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24 Miami MSC Cruises MSC Armonia Cruise Reviews

First time..2 week cruise for our family of five. My husband and I have already been on 2 Carnival cruises which were fun and decided to book a 2 week cruise for us and our 3 children (first time on a cruise for the kids 18, 16, 14). ... Read More
First time..2 week cruise for our family of five. My husband and I have already been on 2 Carnival cruises which were fun and decided to book a 2 week cruise for us and our 3 children (first time on a cruise for the kids 18, 16, 14). CONS: - Food was mediocre. Luckily my kids are really easy to please and were content with pizza, burgers, fries and gelato. The buffet was average, normal breads and pastas but I would say lacking in variety. Being on a 2 week cruise is great but the food choices become mundane and repetitive which makes eating less exciting. Lol. Blah and average. Wait staff was attentive, but some were a little less friendly which could be attributed to cultural diversity since they all come from different parts of the world. So I’m definitely understanding in that aspect. - Unfortunately room cleanliness was lacking. I always bring Lysol and Lysol wipes to scrub down my cabin at first walk through. Being a nurse I know the importance of disinfection and would rather have piece of mind from the very beginning. That being said, my bathroom shower stall had mold. Very gross. My room steward was the sweetest person and I hate confrontation. But I brought him in the room to point out the areas of mold in the shower. He told me he would clean it and it was never done (or if he did do it, it wasn’t done well). I went down to guest services and told the staff and they said it would be taken care of with a deep clean. Upon returning to my room, the bathroom smelled like bleach or some kind of cleaner, however the mold still remained. I basically threw my hands up in the air and decided to let it go. I didn’t want a long drawn out battle and wanted to enjoy the rest of my vacation without any drama. Therefore, mold was my cabin mate for 2 weeks. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
I decided to keep this review to some of the highs and lows of the cruise. The cruise was extended two days due to the hurricane and two more days for free on a cruise ship was pretty nice. I stayed in an interior and the room was very ... Read More
I decided to keep this review to some of the highs and lows of the cruise. The cruise was extended two days due to the hurricane and two more days for free on a cruise ship was pretty nice. I stayed in an interior and the room was very well designed with a real chair to sit on in front of a little desk area--better than other lines I have been on. However, never again will I complain about a small shower, this one was amazingly small and on an angle. Thank goodness the shower head could be pulled off as a hand held shower so I could clean my entire body. Staff: I booked this room as a solo and first time cruiser with MSC but got a status match to the gold level. That is what caused an almost disastrous problem. While my status match was being processed, some MSC employee saw my name as a past guest and put that customers voyager number and information on my account. The booking ended up with two people--Jane Doe from the US as a gold member and Jane Doe from Ireland as a silver member. Five phone calls and many hours on the phone later, a supervisor said it was fixed but she couldn't actually remove the Jane Doe from Ireland from my booking. When I checked in at the port, the employee came back with two cards--one silver and one gold. After a lengthy discussion with the supervisor, I was checked in. I got all the way to the gangplank when the security there scanned my card and said "NO", go back to check in. It turned out they checked in the wrong Jane Doe AND COULD NOT FIX IT. I had to board the ship as the wrong person!!!! Later that evening an employee on the ship was finally able to get my correct card and information in the system. Since I never legally boarded the ship, I was worried they would not let me back on at the first port but they did. Calling customer service, my first two calls I was on hold 57 and 53 minutes. One overall problem was lack of communication. For example, I paid for a transfer to take a bus from the ship to the Fort Lauderdale airport. I asked my steward if I would get a ticket or some paperwork and he did not know. I did not receive anything so I stood in line at guest services for 45 minutes until it was finally my turn. The staff member asked what color luggage tag I had--??? I said light blue and he said that meant I had the transfer to the ship. HOW WOULD I POSSIBLY KNOW THAT?? I then asked where to go to find the bus and was told "outside the building". I asked--to the right--to the left?? and no one knew. I followed the signs to the right that said "pre-paid transfers" dragging my 45 pound suitcase and carryon but that was wrong, the bus was to the left. Other random comments: There are no lockers to use in the gym unless you pay for a thermal package so bring something to hold your room card or bring pants with a pocket. There is no TV guide in the room and the active channels are in the 800s--took a while to find them. The bathroom had liquid hand soap which I liked but the shelf storage in the bathroom was less than half of what Carnival ships have and it was not enough room. There was no Kleenex in the bathroom although there was a spot for it. One customer asked and the steward said they were not stocking it but no reason given (cost or they ran out?). Only two very small hot tubs. The pool was salt water and I think it was super salted because you could literally stand still without touching the bottom and float like you had an air vest on--amazing. The smoking area on deck 11 was nice but it needed more room and more chairs. Free gelato every day was one of the best parts of the trip and the french fries were darn good too as an afternoon snack. The internet never worked on deck 11 where I wanted it to work to show people the hurricane updates, it worked off and on in my room on deck 9 and I had to go stand next to the internet computers on deck 5 to get a stable enough connection to check in for my flight. Ports Honduras--If you don't have an excursion, it will take you about 45 minutes to see the few shops that are there. Costa Maya--Moderate number of shops and a nice pool that is free. Cozumel--oodles and oodles of shops in the port and on the street but selling all the same usual stuff. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Choice cruise for a different experience. Ship is old no movie outside! Hardly any entertainment on deck 11 except the last day! Shows were very simple nothing to excite you! Did not see cruise director out on. Deck 11 at all in any ... Read More
Choice cruise for a different experience. Ship is old no movie outside! Hardly any entertainment on deck 11 except the last day! Shows were very simple nothing to excite you! Did not see cruise director out on. Deck 11 at all in any entertainment! The food was anything to be excited about! The surf and turf night. The lobster was very over done and mushy. We had a emergency on board. whistle blew 3-4 times everyone that had a balcony on the even side saw nothing going on then we looked out our doors my floor very little spoke English between time of last whistle horn had to be at least 10 minutes befor a announcement I called front desk because no one on. Our floor was moving, 10 minutes is a lot befor u can get a answer at desk! The desk just said an emergency I asked if we had to go to Munster station! Had to be another 2 minutes befor something had been announced!!!! People we goin up deck 11 to see what was going on! The bathrooms on deck 10 balcony were extremely small with glass door! I had to open door to take shower and rinse off! It’s like a 3-3 closet! Some one who is 6’3 250 man could not move at all in shower! Chef doesn’t know how to make soup the clam chowder was like eating flower water the French onion soup was like eating gel with onions with a lite piece of toast on top! More vegetarian special should be added! Way of excursions complete disorganization! Everyone goes to a room for bus tickets. Get off and no one to direct u by the ship! U walk down long pier. And people get lost! To know where to meet for excursion! The Cozemel excursion for beach had lots of people. Lots were confused because so many people going out at once!list passengers waiting time is to long to get off to faster gun on island! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this ship and our first MSC for the itinerary to Cuba only but as it got cancelled we decided to stay with the offer of onboard credit and make the most of it plus 11 in our party so dates and two nights in Miami made our minds up ... Read More
We chose this ship and our first MSC for the itinerary to Cuba only but as it got cancelled we decided to stay with the offer of onboard credit and make the most of it plus 11 in our party so dates and two nights in Miami made our minds up ! Ship was better than the reviews I had read, yes older but spotless and crew could not be faulted in any way, in fact best crew ever on any ship we have sailed on, friendly knew our names and smiling the whole cruise. Cabin was as expected small but clean, of course we prefer Celebrity but difference in price reflected that. You do get what you pay for in life! Food was adequate, dinner was better in the Pegola restaurant, we had that privilege as my parents were suite passengers, but buffet was quite disappointing with lack of salads etc and very repetitive but Pizza was best at sea, delicious and very Italian. We had the premium drink package but found the cocktails already made up using very sweet syrups but stuck mainly to wine and Grey Goose. If you want to party and love Spanish style music and heavy reggae in the nightclub then this is the ship for you, there were a few different music singers in the bars but in all the ship was very Latin based in the entertainment field which suited us most of the time as we were a party crowd but was very loud so think carefully if you prefer a more peaceful cruise. Done one excursion to the falls in Jamaica, ok but not great organization except our guide in the falls, we done all others ourselves by using local transport and taxis. Would we go with MSC again, yes but a newer ship, also embankment was the quickest ever, walked on very quickly which was a great surprise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Cuba price reductions were very tempting as was “status match”. “Bella Class” reminded me of near-steerage at times, but cabin was close to elevator and main decks were very close. Staff was friendly, but every announcement was ... Read More
Cuba price reductions were very tempting as was “status match”. “Bella Class” reminded me of near-steerage at times, but cabin was close to elevator and main decks were very close. Staff was friendly, but every announcement was made in six additional languages, each longer than the last. Food at buffet was pretty much same as dining room except for appetizers and desserts, in neither case was the delay in eating really worth getting a miniature Baked Alaska or miniature Boston Cream Pie. Cocktails with the Captain (who was absent and ill) consisted of carbonated white wine or non -alcoholic fruit punch, with zero food products. Prizes for trivia etc. were basically less than nominal. “Maveric” was very pleasant. We were told to embark after 4 p.m., but embarked at 2, long after pretty much everyone else. Warning: cabin air conditioning appears erratic at best, off most of the time. Refrigerator in room had seeming the same concept. Whirlpools numbered two, for five persons each. When you wait for an hour for your turn, that does not help much. The Chef was very personable, but staff in the dining room was variable. If a good deal arose (apparently above “Bella” though I do not drink enough for a drink passage to make any sense) I might consider it again, but it is lowest of the four lines we have used at this point, alas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
After sailing with the same group on MSC Magnifica in August 2017, I was looking forward to a similar or better vacation experience - great entertainment, complimentary drinks package, delicious meals, affordable photo package, etc. ... Read More
After sailing with the same group on MSC Magnifica in August 2017, I was looking forward to a similar or better vacation experience - great entertainment, complimentary drinks package, delicious meals, affordable photo package, etc. The embarkation process was effortless and we were ushered to our cabins in quick time. The room was adequate but the bathroom was extremely small. The buffet on Deck 11 offered limited menu choices throughout the entire cruise. The roast chicken was the only memorable meal. The drinks were watered down. Coffee was great! The entertainment at the theatre was satisfactory. The costumes seemed somewhat indistinguishable and monotonous after the third night. At the Business Centre, a movie entitled "The Shack" was continually interrupted with a barrage of announcements in different languages and when the film finally resumed, there was no sound or staff available to assist. The shops did not offer attractive bargains. However, Jason's information on port shopping was very helpful...one of the few highpoints of my trip! The Room Attendant (Bryan) was helpful and friendly. Our cabin was always clean and our daily programs were delivered on time. At the end of the cruise, I cheerfully disembarked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
MSC Armonia had a very good itinerary in regards to Cuba, almost a 36 hour stop, unfortunately due to the US policy change, the itinerary was changed. The ship is showing its age, and it hasn't been kept as well as it should (see ... Read More
MSC Armonia had a very good itinerary in regards to Cuba, almost a 36 hour stop, unfortunately due to the US policy change, the itinerary was changed. The ship is showing its age, and it hasn't been kept as well as it should (see photos below). Food was better than average, ate at the dining room every night with the exception of one. The buffet is a bit limited. Enjoyed the minimal announcements (yes, they're repeated in four/five languages), but it's not as bad considering the minimal amount of announcements. Most of the public areas where clean (except the men's restroom at Bar del Duomo, it smelled like urine 24 hours a day!) Different show every night, and most were appealing, two of the shows needed a little help, they seemed like a high school version of a show. The ship didn't seem crowded, even though it was sold out. Embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze, and lines didn't feel congested. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
To start, I would be consider myself a cruise junkie. I booked this cruise for the Cuban experience. Cuba was what I expected. Something of a visit back in time. Just a caveat, everyone seam to have a different opinion than me. Most ... Read More
To start, I would be consider myself a cruise junkie. I booked this cruise for the Cuban experience. Cuba was what I expected. Something of a visit back in time. Just a caveat, everyone seam to have a different opinion than me. Most travelers I spoke with seem to like Cuba. I didn't like nor dislike Cuba. Cuba was indeed different. I would consider myself someone who appreciate differences in cultures so the fact that it was different in many ways was enough for me to conjure up enough enjoyment to give it a passing grade. Cuba doesn't take the dollar nor do they accept credit cards. It has two types of currencies with two different values. As for the Armonia. I booked room 1106, This is a suite on the 10th deck. The first thing I noticed was if had an an obstructed view which was not advertised when I selected the room. The balcony does not have a functional handle to re open the sliding door once out on the the balcony. My wife had to leave the door partially open so she could get back into the room. I took two excursions. The dune buggy (Roatan, Honduras) tour which advertised "two" to a buggy. At the excursion we were told the excursion was oversold and 4 had to share 1 buggy. I conceded. The next day was a classic car tour "Cuba". The excursion advertise 3 to a car maximum. We were told at the start of the tour 4 had to share a car. The one absolute negative was the experience I had in the bar made so famous by Ernst Hemmingway. It was overcrowded and no regard to fire codes. I spent approximately 5 minutes in the bar and MSC tours kept bringing tourist in. It wasn't safe. I suppose MSC sanction these excursions and wonder if the're aware what their subjecting their passengers to. I didn't confront MSC staff about the issues. I simply relented. Again most the passengers seem to enjoy the overall experience. My enjoy came from the wonderful staff working so hard for my enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This is the 2nd time we sailed MSC. We have sailed many other cruise lines and this was definitely not our favourite. The ship is dated and really needs to be updated. There is a lot of sitting areas which is a plus. The buffet area is ... Read More
This is the 2nd time we sailed MSC. We have sailed many other cruise lines and this was definitely not our favourite. The ship is dated and really needs to be updated. There is a lot of sitting areas which is a plus. The buffet area is very small and not much variety in the selection if meals. The food was not very good there and it was very hard to find seating. The dining room food was much different and the food was very good and always hot. The interior stateroom was very small and the shower was unbelievably small. We had a great chambermaid and did an awesome job. I find the ship is geared toward European travelers and I believe that this will have to change if they want to become popular with the Americans and Canadians. It was very annoying to have things said in so many languages. I have been on board other cruise lines that don’t do this. We did not do any excursions so I cannot comment on these. The pool area is very large. This is a plus as many of the newer ships are getting smaller pool areas. All in all it was a very relaxing cruise but there are many things that can be improved. I hope that with the newer MSC ships, there are improvements. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Calling on Havana Cuba was a plus. Ship personnel did a very good job explaining what to expect from Cuba's government authorities when ship arrived in Havana. MSC must concentrate on improving quality of buffet offerings plus ... Read More
Calling on Havana Cuba was a plus. Ship personnel did a very good job explaining what to expect from Cuba's government authorities when ship arrived in Havana. MSC must concentrate on improving quality of buffet offerings plus dinner menu items. Quantity without quality will not cut it. MSC can turn an average cruise into awesome by focusing on improving the meals. I give the ship high marks for having a wide choice of activities throughout the day. Entertainment was fair because there was no special entertainment such as a comedian, magician or a person or group with exceptional musical talent. Cabin was clean with comfortable bedding. Generous storage space. I have nothing but praise for the wait staff, guest relations and bar service in public lounges. Many public places to hang out. Writers of reviews must have eaten some extremely sour grapes. I have taken forty five cruises using at least eight cruise ship companies and while MSC does not a five or six star rating I will consider a MSC cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our family's first cruise. We chose MSC due to the itinerary. The sailing dates matched nearly perfect with our high school kids spring break, and we were going to be able to visit one of our bucket list destinations, ... Read More
This was our family's first cruise. We chose MSC due to the itinerary. The sailing dates matched nearly perfect with our high school kids spring break, and we were going to be able to visit one of our bucket list destinations, Havana, Cuba. Arriving in Miami around 1:00 pm, embarkation began for us immediately. The bag drop service was very simple and quick. Entering the terminal, things were very organized, signs and employees directing you, answering questions, and providing general help. We entered the long line, but it moved very quickly, about 20 minutes until we were at a window checking in for our week. Prior to stepping on the ship, we pass through security, and our kids cards were mixed up. The security officer told us that we needed to go to guest services on the ship and have new cards printed (he kept their cards). Once onboard, we were a bit confused as where to go, but after a quick question to one of the eager crew members, we were directed to guest services and the problem was solved. Once we found our cabins and unpacked, we decided to explore the ship. We had read that this ship is MSC's oldest in their fleet. We have nothing to compare it to, but the only thing that looked as though needed some updating was the carpeting. The ship is not a "mega-ship" which we were excited about, as we didn't want to be onboard with 5000+ people. this ship was only approximately 2000 guests and 600 crew we were told. The ship to us seemed to be a “no-frills” ship. There were several bars, a small casino, two small pools, a splash pad for little kids, a basketball court, and a mini golf course. If you’re looking for water slides, rock climbing walls, etc, this is not the ship for you. The ship was always kept clean. I was amazed at the fact there was never any garbage lying around. However, it seemed as though there were no garbage cans for public use anywhere except the restrooms. When you had something to throw away, you needed to either carry it with you to the restroom, or drop it off at either a bus station in the restaurants or bar. The poolside bars were convenient to grab a drink, but they were extremely slow. I did not see any bar staff taking drink orders and bringing drinks to you on the sundecks. Many times we waited longer than 7 minutes for a drink. Unless you were ordering an unmixed drink (vodka on the rocks for example), the drinks had a very light pour. We did not purchase a drink package, but we did book the “Fantastica” and were given a book of drink tickets (12). After the tickets were gone, we used our cruise card to purchase the drinks. We saved about $160 for our cabin and another $400 for our children’s cabin. The casino bar had much faster service. The Bar del Duomo was fun as well, as a lot of different parties and activities were centered here. Again, bar service was slow, even if the bar was nearly empty. I fully understand that the typical “frozen drink” takes time to make, but a 6-7 minute wait time for a vodka/soda is a bit absurd. We did not drink in the Bacardi Rum bar. We did not drink in the Coffee Bar with the exception of one cup of regular coffee. The shows in the Teatro La Fenice were good. The shows were a variety of different shows, singing and dancing, acrobatic, comedy, audience participation. Each night had multiple showings at least 2, sometimes a third different show later to accomodate all who wanted to see a show. Food: We had read many reviews prior to cruising that the food was mediocre at best. I disagree. For us, living in Chicago, it is difficult to travel and get the same quality of food that is available for us in the restaurants here, so we do not expect much when we travel. Additionally, my wife has dietary restrictions (gluten free) that need to be maintained. Pizza Bar: My kids and I all thought this was good. They serve pizza from immediately after the breakfast hours until approximately 1:00 am. They serve a variety of thin crust (NY Style) pizza that are good. The one exception that I experienced was the pizza with cut up hot dogs on it that they attempted to pass as a “sausage pizza”. For breakfast hours pizza bar served forms of a breakfast pizza (did not try), pancakes, waffles, donuts. Burger Bar: Again, my kids and I thought this was great. Same hours as the pizza bar. Burgers, Cheese Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches, fries, and all the toppings all day long. For breakfast hours, burger bar served made to order omelets. Buffet: The buffet seemed to always be open. Two sides to it, during breakfast and lunch both sides open. During dinner, only one side was open to serve. Many options for all meals. Lots of fresh breads, salads, sliced meats, hot choices, a carving station. We all found food to enjoy at the buffet. Desserts were also very good here. Marco Polo Dining Room: We ate here all nights except one. Two seatings, we chose the 2nd seating (8:30 pm, local time whatever time zone you’re in for the day). Food here was mostly good. The wait staff were slow to start the cruise, but it did improve. Our table seemed to be slow, and we found out later it was because one person was new, and didn’t know the routine yet, and they were also short staffed by a body for that area as well. The wait staff were able to allow my wife to choose her meals for the next night the day before so the chef could ensure they were gluten free. The menu had choices which were on it each night, in addition to items specific for the theme of the night. Portion sizes were very appropriate. Be prepared when ordering to order your appetizer, entree, and dessert all at the same time. The crew members of Armonia are all or at least appear to be extremely happy, ALL the time. The energy level of the entertainment crew is unmatched by anything I’ve ever seen. The long hours they work, and the energy they bring to the parties, shows, and general attitude of the ship is truly amazing. Excursions. Since this was our first cruise, we decided to book all excursions through MSC. After cruising once, I would rethink that. Each excursion in each port had a meeting time and place where the crew members would organize the groups and get you to your ground transportation. Relatively simple process, but did seem to run slow. In Roatan, the ship provided a tender boat service, so that took a bit longer since people were being taken off the ship only about 120/boat. In Roatan, Honduras, we opted for the BFK Beach and Lunch. This was to include a 30 minute bus ride to a boat, where we’d be on the boat 5 minutes. The bus ride turned into over an hour long ride due to road construction. At one point, i observed our tour guide give the bus driver some money, and all of a sudden the driver was making a much better effort to move us forward. Once we got to Big French Kay, lunch was served which was very good, and we enjoyed the beach experience. The long bus ride gave us limited time at the beach (only about 2 hours instead of 3 as advertised) before it was time to get back on the boat. The bus ride back to the ship was much quicker, only about 30 min as the road construction had stopped for the day. Costa Maya, Mexico we opted for the Mayan Ruins at Chacchoben. This tour was a full motor coach bus with wifi and air conditioning. The hour long bus ride, followed by a 2 hour tour of the ruins, and then a hour long bus back to the ship was just too long for our family. We felt that we could have rented a cab for the drive, walked the grounds for 30 min, and then driven back in the cab again, and saved ourselves 90 minutes. The pyramids are interesting, and big, but the time to value ratio just wasn’t worth it in our opinion. Back near the ship, Costa Maya is full of tourist type shops and restaurants. We overpaid for a lunch (about $100 for for of us with NO drinks at all). We were told by other cruisers that they took a cab to town, at lunch and ordered a bucket of 10 beers for $65. Rookie cruiser mistake here. We would have gladly forgone this stop for extra time later in Havana. Cozumel, Mexico we decided on the “National Geographic Snorkel”. We had heard the waters near Cozumel were great for snorkeling, so that’s what we decided on. At first glance, the boat was certainly nothing fancy. I was expecting a larger catarman, but ended up with an older “pirate style” boat. On board, the crew were very nice. Equipment was provided and instruction given on how to use the equipment. The excursion included three stops to dive in, as well as drinks after we were done. While the water was extremely clear and warm, the snorkeling was average at best. Havana, Cuba was our family’s favorite stop (and I am guessing the rest of the ship as well). Day one in Havana, we opted for the Hemingway tour. This was disappointing as the Cuban government and American governments were not allowing Americans at the Hemingway house. We were able to see the rest of the tour though, included to bar stops with drinks included, and a bit of a walking tour. Our tour guide was great and gave a lot of information about Cuba and it’s history. Day two we opted for the Classic American Car tour. This tour was a bit misleading. We thought we would be in a car, with a driver touring around Havana for 3.5 hours. In reality, we were in a car (all 4 of us, plus a driver), and part of a smaller group of cars. In one of the other cars was an English speaking tour guide. We made 4 stops along the tour, where we would get out of the cars and walk a bit. The guide had great information, but we would have preferred driving a bit more to different sites. If we did it again, we would have not booked through the ship, found a vintage car we liked, negotiated a price (usually between $20-30 per person per hour), and gone on our own. We would have wanted an English speaking driver though. Havana seemed to be a very beautiful, safe and friendly city. There is however, a lot of garbage around the city. We would definitely go back. As our tour guide said on day one, “In Cuba, you will see poverty, but you will not see misery.” Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise for two reasons...we have cruised a lot but we had not been to Havana (or any place in Cuba). We saw an add in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which offered an inside cabin on this sailing for a really inexpensive ... Read More
We chose this cruise for two reasons...we have cruised a lot but we had not been to Havana (or any place in Cuba). We saw an add in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, which offered an inside cabin on this sailing for a really inexpensive price. We decided to give it a shot! We had a really small inside cabin (with a TINY shower), but it had tons of storage and the cabin steward was great! We found the service in the dining room, and the food in general, to be just okay, (how can a Mediterranean cruise line NOT know how to make great pasta!!!) with some notable exceptions...the gelato and desserts were wonderful. The Grill (burgers, etc.) was good. The Surf and Turf Restaurant was outstanding! The final gala evening also was, finally, a very good meal. Also the Caffe Lounge was wonderful. The cruise director was charming and enjoyable. The entertainment staff was also fun and engaging. The entertainment was good and was different each evening. The front office staff was pleasant and helpful. And we found their shore excursions to be well run, interesting, and moderate in price. All of the trips that we chose were smaller groups...15 to 20 people, at the most, which made for a more enjoyable excursion. The guides were interesting and informative. The ship had matched our 4 Star Mariner status with their vacation club, giving us a top tier "Black" membership level. They gave us champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, invitations to 2 cocktail events, 2 chocolate ship replicas, and other gifts. In addition, we got priority tendering and disembarkation. All of this was an unexpected pleasure and made the trip nicer. Finally, the "Meet and Mingle" that the ship organized for our Cruise Critic group was delightful....the nicest we have ever attended! It was held in the Red Lounge/Rum Bar on the morning of our first sea day. We were greeted by the head of the hotel department and several other officers. The lounge was set up with clusters of padded chairs surrounding cocktail tables. Each table was set with a martini glass filled with chocolate covered strawberries and surrounded by fancy little canapes. Servers circled the room with champagne, mimosas, bloody Marys, and non-alcoholic drinks. A fancy cake was served, photographs were taken, music was playing...all in all, a very nice event! To sum up, we had a great time in spite of the ways in which we found some areas of the ship wanting. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
MSC in General: We received horrible customer service when booking our cruise, and then within 3 weeks of our sail date they added $27 to our balance (after our total balance had already been paid 5 months prior). We got a letter stating ... Read More
MSC in General: We received horrible customer service when booking our cruise, and then within 3 weeks of our sail date they added $27 to our balance (after our total balance had already been paid 5 months prior). We got a letter stating that if we didn't pay the remaining $27 within 48 hours they were going to cancel our cruise. I spent the next 2 days trying to get a supervisor on the phone, but it never happened. Finally, on the second day, the charge magically disappeared and everything was fine again. Ship: The ship is older and smaller, but a smaller ship is necessary to get into Cuba. It is clean, but does not offer many options. They recently added a specialty restaurant (they previously did not have any), so there is now another option for dinner other than the main restaurant and buffet. Cabin: The cabin was not ready when we were told it would be, so we waited. An hour later we went back and the bed was made, but there were no pillow covers on the pillows. I had to hunt someone down to get them. After that it was kept clean and made up every day. Dining: The food was just ok. There was nothing spectacular except for the Surf & Turf Restaurant. It was fabulous. I eat my steaks well done, which can often leave them a little tough sometimes. My filet could have been cut with a fork. It was cooked perfectly and very flavorful. The buffet was also just ok, but most of them are. The room service breakfast was cold. Not just room temperature, but cold, including the eggs, bacon, and waffles. Don't go on this cruise for the food unless you plan on paying extra for the Surf & Turf Restaurant every night. Entertainment & Activities: Because it is a smaller ship, the activities are limited. The white party was fun, but other than that it was hit or miss. The shows were awkward and cheesy, but this isn't the only cruise ship we've been on where that was the case. Service: We had exceptional service on the ship, other than the initial pillow case incident in our stateroom. We had to deal with the excursions office several times, and they were wonderful each time. I thought that they would get sick of us for sure, but each time they were happy to accommodate us. Our waiter was fabulous, and the entire staff was friendly. Ports and Shore Excursions: We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Cuba, but we were also looking forward to Mexico, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman. The port for Jamaica was changed at some point from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios. No one told us. It turned out to be okay and they booked us on a great replacement excursion, but we had no idea. It would have been nice to know ahead of time. We didn't make it to Grand Cayman because the seas were too rough to run the tenders. The decision was made for the safety of the passengers (which I truly appreciate), but it would have been nice to go. Because we skipped Grand Cayman, we arrived in Mexico early, which was nice. We had the chance to do some shopping before our excursion and had a great time. Cuba was amazing! We were there for 2 days - Saturday and Sunday - and we had no problem getting into restaurants, bars, or the market either day. We had read some other reviews about long lines and wait times for getting off the boat, but we followed the directions of the excursion staff and we were off the boat, had our visas, and were through customs in less than 30 minutes. Overall: MSC customer service is not great. The cabin was standard, but the service on board was good. The food leaves a little to be desired and the entertainment and activities could be better with more variety. The ports were the main attraction, and Cuba made it worth it. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Cruise was better than I thought. Boat and cabins were spotless.Took cruise because of Havana. Dining room food was okay. Buffet was good. Pizza was outstanding. Service in dining room was not good but staff tried their best and ... Read More
Cruise was better than I thought. Boat and cabins were spotless.Took cruise because of Havana. Dining room food was okay. Buffet was good. Pizza was outstanding. Service in dining room was not good but staff tried their best and were very friendly. Always found seating around buffet. Make sure to check out the rear of the ship as there are some lovely dining and relaxing spots. Also found lounge chairs around the pool or upper deck. Had a old mini golf course and shuffleboard. Did not go in the casino but it looked nice. First 2 shows were very good. Dancers were fantastic. Only went to 3 shows. Negative- MSC guest service agents were telling guests they had to book an excursion to get off ship in Havana, which you don't. No one stops you, just need to have your passport and ship card with you. You will go through customs and security in Cuba. It's up to you to make sure you fulfill one of the requirements to visit Cuba Embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
My wife and I returned yesterday from a 7 night cruise on the MSC Armonia to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Havana, Cuba. We booked the cruise solely because of the visit to Cuba. Our experience with MSC began at embarkation. I ... Read More
My wife and I returned yesterday from a 7 night cruise on the MSC Armonia to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Havana, Cuba. We booked the cruise solely because of the visit to Cuba. Our experience with MSC began at embarkation. I had received information in the pre-cruise packet sent to me electronically by MSC that our assigned embarkation time was 4:15. Having taken more than 20 cruises in the past, I knew that it would likely be possible for us to embark earlier than our assigned time, but I decided to follow the instructions I had been given and arrive at the assigned time. When we arrived at 4:00, there was nobody to be seen in the passenger loading zone. Nobody! I dropped my wife off with the luggage and drove to the parking garage. When I returned, I managed to get our two suitcases up the ramp to the check-in desk. As I did so, I passed numerous MSC employees, and not one of them offered to assist us. Some of them even appeared to walk away as they saw us approaching. When I got to the desk, I showed the agent my printed information showing that our assigned embarkation time was 4:15, however, the only response I received was "Sorry sir. Everyone has gone on board. I explained that I am a cardiac patient having had two triple bypass surgeries in the past 13 years and requested assistance with the luggage. I was told that there was nobody to assist me and that I could "go slowly onto the ship." Twenty minutes after we boarded the ship, the Captain announced that the safety drill would commence and that sailing would occur immediately after that. Once the ship was underway, I went to Guest Services to discuss the issue I had with the embarkation process. All I received for a response was that I must have misunderstood the information sent to me. When I showed the agent there the printed copy of what I had received, his response was to shrug and tell me that he did not know what to say. The Armonia is MSC's smallest ship. It is relatively well appointed and generally clean. Getting around on the ship is simple enough. I will attempt to outline some of the most notable aspects of the ship which affected our cruise experience. The room stewards did not approach us upon embarkation and introduce themselves as we have become accustomed to having happen on cruises we have taken. In, fact, we did not even learn who our steward was until the second day of the cruise when we happened upon him in the hallway. His English skills were very limited, and communication with him was virtually impossible. He did do a satisfactory job of keeping the room clean throughout the cruise. The room was about average size for a cruiseline. The bed was very comfortable, and there were several movie channels playing for down times (and there was a lot of that). The shower, however, was another matter. It was incredibly small. My wife and I are not large people, but there was no room to even turn around in the shower without going out of the shower area. I cannot imagine how anyone of any height or size could manipulate that tiny area. The food on the Armonia was unremarkable in any aspect. The dining room food was of good quality generally speaking, but there was nothing about it that would cause one to say, "Wow!" Our server, however, was, without question, the most efficient and capable server we have experienced on a cruise to date. His name was Islambahd, and he came from India. I would recommend him without reservation. The buffet on Deck 11 was like a feeding trough. Food selections were poor, and the quality was not up to standard. We went there for one breakfast and did not return. The general demeanor of ship employees was sullen. When asked a question, it was not unusual for them to stare blankly at the person asking that question, and a response might or might not be received. I did appear that many of the ship staff were lacking in English skills. Theater shows were, again, not up to standards which we have viewed on other ships on which we have cruised. Several of the singers had such heavy accents that their words were unintelligible when they sang songs which were somewhat recognizable as English songs. Virtually everyone with whom my wife and I had conversation took this cruise due to the two day stop in Havana, Cuba. The excursions offered by the cruise line were enjoyable, however, they could have been booked much less expensively through an independent contractor. However, MSC had, in its cruise information stated that excursions must be booked through the ship due to agreements between the Cuban and US governments. We can say, however, that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Havana. Finally, I should mention the casino. I enjoy gambling and often do so on cruise ships as our state prohibits any kind of casino activities. The Armonia's casino is tiny, a bit larger than the room showers, but only barely. There were four card tables, one roulette table, about 100 slot machines, and no craps tables. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We mostly pick our cruises based on itinerary and value. Armonia offered an overnight stay in Havanna Cuba which was attractive to us. We found the price to be a good value for budget conscious cruisers like us. both embarkation and ... Read More
We mostly pick our cruises based on itinerary and value. Armonia offered an overnight stay in Havanna Cuba which was attractive to us. We found the price to be a good value for budget conscious cruisers like us. both embarkation and disembarkation were among the fastest of any ship we have ever sailed. No cue at all and the shore staff were pleasant, helpful and friendly. Rating A+ The Armonia is a well maintained and clean vessel, Rating A The loyalty ambassador and staff captains were great A+ We could not get the shore excursion(s) we wanted but the staff was friendly B+ The dining experience did not meet our expectations (neither the food or service) The wait team we had did not seem to be on the same page, wrong dishes were delivered to our table, and many times the food was cold, or dry and needed sauces or condiments to compliment the dish, for example the baked potato was served without sour cream, the prime rib without jus or horseradish, the pasta sometimes had little or no sauce at all. I hope this is just an adjustment period to the "Western Market" but I can't imagine many cultures that eat spaghetti with no sauce? The buffet was mediocre. If some of these details are addressed I would definitely want to sail this ship regularly. Rating C- Entertainers (ships singers, dancers, acrobats) were very talented but the variety of shows seemed limited not by talent but by imagination. Rating A Where the Armonia shined was with the activities staff, amazing energy and enthusiasm, they really brought the fun to the cruise. Rating A+ Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
The overnight stay in Havana was why I chose this trip. The itinerary was good for a seven day cruise. MSC is a low cost cruise line that I have never sailed on before. This was my 24th cruise. You should not expect great food or ... Read More
The overnight stay in Havana was why I chose this trip. The itinerary was good for a seven day cruise. MSC is a low cost cruise line that I have never sailed on before. This was my 24th cruise. You should not expect great food or entertainment. The ship although older, is in great repair, it is very clean throughout. There was no rust found anywhere on this ship. It is very well kept. The balcony stateroom 9097 was the smallest room in our cruising experience. Yes the bathroom is tighter than most. Electrical outlets (two) are inadequate for todays cruiser. The phone system does not allow messages be sent to other guest rooms. WIFI is very slow and not always easy to connect to. In port in Cozumel on my balcony I had one bar showing with a poor signal while I saw four bars and a strong signal from the NCL ship docked next to us. Announcements are made in five languages and one tour in Jamaica an English speaking island did the tour mainly in French. The ship and its food and music seems to favor non Americans. Most music was with Latin beat. The food was adequate but tasteless. Nothing seemed to be seasoned except with salt. The LaBrassiere dining layout is not well layed out. If you get toast, there is no butter or jellies in the vicinity. Staff was lacking to clear and clean tables and there was no one providing refills on juice or coffee.The Pizza that some rave about must never had really good pizza as the sauce was tasteless and always slightly undercooked. Dining room staff were slow and unengaging. They never introduced themselves and did offer any dining suggestions. On board customer service was the worst we have experienced. Our embarkation information told us not to board until 4:15PM. Thought this was odd but followed the instruction. Arriving at the terminal found it mostly empty and no one to take our luggage. We had to bring it onboard ourselves and found that the ship had been available for boarding since 11:30AM. Effectively we lost lour first day. After waiting 45 minutes in line at customer service I was told it was not MSC's issue but Expedia that provided incorrect information. They said the look into igt as we were the fourth guest to mention the incorrect boarding info. After two days of waitng we received no compensation for our lost day Our excursion to Negril which I booked with MSC on 12/21 was to include Rick's Cafe to see cliff diving as well as the beach at Margaritaville. It was to be a five hour excursion. When our tickets were received we were advised there was an itinerary change but no explanation as to what it was. Taking the letter to the excursion desk and waiting 35 minutes resulted in the first agent after showing him the letter unable to tell us what the change was. This prompted him to ask a supervisor that said we must have booked this a long time ago (three weeks) and the had dropped Ricks as there was not wnough time. When I asked for a reduction in price was told there were no refunds given and we could only rebook a different tour which we had no interest in. They changed the intinerary without notice but were not willing to offer a refund. Very poor customer service. To top it off we went on the tour leaving the port at 1:15PM but after getting into downtown Montego Bay we returned to the ship to pick up five additional passengers that missed the bus. By the tiome they boarded it 1:55PM and then an 80 minute ride to Negril. Since there were more French speking people on the bus despite being on an English speaking island the bulk of the tour was offered in French. We arrived at Negril at 3:15PM and were told to be on the bus by 4:20PM. Stragglers did not finally board until 4:35PM. We then drove a quarter mile and stopped for thirty minutes at a liquor store for people to sample and buy Jamaican rum. We did not return to the ship until 6:20PM. Without a rum stop and returning to the port to pick up tardy passengers ther was clearly more than enough time to go to Rick's Cafe. I never signed up for a stop at a liquor store and have had tour go back to pickup late passengers. The next day the Excursion desk did not even offer an apology. Not a recommended tour! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I choose the Armonia for two reasons. The first was the stop in Cuba. The second because I've sailed the MSC Seaside numerous times and was so impressed with MSC at that point. The Armonia was an older refurbished vessel and it ... Read More
I choose the Armonia for two reasons. The first was the stop in Cuba. The second because I've sailed the MSC Seaside numerous times and was so impressed with MSC at that point. The Armonia was an older refurbished vessel and it was very clean and well laid out. I enjoyed the smaller size but can only rate the café as average. They really needed more variety for those who dine there exclusively. As a single traveler, I seldom utilize the dinning rooms. So, I can NOT provide an opinion on them. The evening theater entertainment was well performed but sadly very repetitive. There were six professional dancers and four singers. That was it for the six days performances. They did different venues but only those ten performers. The really need different varieties of entertainment in the theater. For those who like to spend some time in the gym, the exercise machines provided no distractions such as TV broadcasts or videos on the machines. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was my 7th Cruise. I have previously cruised 3 times with Carnival, twice with Norwegian, and once with Holland America. I selected MSC based on price and itinerary. I wanted to visit Havana, and MSC offered a great price and ... Read More
This was my 7th Cruise. I have previously cruised 3 times with Carnival, twice with Norwegian, and once with Holland America. I selected MSC based on price and itinerary. I wanted to visit Havana, and MSC offered a great price and itinerary out of Miami. The overall quality of the cabin, service, and food was not significantly different from my previous experience with other Cruise lines. Let me be perfectly clear here...I would NOT purposely choose MSC for quality of food and service, nor would I reject MSC for food and service quality. In my opinion they are the same as Carnival, Holland America, and Norwegian. What did MSC do that stood out to me as better? The embarkation process was fast and organized. What stood out as noticeably poor to me? The evening dining room service, food quality, and food portion made the buffet a better option. If evening dining experience is key to your cruising value proposition, you may want to look elsewhere. If you want great port calls and a good price out of Miami, check out MSC. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because of the amazing itinerary (Jamaica,Grand Cayman,Mexico and Cuba out of Miami) and the price was fairly good. We were a family of four although our "children" are adults. We sailed with the fantastica ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the amazing itinerary (Jamaica,Grand Cayman,Mexico and Cuba out of Miami) and the price was fairly good. We were a family of four although our "children" are adults. We sailed with the fantastica experience in a ocean view cabin that included 12 drink coupons. This cruise left on New Years eve and was pretty full, so we knew right away that there would be a lot of people on a fairly small ship. That being said, the only time we really felt the overcrowding was in the buffet, where it was difficult to find a seat and in the ports, where the excursions would take upwards of an hour or two to get off the ship and actually onto a bus. We had never sailed MSC but we have cruised 15 times on 6 other lines so we were confident that we could traverse this cruise line as well. There were both things that we enjoyed and things we didn't and I will share with you our experience. Embarkation: Although they asked us to embark at 4:10pm, we chose to arrive at the port at 1:00 pm. We chose a very popular time and waited about an hour to get on the ship. As we were entering the ship, the people showing up at 2:00 really didn't have a line at all, so next time I will show up a little later. Cabin: We had two outside cabins on deck 9. They were very typical of any other cabin. They were neither better or worse then any other outdoor cabins we have ever had.Unfortunately our cabin steward wasn't great. We waited until 6 the first evening for him to finish. Sometimes we got a daily planner and sometimes we didn't. In Jamaica we were supposed to get a supplement in our cabin for the shuttle but it never came. These little things made little difference in our cruise but left a bad taste for the steward crew. Dining: We dined in the dining room as well as the buffet, pizza place, and the grill. The dining room was great. The service was the best we had ever experienced. I enjoyed the food, and always found something good to eat. The buffet was fair, the food wasn't great but typical buffet foods served in large crock pots. The worst part of the buffet was the seating. It is difficult to find a seat indoors. The pizza and gelatto (Free) were great but the grill was not good at all. The hamburgers tasted like the kind you used to get in the school cafeteria. The service at all of the food places was good. Bars: All of the bars were good. The busiest bars are the two on the pool deck. It may take some time to get a drink there. Luckily there are plenty of bars so it wasn't an issue to go downstairs. We liked the Pub ,for a shanty and some food, the best. The drink coupons were super easy to use. Simply hand the waiter your cruise card and coupon and they deliver back a receipt and your drink. There is no place on the receipt to add a tip and I don't remember having to even sign it. Entertainment: The entertainment on this ship could use some help. The boy band they brought on were excellent and the performers on the ship are good, the shows seem to be almost identical with different themes like "Paris" or "Under the Sea". There will be some singing, dancing and some feats of strength then you will see it again the next night. Excursions: We took 5 excursions on this trip so it was excursion heavy due to the Cuba visit. This area needs help! They are so disorganized. I honestly don't think I was on one excursion that had the same bus number on my sticker/ticket that was on my actual bus! It was crazy. You sit in the theater for anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half, then they call 6 or 7 numbers, Hundreds of people get up and try to shove their way to the front. We were on one excursion and we were the only 4 on the excursion. It was a nightmare. Only one employee knew where we were supposed to be. Unfortunately it wasn't the lady in charge so she kept telling us we were in the wrong place. She would send us to a location where we would be told to go back to the first location where she would promptly tell us we were wrong. We finally ended up going on our own and someone later told us to go on their tour and they would take us to the location. This was the worst part of our trip. Disembarkation: This was the easiest disembarkation we have ever had. It was easy and organized, well done! So while I loved some aspects of this cruise like the captain, who was by far the most personable captain we have ever met and the cruise director who deals with all of the craziness with style and grace,the service in the dining room and most of the food, there were also parts that were really not good like the execution of the excursions and the difficulty finding a table at the buffet. Be prepared for announcements in 6 different languages and rarely sitting by someone who speaks English.MSC is breaking into the US market in a big way over the next few years with the addition of several ships and I believe they can be successful, but if they want to tap this market, they will need to tweak a few things. I would sail with them again if the itinerary was good and the price was right again, but honestly I would look at another line first. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our Christmas cruise started on Christmas eve with Christmas day at sea. The entertainment team really went the extra mile with the Christmas spirit. The theater had a Christmas show that was a full stage production with fantastic ... Read More
Our Christmas cruise started on Christmas eve with Christmas day at sea. The entertainment team really went the extra mile with the Christmas spirit. The theater had a Christmas show that was a full stage production with fantastic acrobats...it's amazing what they can do on a rocky ship! The white party had a foam machine that made it seemed like it was snowing at 85 in the Caribbean! Christmas spirit was decorated throughout the ship, include the ginger bread village created by the pastry team! The food on the ship was better than other ships I've sailed, although there was only 3 dining options (the main dining room, a surf & turf, and the buffet). The hours for dining started early and lasted late into the night (always a pizza or burger available). I was mixed on the ship overall. I thought the pool area and bar areas throughout the ship were very relaxing and not overly crowded, and the entertainment crew was always throwing fantastic parties. The room itself was very disappointing as it wasn't clean and was the smallest room I've had at seas by far! The ports were great (Montego Bay, which we were diverted to Ocho Rios, Cayman, Cozumel and Havana overnight). As much as MSC tries to threaten you, you don't need to book an excursion with them. As of 2018, U.S. citizens need to qualify for one of 12 categories. The cruise ship offers a people to people category, same as what a third party excursion company would offer. There are other categories (i.e., family, journalist, etc.) so it's worth doing a little research to know the laws. You can exchange cash at the currency booth at the port terminal. They were open when we left mid-afternoon, so it was easy to convert back to your currency. The port in Havana let out into San Francisco Plaza. The biggest setback on MSC was the service. It started as soon as we booked. The online system kept crashing and the login wouldn't register us. We eventually purchased a couple of excursions through MSC, but we couldn't view online and they only sent a receipt for one. We contacted MSC customer service 3 times (one agent was flat out rude, another didn't know what they were talking about, and the other just lied to say that we needed to contact our travel agent to obtain). Embarkation was good. We didn't see the cabin stew until the next day (they are always in the hall when you first arrive). Bar service was dreadfully slow as they didn't have enough bar tenders. One bar we had to order 3 drinks (no ginger beer for a mule on their menu, no curacao for the drink of the day, and the best...neither jack nor diet for a jack and diet...they ran out day 2). We were told by MSC multiple ways that we had MyChoice dining, which the crew wouldn't honor and gave us some bs response with the paperwork that we evidenced, they just flat out lied to us (and we just gave in to avoid ruining the moment). There were soooo many rules throughout the ship (the best was the hot tub where they time you and kick you out after 15 minutes). Many people we ran into shared similar experiences. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Day 1 - Embarking Miami; smoothest embarkation ever.NO lines at any point during the process. Our stated boarding time was 4:00-5:00, but we showed up at 2:30 and went right through. I had wine in a tetrapak in my checked luggage, which ... Read More
Day 1 - Embarking Miami; smoothest embarkation ever.NO lines at any point during the process. Our stated boarding time was 4:00-5:00, but we showed up at 2:30 and went right through. I had wine in a tetrapak in my checked luggage, which was not confiscated. We wandered through the ship to get comfortable with the layout. We walked through the spa and gym ( no tours or specials offered), walked up to the day pass sun deck (nothing special) and went past the specialty restaurant, which was not open for viewing. Lunch was being served in the buffet and the grill and pizza station were both active. The luggage showed up at our room at 6:15, so we quickly changed and went to dinner in the dining room. Our Fantasia package drink tickets were delivered to the room - I wish the credit was on our room card instead; it wasn't very convenient dragging the coupon book around for the week. Dinner was "fine". No one came by to take orders for drinks/wine. The food was unremarkable for the most part. Portions are fairly small, which I appreciated as I like to order several courses and don't care to overeat. The "snickers cake" was pretty awful. It didn't have much flavor and the filling (which was caramel, I suppose) was extremely gritty and full of undissolved sugar. The apple tart was weirdly served with pistachio gelato, and that gelato was the highlight of the dinner! We went looking for the gelato station afterwards, but it closed at 7:00 p.m. (Gelato is now free; I understand there used to be a surcharge). Day 2 - Sea Day; We had breakfast in the buffet at 8:30 and it was quite full. No dishes seemed to be highlighted as daily specials (and in fact, breakfast did not really change throughout the week). Items that are more typically European breakfast fare (sliced meats, cheeses, veggies) were offered in addition to American standards. Baked beans seemed to be the only the only British breakfast item. During breakfast hours, the pizza station served breakfast baked items such as waffles, pancakes, doughnuts, and breakfast pizza (both sweet and savory). After breakfast we attended the Cruise Critic meet and greet, held in a midship bar, which was roped off. There were only 10 of us, and we were each given our own banquette, each table attractively set with canapes and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Waitstaff circulated with fruit juice, sparking wine, mimosas, and bloody Marys. Senior staff circulated and we had several pleasant conversations with them. We learned that fast-growing MSC (adding 2 new ships every year!) is breaking into the American cruise market and recognizes Cruise Critic as influential. A special Cruise Critic cake had been decorated, and group pictures were taken (we received a copy later in our stateroom). Disappointingly, the special cake was the same Snickers cake from the evening before, with the same, terrible gritty filling. In the morning, we had left a note that the safe didn't lock and tht the bathroom sink sprayed water all over, and by the time we returned to the room from the meet n greet, both had been repaired. We literally never saw the cabin steward the entire week of the cruise, but the room was always clean and well cared for. I spent the next several hours working on a research project and found a great space to work in the deck 12 disco lounge, which seemed to be only used at night. It was completely empty and offered lovely panoramic views from the rear of the ship. I had checked out the library, but it was just a nook in one of the bars, not even separated by a door. There were very few books but there were plenty of games, and every time we passed by the area through the week, games were out and being played. We had a fairly decent lunch in the dining room. Service was quite slow, but we weren't in a hurry. Sadly, they had run out of pistachio gelato in the dining room (which we all had ordered, based on our fond memories of the night before). That evening, we saw the French Follies show, which proved to be nominally French. It seemed as if they took stock of their performers' skills and tried to find a "French" way of showcasing their specialties. You are supposed to reserve spaces for the shows (although this was never checked), using a fairly intuitive interactive board. It would have been nice to have more information on the content of the shows. One was titled "The Greatest", which turned out to be Broadway tunes, but how was one to know? Day 3 - Montego Bay; We arrived early and we allowed to disembark early as well. There is a free shuttle from the dock to outside port, from where you can grab a taxi or shared van to town. MSC offered a shuttle to town for $20 a head, also from the dock. Inside the port there were two lines, one for each shuttle option and it was confusing to figure out which line we needed. We chose the free shuttle, and there was a stream of taxis and shared vans waiting to whisk us to the Hip Strip for $7 each. Locals were fairly pleasant but often approached tourists with an offer of something to sell and could be a bait aggressive. We were not impressed with the Hip Strip, and elected to pass a few pleasant hours at Doc's Beach. Despite the early arrival, our time in port seemed short. For dinner that night, I had the seafood trio, which included grilled lobster, one very large whole shrimp, and a piece of fish. All of it was somewhat overcooked, as was the shrimp cocktail. After dinner, we watched the show (the aforementioned The Greatest). It wasn't very good - performances were fine, but the show was very choppy, with no continuity and no storyline. The pacing seemed to presume that the audience had ADHD as it whirled from song to song, spending less than a version on any one song and sometimes less than one line. A grant total of two measures of music were devoted to Jesus Christ Superstar, for example. Other oddities included an arrangement that also forced songs into odd keys, and the umbrella props for Singin' in the Rain were also unaccountably used when the song became a number from West Side Story. Day 4 - Grand Cayman; This was the only port where we needed tenders to reach the shore. And it did take a while. You had to get a number, wait for the number to be called, then join another queue to the tenders and wait again. There were 6 other cruise ships in Grand Cayman, which proved to be a quaint, charming town. We all agreed that we would like to return some day. Locals were not hustling or hassling tourists and there were plenty of activities on offer upon leaving the port. We took a public bus (a van really) to the beach. To get to the bus stop, go inland a few blocks to the public library. We sent out to Calico Jack's, which was a nice beach with chairs and umbrellas for hire, public flush toilets, showers, and a few food trucks. There was also a bar/restaurant a few steps away on the sand. Lines were very long to get back on the ship at the end of the day. Return tenders bounced around quite a bit in the wind and waves, but we were safely delivered back to the ship. We were the only ship lucky enough to get out of the area and outrun an incoming storm. We dined that night on some very good meatballs, lovely asparagus (which was served warm and not chilled as the menu stated) and the best crepes Suzette that I have ever had. Later that night, we relaxed in the nearly-empty rum bar (a new addition to the ship), which served a variety of rum-based cocktails. The adorkable server Spaik (Spike) was extremely knowledgeable, not only about the rums, but he also had an almost encyclopedic knowledge about the ship and others in the MSC fleet. Evening events on the ship seemed lightly attended, as bars were fairly empty and activities appeared lightly attended. Overnight we could feel the movement of the ship quite a bit. The ship held its position pretty well, pitching and rolling but no grinding or groaning noises. Day 5 - Cozumel; We were delayed getting to port because of the storm and high winds. We snagged a taxi after exiting the port. We planned to go to Uvas Beach Club, based on the recommendation of a cruiser from another ship that we met on the beach in Grand Cayman. The taxi driver mentioned that the water was quite choppy on that side of the island, due to the winds. We pulled up to Uvas in the taxi and one look at the water was enough for us to change our plans. We put our faith in the driver, who said he could take us to a beach on the other side of Cozumel, where he promised the water was calm and swimmable. He was right. It took us a while to get out there and we passed through some fairly remote areas but finally pulled up to Chin Rio Beach, which was simply lovely. This public beach had no entry fee and was beautiful with clear water, soft sand, and not too crowded. There was also a restaurant and flush toilets (with toilet paper and soap). Many taxis awaited customers at the beach, with passengers often paying the driver 1/2 of the return fare up front as assurance to come back. Our driver gave us his name, cell number, and taxi number, and another driver offered to call him for us when we were ready to leave. FYI, you cannot take shells back onto the ship. Mine were confiscated before leaving the port. This was poorly explained in the ship's literature, which stated that plants, food and shells could not be taken off the ship. It was Italian night in the dining room, which proved to be quite the treat! I had the osso buco, which was incredibly tender and tasty, and a divine lemon cream, made with limoncello. This was the night where the dining room staff was recognized. The show was also Italian-themed. It was pretty good; the best we saw on this MSC cruise. The singing was good and the paired dancing was top notch and elevated the show and gave it energy. Day 6 - Havana; we had the morning aboard ship before reaching Havana. I ate an early lunch of amazing ship pizza. It had just come out of the oven, which I think made it extra amazing, and there was no line. The pizza with prosciutto and red sauce was exceptional and the white pizza with black olives and onions was very good. The ship was late getting to Havana due to the storm. Disembarking in Havana was the single worst experience of the cruise. MSC disembarked only people on MSC tours first, which wouldn't have been such a problem if the ship had reached port on time. Staff did not announce where people not on MSC tours could line up and several made remarks in passing about there being enough time to see Havana. It didn't seem to occur to staff that some people (like us) had made plans with a tour company not connected with the cruise line. There was eventually a mob of people jamming a long hall near the gangway and periodically lines of tour groups would be shoved through. There were no directions provided orally or with signage and no ropes were set up to create order. IT TOOK US 90 MINUTES JUST TO GET OFF THE SHIP from the time we joined the waiting mob (which was not right away, due to the lack of directions). That is not including time for entry into Cuba, that's 90 minutes just from the time we got in line on the ship to the time they scanned our MSC cards at the gangway. Consequently, we were an hour and a half late for our private tour. I had budgeted an ample 2 hours after arrival before the start of the tour and it still wasn't enough. Given our limited time in Havana, it was frustrating. I arranged our private tour through Strawberry Tours. Cesar greeted us with a hug, exclaiming that he worried we weren't coming. I was so glad he waited for us, as our ship had docked rather late. Our 6 hour tour began with a walking tour of Old Havana, followed by a classic car tour, accompanied by Cesar, who was excellent. We saw so much! It didn't feel hurried, despite our late start, and we saw so much. Havana is an amazing city. Cesarr and the driver dropped us off at a paladar for dinner, and then we walked to The Tropicana, where we ended the evening. I booked The Tropicana online, directly with the theatre and it was quite a show. It was so over the top in the very best way. Ladies were presented with a flower upon entry and gents received a cigar. Admission also came with a welcome drink of sparkling wine and two half-bottles of Havana Club 1-year rum for the four of us, along with four Cuban colas and little dishes of salted peanuts mixed with raisins. A bottle of 7-year Havana Club rum was later plopped on our table; we were able to take the leftover rum with us. The dancing, singing and musicians were all quite good, and the dancers were performing everywhere. Any other show would have taken it too far when the ladies came out wearing actual chandeliers on their heads, but at The Tropicana, it was just another part of the show. The only downside was the persistent cigarette smoke throughout the evening; I just don't have a tolerance built up for that. Day 7 - Havana, day two; In the morning we left the shipand walked into town for the food tour, arranged through Strawberry Tours. We were the only English-speaking guests, so we had a guide all to ourselves! We strolled Old Havana with Alex sampling many fine examples of Cuban food. He was disappointed that neither of us drinks coffee, so we started with a superb Cuban sandwich that included chorizo made in the shop. We also tried corn on the cob (which was field corn, but had tasty toppings), churros and ice cream - and then we had lunch. We lunched on the rooftop patio of an unassuming, restaurant and could see all along a several block stretch in Old Havana. Alex was a warm and gracious host. After the tour, we wandered over to the ware house artisan/souvenir space on the waterfront, where we purchased several small original prints and then took a coconut 3-wheeled taxi back to the ship. You can change money in the cruise terminal, even on Sunday, and change it back again before boarding. Also in the terminal is a small store - this is where I purchased the rum I brought back, so that I didn't have to carry it through town. Dinner aboard ship that night was good, and the peanut butter pie was outstanding! Day 8 - Miami; breakfast on the ship featured the same selections as other days, and they were giving our juice that normally was available only for a surcharge. Disembarkation ran ahead of schedule. All passengers were invited to leave the ship by 9:45 a.m. Luggage was easy to find and customs was a breeze. All in all, it was a lovely trip, and a great price. I was charmed by the international clientele on the ship - I have never heard less English aboard a cruise ship. I would definitely cruise with MSC again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Let's talk about the ship; * This ship is old and every corner you go to the carpets are worn down and moldy. * At times there was water leaking through the hallway not sure it was the ac or another source. * Getting around ... Read More
Let's talk about the ship; * This ship is old and every corner you go to the carpets are worn down and moldy. * At times there was water leaking through the hallway not sure it was the ac or another source. * Getting around was a bit frustrating. Not all of the elevators go to the top decks so you have to go DOWN to cross to the front or back of the ship to then go back up. * There are some really nice places just to hang out. For example, the Rum bar was neat and so was the Armonia lounge which offered nice seating to relax. However, since it's at midship, you would get lots of traffic if you did not have a secluded table everyone walking is in your space. * The Bar De Duomo was where most of the fun activities were done however it would get hot. So if you were dancing it was like a musty gym. * The Pool Deck were nice however the floor was abnormally slippery even when it was early morning mist you saw passenger slip and almost fall. * You only get 15 minutes in the jacuzzi and they have staff sitting poolside taking time. * The gym is tiny and machines are always taken. * I was never offered to visit the spa so I can not speak of it. * The front desk staff was nice however it seemed that many were either new or had to continue asking other for information. Embarkation Was easy, for this Havana Cuba cruise you do need a passport otherwise they won't let you on the ship even if you are not going to get off in Cuba. We had some friends sent home and lost all their money for this miscommunication on MSC behalf. Call them and they will tell you otherwise. Pool Deck windows are not maintained they were dirty all cruise inside and outside. Cabin We had an ocean view. Like the rest of the ship its old. We had a door falling off the hinges, there was rust on the bathroom door. Caulking all over the place. The bathroom is smaller than usual. I am a big person but don't consider my self huge I had to leave the shower curtains rolled to the side otherwise they would stick to my body.. yuck! We had no hand soap and halfway during our cruise we had no shower gel. When they unite the twin beds there is a middle gap so if you are going to snuggle with your partner you will feel it. The Bars First and foremost the most annoying thing is on day 1 they offer you drink packages but by day 3 there is ZERO bar service where you are sitting critical at poolside! The drinks are ok, not the same mix at all bars. Sometimes you must specify what mix, for example, Moscow Mule is Vodka, Lime Juice, Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale. However, some bars would put Vodka, Lime, Sprite. or Vodka and Ginger Ale. That's just one example of many. The unlimited packages are overrated. First, you must get the package for every adult in the room. The packages range anywhere from $30-75 a day So if you are going to have at least 8-9 drinks per person a day the packages are not worth it in my opinion and that's if when you want a drink there is a bartender around. Shows Flat out the worst shows I have seen on an MSC cruise line. Out of sync, same routines, performers falling, dreadful sounds from the speaker. You know its not you when day 3 they are making announcements for people to show up. All around the worst part of this cruise. Dining The assigned dining was nicely decorated. The service was slow. Although by the six night they had improved a bit. But every single night we had to wait at least 30 minutes before a bartender showed up and another 20 minutes before we would get water down drinks. The food was good. A very good selection every night. Buffet If you enjoy good burgers and pizza for lunch you are in for a treat because that was the only good things for lunch everything else was awful and the same damn menu always! Breakfast Not much to say here other than it was the same eggs, same bacon, same sausage, same cheeses Ports Havana NO, YOU DO NOT NEED TO BOOK A SHORE EXCURSION WITH THE BOAT. Just say you intend to and you will get the Visa. With the Visa, you are good to go. Cuban government wants their money. However, we did the Hemingway excursion it was ok MSC gave us priority off the boat which was a plus. Definitely not worth the asking price. We also negotiated a ride on the convertible old cars rented a car with a driver for $100 for the day. That was fun! The people are super nice. Take some caramel candy and they will love you for it! This place is stuck in time. It was absolutely really fun to walk around and see this old building as if they were in the 1900. Exchange money with the locals. We did it with our taxi driver. For example, the Exchange office was giving us 0.87 CUC for 1 US Dollar but the driver gave me 0.95 CUC for 1 US Dollar. Granted they are not going to have thousands. And barter with the locals. You will be surprised at what they would do for a pair of Nike Jordans. Jamaica Montego Bay Dirty! The port where they drop you off is far from the town. MSC will try to book you on a taxi ride round trip for $16.99 that was a waste all you need to do is walk or grab a shuttle to the "transportation terminal" located about 5-10 minute walk if the port lets you or do what we did wait 10 minutes for the complimentary bus to the terminal and got a $5 dollar ride to town. If you leave the terminal and negotiate you will get a better price. Be careful it is not located in a great part of town however we did not feel unsafe at any time. Grand Cayman Getting off the boat to the tender was an absolute mess. There were no clear instructions where to get the tender tickets. You had passengers showing up to get on the tender and then sent to another place to get tickets for the tenders. After two hours of waiting, we finally got to land. There just negotiate your excursion, for the most part, everyone has the same price. You can never go wrong with a 7-mile beach. We also went to the Royal Palm Club which has a pretty decent menu for foods and drink. Just like everything else on this island it is expensive at an average of $15 a drink. Cozumel Here you can just get off the boat pretty straightforward. Go to the Duty-Free shops and just at the outside gates we rented two jeeps for $75 a day. Rode around the island, stop at the tequila tasting, YES THEY ARE FREE. Please have a designated driver if you go down this route. We went to the south of the island much better beaches. If you are looking for alcohol and better rates go to Sherdavi or Mega just ask the locals. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was my very first cruise and apparently MSC’s first departure out of Miami for this specific cruise (Jamaica - Grand Cayman - Cozumel - Havana). So take all this with a grain of salt Pros: • The staff is unfailingly nice, ... Read More
This was my very first cruise and apparently MSC’s first departure out of Miami for this specific cruise (Jamaica - Grand Cayman - Cozumel - Havana). So take all this with a grain of salt Pros: • The staff is unfailingly nice, except for that one guy working the Marco Polo restaurant • The balcony suite was wonderful - perfectly sized, clean, comfortable. We spruced it up with battery-powered Christmas lights on the balcony and our own bluetooth speaker for tunes. • Embarkation was quick and smooth, supported by an army of MSC staff welcoming us and making sure we didn't stray from the path to the ship. • Meal portions in the dining rooms were European sized (aka "smaller"). • Coffees in the Cafe San Marco were great and the staff was nice. • Definitely make an appointment for a facial and massage. But if you do it in advance via MSC's phone center, re-confirm it with the spa folks right when you get on board because somehow our reservations didn't make it into the system. • The Aura spa package is worth the price, if only for the spa and access the the lounge area at the front of the ship. • The staff working the main desk on board the Armonia were sharp. • Mahmoud at the Excursions desk came through for us, reimbursing us (and everyone else in the bus) for the river tubing excursion in Jamaica when the bus got stuck in a traffic jam and we turned around knowing we couldn't get to the launch site and get back to the ship before the scheduled departure time. • Our cabin steward was awesome and a master of the folded towel animal • The Surf 'n Turf restaurant was good (you need to make reservations). The other scheduled dinner restaurants were good. Buffet was average. • El Dorado (the formal night photographer) is awesome and if you have photos taken, have him shoot them. Cons • An instruction card in the room says to press the "Room Service" button on the phone to get room service. There is no Room Service button on the phone. (We later learned you need to press "99", which did work. • Many of the staff were new, like the bartender at one of the pool bars who needed to review the drinks menu to remember ingredients for a Greyhound. Also if you were an attractive young woman, you got served first. • A one hour departure delay out of Miami "wasn't our fault", the Captain announced over the loudspeaker. • Upselling on everything - granted was my first cruise, but dang. • It was a very international cruise and passengers had different ideas about queuing up for the dining room, excursion desk, and pretty much everything else. • The pools and jacuzzis close at 9 p.m. What's up with that? • Despite repeated assurances by the MSC phone staff that Vitamin (aka "Smoothie" Bar is part of the drinks package - it is not. (Kind of annoying since I don't drink alcohol). On the last day of the cruise, we learned that they actually were part of the package and the other staff member had misspoken. • Departures on the excursions were almost always behind schedule. • Dining staff probably needs more time to familiarize themselves with the menu. My partner asked for orange juice and the staff member brought juice and said it was "orange". (It was probably a mix, but it definitely had pineapple juice in it. • The ship often smelled of fresh paint or varnish (as in it was being painted during the cruise. • It rained both days in Cuba (and most other days on the cruise). No big deal, but particularly in Cuba because you're supposed to book excursions, we bailed on them within the first 15 minutes and did our own thing for the rest of each day, and that was cool. • In Cuba there is absolutely no reason to visit Hemingway's bar hangout where the daiquiri was apparently invented. It is an overcrowded tourist trap. • My partner appears to have been repeatedly been bitten by bedbugs (they bite in a particular pattern and these bites fit it). I will definitely do another cruise, but definitely select a different cruise line. (And not go in rain season). We will definitely be going back to Cuba. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
MSC Armonia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 2.0 3.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.2
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 5.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.2
Enrichment 3.0 3.0
Service 4.0 3.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.5

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