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Sail Date: April 2019
This review is for two adults in an Aurea balcony on MSC Seaview. Salvador , Brazil to Barcelona, 11 nights. Our first on MSC... Boarding in Salvador was very quick, we were in our cabin by 12.45. Most passengers started 4 days before ... Read More
This review is for two adults in an Aurea balcony on MSC Seaview. Salvador , Brazil to Barcelona, 11 nights. Our first on MSC... Boarding in Salvador was very quick, we were in our cabin by 12.45. Most passengers started 4 days before us in Santos and reported 5 hour delays getting onboard. We were told the ship only had 3400 passengers out of a possible 5179. The Cabin was clean, amazing bed and pillows, big interactive TV and we had a large balcony with two sunbeds, 2 chairs and a table. Our room steward was friendly and sorted several things we needed straight away. The bathrooms a good size with a roomy shower with three pressure settings. The decor of the room was an awful green and didn't match up to the rest of the ships glitzy interior. The rest of the ship is very nice, its modern but classy. The Swarovski staircases were stunning. The ship is marketed as bringing you closer to the ocean than ever before but i found the opposite. As deck 8 is open air, the rest of the ships built inwards, therefore restaurants were surrounded by decks and chairs not seaview windows, the side panels were very high along the decks, no venue at the front of the ship to look out from, decks 4/5 had little to no windows at all and at the front there is a massively high side wall blocking deck 9 balcony views. Some days there was very loud and deep bags from the waves hitting the hull, you get it on all ships but this was much worse than we have ever experienced. Another passenger we met actually complained and they were told by an officer its the ships design and the speed we were going at the time... The pools are salt water and were not heated. There was more than enough sun beds across the ships which were very comfy with headrests. We found the food to be very good overall. The main buffet had lots of stations and did vary each day. The buffet stopped dinner at 10pm and then pizza was available until 2am and the Pizza is amazing! We found numerous veggie options in all eateries every day. The smaller buffet on 16 has themes each night including tex-mex, BBQ and Indian. They could get crowded so i dread to think what it would be like with over 5000 onboard. The main dining room had lots of options every night, usually 4/5 main courses plus the "always available" menu giving you another 5+ main course options. The service was mostly very good, just the occasional delay between courses. Every third night was also themed in the main dining room. One afternoon we tried lunch in Golden Sands and was seats in the Bella Fantastica area. Our experience was very different, the service was extremely slow and the mains were cold they took that long to come. The waiters had too many tables to serve and it doesn't help them that everyone gets seated at the same time causing a big rush. The tables for 2 were also extremely close and in long rows, you may as well have been on a table for 8/10. If we would have had this experience the entire cruise we would never consider MSC again. We ate at the French Bistro twice and its great value for money at $15pp. Portion sizes are massive. There is lots of nice bars all over the ship and plenty of seating. Seaview lounge is nice with chilled acoustic music, the Garage club seem to just fill a walkway, shine bar is a good spot for listening to any musicians in the atrium and Sunset beach bar was often lively with an afternoon DJ set. A glass of wine started at $3.40 and cocktails were mostly $7.90 upwards. The coffee onboard is very good and they serve is everywhere. Entertainment was the biggest disappointment, the in house shows were shockingly bad, propped up by the odd quality variety act. The shows became boring and the acts were repeated. All of the musical shows include opera, they even worked it into their dire Tina Turner tribute. The shows were only 35 minutes each as there is three a night, 19.45, 21.00 & 22.15. The theatre is small for the size of the ship, so it will be a struggle to get in when the ships full. There was lots of good bands/ singers on across the ship during the day and evening. Daytime activities were average, most being games or chargeable activities. The slides were great fun, especially the surf board one. The zip line was closed when ever its windy, which is a lot of the time on a moving ship... The party's in the atrium had a great atmosphere and went on until the early hours. The two male cruise directors were almost invisible, the only time we saw them was in the dining room or buffet. Clearly employed for their language skills to quickly open the shows then disappear but not much else. We found the MSC for me app really useful, booking everything on it. The wristbands were much easier than carrying your room card and worked for everything including access to your room. Communication onbaord was very poor, PAs were inaudible most of the time and no announcements from the captain, even after a 3 hour delay leaving Salvador and then arriving into Malaga half a day late. As others report with MSC the Pas are made is multiple languages, we counted 7 one night and i have to agree it does become tedious. The main staff were really very good. They went out of their way to help, they were always polite and happy to chat. Our main waiter was great, very chatty and friendly, he would always give us little appetisers before we even ordered. The service overall was very personal for such a large ship. Aurea Experience- With Aurea we had my choice dining so could turn up when we wanted between 6pm and 10.15pm at Golden Sands and select a table we wanted. As we booked a while ago we had the old "classic drinks package" with upto $8 drinks, coffee and gelato. This included the vast majority of every drinks menu across the ship and was a great saving for us. We really liked the chilled top19 deck, lots of sunbeds, 2 Jacuzzi's and nice sofa seating by the bar. It was very quite compared to the main pools and the server said its always quiet up there even when the ships full. We used our massage that was included which was really nice, however as soon as they finished they were trying to sell you more. The free access to the thermal spa was a really nice bonus too, there were about 8 different rooms and the salt room was so relaxing. There was a few nice touches in the cabin too with slippers, robes and a diffuser. You also have priority disembarkation and your bags were ready first in the terminal. We loved Aurea class and would not sail MSC without it because of the flexibility it gives you. Getting on and off at the ports was easy during the cruise but final disembarkation was painful with ques to get off and ques in the terminal. We did not like MSCs disembarkation procedure, giving us times to meet and get off and also taking our bags away the night before. When we went to the meeting point there was no staff or guidance so we just made our own way off after breakfast. Taxis to the airport from the cruise port are 39 euro fixed price. Few Tips for anyone new to MSC or Seaview- - You only get sunbeds on your balcony if you book Aurea on deck 9. But the very forward ones have obstructed views which they don't tell you when booking. Go 9024 or backwards. - Aurea bookings now only give you easy drinks package which is up to $5 and this really reduces your drinks list. You would have a few wines and Skol beer along with the house vodka and gin with mixers. If you like cocktails, proper coffee, branded spirits and shakes its worth upgrading, i believe you can just pay the difference in the package prices. - Bella and Fantastica have set dining times and your not guaranteed a table size or time. Dinner times were 6pm, 8pm & 10pm in Golden Sands, 7pm & 9pm in Silver dolphin. - Book shows the day before if you want to get in. - If you use the spa they have sales during the cruise. Getting on it was 10% off when you booked 4 treatments but a few days later it was 30% each one. - No kettle/ coffee machine in room, take your own as getting one was not easy. Finally comparing MSC to our favourite cruise line NCL. MSC defiantly felt more upmarket because of the look of the ship and our Aurea experience but it was more restrictive. We had a very nice cruise but because of the lack of good entertainment we would choose NCL hands down. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We travelled as a couple on an 11 night transatlantic from Salvador to Barcelona. We primarily travel on Royal Caribbean and this was our first time on MSC. As such this review will be comparing the two. Good Points - Great Cabin ... Read More
We travelled as a couple on an 11 night transatlantic from Salvador to Barcelona. We primarily travel on Royal Caribbean and this was our first time on MSC. As such this review will be comparing the two. Good Points - Great Cabin Explained in the cabin review - Almost Great Designed Ships The ship was designed beautiful and designed exceptionally with every detail almost thought out. The ship was kept meticulously clean - Great In-house Entertainment The in-house shows were very good although were 35 mins each. Costumes, make up, lighting were superior to RC. - Slightly Cheaper Drinks We don’t drink much so don’t purchase packages. Drinks were about 20% cheaper than RC and tended to be a similar size. Nice touches in the Sports Bar was providing nachos and dips with drinks. The drink alcohol measures also tended to be large. - Always Available Sun Loungers There was sun loungers always available even when very busy - An Affordable Ship Tour At $45 for a three hour tour of behind the scenes of the ship this felt like good value compared to RC price which on Oasis was around $80-90 (which we didn’t take up). Now to the negatives - there is a few: - Some Design Flaws Whilst the ship is beautiful they made some mistakes; The theatre has 934 seats - on a ship with a capacity of 5300. This means that the performers are forced to do 3 x 35 minute performances a night. Whilst these didn’t always sell out (as booking is required) I feel the theatre should have had more capacity to reduce this to two maybe slightly longer performances. The seating is also very tight on leg room. The pools are all 6ft deep with no shallow sections (with the exception of the kids play park) The dinning rooms are too small. This cruise wasn’t full but heard previously of issues with not having enough tables in the restaurant. This results in some very closely configured tables which almost resemble banqueting halls where your almost sharing tables with your neighbour. This didn’t happen to us but it could be pot luck whether you land one of these tables. I’m also not sure if this is down to the table situation but they tend to run 4 dinner sessions 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm - there is also a my choice dining option. If you aren’t in within 15 minutes of that time then the restaurant closes. This policy leads to everyone arriving in a 15 minute window. Servers maybe with 6 tables or more each then need to take orders, serve drinks, bread and food. Not staggering tables affects quality of service and also I’m sure has an effect on the kitchen staff as well. Very open venues. Many of the entertainment areas aren’t intimate or open and have limited seating - so often what happens is a performer is playing to people who are not there to see the act but people who are just there taking a seat. Often the venues are also corridors to other places which then has the effect of major background noise. - The food was very hit or miss The food in the buffet and main dining at breakfast was to a similar standard to RC although with possibly slightly less choice Lunch in the buffet offered less variety than RC and the one time we had lunch in main dining it was ok. Again they seemed to seat people in one waiters section meaning they had immediately 8 tables to serve in quick time. We had dinner in the main dining each night and it was very hit or miss. Some dishes were surprisingly good others were just ok. Portions tended to be smaller than RC - which I think is a good thing - as often RC portions can vary and tend to be large. We developed a system to ensure we got alright food on MSC - we found they tended to be better at seafood and fish dishes than other meat types. For desserts their ice cream and ice cream sundaes were actually very good. They were also very good at pizza and (crisp) fries at the buffet. - Water At dinner service we were entitled to complimentary bottled water - which seemed to be rationed with one bottle coming out at a time. I’m not sure why they don’t just serve water - I actually would prefer a big jug of iced water from the tap than create more plastic to be recycled. - Sanitisation Whilst cleanliness was very good on board hygenie such as hand sanitisation was more an optional occurrence. There was hand sanitiser stations and even hand washing stations in the buffet but many just didn’t bother. By the end of the cruise a large number of people seemed to have a cough. - Disembarkation at some ports was a nightmare We stopped at Tenerife and Malaga on this trip. Tenerife was actually very smooth. However Malaga was slightly dangerous. Due to three medical evacuations by air and bad weather the disembarkation time was understandably changed to 2:30pm. People queued from 2pm with no staff to manage queues these quickly got out of hand with no real queuing system, people joining the lines as they come down the stairs or out of lifts. Some of the queue were then sent to the crew exit to alleviate this. But that was somewhat a bottleneck > with again people coming down stairs and lifts and joining in a mass. - Lack of Activities On board there was somewhat limited daytime activities. On RC we enjoy attending the trivia which is up to seven times a day. It is a great way to meet people as well as break up sea days. On MSC it tended to be dance classes with only three trivia sessions across 12 days. On one day they had 3 activities scheduled at one time and none for three hours. They also had a guest lecturer on board who we attended several talks and was quite interesting. On speaking to her she stated that she only does the transatlantic cruises - what would they have had if she wasn’t on board. There was a lot of entertainment staff even more than on other lines so felt they weren’t utilised as well as they could be. - Languages It became quite monotonous to hear every thing repeated in 6 languages. MSC is European, and I was shocked how seemingly few US customers were on board which make up a large proportion of RC guests regardless where they sail from. Unsurprisingly the majority were Brazilians meaning Portuguese was the main language. Being from the UK and having a little grasp of a few languages I would have struggled without English which was certainly a minority language on board. I’m not sure there is a solution to this problem. Although perhaps they could announce in one language and display subtitles in other languages on screens in places like the theatre. - Not the best imported shows The shows which are imported tend to be languageless or language light. These were a mime act (x2), singing act (x2) and a Ventriloquist using somewhat common words from multiple languages. In fact the best part of these shows was often the audience participation bits which were only a small part. Overall these certainly were not as good as guests performers on RC. - Service was not as friendly as RC I felt the staff were not as friendly as RC. They all did a good job but didn’t really talk. On RC servers of food and drink tend to be really bubbly, restaurant managers visit our table each night and most other staff great you in the corridors of all ranks. I felt this was in a minority on MSC. The staff were still good at their job and some were really friendly. For example a waitress at the chocolate shop remembered us for the rest of the cruise and greeted us each time we walked by, the maitre’d at main dining was very chatty and always acknowledged guests, deck staff cleaning the deck at 5am even gave out a strong good morning in Portuguese. Some other points; We had 3 air medical evacuations during this cruise and these were handled really professionally - it was good to see that if you need specialist medical help even 500km off the coast that attempts will will be made to get you that help. The Spanish Search & Rescue Service Salvamento Maritimo sent a Puma helicopter and an AirbusHeli plane to evacuate a staff member who was in labour with the baby in the breech position. An unusual announcement came over the tannoy in another language first and I picked up the words gynaecologist or obstetrician as they are very similar. The next day whilst at the buffet they made an announcement of “Mike Echo” over the tannoy and the evacuation was in full progress. MSC was the first cruise line to search my bags getting off at a port. As we were on holiday for 17 days we really needed to wash some clothes. I hadn’t preordered a washing package which were reasonable in advance. But per piece priced onboard. As we had washed clothes before off ship on our last transatlantic we thought we would do the same again. Last year on RC we carried off two rather large stuffed full weekender bags no questions asked. Even Spanish police and didn’t even look as we walked through with them. However MSC security were puzzled why I might be taking a weekender bag off the ship and wanted to know what was in it, scanned it and then did a quick visual search. This vigilance I believe is a good thing although what bag size is too big - I was shocked to have not been at least stopped last year with RC. On MSC others got off with backpacks no questions asked. Beware of the shuttle sale at Malaga. This has been mentioned by others before but MSC somewhat tried to sell a $10 shuttle to the city centre from Malaga cruise terminal stating it’s a 20-25 min bus ride away. In reality it’s about 25 minutes leisurely walk by the marina. A taxi would be about €6 each way, and if you wanted to do specific things may just save you a few minutes. Overall we left feeling we enjoyed a relaxing 11 nights on board. We would sail again with MSC possibly on their smaller ships (which we tend prefer) on itinerary rich sailings negating some of the activity issues although we have another two transatlantic sailings booked with RC for early next year so possibly not anytime soon. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Firstly this was our first cruise so we have nothing to completely judge against, however the things I will talk about was our experience. On arrival onto the ship we we’re badgered by staff wanting us to sign up to a drinks package ... Read More
Firstly this was our first cruise so we have nothing to completely judge against, however the things I will talk about was our experience. On arrival onto the ship we we’re badgered by staff wanting us to sign up to a drinks package which we had already sorted pre arrival. This also didn’t stop for a couple of days. ( by all means assist customers but make staff be seen but have customers approach staff ) We also were constantly bugged by the staff photographers constantly asking if we wanted our picture taken and even after a polite no they then pleaded ‘it will only take a few minutes ‘ whilst following us. My polite no’s were beginning to wear very thin towards the end. To add insult to injury the one time we gave in, we were then automatically charged £34.99 to our card before even seeing them. From the reception they told me it was down to me to say I didn’t want them to have the charge removed. So I was glad to keep an eye on my account on my tv in my cabin. Otherwise it would have been a shock on leaving. ( may be better for customers to say yes before charging). Each place we docked at we were badgered if we wanted taxi or sight seeing bus. All were stupid prices and you can do so much better sourcing your own public transport at great prices.... it got tiresome as they wouldn’t take no as an answer. I feel msc security/ dock security should monitor this and actively reduce this annoyance. Now the ship is an absolute beautiful design. Really took our breath away. The mid ship sky screen shows and displays were very good. The shows onboard were very very good and thoughly entertaining. And at 30 mins I feel it was too short but understand with time restrictions for the program it has to be that way. I had no issues with my premium drinks package and recommend this is purchased. The staff were all very friendly and pleasant and had no bad experiences in the dining room with food or waiting staff. The cabin ( we had a balcony) was a nice size and I would say it was a slightly smaller than the average Travelodge room but pretty much the same layout. Tv channels were slightly limited ( but who comes on holiday to watch tv ). The safe is quite tiny and we couldn’t put our iPads in it. But it was simple to use. The Bed was very comfortable with two pillows. Balcony size ok. Mini bar idea not so good. .... it is not covered on the drinks package. I think to enjoy the balcony it would be good to use from mini bar to save having to go to the bar for purchasing drinks to carry back. Most drinks in there can be from the bar anyway. ( just saves borrowing and restocking ourselves the next day early). The spa is amazing and well worth the visit. Spent most days in there for a couple of hours recovering from our days walking. However on the sea day it got very busy. Maybe it would be good if msc only allowed the package deal only people to access on sea days and offer no day pass. ( could earn more money for them and balance the numbers out for spa visitors). With the numerous relaxation areas jacuzzis and steam/ sauna rooms and ice room. Not forgetting the emotional showers there are plenty of places to relax and rest. Never gambled before and the casino was an awesome experience. Staff very friendly and when it was quiet we asked how to use tables and all was explained very well. There are serious gamblers there, and people like us who had fun with between 10-30 Euros per visit. We actually visited most nights and actually walked away with more Euro’s than we started with. The water slides were fun to use, and the pools were relaxing. And the external hot tubs on the deck were very nice also. Anyone in two minds about first time cruising, I think the ship will give you the experience that will help decide if it’s for you. And as for us......... we will stick with msc and look out for more locations this ship will visit and try out the other ships in the fleet. We have been converted to a life of cruising for sure. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Except for the Rosario Strings and the Buenos Aires tango show, the others seemed a bit tired. Jody the piano guy was a disappointment as we normally like to sit and listen and sing along with the piano man. The other area that could ... Read More
Except for the Rosario Strings and the Buenos Aires tango show, the others seemed a bit tired. Jody the piano guy was a disappointment as we normally like to sit and listen and sing along with the piano man. The other area that could be improved was the lack of 24 hour food. The larger ships have a place where you can get some some savory and sweet snacks almost round-the-clock. One thing they added for the lunches in the dining room was some hot buffet and dessert. This combined with the tutti salad bar made the lunchtime much more enjoyable. Whoever thought of that gets a gold star. Otherwise the repeating lunch menu got tired real quick. As this was a repositioning cruise, the enrichment lectures were lacking. Could have done a little more. The port of Ponta Delgada is not as good a stop as Madeira or the Canary Islands. The service was excellent and the ship in good shape. Enjoyed the cruise overall. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was a short 3 day cruise from LA to Vancouver. It is spring break so there were lots of young people and kids onboard, many celebrating special events like birthdays. We dined in both the Crown Grill and Share and the food was ... Read More
This was a short 3 day cruise from LA to Vancouver. It is spring break so there were lots of young people and kids onboard, many celebrating special events like birthdays. We dined in both the Crown Grill and Share and the food was great. Service in the main dining room and the food seemed the usual Princes approach. There was concern expressed by someone that since the ship is heading to dry dock in Victoria that there would be less staff and poor food supply but that was certainly not the case. The staff told us that during the 3 weeks in dry dock, their jobs continue, as they must serve the 1000 construction workers who take up residence on the ship and work 24 hrs a day to complete the dry dock tasks. The only difference is that their days are shorter. On another note, Princess has made a decision to remove all the barrel chairs from the balcony and ocean view staterooms. I find this to be a ridiculaous move as do many others. I had disussed my concern with corporate relations and was told that if I ask for chai, I will get it. Many people on Cruise Critic had indicated that they had asked their stateroom steward and had been told that a chair was not available any longer. I did not ask the steward. I went to the Passenger Service desk soon after we boarded and asked for a chair. I happily got one within 1/2 hour of asking. I do have a bit of a caveat, though.This ship is heading to dry dock and maybe the few chairs that they may have available on board right now might disappear once in dry dock. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
First impression entering the Piazza, was wow. Very impressive. But the biggest thing that lets it down is the layout. The Market place is so confusing, it’s set out in 2 sections a bistro and buffet. To get your food you have to ... Read More
First impression entering the Piazza, was wow. Very impressive. But the biggest thing that lets it down is the layout. The Market place is so confusing, it’s set out in 2 sections a bistro and buffet. To get your food you have to negotiate .different areas. For example I wanted toasted Banana bread, I went to the counter with the Banana bread, then had to take it to another area to get it toasted then again to get butter. The Market place seating is divided by many screens, it feels a bit closed in. The Princess theatre is a good size but entering and exiting is a problem as the aisles are one person wide, which causes big problems with everyone trying to leave. The future cruise desk and captains circle club are in the same very small room, with only one staff member looking after each area. Causes major cuing. For a ship with 3500 passengers you would think they would have more room and more staff to handle the volume. Our cabin was excellent, we had a Club class mini suite, very big, plenty of room to sit, or eat a meal, very good and big balcony with table chairs and sun lounges. Embarkation and disembarkation was very good, very well organised. The entertainment was good with the imported artist, but the Princess entertainment was the same as any other ship. If you been on a few Princess cruises no need to go and see them. The crew where mainly very good, but there was a lot of Chinese crew that did not seem to want to serve anyone except Chinese passengers. I asked to use the Karaoke room and was told it was only for the Asian cruise, by one Chinese crew member, then told to go and see, the Internet cafe person, then told to see Customer services, who are the ones I saw first so I didn’t bother. I would not go on the Majestic Princess if there was an alternative ship. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given ... Read More
Price and itinerary.. Its was a destination that we did not do before. Food was good but not exceptional . Food was better on other celebrity crises we have been on . Disembarkation was awful. It appeared very organized with everyone given assigned times for immigration. But then they threw the schedules away huge groups go all at once . This caused long waits , long lines, long waits for elevators and lines jamming the stair cases. The captains club hostess did not seem overly friendly and a bit standoff and did not seem interested in the passengers. The cruise director was excellent. Bar staff / waiters seemed overwhelmed and service was slow. Stateroom attendant was excellent . ports in chile (except for santiago) and peru were poor and we would not do them again. Santiago and surrounding area was good. Would we do this cruise again ... No. shore excursions were expensive and limited. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Our friends asked us to join them with other family members. The food was excellent and the cruise staff very friendly and accommodating. The Captain (Tubo) was all over the ship, greeting guests on a daily basis. The entertainment was ... Read More
Our friends asked us to join them with other family members. The food was excellent and the cruise staff very friendly and accommodating. The Captain (Tubo) was all over the ship, greeting guests on a daily basis. The entertainment was wonderful. Only draw back the theater, unfortunately, was not large enough to accommodate all the guests. The tours, both ship sponsored or private arrangements, were wonderful. All in all, Princess Cruise Lines did a great job, including embarkation and disembarkation at both ports. I can't say enough about the dining room staff and food taste and presentation. It was all good! The outdoor Pizza Venue, Ice Cream Corner and Hamburgers and Hot Dogs were also very good and well prepared. The Pools and Jacuzzi were also well maintained and the Bars were always within site and the staff always friendly and available. The Tender Service was well organized as was. Disembarkation at the (6) Ports we arrived at. That's about it. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Staff was marvelous. They were very attentive. We had the drink package. The drinks were excellent especially the martinis at the Champagne bar. The ship was very clean. Food was good in dining room. Buffet was decent. Shore ... Read More
Staff was marvelous. They were very attentive. We had the drink package. The drinks were excellent especially the martinis at the Champagne bar. The ship was very clean. Food was good in dining room. Buffet was decent. Shore excursions were not impressive and they were always late. They would tell you to meet in the theater at 8:45 but you wouldn't get called for your excursion until 9:45. Felt like a lot of time was wasted waiting for the shore excursions. We tried to go to the beach in Ecuador but it took 1.5 hours to get there. We were supposed to have 3 hours at the beach but ended up only getting 1.5 hours. Enjoyed the activities that were provided daily. Went to 3 specialty restaurants. The food was overcooked in the Moderno which is not the usual case for that restaurant. We were a bit disappointed. Shows were pretty good. Loved the quietness in our cabin. It was nice not hearing your neighbor open and close their drawers and flush their toilet. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose the cruise for the itinerary, particularly the Suez transit, and the fact nearly all ports were firsts for us, as was MSC. The ship was very clean and extremely smooth, cabins adequate though shower curtain in bathroom was ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the itinerary, particularly the Suez transit, and the fact nearly all ports were firsts for us, as was MSC. The ship was very clean and extremely smooth, cabins adequate though shower curtain in bathroom was extremely annoying as it sticks to you due to the tiny area! Had two days to explore Dubai before boarding then overnight on board too so crammed in lots of sights, nice to be berthed close to the old Creek, very interesting with the boats busting up and down. Embarkation was smooth and was nice to be moved straight to Black tier due to our status on Royal Caribbean, gaining us some nice benefits including a four course lunch with wine, bottle of fizz in cabin and chocolate covered strawberries to name a few! Surprised to find that fellow passengers who had cruised with them many times got no rewards however, wouldn’t inspire my loyalty! Sadly missed Sir Bani Yas due to weather but Muscat was beautiful, the Grand Mosque was one of the highlights of the trip, luckily we arrived very early when it was quiet. Exciting five days at sea with security guards patrolling due to piracy threat and then into Eilat, the only slightly disappointing port, snorkelling not as good as expected. Petra was fabulous, took the ship trip which we thought was very good value and the lunch was superb. The walk in and out was hard but rewarding and far more to see than expected, we got a good overview in the time we had and scenery was beautiful on the journey too. Suez transit did not disappoint, watched from start, at sunrise, to finish. Wonderful experience and one to tick off the bucket list. Once we were in the Med it was like a second cruise, weather cooler and off every day so a busy last week. We missed Athens due to the weather but I personally preferred the alternative of Corfu, Kotor was amazing and we completed the climb up to the monastery at midday which nearly killed us. Split was interesting, yes they have their own currency but so do we, wasn’t a problem. Concluded the trip with two days in Venice which was lovely, covered most of the city with a 48 hour bus and vaparetto pass, very impressive public transport. The two days in hotels were just right, all done as a package from Cruise 1st. The food.....uninspiring, bland and unimaginative. If, as we were told, the executive chef is Italian then he should be ashamed of himself, never saw a leaf of basil once! I would at least expect my dining room meal to be better than I could cook myself and 60% of the time it wasn’t. As for not providing jugs of water on the dining table I have never heard of such a stupid rule, we just took a bottle of water in every evening but a great way to alienate your customers. The pastries, cakes and puddings were very nice but in general service wasn’t great in the restaurant or buffet. Pizza was excellent but only four types over 20 days... Evening shows with dancers were brilliant, as were musicians round the ship though opera singers a bit screechy. Other entertainment was childish, hysterical and noisy, must be an Italian thing. Very little trivia and the constant six language announcements make you lose the will to live after a while. It was nice to have such a wide variety of nationalities on board though. Onboard speaker Alison Hypher was exceptional, just what you need on a cruise with such a varied itinerary. She struck the perfect balance between historical fact and useful information, could not recommend her highly enough. The coffee shop was nice, reasonably priced with friendly staff, and I did like the outdoor area at the back of the buffet to sit and eat. I got the impression that service in general is take it or leave it, senior staff tend to avoid eye contact rather than say hello and was surprised to see staff smoking or drinking in public areas. Did not like the smoking in the pub which permeates far beyond. For the price we paid this was a fantastic adventure but I feel MSC could improve vastly in the areas mentioned. Read Less

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