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9,791 Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

I would avoid this commercial cruise altogether. Cons: - Over populated ship (over 6000+ people) - Rude front desk & excursion staff that have poor customer service - Overpriced and disappointing excursions you could do ... Read More
I would avoid this commercial cruise altogether. Cons: - Over populated ship (over 6000+ people) - Rude front desk & excursion staff that have poor customer service - Overpriced and disappointing excursions you could do on your own - Docks far, mostly have to shuttle to city centers -They make many charges and mistakes on your bill - Shower water breaks out your skin Pros: -The cabin attendants and cleaning staff are the nicest -The dancers at the shows are very skilled and under appropriated Providing quality customer service, having professional international employees, and creating an option for customers to cancel reservations via. television or smart screens would have been simple solutions that could have prevented an incident we encountered. Customers should not be responsible for looking for assistance from employees during their working hours. We also didn't receive excursion tickets in a respectable amount of time and the excursion staff were all rude. Every single one of them. We are considering filing a lawsuit. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Hi just back from a week on the Explorer the flight from Edinburgh was good Transfer was quick.When we got too our cabin the cabin had a bad spell reported too reception fixed straight away smell came back 2 days later and you could smell ... Read More
Hi just back from a week on the Explorer the flight from Edinburgh was good Transfer was quick.When we got too our cabin the cabin had a bad spell reported too reception fixed straight away smell came back 2 days later and you could smell it a lot round the ship as if there was problem with drainage a few times the public toilets were closed. The food on the ship was not as good as Discovery 2 some days the choices were poor The food was off average standard if you wanted Ice cream you had too pay even if you up graded too premium The entertainment was good but again not as good as discovery 2 the games were not as funny and did not get guest involled as much the shows in the Broadway shows were just about the same each night singing too soul music The Broadway Theartre did not have a waiter service You had too take your drinks with you or take what they had too offer at the door The Squid and Anchor bar was very busy at night and if you were not fast you could not get a seat The sun decks were busy up on the varanda deck there was not enough sun loungers and guest were putting towels on the beds and going off shore for 4 hours and coming back Overall this was a old ship need work done too there drainage system and more staff would book with marella again but not this ship Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Well having sailed with Thompson on the Thompson Spirit (which was falling to peices) this was a pleasant surprise. The ship isn't new but they have obviously invested a lot of money refitting the ship. Everywhere was clean, the food ... Read More
Well having sailed with Thompson on the Thompson Spirit (which was falling to peices) this was a pleasant surprise. The ship isn't new but they have obviously invested a lot of money refitting the ship. Everywhere was clean, the food was great quality and selection (main dinning hall (Latitude 56), buffet restaurant (the market place), an Italian (serves buffet style pizzas and pasta during the day) and a tapas restaurant and the snack shack (burger, hotdogs and grab as you go items) they also have 3 paid restaurants also (not visited). The entertainment was a bit sparse and I would not like to be stuck on this ship for more than a day of sailing without stopping. It also doesn't offer a lot of things to do, it has a cinema (poor old selections of films), library, little crazy golf, sport court (very small), pool area with 3 jacuzzis (pool was warm, which makes a change, spa (chargeable), small gambling area (wouldn't call it a casino) a coffee shop (extra charge) and shops. I would rate this a one of the nicest cruises we have taken and we have taken a lot. The staff were friendly and the cabin was clean, more spacious than other cruise companies and a powerful shower (bonus) and a bit bigger than most. Good things 1. Embarkation and de embarkation 2. Food 3. Room spacious and clean 4. Not over crowded 5. Staff friendly 6. They are not trying to squeeze every penny out of you unlike other cruise companies 7. All inclusive food, drink and tips 8. Cabin Not so good. 1. Not much to do on board I have been on the following cruise lines and this is how they rate: 1 Princess and Marella 2. P&O 3. Royal Caribbean 4. Carnival 5. Thompson cruises 6. Costa Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Having read a number of negative reviews we went on this cruise (out first with Marella) with no real expectations. We came back quite impressed and would not hesitate booking another cruise provided it came in at a good price/ itinerary. ... Read More
Having read a number of negative reviews we went on this cruise (out first with Marella) with no real expectations. We came back quite impressed and would not hesitate booking another cruise provided it came in at a good price/ itinerary. We have travelled on a number of lines including Oceania, Azamara, Celibrity, MSC, Holland America, Royal Carribean, Pullmantur and Princess. A number of other passengers had also cruised on similar lines to us and were also satisfied with Marella so this is not a review by a Marella diehard. Food. Both in main dining room and buffet was always hot probably better than most other cruises (was on Celebrity last year and a number of times left food in the buffet as it was too cold to eat). Quality- I would probably pitch it at good pub standard. Portion size was very good (Other than potatoes where you sometimes had to hunt on the plate for them - we ordered extra - but have had similar on other lines). Fewer choices in dining room than experienced elsewhere other than the handful of always available options of chicken, fish etc there were only about 4 or 5 choices but always had a least one vegetarian choice. Buffet had the same selections as main dining room plus a roast so less choice than usual there. Main dining room also had an Italian area which had usual selection of pastas etc. We also went there one night when there was nothing appealing on main menu and it had sirloin steak on their menu. There was also a separate Mediterranean option with pizza or pasta and a Tapas section. Both of these were in a separate area and were less 'formal' and quality was acceptable. Usual burger and not dog service beside pool and again was good and food hot. Lunchtime food selection included a pie option every day. Did try them a couple of times and they were good. We also had spotted dick and custard on the menu one day. Good generally very much geared to UK customers and no lobster tails or fillet steak but did have steak one night and duck another night. We didn't feel the need to try any of the extra cost venues. Drink. The included drinks included most of main brands e.g. Grouse whisky, Gordon's gin, Malibu etc and beers included draft Fosters, Stongbow as well as a range of bottles including Morretti, Peroni, corona. A number of cocktails were also included as well as draught soft drinks.Never had long to wait for waiter service or at bar - with no need to tip to get good service. A!though no 'at seat' service in show lounge there were tables when you went in with a selection of cocktails, red/white/rose wine as well as prosecco and a selection of bottles beers. As the longest show was no longer than an hour i didn't have a problem with picking up my drink(s)as I went in. Shows. Main shows were all very good with better singers and dancers than on most other lines and pianists/guitar/singers in bars were also good. Don't know what poolside entertainment was like as not really our scene but my wife enjoyed watching Downton Abbey film on outside big screen while I say next to her and watched a film streamed to my tablet from a selection of free films available through their app on the ship. Staff. Never saw a grumpy member of staff either in dining room, bars or housekeeping and all were universally pleasant and helpful. Cabin. We had an inside cabin and were quite happy with it. It was nothing special but did have good storage. Bed wasn't the best and probably not the worst either. Ship. It is an old ship but has been well looked after and refurbished with all public areas clean and bright - no classic wood panelling. Other passengers. Average age probably 60 plus but probably a factor of cruise type and timing. Almost all passengers were white and from the UK so not as diverse as we are more used to seeing on other lines. No real evidence of overindulgence than we have seen on other lines - there are always a few that are louder than they probably should have been. Disembarkation. Although you have to leave your cabin at 9 am you can continue to use all facilities including food and beverage until you depart, in our case 13.15. We were on a package and don't know when you would have to leave if you were cruise only. Overall we had a good break and would book again. Not our best cruise but not our worst (haven't really had any bad cruises) and Marella wouldn't be at the bottom if we ranked the different lines we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We sailed with MSC once previously which was a really dreadful experience, so much so, we were given a 25% discount on any future cruise. We decided to use the voucher, although not without much resistance from MSC's sales ... Read More
We sailed with MSC once previously which was a really dreadful experience, so much so, we were given a 25% discount on any future cruise. We decided to use the voucher, although not without much resistance from MSC's sales section. The ship we chose Aurea class on the new Grandiosa, it included a drinks package and all gratuities, so seemed a good deal. We found the drinks package was very basic, on the lower grade cabins there they were including the premium package as a promotion, eventually we opted to upgrade the premium plus. We also purchased their top Speciality Dining package, called the Dining Experience, all set we thought. On embarkation, we, along with everyone else, were confronted by a wall of staff trying to sell all the different packages. We had to explain we had them all, one of the staff then informed us, that's a pity as they were cheaper if purchased then, the total opposite of the information MSC put out when booking the cruise. The Grandiosa is without doubt, impressive, a vast floating hotel with something for everyone. Our cabin was very nice and with reasonable balcony, there is a new system, along the lines of Alexis, it is supposed to give you all the information you could ever need whenever you asked, it didn't, it was only any use as a wi-fi speaker. On our first visit to our Speciality restaurant the French, the menu was presented and our waiter then explained, you can only order from the third part of the menu as part of Dining Experience, should we wish to order from the restaurant a 50% charge would be levied, remember you are already paying extra top of your standard dining room entitlement for the Dining Experience package, then you are being asked for extra again should you wish anything off the majority of the menu. This was the case in all four of restaurants, even when in the much over rated Tapas, where one of the few offered wasn't available, we would still have to pay the extra if wishing to substitute from the rest of the menu, this left us totally underwhelmed. MSC really should be more honest and transparent in their sales end not cloaked in such an underhand pitch. Staffing in the restaurants was inadequate, some of the staff were poorly trained and under tremendous pressure. MSC does offer a cheaper option for cruising, my gripe is the dishonest sales methods in use. We weren't fans before this cruise, however it did still surprise us to see how much worse the practises they use had got. The are, without doubt, the Ryan Air of cruising, always looking to squeeze their guests wherever possible. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Great Cruise!Big thanks to Trajce(entrainment) from macedonia and Aleksandar (games area )also from macedonia) they were very polite kinde very well informed about everything on the ship,very helpful for us and they were very positive too! ... Read More
Great Cruise!Big thanks to Trajce(entrainment) from macedonia and Aleksandar (games area )also from macedonia) they were very polite kinde very well informed about everything on the ship,very helpful for us and they were very positive too! 10+for them! i recommended this cruise especially for family with the kids. theater and the shows were good but little boring especially when it’s only one man singing od the stage without dancers,the show for the last night was amazing extraordinary 10+ I didn’t like that the excursion organized by the ship were tree times more expensive then the tour you can find on your own in every port completely the same that the ship is offering and especially i didn’t like PRICE OF THE PHOTOS 150 euros for less than 10 pictures i think it’s even insaine, But other thinks were great,the ship is amazing beautiful design clean and worm ,exelent food too! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We choose this cruise to escape the Scottish winter and cheer us up in hope of some winter sun in the Canary Islands just after Christmas and New Year I was apprehensive as we were going with 3 generations . Once onboard and we had ... Read More
We choose this cruise to escape the Scottish winter and cheer us up in hope of some winter sun in the Canary Islands just after Christmas and New Year I was apprehensive as we were going with 3 generations . Once onboard and we had familiarised ourselves with the ship it was evident there really was plenty going on and something for everyone ., We were so impressed with all the staff . Michelle who cleaned our cabin every day was an absolute star, the waiters Roberto, Austin , Lloyd , Kamlesh, Vena, Ramonoito, Rhea and Sun shine . Their happy smiling dispositions were contagious and nothing was too much trouble . Senthill the chef in The Surf and Turf restaurant was outstanding . My mum who is 80 described the steak he cooked as the best she’d ever had !!! We loved the Broadway Shows in the evening and the dancers were superb . However for me , being treated by Dr Bandula for my very sensitive stomach with Accupuncture has been life changing . I can’t thank him enough . The spa was wonderful . Truly relaxing with the various saunas and steam rooms . I even got into the habit of pouring the bucket of ice cold water over me after too. I did use the gym for my stretching in the morning . Classes were available but I just didn’t have time to fit them in as well . I haven’t even mentioned the excursions yet . Madeira was beautiful and the Botanical gardens a definite must , as was careering down the hill in a wicker basket afterwards . Just loved it . The 4 wheel drive excursion in Morocco was outstanding and Ahmed the tour guide really topped it off . He was hilarious . These were my favourite ports Our cabin with a balcony wasn’t huge but was adequate . We really hardly spent any time in there apart from sleeping and it was kept really clean and tidy by Michelle . The food was fine. We preferred to use The latitude restaurant for breakfast ( just found the market place too busy but there was a huge selection there ) We loved the fact there was the fine dining option too and ate in the Surf and Turf twice and the Kora-la once . Stunning food and superb service . We left the ship really feeling as though we didn’t want to go home. Super holiday and would definitely consider another one ...soon !!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
The MSC Grandiosa is a very mixed experience, and whether it makes sense for you depends a lot on what you value and what gets under your skin. I will first describe the things on MSC Grandiosa that are first-rate. Then I will describe ... Read More
The MSC Grandiosa is a very mixed experience, and whether it makes sense for you depends a lot on what you value and what gets under your skin. I will first describe the things on MSC Grandiosa that are first-rate. Then I will describe what I think is poorly done, and will represent deal-breakers for many. After that I will describe the ship's overall philosophy, and the type of person for whom that might work well, and what you'll want to be looking out for. We boarded in Genoa on Saturday January 11. They told us to show up at 3pm, but when we did we were the only ones there; we could have boarded much earlier, and I wish we had. Here's what the MSC Grandiosa is really GOOD at: 1. Beautiful Ship. The only thing about which everyone agrees is that the ship is beautiful. What people are reacting to is largely the lighting, which is carefully attended to everywhere. Also, there are a lot of mirrors, so you frequently find yourself in an infinity tunnel. 2. Solid Shows in the Main Theater. The stage shows were SO much better than on Princess or even Celebrity. The cast gets 35 minutes to perform as many songs as they can within that night's genre (Rock, Swing, Italian Love Songs, ABBA, etc.), so you get about 10-12 great songs well-performed, with no filler. I wish I had seen all six shows. 3. Amazing Bread. Nobody is talking about the bread, which is the same everywhere on the ship. I am expecting stale buns at the buffet, and instead every single type of bread is soft, delicate, fresh, and perfectly created. I can't stop eating those little date rolls. 4. Good Dining Hall Experience. The food is very good, the menu varies, the service is professional, and they have two no-sugar-added desserts every night. Everything we had was good. Our seating was at 6:30pm and we walked in and sat down at the same table-for-three each night without delay. 5. Many Affordable Add-Ons. The Gelato Bar, the Chocolate Shop, the Crepe Stand, the Fish-and-Chips Pub, and the Steak House Brunch are all very high quality, with no crowds, and priced like Starbucks, which is very affordable if you aren't angry about nothing being included. Here is what MSC Grandiosa is really BAD at: 1. Crowds at the Buffet. The buffet area isn't much larger than on the 2,500-passenger Celebrity Summit, but there are twice as many people on board. That means a risk of severe crowding unless MSC does a LOT to spread out the crowds. Instead, MSC does the opposite, forcing people into unnecessarily small time windows. The inevitable result is enough pushing and table panic to really diminish the enjoyment of otherwise perfectly acceptable food (and great bread). 2. Nothing is included. Food stands? extra fee. Beverage package? Doesn't work at specialty restaurants. Juice at the buffet? Only at breakfast. Non-alcoholic beverage package including "hot chocolate concoctions"? The only hot chocolate concoctions on the ship are at the Chocolate Shop, and the Chocolate Shop isn't included. That's just fraud. We missed Princess's International Cafe. 3. Specialty Experiences Prohibitively Expensive. Bowling, Virtual Reality, Steak House Dinner, it's all too expensive, and you're not going to do it unless you're rich. We ate at the steak house. It was great. Brunch there is $5 for blueberry pancakes, $6 for strawberry french toast, and $7 for chicken and biscuit. But come back for dinner, and each entree is $30-$40, $55 for a T-Bone steak. The pre-fixe menu at $39 is better, but four people are going to pay $150+ and beverages when you could just eat for free in the Dining Hall. 4. Little Outdoor Space. If you want some fresh air, you have to go up to Deck 16. There's nothing like a promenade deck. You can't leave the big atrium or the galleria and get a whiff of sea air, or even a glimpse. This ship is largely an indoor experience, unless you go to the top decks. Peculiarities On Board 1. Permanent Culture Clash. Unlike lines that cater more toward a particular nationality (Princess to Americans, P&O to Brits, AIDA to Germans), MSC caters to everyone, so there is a delightful international mix on board. Announcements from the Captain or before stage shows are rendered in English, then Italian, then French, then German, then Spanish, and sometimes Chinese. At first it's impressive, then it gets old. Your excursion will be in multiple languages, too, and you end up spending a lot of time waiting for another language to finish. The biggest downside, though, is that all these cultures have different norms for things like when to eat and how to navigate lines. MSC brings to bear its Italian aesthetic of utter disconcern -- confused signage, for example, and rigid European meal times -- and pretty soon tempers fray. I'm used to Americans being really rude, but on this ship EVERY nationality took a turn demonstrating rudeness. By disconcern, I mean that dinner at the buffet is from 7pm-10pm. The buffet is OPEN from 5pm-7pm, if that's your thing, but they only serve hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and salads. The full buffet menu is for people who eat late. Meanwhile, you probably have a stage show reservation at 7:15pm , or Cirque de Soleil at 8pm, or an excursion starting early the next morning, so you REALLY NEED to the flexibility of the buffet. Hamburgers and pizza for you. And because thousands of starved people have just gotten back from their excursions, there is a huge rush at 5pm for those few burgers and pizzas. MSC is capable of handling peak crowds, but they choose not to, and that makes everything unnecessarily difficult and unpleasant on board. Tempers flare, and pretty soon your party is not having a fun time on the ship. 2. Inverted Demand Curves On most ships, people buy a cheap room, but you get quite a bit of value from upgrading to a drink package or a specialty dining package or an entertainment package. So the value shoppers go to the middle of the offering, and the poor values are the high-end experience (which is overpriced) and the bare-bones experience, which could be inexpensively embellished. It's not like that on MSC Grandiosa; it's the opposite. Yacht Club is a great value because they rescue you from the crowds and give you all the best real estate on the ship. The cheap rooms with dining hall food and water-purchased-a-la-carte are also a great value. But in the middle, if you try to buy up to a beverage package, nothing is included. If you try to purchase a specialty dining package it's expensive and inflexible. The other upsell experiences are prohibitive. As a result, the specialty dining venues are mostly empty most of the time. That puts additional pressure on the dining halls and the buffet. The end-result is that the ship has huge amounts of space that are underutilized (e.g., specialty experiences), or off-limits (e.g., Yacht Club), and that means all 6,000 passengers are crammed into what's left. That's a worse experience than you'll find on almost any other ship in the sea. 3. Contagion Incubation Factory I didn't hear much coughing when we boarded in Genoa on January 11, but by the end of the trip the whole ship was a cough chorus. On a normal ship, they flush everybody and chlorox the ship once per week. But on MSC new people join every day. That is SUPER-convenient for planning your trip, but if the ship gets sick then the contagion just keeps getting passed forward week after week as healthy passengers join and sick passengers depart. People have faulted the MSC Grandiosa for not being serious about hand sanitzer, and that is correct. There are a few sanitizer stations, but not enough for 6,000 passengers, and they run out of sanitizer, or they break, and people get frustrated, and illness happens. So Who is MSC Grandiosa For? I would recommend Grandiosa for rich people who can hide in the Yacht Club, and for poor people who can get a really good room rate and just want transport between cities and are content with buffet and dining hall food. Everybody else can probably find a ship that's better imagined than this one. Final Points For the shows on the main stage, make a reservation a couple days in advance, then line up at LEAST a half-hour before the show starts. You'll get to sit in the middle section. Everyone without a reservation will flood in after you, and they sit on the sides. There are multi-language touch-screens throughout the ship which are well-designed and make it easy to reserve shows for your party. You will need your cruise card for everything, so bring your lanyards. Cirque de Soleil gets mixed reviews. That's partly because the two shows are very different. Exentricks is disastrous and offensive -- a surreal freak show, complete with pole dancers. The audience does not clap. Cosmos is merely stupid. Both of them a "spectacle" in the circus sense. You get to see a juggler, acrobat, contortionist, and aerialist, but Cirque surrounds that basic experience with a bunch of gee-whiz-but-meaningless semiotics that will only impress the easily impressed. For example, Cosmos is not a show about "coming of age," and saying it doesn't make it so. If you go to Cirque anyway, you don't get to choose your show time until you are on board. And the seats are assigned automatically. That means when you go on board, all the best seats and even show times are taken for the first few nights. But if you choose shows near the end of your cruise, you will get the best seats and your choice of show times because passengers who would compete with you haven't boarded the ship yet. If you choose a cocktail show, those are at a different time from the dinner show. You get to grab a cocktail from the counter on the way in -- there are a couple to choose from. They are watered down. The cabins are a little tighter than on the Crown Princess or Celebrity Summit, but well-designed, well-appointed, well-lit, and highly functional. Be careful not to accidentally leave the Do Not Disturb light on -- I think that's why people are complaining that their cabin doesn't get made up. The three lights over each door mean [RED] People are in the room; [BLUE] Do not disturb; [WHITE] Please make up the room. The service levels on the ship are high. Electronic buttons on the buffet tables summon staff effectively. The cabin staff do first-rate work, as do the restaurant servers. However, whereas the Celebrity Summit assigns a permanent team of three to each dining room table, and the Crown Princess has a mixed staff, on the MSC Grandiosa it's just one guy handling all aspects of every table in his section, from serving wine to changing utensils, to scraping crumbs. That experience is a little harried, and makes the Dining Hall seem like a place to get into and out of fast. The nice thing about MSC, unlike Princess of Celebrity, is that off-duty crew are allowed anywhere on the ship, they are not confined to the bottom decks, so you get to see them. However, the staff contracts are months-longer, and the ship staff may not have been home recently; they may not have seen their family. Some of this sadness seeps into their work. On the other hand, this is not an American ship, and super-cheerful American service is not what anybody is attempting. Just something to watch for. We used Zoe quite a bit, just for laughs. I even made video of Zoe being stupid. It knows one answer to every question: "Go look it up." The purpose of Zoe, obviously, is to take the pressure off MSC's overburdened customer service personnel. But MSC will have to learn the hard way that it's easier to make the ship less confusing than to try to answer everybody's questions. For example, what are the buffet hours? You might need a few days to figure out what is available when at the buffet. The schedule is inscrutable; the signage is unclear. After a week you've got most of the ship figured out, but mostly what you've got figured out is to get on a different ship without so much unnecessary confusion. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Initially my husband and I were very impressed with the interior of this modern ship. Cabins are a good size with fruit, carton of milk, water etc in cabin. Room service excellent. Service round the ship also excellent. Dining was ... Read More
Initially my husband and I were very impressed with the interior of this modern ship. Cabins are a good size with fruit, carton of milk, water etc in cabin. Room service excellent. Service round the ship also excellent. Dining was somewhat chaotic at times. We were given wrong meals on more than one occasion, two soups one night. Long queues at times for the buffet at breakfast and lunch. Pre-ordering veggie meal confusing and inconsistent. Food was the best I have had at sea. Buffet food was hot. Book speciality restaurants ASAP because they get booked up quickly. Chairs/settees in public areas are badly designed and uncomfortable - little or no back support . Lift buttons are also badly designed - they re very dark and difficult to read. Library is confusing - badly set out - like a maize. Labels indicating book categories are in very small print and difficult to read. No librarian in residence. Good coffee machine in library + tea etc. Unfortunately library is adjacent to open plan craft area and can get very noisy. Craft area is used as a cut through for people wishing to gain access to their cabins. Hand rails on one side only on interior decks. problem In rough seas. Shower door also a problem in rough seas as it swings inwards and outwards. The ship is like a mini block of flats- a lot on top but little underneath the water - shallow draft and prone to motion and judder in moderate seas. I can only suggest you try it as there are lots of positives as well as negatives. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We were on a MSC cruise on Grandiosa which left from Barcelona January 9 2020. We are Australians with teenage children 15 and 17 and have previously been on a Norwegian cruise out of Venice in 2018 and a Carnival cruise in Australia in ... Read More
We were on a MSC cruise on Grandiosa which left from Barcelona January 9 2020. We are Australians with teenage children 15 and 17 and have previously been on a Norwegian cruise out of Venice in 2018 and a Carnival cruise in Australia in 2017. We booked a Bella balcony cabin very close to front of boat on the left hand side on deck 11. For us, this cruise was intended as one week not-too-expensive, relaxing and ‘warmish for winter’ break within a 6 week busy holiday to Europe which otherwise had us on the move a lot and jumping on and off trains plus this was a chance to visit Sicily and Malta. We already knew the other ports pretty well. Given the time of year and that we needed to leave from Barcelona there were hardly any cruises operating so we had no choice re company or boat but I subsequently read loads of reviews of MSC which set expectations low and I anticipated a few issues. How wrong this turned out to be. Zero issues of any sort and an amazing, luxurious cruise which was totally enjoyable in every way. Only regret: we didn’t bring our swimmers on the holiday and so missed out on using the indoor pool (retractable roof) and spas. Even the outdoor pool saw quite a few swimmers on the warmer days down south and on the one day at sea as it got fairly warm and the pool area was very sheltered. Actually, temperatures were not too bad all week for anyone contemplating winter cruising: good puffer jackets were all we needed for sitting out on the balcony and the cooler ports and in Palermo it was 18 the day we were there. Re criticisms of upselling: we declined the photos on boarding: no problem. Same in the restaurant and same re the offers to upgrade drinks and meals. There was no problem at all with this. We did not feel any pressure and we were not asked again ever. I would rate the upselling efforts of MSC as way less than Norwegian. Re the entertainment: we are not big ones for shows and basically are fairly boring this way and would generally prefer to read on the balcony or cabin or watch BBC news or Earth before an early night. But we went to one musical show with shows from 80’s onwards and thought it was quite good. Other entertainment: ropes course: great. (and free). But other than that, sorry, none of us is interested particularly so didn’t try anything else. Kids not interested in the programmes for them although we saw plenty of other teenagers having fun playing soccer and basketball. Judging from the daily programme, there did seem to be a fair bit on for everyone including late night shows, theme things needing you to bring dress-up clothes (white night, elegant night, tropical night etc) and music so it looks as though people who want to throw themselves into these things should be able to find things. The middle of the boat with the big projection roof and the speciality restaurants btw gets very crowded and noisy (in a good way) in the evenings but is easy to avoid by crossing this area on higher or lower decks. Did not even look at any shops/sales/promotional events so easy to avoid as well. CABIN: as above, Bella balcony at the front. This was amazing: bigger than our mini-suite on Norwegian with plenty of storage for a suitcase and two cabin bags and our day packs and shelves on which to keep all our packing pods. Lots of hangers for jackets. Very tasteful light greys and muted purple and many mirrors. Extremely comfortable queen bed plus good-sized sturdy bunks for the boys. Big balcony and generous functional bathroom. Big tv with English channels including bbc earth, bbc news, Euronews, Bloomberg and CNN. Wonderful, hard-working and unobtrusive cabin steward with twice daily immaculate cleaning. Our balcony had a metal balustrade which we really liked as felt more private. We spent hours out there every day watching the world go by and reading etc. I liked being able to watch distant lights on shore most nights as still scarred by seeing Poseidon Adventure as a kid and prone, on cruises, to frequent waking and fears of icebergs and (after Costa) running onto rocks etc. but probably the other side would be better for port views as I think really only in Genoa did we have the best view. Virtually no movements felt at all even though I thought the front of the boat might be bad for this so however this boat is stabilised: it works and none of us experienced any sea sickness for a change. (Note: very calm seas all voyage). DRINKS: We had an easy drinks package for the adults included as a special in our original bookings and pre-purchased non-alcoholic packages for the kids who especially enjoyed the unlimited soft-serve included from the bar at the outdoor pool. if you are a beer drinker we could only have Heinekens despite searching everywhere including the pub but there were nice wines (liked the rose, shiraz and cab sav) and plenty of cocktails on the package and some good mocktails; the mock pina colada even comes with the pineapple slice and cherry and was good. Soft drinks were available by the glass or can. Bottles of mineral water were freely available at all the bars any time. FOOD: we started the week attending our assigned dining room for meals but then reverted to the buffet towards the end as the dining room timing didn’t suit us after a busy day in port but food was fantastic and plentiful: some portions in the dining room were small and some were large (spanokopita was huge even as a first course) depending on what we ordered. You could order more than one helping of any menu item if you wanted and we were routinely offered double dessert. The staff worked very hard all the time. In contrast to Norwegian and Carnival, the dining room menus changed completely every day. We found everything delicious. It would have been good to be see the menus in advance but no big deal. The buffet was loads better than it looks in the videos on you tube and, as everyone knows: excellent huge slices of pizza (charcoal ones were new to us and fantastic) and also as a recent reviewer has noted: all bread was amazing! Whatever bread or roll we chose was full of favour and perfect texture: I totally got hooked on making sandwiches and rolls just with butter and tomato or cheese practically every meal over the last few days. No dancing or singing food staff in the main dining room (which we loved on Carnival) but truly excellent, friendly, understated and completely professional service from waiters at all times. Also, service for us was really fast: clearly they could tell we were there to eat and not interested in sitting around talking to each other! We were pretty much in and out of the restaurant within 60-75 mins having eaten our 3 courses each. Zero waiting around in contrast to other reports. Did not feel any need to try any specialist restaurants given that the main dining room and the buffet were so good. EXCURSIONS: we did none. Not because of price because MSC was priced reasonably most of the time, I thought, but because mostly we knew the ports and preferred to do our own thing. Marseille was switched to Toulon on our cruise due to the interprofessional strike in France which we already knew about from train travelling there prior to the cruise. Toulon was great: kids enjoyed seeing the French naval vessels and MSC provided free shuttle buses and boats into town and we just explored by foot. Genoa: all in walking distance. Loved wondering this place and followed a few tourist-office suggested walking routes. Some seriously fantastic boats moored here in the opposite part of the harbour and Kids enjoyed admiring them researching online which billionaires/oligarchs/war lords had owned them etc. Rome: we took the free shuttlebus to the smaller city port then walked to the train station but was a fair detour so might have been quicker to just walk to the train station from the start. The city also offered a 2 Eu shuttle from the small port to the station which we caught back on returning to the ship. We caught a train into Rome Termini (36 eu for the four of us return) and then a metro to the Coloseum (we bought individual tickets from machines at the metro station) and then strolled back alongside the forum (not enough time to go in really due to long ticket queues but pre-booking these might help), then meandered back to the Trevi fountain and had some gelato, wondered around a bit then grabbed a taxi back as running short on time to Termini for the train back. If you are interested in the Vatican, the train stopped at St Peter’s on the way in so would have been easy to hop off there. If planning a day in Rome you would be able to do more by getting off the ship earlier as we were a bit slow that morning which cut our time short. Palermo: again close enough to meander into the port. Lots to see including street market with lots of gourmet products including saffron and excellent pistachio cream to bring home. Valletta: lifts up to the high part of the city cost 1 Eu – just walk further around the port until you reach them. Gorgeous town. We also visited Mdina on the public bus – you can take 51, 52 and 53 and probably some others. Tickets available from the bus driver. Malta uses Euros. Summary: honestly: can’t imagine how forking out for Yacht Club could possibly have made us any happier than our Bella balcony and Easy drinks package. Our experience was seriously fantastic. But for us this cruise was not the be-all and end-all of our holiday: it was part of a much longer holiday so we are less concerned about entertainment etc. This was a seriously gorgeous boat. We would not hesitate to book MSC again. This week has turned out to be an absolute highlight of our trip. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I usually cruise with P&O or Cunard but thought I would give Saga a try on this beautiful new ship. Although Saga is advertised as for the over 50's, I would say it is more suitable for the over 75's (I'm 68). The ... Read More
I usually cruise with P&O or Cunard but thought I would give Saga a try on this beautiful new ship. Although Saga is advertised as for the over 50's, I would say it is more suitable for the over 75's (I'm 68). The ship is spacious with quality furnishings and fittings and plenty of seating. However, it does roll a bit, even in calmer waters and we were unlucky enough to suffer extremely rough seas on our return from the Canaries, which meant we could not get to Lisbon and spent 4 days at sea. Food is of a good standard, especially in the speciality restaurants, but these get fully booked within a couple of days, so book early! We particularly enjoyed the Club, excellent steaks. Entertainment and activities were aimed at the older age group: the Sid Lawrence Orchestra was very popular but there were no other well known entertainers. There was a Motown show which is more my era, but there were no afternoon concerts (I usually enjoy a classical guitarist or pianist). There were only 2 speakers for the whole 2 weeks, so not enough variety there either. Service was generally good, if slow a times. The staff are mainly Philipino or Indian but some seemed a little inexperienced. My cabin steward, Joel, was excellent. We visited 5 ports, and the weather there was very good, 28 degrees in Las Palmas! I went on 4 excursions, the one on Lanzarote to Teguise and wine and cheese at the Peoples Monument was very good, but the one on Tenerife to Taganana was very poor and we were refunded 25% of the cost due to complaints. Overall I enjoyed the time in the Canaries, but was a little bored on the sea days (thank goodness for the quizzes!). Embarkation: very slow, I had to wait one and a quarter hours. Disembarkation was even worse, I had to wait two and three quarter hours. This alone would put me off cruising with Saga again, apart from the lack of entertainment and activities. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We choose the MSC Grandiosa since we wanted to experience the new ship feel. Getting on the ship in Barcelona was a breeze. It took no more than 20 minutes from arrival in the port to boarding the ship. First impression was a big ... Read More
We choose the MSC Grandiosa since we wanted to experience the new ship feel. Getting on the ship in Barcelona was a breeze. It took no more than 20 minutes from arrival in the port to boarding the ship. First impression was a big WOW. we entered on deck 6 ( the promenade) From that moment one was surrounded by cruise staff trying to sell you pretty much everything. We pre booked the non alcoholic drink package and the 2-1 dining package. Made reservations for the specialty restaurant online and had those confirmed but apparently none of those came through so we had to make new ones once we arrived on the ship Be aware with the drink packages, specialty restaurants are NOT included except for the most expensive drink package. Kind of confusing. we had coffee in the bistro where we had to pay for it, whilst if we were at the table next to us it would be free??? So, when in one of the specialty restaurants all the drinks are extra charge including water. With the easy drink package all beverages up to 6 euro are included anything over will be charged at full price. Overall we had a good cruise, Food was above our expectations. Been on other MSC ships where the food quality was far below this cruise. Main dining in general good with enough choices to please everyone, Service as to be expected. We booked le bistro en butchers cut. Le Bistro was less than we expected, but Butchers cut was far more than we expected and well worth the extra charge. The ship itself, Well laid out. Big minus, no waste bins to be found anywhere, except on the outdoor decks. There is now way to get to the front of the ship unless you book a yacht club cabin. Taking the size of the ship in mind, not enough seating available.Very limited seating in the several bars. The ship itself is more focused on shopping space. Overall entertainment was good. Reservations are needed for all shows since the theatre only had abt 650 seats. Big minus. doors remain open throughout the show causing people to keep on coming in which can be disturbing. MSC does a lot to sell you things. For instance, they place pictures in your cabin as if it is free for you to take. No it is not, there is a small not in the envelope stating that if you keep the pictures, they will be charged to your account. Same goes for excursions, We found a hop on hop off ticket with the daily program with a note, that sais, to make it easy for you, just hop on and give the ticket to our cruise staff on boarding the bus, and again, the small letters saying 20 euros pp will be charged to your account. We had a balcony cabin which was well laid out. Comfortable bed, Very good shower:-) Disembarkation in Barcelona, again , a breeze. We were off the ship and in the taxi in less than 30 minutes, Overall a nice cruise where you get what you pay for. anything possible if you are willing to pay more. That is basically the bottom line if you ask me, but this goes with many cruise lines these days. All in all worth what we paid for it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Ship is very much understaffed and absolutely not able to offer good cruise for such big number of passengers onboard. Obviously company is trying to save money on all aspects, including food, number of their employees, entertainment ... Read More
Ship is very much understaffed and absolutely not able to offer good cruise for such big number of passengers onboard. Obviously company is trying to save money on all aspects, including food, number of their employees, entertainment variety, and so on. Dining area on deck 11 is crowded without place to sit, so only way to eat is to take plate outside or in a room. Automatic hand disinfect dispensers do not work in 90% of time which leads to people not being able to clean their hands and stop spreading bacterias inside buffets. This later led to many people getting sick onboard including myself and members of my family. Tables are dirty and sticky, poorly cleaned or not cleaned at which is absolutely unacceptable. Destinations vere quite nice including the weather during our winter cruise. Pizza and coffe in bars was very tasty (italian style) and that's something I would personally recommend on this ship. Generally, even though this cruise was quite cheap I would not recommend it to anyone because they are way better ships on the market. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was our first cruise and we chosed Grandiosa because we wanted to have first cruise experience on a brend new ship. Before I went reading other reviews and saw rather bed ones giving us thoughts OMG where are we going, why not ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we chosed Grandiosa because we wanted to have first cruise experience on a brend new ship. Before I went reading other reviews and saw rather bed ones giving us thoughts OMG where are we going, why not some other ship, other company but one thing I've learned that mostly people which are always complaining for something are writing reviews, and that's why I wanted to write this one to tell point of view from normal, not egocentric people. We embarked in Genova. Came to port on 13.00, on 13.20 were on ship, no problems at all, very smooth and easy. Getting on board we needed to photo again even though we had picture through MSC for me app. But ok, few minutes extra. Coming to main promenade and seing it all in full glory was spectacular especially that 90m LCD dome. Knowing the ship was easy since there are lcd screend everywhere showing all mandatory info. Smart lifts are doing splendid job handling over 7000 people on board and never have problem coming where you want in minutes. We had 2 interior rooms and if you are not some some guy who likes to be with himself and look all day to the harbour from your bed having room with window or balcony is absolute waste of money. There are many beautiful places to watch the see. Rooms are rather spacious, even our with 3 beds (2 from the ceiling). Bathroom is just enough in size and have everything needed. Stewards (especially Fillipines) are fantastic, whenever you leave room they tidy up and leave something new for you. ZOE, oh Zoe, I've read lot's of bed stuff on reviews but now I know that that there is no problems with ZOE but with the people using her hehehe. If you want to chat with someone chat with you wife, or Fillipines crew, ask ZOE what is she designed to do, show you around the cabin, tell you where to eat, where is everything you need, weather, time, to power tv on and off and lots of things which she does great. FOOD - there is much to tell about food too but some say that it's not good to comment tastes so I won't, I will just tell that we were almost always on Marketplace buffet restaurant with enormous choices for everyone. Place is huge (almost all 15th floor) so we could always find place to sit with no problems. We were very satisfied wih variety, quality and taste. There are breakfast, lunch, dinner times but you can always come and find something to eat. Watter, tea and coffee available free whole day, juice just for breakfast. You can fill bottles, no one makes it a problem. Didn't used much other restaurants so cannot comment it. ENTERTAINMENT - there is always something to do on ship, daily program is rather big, if you are with kids there are also whole floor for them. My kid loved adrenaline park and walked on rope for hours around the ship. Also there is watter park working so even January there were kids going through the slides. There are few pools (watter 28 celsius) and jacuzzi's (35 celsius)... Indoor pool is rather small. Arcade games are 1,5-2€ but everything else is extreme expensive (VR, formula, bowling etc). There is Circus and we watched paid show Excentrix. It started awful and was thinking OMG what is this and I why I paid for this but then in 10mins real show started and is something worth seing. On other side of the ship there is Theatre for little under 1000 people, every night other show in 3 times. I suggest everyone to book all shows in front and to go see them all. They are fantastic. We were trilled with all of them. All staff is very friendly and helpful. There is always some stuff that tried to ruin your cruise but the way you handle them counts. First when we came to ship and got lagguage I saw that my bag was completely broken, went to reception to report it and got refunded with no problem. Second is that we all got sick with high fever and used all out tablets and went to medical center, waited for 2 hours to get info that there is no more paracetamol pill on board (which I thing is unacceptable) so take with you everything you might need since that is closed ecosytem and viruses can spread fast. Third is we couldn't go to Marceilles due to strikes so we went to Toulous, MSC organized whole day free ships and buses to center so it was great. Ship is gigantic and the only place where is rather crowded it buffet restaurant and promenade after theater shows. If you don't like crowd take yacht club experience and go to late night theater shows. Every day there are some sales on promenade so maybe you will find some great deals. MSC for me is app with some great potencial but with some major problem. It's great to have free on app chat through the app without having to buy internet packet but it doesn't always work. Also in port you cannot use your mobile data and been connected to ship wifi so you need to shuffle. Yes, remember to turn off mobile data when setting sail. Diembarkation was a charm. Evening before got stickers for lagguage, got time and meeting point and went out in mather of minutes. Having it all summed up it was fantastic experience for all 6 of us with nothing more to wish for. 5/5 stars from us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Oh how standards fall in just 12 months. We were cruising on Marella Discovery this time last year and absolutely loved it. This ship either has a staffing problem or they have reduced standards. I must point out however that the adapted ... Read More
Oh how standards fall in just 12 months. We were cruising on Marella Discovery this time last year and absolutely loved it. This ship either has a staffing problem or they have reduced standards. I must point out however that the adapted room we had on deck 5 was superb and with a thorough and friendly steward. My grumble is mainly with the food, the buffet was frequently not replenished, esp the salad section, i like to eat around 1.30 - 2 pm and was very hit and miss after the lunchtime rush, my partner is disabled and the assigned tables were all at one end, usually as near to the food counters as possible for ease. Latitude 53 was passable, going off the very well written gushing menu you would expect something special but was actually everyday food with the odd exception, maybe they want you to pay extra for a special meal in one of the paid restaurants. I thought the theatre shows were very good though the Squid is nowhere near big enough when the entertainment is on and the lowest chairs Ive seen, donate them to a primary school ! No problems with the itinerary, loved Madeira. So an average cruise with good and bad points, we continued our holiday in Costa Adeje which we enjoyed esp the food, which was much better than Marella Explorer. I think I will avoid this ship in future and hope its not a trend on the whole fleet, there are several cruise lines in the same price range. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I booked the cruise with Iglu cruises about 7 weeks before departure as a surprise for my husband on our 45th wedding anniversary and because the price was good and all inclusive. We've cruise a few times before with RC, NCL & ... Read More
I booked the cruise with Iglu cruises about 7 weeks before departure as a surprise for my husband on our 45th wedding anniversary and because the price was good and all inclusive. We've cruise a few times before with RC, NCL & Princess after looking at reviews my expectations were not too high however we were very happy with the level of service provided. Our cabin was on deck 10 a large balcony cabin ideally located near the lifts and was kept spotless at all times. We only went to the showroom once it was a fantastic singer it was a Whitney Houston tribute sorry can't remember her name. The staff overall were very attentive the food was good the Surf & Turf was excellent, like any other ship there is room for improvement however for the price we paid the cruise exceeded our expectations. This was our 1st time on the Marella Explorer and I'm sure it won't be the last. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
After reading some of the reviews on here, I was not looking forward to this cruise. However, we had an excellent time and I would certainly use the ship again. The vast majority of the negative comments simply did not apply, but maybe we ... Read More
After reading some of the reviews on here, I was not looking forward to this cruise. However, we had an excellent time and I would certainly use the ship again. The vast majority of the negative comments simply did not apply, but maybe we were just lucky. The cabin was excellent and yes the a/c was a bit fierce, but it was very quiet and not intrusive at all. The beds were very comfortable and the linen changed regularly, by the excellent steward. We saw no instances of drunkenness at all, although some large groups did get a touch noisy from time to time but this was not a problem. We upgraded the drinks package, and found the upgraded choice to be excellent. The basic wine was not to my taste but the premium wines were excellent. The gin selection on basic was fine but premium allowed you to access all the gins at the gin and whisky bar for no extra charge. Overall we thought the upgrade was excellent value at £50 each for the week. The ship is a bit dated in some ways but upmarket for Thomsons. We did feel that they had dumbed the food choices down a bit. Gone was the fillet and lobster tail in the main restaurant, instead you had prawns and lamb shank. However, we always found something to eat and the quality and quantity were good. We did the trio package for the three specialty restaurants and we were glad we did so as the service and food first class. I do agree that they need to sort out the service in Latitude 53 as the meal can take up to two hours 40 minutes and other times only 90 minutes. The problem seems to be that there are no drinks waiters. The food waiter does everything and if anyone wants a premium wine, they have to go and fetch it which can take up to 10 minutes. Why not have all the very limited range of wines to hand, this would speed things up considerably. We found the crew to be exceptionally friendly and the entertainment was excellent, with everyone working hard. We had our cases within 10 minutes of finding the cabin which is a record for us. Overall we had no complaints other that the slow service in the main restaurant, and the fact that they charged for the mini bar in the cabin. Why charge for this?. A special mention to Saville and Michelle at the gin and whisky bar. These ladies were excellent, and very efficient. Please pay them a visit and sample the 10 gins and 10 whiskies on offer. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Having sailed previously on MSC Divina in Carebbean on two ocasion, thaught a mediterranean cruise with MSC would be a good idea. Wrong. Mediterranean cruises are not like in the caribbean. Not even the water on the dining room is free! ... Read More
Having sailed previously on MSC Divina in Carebbean on two ocasion, thaught a mediterranean cruise with MSC would be a good idea. Wrong. Mediterranean cruises are not like in the caribbean. Not even the water on the dining room is free! Yes you will pay to have your meal with water. Also service is terrible, european restaurant service expecting a service charge? Embarkation: was really well organized and very fast. Shows are average, a couple of strange performers, don't get it. The Circ du Soleil at sea is a ripoff "DONT GO" at the end everybody stays still on their seats thinking; is it over or about to begin. Service at main dining is terrible, the servers don't treat you with respect and is if they don't care your still going to give them the service charge. "CAUTION" not even the water is free. They will not serve you tap water, only plastic bottled. Note: the last day of the cruise they will include in your account a charge for MSC Foundation; yeah right protect the environment as everybody in the main dining room sips from a plastic bottle for MSC' s financial gain. Night activities are always packed lots of party going on. This is a good point in their favor. Cabins and cleaning service are great. Good reviews on this area. Ports and shore excursions: Great itinerary included Marcelles, Genoa, Civitaveccia, Palermo, Malta. Used a shore excursion to tranfer from Port of Civitaveccia to Rome. They did not comply with the stated hours. Shuttle left later and required to return before. Few time to explore city. Notice that some ports are very far from the cities of interest an MSC will upsell you their shuttles. Don't do it. In Marceilles they were charging €13 per adults for shuttle. If you walk 10 minutes from the ship the city provides it free of charge with trips every 30 minutes. Some in my party felt scamed by MSC. In Barcelona a Taxi will cost you €10 for 4 and MSC will charge 12€ per adult. The buffet area in strange. Not the best selection or quality. During thier stated lunch and dinner hours they will start closing section of the buffet restaurant ending in a reduced crowded space where no one will find a table. Don't expect juice, iced tea or lemonade as in caribbean sailings. Only juice available is a watered down during breakfast. If you are a european used to bad service and paying for the basics, this is your cruise. I believe americans will have a hard time with the basics here, not for somebody used to travelling on other cruise lines with american style service you will be disapointed as i am. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
the embarkation and disembarkation where terrible... the staff is rude ando don't help you in any way. The ship is beautiful, the cabins are very confortable. you have to make a line to enter the restaurant every night. The food is ... Read More
the embarkation and disembarkation where terrible... the staff is rude ando don't help you in any way. The ship is beautiful, the cabins are very confortable. you have to make a line to enter the restaurant every night. The food is Ok... small portions and always cold. our waitress was very nice. The shows were bad except for the cirque du Soleil with I truly recommend. The staff has no preparation, the staff doesnt help you in anyway. everything is a problem. the children had fun, but there is no way to know where they are or anyway to have comunication with them, since the app doesn't apply to them for being under age.i had to return twice a bracelet they sell you to know where you children are, the bracelets never worked. you have to pay for everything on orboard, even on New Years eve there was NO hats or anything unless you 70 euros. No I would NOT go again Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our first time with MSC. Previously we have cruised with Norwegian and Princess. Also our first European cruise. I was traveling with my wife and two kids (daughter 14 and son 11). Scheduled itinerary was Rome-Sea ... Read More
This was our first time with MSC. Previously we have cruised with Norwegian and Princess. Also our first European cruise. I was traveling with my wife and two kids (daughter 14 and son 11). Scheduled itinerary was Rome-Sea Day-Sicily-Malta-Barcelona-Marseilles-Genoa-Rome. Itinerary changed, actual itinerary was Rome-Rome-Corsica-Majorca-Barcelona-Marseilles-Genoa-Rome. Embarkation: We arrived to embark at the recommended time, and it was chaos. The ship was berthed on the "old" side of the port, access was through an ancient quonset-hut style building. There was virtually no signage, we found our way by following crowds. First building was to check in luggage, no orderly queues, everyone trying to get to one little table to check in luggage. Once we fought through that, we went to a second building next door to actually check in. This was far more orderly and went smoothly. Once past the luggage check in, all went smoothly. Itinerary Change: We got on board, found our room, and set out to see the ship. During our walk around the ship we saw on the many large screens around the public areas that the itinerary had changed. I waited in a line at the concierge desk for about 30 minutes to learn that I should have received notice of the change at embarkation and via a letter in my room (neither happened). This was annoying on several levels. First, we needed to change excursions (we had booked outside of MSC). Secondly, had I been informed about the change prior to embarking, I would have delayed embarkation for a day and spent the extra day in Rome and not on the ship. MSC knew about the change and could have notified me prior to embarkation, and chose not too. This made me unhappy. Wasn't going to ruin our trip though! The Cabin: We had a balcony Fantastica room. It was set up with a queen and bunk beds. The cabin was clean and organized. It was crowded with 4 people, and there was not sufficient room for all of the luggage under the bed, so 1 of the 4 suitcases had to live "in the open." All 4 of us were comfortable for the entire journey, although there wasn't much space to spare! The room was set up with 2 pool towels, and our steward was able to correct that right away. They also notified us one day that our balcony would be cleaned so we needed to ensure our door was closed and locked. The cleaning never took place though. The Ship: Brand new and fancy! The main gallery was pretty cool, with the overhead screens. Getting around was easy, lots of signage. elevators are SLOW. you will wait a long time during busy times, but stairs are plentiful and easily navigated. Shopping was typical of cruises or Duty Free in airports. Lots of bar space. Crew was very attentive. The pools appeared nice, not really pool weather. The inside pool was crowded. There are several "hot" tubs. They were NOT hot. The fitness center was way too small. Over 6,000 guests, and there are about 10 treadmills and 6 bikes. Ridiculous. We were on board for Christmas, and the ship was very nicely decorated for the holiday. Entertainment: The nightly shows were fine. The kids loved them, wife and I thought they were OK. Cirque show was good if a bit short. Lots of bands/singers throughout the ship. Casino was good, lots of slots and a fair amount of table games. Not crowded but not empty, dealers were engaging and made it fun. Dining: We had the early seating (5:30) at the La Loggia restaurant. The service was outstanding, the menu was varied, and the food was good. The Market Place Buffet was not a great experience. The food was bland and uninspired. There was variety, but the crowds were out of control. The beverage service was slow, drinks ordered at the very beginning of the meal arrived after most of the meal was completed. The experience was the same for breakfast, lunch or dinner (we tried the Market Place for one evening meal). We discovered on the third day that the Purple Crab dining room (deck 5) was open for seated/plated breakfast. Learning this improved our journey considerably, because we could avoid the Market Place buffet. The Purple Crab for breakfast was quite nice. WE did not take advantage of the specialty restaurants. Quick note on "formal" nights: They are not formal. We were dressed per the guidelines and felt fine. We saw a few people in tuxedos, but not many. We also saw several people dressed down, some even in t-shirts. I was a bit dissapointed that casual dress was allowed. Also, the early seating might have impacted this, as later seatings might have been more formal. Excursions: We got off of the ship every day. The first day (was supposed to be Sicily but got changed to Rome/Civitivecchia) we booked a last minute excursion through MSC. it was a bus tour to Tuscania and Tarquinia. For a short notice excursion (MSC had a day or two to put it together) it was good. The buses were on time and comfortable and the guides were knowledgeable. The towns themselves were charming, I am glad we visited. We didn't do any other excursions through MSC. In Marseilles we took an e-bike tour to the Parc National des Calanques that was outstanding (booked through Get Your Guide), and in Genoa we booked a walking food tour (also through Get Your Guide) that was really exceptional. In Corsica, Majorca, and Barcelona we did not use an excursion. All cities were easily reachable by walking and/or cab, and are great to explore on your own. MSC did offer bus service into town centers in Majorca, Barcelona and Marseilles, but it was extremely expensive and I would not recommend if you are able to walk. Getting off of the ship was a bit chaotic in some ports, but not a big problem. Getting back on the ship was just fine in every port other than Corsica. in Corsica, I got the impression that the port was not used to a ship of this size on Xmas eve, and wasn't staffed for it. Also, because of the itinerary change they might not have had sufficient time to prepare. One minor complaint: crew had to embark through the same doors that passengers use. The crew was not shy about skipping the queue and voicing complaints about their jobs. Kids: We traveled with a 14 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. They did not participate in the kids club or teenage area. The kids loved the ship, and had a great time. My son did use the ropes course, and it was fun. Overall: Overall, the cruise was good. Very international passenger group. Crew was good. Ship was clean and very nice (also brand new, so expected). Even though the itinerary change was disappointing (as we wanted to go to Malta), net of everything it worked out as we didn't have a Sea Day. We feel we would have been bored if we had a full day on the ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Looking for something fun and stress-free as a way to celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I booked a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit over the holidays. The itinerary had us leaving Civitavecchia (port near Rome) on the 22nd, spending ... Read More
Looking for something fun and stress-free as a way to celebrate my 50th birthday, my wife and I booked a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit over the holidays. The itinerary had us leaving Civitavecchia (port near Rome) on the 22nd, spending Christmas Eve - Christmas Day in Venice, seeing Croatia, Montenegro, Florence/Pisa, and Monte Carlo before stopping in Barcelona for New Year's Eve, then returning to Civitavecchia on January 2nd. Because it was a good deal, we purchased the reduced airfare through the cruise line. BIG MISTAKE. Travel to / Embarkation: Delta / Al Italia Departure Flights December 21: - Arrive at LAX, was able to check into Delta flight and check luggage through to Rome, but NOT able to check in for Al Italia flight - Flight from LAX was in Terminal 2, had to check in at Terminal 3, then go back to Terminal 2 - Arrive in New York (JFK) with 1.5 hours to connect - but had to CHECK IN with Al Italia in Terminal 2 - Take shuttle from arrival terminal (4) to Terminal 1, EXIT THE AIRPORT, run to Terminal 2, find Al Italia counter, try to check in - Two of the four of us were checked in for flight to Rome, originally told the other two would not be able to get on the flight (even though our luggage was checked through to Rome?) - After pleading, attendant takes back tickets she’d given to a standby customer and puts us on flight, all separated from each other (not ideal, but ok) - Second attendant rushes us through security, but stopped at screening due to water in daughter’s Hydroflask (She hadn’t realized we’d be going through security a second time, we had to surrender the $40 Hydroflask - enjoy TSA) - Finally get on flight, ten minutes later 13 year old daughter escorted off plane WITHOUT TALKING TO EITHER PARENT. Daughter in tears, afraid she’ll be left in New York by herself. Dad (me) irate. Eventually my daughter was given a seat and the flight departed. December 22: -Arrive in Rome: (Of course) one bag wasn’t transferred, 16 year old daughter left without clothes for what was thought would be two days (bag would catch up to us in Venice, scheduled to arrive there on December 24th) - Arrive at Cruise Terminal, ask to have rooms adjusted (when booked, given two staterooms with one adult in each, even though NCL POLICY stated kids could be by themselves if in ADJOINING stateroom, which we booked) - staff was unable to do so, we were told it had to be done on the ship. - Board ship, go straight to Guest Services. HUGE line of people, apparently a lot of people with issues. - Go to get a couple of beers to enjoy while waiting in line (much needed after the horrible flight/luggage experience). Get a bill (Premium Beverage Package was one of the Perks included in our package). - After 30+ minutes, get to the counter. Representative can’t change rooms, either. Offers to give extra door keys (this was the best they could do). - Representative can’t find any evidence of our perks. - NCL App had LITERALLY showed the perks two days prior, but changed for some reason after we boarded. - Had to fill out multiple forms too have our daughter’s luggage allowed onboard in Venice, including one form twice (?). *Keep in mind we’re dealing with this after 24 hours of travel.* - Representative said she would email their corporate office to see about our perks, but was unable to offer anything else. - Go to room and pay international charges so I can call NCL Customer Service in the U.S. directly. Do so, they assist promptly. December 23: - Go downstairs to verify perks are now showing on my account. At 8 a.m. the line is already forming at Guest Services. Woman behind me is talking to her husband about how she found the email that shows their perks. Must be a common issue. - Get to the counter, finally perks are reflected in our accounts, new cards issued (still in separate rooms). - Decided to get a cup of coffee, found out the $99/day Premium Drink Package doesn’t include coffee from the coffee bar. - Also found out bottled water was NOT included in our Drink Packages either. (Purchase 6 liters for $19.99) - Then found out weather delayed our arrival in Venice until the 25th. (Not the ship’s fault, but daughter would be without her clothes for a third day. (A third day of borrowing clothes from her sister)) Onboard experiences: - Balcony stateroom was very small. Two twin cot-like beds pushed together, a small table as a vanity, a tiny cushioned chair. Balcony was barely deep enough for the chairs. - Specialty dining was OK, certainly not worth any extra $, especially not the Italian restaurant. - Buffet was mediocre at BEST, though the made to order omelets at breakfast were pretty good. I swear they were serving frozen pizza. - Buffet during off-hours was hit or miss at best. - Coffee at buffet was the basic large vat of cafeteria coffee. - Specialty Dining fills up quickly, but we tried three: La Trattoria: Not worth it. Didn't care for the Somelier, either. Cagney's: decent, good steak. Teppanyaki's: Great. Lots of fun, great chef, good food. - Children were EVERYWHERE. - Quiet places to enjoy a drink were non-existent. The main bar/lounge was used for family fun (bingo, dancing lessons, kids vs. adults challenges, etc.). Never less than a half dozen strollers in the bar. - Other bar (Champagne Charlies) was ok, pretty good three person musical group, but small. - Henry’s Pub (mostly beer) was a great hangout spot, but very small. - Shanghai Bar was even smaller, and being situated next to the equally tiny Blue Lagoon 24 hour eatery, seating in the bar was typically in use by people eating. - Only real option for enjoying a quiet glass of wine was in your room - as long as you don’t mind the sound of children running up and down the hallways. Service: Average. Stateroom attendant was very nice and very professional. Also encountered a nice waitress in the main lounge. Service in main dining rooms (Windows or Garden) was very good. Most of the other service attendants were a toss up: some nice, some indifferent, some treating you like you're an inconvenience. Guest services....average at best. First night experience was enough to make me wish we'd chosen differently. Also a bit off-putting when you're competing for seating with the staff. The buffet area was already crowded. Add in workers eating their meals and it gets even more frustrating. Imagine seeing some of the best seating in the main lounge being occupied by ship's staff. Entertainment was good. Enjoyed the Elements and World Beat show. Juggler was probably my favorite (sounds crazy, but he was hilarious). The quartet of singers was also very good. Ports/Shore excursions: The ports saved the cruise. Best, most enjoyable time was when we were off the ship. Venice (Christmas Day) - great city, but still flooded. Very surreal. Very walkable, and since I'd been there previously, we didn't take a shore excursion. Did a gondola ride, a bit expensive but memorable, just COLD. Dubrovnik, Croatia - took the ship-arranged ($15pp) shuttle into town, walked the city walls. Amazing. Inside the city walls was magical, though the wind seems to gain intensity traveling through the small alleyways and blasts you with cold air. Spiced wine helped. Kotor, Montenegro - Ferry drops you off near the small town. Walked through town (on our own) to entrance to steps (1300+) that lead to the fort at the top of the mountain. Guy at the top sells soda, water, and, more importantly, beer. Amazing views from the top. Small town inside the walls was very cool. Cats are EVERYWHERE and very friendly. Livorno (Port City) - we took the Florence/Pisa shore excursion. Pisa was a fun, quick stop, the highlight being, of course, the Tower. Florence was amazing. So much history, so much significance. We will definitely return, preferably when its warmer. Monaco - we took the Nice and Little Train tour, it was okay. Parts of what the tour guide covered were also covered during the Little Train tour, would be good to remove the duplicity in the interest of time. Upon return to Monte Carlo, we had time to see the Christmas village area near the port. Really, really cool. Had Nutella crepes, then the adults enjoyed spiced wine while the kids had hot chocolate. **Return Ferry boarding process was a cluster**** Arriving one hour before the last ferry was scheduled to depart, we spent that hour on the pier waiting. Pretty sure the ship departed about an hour and a half late. Barcelona (New Year's Eve) - Our second time there, so we ventured out on our own. Went to Barcelona Cathedral, very impressive. Spent lots of time on La Rambla. Definitely feels like the center of the city in a good way. La Boqueria Market (Mercado de Boqueria) is a must-visit. So much good food, it'd be easy to pig out, walk around, then pig out again. We determined the New Year's Eve celebration was at Placa Espanaya. Party there was INCREDIBLE. Finished up and ended up walking about two miles back to the ship (catching a cab in the middle of crowd that size was both difficult and impractical), made it back with about twenty minutes to spare. Disembarkation / Return Travel: January 2nd: - Because a port was removed from the itinerary AFTER the flights had been booked, we were given a night’s stay at a hotel in Rome (pretty decent trade off, but Mallorca would have been fun). - We would be transported to the hotel instead of the airport, like our vouchers said. - Asked if transportation to airport was included, was told it was not - 25 buses deliver hundreds of people to the hotel and dump us there. Inside is pandemonium. A few NCL employees were trying to answer the questions of hundreds of people. - Finally found out we’d have to check in sometime after 3, so we stashed our luggage and headed out for sightseeing. - Came back about five, got our room keys. Find out NCL actually DID set up transportation to the airport. - Go to get luggage. NOT THERE. - Hotel attendant tells me they took it to our room. Go to the room. Not there. - Go back down, find out they may have taken it to another person’s room with the same last name…. - Follow the worker to the other room, there’s our luggage. - In the morning, driver was there early and with a van, ready to go. Ride to the airport was the easiest part of travel to that point. (Finally something was easy!) - No issues with return flight. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our 11th MSC cruise, our 10th in Yacht Club, our first time on Grandiosa. Our flight was delayed due to wind at Rome Airport. On arrival we were greeted by MSC for our transfer. We waited a while for additional passengers and ... Read More
This was our 11th MSC cruise, our 10th in Yacht Club, our first time on Grandiosa. Our flight was delayed due to wind at Rome Airport. On arrival we were greeted by MSC for our transfer. We waited a while for additional passengers and we eventually left with two others. The driver was safe and drove well. We were late boarding, however, due to bad weather the ship was staying in Rome due to the bad weather, I was particularly pleased about this as they were not taking any chances with the weather and I believe it was the right decision. We went straight through check in and straight to our room. It was a beautiful room, lovely comfortable bed and great bathroom. Our itinerary was changed due to bad weather, but we sailed into sunshine all week. The staff were fabulous and couldn’t have been friendlier. We ate at the Yacht Club restaurant, twice at the Butchers Cut, and twice at the pub. The pub is great for a drink and snack, a good alternative if you don’t fancy a meal. The ship is immaculate and the service was excellent. So good, we are going again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I had a week to fill in over the Christmas period, and I thought that a week-long cruise would be a good and convenient option. I boarded and disembarked MSC Grandiosa in Genoa, and thought that I would be visiting Civitavecchia, Palermo, ... Read More
I had a week to fill in over the Christmas period, and I thought that a week-long cruise would be a good and convenient option. I boarded and disembarked MSC Grandiosa in Genoa, and thought that I would be visiting Civitavecchia, Palermo, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseille. However, after boarding in Genoa, there was a letter in the cabin advising that the two ports I was most looking forward to visiting were not able to be visited because of sea conditions, and as a result, the itinerary was changed so that there was an extra day spent in Civitavecchia (the port of Rome), and port stops in Ajaccio (Corsica) and Palma de Mallorca were arranged. I arrived in Genoa by train about two hours before the posted time of embarkation but I was able to board the ship and go to my cabin. Both embarkation and disembarkation at Genoa were among the best that I have experienced. The walk between the cruise terminal and railway station is not very long, but can involve some steps and narrow pathways. Compared to other cruises that I have been on, this was the first cruise where the passenger composition changed at each port. This in itself was not a problem, but it meant that each afternoon from about 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm there were 5-6 announcements in multiple languages over the loudspeaker for new passengers to attend the mandatory lifeboat sessions. There must be a better way (perhaps an electronic bracelet) to get passengers to attend the sessions without the constant loud reminders. I was disappointed by the lack of information about the ports that were being visited. The information given was only about MSC shore excursions, and there wasn't anything about public transport, maps or other features that would assist those not who opted not to participate in MSC shore excursions. Prior to sailing I had planned my activities for each port, but when the itinerary changed, it was not so easy to plan for the time in the new ports. I purchased the standard internet package and found that the internet speed met my needs. However, the cost of the internet package is quite expensive and it would be worth investigating other alternative means of accessing the internet. The ship was only a month old and so all the furnishings were in pristine condition. My cabin was an interior studio, the cabin at the lower end of those available. I was travelling alone and the cabin was adequate for my needs. Given the very limited floor space and the fact that one side of the bed was against the wall, I think that it would be unsuitable for more than one person to occupy the cabin. The sailing was over the Christmas period and the ship was completely full with many family groups and numerous nationalities. The buffet was very busy and crowded at breakfast and particularly at lunchtimes. On Christmas Eve, the buffet was not open for dinner as a special meal was arranged for after midnight instead, but this was poorly communicated. I appreciated the presence of a Catholic chaplain being on board during this cruise to lead Mass on Christmas Day and other days. Overall, the size of the ship, the constant change in the composition of the passengers, and the lack of activities such as port venue information sessions and trivia sessions made it feel more like being on a train rather than on a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Wanted to go away for a family Christmas and get some sun. The flight from Gatwick was delayed by one day so missed first day of cruising. Tui conspicuous by their absence, no explanation to passengers for the delay. Relayed to local ... Read More
Wanted to go away for a family Christmas and get some sun. The flight from Gatwick was delayed by one day so missed first day of cruising. Tui conspicuous by their absence, no explanation to passengers for the delay. Relayed to local hotels and bussed back next day only to have to check in again and only one lady on check in desk for 200 people. Food in main dining room was very mediocre, rushed xmas dinner, couldn't wait to clear plates to get ready for the next sitting. Some of us hadn't finished eating. Show every night from same cast, no variety. One night had comedian who wasn't in the least bit funny. Same old cruise jokes. Booked buggy riding trip for daughter and hubby and no where on the confirmation did it say needed driving licence or under21s couldn't drive. so couldn't go on excursion and staff extremely unhelpful, they weren't the only people who couldn't go. Food in buffet very repetative, same puddings each day although boxing day was spectactular. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Splashed out on an Executive Suite - 10041 - for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Lovely cabin and huge balcony and first class steward called Ocsana. Overall the food was pretty average but plentiful. We noticed that TUI had made a ... Read More
Splashed out on an Executive Suite - 10041 - for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Lovely cabin and huge balcony and first class steward called Ocsana. Overall the food was pretty average but plentiful. We noticed that TUI had made a number of small, but significant, cuts in both staff and menu choices from a previous cruise the year before. Annoying that the German branch of TUI - Mein Schiff - always had the superior berths in every port and we were left with a long hike to the town centres. The staff in every department were excellent and couldn't do enough for guests, but they worked long hours and in the restaurants barely coped. The all inclusive drinks package more than covered our needs and certainly didn't warrant paying £200 to upgrade to premium. We met some lovely people and only a few over indulged, but no one spoiled the festive season. The highlight was Madeira with amazing Christmas lights and fireworks. Daytime entertainment was pretty mediocre and more akin to a basic holiday camp, but we made full use of our suite so really didn't care. The downside was the stops we made in the Canary Island ports. TUI failed to provide adequate shuttle buses - mostly none at all - and charged guests where they were supplied. One port was almost three miles from town, which the Captain suggested was an hour by foot! Many passengers were of an advanced age and many suffered from disabilities, so were confined to the ship. This was our fourth Marella cruise and we have booked again for later in the year. As someone who enjoys a cigar I was annoyed that the smoking area - these are few and far between - at the rear of the Squid and Anchor lounge no longer had a drinks service, even though waiters did collect empties. The anti-smoking brigade - who can inevitably be found stocking up with duty free cigarettes and rolling tobacco to take back for friends and relatives - had complained that fumes penetrated into the bar, and demanded the doors be sealed. Remember, drinking alcohol also damages your health! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019

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