We went on the 7 day RT cruise from Miami. Never cruised with MSC before and actually had pretty low expectations from the reviews, but thought we would go with an open mind because we really wanted to see Cuba and it was a good price plus ... Read More
We went on the 7 day RT cruise from Miami. Never cruised with MSC before and actually had pretty low expectations from the reviews, but thought we would go with an open mind because we really wanted to see Cuba and it was a good price plus we got the Easy drink package and WiFi for free. They will match your status with other lines, so be sure to do that before you go.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale and used the ships transfer to Miami. FLL is a Southwest hub and the prices were better than Miami. We had to wait at the airport for a while before they had a full bus to take to Miami. Next time, I would probably just taken a taxi or Uber.
One thing I want to note here is that the porters at the Port of Miami are extremely pushy regarding tips. Our bus driver told us the porters would pick up the luggage after it was unloaded and we didn't have to do anything. The porters made us bring it to them and put it on the cart for them and then held their hands out for a tip to "make sure it got to the cabin safely". This sounded like extortion to me and it does not make the cruise lines look very good (even though the porters are Port Authority employees). Our dinner mates were from London and they were appalled by how the porters acted.
Embarkation in Miami was super smooth, walked right on the ship around 1:30 pm. This was the easiest embarkation we've ever experienced. I think it helped that they did not process your credit card at embarkation, which was different than I'd experienced before, there was a machine on board that you used to link your card with your room, again super easy, just different.
This cruise was only 25% Americans so there were many languages spoken. All announcements were made in at least 5 languages. Also, a lot of people did not show up for the mandatory safety drill, which was frustrating waiting for the crew to round them up while we waiting for them outside in the heat.
We had ocean view cabin 9271, it seemed similar to OV on Royal Caribbean's smaller ships. The bed was only a double, I would have liked to had a king, but it was fine, and we knew this before we boarded. The air conditioning in this room did not work very well, I had to contact customer service multiple times to get it fixed, but it did get fixed, and they sent us a bottle of wine and strawberries to apologize, which was a nice touch. Our room steward was very efficient and was friendly. A plus was that we were near the rear of the ship and there was a deck with seating close to our stateroom.
We had first seating in the main dining room. Since this is an Italian cruise line, I was expecting good Italian food, but I was disappointed. My husband got the New York strip steak on the standard menu every night, he said it was very good. I got different things, but nothing stands out as my favorite. The service was ok, some nights were better than others, be prepared to order dessert with your meal. We had breakfast in the dining room and it was standard, same thing every day, nothing great. We found the buffet to be always crowded and the choices very limited. But don't miss the pizza out on the pool deck, while some of the toppings were a little crazy at times (like hot dogs, tuna, and many other oddities), the cheese pizza was great, best I've ever had on a cruise.
As far as shows, we only went to one and walked out, they are kind of quirky because of so many languages spoken on board. In Cuba, the ship brought in dancers that were similar to the Tropicana, which was nice for people that didn't go on the excursion. We didn't participate in many activities or entertainment. It looked like they had a nice kids program, but we didn't have any kids with us.
Overall, the staff was friendly and helpful, very much the small ship feel. They are a family owned cruise line and I got that vibe. They seem to really be trying to win the American market. They are employing experienced people from other popular US cruise lines, which seems to be helping.
We only took one excursion from the ship and that was a tour of Grand Cayman, it was fine, no problems, small van with good air conditioning. We went to the sea turtle farm, Governor's beach, the town of Hell (which was disappointing, just a tourist trap), and Tortuga Rum Cake factory. We loved Cuba and were so happy we were able to experience it before the travel ban went into affect. Will definitely go back if it is lifted.
Disembarkation was fine, well organized. Our luggage was neatly lined up and waiting for us to pick it up when our color was called. It is important to wait until your color is called, many people did not, so they had to stand there waiting for their luggage, which caused some congestion. We took the ship's shuttle back to FLL, which was very easy since they had crew directing people at the door going out.
We went into this cruise with low expectations, but it ended up being a good cruise. We like MSC better than a couple other popular US lines. As long as they have good deals, we will be back. Read Less