This was our first MSC cruise. We have done a couple Carnival cruises, but we are big Royal Caribbean fans. This sailing was showing a fantastic price for a balcony cabin, with ports of call we hadn’t tried yet, so we decided to go for it! We booked a Fantastica balcony, on the Deck 11, starboard side, 11366. It was a nice size, the only minor complaint we had was that there was not much closet storage. If there were four people in our cabin, it would have been really difficult to unpack everything... Not sure who designed that closet, but they must pack super light! Our balcony was the perfect size for us, and we enjoyed having coffee and pastries (especially the chocolate croissants ) out there every morning. The coffee was very very good. We are all about good quality coffee, and this was very good quality!
We had an early seating in the main dining room, and were seated with two other couples. We got to know them very well and the last few nights we were talking for so long, we were one of the last tables to leave! The service was fine, except I think they assign the waiters to way more tables than Royal Caribbean does, and they definitely don’t spend any extra time getting to know you. That didn’t really bother us, I think maybe it’s a European thing (the less interaction part, not the understaffed part...)? They were working very hard to keep up with things, it was definitely not their fault, they were just incredibly busy.
We felt like our cabin steward was assigned to too many cabins, as well. However, he was very friendly and personable and we chatted with him a lot. I don't think many other guests talked to him as much. He took care of us, for sure! He made us towel animals a couple times, and even brought us an extra set of pool towels. He kept the tissues and TP stocked in the bathroom, which I’ve heard sometimes doesn’t happen.
We really enjoyed the shows! There was one particular male singer who was not very good, but thankfully we only saw him twice. Everything else was fantastic! We went to the opera, which was a special one showing only event, the afternoon of our first sea day. That was our first opera experience and it was fascinating to listen to the singers, they were very good. Our favorite show was the Flamenco show—incredible dancing! All of the evening shows had three showings, which you have to book (still free, though) via your app, on your room TV, or on one of the screens all around the ship. We always went to the 8:30 show, since we had early dinner, and it was almost always fully booked, so try and get there early for a good seat. We also went to one of the Cirque du Soleil shows, and it was very good! There were also a few random shows/activities that we enjoyed, like Master Chef at Sea, which was really fun! We also really enjoyed the cruise director’s “Up Close” show, where he explains his show business background, it was pretty interesting.
We went to the Cruise Critic Cocktail, and it was awesome! They gave us plenty of delicious appetizers, like caviar, salmon, chocolate covered strawberries, cake, and cocktails, of course. They had plenty for everyone, so we both tried a couple different cocktails. The captain and heads of staff were all there, and the Sky Lounge was the perfect setting! We had a great time!
We were blessed with fantastic weather! Only rainy day was our second sea day, and the rain passed by the afternoon, although it was still windy. Our ports of call were Costa Maya, Belize City, Roatan, and Ocean Cay. We just took a taxi to the beach in Costa Maya (the Tropicante, which I definitely recommend—no minimum purchase required, you just pick a lounge chair and order whatever you want throughout the day). In Belize, we did MSC’s Lamanai and the New River tour. It. was. awesome! It was a 6 hour tour, so we booked through MSC, so they would know where we were. We took an hour bus ride, then an hour speed boat ride up the New River. We stopped a couple times to look at animals like crocodiles, bats, birds, etc. Then you spend an hour and a half touring the Lamanai Mayan Ruins. Very cool! We climbed to the top of the High Temple, and you can see all the way to Mexico! Then after your boat ride back, they fed us a delicious lunch, then back on the bus. We were one of the first tenders off the ship and one of the last back to the ship. Great day!!
In Roatan, we did a three stop snorkeling tour, which included lunch! Another amazing day! Our lunch was fresh caught snapper, rice and beans, fried plantains, and a salad. Drink from the bar were very cheap. We booked this excursion through Expedia, the tour operator was Christopher Tours. We would definitely do it again! The reef snorkeling was beautiful!
Ocean Cay was just so beautiful! They are swinging for the fences with that place. (No waterpark, like CocoCay, though, lol) The beaches were beautiful and not too crowded, since there were so many beach options. The food was good—not a lot of variety, but if you don’t like the options, it’s a short walk back to the ship for more. The lighthouse show at night was impressive!
The food!! We loved it! A couple of minor misses here and there, but overall it was great! We ate in the MDR all but one night, and both MDR and buffet were great, in our opinion. The pizza is awesome! The pastries were also a big hit! One of my favorite dishes was the Jamaican beef stew. My husband is all about seafood and he ordered several great seafood items during the week (muscles, scallops, octopus, different fish, etc). They have plenty of options for all tastes. In the buffet, the back area was much less crowded, and offers the exact same foods. The omelettes are worth waiting a few minutes, but often if you see a long line at one, the other station is shorter. Also, the buffet usually offers most of the same foods as the MDRs each night, including desserts, except for the nightly featured ice creams.
We only had a few complaints the whole week. There were several times when we felt like the staff were just a bit unorganized. Some things they should have been more aware of, or just more knowledgeable. One employee would tell us one thing, and then another employee would tell us something different. For example, we were not willing to pay $100+ for internet service, but we were interested in their texting package. Online, before the cruise, it said they had a $49 package for iMessage (and Facebook Messenger, I think), but that you couldn't purchase this until you were on board. However... we get onboard and it's a different story. That $49 package didn't exist. We went to Guest Services, and they said that that package is available on sailings going to Ocean Cay... So our only option was the $79 package... The bright side is that before purchasing that package, we put our phones in Airplane mode and tested iMessage, and it worked! lol Only to other iPhones users, but that's all we needed. It stopped working on our last day of the cruise, but at that point, we just didn't worry about it. If you book a plan with the free internet, this is a nonissue, but just make sure you read the fine print on their internet package details, and if possible, just turn your phone off all week and relax. Only reason we wanted texting was because we left our kids with grandparents and wanted to stay in touch.
Overall, we were very happy with MSC. You have to go into it with an open mind, and just be aware of some slight differences. There are definitely some cultural differences, but nothing to stress out about. We enjoyed hearing so many different languages, it was neat. We are already checking out some more MSC sailings later this year, so maybe I’ll have another review to share!
Beautiful room, great balcony! Not much storage space. The bed is closer to the door, rather than the window. I would have preferred the bed by the window, so you can see the ocean from bed. The bathroom is a good size, glass shower door. The location was pretty far from elevators which is good noise-wise, but makes for a long walk. The bed was a little on the firm side, but we both slept like babies. The pillows are nice—one was more firm and one was very soft. The breakfast delivery was a highlight of our trip--we enjoyed coffee and pastries each morning on our balcony. Our cabin steward made up our room multiple times a day, and they also cleaned the balcony twice during our trip, via the outside cleaning mechanism. We would happily stay in this cabin again!
We have a love/hate relationship with cruising out of Miami. It's beautiful, but getting to and from the port is much more difficult than other ports. But a lot of great cruise iterneraries are out of Miami. If you plan ahead and make sure to pack an extra helping of patience, it's totally fine. Hotels are usually higher if you want to stay by the beach the day before. The new cruise terminals for most cruise lines are also great.
We took a taxi to the beach, $4pp/one way, and they dropped us off at El Tropicante. It was very relaxing! You can pick whichever chairs or loungers you want, and simply order whatever food and drink you want all day. No cover price, no reservation fee, no minimum order amount, just show up, eat, drink, be merry, and pay your tab at the end of the day. Perfect! And beautiful. Not secluded in any respect, but we didn't mind being around other tourists in Mexico. There were people selling items, but they didn't harrass us at all. If you're not interested, we just said no thank you, and they moved on. We would definitely go back!View All 389 Beach Reviews
We booked the 3 Snorkeling Stop tour with Christopher Tours, and LOVED it! They met us outside the port area, and after a 30 minute drive in a nice air conditioned van, which in itself was very neat to see the island, they dropped us off at their private dock/restaurant area, with a little beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas. They took our lunch order, then we hopped on the snorkel boat. The snorkeling was amazing, the best I've ever done! Roatan's reef is beautiful! Then we had lunch at their beach restaurant, fresh fried snapper, rice and beans, fried plantains, salad, and the option to purchase cheap drinks at their bar. We would definitely do this exact same excursion again in a heartbeat!View All 345 Snorkeling Reviews
Amazing excursion!! We've always wanted to tour Mayan ruins, and this one was an extra special way to do that. After an hour bus ride, which wasn't too bad, because the tour guides spent the whole trip giving us tons of really interesting facts about Belize, we got on a speed boat and went another hour up the New Belize River. We stopped a few times to look at some awesome wildlife, including crocodiles, bats, and some birds. Then the ruins themselves were breathtaking. We also saw howler monkeys, toucans, and anteaters on the temple sites. We both climbed the High Temple, and it was incredible--we could see Mexico. After another boat ride, they served us a very delicious lunch of chicken, rice and bean, fried plantains, coleslaw, and juice. They got us back to the dock on time. It was a long day (one of the first tenders off the ship, one of the last tenders back), but I would do it again! Loved it!View All 131 Lamanai Mayan Ruins Reviews
Ocean Cay is beautiful!!! So many beach options, so it wasn't crowded. It was very windy when we were there, but I don't think it's usually quite so windy. Even with the slightly cooler temperatures, the water didn't feel too cold for snorkeling. The water was very murky, so snorkeling wasn't great, but again, I think that's not typical. The food was limited choices, but pretty good. We also got a couple of drinks from the bar closest to us (there will always be one close to you, no matter where you are on the island, lol), and they were very friendly and took good care of us. I would like to come back when it's warmer and less windy. The lighthouse show that night was very cool, as well as the Junkanoo parade.