I loved almost everything about MSC. My other experience of a cruise is Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. I would say the major differences in US and European cruises are the food and entertainment. Royal Caribbean had more food outlets but much lower quality. MSC food from the free dining was stellar even at 1 in the morning. The formal dining rooms were s good standard, meals didn't take too long to arrive.
I stayed in yacht club but most of the people I travelled with were not so I have experience of both. The standard balcony rooms were on the smaller side but not uncomfortable. For the price and compared to other ships, the yacht club rooms, are the smallest premium rooms I've seen but everything else about the yacht club was very enjoyable. The wristband you're given can be hard instead of your room key and you can make purchases.
Unlike other crews lines MSC's drink packages don't just include soda. You can also get juice, ice tea, premium tea and coffee and very good mocktails. Yacht club package also includes alcohol, milkshake, gelato and crepes. The crepes were a daily indulgence The luxury cafe/bar had so many variations of hot chocolate and coffee. This was on deck 8 with a live pianist so anyone can walk in. Prices weren't worse than a premium European cafe. For those without a drinks package MSC have a la carte drinks at all outlets, mocktails start at just €4.5. They even have a kiddy mocktail that my niece loved. There's loads of bars all over the ship which is helpful for the hot summer days.
This is where MSC fell down a bit. This was what I presume is what typical cruises are like, there were a lot of tributes and mismatched variety shows. With American cruises like Royal Caribbean you really felt like you were in a theatre show or a live variety show. This may be because this Cruise only spent 3 days on land out of 7 so we needed more entertainment. Some MSC shows had great circus style performances and dancing. But for the theatre and singing I didn't really enjoy it. Also MSC has about 3 shows a night which only last 45 minutes that was also a shame. Also although the theatre is called Odeon I don't think there are any films. We did have nice times dancing in the lounge and doing karaoke (we got the whole room moving).
A la carte entrainment
There was an arcade with boiling alley, teen club and other games that seemed really fun. However having already paid for Yacht Club I didn't want to pay for more. My party hired one of the rooms for a party we had, it had a Cadillac diner feel which was nice. Everyone at the party was able to get drinks which was really enjoyed.
MSC has great slides, I noticed about 40. I lived on the floor of the pool so I really enjoyed. Since MSC docks everyday I only got to enjoy this on the days we missed due to a storm. There's also enough pools and hot tubs on different floors. Yacht club also has its own pool and hot tubs.
They had an amazing kids centre thatmy niece and nephew didn't want to leave even at 9pm. They also take the kids for meals. There's also wristbands you can get for your kids and track them using the app.
The MSC app allows you to chat with other guests without using internet. It also allows you to book shows, see the schedule, see the map and embark.
The wristband was amazing. This should be on every cruise ship. I think you can buy it as well if you're not in yacht club. It's waterproof so you can go swimming and still be able to get into your room. The dining rooms were beautiful and with tasty food. I found the menus and meal times more limited than the complimentary dining so I had to go there a few times. There was a drinks reception on the first night which was nice. The restaurant also has afternoon tea everyday. The yacht club also has more casual buffet dining next to the pool which is great if you need a quick bite or want to eat outside. I had filet mignon poolside. The yacht club restaurant is also well designed and has designer bags in the corridor. The yacht club restaurant especially during the day is probably the quietest place on the ship so it's a great place to relax with a hot choclate. Honestly MSC hot chocolate is some of the best I've had. Take advantage of the room service if you're lazy. We got free Venchi chocolates (amazing Italian chocolatier) and macarons regular in our rooms. The fridge was stocked and free for the taking, including snacks. Our butler was absolutely amazing (I miss him). Our maid was super helpful when some of my luggage didn't make it to the flight. I was able to get a wash bag and MSC t-shirt. We had a great relationship with the yacht club director so I particularly enjoyed my stay.
Not free restaurants
We went to ocean cay. Lovely restaurant. Since we had a drinks package it was nice to see that the drinks were different in this restaurant compared to the rest of the ship. I had a lovely 3 course steak meal.
Disembarking was super easy, maybe because we usually left around 10am so there was no queue. We went to some popular locations in Spain, France and Italy. We missed Ajaccio (Corsica) because of a storm. La Spezia, short journey from Pisa, Civitavecchia, shuttle bus journey to Rome, Cannes (amazing in itself), 20 minutes on the train to Nice, we spent about 40 minutes travelling to Monaco, and Majorca. it was a bit of a rush to get back for 4:30pm/what the embarking time was but it was great fun running around Europe to see it all as quickly as possible. I don't think anyone would be disappointed in the choice of location or choose to stay on the ship.
I would say you can go on MSC for the food and locations alone. You want be disappointed with the ship itself, it's great for families and adults. The a la carte drinks are a huge plus. If you are in yacht club/aurea, take full advantage of the food, gelato, and drinks. Order everything on the menu. Don't neglect the free dining though, I particularly loved the Bavarian buffet which isn't posh enough to be served in the yacht club. Book your shows in advance as it's always packed. If you're in yacht club you can ask for seats to be reserved for you. Whether you're in yacht club or not you'll enjoy the experience.
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