, and there's always live music playing in the various bars.

We went to the theater every night. It was enjoyable, but there wasn't a large variety in the shows. Since the crowd was so multilingual, the shows were mostly singing and dancing. There were also "strong men" (a few guys who were able to hold up their body weight and the body weight of others with one hand. Their "tricks" (for lack of a better word) were impressive. There were also women showing impressive flexibility "tricks" during the shows. The dancers were flexible and talented, especially the salsa dancers.

Every night after the theater there were game shows. They always handed out a free drink to someone at the shows and during the games, and they also gave prizes to the winners. These were entertaining, whether you were just watching or only participating.

After the game shows, there was live music in all of the bars, but also parties in the disco each night (white night, silent disco, glow party, etc).

STAFF

The staff was wonderful. Everyone I talked to, from first time cruisers and people who have been on dozens of cruises, all agreed on this fact. The ship was always clean. Our room attendant managed to always clean our room while we were gone, so it was as if our room was cleaned by magic. We had a light go out in our bathroom. We mentioned it to the reception desk and by the time we got back to our room, someone had already replaced the switch, and were in the bathroom to also replace the light. When we returned to get ready for dinner, they asked us what time we'd leave for dinner, and returned at that time to avoid being in our way.

We also had great luck in dining. Our server Andrea and assistant Neelesh were very attentive. My mom is quite picky. She quickly learned what she thought my mom would like, and always steered her towards things that she loved, that she wouldn't have ordered otherwise. When someone at the table wanted a drink she personally got the bartender to make sure we had fast service. Our cups were always full and we left satisfied. Mansur always checked to make sure everything was to our liking. Even though we were happy with the meals, it was really nice to interact with him.

The entertainment staff was great. My mom loved Wally, Alex and Chante in particuar. Chante had an uncanny ability to remember everyone's name. She was bubbly and friendly and made everyone feel special. Wally and Alex were always silly and made shows more amusing. Wally was also extremely friendly, and was great at getting people involved and on the dance floor, especially people you wouldn't expect. Ebony was also friendly.

DINING

The buffet was open for all meals. They had a variety of pastries, meats, cheeses and breads for all meals. There were also different types of entrees for each meal. The restaurant also served 3 meals a day. They have pancakes and waffles and omlettes, among other things. Lunch offered a smaller menu, mostly of sandwiches and pastas, but the options changed each day. Dinner had a page of items that they served every day (salmon, steak, grilled chicken, etc) and a menu inspired by a common theme (mediterranean, Jamaican, etc).

We appreciated most of our meals. As a foodie they weren't the best meals I've ever had but I did appreciate the meals. They had a good variety. My mom and I managed to order meals that we were satisfied with, but when the people at our table had something they may not have liked, the server quickly replaced it with an item of their choosing.

PORTS

This cruise stopped in Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Cayman Islands, Costa Maya Mexico and Ocean Key (Private Island) Bahamas.

JAMAICA: Unfortunately we weren't able to stop in Falmouth. The winds were really bad and it was just too difficult for us to dock. The captain did it for our safety so we understood, but this is a risk for this boat in particular, as other reviews I read said that they had cancelled stops as well. We were going to go on our own excursion (take a taxi to Martha Braw and go rafting down the river), so we didn't have to worry about cancellations or refunds.

GEORGETOWN: The Cayman Islands were beautiful. It was a tender port, which greatly shortened the duration of our time. We were able to get off the boat early, so I was on the tender boat at 7:45 (we were supposed to start at 8). Our departure time was at 2 so the last tender boat was at 1. We got on the port and went on an externally booked excursion to Sting Ray City and Starfish Point. We also went snorkeling. It was beautiful and we made it back before the last tender boat. That said, there was a very long line at the port for the tender boats, so people were still able to return through 1:30.

COSTA MAYA: The wind was very bad in Costa Maya as well. Fortunately a larger boat from another company was parked next to us, so we were able to be shielded by then. I heard there were other boats who were unable to make it in so we were lucky. We were supposed to be there from 11-7. In the end we were able to go from 12-5 because we wanted to make sure we were shielded from the wind. Some excursions were cancelled due to the time change. We had booked an external excursion to Chacchoban with Native Choice. It was supposed to depart at 12. Since we didn't get off the boat until 12 (people on excursions booked on the ship left first), we arrived later than expected. The company sent the MSC passengers on their own bus with their own tour guide and managed to get us back earlier than scheduled to make sure we made it back to our boat. We were happy we went with them due to their flexibility.

OCEAN CAY: This was MSC's own private island. We had beautiful weather and were fully able to take advantage of the day at the island. We rented an umbrella and raft and spent the day at the beach. There was a lunch buffet which was included. They also had a parade and bonfires and a lighthouse show at the end of the night. The beach closed around 5:00, so we went into the ship and had dinner and went back out at 8:30 for the parade. It wasn't a large island, but was beautiful.

SUMMARY

I was very happy with our first cruise, and I'm glad that we went on the Armonia. We always had something to do, we felt welcomed by the staff, and we met many new friends from around the world. The biggest complaint we had was the weight we gained from all of the tasty food we ate on the cruise! If you're used to a lot of luxury, this may not be for you. If you want to get away for a week and have a good time, I definitely recommend sailing on the MSC Armonia.
urshula’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Interior Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin I2
The cabin was comfortable. We brought over the door shoe organizers and put our luggage under the beds to have extra space for our items and we were comfortable the whole time. The shower in the bathroom was small, but we were still happy with it.
Tormalina Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins