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MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
469 Reviews

Prepared for the worse but was delighted instead

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review by laurabavelaar

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2020
  • Destination: the Western Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Bella Balcony Stateroom

After reviewing the ships design and watching videos on the making of the Meraviglia, we were intrigued. We have sailed a number of times with Celebrity, RC, Princess, Norwegian, and Disney, but we've noticed the decline in industry standards over the years and felt that the food and service was not keeping up....so why keep paying for it?

When MSC offered a GREAT deal for a two week cruise that would have cost us nearly double on Celebrity, we decided it was worth taking a chance.

However, after booking I noticed that there were some really bad reviews so I was prepared for the worse and figured 'live and learn'.

MSC (like all cruise lines) does some things really well, other things good, and has some things that need improvement.

FOOD MAIN DINING - 3/5 - Decor OK, service OK, food OK, choices OK. Main dining on all lines hasn't been that great lately.

FOOD IN SPECIALTY RESTAURANT OCEAN KAY - 5/5 - Service, food, ambiance was delightful.

FOOD IN SPECIALTY RESTAURANT BUTCHERS CUT - 3.5/5 - Ambiance and food good. Service excellent.

DINNER AND SHOW VILLAGIO - 4/5 - Show interesting, food great, ambiance very good.

NIGHTLY ENTERTAINMENT - 3.5/5 - Cabaret, lots of dancing and singing....night after night. I like a Broadway type of play thrown in here and there, or solo singers. I think Celebrity provides more variety and choices. Dancers were excellent. If you don't like this sort of thing, you're going to be disappointed.

SHIPBOARD ENTERTAINMENT - 3.5/5 - Mostly singers and musicians in bars, typical stuff and nothing out of the ordinary. Many people dragged their tiny kids and babies from bar to bar, which could really spoil the atmosphere when they started to act their age. Bars are for adults, not kids. Put them in the nightly program and let them, and the other patrons, enjoy themselves.

OPEN POOL AREAS - 3.5/5 - Large pool gets way too crowded and there is really nothing visually pleasing about the area. It's also loud and where the action is if you aren't looking to relax. HORIZON area smaller and has less kids, pick this area if you want a little peace and quiet. KIDS splash park - great place for the kids, which is where you would hope they'd be but it seems too many people think the little ones from 2 and up should crowd into the hot tubs.

INSIDE POOL - would get a 4 out of 5 but only gets a 3 - because again, people think this quiet sanctuary was intended for dumping your kids off to act like kids. The noise level at times was intense and people felt that diapered babies in hot tubs was a great idea...yuck.

SHOPS - 3/5 - Nothing out of the ordinary, prices and selection just OK. Service good.

MAIN AREAS - 3.5/5 - Beautiful, reasonable enough space for amount of people, though could be bigger. However, it is true that when the shows get out they usually offload at the same time, on the same level. This does cause about a half hour of crowded confusion twice each night. Not well planned out.

SERVICE DESKS, ETC. - 4/5 - Some language difficulty, along with customs, can cause misunderstandings. If there is something that needs addressing, be pleasant, understanding, praise their work but be assertive. They went out of their way to make us happy, even when it wasn't their fault....but ours! They treated us the way we treated them.

TENDER - 5/5 - Quality of tender and how they handle the volume is one of the best. No chaos.

PORTS - 4/5 - They have a couple ports that are not as cookie cutter as the other cruise lines.

MSC Marine Reserve - 3.5/5 - It would have got a 4 if not for the small area that they do the buffet. Not well planned out at all....an entire ship trying to eat in a small area during a short time frame.....makes for unhappy campers. Lots of bars, swimming areas, chairs, and places to walk. Excellent, and will only get better. If you don't buy the drink package then make sure to buy the 'one day drink package for the island'. One of the best deals on the market.

EMBARKATION - 3/5 - OK, from start to inside cabin about 2.5 hours. Crowded at times and sometimes felt like cattle. Not the worst I've seen but not the best. Could be confusing at times but this might be just the Miami terminal authority.

DISEMBARKATION - 3.5/5 - Better than some. But again, once off the ship you're dealing with Miami terminal, chaotic.

MSC FOR ME APP - 5/5 - Brilliant, highly recommend, all cruise lines should adopt. It was hugely helpful and didn't cost a cent. We used their instant messaging app (which is free, even if you did not take the internet package) to locate all four people in our group. What a great help! We knew where and when everyone was so it was a great freedom maker!

PRE CRUISE HELP - email, service, etc. - 1/5 - The worst. Just don't bother. If you're looking to spend months frustrated and sent on the run around, then this is the place to be. Prepare to spend a good portion of your evenings just trying to reach some one...only to be told to call another place.....and then another.....and another....

OVERALL VALUE - 4/5 - Once on board, it was worth the trip and the value exceeded what we paid.

I did hear from a number of people on board who have been on MSC cruises both in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean and that the quality of everything on the Caribbean cruises is way up. They mentioned that it is like being on two separate cruise lines.

laurabavelaar's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Bella Balcony Stateroom

CABIN - balcony - 4.5/5 - pleasantly decorated, good use of space. Needs more storage and plugs for devices. Balcony size adequate. Service, once you told the attendant what you required, was spot on. Compares to RC and Celebrity.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Dunn's River Falls

Worth it.

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