We had originally planned a cruise on another line, which was cancelled. And a second, which was cancelled. And a third, which was cancelled. Our cruise on the MSC Grandiosa was a happy accident.
We sailed from Barcelona. MSC embarks and disembarks passengers at ports along the way, which I had never experienced before. Disembarkation, in particular, was much nicer this way than cruises in the past. They are not closing down the entire ship, putting all passengers into public areas at once, so things are far more civilized. We were able to have breakfast as we normally would and relax until it was time to disembark.
Embarkation still needs improvement. Issues are most likely all COVID related, but it was not a great way to start a cruise. The first person we spoke with insisted that we needed separate COVID insurance, in addition to our regular medical insurance, which we did not have and did not need. Staff should be given clear guidance on what is needed and should be operating with a checklist instead of a long document which mentions COVID insurance several pages in. I understand why the staff member interpreted the requirement as he did, but there should not be any need to interpret anything and being told that I might not be able to board the ship at that point was very frustrating. Next, they need more signage and perhaps a handout to explain the pre-boarding COVID test procedures. While we are happy to comply and glad that MSC does everything they can to keep the cruise COVID safe (it appears they take this very seriously), we wound up waiting in the hot sun with other passenger pushing into us from behind and many people taking off their masks because of the discomfort of waiting outside in the sun. Also, once in the terminal, we were not properly directed and wound up at the ship before we were redirected to the correct place to wait for the COVID test. Once onboard, I asked if a dining room was open and was told the only place we could eat was the buffet. The buffet was crowded, the food was not good at this time, and I thought the whole cruise was gong to be pretty bad. Fortunately, I was wrong.
Our mid ship balcony cabin on deck 12 was nicely laid out and spacious. The beds and bedding were comfortable. USB ports made it easy to charge phones. Everything I can think of (storage space, working toilet, water pressure, cleanliness) was spot on.