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136 Miami MSC Cruises MSC Armonia Cruise Reviews

Had a great time on this cruise cruise director gave a very informative talk about Cuba before we got off Cruise director and his staff were wonderful we had the best time of any cruise The cruise director staff is wonderful they go ... Read More
Had a great time on this cruise cruise director gave a very informative talk about Cuba before we got off Cruise director and his staff were wonderful we had the best time of any cruise The cruise director staff is wonderful they go above and beyond the ship did not feel small the bars and public areas are not cramped and very open we did not have any problems finding a table in the buffet thay had a nice variety cabins are a nice size had a balcony food in main dining room was lacking in flavor andtemperature surf and turf was wonderful got a lot for your money and the service was excellent we love MSC's entertainment best at sea the show 's were amazing Montego Bay was canceled went to Otis Rios but it rained we didn't get off the ship Grand Cayman it also rained but cleared up in the afternoon and we walked around a little and went shopping in Cozumel had a beautiful day went to playa Mia all inclusive drinks and food beautiful beach and absolutely wonderful service the spa was wonderful that have a beautiful thermal suite very good spa services now on to Cuba absolutely loved Cuba very interesting we did the Tropicana nightclub loved it the show was amazing had a nice bus to The show and back got to see Cuba at night The next day we did the vintage car tour had a great time it was very informative we enjoyed our daiquiri at the Floridita would highly recommend both of these tors The ship was spotless the Decour was very elegant for a ship of the size it was nicely appointed very comfortable and easy to navigate would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone Who wants to go to Cuba disembarkation was so easy had no problem getting on it off the ship great job MSC ☺☺☺ 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
The embarkment of the the cruise was very smooth, got our luggage quite fast after boarding the ship. The day at sea I decided to go into the pool and a few hours later my eye started swelling up. It became worst so visited the on board ... Read More
The embarkment of the the cruise was very smooth, got our luggage quite fast after boarding the ship. The day at sea I decided to go into the pool and a few hours later my eye started swelling up. It became worst so visited the on board doctor who confirmed I had an infection which could be caught using the pool. This did put a big downer to my holiday. The cabin size was as expected on a cruise but we requested 2 beds but only 1 was provided. There was a good variety of food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great gym and spa facilities on board. Getting laundry done was a bit of an issue, I had to chase it up every morning. The reception would tell me they would call me back with an update but never did. Do not book the vintage car trip in Cuba on board as you can book them for around $40 an hour for the whole car when you get there. Loved all the countries that I visited and the tours that we did in each country but I don't think I would travel with MSC Cruise again due to me getting an eye infection on their ship. 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
We chose MSC because of itinerary and also it’s price. Wanted to go to Cuba. We did not eat in any speciality restaurants. The food in the main dining room was ok. A 6 out of 10. The waitstaff were very nice but service took a while. ... Read More
We chose MSC because of itinerary and also it’s price. Wanted to go to Cuba. We did not eat in any speciality restaurants. The food in the main dining room was ok. A 6 out of 10. The waitstaff were very nice but service took a while. Getting a cocktail took very long. The shows that I saw were ok, I enjoyed some time in the Casino. The ship was very clean and the crew were all very nice. We had plumbing issues in our cabin which never got resolved but not for lack of trying, they were there quickly to fix our toilet , it did not flush adequately. Fortunately there was a public restroom next to our cabin so we went there. They sent us champagne and canapés for our inconvenience,which it was. My cabin mate and I made the best of it. If the itinerary was to my liking and price right I would Cruise MSC again. Cuba was amazing. I have to say the embarkation was fantastic, we literally got there, checked in and walked on the Ship, I have cruised many times and it was never that easy on any other cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This is a long review, but I hope it will help you to understand the MSC experience. Like most folks, we (my DH and I) selected this cruise for its destination of Cuba. We’ve cruised about 20 times, but this was our first on MSC. ... Read More
This is a long review, but I hope it will help you to understand the MSC experience. Like most folks, we (my DH and I) selected this cruise for its destination of Cuba. We’ve cruised about 20 times, but this was our first on MSC. Expectations were low due to the reviews; however, we were pleasantly surprised with our experience and in some cases liked MSC better than RCCL or other “American” cruise lines. Embarkation was quick and easy. Just like other cruise lines, complete the registration on line and have your tickets printed, filled out and signed when you arrive. Also, have the “Guest Certification for Authorized US Travel to Cuba” printed, completed and signed. To note – our etickets said we were to arrive at 4:15, but we like to be on board early, so we arrived about noon with no issues. I assume they do this to stagger the amount of people arriving at one time. The only unusual issue is you will not be asked for a credit card for onboard expenses until you get on the ship. Once on board, you need to go to an ATM-type machine and enter your credit card. There is a big queue when everyone is getting on board, but you can come back anytime within the first 48 hours to add your credit card which will save you time in the queue. Be sure to let your credit card company know you are traveling, as the ATM-type machine looks to them as an Italian purchase. Once on board, you are bombarded with the selling of drink packages and spa packages. We’ve never been on a ship that didn’t do this. We love the spa and they had a great deal if you bought 4 or 6 services. We bought 6 services (split between us) which got us 30% off and free use of the thermal spa area for the entire cruise. In the end, this was MUCH less than we usually spend at the spa! They also had a package for 20% off if you bought 4 services. Like any of the packages, you need to figure out if it will be saving you money or not. We did not buy the drink package. You will immediately notice most of the passengers are not Americans. I’d estimate about 30% Americans, mostly Europeans and 10% Asian. This means all the announcements are in at least 4 languages every time. We had an inside cabin - Bella experience. The cabin was typical inside cabin, but seemed to have more storage than some. There were about 8 decent-sized drawers next to the closet. I had forgotten to bring extra hangers, but our room steward brought some in the evening. The worst thing is the shower curtain. I had seen a tip of bringing clothespins to put on the bottom to “weigh it down” so it doesn’t blow around so much. This did help. I also brought bar soap. They do have liquid soap at the sink and shower gel and shampoo in the shower, but I prefer my own. The cabin was clean and functional. As many have commented, the ship is smaller than the mega ships which are so popular these days. If you’ve been on any of the other lines smaller ships, this is comparable, if not better. It was clean and the service was excellent. All the staff we came in contact with were friendly and happy. We did a status match with our Diamond RCCL and became “black,” which is their top tier. We got invited to a few of the private parties with the crew which were nice. We also attended the Meet and Mingle which was also nice. Every time we ran into one of the staff we met at the parties, they would stop and chat a bit to make sure we were enjoying our cruise. The food was mostly fine. We did like the pizza, although you can’t compare to “real” NY pizza, it was better than any other cruise. Of course, the gelato was excellent (what’s not to like!). The buffet for breakfast and lunch were adequate, but less selection than other cruises. We had dinner in the main dining room and with a few exceptions, it was fine. One night they had prime rib, which was by far the best thing we had all week! The service was excellent! One night we did eat in their specialty restaurant, Surf & Turf. This came free with our “Black” status. The lobster was much better than in the main dining room, but the filet mignon was lacking. This didn’t compare with Chops Grill or other special restaurants from other cruise lines. We didn’t attend any of the shows, so can’t comment. The casino is very small and never very crowded. They had 2 blackjack tables and one each 3-card poker, Dream 21, Texas Hold ‘Em, and roulette. The slots were all penny slots, which we did not play. The pool was typically crowded, but plenty of chairs. I never had any trouble finding a chair in the sun or shade. We loved the spa and went to the thermal spa to sit on their heated loungers every day. All the massages and treatments we had were heavenly! Havana is the main reason we took this cruise. Miguel, the cruise director, gives a great talk about what to expect the day before we arrived. It was very informative, and I would highly suggest you attend. MSC will give you the visa which needs to be filled out. You’ll be charged $75 per person. Miguel goes over how to fill this out, too; however there is a sample in the letter which comes with the visas. We had an excursion, so were first off the ship. As Americans, it seems intimidating to go through Cuban immigration, but honestly, it is a non-event. Show your passport, give your visa, they take your picture, stamp your passport and you’re on your way. Once you go through once, every time after, you just show your passport stamp and walk right in. Havana is a very interesting place. There is beautiful architecture and some restoration being done, but most of the areas were extremely neglected, dirty and crumbling. The people are very friendly and willing to answer any questions. Embarkation was quick and easy. Overall, we both had a good time and were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked the MSC experience. Go and enjoy and don’t worry Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
After reading reviews, we had fairly low expectations but chose it anyway since we really wanted to see Cuba. We found the cruise much better than overall ratings. What we liked: Quick and easy embarkation. We thought the ship, while ... Read More
After reading reviews, we had fairly low expectations but chose it anyway since we really wanted to see Cuba. We found the cruise much better than overall ratings. What we liked: Quick and easy embarkation. We thought the ship, while older, was in outstanding condition. It was always easy to find seats by the pool. Staff was very friendly and they had just the right amount of activities by the pool. We had the anytime seating and service was outstanding - we had the best waiter and assistant waiter - better than any other cruise. Food was okay but not great. Loved the fact that people were from all over the world and it was great meeting them. Two of the three excursions we took were very well organized and a lot of fun (Cozumel Beach and Havana tour). We had a suite which was just a tad larger than a balcony cabin on most ships but was very nice. My wife loved the walk-in closet. Never heard noise from other cabins. Cuba was the highlight of the cruise and we loved it - found a great restaurant with a waiter who spoke great English and really got to know him a bit - funniest waiter we ever had. What needs improvement: Guest reception was unresponsive and seemed like they had no systems for follow up so we had to call or stop by multiple times. Bar service is hard to find and slow, though the staff was nice. Entertainment a bit below most other cruise lines but not bad. The vintage car tour in Havana was disorganized and it was about an hour and a half before we were in the car. While not a tour, in Jamaica, they advertised in our nightly newsletter a $20 ride to a "hip shopping area" which we took only because the weather wasn't great. That was a long bus ride in horrendous traffic to a shopping center with about 25 overpriced stores. Overall, this was as good as any other cruise line we had taken. I had so wanted to see Cuba and enjoyed it even more than my high expectations. So this was really a nice combination of 4.5 relaxing days and 2 days of experiencing Cuba. I'd highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I picked this cruise because is was affordable and went to Cuba. The ship was very clean; and although small, was fine! The staff and crew were great! The food was average! The wait staff at breakfast were clueless; but lunch ... Read More
I picked this cruise because is was affordable and went to Cuba. The ship was very clean; and although small, was fine! The staff and crew were great! The food was average! The wait staff at breakfast were clueless; but lunch and dinner better! My cabin was an ocean view and size was fine. Did have recurrent toilet issues; but thankfully my cabin was close to a women’s rest room; still I shouldn’t have to run to a common bathroom to...well you know! They did send plumbers and tried to fix the problem. And appeared to; on last day! The casino is small but adequate! Shows were okay. Have a small buffet; pizza was very good! I didn’t try burger grill near buffet. I think for price it was very good! If they had an itinerary I liked and price good; I would sail again with MSC That’s my opinion! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was our 10th cruise, our 4th cruise line, and our first time with MSC! By the end of the week I felt a part of the MSC family. The captain gave a great welcoming speech and another talk the final night of the cruise. MSC cares that ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise, our 4th cruise line, and our first time with MSC! By the end of the week I felt a part of the MSC family. The captain gave a great welcoming speech and another talk the final night of the cruise. MSC cares that we have a great experience. It was interesting to experience the European way of doing things, especially their food. We ate in the formal dining room, the buffet, and the pizza/burger station. There were American favorites on the menu and new items for us to try. Their hamburgers are the best I have had ANYWHERE! The only thing we missed was peanut butter and guacamole. We met passengers from all over the world: Canada, Wales, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Turkey, Egypt, Ireland, Italy, Argentina. We attended the shows in the theatre every night except two. We particularly like the Adams Family and the Abyss. Our favorite entertainment was the piano music in the Cafe San Marco. We listened to Fernando, the pianist, every night. Our main reason for choosing this cruise was to go to Havana. We did two excursions thru the ship and some walking around on our own. The ship provides the Visa---you just have to fill it out. Getting through Customs and Security in the terminal was a breeze. The two tours we did were well organized and very educational. Two of the most impressive things about the whole cruise were embarkation and disembarkation. . . . very smooth, no waiting in lines. My husband used the wheelchair service........the crew member who was our escort, Christian, was excellent. I don't have any gripes. My philosophy is this: every cruise line is different, every ship is different, every vacation is different, every location in the world is different. Enjoy your travels! Look for the good! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My family and I took recently took a cruise with MSC and the experience we encountered was the worst I've ever had. To give you some background, we took this particular cruise to celebrate a family members retirement. Altogether it ... Read More
My family and I took recently took a cruise with MSC and the experience we encountered was the worst I've ever had. To give you some background, we took this particular cruise to celebrate a family members retirement. Altogether it was 37 of my family members on this ship. The first day on the ship we walked in the room into the bathroom and there was a strong urine smell ( by the way the urine smell never went away, later to find out the housekeeper supervisor said "these rooms on this side of the floor have pipe problems... all the rooms on this side smell like urine as if this would make me feel better). So we put our bags down and ran to enjoy the ship and family! Fast forward, It wasn't until approximately Friday sometime my 19 month old son became sick(101 fever). My wife and I couldn't figure out why and or what was going on. It wasn't until I was sitting in the restroom trying to gather myself because my son was in pain and there was nothing I could do, I noticed a large amount of mold. There was mold all over the bathroom. On the walls, in the shower, and on the floor, the same floor I placed my son when my wife and I shower and were we washed him. There was also a hole in my shower in which stuff was coming out as the shower ran. This hole was full of rust. I didn't see the hole until I started looking for answers because the shower curtain hide the hole when pushed back (open) You can see it until you close the curtain and your inside( this also leads me to believe house keeping dont clean the shower because they would have saw it. The shower curtain was filthy and it was red at the bottom of the curtain probably from laying against the the rust hole. I also noticed while looking a rusted hole in the ocean view window that was leaking some type of yellow fluid. I believe it was water mixed with the rust but I'm not sure. The room I was in was completely unfit for a guest. From the dust on the water bottles it was clear the room hasn't be used or those water bottles been there for a while. So as the cruise went on I complained. My complaints went unanswered. I was told someone would come fix the issues and no one ever came. The front desk was very helpful but the house keeping department was not. The house keeping supervisor was not! In fact the house keeping supervisor told me that because I complained I got everyone in trouble. He told me if I have a problem dont go to the desk just tell the housekeeper. The way my family and I was treated by MSC was utterly disturbing. To add to all this mess the cruise ship missed the port of Jamaica. We planned to see our family in Jamaica spent money on a cater just to find out the ship changed its itteniery. We later found out another cruise ship docked in Jamaica that same day we were suppose to go. The last thing I want to say is the food and service in the Marco polo restaurant was horrible! The food was cold and hard. The wait staff were doing to many tables so my family would get to dinner by 830 and didn't order until 915! All three nights my family went to the sit down dinner they failed at customer service. We asked to speak to a supervisor after not being able to order food, the supervisor came and told my wife the wait staff would take care of her, all he did was pass the complaint back to the wait staff. This was by far the worst I've been treated and it seems as if no one wants to take responsibility for all these mishaps. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Hidden fees, old, small and low grade ship quality. Longgggg tender waits. Short port stops, high money conversion rates. Longggg multiple language announcements. Poor itinerary communication. Extremely small stateroom with window. To ... Read More
Hidden fees, old, small and low grade ship quality. Longgggg tender waits. Short port stops, high money conversion rates. Longggg multiple language announcements. Poor itinerary communication. Extremely small stateroom with window. To little closet space for two. No shelving for clothes. Bathroom two small for one person without soaking floors, walls and towels. I am 160 lb...Armonia has no bells, whistles, or technology. Poor TV satellite, poor internet, no towel animals, no on deck waste paper bins, poor floor plans with blocked hallway access. Super narrow hallways. Armonia is one step from the old Queen Mary ship retired in Long Beach CA. No clocks onboard. No updates on TV. No ongoing map of how far you've sailed or how far to next port. Long Multiple language of announcements. I loved CUBA and that was why I chose Armonia. I wish I had went with one of the other Cruiselines after finding out on day 3 we were Bella Status and receiving Bella hidden fee charges and overall treatment. No photo pricing till last night of photo sessions. The service desk told a different story everytime we ask. I will not recommend Armonia to friends or family. I am thankful the ship never sank while we were onboard, because we would have been Bella Status as in "Titanic" going down as the band played on 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
Chose this cruise because of Cuba port. Took two hours to disembark ship on first day in port, after that just walked off. All staff very friendly and accomodating. Had 12 drink coupons per person included with fare and was excellent ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of Cuba port. Took two hours to disembark ship on first day in port, after that just walked off. All staff very friendly and accomodating. Had 12 drink coupons per person included with fare and was excellent amenity. Could be used for frozen drinks, speciality coffees, mixed drinks. Ship had free gelato bar near pool with delicious gelato free! Food available 24hrs/day with delicioys pizza anytime. Only problem, both ice machines at pizza place and hamburger place did not work the whole cruise. Had first dinner seating, could order as many items off of menu that you wanted. Daily gratuity added to your cruise account was $12.50, which is less than other cruise lines. I really liked the ship plan, had plenty of outdoor dining space. Tables were bussed quickly. Excursions were well organized, went to Tropicana show in Cuba, I think entertainment onboard was just as good as that show. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise for the visit to Cuba and the price. The following are our comments on MSC Armonia Cruise to Cuba 1/ 14/19 to 1/21/19. Entertainment on the ship was in general very good. The dancers and singers were among the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the visit to Cuba and the price. The following are our comments on MSC Armonia Cruise to Cuba 1/ 14/19 to 1/21/19. Entertainment on the ship was in general very good. The dancers and singers were among the best we have seen on previous cruise Evening Shows. The evening shows should have had more variety and in one of the show the dancers overwhelmed the singers and they didn't add anything. But, overall they did a great job. The Entertainment staff was excellent. They had more energy then any other ship we have been on and really tried very hard to get everyone involved in their nightly events. Most of the evening shows were very well done but perhaps a bit redundant. Somehow, whatever the theme it tended to have a Latin flair. The professional cruise dance instructors did a good job teaching their dances and we really enjoyed their demos. However, teaching more latin dances then most people have ever heard of was clearly excessive and it would have been nice to used those sessions on more popular dances. Some of their lessons were also at times that didn't fit well into the night's events (Example Country and Rock and roll (Swing ) lessons were at times that either to close to Supper or the main show of the evening. ). But the first day at sea they did 5 or 6 classes and also did classes when at at port and it was hard to fit more lessons in. The latin band in the 5th-floor lounge was very good but clearly played VERY latin music and no other variety of dance. When I refer to VERY latin music I mean they didn't play much music you could dance ballroom type Cha Cha, or Rumba. The combo on the 6th lounge did play some different music and we started to that lounge, perhaps a bit too late, once we couldn't take any more Latin music that we couldn't dance to. It would have been nice to have a comedy show to provide a better mixture for those who didn't like all the dancing or wanted something different. As a combo they were OK. All our Tours were taken on the ship from MSC. We found out on the ship that MSC was only repeating US guidelines for departing Cuba on tours and MSC really didn't enforce them and you had the option to book a tour with MSC or a 3rd party company. We booked only the Cuba Tours since this is all we were interested in and had been to the other Caribbean ports often. The tours we booked were Architecture of Havana and it was very good. Tour was about 2 hrs of walking around old Havana (no cars allowed) and that was enough for us followed by about 2 hrs of bus touring. Since the ship got in a little late and it took us almost 2 hrs to get through customs with the tour returned about 7:15, it was cut a little short so we could have time to make the Trop tour at 8:15 departure. The guide was excellent. The Tropicana show was really very good and all tables received a glass of champagne and 2 bottles of rum for 10 people. The rum was good and so was the show, we didn't get back until after midnight. The vintage car tour wasn't that good since it rained for the first hour and we were in a caravan of about 10 cars with only a driver that didn't really speak much English. I think you would be a lot better off doing this off the ship since from friends who did it off the ship they had a good english speaking guide with them. Tours did sell out so if you wanted a Cuba tour its good to do it as early as possible off or on the Ship. The ship did provide VISAs for $75 and that was easy and convenient. If you didn't get off the ship in Cuba the ship would refund your Visa fee as long as you didn't fill it out. This was all very well explained in the Cruise directors talk on Cuba.It would have been nice if he took questions after his talk. As far as I could tell MSC really didnt check / (care) if you booked one of their tours or a 3rd party. You clearly needed the Visa to get through customs and it took almost 2 hrs. I', not sure if it would have been faster if you weren't with a ship tour but I got a feeling it wasn't. We took candy and some things for kids on the street but not one ever approached us for anything. We did give away some penciles but that was it. I hear they like toothpaste but again not one ever came up to us for anything. Food was a different story. I'll break it down in some detail. Breakfast,(Dining Room) in general, was very good and we enjoyed it. The procedure to get seated at a table was a mystery since most of the time no one greeted you as you walked into the dining room and showed you to a table. Each time we went in we had to look for one of the staff we taught would seat us. The fact that people are always walking thru the dining room probably has something to do with the seating service. Lunch (Dining Room) wasn't bad, but due to other events, we didn't use it often so I can't offer many comments on it. Dinner was another story and it didn't have a happy ending. This is probably how many people judge cruises and the dinners left a lot to be desired. The salad and french onion soup were very good but most of the other food needed help. Coffee cups were always only 1/2 filled and waiters never came back for a refill (Or fill ). As my wife mentioned there was not one dinner meal we could really say was good or one we enjoyed a lot. Most to our table agreed with that. BTW I wouldnt say it was bad but it clearly was a gourmay experience. I would hope MSC management realize that the Bulletin boards (Cruise Critic for example) have been very hard on this aspect of MSC and leave many past passengers saying they would never do another MSC cruise again. Upstairs on 11th Foor, the pizza was really very good and the ice cream Gelato was great. The buffet lunch was ok, I didn't have any issues with it. Ladies would be happy if they were served first. I didn't notice any lesson on how to play 3 card poker or ultimate texas holdem, other ships do this and have slot machine tournaments but none on this cruise as far as I could tell. I didn't notice any water events (water volleyball for example) planned. The talk on Cuba was done very well and informative but he should have allowed time at the end for at least a few questions. Leaving the ship was awful and completely unorganized. It sure didn't help that the ship arrived a couple of hrs late. We were hopping we wouldn't miss a bus we booked back to Orlando but it worked out OK with a bit or stress. The room was fine and the staff was good. It would have been nice if they introduced themselves to us. There was plenty of storage in the room for suitcases and clothes. All passengers we came across were very nice and there were no issues. Out table at dinner was for 8 all from US and it was very enjoyable. The staff went a little too far out of their way, I think, to seat at breakfast or lunch with their opinion of compatable passengers. We were able to find lounge chairs when we went to the pool area and it wasn't any more crowded then most other ships we have been on. Pool towels were vailable at the pools. One sentence summary is: If the supper meal improved and entertainment shows had more variety it would go a long way to improving MSCs cruise image. I do think you get good value for your money. Many of our cruise friends tell us we can't compare a MSC US cruise with one in Europe or Asia since the non-US cruises are going to have much worst meals and staff. I sure hope that prevalent negative comments we hear on those cruises aren't t true since we are looking forward to our planned 28-day cruise from Dubai to Toyko the end of March 2019. We sure hope the above-detailed comments on this cruise are improved on for that cruise or it's going to be a long cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because we wanted an overnight in Cuba, and the price was very reasonable.. The Armonia is well maintained,and very clean.The decor / color palette on the ship is quieter and more soothing than other ships we've ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted an overnight in Cuba, and the price was very reasonable.. The Armonia is well maintained,and very clean.The decor / color palette on the ship is quieter and more soothing than other ships we've been on. We had an inside cabin on the Ninth floor, The room was more square than rectangular, which made it feel roomier. There was ample closet and drawer space. The bathroom was small, but adequate. The food in the Marco Polo dining room was great , Half of the Menu (5-6) main dishes were the same each day, a beef choice, a fish choice, a chicken choice, a vegetarian choice and one or two more. The other half of the menu varied by day, I liked the Italian Day best, I had chicken parmigiana, and my husband had lasagna. both were outstanding. The food in the buffet was very nice, but of course not the variety available at the main dining room. Our cabin steward was efficient and discreet. When we put the "do not disturb" sign out, he let us sleep. Other times, he kept the room tidy. Things I wish I knew beforehand. They had a "white-out" evening where everyone tried to wear a white shirt or blouse. They had a 2-3 minute show where the children sang a super hero song, before the professional show. Many kids wore a super hero T-shirt or cape that evening. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
After reading a bunch of bad reviews about this ship I was expecting a horrible experience: rats in the hallways, flooding, pirates, etc. We were very pleasantly surprised and had a great experience overall. There are some areas that ... Read More
After reading a bunch of bad reviews about this ship I was expecting a horrible experience: rats in the hallways, flooding, pirates, etc. We were very pleasantly surprised and had a great experience overall. There are some areas that need improved. The food was average at best. The formal dining food was terrible. The fact that they sell the drink packages like a used car salesman is very annoying. The communication was not good. Nothing was really made clear and you kind of have to figure things out for yourself, which is relatively easy, but it would be nice if things were made more clear. Example: No one really explains the excursions so you just have to get in line and hope all goes well, which it did - mostly. None of the crew are from the US and many of them don't speak good English. It wasn't that big of an issue but it was sometimes a challenge to ask questions particularly if they were fairly detailed questions. I read on some reviews that the crew was rude. It think that just might be a language issue rather them being rude. Americans can be pretty rude too. Again on the US thing, there were not a lot of Americans on the cruise, which was kind of cool. Very many different languages being spoken. Our trip was to Jamaica, Cayman, Cozumel and Cuba. Jamaica: DO NOT got to the shopping plaza on the excursion - it is the very definition of a tourist trap. Go to Doctors beach and Margaritaville instead. Cayman: Definitely do the Sting Ray thing Cozumel: We just walked around and had a good time once we got away from the touristy area. Cuba: This is the reason most people go on this trip and it was amazing. eyeopening. Definitely do the American 50s car tour. The people to people program is not really a thing, I think it is designed to sell you on booking their tours. Once we signed the papers it never came up again. after the car tour we just walked around Havana. The areas near the cruise ship are nice and very European looking. get a couple blocks away and the scene is total poverty. It was interesting and we felt totally safe everywhere even though the areas looked rough. Day two in Cuba we just walked off the boat and walked around Havana for hours taking pictures. We were perfectly safe, even though they don't like Americans very much. All in all the Armonia was a great cruise and well worth the price. They do try to nickle and dime you a lot. the Wi Fi on the boat ended up costing us a bunch 2000 megabites flies by if you use it at all. There is a $12.50 per person per cabit "service charge" which is just kind of way to stick it to you again and keep the price of the cruise look lower than it is. But the cabin was kept clean each day - $25 worth of clean? Maybe not, but it was fine. The drink package is a pain. So we got 12 tickets per person for drinks with our booking. and buying drinks individually was $6.50 for beer and $9.00 for cocktails. everyone in your cabin has to buy the same drink package so do the math whether the drink package is worth it. Only water and juice is free, everything else costs. Hope that helps. I would recommend this cruise. 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
We had a 2 for 1 pricing, and it was cruising to Cuba. We had read and re-read the previous reviews, after we had booked, but decided as we had been on a MSC cruise two years before, we would take your chances. Embarkation:- we ... Read More
We had a 2 for 1 pricing, and it was cruising to Cuba. We had read and re-read the previous reviews, after we had booked, but decided as we had been on a MSC cruise two years before, we would take your chances. Embarkation:- we arrived around 10.30, parked in the port parking, through check-in and having lunch at 12 noon, walked straight through, Cabin:- very small, the smallest we’ve ever been on a cruise ship. Queen bed and two bunk beds, imagine a cabin with a sofa bed, but take out the sofa area, this was the size of the cabin, okay for the two of us, but not enough room for four, even if they were children. Lots of draw and closet space, Bathroom:- Again very small, shower very small, we’re 130 and 150 lbs, and we had some problems. Dining:- we like to do “Any time dining” as we always eat early, we were seated on a table for 8, the first night, in the MDR, service very slow, it seemed to be everyone in that section came at the same time, and the crew were run of their feet, trying to keep up. The next nights we had tables for two and four with no problems. Buffet, we found great, always had breakfast and lunch there, with lots of choices. Entertainment:- We found excellent, singers, dancers and guest entertainers were comparable with over cruise lines. Crew and Officers:- In other reviews, cruisers stated they found the crew and Officers unpleasant, never smiling, not responsive when spoken to them. We NEVER experienced that at all, always pleasant. Ports and shore excursions:- Although we had intentions of going into Cuba, we didn’t, as my husband had a slight back problem. I did go into other ports just to walk around, as we’ve seen them before. Disembarkation:- We left the ship at 8.30, picked up our luggage, and walked across to the parking garage, and was on I-95 by 9.30. Meet&greet Party:- MSC decided to have the “Meet&greet party, it was excellent, they went out of their way, pity more people didn’t attend, 4 different cocktails, canapés and chocolate covered strawberries and a cake. They put other cruise lines to shame. We will definitely cruise with MSC again, and no we do not work for them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
The food on the ship was excellent. i have never used the buffet in previous cruises but was very happy with the selections. things changed every day. Msc ships including the armonia was as clean as a ship can be. they were constantly ... Read More
The food on the ship was excellent. i have never used the buffet in previous cruises but was very happy with the selections. things changed every day. Msc ships including the armonia was as clean as a ship can be. they were constantly repainting areas and cleaning even the elevators. someone would be cleaning them as you used them. the shows were excellent. the cabin seemed to have plenty of room for 2 people. lots of storage areas in the cabin which was 02, oceanview room. customer service lines were not long because it was a smaller ship. the staff listened to every thing you might say to them and i received chocolate covered strawberries for just suggesting something to the matre d. the photo department was well run and all the areas of the ship always had things going on. the casino was a great place to hang out at the bar in the casino. this cuba sailing was a very good itenarary and we will be back on there in november of this year. 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
From top to bottom, bow to stern, this ship and MSC in general fail. No, that's not true. Jason in the dining room and one guy at the coffee bar were good. The rest of the crew are all relatively indifferent to service while ... Read More
From top to bottom, bow to stern, this ship and MSC in general fail. No, that's not true. Jason in the dining room and one guy at the coffee bar were good. The rest of the crew are all relatively indifferent to service while the management is downright hostile. Food is consistently bland, lacking in choice and not usually the correct temperature. The Surf and Turf specialty restaurant left my brother-in-law puking all night. Staterooms are the smallest I have seen on any ship in more than 30 cruises. Bathrooms are worse. Common areas are too small for the number of guests. The buffet uncomfortably packed, pool deck impossible to find a chair and theater over full. Cruise staff activities are few and far between amd several times were cancelled without notice. Theater shows were dreadfully sung. The acrobatics were entertaining, however. Internet didn't work in our cabin, but MSC wouldn't give a partial refund. Room Service was supposed to be included, but family was charged. Drink packages are not uniformly implemented. Debarkation locations amd times changed, procedures randomly changed, etc. No clear communication about anything except sales or other $$ items. MSC is trash, their staff doesn't care about their guests and their competition is literally better at everything. Enjoy your vacation, cruise with someone else. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
MSC cruise lines said they are not responsible to reimburse a passenger who books a tour through them when the tour does not provide services as advertised, shortens the tour to 1-1/2 hrs from the advertised 3-1/2 hrs & does not ... Read More
MSC cruise lines said they are not responsible to reimburse a passenger who books a tour through them when the tour does not provide services as advertised, shortens the tour to 1-1/2 hrs from the advertised 3-1/2 hrs & does not furnish the passenger a guide in their native language, i.e. English as advertised. If you like to waste your time & money on a tour that doesn't complete as sold & advertised, this is your cruise. MSC employees do not act in making sure the kids running around their ship do not put seniors in harms way by their actions, don't take any roll in disciplining the kids - since the foreign travelers don't manage their kids at all - example is kicking back of chairs in the theater, pre-teens putting their feet up on the chairs making it where adults can't sit or spreading themselves out as to limit seating, then get up and leave within the first 15 minutes of a performance, rushing into an elevator before it unloads, cutting in buffet food lines, running in and around someone in a wheelchair, using their hands to grab food at the buffet instead of using a utensil, butting in or into an adult in the food line, and so much more. If you have kids, and enjoy turning them lose on the ship while you don't provide supervision then this is the cruise for you! If you don't mind dining with foreigners who will totally ignore you if you speak English, while they obviously can, and act like you don't exist, this is your cruise. Several of their 10th & 11th floor elevators had operational issues, and were not repaired during the entire 7 days even after notice to customer service desk. One never knew if they would get stuck, or the elevator would even operate once inside. Upon embarkation you were one of several hundred whose cabin key cards did not work and only solution was to wait in long lines to get to the desk so your key card could be either activated or replaced. These passengers were among the mix of others who had various issues rather than getting the key card people into another line to expedite resolution. Customer Service not allowed to think out of the box to expedite problem solving issues. The ship is very nice, well decorated, and the cabins and common areas are well maintained. My cabin steward barely offered any services the last 3 days of a 7 day cruise. Prior to this cruise I sailed on the MSC Divinia so found the buffet on this ship exactly the same food - barely above institution quality food. At least dining room service was better because it was so bad on the Divinia that my co-table mates and I decided after the first 3 days of a 10 day cruise not to return to the table and we were not allowed to be seated elsewhere. Service was very poor, and we were lucky if we got the menu item we ordered. FYI - the coffee served throughout the dining rooms and buffet is not freshly brewed coffee. You must go to a coffee bar for fresh brewed. The other brown liquid is a knock off of coffee being a mix of who knows what! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
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
My family was so excited to be sailing on the Armonia for the Christmas cruise to Cuba. When I booked this cruise I advised the MSC ticket agent that my daughter suffers from Celiac Disease and would require a gluten free meal plan. At ... Read More
My family was so excited to be sailing on the Armonia for the Christmas cruise to Cuba. When I booked this cruise I advised the MSC ticket agent that my daughter suffers from Celiac Disease and would require a gluten free meal plan. At no point in the conversation did the rep advise me that accommodating my daughters dietary issues would be a problem. You see I have previously traveled with MSC and was aware that many of your ships have dedicated gluten free kitchens. My daughter's selections for meals were extremely limited; had this information been convened to me at the time of booking I would have selected another ship. You see my daughter is very fussy and there was no pasta, pancakes or even something as simple as individual containers of yogurt. I do believe the kitchen staff did there best to accommodate my daughter. Nevertheless, not conveying the information about how limited my daughter's options for food would be on Armonia is not acceptable. In many ways I feel that this cruise was sold to me fraudulently. Additionally, another big issue was the disembarkation in Cuba. The crew made an announcement that people who booked third party excursions had to be off the ship by 12:20. As such, many of us who met this criteria disembarked from the ship early only to wait on a line for over an hour as Armonia crew allowed all of their excursions to go through Cuban customs prior to third party excursions. This experience made all of us feel like second class citizens. Why tell us to leave earlier only to force us to watch your excursions all go through first. We all had an agenda in Cuba. A few other things were overlooked. I did advise that I would be celebrating my birthday on this cruise, and that was never even addressed. Also, failure of cabin stewards to introduce themselves at the beginning of cruise, all of these little details matter. One final note, the change of port to Ochos Rios was disappointing as we were never given a really good reason for why the destination was changed. In summary, I spent a lot of money for my family to enjoy themselves, and this cruise failed to live up to expectations. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
MSC Cruises is growing a lot, and we were on one of their older, smallest ships. I don't know how the experience would be on their modern megaships. The disadvantage for the MSC Armonia is the age. It doesn't have all the new ... Read More
MSC Cruises is growing a lot, and we were on one of their older, smallest ships. I don't know how the experience would be on their modern megaships. The disadvantage for the MSC Armonia is the age. It doesn't have all the new bells and whistles, and the age is showing if you look carefully (a couple ceiling panels in the theater out of whack, etc). It had two advantages, though: it's small enough to fit in Havana's cruise terminal, which is a holdover from the 50s and can't accommodate larger ships; and it had a "family cabin" that we were able to nab that was 65% larger than most for the same price (you can see the layout here: https://www.cruisemapper.com/cabins/MSC-Armonia-607). The Family Cabin is great if you can snag it, but there are only two of them on the ship. The availability of the cabin (combined with 100% refundability of the deposit and the Cuban overnight) are why we booked this cruise. It was really nice to have a separate room for the kids and for the adults - it felt like a comfortable hotel room, not a cramped ship cabin. The only downsides were that the hideabed sofa showed wear on its cushions, and the shower is _tiny_. Food and Drink: The food was fine. The buffet was acceptable, with gelato available by the pool, and pizza available 24 hours (the pizza is European-style, and I've seen some American reviewers dislike it). The restaurant food was good, but fancier dishes like surf and turf required an upcharge (except for the special menu on Christmas). We didn't do a drinks package, but the cabin level we purchased ("Fantastica") included 12 drink coupons apiece for the 7-day cruise. That was enough for us (especially with some free drinks thanks to the the CruiseCritic connection - see below). The biggest issue is that they were out of some wines and cocktails that were on the menu, but we were able to find alternatives. Passengers: The biggest difference between this and other cruises we've done (Holland America, Carnival, Princess, and Royal Caribbean) is that the clientele was much more international. About 20% of the passengers were Chinese (which may have been a special group because of Christmas), and there were also large contingents from Italy, Brazil, and France (in addition to other languages). So, many announcements were in multiple languages, and the in-cabin TVs showed movies dubbed into other languages in addition to English. A practical effect was that the nightly entertainment de-emphasized words. We didn't have any magicians or comedians - it was all singing, dancing, and acrobatics. The acrobats were really impressive the first night, but they essentially repeated their acts with different costumes and music in the different shows, so it wasn't as impressive by the end of the trip. This sailing was only the 3rd sailing for MSC Armonia based out of Miami (previously based out of Mexico or Cuba). The one American cruise staff member said that she could tell that they were already changing the food to match the American audience instead of the Latin audience they were used to. Another change was adding trivia - that's apparently unique to American passengers. I suspect there will be other changes over time as they get used to the new clientele. Embarkation: Embarkation worked very smoothly for us. Our tickets asked us to arrive at 4:15, but they actually started boarding at 11:30. We split the difference and arrived at around 2:30, and there was barely a line at all. The only quirk was having to fill out an extra form because we were going to Cuba (I'll talk more about that later). But with that filled out, we boarded, and our cabin was immediately ready. Kids: There are kids' programs on board, but our kids have no interest in them. So, besides popping our heads into the room once on the first day and seeing kids dressed up for Christmas at the end of the cruise, we didn't experience it at all. Christmas: Christmas was celebrated on the ship with both a morning Catholic mass and an afternoon Santa party. There were also decorations around the ship and Christmas music playing a lot. The Santa party included a professional video about Santa waking up in the Italian Alps and racing to the ship. It was cute, and I suspect it was shown on a bunch of MSC ships. We could have received a gift of a Lego set, but the kids didn't care enough to wait. Overall, the Christmas theming and feel was stronger on a Holland America Oosterdam Christmas cruise we did two years ago, but it was fine. Special party: We had signed up for the Roll Call (https://www.cruisecritic.com/rollcalls/) in advance, and we learned about the Meet & Mingle (https://www.cruisecritic.com/rollcall/) through that. I advise signing up for that, if you go. The event was on the morning of the first full day of the cruise, which both happened to be a sea day and Christmas. We got some hor d'oeuvres and a couple glasses of champagne/mimosa apiece, and got to meet most of the senior staff. We had a nice chat with Claudio, the Cruise Relations manager, and he sent a bottle of champagne and some chocolate-covered strawberries to our cabin the next day (I think they usually charge $85 for that). I don't know if they do that for everyone from the Meet & Mingle, or if it was special because we talked with him. Either way, it was really nice to get a couple days of free champagne for just the cost of signing up for the Meet & Mingle! Stops: The first stop was supposed to be Montego Bay, Jamaica, but they announced the day before that we were going to Ocho Rios, instead. We didn't care, because we didn't have anything planned for that day. When we got there, we disembarked, walked through the gauntlet of taxi drivers, explored the tourist fake town a bit, and then found another taxi driver to take us to the Blue Hole (a series of waterfalls on the White River with places to play in the water). Everything (taxi drivers and Lonely Planet) said that the entrance fee would be $10, but it was $15 instead - we barely had enough cash on hand for that and for the driver. But it was a fun time there, and a decent exposure to Jamaicans having Boxing Day fun. The next stop was Grand Cayman. We booked an independent Stingray cruise with Captain Marvin's Watersports, and it went really well (and was cheaper than what the ship offered). We had booked a 10:30 outing because we didn't know when the ship would get in, but we were able to tender to the island by 8, and thus switch to the 8:30 trip instead. We really enjoyed meeting and feeding a large ray at the sandbar and then snorkeling at the reef. The third stop was Cozumel, which was the only stop we'd visited on previous cruises. It was also the only stop on which we bought a ship excurion - a trip to the Tulum ruins. We went with the ship on that one because the logistics of getting to Tulum were more complicated (two ferry rides and two bus rides), and we didn't want to risk being independent of the ship's responsibility for that. We were in the first group to leave the ship, the first ferry to the mainland, and the last ferry back to Cozumel - it really was a full day. The excursion itself was pretty good, with information about the Mayans and the site. We had time to use the beach, but the lack of a changing facility and the crowded beach dissuaded us. The only (minor) downside was the attempt by the guide to sell us customized Mayan jewelry. The last stop on the cruise was the main event - Havana. The 28-hour stop there was the original reason we looked at the MSC Armonia. Getting to Cuba is more involved that getting to the other countries. There's a $75/person visa to enter the country. The visa forms were delivered to the cabins, and the fee was charged automatically. If we hadn't wanted to use it, we could have turned the forms in for a refund, but only if the forms were not altered in any way - an accidental pen mark would be a $75 pen mark. And if you messed up the forms at all (by using a date format like 12 25 2000 instead of the Cuban format of 25 12 2000), you've have to pay for a brand new form. When we actually disembarked the first time, it was with the mad rush of hundreds of people, and we had to wait in line for about an hour, get our passports stamped, and then we were able to enter Cuba. Every time after that, we would just say "we've been off the ship before," and they would wave us through without looking at our passport. I'm not saying that you wouldn't necessarily need the visa if you just waited until the initial crush was complete, but it's possible. That was the Cuban side - there was also additional bureaucracy on the American side. Before we arrived, the Cruise Director had a meeting in which he said that he knew we might have heard online (like on these boards) that cruise excursions weren't necessary, but the only way he knew for sure that we wouldn't have problems re-entering the US would be if we bought an excursion from them and showed our ticket stub to US Customs and immigration. Well, we didn't do that. Instead, we bought a 3-hour walking tour of the Old City and a 4-hour driving tour of the rest of the city from havanacar.net (the guide was better with the car than with the walk), and we didn't have that ticket stub. Havanacar recommended that we enter "Support for the Cuban People" on our form at embarkation, so that's what we entered as we boarded, and we never saw the form again. And when we left the ship in Miami, the Customs agent just waved us through when we said we had nothing to declare, and the immigration agent looked at our passport and welcomed us back. So, in practice, there were no US restrictions on us at all. I'm not saying that everyone would have the same experience (we're a white family - maybe that helped; this happened during the partial government shutdown - maybe that had an effect), but we had nothing to worry about. For the visit to Havana itself, we had a great time. Unlike many Caribbean stops, Havana is a real city. It has 2 million people and 500 years of history. There's a lot of real local culture there. We were lucky that our overnight coincided with a free performance by the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba in San Francisco Plaza, and we loved watching the Cuban audience sway and dance with the music, even though we didn't know the music ourselves. Havana could easily be a place to visit for a week-long trip later on. Summary: Before we booked the cruise, I saw reviews that warned that we would likely be miserable on the ship, and that definitely wasn't the case. There were definite flaws (deferred superficial maintenance/trouble getting the right wines sometimes/etc), but they were minor in the overall scheme. I would sail with MSC again, and I would do the Armonia again as well. That said, I would go with Holland America instead if they had identical itineraries and prices - HA seems to just have everything pulled together better and is more luxurious. But if the Armonia continues to have the cheapest fares for Havana overnights and also continues to have the family cabins, I'd go for it again without question. 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 2.9
Service 4.0 3.6
Value For Money 4.0 3.5

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