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Cruise Ratings
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Sail Date: June 2019
We are experienced cruisers in our late 60's and decided to try something different. We loved the itinerary of this particular cruise, going to ports that are not usually visited by big cruise ships, apart from Portofino. Royal ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers in our late 60's and decided to try something different. We loved the itinerary of this particular cruise, going to ports that are not usually visited by big cruise ships, apart from Portofino. Royal Clipper is a beautiful vessel and is kept spotlessly clean and well maintained. We knew ahead of time that the cabin would be smaller than what we are used to and that we would not be having a balcony but only two portholes. Storage was adequate but very limited and the bathroom small. The bed was pushed against the wall, which made getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night very awkward. Sail way, when the sails are raised, music playing and champagne served, is quite magical. The final evening, with the under the stars disco and the sails lit up was breathtaking. Food is quite good. Not as extensive a menu as a larger cruise of course, but quite adequate. Breakfast and lunch are buffets and dinner, waiter service. Service is excellent by both dining room staff and bar staff. All crew are exceptionally friendly but it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said about some of the officers, who appeared standoffish. Room stewards were friendly and our cabin was kept spotless. He even made towel animals. Embarkation in Cannes was clumsy due to the ship being anchored rather than docked. Disembarkation in Rome went a lot more smoothly. Safety drill on the first evening took an hour and then a second drill on the first morning also took an hour. This seemed excessive and disorganized. The dining room itself seems to have too many tables and chairs for comfort and the buffet is poorly designed, so that only a few passengers can access it at once. Up on deck, the sun beds are far too close together so that it is impossible to alter the reclining position without pulling it out of the line. There is very little shade on deck. Although a small area has an awning. The atmosphere on the ship was very different to other cruises we have enjoyed. A large contingent of German doctors on a 'conference' were on board. It did not seem to make for a particularly friendly atmosphere on the ship. We understand that many such 'conferences' are a staple on Star Clipper lines. A beach stop was offered on Corsica. I understand that this is at the discretion of the harbour master and that no choice is made by the Captain. The beach offered could not accommodate the tenders, so Zodiacs were used. The sea was choppy and entry onto the Zodiac difficult. When we saw the state of the beach as we approached it, we were not impressed. The sea was full of weed, and the beach strewn with debris. There were no facilities whatsoever. Passengers were expected to get out of the Zodiac with waves going up to their waists. We decided not to get off and returned to the ship. Upon disembarking from the Zodiac, my husband slipped against the metal edge of the dock, injuring his shin and requiring stitches. This was promptly dealt with by the ship's nurse. I made a complaint to the Hotel Manager that the beach was not of the standard we would have expected and that the sea was too choppy to get on and off the Zodiacs safely. No phone call to our cabin was received to answer my complaint. In fact the Hotel Manager approached me at the bottom of the staircase as I was going to dinner. In a curt manner she told me that the beach had nothing to do with the Captain and that the seas were of acceptable limits. My husband was right behind me. She did not speak to him but merely asked me how he was. I said he was not good and I was unimpressed with her handling of the situation and how on other lines, it would have been dealt with differently. No concern or follow up was made by her for the rest of the cruise. The only people who appeared to care were the waiters and the bar staff. This left a bitter taste in our mouths about the level of concern shown when one of the passengers was injured. Very little entertainment was offered apart from talent show, fashion show, quiz evening and Mr. and Mrs. Contest. For a line that prides itself on being a cut above the average cruise line, these entertainments seemed to me to be childish and banal. The only talks given were Captain's stories and a talk on pirates. Napkin folding and knot tying class were given. A visit to the Bridge was advertised but the officers had forgotten until they were reminded twenty minutes late ....An engine room visit was also included. Mast climbing was offered but was so poorly organized that many of the passengers were disappointed they did not get a chance to climb. Water sports were often cancelled but some people enjoyed swimming off the marina platform. Excursions were few but were reasonably priced. Drinks were reasonably priced. My husband found the fitness room had exercise bikes which were old and in poor condition, the ceiling is low above the treadmill making it difficult for someone of any height to use. In summary we were glad to have experienced this cruise line, but would be unlikely to again. These cruises are not cheap and many compromises are made, for the sake of seeing sails go up and down. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We were a family of four traveling for our first Mediterranean cruise with two teenagers. We have taken multiple cruises before on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival, so we thought we would give the relatively new MSC ... Read More
We were a family of four traveling for our first Mediterranean cruise with two teenagers. We have taken multiple cruises before on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival, so we thought we would give the relatively new MSC Seaview a try. The price for our family was certainly enticing. In short, here is how we would grade our experience: Price: A Room size and cleanliness: A Food quality: D Entertainment quality: C Itinerary and Time at each port: B If you are looking for a cruise vacation, this is probably not it. If you are looking for a comfortable hotel room and transportation from point A to point B, this cruise would serve you fine. Let be begin with the good. We had a balcony cabin on the 10th floor of the port side. The balcony was great given the weather. We enjoyed sitting on it and watching the sights in and out of the ports. It also gave us extra room which was out of the way while others in our family were getting dressed. The cabin had a queen size bed and a sofa that converted into bunk beds rather than a pull out bed. The bunk beds were a lifesaver with two teenagers and avoided many arguments and complaints. The room was spacious for a cruise ship as was the bathroom and shower. The bathroom had fantastic water pressure which was a great surprise. Our room steward did a great job keeping us supplied with fresh towels and working around our time in the room. The room TV had plenty of stations with maybe 6-7 in each language. However, even the American programming in other languages did not have subtitle capabilities which would have been nice. The English language selections were all 24 hour news stations which included CNN, CNBC and 3-4 European news stations. It is hard to relax and unwind to that before bed. The common area was a bit plain but nice. The elevators utilized a system that directed you to a specific elevator based upon destination. It is meant to speed things up but always resulted in long waits at the elevators. So we ended up going up and down countless flights of stairs each day. The cruise was truly international with what seemed to be a passenger population made up of those speaking Italian, French, Russian, various Asian languages, English, German and Spanish. The staff did a great job being multi lingual, making announcements and communicating fluently in each of those languages. That was impressive. The entertainment encompassed all of those languages which was great. But the shows etc. on board could best be described as “low energy.” If you are doing a Tina Turner tribute show, having dancers and singers dragging through the show with a slow tempo and little smiling just seemed like they were going through the paces. Definitely not Tina Turner like. The other periodic entertainment was excessively campy and seemed like a continual loop of the Gong Show or Sabado Gigante. On our last night, we found a duo playing piano and drums singing in a lounge, and they alternated performance sets with a solo guitarist/vocalist. Both were really good and better than the more featured acts on the ship. I wish we had discovered them earlier... We also walked through a very small casino that was on board. It seemed very sparse and small. It did not have any craps tables which was a first for me in a casino. The cruise itinerary was good and generally allowed sufficient time in each port. There were no dedicated days at sea on this itinerary for which we were grateful. However, at Palma, Mallorca and Barcelona, Spain, the cruise ports were outside of the city so you were forced to take a taxi or a ship provided shuttle at an extra cost to go into the city. If the cruise line chooses to utilize these ports outside of the destination city, then they should provide transportation into the port city without nickel and diming their passengers for the costs of transportation on the cruise line’s shuttles into the city. My biggest concern about this cruise was the food quality. It was terrible. I tried to be very open minded given the multinational nature of the cruise but nothing I had of any cuisine was good. All of the food was edible but not good. The food was often cold and bland. We tried both the sit down dining option and the marketplace buffet. Those were the only options at night unless you paid for the three premium restaurant options which we did not. The same food, the same quality and the same temperature seemed to be served at both venues. The only difference is that the sit down dining had more limited options, and we had slow service with a lot of waiting with a waiter who did not even seem to understand her own menu. For those of you that love Pepsi, you are in luck as all of the soft drinks on board are Pepsi products. For those of us that don’t, there was always beer. In the dining room we were charged for still water. In the marketplace buffet, we were not charged for still water but they only had 1 working water dispenser for all of the passengers. The plastic cups for your water were limited to 6 ounce cups. It is hard to stay hydrated at that rate. The coffee on the cruise was generally above average. Most of the time we paid for premium coffee at the bars which was worth it to us coffee drinkers. The best we found was that made by “Don” at the Venchi Chocolate and Coffee Bar. It was great and worth the extra charge. Finally, the dining themes were ridiculous. Each night was a different theme in name only. The actual theme seemed to be “Sunday night clean out the household refrigerator”. The dishes were a hodge-podge of whatever seemed to be laying around. For example, the Bavarian theme night was the everyday items plus the addition of a roast pork loin and a cold potato salad. That made it Bavarian night. Nothing else Bavarian was served. On Mexican night, the usual items were supplemented by some puréed avocado and some very julienned pieces of beef mixed with julienned strips of peppers. They called that beef fajitas. That was the sum total of what made it Mexican night. I will give the ship credit that their breads and croissants were made well and tasty. But unfortunately my scale is going to reflect that I lived on mostly bread and coffee while onboard. The part that I find most interesting is that for an Italian cruise line, based in the Mediterranean with multinational passengers, the Italian dishes were the worst offerings. The pizza was bland, soggy and doughy; the pasta was over cooked and soaked in bland tomato or a watery white sauce; and the deserts were basic, unimaginative and tasteless. We could not wait to get off the ship each day to eat at a street vendor, market or restaurant. We were never disappointed with any of the food we found on land. In summary, if you are looking for a comfortable place to sleep and transportation from point A to point B, this cruise will serve you well. If you are looking for the whole cruise experience to include great food and entertainment, look elsewhere. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Embarkation ----------------- Embarkation was easy and as I'm disabled, we got to skip the line. Was nice and smooth. Stateroom -------------- I had an inside cabin. I also peeked into other cabins as they were being ... Read More
Embarkation ----------------- Embarkation was easy and as I'm disabled, we got to skip the line. Was nice and smooth. Stateroom -------------- I had an inside cabin. I also peeked into other cabins as they were being cleaned so I got a look at oceanview and balcony ones too. In general , they were a lot smaller than other ships I've been on. I also wasn't keen on the bathroom set up. Basically, the toilet is to the left of the door when you enter the room, and the shower is to the right. There's a curtain you can pull across that will cover them both up. I was sharing with my dad so showering was a bit challenging if he wasn't in the room, as I was always worried that he'd enter and be able to see me naked! I had requested twin beds but this didn't seem to reach NCL (maybe my agent didn't pass it on). On other ships I've been on, the stateroom attendant happily changed it, but the one we had on this ship was obviously really annoyed and almost lectured us for not requesting it at the outset. When we looked in our mini-bar, there was an empty can of soda. I obviously didn't want charged for this to advised guest services. I think that made the stateroom attendant hate us for the rest of the trip! Bars and Restaurants ----------------------------- One thing I did like was that there was a choice of restaurants included, not just the main or buffet restaurants. There was an Asian restaurant, 2 main restaurants, a buffet one that was much calmer than Royal Caribbeans, with more seats available, and an Irish bar. This gave the potential for more variety without having to spend more money. When we ate at the Manhattan Room, I was really disappointed that the jazz band stopped playing shortly after we got there. This band doesn't seem to be utilised anywhere else so why not have them playing for the whole time the restaurant is open. It went from having a really nice atmosphere to a horrible one as there wasn't even any other background music turned on. I'd have liked to have been able to view the menus from the restaurants in one place so I didn't have to walk all over the ship to compare them. You have the interactive boards where you can book restaurants for future dates, but you can't seem to do it for that night, which is a real pain. They also don't seem to show the menus. I'm used to being able to view the menus on my TVs, but you don't seem to have that feature. The service at the pool bar was atrocious! We regularly waited 25 minutes to get served. This was mainly because there weren't enough staff based there, but also because those that were didn't have the ability to remember which customers had arrived first. One guy kept only serving those who were right in front of them, anyone outside his initial field of vision just had to keep waiting, getting more and more frustrated! I was disappointed with O'Sheehans. It was really noisy because you had noise coming from the atrium venue, the bowling alley, the casino, and the bars above when they had live music. It all clashed into a horrible racket. I was also really disappointed that the menu, at least for dinner, never changed. It felt like there were often dirty tables when you tried to get a seat. I struggled with there being a lot of high tables as I can't use them being disabled. It was also weird that you couldn't eat at the table that's facing down to the atrium, but you can at the same type of seating that's at one of the speciality restaurants. That doesn't make any sense. Entertainment ------------------- On sea days, there literally wasn't ever any day time activities I was interested in doing. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean have way more variety, e.g. colouring classes, table tennis tournaments, board/card game sessions, etc., with multiple free activities happening at each time slot so that there was something for everyone. I was extremely disappointed by the evening entertainment. I am used to there being a stage show every night, with 2 performances per night on every cruise I've done previously. What was on felt dated, e.g. I saw Priscilla on Royal Caribbean last year. Howl at the Moon was on far too much - there needs to be more variety. I can't believe that the Headliners Comedy Club never once had any comedy on! Royal Caribbean have musicals, ice shows, comedians, game shows, etc. every single night, and we often struggle to fit them all in, whereas on this cruise I often found myself bored as there wasn't any entertainment I was interested in! One activity we were actually interested in was karaoke. The bar was always full when it was on and everyone was having a good time. However, as soon as it ended, the bar emptied. This shows that it should definitely be on for a longer duration, even all night, as it was so popular! The first time we went, the entertainment staff member running it (I don't know his name - I think he was Japanese) could not have sounded more depressed! I have never been to karaoke before where the host wasn't standing on the stage in person, which gives more energy and a personal touch, but even offstage, he needed an injection of energy and personality. He was honestly monotone and sounded like he'd rather be anywhere else! The guy that did it the next time we went was more enthusiastic, thankfully! In general, the ship was very noisy. I'm used to bars being like the Cavern Club where you go into them and enter the atmosphere of that bar, whereas the majority on Epic are out in the open so you have the noise of the casino, the bowling alley, music from other venues, people walking past, etc. The atrium was a particularly horrible venue for drinks and entertainment. I felt like I couldn't find a quieter spot that was comfortable. The day we were doing search and rescue, I really wanted a bar that had comfortable sofa style seating where I could relax but still get brought drinks, and that really just didn't exist. I'm also used to their being some themed nights on the cruise that everyone gets involved in, like 80s night or white night, etc. There wasn't anything like this on Epic. I understand why they have people boarding and leaving at different ports in that it increases sales as it fits in with everyone's vacation dates, however what it does do is change the dynamics on board. I'm used to everyone being in a real party mood when we sail away and then there being a final night party too. I appreciate that's not something you can change, but it did change it for me. Pools & Spa ----------------- I had booked a spa offer that said it gave a mini facial and access to the thermal suite. However, I felt it was missold to me as it actually was sitting in a room with other people getting sold Elemis products and getting tests of these to put on our faces ourselves. That's not a facial in my book! Another thing I wasn't expecting was that there was no sauna or steam room available to all. On other ships I've been on, these were accessible to everyone in the fitness suite. Another reason why it wasn't good value for money. I normally enjoy using the hot tubs on the ship pretty much every day to easy my aching muscles. However, I found that the ones on Epic were barely luke-warm so I often quickly got cold and had to leave. I think this is the first cruise I've been on where the sauna and steam room wasn't accessible to everyone. The thermal suite is really nice, but it's expensive - 60 USD a visit or you can buy a package - so that made the cruise seem like less value. Drinks Package --------------------- The drinks package covered drinks up to 15USD. It didn't include the mini bar or the atrium cafe, which did speciality teas, coffees, and cakes. I was disappointed that bottled water wasn't included in my premium beverage package either. These have always been included on other cruises, so this reduced the feeling of value for money on the drinks package. Also, all previous cruises have given you a large drinks cup so that you could get it refilled at machines yourself or at bars, which makes it easier for you as a guest, but also is more environmentally friendly, and it's something you can take away as a souvenier, which adds value to your drinks package. Casino ---------- It felt like the casino was too big, dominating almost an entire level. Travelling with someone who's had a gambling problem in the past, it was challenging as it felt impossible at times to avoid the casino! You could smoke in the casino if you were playing games. Shopping ------------ I couldn't believe there wasn't any duty free on sale on the ship. I now understand why this is (when it's entirely within Europe, they're not allowed to sell it), but a sign telling us that before we boarded would have been useful so that we could have chosen to buy cigarettes in the duty free shop at Barcelona. The sales staff for jewellery were very in your face whenever you passed through the shops as you couldn't avoid the shops if you were on that level. Ports of Call ----------------- This is the first cruise I've done in Europe. You visit a port most days and the port days tend to be long hours. You're walking a lot in the European cities too so it's generally a pretty tiring week. We didn't book any shore excursions with the cruise line as they're really expensive. I did pre-book a couple of tours with 3rd parties. One for Florence and Pisa as it was just the same price as making your own way there, and one for the Vatican in Rome. We made our own way to Rome by taking the port shuttle to the town, then a local bus to the train station, and finally, a train to Roma St Peters. We walked from there. The tour started at 10am and we were just able to get there on time by getting off the ship as soon as it was ready for debarkation. We did have a problem getting back though as the train was delayed. There were about 14 people on that train with us, and thankfully, some of them were on a ship organised tour so the boat waited for us (we were about 40 minutes late in the end!). I'd therefore say if you're doing Rome on your own, make sure you're at the train station by 3.30pm for a 6.30pm all aboard time. The tenders were really badly organised. To not be given any indication of when your colour might be called was a nightmare because it meant we had to be up and ready early then sitting around for hours when we could have been having a long lie! I have never had a tender done this way before. Service ---------- On all the other cruises I've done, the staff have been really happy and friendly, always trying to pre-empt your needs, and nothing you asked was too big of a problem. The stateroom attendant didn't look happy whenever I saw her, though that's maybe because she may have gotten into trouble when we had to report that there was an empty can of Sprite in our mini bar from the previous guests! She took away one of our pool towels and never replaced it too. I also expected our bedding to be changed at least a couple of times during our trip, but I know it wasn't as there was a dirty mark on my duvet cover from near the beginning of the cruise, and it remained there throughout. One of the hostesses at O'Sheehans also looked miserable, and I felt like I was causing her a problem by asking for a table, particularly when she had to clean one for me. When all the staff seem to be unhappy, it makes me question how life is for them on the ship, and how they're treated. Value for Money --------------------- I felt like I was constantly being pushed to spend more money. It was very in my face, way more than any other cruise I've been on. It felt like most of the activities during the day I might have been interested in doing were at an additional cost, which means what had initially seemed a good price for the cruise, actually wasn't great value. Again, on the theme of being pressured into buying things, it was really hard to make the photography staff take no for an answer. Getting on and off the ship, they were jumping in front of you and following you even after you'd said, "no thanks" several times! Disembarkation -------------------- We had to get our luggage tags the day before disembarking from guest services. We could choose the time we got off as long as the corresponding colour of tag was still available. Bags had to be placed outside the room by 11pm the night before departure unless you were going to take them off yourself in the morning. The one positive about not everyone's cruise ending on the same day was that we could take our time having breakfast and getting off the ship as it was staying in port all day. Overall Impression ------------------------- For me, this cruise was really disappointing when I compared it to the others I've done (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Celebrity). The entertainment was particularly poor, I didn't like constantly being hassled to buy more/spend money, and I didn't get the energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, and helpful crew I'm used to. It's put me off sailing with Norwegian again in future, and I won't be recommending them to anyone else. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
I chose this cruise based on the itinerary. We chose to embark from Barcelona because it was much closer to the port and I prefer starting my cruise on a weekend day. The embarkation was very easy and stress free. We were on the ship in ... Read More
I chose this cruise based on the itinerary. We chose to embark from Barcelona because it was much closer to the port and I prefer starting my cruise on a weekend day. The embarkation was very easy and stress free. We were on the ship in less than 15 minutes. Disembarkation was also easy. Very orderly and quick. The ship was pretty good. Cabin location was ideal for me. It was at the back of the ship but had cabins above and below therefore it was quite. The balcony was covered and offered some privacy unlike the ones directly below. I actually like the odd layout of the bathroom, it made getting ready quite easy for 2 people. I had both the unlimited drink and 4 specialty dining package. The dining was awesome. Cagneys, the Italian, French and the Teppanyaki were very good. Also ate at the Manhattan Room twice for dinner. Taste twice for breakfast and the Garden Cafe several times because it was more convenient for those really early mornings excursions. We also did Cirque Dreams which was a dinner show. It was very good entertainment. There were actually really good entertainment onboard. I enjoyed Burn the Floor. Priscilla was interesting. Overall service was good. Ports were excellent but we missed the last port due to passenger falling overboard. All my excursions were booked independently for size and economic reasons. We had no issues with that at all. We were a group of 26 adults. I would definitely do the itinerary again. Now we are looking at Greece/Croatia or Hawaii. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
EPIC may be a great cruise ship for the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, Italy, and France are the epic draw while the ship offers a decent experience while getting you from port to port. It's not a bad ship. If you're booked on her ... Read More
EPIC may be a great cruise ship for the Mediterranean Sea: Spain, Italy, and France are the epic draw while the ship offers a decent experience while getting you from port to port. It's not a bad ship. If you're booked on her for a future cruise, you won't really be disappointed. It's just not a standout. Certainly, there are several impressive features. NCL's freestyle vibe is refreshing. The entertainment is quite impressive (The Beatles, Burn the Floor, Priscilla, and Cirque Dreams are stellar). And there's plenty onboard fun to keep every member of the family busy. For this and many more reasons, EPIC is a good cruise ship. It's just not a great cruise ship. This was our 9th cruise, but our first on Norwegian. So maybe some of my comments aren't so much about EPIC as they are about NCL in general. If you're a huge EPIC or NCL fan, I promise to balance the negatives with an equal number of positives. Embarkation in Barcelona could not have been more smooth. The entire process probably lasted no more than twenty minutes. Boarding a ship that is already half-full of passengers who embarked in another port was a completely new experience for us. That made it quite interesting. Even though each passenger reports for only one muster drill, there is one every Sunday and Wednesday. We had open minds about the split bathroom concept. We had read many different opinions about it. In the end, it's not a deal breaker, of course, but it is just plain weird. At one point, my hands were full and our kind cabin steward wanted to help me into the room. Normally this would be wonderful, but I could hear my wife in the frosted glass shower, which is immediately at the door when you walk in. The privacy curtain only separates the toilet/shower from the rest of the stateroom and not from anyone who comes walking into the room. Odd and kind of creepy. This room setup could create some awkward moments for families! In our case, the bed was closer to the door and across from the sink (yes, out in the middle of the room). This meant that it was also next to the toilet which is enclosed in a sliding frosted glass-style sort-of phone booth type thing. There's a reason this design was never duplicated anywhere else in the fleet. The wavy walls are really attractive, though, and the rooms look sleek and modern. There's abundant storage everywhere. We had an aft cabin on the 13th floor, and the balcony was generously sized. We would love to have had lounge chairs out there, and there would have been more than enough room. The two chairs and table were adequate, though. Nobody takes a cruse for the TV experience, but if you expect to fall asleep watching riveting entertainment, you'll be disappointed. There's one international movie channel, one "favorites" movie channel, a host of NCL promotional channels, a few news channels based in Europe, and an Italian network or two. Dining on EPIC was an outstanding experience for us. We ate in Cagney's, Shanghai, La Cucina, Taste, Teppanyaki, and the Cirque Dreams experience. The food met or exceeded our expectations and the service was always attentive and friendly. I am a generous tipper, but I did find it a bit much to have an extra tip line for "outstanding" service on the check when I had already prepaid dining tips upon signing up for this package. These are completely separate tips from the overall prepaid tips you always pay before a cruise. So, essentially, I ended up tipping twice for four meals. Nobody made me do it, of course, but I did feel kind of like it was expected. The public areas on the ship are beautiful. EPIC is a luxurious ship, and it shows. However, there are almost no ocean views from any public spaces (except, oddly enough, one entire wall of windows in the men's room on the pool deck). While it would have been nice to see more of the amazing Mediterranean views when in interior public spaces, there are plenty of views from the pool deck and Spice H20 in the rear of the ship. The library and game room are really big, and I found it fun walking through the casino to get from one end to another on deck 6. We found other ships we've sailed to have more public spaces, but it seems that NCL likes to dedicate a good bit of real estate to the Haven, which is off limits to guests who are not booked there. Being only two of us, and with such a port-intensive itinerary, we chose not to spend the extra money on the Haven, as we were off the ship for up to eight or nine hours each day. It would have been nice to escape the awkward bathroom situation, though. And for that reason alone, I would recommend the Haven to families who cruise on EPIC, in spite of the fact that its very existence seems to split guests into "classes" a bit more than I prefer on a cruise ship. That seems to be the trend on many lines, though, so I don't fault NCL for offering a quiet space away from crowds and lines. We did private tours in Italy, and they were wonderful. But our excursion booked through NCL for The French Riviera (Monaco, Nice, Eze, Monte Carlo) was equally as amazing. The bus was clean, cool, and comfortable, and our tour guide was awesome. Her communication skills and knowledge of the region were highly impressive. We loved this tour! Going on EPIC soon? You'll have some things to overlook, but it's a large, fun, comfortable ship that takes you to enchanting places on the Med. Bon Voyage! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Where to start: First, we have sailed nineteen times and experienced an array of American AND European cruise products from RCCL, Princess, Costa, P&O, NCL, Holland America etc. The experiences of these diverse products have ... Read More
Where to start: First, we have sailed nineteen times and experienced an array of American AND European cruise products from RCCL, Princess, Costa, P&O, NCL, Holland America etc. The experiences of these diverse products have collectively informed my opinion of our MSC experience. MSC is NOT for the American market share rather, this European line is clearly after the sustainability of the European market share. American products by and large, do not charge a consistently high price for the cruise and then, charge clients for water while on board. Yes... MSC does this. Not even Costa does this. We paid over 3k for our cruise (similar and consistent to what we have paid for with other products like RCCL, Costa, Princess etc.) but while on board the MSC product we were charged for water.... we were amazed, perplexed and terribly disappointed. Its also important to note -what MSC USA sold us was not what we experienced onboard. When we pointed out the discrepancies on board we were told to take it up with MSC USA when we got home. We did, they did nothing to satisfy or settle our issue. We purchased the Fantastica experience, were told drink packages were included - then they somehow were not included. When we argued they were - we were told we had to buy a drink package which we did for our two children (non alcoholic package) and 1 adult alcoholic package. Only to get on board and be told we shouldn't have done that in fact it was included in our package and when we asked to have the initial prepaid packages we purchased refunded they said - sorry it wasn't included... The only thing which we felt was consistent was the inconsistency between what was sold and what we expected to what we actually experienced onboard. Other things we felt were important to note. The excursions - expensive but of little to no substance; again, representing to us an imbalance between what we paid for and what we actually experienced. We purchased several excursions through MSC - and quickly spent MORE TIME transiting to the excursions than we actually did enjoying the place we were visiting. This happend to us in both Arles France and Portofino. In Arles, we spent 3 hours on a bus to experience the town for only an hour. While in Portofino, same things - we paid a fortune to go to Portofino and spent three hours transiting there only to spend an hour IN Portofino... Very little value for money. Similarly, MSC twice docked at a port which they charged a fee to go from the Port facility to the town.... We were left shaking our heads and again, having the experience of other lines, this was an anomaly we felt was important to note for others who are considering this line. The ship itself was clean, comparatively clean to other lines and with cabins which were much larger than the typical stateroom found on other lines. That was about the only two bonuses on this line. Our experience of the ship was in one word -- exhausting. Terribly overcrowded and with clearly overwhelmed staff who continually treated us with discourtesy and disregard. The staff appeared as exhausted of the overcrowded conditions as we were. This was consistent from the bar staff to the dinning staff -- totally overwhelmed and continually discourteous and seemed exhausted..... The common centers on the ship were jammed daily elbow to elbow with people and loud music - wasn't a quiet spot on the ship to be found... ever. The smoking is an experience not commonly found with American products, on European lines - smoking is everywhere and something we found terribly intrusive and distasteful. Imagine placing the ONLY soft serve ice cream station for kids on the ship in the smoking section of the ship... kids actually have to endure cigarette smoke while waiting for their ice cream (which was eventually closed down due to being broken). This careless disregard for children - alone, made us not want to return to this product... ever. We have sailed many ships (19 cruises to date) and several of those other European products. First time we were ever on a ship and product we couldn't wait to leave... first time. The cost of this product comparatively is similar to other lines - RCCL, Princess Holland America - but what you get for your money is wholly inconsistent and as a result, we could not in good conscience recommend this product, especially for families. While MSC is trying desperately to break into the American marketshare, we believe this is going to be extremely difficult as people with experiences such as ours, share our impressions with others. This was an honest and unbiased account of our experience. We hope it is taken seriously so the product may be improved for others going forward. For us, we will not use or recommend this product in the future. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We sailed on the Seaview out of Barcelona on 1 June 2019 for 7 nights. We were a party of 3 - Me, my wife (both 36) and our 4 year old daughter. My wife and I had cruised before (one Princess to Caribbean and one Celebrity to Central ... Read More
We sailed on the Seaview out of Barcelona on 1 June 2019 for 7 nights. We were a party of 3 - Me, my wife (both 36) and our 4 year old daughter. My wife and I had cruised before (one Princess to Caribbean and one Celebrity to Central America) but both were pre-child. Prior to the cruise I read the mixed reviews and was a little apprehensive, but thankfully had a very enjoyable cruise. Embarkation was very smooth. We boarded in Barcelona. Our ticket had an embarkation time if 2.30pm, but we turned up at about 11.30am and it was no bother. We stayed in a Fantastica balcony cabin which had a Queen size bed, and the sofa had been converted into a single bed. I ended up in the single bed due to 4 year old 'sleeping issues' but it was actually very comfortable, as was the Queen sized bed according to my wife! The cabin was well laid out, and still had that 'shiny and new' feel to it. The wardrobe space was a bit limited but we got by. My review is limited to the extent that we were in bed most nights by 10pm due to the little one being an early riser, so I am not able to comment on the 'parties' (flower party, white party, space party etc) as these started at 11.30pm. This is in keeping with being a European cruiseline; most things are done later in the evening. In the evenings, we at in the MDR 4 nights, the Pan Asian specialty dining on 1 night, and the buffet on 2 nights (just due to activities earlier in the day). I found the food on the while to be good. The buffet was varied and plentiful. It was only very busy in Rome at breakfast time, when lots of people were leaving the ship early for an excursion or to disembark. The MDR was better than buffet, and I had no complaints at all. Our waiter Suryer was very friendly, and the area supervisor Alex introduced himself to us, and was happy to discuss any issues we had. The quality of the food was not as good as Celebrity, but we were in Aqua class so no wonder to be honest. In my view, the dining experience in the MDR was perfectly acceptable and we looked forward to heading there each evening. Anytime Dining does exist, but only for Aurea and above grades of experience. If you don't have anytime dining, then the dining times are 6pm, 8pm, or 10pm. I did not experience any surly or rude staff that seems to be a repeating theme on some of the negative reviews. In fact, quite the opposite. Many staff made a fuss of my daughter which was very nice. We did not have a drinks package, and just ordered the drinks we wanted to have here and there. Each day, there was a hour of 2 for 1 cocktails in the Wine and Cocktail lounge (normally 5.30pm to 6.30pm), which was great because our dining time was 6pm. The Pan Asian specialty restaurant was delicious. We had a 'dinner and bubbles' package which included 3 courses for 2 adults, and a bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Reserve champagne for €115. It was a little overpriced on reflection, and I probably would not do it again (the food alone was €39 a person ordering from a set menu). As for entertainment, the evening shows were amazing! We went to 6 of the shows. It's fair to say that the shows each followed a similar theme of singing, dancing, and circus type acts, but they were all very entertaining and had a large production value. The singers were seriously good too. We only went to one of the kids club acts, which was junior MasterChef. The kids club area was large but we were off the ship every day so didn't use it a great deal. In addition, there was a limited proportion of English speaking children on the cruise, and the staff have to communicate in 5 languages which can be difficult for a 4 year old to follow. This is no criticism, it's just something that has to be done on a European cruise. You get used to all public announcements being made 4/5 times (Italian, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese). I would say that English first-language guests account for about 10% of passengers. Fine for me, but if you are a cruiser that likes to strike up conversation with new people then opportunities will be few and far between (unless you can speak other languages of course). As with anything, there are some things that MSC could/should try and do better. The kids splash park is great fun, but there is nowhere around that pool for adults to sit to observe their children. This means children are either unaccompanied, or the adults have to go in too. This could be better designed. Also, the other pools are all 6 feet deep so children cannot use them unless they have floating aids. For a 'family focussed' cruiseline it is not well designed. There does seem to be a real push for upselling on the cruise, and this can grate at times. There are frequently staff seeking to sell specialty dining, lots of photos (although we still bought 10!) Even a one litre plastic bottle of water in the MDR is €3, which is a con. Drinks are overpriced too. These are relatively minor criticisms but could be addressed by MSC for a better cruise experience. Would I cruise with MSC again? Yes, but I would not sail with my child until they are about 10/11, and can appreciate different languages and follow staff going in and out of English. Without child, I would certainly cruise with MSC again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Here is some info about me: I'm 48. Live in USA. have cruised 51 days with Carnival, 14 days with princes, and now 7 with MSC. Have cruised a lot of Caribbean, one Norway, one Alaska, and now one Mediterranean. We started and ... Read More
Here is some info about me: I'm 48. Live in USA. have cruised 51 days with Carnival, 14 days with princes, and now 7 with MSC. Have cruised a lot of Caribbean, one Norway, one Alaska, and now one Mediterranean. We started and ended our cruise in Genoa. Before the cruise, I registered myself and my husband for the status match program. NOT user friendly, i must say. Make sure your photo that you upload with your other cruise-line info is a small data file. It took me several tries, but i finally got it done. we got silver level by providing our carnival info. Other than a bowl with 4 pieces of fruit in our cabin, not sure we noticed much difference. I was the one in our group of 16 friends/family that did the research and planned most of our trip. i went into the cruise having read MANY reviews. Having read the reviews, i would say that i agree with many of them. 1. very nice ship. clean inside. nicely decorated. clean. 2. entertainment above average. they had 3 lead singers who sang to a prerecorded soundtrack. they sang well. the dancers danced well. there were a couple of songs that they had one of the dancers (very obviously) lip-sync. I would have preferred that they did not do that. they were far better at dancing than lip-syncing. Just let the dancers dance!! 3. food....... a. dining room. Although our wait staff was very friendly, i did not feel the same level of personal involvement or level of attentiveness with them as i have felt with previous cruises. They just didn't seem to "have it all pulled together". some in our 2 tables of 8 did not get things that they ordered and it did seem to take a long time for one of our tables, who had a different waiter. as far as the food goes, well...... as many other reviewers have said, the selection is lacking compared to other cruise lines. maybe 5 options for starters (soups, salad, etc). another 5 for main dishes. then maybe 4 or 5 desert choices. they did have something like 3 items that are on the menu every night, but i can't say that i looked at them more than once. they did not seem very interesting. the food was NOT awful as some in my group claimed and some reviewers have claimed. Yes, i have had better. I think if they had more selection, the complainers in my group might have been happier. Maybe if the food had been catered to Americans, maybe they would have been happier.....i just don't know. Maybe i just had low expectations because of the reviews i read before the cruise, but MAYBE I had more realistic expectations since I have been to Europe many times and know to expect things to be a little different than in a cruise that caters to Americans. The fact is that on this cruise you can expect to be surrounded by lots of french, german, spanish, and italians. English speakers were by far in the minority. Not a problem, but something to be aware of. Of note, we went to the dining room the first 3 nights, then never went back. we found that the food on deck 14 was just as good and a lot quicker. we had 7pm dining. if we ate in the dining room, we had to go to the 945 show. a little late for me. b. informal dining......breakfast and lunch were perfectly adequate. lots to choose from. they did a good job trying to have selections that cater to different cultures. they had the bacon (actual bacon, not British bacon that is actually ham), but the link sausages were more British than American. lots of pastries, different types of eggs (scrambled, etc), pan cakes, etc. I very much enjoy experiencing what other cultures eat. some in my group are not what i would call cultured. they just thought some of the items were bad....in reality, the food items were that way, not because they were bad, but because that's the way other cultures eat them. Of note, as other reviewers have said, the pizza was very much above average for cruise pizza. it was nice to not have to wait in a long line for mediocre pizza like you do on carnival. Of note, I expected the dinner in the casual dining to be at least a small step up from what you get in there for lunch, but i did not find that to be the case. 4. Drink packages...... most in our group chose to purchase drink packages. my husband got the $10 per drink max package for $39 per day. I got the $19 non alcoholic package, and my son got the $14 per day non alcoholic kids drink package. Of note, i only got mine because i had to have a package for my son and husband to have one. I think they might have gotten their money's worth, but i'm not sure that i did. I don't like to drink a lof of sugary drinks or ones with artificial sweeteners. Large bottles of mineral water were like 2.50, so not crazy bad without the package. It was nice that I was able to go to the bar and order 2 cappuccinos and a mineral water at the same time and not have to wait or come back for the others. I think you have to wait 15 min between the alcoholic drinks. You could also get soft serve ice cream with the non alcoholic packages, but not with the alcoholic packages. Had i not gotten a package, the free drink selections would have been fine with me. Of note, no decaf coffee that i could see for free.....i found that strange. lots of different flavors of tea bags to choose from. 5. staff members.....including the dining room staff, i found the staff to be very friendly. they were very good about making eye contact and greeting you. most of them that I encountered, spoke a good amount of english. I was pleasantly surprised by that. 6. excursions...... we did not choose to book any excursions through the cruiseline, although a couple in our group did. My mom was pleased with the cave trip and another tour she and her friend took. What we did pay for was 3 transfers! No tendering with free shuttle for this cruise line. we paid $12.99 per person for 2 of them and like $16 for Marseille. I did read about the other options (hop on hop off close to port, free shuttles, and city buses), but we decided that our time and lower amounts of frustration from having to find where to go made it worth it for us to just fork out the dough. We just weren't up for the adventure of all of that. 16 people is a lot to have to wrangle up. 7. transfers. we used a company called www.airportstaxitransfers.com to get us from the genoa airport to the hotel in genoa, hotel to ship, ship to milan, then hotel in milan to airport in milan. highly recommend them. extremely punctual, we had not hitches with any of the four segments. with our number of travelers it was very cost effective. something like 50 euros total each for all 4 segments. door to door service. Of note, we spoke to an Australian couple who were on the last of 3 consecutive msc cruises. they nearly missed the ship because the transfer that was arranged through the ship didnt work out. they had been told a later time for it and so they missed it. it cost them 1000 euros to take a cab from venice and made it there with 1 hour to spare. the cruise line was going to reimburse them for the 1000 euros and the ship's employees were very apologetic to them and seemed to be very interested in making it right for them. I would have written that bad experience off as a 1-off, but we got word that the cruiseline had also messed up their transfer at the end of our cruise. they had them going to germany, instead of to the airport. Not sure how that all came out, but im sure it was frustrating for them, considering the other snafu...... Not saying dont use the cruiseline for transfers, but just make sure that you check all of the details very carefully. 8. nickel and diming..... Yes, it did seem that they charged extra for A LOT of things. We heard one passenger wondering if they were going to be charged extra for toilet paper! What I would say about that, though, is that you get what you pay for. This was, by far one of the least expensive 7 day Mediterranean cruises that i could find. If we had booked with one of the others, maybe some of those things would have been included....maybe not... Maybe the food would have been better, probably so. But if you are doing well to just get yourself in the door of this ship (financially speaking) and you need the lower price, then you may have to just understand that some things won't be included in the base price. At least they give you the option of having a less expensive trip if you are willing to not use the things that cost extra. 9. I do want to tell you about an excursion that we booked on our own in Cagliari. we booked it through www.sardiniadreamtours.com before the cruise. you can find them on youtube and instagram. highly recommend this company. This tour was the highlight of our cruise. we got in 4x4 landrovers and went off-roading to some awesome lookout points in the mountains, then spent time at two beaches (chia was one of them). it cost us about 60 euros each and it lasted the whole time we were in port. they even took us on a quick trip through the historic area just before returning us to the ship. Francesco was awesome! They all went above and beyond. 10. The fact that each of the stops can be your start/end of your cruise. .....as i mentioned, we started and ended in Genoa. we were told that about 900 passengers boarded and disembarked with us. we found it to be pretty stress free, having done the same with 3000 passengers on other cruises where you feel like cattle. we carried our luggage on and off, and it was pretty easy. prior to cruising, i wondered if it would be a pain in the butt having them do a safety drill every day. i have to say that i hardly noticed it, other than the announcement and a few people around the ship with live preservers in their hands. Of note, once you board on your embarkation day, you cannot leave the ship until the next day. If you want to spend more time in that city, do it before you get on. we chose to spend that day in Genoa and board at around 3:30 instead of earlier in the day since we wanted to have a little more time in genoa. we breezed right through the boarding process, since most everyone had already boarded for the day. Our room was ready, we walked right in. Also of note, they put your key in the room and the door will be open when you get there. *****Be sure to go register your form of payment of on-board purchases. they have kiosks by the reception desk that make it pretty easy. you do not have to wait in line at the reception desk to get that done (lines ALWAYS long at the reception desk) 10. would I do it again if I had the choice? I would say yes. some in my group might say no. again with the unrealistic expectations...... I would just tell the nay Sayers to just fork out the big bucks for the other cruise lines next time if you want better food, etc. If they can't afford more, then maybe consider a land vacation or a Caribbean cruise. Just my 2 cents worth..... Hope that this helps you in some way, Cathy Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Booked a weeks cruise on the MSC Seaview June 1st -8th around the Mediterranean. We had travelled on MSC as a family of two adults and two children (10, 7) ten years ago and adored it. This time, it was myself and my now 20 year old ... Read More
Booked a weeks cruise on the MSC Seaview June 1st -8th around the Mediterranean. We had travelled on MSC as a family of two adults and two children (10, 7) ten years ago and adored it. This time, it was myself and my now 20 year old daughter as a girls treat. Embarkation - Arrived at the Barcelona cruise terminal late morning, embarkation was extremely quick, efficient and we were on board within around twenty minutes of arrival. We had to run the gauntlet of staff trying hard to sell speciality dining and drinks packages on the way in, did not like this, but not sure if this is the same on every cruise. Cabins were not available until 2:30, but a (very) welcome buffet was ready at 12 noon. We did have an all inclusive drinks package, and made use of this while waiting for the cabin, and also spent some time exploring the ship. Ship- Whatever critics may say about MSC, they all agree that the ships are stunning, and the Seaview is no exception. The crystal staircases are a constant photo opportunity, the huge atrium with multiple stages, the light, seating areas, cafes, pools it is all designed beautifully. Not once did we fail to find a seat where we wanted, even beside the pools. Other than a few very rare occasions, we would never have known just how many thousands of people were on the ship because it rarely felt crowded. Cabin - 13126 mid ship balcony cabin on Ionian Sea deck. My daughter is a bit superstitious but 13 is not considered unlucky in Italy, it is the number 17, so there is no deck 17. The cabin was lovely. Lots of storage, great lighting, USB sockets, and a proper shower cubicle. It felt very spacious for two of us, and had a massive sofa. Dining - This is the only issue we had, and unfortunately it is a big deal. As we often holiday in Italy and love the time spent enjoying lovely food, it was a major disappointment to be rushed through dinner in around 90 minutes as there are now 3 settings as opposed to the previous 2. Its a 2 hour window but by the time you are seated and served then they start clearing up for the next sitting, that cuts back the two hours considerably. Dinner also used to be Italian style with lots of smaller courses, this is now 3 courses of very mediocre food. I never have dessert as am always full by then, but in the MDR I was having pudding and then heading up to the midnight buffet as was always hungry after dinner. We spent some nights at the buffet restaurants which were good, but not brilliant and very repetitive, but at least we never left hungry and could take as long as we liked. Breakfast was excellent however, with a wide choice of food and the coffee was really good. We used one of the speciality restaurants midweek, the Teppanyaki, and it was outstanding, though at a cost of 70 euros extra. Our MDR table companions used the Butchers Cut steakhouse, and also said it was fabulous if expensive. Entertainment - lots of live music in bars, all really good, There were a number of party nights (including a White Party) in the atrium which were great fun, with all ages up dancing til the small hours .The entertainment crew were fantastic, encouraging a great atmosphere whatever they were doing. We attended two of the shows and were absolutely blown away. Both nights the audience were on their feet in appreciation. Spa - I bought a Thermal Area spa pass before cruising, which was £82 as opposed to £140 if I bought in on board. This gave me access to the spa area for the duration of the cruise and I loved it. The spa had various saunas, steam baths, special showers and other facilities, including two hot tubs out on the deck for sole use of spa guests. As we didnt go off the boat every day I was often in when it was really quiet and always had the hot tub to myself! I also booked two massages as another treat which were amazing, though admittedly really expensive, although I had a substantial discount on the second. Service - outstanding. All the staff we came across were very pleasant and helpful, with some going above and beyond to make it a great experience. One bar waitress never smiled, clearly loathed cruise customers, so we made it our mission to get a laugh out of her by the end of the week, and my daughter managed it our last night. There is currently some debate about MSC and service charges. I was told it was mandatory by the TA and this is also on the MSC website. I paid ours on board at the cost of 140 euros for both of us. Others were saying it is not mandatory and I should ask for it back and just tip whoever I wanted. I left it on this occasion as I wasn't sure but will need to investigate further. Ports - really good, straightforward and popular. Liked being in port every day as don't like 'at sea' days. Excursions - I can't really comment as I we didn't take any, other than a shuttle transfer into Palma. This was really well organised and cost 25 euros for both. I hadn't done my research on Palma and we found out later that a taxi would have been 10 euros each way, and the local bus stops right at the port and goes into the town at a cost of 1'50 euros! So as with many excursions it was way overpriced. If you want to play it very safe then maybe the extra cost is worth it. We did our own thing on the other days ashore for a fraction of the MSC price. Bars - we had an all inclusive drinks package and I kept a running total of what we were using to work out if it would be worth it next time. It worked out as good value as we had a lot of cocktails, but that was 3/4 a day plus water, soft drinks and coffee. Any less and it would not have been worthwhile. By all accounts everyone I spoke to thought the drinks package compared really favourably with other cruise lines. Other factors - didn't have small children but they looked really well catered for, including the children's splash pool and adventure course. Internet access was ridiculously expensive (£70 weekly for 2.5 MB), my daughter bought this as clearly a 20 year old would wither and die without access to social media 24 hours a day. As data roaming in Europe is included with most phone agreements and there was no issue connecting anywhere we were moored, I thought this would be enough. Apparently not! Brits were very much a small minority on board, which was not an issue for us, but some of our fellow Brit passengers didn't like this. More than one commented on the number of 'foreigners' on board, which we found bemusing as this was an Italian cruise line with the main embarkation in Barcelona! MSC cruises are not designed for British customers. People don't queue, they come in the lift when you are trying to get out, many of the staff speak a few different languages but have limited English. and the main chatter is Italian and Spanish. Overall, an amazing experience let down by poor dining. Not sure if I would book again unless the dining experience changes because to me that was a deal breaker. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
This was our third cruise with Marella we chose this one Explorer 2 because it's a Adult monly ship which appealed to us as last year on the Discovery2 there were children on board and we don't think cruise ships are the best ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Marella we chose this one Explorer 2 because it's a Adult monly ship which appealed to us as last year on the Discovery2 there were children on board and we don't think cruise ships are the best for children. Our time on the ship was very enjoyable especially the Italian resturant which we dined in every night,the entertainment in the broadway show lounge was excellent and worthy of the west end being a disabled pasenger i could not fault the level of service the facilties were excellent and the shows were of west end standard l will be certainly using Marella Crusing again and would recommend any one like me who as a disability to use Marella the Explorer 2 is a fantastic ship and as a number of features like the Squid and Anchor the on board pub which as enntertainment through out the day..the other good thing is the all inclusive which allows you not to worry about what you have to drink. All in all we have had a great holiday and can't wait for next Marella Cruise Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
Our experience aboard MSC Seaview was generally very positive and we have excellent memories. However, there were some things we felt fell short. I’ll give you the good and the disappointing bit keep in mind we had a wonderful time. ... Read More
Our experience aboard MSC Seaview was generally very positive and we have excellent memories. However, there were some things we felt fell short. I’ll give you the good and the disappointing bit keep in mind we had a wonderful time. We are experienced American cruisers ha omg been on about 15 Caribbean cruises. We have been to Europe a few times but this was our first cruise. We also brought our 18 year old son and his best friend. We chose the Seaview because it was new, looked interesting and a very good value. Reading reviews here we lowered expectations a little and prepared for some issues. General experience: The ship is gorgeous all around. The vibe is energetic and a bit of a party ship. Maybe it’s the nature of Europeans but it is a late night ship. People are out and about until very late, which we like. Eating late, dancing, packing the 10:30 show...it’s a fun place to be. Service and interactions with staff were friendly and efficient. Typical of any cruise line. Americans must be aware that this is not an American cruise. Because we are not as familiar with MSC you don’t find many fellow Americans. While English is spoken by all of the staff there are heavy accents and it’s not the only language of the ship. We expected this and had no issue with it. Communicating is easy on and off the ship. Itinerary: Extraordinary. Cannes. Such charming street cafes and shops. Walk along the endless 100’-200’ yachts and be amazed. Palma de Mallorca. Toured the former palace of the King of Spain and liked that as well as the enormous adjacent basilica. So many beautiful buildings, such character. Cabin: We had a typical balcony stateroom for us and an inside cabin for the boys. Room was neat and comfortable. However we found the storage lacking. Virtually no shelves and few drawers. Not a big deal. Barcelona. We bikes here and it is a very very busy city. Lots of traffic and pedestrians. It’s a clean city with much to see Loved it. Ajaccio. Liked this stop even though it was quiet as it was a Sunday. Most of the businesses were closed. But we had a nice lunch and walked the city and enjoyed it. Genoa. Heard this wasn’t much to see. How very very wrong. Some of our most memorable moments were waking this gem of a city. We walked a long long way that day but found so many fun places to see, climb and photograph. The character of the buildings was extraordinary. Had a wonderful lunch at a street cafe. La Spezia. Took the boat cruise to 3 adjacent tiny towns built along the mountain side shores. OMG were these extraordinary stops! We just stood there and marveled. Do this one. Dining: As many reviewers have stated the main dining experience is not on the level of other lines. Temperatures were inconsistent, food was of average quality at best and despite their best efforts we were constantly trading plates across the table after being served the wrong plates. We just laughed at that. Our servers were nice and everything was just fine, but don’t expect much here. We found the buffet fine for breakfast. Good eggs, lots of breads and fruits. Plenty of seating. Breakfast is hard to mess up. We don’t go to the buffet beyond that typically. We did purchase the 3 meal special restaurant package for the four of us. We did so because reviews indicated that the dining room was inconsistent. We were glad we did this. It’s a little expensive but the service and food is much better here. Two disappointments however. The package limits you to a certain section of the menu. If you want anything else you have to pay more. We had paid enough. But what we did have was good quality. Maybe not great, but good. The other downer was that there were very few other diners and it made for a quiet ambience. Would we do this again? Yes. Embarkation and debarkation were simple and quick. This trip was different in that fellow cruisers could begin and end their trip anywhere along the cruise so there were not massive crowds at one location. Entertainment. Go to the theater shows. Do it. These were definitely the best shows we have ever scene aboard ship and it’s not close. The talent was strong and deep. The signers were excellent and the dancers and acrobats were marvelous. The crowd was clapping and stamping and one show we gave a standing O. 10 of 10 here. Drink package. Hmmm. A little frustrating. We paid for a package last summer but by the time we boarded things and changed and what we ended up with was pretty low end. The cheapest wine and just Heineken for beer which I don’t like. However...one must make friends. We made a good friend in one of the bartenders and by the second night we were getting better wines, call brands and beers of choice with a wink and a nod. This man was tipped handsomely. But away from that bar we had to feel like cheapskates getting the low end stuff or had to pay for better. Coffee. This gets its own section because it was a frustration. It was there at breakfast but otherwise a little hard to find. Late afternoon they would sometimes be out. And if you wanted coffee with desert, well, they looked at you like you had 2 heads. And late night pizza and coffee? Well you get the pizza. Excursions. We did 2. We did a bike tour in Barcelona with the wonderful Maria and a 3 stop boat tour of Cinca Terre in Le Spezia. Both were winners, I’d suggest both. Both had challenges. If you get seasick you may want to be prepared for Cinca Terre. And the bike tour had my wife a bit nervous as you are in a lot of auto and walking traffic. But the sites were terrific. Worst experience of the cruise. WiFi packages. This is a straight up, out in the open rip off. I had a 500mb plan which should be plenty. The fact is if I used it as I do at home I’d burn that up in 2 days or less aboard ship the way MSC runs things. And when you are done you have to manually turn it off or it still runs even if you have shut the web down. I burned up 2200mb overnight when I didn’t turn it off and no sites were running and had auto updates turned off. I burn no AT&T data overnight at home, what’s burning while I sleep on the ship? I asked for relief and got 500mb. Screw job. My wife had the unlimited for 139.00 and it worked well but that’s a helluva a lot of money. Guest Services. Even in the case of the WiFi complaint the staff there was great. They were well staffed and well trained. I had 3 occasions I had to interact with them and all were handled efficiently. Fellow reviewers. I think people are a bit harsh on these pages. We had a helluva time. If you expect a ship trying to handle 5000 guests to be a 5 Star dining experience then you will be disappointed. We had some things we kindve laughed about, like coffee being like warm or the meat over cooked but we did not experience rage. We are on a Med cruise! Life is good. We would sail Seaview again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
My husband and I had a great time on the Epic! We boarded very quickly in Rome at 1:00 pm. Spent 2-1/2 days in Rome—so much to see, great food and lots of walking and cobblestones. It was much less crowded boarding in Civitavecchia, ... Read More
My husband and I had a great time on the Epic! We boarded very quickly in Rome at 1:00 pm. Spent 2-1/2 days in Rome—so much to see, great food and lots of walking and cobblestones. It was much less crowded boarding in Civitavecchia, most boarding in Barcelona and off in Rome for the day. The Epic is a beautiful ship, clean and well maintained. The food was excellent in Taste and Manhattan (even better than the Gem and Breakaway) with great selections of appetizers, soups and salads. Desserts were also delicious. Entertainment was very good—loved Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Beatles group, Tina Turner impersonator and Burn the Floor. There was also a really good Irish rock band. The ports were all wonderful. If I had to pick favorites, it would be Livorno for Florence (beautiful) and Mallorca (lovely and delicious tapas). Tours: Used City Wonders for Vatican and Colliseum. Both tours were too long (3 hr lectures each). Used ItalyTours for Best of Florence and Classic Amalfi Coast. Florence was the best tour to see the sights and have time on your own. Ravello was very nice, as were Positano and Amalfi. The ride there and back was long with constant winding turns—I’d take a boat next time! Barcelona was beautiful with lots to see—we did 1/2 day tour with great guide from Barcelona Day tours. Cannes and Nice very nice (ship tour) but guide was rude to some on the tour. So much to see and do in every port—you will need to pace yourself! Crew was excellent, helpful and friendly. Norwegian does cruising so well! They have become my favorite cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because ... Read More
We have sailed Azamara a number of times and really enjoy the on-board experience. This itinerary attracted us because of the variation in cultures and climate. The embarkation was very smooth and we were quickly processed. . Because of an upgrade, we were staying in a Club Continent Suite as opposed to our usual Veranda 2. We really enjoyed the extra space, but did not utilize all the perks associated with the Suite. One of the perks was complimentary dining in the Specialty Restaurants, a choice we made for four of the 14 nights. For other dinners, of course, we ate in Discoveries (the main dining room), and on the Patio. Most breakfasts we frequented Windows, the buffet area. We were very pleased with the food in all the venues, especially the attention paid to certain food intolerances that limit some of our choices. One of the attractions for us on Azamara is the friendly and attentive service on board..From the room stewards to the waiting staff in the dining areas, this cruise was no exception. The friendliness is true of most officers as well. Although not noted for entertainment, in this case Azamara provided some of the best we have enjoyed. From The Azamazing Evening to more casual events, we found a lot to enjoy. Hard to pick out a port that was more enjoyable than the others. Because of our travelling through four countries, each port provided some interesting contrasts. As we sailed further North the weather cooled and rain became a sometime occurrence. That added to the variety of experiences on this itinerary. We participated in only two shore excursions. The trip to see Bayeux and its famous tapestry was well worth the cost. The walking tour of Cadiz was good but not amazing. In both cases we were travelling in relatively small groups. Most of the ports were quite accessible for those who wanted to explore on their own, and Azamara provided free shuttles where needed and appropriate. As part of that service, usually there was a guide at the drop-off points with maps and helpful suggestions. After sailing up the Thames the previous day, disembarkation at Greenwich was a little more complicated than at most ports. But the staff on the ships had it well under control, and there was a surplus of attendants on shore to assure that you made your connection with taxis for the airport, for travel home, or for extended stays in London. For the reasons above, out of 18 cruises this was one of our favourites. Although the itinerary is not one of the common ones offered, we think others should give it serious consideration. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
This was my 20th cruise across many lines and my wife's 12th. With us was our 9-year-old daughter on her 3rd cruise. We booked in a balcony (non-Yacht Club) and had a rate I would call exceptional (helped out by the fact that our ... Read More
This was my 20th cruise across many lines and my wife's 12th. With us was our 9-year-old daughter on her 3rd cruise. We booked in a balcony (non-Yacht Club) and had a rate I would call exceptional (helped out by the fact that our daughter sailed for free). Overall Review: Our cruise on MSC Fantasia was a great vacation but mainly due to the itinerary. The ship is fine, seemingly heavy on bars and lounges with (as expected) a heavily-European crowd, mainly French and Italian with some from the UK and a limited few from the US. The cabin was in great condition and looked identical to those we've had on Celebrity and other lines (minus the TV which as other reviewers have noted was comically small but we only turned it on once). Should be noted that Fantasia is due to have a refit sometime in 2019-20. The crew as good overall... top-tier managers and supervisors really get customer service and there are some at the rank-and-file level that do as well but generally service is average at best and can have issues. Our dining room service experience, though, was exceptional and one of the absolute best we've had on any line in a main dining room. Food, as noted in other reviews, was average at best and could be below average in areas. Pastas and pizzas were good as expected but cost-control methods elsewhere take their toll on the overall quality. The upside was really the itinerary which was amazing but the downside was the constant feeling of being upsold, even more so than on other lines. From the drink package being pushed at the beginning to the specialty dining to - and this was a surprise to me - a €24 upgrade to add a lobster tail to your entree on Gala Night. The increases, in my mind, were extreme on some notes (such as the lobster or a €68 per person Chef's-Table tasting menu in the specialty) but some things were surprisingly low. While a can of soda (Pepsi by the way) was €3.50, a glass of wine was only €5 and bottles of wine were from €25 to €50 with a strong list of decent Italian wines. In short it was a great value and itinerary. We would consider sailing MSC again on an itinerary that gave us in-port dining options but would avoid the line for itineraries like the Caribbean where in-port dining is more difficult and/or expensive. Dining: Putting this first because, frankly, this is the one with the most ups and downs and as a self-confessed "foodie" it's an important part of my vacation experience. Food in the dining room for dinner was good to very good - the pastas were the natural highlight for an italian cruise line. Cooked to perfection with delicious sauces... if you see a pasta dish you might like, order. Portions could be small (one dish had three medium-sized ravioli) but waiters understand and are ready with backups. Meat dishes are hit-and-miss... all are sliced, mostly very thinly, with good to very good sauces. Give up the concept of ordering your steak to temp (unless you opt for the €24 T-bone upsell) - you're getting a slice. If you skip the sauce be prepared for dry meat... not the best. Seafood is good but they're obviously cost-conscious with their portion sizes - a seafood risotto featured one langostine, two shrimp and about 5 small bay scallops. Desserts were OK - but there are always free pastries next to the gelato bar (delicious and priced the same you'll see in port). In an odd twist though – there was a stunning lack of chicken dishes on any menu. Not a downside, just an interesting note. Now... beyond the dining room.... essentially, you're going to have the buffet. This is an insane zoo of a place with a feel that’s straight out of Lord of the Flies. The crowds are everywhere even at non-peak times and the flow is poorly laid out. Essentially there are 6-7 areas (pizza, hot items, bakery, salad, desserts, vegetarian/healthy) that are repeated throughout the expanse of the space. The food there is average to below-average with the exception of the pizza which is quite good (skip the charcoal though - bad attempt IMO). Breakfast is repeated daily so if you don't like it on day one you're gonna be in for a long week. Juice is offered at breakfast… should be “juice” as the orange juice tasted suspiciously like Tang. But the big fun was to happen on the at-sea day – which was chaos from about 7am until 3pm. The food was average as noted but what was insane was the pushing, shoving, shouting and lack of order of the other guests. All three of us – including my daughter – were shoved or pushed or had people cut in front of us in buffet lines as we waited patiently for our turn in a station. There was neither a right-to-left nor a left-to-right flow of the pax in each section but rather an olly-olly-oxenfree cacophonous scrum. Beverages at lunch were limited to water or the bar – unless there was some leftover “juice” from breakfast. However, service in the buffet though is good - lots of waiters around ready to take your money for a beverage. We attempted lunch in the dining room on the at-sea day (our 2nd day) but based on the choices and quality we opted to eat in port on the rest of the days and that - not shockingly - turned out to be the absolute highlight of the food on our trip. We did not attempt dinner in the buffet but a walk thru there showed some of the entrees in the dining room available with some other regular choices - and the aforementioned pizza available from 11am until Midnight so if you're in a pinch grab a slice. Lastly, one of our group needs a gluten-free diet. We had selected MSC in part knowing that they dedicated themselves to a quality GF diet and options. While generally true in the dining room there were elements that were phoned in… for example the same exact “dessert of the day” was served three days in a row. It was a simple sponge cake with chocolate cream (days 2-4 after the first day being the same cake with a strawberry cream) which was fine but by the third day it was redundant. It wouldn’t have been hard for the staff to swap chocolate for other flavors daily at a minimum. GF options were present but limited in the buffet and we didn’t note any GF pizza options. GF bread was always available in the dining room and some wasn’t bad. Cabin: Shortest section... it's a fine cabin. We had a balcony on deck 11 and found it to be just like any other standard balcony. No complaints on the cabin. However, our service in the cabin was a low point. Staff on the cruise, much like many of the guests, rotate on and off at each port meaning sometimes your waiter or room steward will leave mid-cruise which happened to us. Our attendant got off mid-cruise and was replaced with someone who actually smiled and was accessible. However before that we had a request for an extra blanket for the pull-out bed my daughter was in... which took four calls and over an hour to happen when we were initially promised 15 minutes. In typical fashion on the 4th call we were told a supervisor was notified and we had the blanket within 2 minutes (see below). Embarkation/Disembarkation: Really one of the hidden highlights of the cruise. Since the ship has a rolling embarkation/disembarkation as it sails there wasn’t a huge crush. We arrived in the terminal in Mallorca about 11:30am and were on the ship by about 12:30pm. One nice touch – you just turn in your paperwork and have your ID checked and then walk on the ship. Keys are waiting in your room and you simply visit a self-service kiosk to activate payment on your cruise card. Very efficient. One note – when you get to the terminal make SURE to get a check-in number. Find an MSC rep and get one – some people snuck past only to get to the embarkation area and find themselves without a number and pushed to the back of the queue. Disembarkation was by deck and was equally fast…. At least we think it was. We had an issue with formal photos not being ready (see below) that held us up. But we walked off the ship, found our luggage in the terminal and went on our way in about 5 mins from the time the photos were sorted. Ports/Itinerary: This is why we loved the cruise. The itinerary was amazing. We left from Mallorca then to Ibiza, at sea, Naples, Livorno, Genoa and finally to Marseille. We flew into Mallorca the night before and overnighted there before checking into the ship on Monday. After Embarkation we decided to go into town. In a silly move we opted for the MSC shuttle to the town – WOW, what a ripoff. We paid nearly €50 for the three of us to ride in and out – that’s more than a round-trip to the AIRPORT would have been in a taxi. Lesson learned. Palma was amazing, great to walk thru the city and shops and stopped at a little café for some great tapas. The next day was Ibiza… we planned on doing very little and decided to go into town. This time we skipped the shuttle and instead of spending €48 for the three of us we spent €12 on a local bus that was a 2-minute walk past the MSC shuttle. This was a pattern we saw in every port – a VERY expensive MSC option that should be avoided at all cost. We expected very little and had a great visit to the cathedral/fort on the top of the hill and lunched at a café in the old section of town. If you have kids there’s a nice little playground right along the main street by the bus drop off – great to let them burn off some energy! Then we had our at-sea day. This is where the other passengers really “shined.” The day started in the gym which opens at 6am. There’s a limited number of cardio (6 treadmills, 4 bikes, 2 elliptical and 2 arm bikes) and a decent set of weight machines and dumbbells. I never saw a wait for devices but each has a computer-enforced 20 minute time limit. Once that was over at 6:45 the crew was setting out chairs for the day and just about as fast as they were being sat down people were reserving with towels. We were ready for this but it was a near feeding frenzy. It should note that the starboard side of the pool deck is smoker-friendly so if you’re bothered by smoke it can be troublesome. The bigger problem on the deck was the music. Starting about 7:30 with “stretching” and then going well into the morning the crew was BLASTING music at concert-level volumes. If you’re looking for a quiet day poolside look elsewhere. We actually moved from the outdoor pool to the quieter indoor pool to avoid the deafening roar. Formal night was this night and there was a wide variety of attire. A few men were in black tie and some women were in gowns but they were the exception. I wore a black suit and tie, my wife was in a lovely dress and our daughter had a very cute semi-formal gown and we were at- or slightly over-dressed. Despite the “no shorts” rule in the dining room we even saw people in shorts in the dining room on formal night. Most guests were wearing jackets or dresses but there outliers on all ends of the spectrum. Photographers were set up around the ship and were very available. The photos they took were good to very good and prices were reasonable for cruise photos – they have a €30 option to add on to any package that gives you digital copies of any photos you buy which is a nice option. In Naples we had opted for a Family tour of Pompeii. When we got back from the pool on the at-sea day a note in our room informed us that our tour had been cancelled. A visit to the shore excursion desk later it was determined that there weren’t enough people who were interested in that tour so it was cancelled. We were “offered” to join the more expensive standard Pompeii tour without any discount or apology. So we took the larger tour. Note on tours on MSC – they are LARGE. Typically 45-60 people per group with a single leader. Guests are given headsets so they can hear the guides (par for the course really) and the guides are informative. However. We quickly learned the difference in the “regular” and “family” tour when 1/3 of the 2 hour tour in Pompeii focused on the brothels and prostitution in the city. Fun explaining that one to a 9-year-old. More on that later. After the Pompeii visit we had time to wander into Naples and visit the oldest pizza restaurant – dating back to 1738 – for a delicious lunch, opting to skip past the more tourist-oriented places in the city square. We did wander past the beautiful castle in the city center through the square for an amazing Italian coffee and gelato before returning to the ship. Next was Livorno and we had opted for a Florence & Pisa combination tour. Again, 50 of us were loaded on a coach and herded into Florence. Given that both the tower and the museums in Florence have timed tickets and the tour couldn’t tell us if we were going to Pisa and then Florence or the reverse we were unable to visit the museums or walk up in the tower on this tour. Not the end of the world but if I had known that right in the cruise terminal there were several car rental companies I would have rented a car and done a self-tour. The tour was informative but S L O W. Once we did get to Florence it took 5 minutes to get the group to cross the street given the number of people, their lack of speed and the shortness of traffic lights. Sensing this we left the group opting to meet back at the meeting spot later in the day… which was a wonderful choice. Our daughter wanted to see some specific sites (she’s a science fan so seeing Galileo’s grave and other sites were a must) including the Duomo exterior and the copy of David in the city square. After Florence it was back into the bus for the ride to Pisa – after we lost 30 mins waiting on several couples to get to the bus. Our guide simply extended the overall time of the tour which gave us more time in Pisa but necessitated us going from the bus directly to dinner. After Livorno it was on to Genoa. We opted to take the train to Portofino on our own which was wonderful. A quick walk to the train station about 5 mins from the ship and we hopped a train to Santa Margharita where you take a bus to Portofino. The train was about €12 per person round trip and the bus was another €4 per person each way. Portofino was insanely crowded and expensive but having checked that off our bucket list we came back to Santa Margharita and had a fantastic seaside lunch before taking the train back. One note – if you do take the train you MUST validate your ticket on wall-mounted time punch machines BEFORE boarding the train. They are not well marked and you need to seek them out or face a €50 per ticket fine on board. The last stop was Marseilles. Another booked tour, another cancelled tour, this time the Avignon/Aix-en-Provence duo tour. This was cancelled for a lack of English-language participation. So, again, we went on our own to Avignon which was WELL worth the visit. The tour at the Palais du Papes was the best self-guided tour we’ve ever done anywhere with an amazing virtual-reality-type tablet experience that gave the history and perspective of the amazing palace. The second formal night was on the Marseille night – slightly inconvenient as we were disembarking in Mallorca the next morning but still nice. Service: As noted we had an issue with the shore excursions with two cancelled and the non-family tour of Pompeii not preparing us nor noting the content. I discussed this with the Shore Excursions staff and was initially told that nothing could be done. When I escalated this to a manager my issue was quickly and efficiently handled and a reasonable credit was posted to our account. This was a trend we saw throughout the ship. One night at dinner we were approached by a photographer who instructed us to cluster for a photo – which we politely declined saying “No thank you” to which he audibly scoffed and uttered a curse word under his breath as he turned and left. When I raised this to the photo manager as a point of information he was appalled and pledged to make sure the employee was instructed differently. Lastly, we had photos made on the 2nd formal night and ended up picking a package of photos from both nights. Since we were early seating they had proofs done by 10pm and promised to have final prints ready in the morning at reception. In the morning we found that one of the three pictures we needed to get was of us but the other two most clearly were not of our family. When I raised this with the agent at the reception desk it was met with a “I’m sorry” and nothing much else. However, when I raised this to a manager she worked diligently to find someone from the photo team to finally answer the phone (took 30 minutes just to find someone with the keys) who then re-printed the photos including a couple of “extras” slipped in for goodwill. It seems clear that MSC is working hard to establish a culture of service at the top levels and has trained senior staff to embody this culture. However, it’s not made it all the way down to the full crew. Some are amazing (like our dining room staff) while others are uncaring. As a passenger know that when you escalate politely and professionally things will be handled quickly and effectively. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Firs the positive, the embarkation was smooth. But the company lacks in communications with the guests. It has no processes to keep the guests engaged after they book the cruise. They live in an old world where communications with your ... Read More
Firs the positive, the embarkation was smooth. But the company lacks in communications with the guests. It has no processes to keep the guests engaged after they book the cruise. They live in an old world where communications with your customers was nil. But the most important point is they bring in your luggage in batches. So you will get some pieces first and for the rest you will have to wait till the ship sets sailing. My bag which contained toiletries and shoes etc did not arrive even after we checked in at 12.30 am, the earliest time one could check in. I complained, but the cruise officials were not helpful. They said it would take time and they cant help. Second, if you have purchased internet, good luck to you. The speed sucks. They cant do anything about the speed. Third, there is iron for basic pressing in the room. If your clothes have wrinkles, there is nothing you can do but give them to the laundry for ironing. It will cost your a princely 4.90 euros for a dress. Overall, not so good experience on day one. I will do a full review after the cruise. This is just the initial impressions. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience Europe and to feel safe and grounded while doing that. Maybe I would choose a cruise with less port intense agenda. Getting out every morning and walking for hours on end was too labor ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience Europe and to feel safe and grounded while doing that. Maybe I would choose a cruise with less port intense agenda. Getting out every morning and walking for hours on end was too labor intensive for me, but it was still wonderful! Dining was a highlight of my day. I did dinner every evening in the main dining room. It was fun and I looked forward to seeing our waiters and our table mates each evening. I was quite disappointed to learn that surf and turf night is now a thing of the past! I could order lobster if I paid a $29.99 surcharge. Dinners were good but there was not as much variety as I was accustomed to. Majority of the items were offered daily. There would be 1 or 2 new items added per day, but most of the menu remained the same. I booked an ocean view cabin which I would have loved - except the weather did not cooperate. It was cold every day and wet & cold most evenings, so we couldn’t enjoy it at all! The cabin itself was comfortable, spacious and efficient. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
I chose this cruise first for the destinations and then because of all the amenities that the Oasis boasted about. Unfortunately the Oasis left much to be desired, the ship itself was mostly beautiful. Central Park and the Boardwalk were ... Read More
I chose this cruise first for the destinations and then because of all the amenities that the Oasis boasted about. Unfortunately the Oasis left much to be desired, the ship itself was mostly beautiful. Central Park and the Boardwalk were intriguing but I could have done without these if the ships crew were more engaging. Previously I have only sailed on Carnival ships so in my opinion the bar is high. On Carnival ships I LOVE the jamming sail away party, the drink of the day, the towel animals, the main dining rooms offer a special dish that represents the port you visited for that day. The shows change daily and are lively and entertaining. There are performances happening all around the ship but on the Oasis I literally felt like I was in a retirement home. I went to bed early every night because the atmosphere was quiet and droll. And then they nickle and dimed you for EVERYTHING even though the cruise itself was expensive. I definitely would not book with Royal Caribbean again because dining, activities, entertainment and staff did not live up to my previous cruising experiences. The cabin was nice enough which was a great thing since I spent so many bored hours there. The one highlight of the boat was the non-smoking side of the casino, I think all cruise ships should offer this Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
Embarkation was fairly swift, but lacked information for passengers who had not used NCL before. The Epic is getting tired and jaded and there was a general feeling of cutbacks being made. In addition, it cannot cope with the volume of ... Read More
Embarkation was fairly swift, but lacked information for passengers who had not used NCL before. The Epic is getting tired and jaded and there was a general feeling of cutbacks being made. In addition, it cannot cope with the volume of passengers, especially on sea days. The pool for very small children was closed on several occasions and there was a definite question with regard to hygiene standards in all the the pools Entertainment was the same old, same old. Taste restaurant was of good standard, both in quality of food and service. Staff at Guest Services need to go back to the drawing board with their customer care training, they were very unimpressive in attitude and knowledge. The cabin layout makes for a feeling of being cramped, especially with young children although we booked more than one cabin. This was not our first trip on the Epic, but it will be our last. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
I sailed in one of the studio staterooms for a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise. It was a very port-intensive cruise, and looking back I might have enjoyed a bit more time on this huge ship. There are a lot of things to do aboard the ... Read More
I sailed in one of the studio staterooms for a 7-night Western Mediterranean cruise. It was a very port-intensive cruise, and looking back I might have enjoyed a bit more time on this huge ship. There are a lot of things to do aboard the Epic, and a lot of good choices were made in its design. Check-in at the port in Barcelona was really quick and smooth. I was worried that my small studio cabin would feel too small. And the toilet & shower definitely feel too small, but overall I like it. I liked the access to the Studio Lounge as well. I will return to a studio stateroom just like this in the future, and I can recommend it for other solo travelers. That said, there are some annoyances. The motion-activated light in the WC does not work consistently, and I wish the bed weren't just two twins shoved together without being joined by a single mattress pad. Decks 5 and 6 are full of exciting places, and there's always a lot of fun energy down there. The atrium hosts presentations, games, and performances, and it's easy for people in other parts of those decks to get pulled in to the good times over there. It contributes to the fun deck-6 bar/restaurant O'Sheehan's, where people often pass the time by peering over the railing to see what's going on in the Atrium. O'Sheehan's is a complimentary meal venue, and has bowling, TVs, and other bar games in addition to being near the casino. Really fun atmosphere in that whole area. Food is mediocre to good. Moderno Churrascaria was notably not worth the cover for me. The meat just wasn't exceptional enough. But I loved my meal at Cagney's Steakhouse. All the complimentary options were pretty average, and the Garden Cafe, the buffet on the upper decks, was pretty unenticing. Entertainment was pretty good overall. The quality of the performers was excellent, but I was disappointed to observe that the big productions in Epic Theater don't include a live band. The singers sing along with a recording, including the big "Broadway" production, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. But I was really impressed with the Cirque Dreams Epicurean production. It was in a unique little space near the Epic Theater, and for a cover charge you get an above-average meal and a high-quality display of dazzling acrobatics. On the upper decks at the stern there's a sort-of-adults-only area that can be a fun place to relax. They have a huge movie screen where they're usually showing movies, but there is a giant chunk in the middle of the screen that doesn't work. I have no patience for that; it would have been nice to relax there and watch a movie in that environment, but because it was broken, I didn't do that. This ship was very clean. Sanitizing stations were ubiquitous, and beyond that I also just didn't notice anything anywhere that didn't seem like it wasn't diligently kept clean and tidy. The studio area has a smattering of "vending area" rooms, with empty vending machines. It was oddly difficult to find out what the weather was going to be like at the next port. The informational channel on the stateroom monitor would flash through a weather screen which said "Weather: not available" every single day of the cruise. And when I asked at the guest services desk one day for the weather at the next port, the guy straight-up lied. He was caught off guard by the question and looked at his computer for an uncomfortable amount of time before eventually saying: "Sunny. 32 degrees Celsius." It turned out to be a rainy day in the mid-to-upper teens. My NextCruise experience is an unpleasant memory. I'm not likely to do it again. The different people at the desk weren't prepared to answer questions like, "what can I get for in 2020?" They wanted me to have already identified the cruise I wanted based on the pamphlets they had. But the pamphlets don't have prices. They suggested going to the library and using the computers in there to browse cruises, but the computers in there don't let you do that, so I spent 2 hours in my room trying to do that on my tablet with the pathetically slow internet on the ship. And that didn't even get me that far. I hate that I wasted 2 hours of my cruise doing that. There's a sign that says "Cruise Consultant" in that area but I don't feel like they have such a thing as a "cruise consultant" available to us. But I did book another cruise on a different NCL ship with the same kind of studio staterooms, because I really like that type of cruising. I also really like Norwegian's fun, casual atmosphere. The Epic is a good ship but I think they have opportunities to make it more exceptional. If it were up to me, I'd start with the food offerings. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
MSC Fantasia Review Intro I have read quite a few reviews of this ship (few of them positive) and thought I would add my own. We are a large family group and between us have probably cruised nearly 100 times on many different lines, ... Read More
MSC Fantasia Review Intro I have read quite a few reviews of this ship (few of them positive) and thought I would add my own. We are a large family group and between us have probably cruised nearly 100 times on many different lines, so I'd say we have a broad range of cruising experience. We chose this cheap and cheerful cruise for our annual family holiday because, well, it was cheap. We travelled by train from London and sailed from Marseille, via Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, Naples, Livorno and Genoa. We were concerned, to say the least, after reading so many poor reviews but overall, the experience was acceptable. Embarkation was surprisingly all right. I think it is because for this particular cruise, people are boarding and leaving from every port so you don't experience the usual huge lines and long waits for your baggage. A couple of things to note, however, is that firstly you need to validate your cruise card and link it with your credit card *on the ship* rather than at embarkation, and at checkout you need to physically go to reception to receive any refund due on your credit card. This isn't something we knew about before boarding and not something that was made clear to us on board. In fact a lot of the things we knew about the ship were down to reading Cruise Critic boards, and because a few of us had sailed with MSC before. Generally, information is not particularly forthcoming. You are either expected to know, or find out for yourself. In addition, the answers you get from the crew depend entirely on who you ask. At times it felt like a crew training cruise, when just about every query was received with puzzlement and a long discussion with someone else. A major point which I think others have also made is regarding smoking. If you cannot tolerate smoking, do not cruise with MSC. Smoking is officially banned on balconies and only permitted outdoors on Deck 7, one side of the pool deck and in the cigar bar and casino. However, despite numerous complaints, nothing was done to stop our cabin neighbours puffing away on their balcony, constantly, and indeed taunting us about it. There are plenty of hidden corners where people can and do smoke, and little is done too prevent it. Tacitly, it seems that this is a smokers' cruise line in spite of the obvious fire risk this poses. The Atlantico bar is directly above the casino and connected with a grand staircase, so that too is quite a smoky area. Another point of concern was the random way in which rules were applied. I left the ship every day with my daughter and niece (who was travelling with her parents) – some of us went for a run, and we walked to meet up with them in each port - with no problems except on the last day when I was informed that I could not take her off the ship as we had different cabin numbers. This sort of thing should not come as a surprise! We had no idea this was a rule of the ship and it was embarrassing, to say the least. Ship environment and layout Perhaps uniquely among ships I've travelled in, the Fantasia has almost no internal clues as to where you happen to be. For example, on NCL, the design of the carpets and art in the stairwells indicates whether you're fore, aft or midships, and little fish point to the front of the ship. There are no such design elements on Fantasia – there are few maps on the wall and paper maps of the ship are only available at reception. This led to a great deal of getting lost. This is a ship of dead ends and going round in circles. I would advise anyone travelling to get a deck plan in advance and study it carefully. This is an older ship and there were stained carpets and leaky air conditioning, flickering lights and broken toilets. Most of the water park was closed for refurbishment. Overall it was clean but it has seen better days. The room stewards were highly overworked – they never get a period of time when there are no passengers on board on a schedule like this one and the ship is permanently full. Our cabin was cleaned daily but sometimes it wasn't turned down until quite late in the evening. Facilities/entertainment We used the Kids' Club – this was fine but if there aren't many kids there, the staff put on a movie and this may be in a different language to the one your kids happen to speak. This may not bother your kids – it didn't bother mine, but it bothered her cousin. Registration, drop off and collection all happen in the same queue, rather than having registration take place at a set time every day. This led to very long lines at busy times. Children get either a red or green wristband. Red means they are not allowed to roam the ship alone, green means they can check themselves out of the kids' club whenever they like. If your child is sensible and can navigate the highly confusing ship, that is.. The pools are fine – they do the job! There is a large indoor pool, an outdoor pool complex, a water slide (with random opening hours), a pool and hot tubs at the back, and a water park which was under refurbishment and therefore closed. The theatre shows were pretty good, if at times incomprehensible. At the poolside, there are often dance classes and other fun activities. There's a tiny library and cyber café, hidden by the reception area. The bars are OK, with little to distinguish one from another. There's a constant pressure to buy drinks packages but these can only be applied to everyone in the cabin – there's no way that between the three of us we could get through €90 worth of drinks a day for the most basic package. Our travel agent negotiated a deal where we could have sparkling water at the buffet or dining room, which was all we really wanted anyway. The photo gallery was incredibly crowded and finding your photos was haphazard – people seemed to be moving photos around. However, the photographers were really good and we actually bought quite a few, which we don't usually. We had a small balcony cabin which was fine, it had enough room for us and our stuff. It got quite noisy at night with stuff going on in the corridors and neighbouring cabins but nothing too bad (apart from a big fight next door one night for which we had to call security…). Staff The staff are nice, they all speak basic English and do their jobs well, but I refer to my earlier remark about how it seemed that this was a training cruise. Food We ate in the dining room and the buffet. We did not try any of the speciality restaurants so I can't say anything about those. The food was a bit hit and miss – nothing horrible, but few things were amazing. The prime rib was great. I really missed the sort of hot puddings you get on NCL or Princess. The dessert section of the buffet was mostly little cakes and jellies, but there was plenty of fruit available. The buffet had a good selection most of the time, the pizzas were excellent. There's little enforcement of the hand gel and often the dispensers were broken, which probably explains why most of us now have colds. In the dining room the portions were very small – my nine year old had room for two main courses from the adult menu one night. Ports of call We did like all the ports we visited. Most of the time we walked off the ship and did not use the shuttle buses. It's worth noting that in Livorno, there is a €5 bus that takes you to the centre of town, or a slightly secret free bus that gets you to the entrance to the port, and then it's a 10 minute walk to the town centre. If you're able to walk for 20 minutes, you don't really need the shuttle buses, but they are heavily promoted. Additionally in Livorno, the town centre itself is OK but a bit boring – however the area around the aquarium (worth visiting, much cheaper than the large one in Genoa) is a newish development with some interesting shops and cafes, a lovely park, lido and playgrounds. It's only a 15 minute walk from the port to here and it's where we wish we'd spent most of the day. We didn't book any excursions. What we tended to do was find a central point of interest and wander towards it – this paid off well in these dense, rambling towns. We hired bikes in Palma de Mallorca (but note that the cycle lane along the seafront can get busy and isn't great for novice riders). The beaches at Palma and Ibiza were really nice, clean and with decent facilities. In summary If you're looking for cheap and cheerful, you don't mind smoking and you're OK with haphazard customer service, then MSC is fine. However, if you have high expectations then you're going to be disappointed. Do your research first and go in with your eyes open. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
It’s a complete waste of time. The traffic is horrific. We sat in traffic for hours. Bus was hot as Hades. Basically paid for a 7 day cruise and spent a day sitting on the side of the cliff stopped for most of the day. Outrageous. We ... Read More
It’s a complete waste of time. The traffic is horrific. We sat in traffic for hours. Bus was hot as Hades. Basically paid for a 7 day cruise and spent a day sitting on the side of the cliff stopped for most of the day. Outrageous. We booked the Roman walking tour that ended with entering the Colosseum from the gladiator enterence. It was astounding. Well worth the expensive cost. The ship is wonderful, given the number of people it holds, we were expecting Disney type lines. We could not have been more wrong. The ship is huge and there is so much to do that people are spread everywhere. MAKE RESERVATIONS EARLY, as soon as you book your cruise. The Aqua Show was amazing as was the magic show - Hector is Magic. The food in the free dining is so/so. However, we are from south Louisiana and are use to awesome cooking. Chops grill is highly recommended. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We traveled May 18-26 -Staff is friendly and nice -u spent the most in excursions Take a private guide and even taking a taxi is better than taking the excursions the ship offers (u feel like one of members of horse Herd) ... Read More
We traveled May 18-26 -Staff is friendly and nice -u spent the most in excursions Take a private guide and even taking a taxi is better than taking the excursions the ship offers (u feel like one of members of horse Herd) -cruise tries to charge u in anything possible. U go to restaurant - boom $15 charge per person even though my package included gratuities. We tipped all the way but they do anyway. Go to the desk and ask to sign a form to pay on ur own - that’s $210 deduction on the spot for 2ppl - room is terribly small. Don’t even think taking a stateroom, upgrade to bigger and with balcony. Otherwise u will feel trapped - get a package for specialty dining, it’s truly better and delicious - internet is TERRIBLE, never works in the room. My emails didn’t update for couple of days. I tried disputing the charges with the cruise, THEY DIDNT —- I’m definitely disputing charges with my credit card company. I took photos of my phone and the last date it updated emails. - the worst experience when ship arrived to Cannes. There is no port there so ppl are being transported on little ships (which fit around 200 ppl). The line is outrageous and the wait was tiring. We waited 50m on the line, got pisses off and left tanning on the ship - shows are great. Especially the dancing and cirque shows Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
I have only been on one other cruise, that was Carnival, so that is the only comparison I have. First, the good thing... The entertainment was great. The people in the show do a wonderful job. Most of the staff are nice enough. The ... Read More
I have only been on one other cruise, that was Carnival, so that is the only comparison I have. First, the good thing... The entertainment was great. The people in the show do a wonderful job. Most of the staff are nice enough. The ship is clean and beautiful. There are many nice pools and hot tubs, so they were not crowded (yet they close them all down early which is irritating). The bed was comfortable and the room quiet. The food in the buffet was just okay (deserts were good), better than Carnival, but the food in the dining room was much worse than carnival. And now I move on to the bad things... Eating in the dining room on Carnival was a great experience we looked forward to every night, but on MSC it felt like a punishment. Usually the food was not good and the waiters also made us feel uncomfortable and unwanted. They do not have "anytime dining" like other ships, you have to pick 6 PM, 8 PM or 10 PM. They kick you out after an hour or so to get ready for the next crowd. They are always rushing around in a hurry yet take forever to bring the food. We waited an hour for our first course one time, then had 15 minutes to eat the rest and get out. It is loud and there is constant banging from the dumbwaiter bringing down food. We asked to be switched to a different time and got a better waiter and location after the switch. I cannot believe they charge you for water in the dining room! Water was free on Carnival. Which is my next complaint, they are constantly after more money. They pester you all the time to buy the drink and food packages. The drink package would have cost $700 for the two of us ($40 a day). If you're drinking $700 in alcohol in one week you have a problem. We spent $80 on drinks, that's it. The food package would have cost around $260 for 3 meals for the two of us. That's seems high for mediocre food. The worst experience by far were the excursions! DO NOT book a tour. Have them bus you and walk around on your own. The tour company they use in Italy is a nightmare! We were not given all the things promised in Pisa and Rome. In Rome they lost an elderly man and left him there. Don't know if he ever made it back to the ship. I did not listen to the tour guides speak, they are hard to understand. Our English speaking guide hardly said anything anyway. The guides have deals with shops to take you there so you will buy things, like the "Pearl Factory" they said we needed a ticket to get into. It was a jewelry store! Nothing more, and it is free to go in. They wasted my time with this stuff. I felt very ripped off over the excursions. The internet was poor, and we had a router right outside our room. The zip-line cost $12 a person and is boring. It should be free! The constant up-selling is just a nightmare. We have decided not to go on MSC again because of these issues. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose the MSC Divina cruise in the Mediterranean because of its unique itinerary for a seven night cruise and because of the opportunity to have a choice of ports from which to embark. Both of these were different from the other cruise ... Read More
We chose the MSC Divina cruise in the Mediterranean because of its unique itinerary for a seven night cruise and because of the opportunity to have a choice of ports from which to embark. Both of these were different from the other cruise line's offerings and paid it off. Also, since we were flying from Los Angeles to Europe, we wanted to see as much as we could each day, so no days at sea was exactly what I was looking for. We chose to board in Marseille since my husband wanted to spend a couple days in Paris prior to the cruise. As for the cabin, we paid for an inside guarantee with the "Fantastica" experience and were very surprised to be upgraded to a mid-ship balcony. Although the ship is a bit dated, it was very clean, the service was excellent across the board and the balcony cabin was very roomy. Our cabin attendant - I Putu Kertajaya, was excellent, and honored our requests. The itinerary included Marseille, Genoa, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Palermo, Cagliari, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia. We were fortunate weather-wise with only two days of rain and good weather for the rest of the ports at the end of May, and to have calm seas. Previously having sailed many times with Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and Carnival, I was curious about what differences would exist with MSC, so I read many Cruise Critic reviews. I learned that there would be differences from the above mentioned cruise-lines in the food and entertainment offerings so I was not surprised to find this to be the case. Both the buffet and the dining room menus have less entree options. Also, our "Fantastica" level of service included water bottles at meals in the dining room, (we found out late into the cruise) all who had not paid for this had to purchase water at lunch and dinner in the dining room just to get a glass of water with the meal. We were accustomed to being served free water at lunch and dinner in the dining rooms prior to this experience, so this was an unusual difference for us. Also, the entertainment in the theatre was not innovative or inspired and had the nightly repetition of the same talent, unlike others we have sailed with, but I was aware this would be the case from the reviews I had read. A variety of styles of music and dancing could be found in the lounges for those who enjoy that. The ports were all very pleasing and we explored most of them on our own taking trains and buses with the exception of two ship's excursions. Since people were embarking and debarking each day on this itinerary, it was hard to get a Cruise Critic meeting or Meet & Mingle party together. Also, with no days at sea, time was limited. We received a note in our cabin that the meeting date was cancelled, but then rescheduled for dinner in the Asian Fusion (new) Galaxy lounge/restaurant. This was a delightful sushi dinner with two ship's officers and just four of us Cruise Critic members. It was a very special evening for us on the ship and the two officers were extremely friendly and personable. This was one of the highlights. We had a really good week with the knowledge that this experience would be different in terms of food and entertainment. If you are accustomed to the cruise-lines mentioned above or the luxury lines, you will have a good time IF you are aware of differences and change your expectations...it's all in the expectations and this was a great daily itinerary. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Background: I’m in my 50s. I live in California and work for a major Wall Street firm. I’ve been cruising for roughly 25 years and have previously cruised MSC, Carnival, Celebrity, Croisieres de France/Pullmantur, Royal Caribbean, ... Read More
Background: I’m in my 50s. I live in California and work for a major Wall Street firm. I’ve been cruising for roughly 25 years and have previously cruised MSC, Carnival, Celebrity, Croisieres de France/Pullmantur, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Norwegian. Prior MSC Experience: We did an 11 night on Divina in late 2015 and loved it. I then booked a 4 night out of Barcelona, but MSC changed it to a 20 day out of Brazil. No phone call from MSC, no e-mail, no letter, no notification in any way. They even changed the date of the sailing. Then, they took away my Voyagers Club points because I hadn’t sailed in 3 years, after promising they wouldn’t and even though the reason for this was their fault. I’ve written a post detailing some of my frustrations that can be found by Googling MSC Comedy of Errors. There are things to like a lot about MSC, but some service-related problems that should be improved upon. Pre-Cruise: We embarked out of Barcelona. We booked a lovely and centrally located apartment near Passeig de Gracia which worked out perfectly. Barcelona is a great city, so don’t miss out on spending some time there. It’s now the 3rd most visited city in Europe, after Paris and Rome. We were surprised that MSC did not offer tours in Barcelona, so we booked 2 privately. I think they may have missed some opportunity there. Savvy Tip: If you stay in Barcelona, use taxis rather than the Metro (subway) to get around. We had dinner with a group of 11 and 2 of them were pickpocketed on the Metro. Cabs are cheap, usually quick, and less confusing. Embarkation: In Rome, our prior Embarkation on Divina was so fast and smooth. So we wondered if the experience would be the same on Bellissima out of Barcelona. And it was extremely fast and well-organized. This is an area where MSC seems to excel. The Ship: Beautiful! Obviously, it’s almost new, but there is lot of thought and technology put into this ship. The ultra-high definition screen over the promenade is stunning and MSC integrates it well into their entertainment. We did much prefer the Grand Atrium layout of Divina, however. Divina’s atrium features soaring elevators that gracefully glide up and down and a much more open and dramatic feel to that area. Bellissima has mirrored ceilings to create the illusion of height, but is not as dramatic or engaging. I’d recommend that MSC go back to more of a soaring, dramatic atrium, like Divina. But otherwise, certainly it was nice. Tip: There is a somewhat hidden glass elevator which some might not be aware of. You can access it from the port (left) side of customer service. It rides on the outside of the ship and features nice views during the day. Our Room: We stayed in balcony cabin 13021, which is technically Aurea class. But we didn’t get the extras since we only purchased the Fantastica experience. The room was an upgrade due to a technical problem on their website, which was nice. The room was on the small side, but was always very clean. The bedding, a partnership between MSC and Dorelan, was super comfortable. Our stateroom attendant was extremely friendly, introduced himself and called my girlfriend and me by name during the cruise. He commented that we were always smiling and friendly and never complained when others were grouchy and did little but complain. Well, he didn’t hear me gripe pre-cruise to MSC Customer Service, but it is a good reminder that a smile and a kind word can go a long ways. These folks work hard for little money by our standards. Always do your best to treat them with kindness and respect. We did experience a partial electrical failure that took out our TV, Zoe, some lighting, and the electrical outlets. Maintenance could not repair the issue that day, but they did fix it the following day while we were off the ship. Another Tip: If you press the Do Not Disturb button, the cabin steward’s key will be inactive. So if you forget to turn it off, he/she won’t be able to make up your room. Zoe: Unfortunately, Zoe was nearly useless. I did a YouTube video on this, but I’d say she didn’t understand the request 75%-80% of the time. Nice concept, but needs a lot of work. Food: Generally average to very good. Never great or bad. The food in the buffet during breakfast/lunch/dinner was better than expected, especially after reading some really bad reviews. Everything was very fresh, so our experience was certainly different than others. In the main dining room, meals were acceptable to very good. The best food was on the 2 Gala Nights. One Gala Night was on the last night before disembarkation, which I thought was odd, as most were packing up their clothing. Yes, I know not everyone embarks or disembarks at the same ports, but most seemed to get on and off at Barcelona. Drink Package: We purchased the now discontinued "431" drink package, which covers “house wine” (2 reds, 2 whites, a blush, prosecco dry and prosecco sweet), as well as most “non-premium” specialty drinks. The house wines were mediocre except for the proseccos, which were both pretty good. Their bartenders are uniformly lousy and don’t know how to make a drink. The quality and even character and taste of drinks would vary wildly from one bartender to another. One time, a drink would be terribly sweet, the next time not, but taste like something totally different. They really need to train their bartenders better. We left a number of drinks on the table almost untouched because they were so bad. Entertainment/Animation Crew: Fantastic! Some have complained about the entertainment, but we both thought it was the best we’ve seen on any ship. The entertainers were really good and the crew really got the audience engaged. These folks worked really hard, and it paid off. The lighting and sound system on Bellissima is excellent with one exception. For some reason, the sound system in the Bellissima Bar and Lounge sounded muted and flat. Cirque at Sea: Enjoyable and generally worth the price. However, there was a bit of false advertising involved. The show included a cocktail and the description read, “Choose from our selection of creative cocktails made with or without alcohol to your liking and enjoy it’s surprising freshness…”. However, they had only pre-made and presumably watered down (from melting ice) Gimlets. I told them that I was a type 2 diabetic and that drinking such a sugary drink was not the best option for me. I asked if they could make me something else and was told “no”. The only other option was fruit juice, which is also too sugary for me. Cirque Tip: Reserve the shows online before you board. They were all sold out and if you wait, you might not get to see a Cirque at Sea show. I do feel that they were worthwhile, although not thrilled about the aforementioned drink issue. Tours: We booked 3 MSC tours. We loved the Amfali Coast tour out of Naples and felt it was a good value. It seemed to sell out and disappeared from the onboard list of offerings, so probably a good idea to book online in advance like we did. We also enjoyed the Aix en Provence and Marseille 2 Cities tour. Well worth the money. The Portofino tour was really disappointing. It’s not that Portofino isn’t pretty, quaint and worth visiting. It’s just that you’re only there for roughly 1 hour. And the tour could easily stay there another 2 hours, so I have no idea why they rush you out so quickly. And further, you have to get on the boat to leave Portofino at noon, for no obvious reason. Guess when most restaurants and business in Portofino open? Yes, at noon. It was perplexing and this needs to be improved upon. Give the guests 3 hours in Portofino instead of 1 hour. They’ll easily make it back to the ship well before it departs. The Crew: Room for improvement, but mostly pretty good. Not as friendly as on some cruise lines, but not as grouchy as the funky Eastern European crew that we had on Divina who seemed to hate their jobs and the passengers. Most were very helpful. Not everyone spoke great English, but usually communication was not a major issue. Let me single out one man who had an attitude that I did not enjoy, and that is the restaurant manager. In short, I had booked the later dinner, but our booking got fouled up in several ways. They never did correct my prior efforts to fix my late seating request, so I figured I’d straighten it out onboard. They sent me to the restaurant manager, who looked very, very irritated. And in an irritated voice, he said, “Do you have any idea how many passengers I have to accommodate? 5,600! And you want your seating changed, right?”. I thought he was pretty uncool and unfriendly, but I just bit my tongue and thanked him for his efforts. Shops: Not bad, but can use improvement. Divina had a more interesting and eclectic selection of items that I was actually interested in. The Passengers: Mostly European. Maybe 10% American like me. Nice people. Not as fat as most Americans. Sorry if that’s crass, but it’s true. They seem to stay out late and be kind of fun, party people most of the time. I did not witness any bad behavior during our cruise. Smoking was not an issue either, which was a good thing. Medical Emergency: On the final full day, we had a medical emergency, which required that the Italian Military airlift by helicopter a 55-year old American woman. The airlift was carried out swiftly and with precision. The captain explained very clearly what was occurring and told us that there would be no delay due to this onboard emergency. It was well-executed and communications about the incident was very good. Disembarkation: NO LINE WHATSOEVER! Can you imagine? Not a whiff of a line getting off the ship. I had an early flight and customer service was very accommodating and changed my time to an earlier departure. Again, this seems to be a strong area for MSC. Final Thoughts: While things are never perfect, I think MSC gets a bad rap, often unfairly. They do need to improve their customer service, but I believe that some issues are overblown and overstated. Their new ships are beautiful and can represent a very good value. MSC just needs some tweaks to really step up their game. We have enjoyed our cruises on MSC and we have 2 more booked. If you are patient and focus on the positives and not every little nitpicking thing, I believe you will enjoy cruising on MSC in general and the beautiful new Bellissima in particular. Read Less

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