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Sail Date: September 2017
We choose this cruise because of the ports and the ability to conveniently fly in and out of Amsterdam. It was a seven day cruise with stops in five portsThe ship itself is lovely. Meal portions in the dining room were perfect and the ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the ports and the ability to conveniently fly in and out of Amsterdam. It was a seven day cruise with stops in five portsThe ship itself is lovely. Meal portions in the dining room were perfect and the service wonderful. We looked forward to embarking at our scheduled time of 2pm and having lunch. Apparently weather issues would not allow for the ship to safely enter the port in Amsterdam, so everyone was bused to Zeebrugge; a four hour ride, no food or water, bathrooms that shut down after 50 uses and a trip through the police station in Zeebrugge to present our passports. We finally got dinner at 8pm and our bags at 10:30 pm. Ok, so a rough start. Our first stop was Hamburg, where we waited well over 75 minutes for a shuttle what was supposed to come every 30 minutes. II had not known better I would have thought this was the very first cruise for this ship and it's crew. There were people embarking and disembarking at every port. This created absolute chaos for getting on and off the ship. We were late getting into four out of five ports, which meant that some of our excursions were cut by up to an hour or more. Our Itinerary also changed twice during the cruise. There seemed to be a lot of excuses for what was happening and a tremendous lack of communication to crew members who were bearing the brunt of passengers anger and frustration. Maybe this was just a situation of "anything that could go wrong did," but I will sail with MSC again. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I chose this cruise because I wanted an easy dis- and embarkation port for my parents who don't like air travel and who live in the Netherlands. Unfortunately my parents at the last moment couldn't travel and I decided to travel ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted an easy dis- and embarkation port for my parents who don't like air travel and who live in the Netherlands. Unfortunately my parents at the last moment couldn't travel and I decided to travel alone. Embarkation was easy as not too many passengers joined in Amsterdam. There was some confusion about my parents on the boarding document, but when the MSC assistant checked the system it seemed that the stateroom that was intentionally for my parents was already occupied by others. By the way no question about the reason or any sympathy what so ever. When I came on board I was attacked by a lady who was offering me an all inclusive drink package. I told her I wanted to give it a thought but she insisted there were just a few packages for that price left, so I took it on the spot. Later it seemed she lied about this, because it was offered everywhere and at any moment. Think it is quite something to lie in order to sell. The ship looks well maintained and also the stateroom looked in good state (except for some stains in the carpet). The food throughout the cruise was really inedible. Cold, no variety and very unhealthy. There was always enough space to sit. Your dining table is assigned and having diner with people you choose is only possible in the buffet restaurant. Sailing with ship is very quiet and MSC was very punctual. The ship always moored at the most remote berths and I am glad I can walk well, because shuttle service towards the city was always offered at an extra fee, sometimes as high as €15, like in Hamburg. Gym was excellent. Entertainment was very average and somethimes I felt like being on that cheap wedding party. The single travelers get together as announced in the daily program never took place (yes, I was on the right time at the right place). A true pity as there hardly was any interaction between the passengers nor with the crew. A few exceptions. The one time I had a talk with one of the hosts he started to tell me about the many beautiful Russian ladies on the ship and how he would like to sleep with them (really!!?!). Not the way to talk about your guests with other guests. On gala evening there were also people in shorts and with slippers in the buffet restaurant and this discribes best the fellow passengers. As for the service on board it was mostly swift but extremely impersonal. There were also some very kind crew members like Denys and Marcio who really deserve a promotion to become a trainer for customer care, to start with all the officers who do not speak with guests at all but only parade around the Italian way. At last without any explanation we arrive in Amsterdam at 10.15 instead of 09.00, meaning I had to change my flight. This was probably unforeseen as it wasn't communicated until the day before. All together if you are lookin for a nice cruise experience, where you meet nice new people and can have diner in nice settings and enjoy real good food, try to avoid MSC. If you like fast food and like to eat a lot, if it is not important to meet people who can maintain a conversation and are well mannered, this might be the cruise line for you! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
The main reason to chose this cruise was the ports of call. And they were the best part of the cruise. Beautiful Bruges, charming Honfleur, impressive Amsterdam, unique island of Guernsey made this tour unforgettable. However avoid on ... Read More
The main reason to chose this cruise was the ports of call. And they were the best part of the cruise. Beautiful Bruges, charming Honfleur, impressive Amsterdam, unique island of Guernsey made this tour unforgettable. However avoid on board excursions since they are highly overpriced. For instance: the night before we reach Bruges we have been informed that ship "kindly" provide us with the convenient shuttle service to nearest city of Blankenberg where we can take the train for Bruges. The cost is 14 euro both ways - no exception for seniors or children. And you have to order it before you go to sleep otherwise they cannot guarantee you seats in the shuttle. We preferred to ignore this offer and saved time and money. When we docked a lot of taxis were available at the gangway, we got one with four other people and it takes us 25 minutes to reach Bruges without any train for 6 euro per person. The same taxi picked up us at the certain points after 5 hours and brought back to gangway. We used the same way to reach Honfleur and Canterbury and it was much cheaper than transfer from the ship (transfer only - not excursion). Three main disappointments was: 1. Stateroom. Although many people gave cabin 5 we cannot do this - unfortunately. Do not get me wrong - we did not expect luxury accommodation for the price we paid. We had the ocean view cabin and expected to find it clean and nice. But from the first step we smelled some unpleasant odor in the bathroom which lasted until the very end despite the very nice Filipino boy tried to eliminate it. In the next port I bought toilet deodorant spray but it helped a little. Cabinet doors as well as the bathroom door have been scratched. The worst part was the linen. The pillows on the bed were the worst I have ever in my life, lumpy mess. The blanket was old and thin. The sheet has been ripped off. However our steward kept our cabin clean when we were out. 2. Food. It was another disappointment. The buffets were almost the same every day and only offered at limited times. Food would be over cooked, undercooked, served cold, be totally bland, and so on. The meats were often all fat and gristle and sometimes simply impossible to chew. I think the MSC tries to save a dime by buying cheap cuts of meat. Coffee and tea were poor quality and the best desert like apple pie came to end after five minutes. 3. Entertainment was very unprofessional and short. Each show lasted 20-25 minutes and 10 minutes entertainment director told us how wonderful it was. 4.The boat does not have a good internet connection. It is hugely expensive and normally does not work. We bought an hour connection for 17 euro and could use it just 10 minutes. 5. Few words about photo service. My husband is a professional photographer, an he believes that quality of photos made on board are unacceptable. 6. We also believe that 6 euro a day per person plus 15% for any drink is too much for very modest service. And we have been charged a donation for UNISEF of one euro per person. I am not against making donations and one euro is not a deal at all but to not have a choice kind of makes it NOT a donation. Have we seen anything positive in that cruise? Yes. The ship itself is great with the nice design, the people are friendly and represent different cultures and styles. The weather was great, ports of call were wonderful... But next time we definitely will choose other cruise company.   Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014
For me as a European citizen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) I really enjoyed my cruise on the Magnifica ! This was my 2nd one with her…… Ok.., most of the ports where not super…, but I don’t mind that. I dont like to do ... Read More
For me as a European citizen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) I really enjoyed my cruise on the Magnifica ! This was my 2nd one with her…… Ok.., most of the ports where not super…, but I don’t mind that. I dont like to do excursions, i like to walk around by my self or with friends and look at other ships. The weather was more then good.., only sun and no wind. The service on board was good enough for me, I’m not a fan of the entertainment on board, so I did not mind it was not really good . I can entertain my self.., don’t need a show. I like my beer.., so I had that package.., 23€ a day ! Pfff.., that was good ! Everything was clean on board…, the are taking good care of this ship. The food in the restaurant was good.., nothing special.., just good. The buffet was also not bad.., only bin there for lunch. Everybody was very friendly, I made some new friends ! The is nothing bad to say…, I like MSC .   Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
I had read some of the reviews before we left, and I was somewhat nervous. There was no reason to be. This was one of our favorite cruises. I want to tell you a bit about us before I review our trip. My husband and I are from SC, in our ... Read More
I had read some of the reviews before we left, and I was somewhat nervous. There was no reason to be. This was one of our favorite cruises. I want to tell you a bit about us before I review our trip. My husband and I are from SC, in our early sixties, and retired. We choose our cruises based on price and itinerary. We like to be comfortable, but usually choose an inside room and seldom go to specialty restaurants. 1.The food was good. It was more like Costa than Carnival. We ate at the buffets for breakfast and lunch. This was very similar to the other cruises we have been on. There was no ice cream. The buffets were well maintained with good selection, great taste, and ample seating. For dinner we ate in the dining room. If you are from the US, you are given coupons for bottles of water. Take these to dinner and give one to your waiter whenever you want a bottle of water. The service was excellent. We sat at a table with three other couples, all from the US. One couple had the drinks package and were pleased with it. We bought two bottles of wine. Each bottle lasted about three nights. You cannot take a bottle from the restaurant, but the waiter returned with it each night. There were six courses. One course was risotto or pasta. Most nights I ordered risotto and found it excellent. The entree was the fifth course. Servings of meat were not as large as on some ships, but after the risotto I did not want a large portion. You could order seconds of any entree or another entree if you wanted. A large steak was not offered nightly. There were several items offered every night, so if you did not like the nightly menu, you could choose from these. 2. The shore excursions were in English. We purchased the excursions before we boarded. There was no where to select an English tour guide, but the ship sorted this out. In Hamburg English and French speakers toured together. The guide spoke both languages and described each site in both languages. We were happy with our ship excursions. They are rather expensive, but after flying from the US and paying for the cruise , we want to see as much as possible. As I said before the itinerary was why we selected the ship. 3. The ship was clean and emphasized safety. There was hand sanitizer available in the dining room and buffet areas. This was the first cruise we have been on where the tender ports used the life boats with the crew as the captains to get us ashore. This assured us of their size , stability, and that the crew could operate them properly. 4. Speaking only English was not a problem. My husband and I traveled alone. We speak only English. The ship picked up passengers in both Hamburg and Amsterdam. For dinner and excursions we were with other English speakers. Most of the crew spoke English. There were limited announcements, and they were spoken in several languages, including English. The other passengers were friendly, and most spoke some English. 5. Embarkation and several languages, isembarkation were quick and efficient. I was somewhat concerned about being unable to find an address for the departure port in Amsterdam. We informed our cab driver that we were going on an ocean cruise. He took us right to the port, and we saw the beautiful Magnifica right away. When we disembarked, we had to wait about 10 minutes for a taxi. They were not lined up outside the port. I wrote this review to let those who may be contemplating an MSC cruise, to go. There was no reason for concerns. I will be happy to answer questions about our trip. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
This summer my friends and I took a cruise to the Norwegian fjords on board MSC Magnifica and were extremely disappointed. Schedule is so that most of the time you spent on the ship. From 14 days of the cruise, we went down to the the ... Read More
This summer my friends and I took a cruise to the Norwegian fjords on board MSC Magnifica and were extremely disappointed. Schedule is so that most of the time you spent on the ship. From 14 days of the cruise, we went down to the the shore just 6 times. If the total duration of the cruise was 330 hours that we spent on the shore not more than 50. The ship can go at a speed of 22 knots per hour, but in reality he is doing 12-14 knots thereby reducing the number of stops and forcing you to spend as much money on board. Shore excursions are very expensive, can be purchased on the shores of the same tour for half the cost. What was waiting for us on board? - The cabin was too small  - Food: one big disappointment. Travelling Norway you hope to enjoy the abundance of seafood, but in fact you eat in an Italian student cafeteria. The menu is virtually unchanged from day to day and the quality is far from perfect. Twice we tried to dine at the restaurant and were disappointed much more - the same menu only in an abridged version, you order one thing and get another, the names do not match the content (ordered carpaccio - get ham, etc.) - Entertainment was boring and not professional. It was only one bright spot - a trio of Stravinsky. - Air conditioning in the bars and restaurants was abysmal   - Maintenance staff: room service was perfect, the waiters in the bars are afraid and stupid except for a few girls and guys from Eastern Europe. One evening in a half-empty bar we waited for 40 minutes until the waitress came up to us, despite the fact that we have twice approached the desk.   - Company MSC automatically charge 6 euros per person per day for tips on what you sign when boarding the ship. In addition, each order you get charged 15% service charge. Honestly deserve a tip just a guy who was cleaning the cabin.   - A fitting finale of this trip was the last disembarkation, which is due to a large "professionalism" of the team somehow took more than 3 hours as a result of what we have paid rapport to ordered car service and nearly missed the plane. It was our last cruise with MSC company Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
Just returned home after a Magnificent 11 day cruise. Having never been to Europe and having read the reviews, I had very low expectations. Well, this trip was fantastic. Embarkation was very easy and quick. Our cabin which was a balcony ... Read More
Just returned home after a Magnificent 11 day cruise. Having never been to Europe and having read the reviews, I had very low expectations. Well, this trip was fantastic. Embarkation was very easy and quick. Our cabin which was a balcony on the rear of the ship was spacious and immaculate. We have 9229 which has a little extra hallway attached to the room which made for more storage and very private. Food, PERFECT. I'm not sure what people expect based on reviews I read but our experience in the dining room was nothing less than perfect. There were a couple of meals I didn't care for but that was because I tried something new that didn't appeal to me. Our servers, Hugo and Stephan were on it and had our lemons and beers ready to put on the table every night when we arrived. Food presentation was great and food arrived hot. The buffet had a good variety. Only problem we incurred was pushing and cutting the lines by certain people. Can't expect manners by all and that is not the cruise lines fault. The shows were very good. Being from the US we enjoyed the European feel to some of the shows. This trip was our once in a lifetime trip and we have no regrets. I recommend this ship and this itenary to all. LOVED all the ports and realize that cruising gives you a taste of each place. Although there were only 69 Americans on the ship we were never made to feel shunned. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
There seems to be little information on MSC cruises so I am sharing out balcony experience on Magnifica. We agreed with most posts saying food tedious, not tasty...repetitive. The lunch salad bar was okay and fruit fresh enough. Veeeery ... Read More
There seems to be little information on MSC cruises so I am sharing out balcony experience on Magnifica. We agreed with most posts saying food tedious, not tasty...repetitive. The lunch salad bar was okay and fruit fresh enough. Veeeery limited free drinks. Formal dining did not seem to help food and orders often wrong and service hurried at second seating. We quickly (three nights) choose to go buffet and called it the "carb cruise". Fries and almost meatless pizza with occasional surprise of something different but still not well seasoned on buffet. Nothing to order at breakfast. Formal dining seemed very unorganized and waits were painfully long to often get wrong order. A few European cruisers (two families) seemed pleased with food so perhaps it's a difference in taste and preferences. We did not look forward to meals and hey, a good Subway sandwich can work for us. So: be prepared to be underwhelmed with taste of food. Or variety. The linens were mended and cabin seemed dated for age of ship. We had bedspread removed. Did not appear to be clean but can't say. We didn't use it. The mattress very uncomfortable. We flipped one of the twins (which made a king) and it was somewhat better. The pillows were very bad. Felt like a bunch of rolled socks in a bag. I went to boot camp so I know uncomfortable and again, not overly picky...but suggest you bring your own pillow if you have trouble with comfort. Not much to do on ship for non-opera loving English speakers. Bring media/books/video. I gave away a book to a hungry-to-read american and several others were surprised to learn there was only news channel available. No TV for english language. We tendered one day. Big time preference to those who purchased shore excursions. Perhaps true of many cruise lines. We have about 80 cruises between the two of us. We would do MSC again if ports were right...but would bring pillows and malt vinegar and maybe salsa and books and more video. (We did get thru two and a half seasons of Games of Thrones tho....good opportunity if you want to get into a mini-series). Embarkation and disembarkation was fine. Quick and painless in Amsterdam however the bulk of ship boarded in Hamburg. Our phone didn't work and after several attempts to get it fixed we gave up. This seemed to be true of others with maintenance issues. I want to keep an open mind about other MSC ships.....but I would not, based on my one experience, choose MSC if I had other choices. It is not a "cruise" choice but is a possibility if I consider it a "traveling hotel" which goes to ports I desire to visit. In summary: it's a traveling hotel...if the seas are calm, the ports right....I'd do MSC again. But not in the US where I have other choices.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Nine night cruise Amsterdam to Amsterdam. Six ports. One cancelled after we booked without notifying us. (About two months prior to sail). The Magnifica is a four or five year old ship. Linens mended and old and bedspread removed, ... Read More
Nine night cruise Amsterdam to Amsterdam. Six ports. One cancelled after we booked without notifying us. (About two months prior to sail). The Magnifica is a four or five year old ship. Linens mended and old and bedspread removed, didn't look clean. Mattress VERY uncomfortable, we flipped it. Pillows Extremely Uncomfortable. Like a bag of rolled up socks. My suggestion: bring a pillow. Food: Monotonous and not tasty. We called it the "carb cruise". Meatless pizza and fries. The lunch salad bar was good but usually at port during lunch. Formal dining service slow and got orders wrong. Not organized. We dined formally three nights, then chose buffet. Again boring, little seasoning. Fruit ok. Drinks limited. No iced tea, little juice. We had a balcony. Size as expected. The seas were calm. Entertainment described as "bad high school opera". We brought iPad and another american almost gnawed off my arm to get it.......we got "iPad jacked" ....almost. Seriously, bring media and books...there isn't much to do. Dance lessons and some things like that but no comedians. Just different. It may have appealed more to European tastes. As, said two European families, did the food. So maybe.....????? But that being said, given a choice...I would chose a line that cruises mostly with Americans. The food is different, better. The beds better. Entertainment likewise. Thus the comfort level and enjoyment much much much higher. However, the "americanized" lines don't offer the same ports....so....if you want this......think of it like a "Super 8" at sea. Bring a pillow, lots of books, some salsa and b-b-q sauce and go see Europe for one third the price of a river cruise. PS: Em and disembarkation ok. Preference to ships excursions in tendering...possibly true of all lines. But, very uncool Mr MSC person.... Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
We did Amsterdam down to Lisbon and back, with stops at Vigo, Spain, Bilbao, Spain, Le Havre, France, Southampton, England and Guernsey. We twice went ashore and explored on our own, twice used private small-group tours NOT booked through ... Read More
We did Amsterdam down to Lisbon and back, with stops at Vigo, Spain, Bilbao, Spain, Le Havre, France, Southampton, England and Guernsey. We twice went ashore and explored on our own, twice used private small-group tours NOT booked through the ship and twice used ship-booked excursions. We are still new at cruising, this being our 3rd cruise, but we are learning fast. We have no desire to ever book a ship-booked excursion again - overpriced, overcrowded, few stops, most of the time wasted waiting for 70 people to get on and off the bus. We are very glad we tried booking our own private excursions. We used We Hate Tourism Tours in Lisbon and Discover the South in Southampton. We were delighted with both. It is worth paying extra for the customized, small-group experience. The main dining room was excellent. The food was great and the service was great, with one exception: an adjacent table (#55 in the L'Approdo dining room, 1st seating) had a family of 6 adults with 4 loud, hyperactive kids whose parents had no interest in controlling them. We were struck by flying objects, the kids were constantly yelling and shrieking and would not stay in their seats. The dining-room staff took no responsibility for controlling those people, who really should have been kicked out of the dining room on their first night and told not to return, at least not with the kids. The same family of idiots ruined our bus tour in Bilbao, and we were told by other bus passengers that they had done the same on a previous tour. The tour guide also took no responsibility and did nothing. The same family of idiots disrupted the stage show one night in the theatre, and at least on that one occasion, they WERE kicked out. MSC, your staff REALLY dropped the ball here - this is ample reason for me to avoid booking with MSC in the future. It really took away from the pleasure of the trip. You are too concerned with making sure the family of idiots had a good time, and not concerned enough with the fact that they were ruining the good time for everybody else who was ever near them. The buffet was open at suppertime, but had very limited choice. This is NOT good enough. The casino was good, but not very lively. We loved our staterooms and our balconies - we saw groups of dolphins 4 times, and watching docking and castoff was interesting. Room service was perfect. They need more do-it-yourself activities, and they need to upgrade those that they do have. The mini-golf, for example, was so dilapidated as to be useless. The worst performance by MSC was the usual (I have done an MSC cruise before) - they do NOT organize disembarkation properly, either for port visits or the end of the cruise. Information is sparse, vague, and often just plain wrong. Getting off the ship is slow, and wastes precious hours that we want to spend visiting the port cities. The staff who actually talk to us are trying and are usually polite, but clearly there is a problem higher up - it seems clear to me that the leaders just do not care. Eventually we will all trickle off the ship somehow, and then they will be free of us - that is obviously their attitude. The only thing I have to compare with is the one Royal Caribbean cruise I have done, and Royal Caribbean did this part of the job RIGHT. It was done quickly and efficiently every time. MSC need to wake up, and realize they will lose customers to their competition because of this. Lastly, the usual towels-on-the-lounge-chairs problem. MSC had placed signs on the pool decks saying that belongings left unattended on chairs for more than half an hour would be removed. And that is a good sign. But unfortunately all it was was a sign - I saw no evidence that they ever did it. ALL cruise ships and ALL beach resorts need to put up signs like this, but then they have to assign staff members with the duty of actually DOING IT. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our 2nd cruise on MSC. Our first cruise was fine so we were happy to go again for MSC cruise but it wasn't what we expected.MSC Magnifica is beautiful ship and in great condition. They keep ship very clean. Our balcony cabin ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on MSC. Our first cruise was fine so we were happy to go again for MSC cruise but it wasn't what we expected.MSC Magnifica is beautiful ship and in great condition. They keep ship very clean. Our balcony cabin was also in perfect condition and cabin personnel did a good job during the cruise.Entertainment and activies were quite poor. There were few quiz per day, couple bands playing dance music and couple keyboard and singer duos. They had also few shows with mainly music, dancing and acrobatics. You won't miss anything if you pass.Food was mainly good in main dining room. If you ate fish or seafood everything was really good but other meat wasn't the best quality. For example duck is usually served as a fillet, on MSC they seem rost the whole duck and then cut it to pieces. And the steaks are the most chewy ones I have ever eaten - so seems that they are cutting corners on the quality. Buffet was fine during lunch time but on dinner food was quite disgusting. Chicken was really dry and steaks were really really really well done with dark grey color.Oriental restaurant had really good food and great service. L'Oasi ala carte restaurant was something else. I return to their service part later on this review but the food was also terrible. We tasted one dish before walking out. Outside of the restaurant is a picture of their signature dishes and basil soap with scallops looks delicious. When we got actual portion we couldn't see any scallops and it didn't remind the dish at all. Then we got chef explaining that scallops are just small. When we did some fishing we were lucky to find two world's smallest scallops from the plate. Can't neither remember when I have eaten anything which tastes so bad...Then to the main issue which was poor customer service. We had already hick ups right away on first evening. I had ordered bon voyage package which also included fruit basket delivered every day. I went to ask about delivery for our package and guest relations didn't know fruit basket was included. They declined it several times until finally checking from some document the truth. Major hick up on our cruise was the personnel being not aware about premium drink package. On ala carte restaurant they refused to serve us drinks. We then had to get those ourselves from the bar, but neither the bartender had never heard about it. After long discussion he was kind enough to serve us. Quite soon he also then brought us the receipts to be signed with charging the drinks which should have been included.We tried once again to explain them was is included in the package and what is not. Then the waiter started teaching us with his 8 years of experience on MSC and said that packages have been never applied on the ala carte restaurant. At that stage we decided to walk out. We went to guest relations and there were 4 persons saying to us that drinks in ala carte aren't included in the package. Luckily I had a print from home stating what is included and what is not. I got it from cabin and then they started investigating it.Next I got to talk with guest relations manager. She said that she must contact they customer service right away and let them know that they have given wrong information. Wait a minute! So the fault was now in MSC customer service and their websites? On her opinion ship personnel had correct and rest of MSC wrong.Couple days after I went back to guest relations and she had got more information. Now she said that package includes ala carte restaurants but not L'oasi. So she was still saying we were wrong about having glass of champagne in the ala carte restaurant included to the package. Then she also explained that drinks from bar menu are however included also in L'oasi. At that point we got so confused we decided to give it up. I don't know how often guest relations check their own bar menus but that champagne is mentioned there. One other major hick up was personnel having drinks from my package. I noticed that there were weird double lines on my invoice. I could say from the all previous days were those correct or not - but from that day I was sure. I went to accounting and asked after those receipts. I had had one beer at that bar and it was correct. However there was also another purchase - 2 cans of red bull - which weren't mine. MSC response was very excellent. Since I had a package I wouldn't have to pay those. Great! Who cares, if personnel steals from the company.They also made several small errors - with room service and laundry pricing. To me seems it seems MSC does everything about 90% correct and it is just easier if customers have to do all the work for correcting the information. So customers have to the things which should be done by personnel. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
I will start by saying that I went on this cruise with my mother, and I chose this sailing because of the itinerary and the price, both of which were very good. I had travelled with MSC a few years ago, and although there were things we ... Read More
I will start by saying that I went on this cruise with my mother, and I chose this sailing because of the itinerary and the price, both of which were very good. I had travelled with MSC a few years ago, and although there were things we did not like about it (no coffee or tea served at dinner in the main restaurant, having to pay for a glass of water, feeling like a fifth class citizen as English speakers), we were willing to go with them again as the price was great. We took the train from our airport hotel to the central station in Amsterdam, then decided to walk to the terminal. That was a bad idea ;) too much construction, too much rain, etc...we arrived at the cruise terminal soaking wet, but were clearly directed to where we could drop our luggage and then to where we needed to go to check in(only 300 people embarking in Amsterdam...should have been a breeze). We started to go to where we were told to go, only to be stopped by an employee telling us to just find a seat and she would call us when she was ready, I asked how she would call us as we had no number or color, and she said I'll just call you. finally called to check in, then people began to cut in front with not staff maintaining order. Finally a Dutch gentleman stepped in and told them they needed to be in the back of the line as we had all waited our turn...yeah! Checked in, went to our room, it was lovely, and clean. We met stateroom attendant immediately, very friendly, I asked for an extra pillow, it arrived before bed time. Stateroom attendants were great. Frist night dinner, we went to dining room and were directed to a booth in the very back corner, and it was very tight. The waiters had to literally work around a big pole in order to serve everyone at the table, as they could not reach otherwise, Very dumb layout. We all felt bad for waiters, as this made a difficult job way harder. The wait staff was excellent and eager to please, we found them to be amazing. There were two other English speaking couples at the table with us, for which we were thankful. Still no coffee or tea served at the table in the dining room, but water packages are now free for North Americans for dinner. The customer service was horrendous!!! I can not tell you stronger that you are on your own if you have any issues...they cannot/will not help you, it is your fault, period. The shore excursion staff was truly disorganised, particularly if you only spoke English. Transfers were poorly organised, lineups barely supervised, lots of pushing and cutting in line...very frustrating. The food in the dining room on the whole, was not great, very little choice, not well seasoned, not well presented, and at times, items looked nothing like described on the menu. We did not take advantage of the shows, so can not speak to that. Overall, I would say that we enjoyed our vacation, but were very disappointed in the cruise, and the total lack of customer service. I will not travel with MSC again, even for a good price   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2012
After reading some of the negative comments we (experienced cruisers including HAL, RCCL and Celebrity) prepared for the worst on our first MSC cruise. But we found our 7-day cruise with the MSC Lirica fantastic! Our balcony suite was ... Read More
After reading some of the negative comments we (experienced cruisers including HAL, RCCL and Celebrity) prepared for the worst on our first MSC cruise. But we found our 7-day cruise with the MSC Lirica fantastic! Our balcony suite was spacious, comfortable and had plenty of storage. We had breakfast in our cabin every day(3 or 5 euro supplement when you want more than the regular continental breakfast). Also: tasty coffee/cappuccino/tea (I guess that's the Italian influence). Good wines and cocktails (similar prices to other cruise lines). Fresh orange juice in the coffee bar (a must for me). Very friendly staff. Compliments to our cabin steward Komang Agus and his assistant (who kept our cabin super clean) and to hairdresser Mileidy Hernandez from Cuba. She did an excellent job on my hair for both formal nights. The ship also has nice shops with ample choice. There are certainly improvements to be recommended. The (musical) entertainment was kinda boring and boarding after excursions was too slow. Also the food in the main restaurant could be better and the buffet restaurant should be open on both sides in busy times (like after excursions). Room service is only available during breakfast hours (why not 24/7?). There are many smoking areas on the ship (such as the casino). As non-smokers we didnt appreciate the ship's smoking policy. The tinerary was very interesting: - Hamburg (Germany). We recommend the Hop on/Hop Off bus. Bus stop is at appr. 5 minutes walking distance from the ship. - Edinburgh (Scotland). Fantastic city. We recommend the Hop on/Hop Off bus. Warning: Don't get the private shuttle bus at the harbour in South Queensferry. They charge 15 euro (20 dollars) and assure you that you get a ride back from the city centre to the ship at 13.00, 14.00. 15.00. 16.00 hours etc. We wanted to take the 16.00 hours shuttle bus back to the ship, but they never came to pick us up. They left 30 Lirica passengers (including us) stranded at Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. It's a disgrace. All of us had to get taxis to the ship. Thanks to our fantastic taxi driver we made it back to the ship just in time! - Newcastle (UK). Fun for a couple of hours. We took a taxi to the city centre and did some shopping. - Harwich (UK). You can go to Ippswich, Colchester, Cambridge or London from here (train station 5 minutes walk from the ship). We preferred to stay in the lovely little town of Harwich (2 stops by train) and had lunch there. The MSC Lirica is a rather small ship. It was clearly struggling with the heavy October winds (80-90 kph). Therefore the Lirica is not suitable for people who are prone to seasickness. All in all we are very satisfied!! We already booked our next cruise with MSC!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
When we first booked this cruise it was with some trepidation having read previous reviews, however we thought the discounted price was reasonable (£795 per person) so we took the plunge, we did find out that some Dutch people we met ... Read More
When we first booked this cruise it was with some trepidation having read previous reviews, however we thought the discounted price was reasonable (£795 per person) so we took the plunge, we did find out that some Dutch people we met booked for significantly less and also had a 300 Euro spending allowance on board. On the whole the ship was absolutely fine with the exception of the breakfast and buffet area where the food was abysmal along with poor service. It was plainly clear that this was a problem area as the buffet restaurant is far too small for the number of passengers using it and appeared to cater mainly for the German passengers of which there were many as the cruise started in Hamburg, generally however the food was absolutely fine in the main restaurants. We had an inside cabin on deck 9 and was pleasantly surprised at the size and layout, perhaps the mid to rear of the ship would be a preferred cabin location. Be aware of the cost of drinks (a small glass of beer 5.64 euros), coffee and service charges which amounted to 6 euros per day per person ie 10 days amounted to 120 euros also all drinks incur a 15% service charge, we wanted to enjoy our cruise but felt the on board prices to be excessive and whilst we didn't go without we were somewhat careful even so our bill was some 600 euros STOCKHOLM The City is close to the port we took the Hop on bus immediately next to the Ship for 10 euros and enjoyed a water boat tour which took in most of Stockholm and a great way of seeing the major sites TALINN for 15 euros get a taxi to the town centre and enjoy a lovely medieval walled city St PETERSBURG Due the cost and difficulties in getting a visa we took the City and Hermitage tour and Canal tour which where both excellent. COPENHAGEN Again you can walk in to Copenhagen Centre from the ship, we caught the water hop on boat a the Little Mermaid which was only a five minute walk from the ship and again a great way of seeing the City. We did hear there were problems with the hop on bus immediately by the ship. PLUS POINTS a great itinerary visiting interesting places of which St Petersburg and Copenhagen were our favourites. The ship was better than we expected, not luxury but acceptable. MINUS POINTS we boarded at Ijmuiden an obscure port some way from Amsterdam, the cost for a taxi from the airport was 80 euros the alternative was to catch 2 trains. The quality of food in the buffet was very poor for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea was the worst I have experienced on any cruise I have taken. The cost of coffee, drinks etc was excessive we compromised by having wine with our evening meal, also compulsory service charges. Generally we had a pleasant experience and would recommend the cruise if only for the places we visited Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
My husband and I just returned from the Opera where we sailed from Amsterdam to Oslo, Stavanager, Flam and then disembarked in Bergen, Norway. We are both in are early 40s and were not travelling with our two teenagers. We arrived in ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the Opera where we sailed from Amsterdam to Oslo, Stavanager, Flam and then disembarked in Bergen, Norway. We are both in are early 40s and were not travelling with our two teenagers. We arrived in Amsterdam the morning before our departure and stayed with a fantastic couple we found on airbnb.com (a site I highly recommend instead of paying super high hotel charges). This was a great start to our cruise as the couple was from the UK and was able to help us figure out how to navigate Amsterdam as well as drop us at the cruise port. Embarkation took all of 5 minutes from the time we walked in the front door to the time we stepped on the ship. We arrived at approx 4 pm. Everything was smooth and there was NO line at all. I understand that a lot of passengers boarded in Southhampton so that is probably why there were no lines. We immediately went to our room which was a balcony room and we were very happy with the accommodations. I loved having the balcony and would definitely recommend it for this cruise as most of the reason you are taking this cruise is to take in the Norway Fjords and all their beauty. It was worth the extra price we paid. Our bags arrived shortly after and we rested and got ready for dinner where we had the second seating. This served us very well for this cruise as we would be tired after a long day of sightseeing and would come back for a nice nap until about 7pm. Keep in mind that it was light out from 4am to approx. midnight every night...in fact, it never really got completely dark. One of the first things we immediately noticed is the general age of the passengers. I would say the average age was approximately 60 years old. For me, I loved this! In my opinion, older people are generally more interesting to talk to. However, the other thing we noticed is that we were definitely the minority. In fact, we did not meet anyone else the entire time on the cruise from the US. Again...this is GREAT in my opinion. I loved it. We did meet a lot of people from the UK, a nice couple from South Africa, Italy and Germany. The service was great in our room...I swear they made up our beds 3 times a day. :) We had absolutely no issues at all with anything related to our room. The service in the dining room was good but not like we have experienced on other cruises. We did have a great server 'Phillip' from Brazil and he was very friendly. However we encountered waiters at other times that were not very warm and fuzzy...they seemed a bit put off by us. The food....well....I had read reviews before going and so I was prepared. There were a few dishes that were quite good (a pork dinner one night) and the desserts and pasta dishes were all very good. One of my dinner choices was inedible...ugh. But again, all in all...I would say the food was decent to good. The casino was very small and often times we were the only ones playing but we absolutely loved some of the staff. Christian from Ecuador was the best! Also, we loved Daniel from Romania but he took a lot of my money loll. They offered black jack, 5 card poker (against the dealer) as well as roulette. From talking to the casino staff, the Northern Europe trip typically does not have many gamblers. We still had a great time each night playing a few hours of blackjack as poker. There wasn't enough interest to get the Texas Hold Me tournament going so I was a bit bummed by that. The sites (Oslo, Stavanger, Flam and Bergen) were all fantastic. We loved them all. We did not book any excursions through the ship and saved quite a bit of money by booking directly with the companies. Oslo: we just walked around, shopped in the wonderful downtown area, tried to ride the bus to visit the Viking museum but ending up getting lost and going to a residential area. The good thing is that most people (if not all) speak English so we really had an easy time getting back to the cruise port area. All in all we loved the experience...even the getting lost. It's all part of the adventure!Stavanger: Oh what a lovely port! We got off the ship and immediately booked a 3 hr. cruise to see Pulpit Rock (from the water not walking on the rock). Again, we paid less than what the ship was advertising. Before our cruise, we walked around the great shops, had lunch, watched people, etc. It was a wonderful sunny day. The cruise was fantastic and worth the price we paid approx. $65 apiece. When we came back we went up to the top deck of the ship (the disco area) and took in the sun, the people down below in the port, the wonderful scenery, it was truly lovely. Flam: Again...breathtaking. Unfortunately, the weather turned a bit cold a little rainy. We knew that was wanted to take the infamous Flam train to Myrdal and back and figured it would be rather busy later in the day. We were some of the first off the ship and headed right to the train station ...only a short 5 minute walk. The round-trip was approx. $65 each and again worth every penny. One piece of advice. When going up to Myrdyl, find a seat on the right hand side of the train. :) There isn't a lot to do right in the small village so this might be one stop that I would recommend taking a ship excursion after the train ride. We ended up heading back to the ship for lunch and then taking a VERY long nap...I don't think I have ever slept so much in one week...it was much needed. Bergen: This was our departure port so we headed off the ship (there were maybe 50 other people also leaving at this stop) . One thing I didn't research was how far the airport was from the cruise port. We ended up walking with our bags into the city center (maybe a 20 minute walk) and then luckily found a taxi to take us to the airport which was about 25 minutes away. The taxi was about $75 for the both of us. We didn't get to see much of Bergen as our flight left at 10 am. We heard that it rains 300 days a year in Bergen. We took a flight back to Amsterdam and stayed the night again and headed home the next morning. All in all our trip was fantastic! I don't think the trip is for everyone but if you have an open mind and want to see some of the most fantastic scenery in the world, this cruise is for you. The ONE negative thing for us was how expensive everything is...the US dollar is not worth much in Norway. A beer for example cost approx $12 USD..so needless to say, we didn't spend a lot of money in the ports on knick knacks, food etc. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The whole time you are on this ship you can't wait to get to land. A British man I talked to compared it to being in the army and he hit the nail on the head. If you go on this ship drink HEAVY to cope with no service and no ... Read More
The whole time you are on this ship you can't wait to get to land. A British man I talked to compared it to being in the army and he hit the nail on the head. If you go on this ship drink HEAVY to cope with no service and no entertainment...BTW you will pay through the nose for it! Food The food was for the most part is inedible. One morning the eggs were cooked is a dirty pan that fish (with bones in it) was cooked in the night before and I threw up. You can only eat when they tell you it is time and if you are late by 15 minutes...YOU DO NOT EAT! Room Service you need to pay for and the menu consists of bad pizza, boiled hamburgers, and soup. The "juice" is Tang unless you pay for it. All of the food is the cheapest crap they could buy. Every meal you need to fight for a glass of water and most times you loose. There is no service and if so none of the slaves from a third world countries understand English. Avoid the buffet unless you like hospital food! Customer Service There are only three answers at MSC if you can find a slave from a third world country that speaks English. NO, I don't kNOw, or that is closed! I bought a cigar in the shop and the guy told me to go cut it with scissors or poke a hole in it and he had a cutter right behind him. I bought a 200 euro amber bracelet and had to fight to get a box. Checkout they made you stay on the ship in the lounge for 5 hours with your carry on bags. Entertainment The entertainment was the worst! Unless you like country western music in sang in Dutch, or comedy in Italian, or dancing the Achey Breaky Heart and the Macarena...I am not kidding! I have seen better stuff at the High school level. They have one good singer in one of their 70's style lounges other than that it was awful. I forgot if you want some real entertainment go to the smoking bar and watch the bartender yell at the staff and customers...that is funny! Casino They only have Roulette, 21, and poker for table games. The machines are from the 1980's from Vegas and some you need to put the Tokens in each pull and they do not pay. Laundry "Misplaces" your clothes and then calls you a liar when you ask for it all back. TV There is only one channel in English (BBC) and two movies that loop the whole time but if it has subtitles you can' read them because the TV is two small and the volume does not go high enough to hear most of the time. Also it goes out all the time! BBC went out while in South Hampton. "Beds" - Cots They are not beds!!! They have COTS that are less comfortable then the ones I have for camping! Safety They do not go over the safety plan for the life boats! You watch it on TV and in England the port authority would not let us leave because there were not enough people that spoke English to properly execute the safety plan. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE BED- cheap sheets, slab for a mattress, pillows lumpy BATH- towels like cardboard, one soap dispenser for shampoo and body soap NO extras Entertainment- The very worst,at first I thought it ... Read More
TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE BED- cheap sheets, slab for a mattress, pillows lumpy BATH- towels like cardboard, one soap dispenser for shampoo and body soap NO extras Entertainment- The very worst,at first I thought it was a joke only to find out it was THEIR real idea of entertainment STAFF- the most rude and nasty staff ever! If you like "NO" or "I don"t know" as answers for ALL of your questions, then this is the cruise for you. FOOD- Cheap cold food, small portions, limited selections. FIXED dinner times. If you are later than 15 min. after opening time you DO NOT GET IN. NO DINNER. Buffett is salads and pizza, the same all most every day. NO FREE room service. You pay for a limited menu in room service. Ice water forget about it!We fought EVERY night for a glass of ice water. The final comment is, if you like a "sit down- shut up- we do it our way" cruise. Then MSC cruise is for you! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
The pretty ship has two flaws . . . a dull menu and a crew sorely in need of training. The ship is classic italian . . .the drew works hard to serve. But no matter what you call it, pasta in red meat sauce is pasta in red meat sauce. The ... Read More
The pretty ship has two flaws . . . a dull menu and a crew sorely in need of training. The ship is classic italian . . .the drew works hard to serve. But no matter what you call it, pasta in red meat sauce is pasta in red meat sauce. The menu was dull and the food tasteless.MSC also does some other oddball things . . . like shutting everything down for hours a a stretch and charging for room service. They have traditional seating and an extremely crowded buffet, partly becaasue dining hours are short.MSC also seems to believe in a "no information is better" policy . . .basic stuff like the time the ship will sail from a port is either not available or available in several versions. So, for example, the run a shuttle from the pier to the center of town in a part and don't tell anyone!!!We took a shot a MSC after 45 or so cruises looking for alternatives . . . will keep in looking. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
The MSC Opera - a beautiful, well appointed and maintained ship! The service staff was superb - both attentive and friendly. Each port-of-call and tour was outstanding - great sights and tours that were not overly rushed while being ... Read More
The MSC Opera - a beautiful, well appointed and maintained ship! The service staff was superb - both attentive and friendly. Each port-of-call and tour was outstanding - great sights and tours that were not overly rushed while being informative. Unfortunately, the same level of excellence does not pervade the ship. Activities involving process and procedure usually result in organized mayhem. By way of example, I arrived at the embarkation terminal in Amsterdam and was greeted by an MSC Cruises staff member at the main entrance. He directed me to fill out tags for my luggage, to place my luggage in a collection bin and to board the ship directly upon reviewing my Express Check-In paperwork. Taking the escalator to the second floor and following the signage indicating where to go, I was immediately attacked by Attila the Hen for entering the passenger processing area while it was closed. Note I arrived at the terminal at the time specified by the cruise line and no barrier was in place to prevent my entry. Attila, however, quickly located and strung a barrier across the entry way. After waiting for an hour, my wife and I were processed and permitted access to the ship and our cabin. Time passed and I became concerned as every other cabin on my deck had their luggage by their cabin door while mine was nowhere in sight. Despite being assured by the Reception Office that everyone was "working hard" on two occasions, the ship pulled away from the pier and I was still without luggage despite the passage of five hours. Making my third trip to Reception I was asked if I could identify my luggage from a collection of suitcases that all bore the same hand-completed luggage tags. I found my bags; they were eventually delivered to my cabin. Three days later, however, I returned to my cabin to discover a complete ticket package that contained printed luggage tags. I still wonder why I wasn't linked to the ticket package at the terminal, or why the representative was telling passengers to hand-complete luggage tags. I also wonder how long the ship's staff would have left the luggage in the holding area rather than matching a name to the passenger manifest. To be completely candid there are serious security implications within this tale - the ship had departed the pier without verification that corresponding luggage owners were on-board. My next disappointment, unless you cruise with the express intention of loosing weight, was the food. Actually, it was an enormous disappointment. Overall, the food was bland and the portions miniscule. For example, one evening I ordered Chicken Cacciatore. What I got was a baked chicken thigh - no sauce, no flavor - just a baked thigh on a plate. To add insult, the thigh had to have been purchased from a preserve for pygmy chickens. How about the Duck a l'Orange? What I received was a slice of duck skin, but this time with sauce. The Risotto was a pile of starch - being served at every multiple course dinner. Deciding to try the top deck buffet as a means of avoiding the main dining room for breakfast and lunch, I was again disappointed to find similar conditions. The breakfast juices were nothing more than highly sugared powdered drinks. To label them as juice is outright fabrication. The toast could have doubled as roofing tile. Any meats were dry and typically tough as an old buffalo. The lettuce for salads was always deeply submerged in water. The salad dressing was watery and had no flavor. I will stop with the culinary disappointments list to keep this critique from becoming voluminous. Suffice to say I made it a point to find a snack while ashore especially enjoying the tours which crossed meal times without food being provided by the ship. After numerous days of being held prisoner, my last experience aboard was not surprising. According to the ship's bulletin, the breakfast buffet was to start at 6:00 am on the day of disembarkation. Arriving in the hallway to the buffet at approximately 6:15 am, my ears were greeted with loud and very angry voices. A ship's officer was preventing passengers from entering the buffet as, according to him, it was not to open until 6:30 am. Ultimately, the crowd surged past him into the buffet. When I finally turned the corner and entered the buffet - I had absolutely no desire to impede the progress of the crowd which had formed behind me - there stood the same officer with his fists and eyes raised to the ceiling sobbing, "It's not my fault." One would rightly conclude it was highly fortunate that we never encountered a true emergency while at sea. Although I do wonder why anyone was in a hurry to get anything other than some coffee and perhaps some yogurt - the yogurt was terrible even though I digress. I have to suspect that whoever was responsible for buying the ship's food loved cheap without giving any regard to quality. Overall, I would recommend a Northern European/Baltic cruise to anyone interested in experiencing the ports-of- call offered on this cruise. It would be wonderful experience, just do not do it aboard the MSC Opera, otherwise your experience will be tarnished. There are simply too many other ships and cruise lines available Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2010
Ships Name: MSC Opera POE: Amsterdam Cities Visited: Amsterdam; Dover, Kiel, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen Dates: 22 May- 2 June 2010 11 Nights This was our first cruise with MSC. It was probably our last. On a scale of ... Read More
Ships Name: MSC Opera POE: Amsterdam Cities Visited: Amsterdam; Dover, Kiel, Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Copenhagen Dates: 22 May- 2 June 2010 11 Nights This was our first cruise with MSC. It was probably our last. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being great, I give this ship and its crew for this cruise was a 3 +. Passenger Population was basically Italian, Dutch, German, French, Spanish and English. All basic instructions and info was in English and other languages. Most of the Dutch speak English so language is not an issue except sometimes with the crew personnel. Cruise director did good job on this. All transactions on board are in Euros and converted at the going rate. We booked our cruise thru Cruises Only. No problems but found out that other passengers paid less using a travel agent. We had no air or port to ship transportation and still paid more. Prices on European cruises on board are in Euros not dollars. MSC Opera, is not ready for prime time. Just too many things that were not right with this ship and its services and we saw no effort to fix them. Operated with typical "Italian efficiency" and I do not mean this as a compliment. Will start from the beginning Embarkation in Amsterdam Received info ahead giving two different boarding times in Amsterdam: 12 and 14:00. Neither was correct as time was closer to 3. Since we booked via Internet we used limousine service from Schipol, about 25 minutes to the port both ways. Euro 120 and well worth it. Plenty of taxi's but not sure of cost. Start with what we did not like: Water is not free unless you drink ships water. You can buy a water, soft drink or wine package. They push these at embarkations and at every stop. Found out 3 days into cruise that US and Canadian PAX have a Water Package included in their fares. On my invoice from Cruises Only there was entry "1 cl water authorized per passenger per day based on voucher system". I went to several info places on the ship and no one knew what this meant. Finally got note under door to pick up water package. Map of ship was not available until 2nd or 3rd day. Compendium book that is supposed to be in every cabin and provides detail info about all the ship's features was not delivered to our cabin until 7th day of cruise. Did not even know one existed. Food and Dining Rooms: The main two formal dining rooms are OK and food is OK. Our waiter was fantastic and I think most were because they really hustled. Portions are small but you can order doubles if you are hungry and they are more than happy to bring it. If you want water you have to ask for it and they will try to sell you bottled water. Dining in the Le Vele buffet restaurant, which was only open for breakfast, lunch and tee time was at best average. Food selection was pretty much the same for entire cruise. One main meat item at end of the line and it was not always good. Breakfast was not very good. Found out after three days there was a eggs to order and omelet source on the outside patio deck. Weather was very chilly on the outside deck, so all pre prepared food got cold very quick. Why this was not advertised from day one is beyond me. If you did not take the elevator that let you walk by the grill you would never know it was there. Just the haphazard way they ran this ship. The Le Vele buffet restaurant is far too small to accommodate the crowd, even when many opted to eat breakfast and lunch in the main dining room Tables are full very quick and you have to wander around to find seating. The waiters that are supposed to be busy busing tables and making space are the laziest or most uninterested bunch I have ever seen. They spent most of the time gathered together talking. I noticed that the dish rag they used was the same for every table and after a few it was more of a smear than clean. Kind of disgusting? Where was supervision? Never saw any. Restaurant is noisy and traffic flow is not good. Why do they put margarine in another separate line and not next to butter? Why are popular items so far back you need the arm of a NBA player to scoop them out? No thought given to item placement far as I could tell. For breakfast fishing out a boiled egg, all hard boiled, was like bobbing for a prize. Sometimes you got an egg, or two eggs or only water. Usually no one around to ask to get you an egg. Diabetic or sugar free foods were extremely limited. We asked several times why only orange jello and were told more were coming. They never showed up. In main dining room only diabetic or sugar free item was Fructose sweetened Ice Cream. Not sherbet or sorbet but chocolate or coconut ice cream. Fructose is not sugar free it is just another form of sugar. For me it is not approved so I did not eat desserts. The only alternative to dinner in the two main sit down restaurants was the Pizzeria which just serves pizza on one side of the Level buffet restaurant. It is not complimentary. Never went there so have no idea how good it was. One thing worthy of comment is the extremely bad coffee called "Coffee Americano" It was horrible. You are supposed to dilute it with hot milk but no matter what you did it was horrible. Did not meet one person except the Italians who drank it. We all used the instant coffee mix. Coffee/tee/juice bars are inadequate and lines are long every meal. I do not understand why they did not have one waiter going around filling up coffee cups in the morning. This would have reduced the congestion and long lines. Stations are only located on each end of the Le Vele buffet restaurant so lot of walking to get to it. One thing that is curious is why folks, who drink tee, fill their cups with hot water, dunk the bag then stand in front of the coffee/tee service stirring their tee. It is as if it cannot be done at their table. One other item is there are no tee spoons, only large soup spoons or wooden sticks to stir. Spoons are not in the silverware napkin and you have to get these on the dessert/fruit island. Dressing for dinner: There were three formal or Gala nights and meet the Captain for cocktails. Dress ranged from formal, tuxedo, suit and tie, sports jacket and dark trousers with tie to untucked sports shirts and one guy with flip flops. Point is that they are not too particular and if you do not want to pack extra tux you can be OK with suit or sports coat and tie. Summary: You will not starve for sure but buffet selection in the Le Vele is way below standards of other cruises I have been on. Did not go to Midnight buffet or any of the special finger food deals in the lounges. Tee time served same old pan cakes and horrible finger sandwiches. It is a stretch to call them a sandwich. Must be OK for English as they ate them. Lettuce on two pieces of bread with a cucumber slice is not a sandwich. The Hamburger Hot dog and pizza place on outside deck were OK but everything was cold. I am not sure where the folks who man these places were as I only saw folks at breakfast. By the way the two "cooks" who were doing omelets in the AM spoke almost no English or GE and it was little difficult to communicate with them. Best to know some sign language. One thing that really bugged me was how they cooked the waffles. They greased the bottom waffle iron with a pad of butter but not the top. The top stuck and they tried to scrape it off with a wooden spatula. That did not work so they pried it off with their bare fingers, non gloved!! Waffle was by then not really a waffle but cooked dough. Someone who can cook should show these guys how to make a waffle. Tipping: MSC has a policy that gratitude's are assessed and charged to your ships card at the rate of $12.00 or Euro 6 per day per passenger. We were told that if you did not want to participate go to the accounting desk and have it changed. I prefer to tip individually so I went to accounting desk and was told it was not possible to change!!!!. I insisted but they would not change. Said I I had agreed by taking the cruise!!! The only two folks I wanted to tip were our cabin lady and our waiter. They were both superb. Now a bunch of deadbeats who did nothing got rewarded. Pure socialism. Plus we were assessed a contribution for UNICEF. No one ask me if that was OK. Shore Excursions: Over priced but the ones we took were OK. In Russia unless you have an individual Russian visa you have to take a tour or not get off the ship. We took the 4 hour tour of St. Petersburg. Saw what we wanted to see. Hermitage was packed and I would either combine with another tour or make it separate. There is no explanation of alternate transportation modes available at any port if you do not want to take a boat tour. You are left on your own. In Stockholm the walk to the Old City is about hour but there is a " Hop On Hop Off" boat right at the dock that will take you there for minimal costs. This was never explained. You find out from other passengers, usually too late. In Helsinki for reason no one could understand we docked at the Industrial Terminal and it was a long way to the city. Ship arranged bus for Euro 14 or about$20 per person for a less than 20 minute ride. I heard other passengers saying it was a cost saving deal but am not sure if this is true. Unless you dock at the Cruise Terminal pay the price and take a cruise sponsored shore excursion. On 24 May, we were in North Sea headed for Rostock Ge the next day. Seas were little rough and there was high wind so it was announced that "The Germans had closed Rostock due to bad weather and we would instead dock at Kiel" which is only about 100 miles distance. After I returned I found that other ships including cruise ships had docked at Rostock. Early in the AM all the supply trucks were parked on the docks. I think it was another cost saving deal as it is shorter sea trip to Helsinki from Kiel than Rostock. I think we got snookered on this. Wish I could find out for sure. Cabins: We had balcony cabin on 9th deck. Cabins are small and showers are really small. Room smelled moldy and musty. Lot of rust around balcony door. There is a small fridge with a very small selection of high priced soft drinks and beers. Two bottles of water for Euro 2 each. Cabin lady was very good and cleaned well and made up and turned down bed. I was able to look into one inside cabin and it looked twice as big as our balcony cabin. Furniture is showing wear. Only soap and shampoo in shower are provided. There is a safe. Closet space is adequate. If you need more hangars ask for them. There is a ice making machine down the hall that we found on next to last day. It was never mentioned. Just another omission that seemed to be all too common. TV in room. Only English Channel was Bloomberg and most of time it was not viewable. Lot of Italian channels and two German channels. If there were movies it was never made know to us. Entertainment: Shows in main theater were basically OK except for two. One was some kind of classical deal that was not good and other was a recap of some individual acts from prior shows. There were several good individual acts. Two shows and you need to get there early to get a seat. I assume there were not shows the first two days, Amsterdam and Dover because never heard anything about them. There are not marquee signs and you can only find out from the daily ships news paper. There is space by the theater to put up what's playing but no one did! Not sure why, Mabye they do not have sign maker. Internet: expensive and you better know how to work an Italian keyboard. Instructions are on computer but they do not work. I spend $7 and never able to figure out how to type the @ sign. No one was around to assist. Phone calls are about $ 7 per minute. My European Cell phone worked most of the time when we were within a signal range. One last comment on disembarking: We arrived at Amsterdam about 09:30 in the AM. On the previous day we were giving instructions about putting out baggage, various color codes for leaving the ship and it all seemed so easy. When we woke up on debarkation day there was note under door that we had to clear our cabins by 07:00 and wait in the assigned debarkation areas. Dining rooms opened at 06:00. We finally were able to disembark at close to 11:15. Why was this point not covered at the briefing? I am sure because the briefer would be booed off the stage. Summary: Worth the price? Absolutely not! Just too many small things that could easily be corrected with some supervision and care. I was especially turned off by the collection of tips and an involuntary charge for UNICEF. All beverages in the various lounges add a 15% service charge! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
We recently took a cruise with MSC Cruises to St Petersburg (Russia). We are a Dutch family with 2 children aged 14 and 17. We booked our cruise very early, in October, at a Dutch company called 'CruiseTravel'. In April we asked ... Read More
We recently took a cruise with MSC Cruises to St Petersburg (Russia). We are a Dutch family with 2 children aged 14 and 17. We booked our cruise very early, in October, at a Dutch company called 'CruiseTravel'. In April we asked them to book excursions, but they refused. By that time I already contacted MSC Cruises the Netherlands a couple of times about these excursions. Because on CruiseCritic I read about sold out shore tours and especially for St. Petersburg we didn't want to take the risk. But after a while we did succeed to pre-book them. This all may appear irrelevant to you, but as first-timers we didn't know there is no need to do so. To the port We travelled to the port of Amsterdam by train, the passenger terminal is very close to the main station of Amsterdam and car-parking is very very expensive (in front of the terminal is a car park price: 30 Euro/day) so this is the best way coming there. You just have to take the exit at the back of the station and after that it's a 15-minutes-walk, or you just take a taxi at the front-exit. In the terminal everything was a bit strange. There were two Dutch girls to welcome us, but they didn't speak French and as there was a couple of French ladies before us, they asked us if we could tell them just to go upstairs! After that we had to re-tag our luggage because we should have used other tags! After that MSC 'appeared'. First we had to fill in a health-statement and while we did that someone was trying to sell us drink packages. We told him we would purchase them on board and but he tried to push a bit. Later on there were even more persons selling these things and they all seemed to be really angry when you refused. This made it very clear they did this based on a commission. I think it's a bad thing because this is where service meets commerce, and guest-satisfaction will decrease by these methods. However, the embarkation went very smoothly; it wasn't busy at all so there was no queue and at the desk everything went very quickly. Before we got on board a couple of pictures were taken. From train arrival till our first steps on board not even an hour had passed. Cabin On board we were directly guided to our cabin by one of the men who were standing in a long row, I had seen this on pictures but I was surprised it really was there. We took a 4-person outside- cabin and that was located at deck 8. The cabin was actually quite big and we really liked it. On CruiseCritic I read about some people having complaints about the cabin's size, but we could only compare it with ferries we took. When you once have been on a ferry such as they have here in Europe, you may know what I mean, on top of that, there was much more storage space. The bathroom was also bigger, this one was designed for more than one person at a time and there were lots of amenities, which I really like. The shower was bigger than we were used to as well, you'll not have any problems with it when you are not really fat or extraordinary tall (over 1.90 or so). So, you really don't have to worry about this. Overall the cabin was stylish, and looked beautiful. There was a book, a really big one, in your cabin which told you everything about the life on board and lots of other things which you might want to know. Everyday we were presented with a small fruit basket filled with oranges, nectarines and lots of other fruit, there was always something for your taste. But we don't know why we received this, because 'the big book' said it was only at the day of embarkation, and on the internet I saw that receiving this every day was a MSC Club advantage. However, we liked it. The beds were nice and comfortable. From your bed you had a wonderful view over the ocean, you saw all kinds of ships passing, it really was beautiful. But when you go to the north you must know sunrise is very early, sometimes even at four o'clock. Our cabin was cleaned twice a day. Before our cruise we considered this as quite too much, but this really has advantages when you have bunk beds. Because when they are folded up there is more room left for you. The only comment we've got on the cleaning is that our cabin steward sometimes ignored the door sign which said 'no cleaning', so sometimes he cleaned everything but we didn't want it. As it was advised, we locked everything up in the safe. Finding the safe was quite difficult, because it was located behind the mirror but we didn't know it was a cupboard. The safe was big enough for camera's and small bags so we placed everything with value in it. After this we started to explore the ship. At four there was a presentation in Dutch (unfortunately there was a Dutch hostess, however she was very friendly) about life on board. This didn't contain anything new, but others seemed to be very happy with it. After that there was a very very boring presentation about excursions. Let me put it like this; she was just telling you, not selling to you. And we made a first-timer mistake, being on the outside deck over the bridge, when we left the port with the horn making an incredible sound, very loud. Ship The MSC Lirica is MSC Cruises' first new-built ship and debuted in 2003. The ship was built at the STX EUROPE YARDS in St Nazaire, France. A year later the MSC Opera debuted. With a tonnage of nearly 60,000 it's not quite a big ship, she can carry up to 2069 passengers and 700 crew members. Unlike other ships there are lots of inside cabins and the only cabins with a balcony are the suites. All standard cabins are 13 square meters and the suites 23. Below there is a deck- by- deck guide. The first three decks must exist but you aren't allowed to go there. So I really don't know what's there. Deck 4, the only public function of this deck is tender access, but was also used as another exit. And for the crew 'mainstreet' is located here. Deck 5 There are so many things to do here, first of all the reception desk. This is the place for your questions and comments. The daily program also available here, in case you lost it or just want another copy. Clubs for the mini golf located at deck 13 are available here so it's quite a walk to use them. And for everyone without sea legs seasickness pills are here as well. And of course the reception desk is open 24 hours. Very near is the bank where you can exchange your money, but it was hardly open. The Lord Nelson pub is the one and only indoor smoking area, I believe most other places are non-smoking. There are also a couple of shops, like a perfume shop. A shop selling extremely expensive 'Columbian Emeralds', a watch shop, an alcohol and cigarettes shop and a general store selling boat souvenirs, clothes and some practical things. There also is a bar, and of course 'La Bussola' restaurant. In this restaurant the Maitre d'hôtel is based. So if you want, as we did, to change your seating you must go here and hope there is a place available. Deck 6 The Broadway Theatre, which can hold up to 700 people, is located here. The theatre looks very impressive and is well-styled. It's also possible to access the theatre by the Lord Nelson Pub which is located on deck 5. There are two bars on this deck. If you want to dance, the best place for you is 'Le Cabaret', which has a couple of chairs to rest and a little dance space. In the library you can play card games. And there are lots of book available in multiple languages. You can borrow books for your cruise, but please believe me there are so many things to do that you just haven't got the time to read much. The most busy place on this deck is the photo shop, it is not very big, but there are lots of people here looking for their pictures. Deck 7 is mainly used for crew-cabins, there are also a couple of passenger cabins and the ships biggest lounge which is called 'The Lirica Lounge'. Deck 8 is only used for passenger cabins, so there are 2 large corridors which cover the whole ship. Deck 9 is also used for passenger cabins Deck 10 The suites are located here and a couple of 'regular' cabins Deck 11 Pool Deck, this is where the two pools are located. The pools are filled everyday with fresh water so it's very very cold, and it's salt. We found out that after a sunny day the pool in the front is a lot warmer than the other one. There are also two spa's or whirlpools, whatever you want to call them. Le bistro is the restaurant we used the most, here were buffets served and you have a wonderful ocean view. Outside there is 'La Pergola' this restaurant was opened for lunch from 12:00 to 19:00! It is split up in two sides with the funnel in between. One is called 'The Grill' and offers you hamburgers and fries. The other side is 'Giovanni's pizzeria' which of course offers pizza. And the health centre was located on this deck, with a fitness room and lots of beauty parlours. Deck 12 This deck hosts a couple of suites. And the ships' disco 'The Blue Club disco' but it is opened as a seating area for the rest of the time. Besides that there is a nice view on the ocean, so we used this one quite a lot. Sport facilities There are a couple of sport facilities on board. First of all there is a fitness room, we used it a couple of times. There are various training instruments to improve your body. However, some could damage you if you don't know how to use them. It was big enough, everything worked well. Towels are available for you in the fitness room. For those who want to some thing less intensive they can go for a swim, however the pools are quite short for that purpose. Or they can play minigolf, which is nice to see. But the surface is in a horrible condition so any golfer wouldn't be happy with it. But as a game, it's fun. The brochure says there is a jogging track, and I took that very seriously as a place for runners. But that's not the truth, it's deck eleven's promenade. And lots of chairs are here. So on a sunny moment when everyone is on the outside-decks, you'd better not run there. But even when everyone is away, there are two small stairs in it! You can't run properly. For me that's quite annoying because I don't jog, I run a bit faster. However, I would advise against running on a sailing vessel, because of the winds. Dining When we boarded we found out we were scheduled for the second seating, while we preferred the first one. We tried to change this but we were told there wasn't any table available. But we were put on a 'wish-list'. After dinner we returned to the Maitre d'hôtel, asking for a table situated more in the centre of the ship, to prevent seasickness. They were quite confused while they just had sent a letter to our cabin confirming a table in the first seating. But we had changed our mind about that. The first seating was at 18:15 and the second one at 20:30. But when you are able to have lunch till 7 PM, this is not a problem at all. And port-times were sometimes till 19:00 or even later, so having the second one is much more useful. The times varied sometimes. There where no alternative dining options, the only thing you could do was having 'Lunch' till seven. Food was good, not great. There were plenty of choices. And if you didn't like the choices, you can always order fries and chicken or something similar. There were five courses, and for every course there were some options. However, you could order two desserts for example if you'd wish. Drinks were provided in cans, this may be standard in the whole industry, we didn't get why they were doing so because everything looks great and stylish except for those horrible cans. Our waiters were very very friendly, but busy. But after a short time, they knew what you would like for drink and you just had to confirm. Some nights were 'Gala nights' which meant everyone dressed up. For dinner it meant you had to order your desserts earlier and more special bread was provided. Some nights there was a buffet at midnight, the most special is the 'Buffet Magnifico'. There were lots of food, all different cakes. You can't imagine. And it was decorated with fruitcarves and there was an ice sculpture. Maybe there was a bit too much, it couldn't be eaten by all the people in the restaurant. We thought it was not only beautiful, but also a waste of food. Activities We did not participate in most activities, which were mostly quizzes and very silly games, games so silly it made them funny. On the last night we did a dance contest (and unfortunately lost). Service Service was great, really wonderful. Our waiters were very friendly, like I said. The most interesting was a crew member who was watching us when we were playing mini golf. He had to move some chairs but he stopped and almost laughed at us when we were playing. We didn't mind and thought it was a bit funny. The only moment I considered never to take a cruise again was when I saw so people cleaning handrails, over and over again. This really is never ending work, and they do this all day long. But even they, who have the right to complain in my opinion, were friendly to the guests. Entertainment We didn't go to the shows every day. But our first show was not quite good. It consisted of a couple of songs which were sung by the entertainers. But I have to say the level was too low for a professional performance, their dance capacities were good. One night there were some Asian women who did things with their bodies you almost can't imagine. And there was a pickpocket who was incredibly good, you really started thinking whether the 'victims' weren't actors. After this show there was a performance by the 'entertainment team' which did most of the activities as well. They were really funny. Ports and excursions Amsterdam, the terminal is really easy to find and close to the city centre. It really isn't necessary to book excursions because you can just walk to the city and explore it in your own way. Bremerhaven, some people were really annoyed by the fact we were calling here. We didn't complain. The city was mostly rebuild after the second World War, so there are no old buildings. But there are plenty of museums to go. For example we went into an old U-boot, a submarine, and visited the church. On top of that you can go shopping, visit the zoo, or have a look at all different vessels. Getting to the city centre is more difficult. MSC offered a shuttle bus, but we took the small ferry located in front of the terminal. Costs: 1 euro per person. After that it was about a 20-minute walk to the centre. Göteborg. The ship was located near a container terminal far away from the city centre. MSC arranged shuttle busses for 12 euros per person. There were also some government bus stops somewhere in the neighbourhood, but we didn't try that. In the port we were welcomed by a small orchestra and some information about the city was provided. But unfortunately, there were not enough busses by far. After waiting for over an hour we went back into the ship, while we hadn't seen the city. The most difficult was to get the money back, but after asking for it and waiting, it was removed from our bill on the last day. We were waved good-bye by a local youth band. Tallin was a very big surprise. It has a small old-centre with lots of buildings from the Middle ages. It's like you go back into history. It was really wonderful. The ship was located near the city centre and almost everybody walked into the city. You were welcomed by a big tower surrounded by big walls. But it's not for shopping, most shops are souvenirshops and there are not many of them. This city is really a must-see. Sint Petersburg was the destination of our cruise. We had a two-day-call here. On both we booked excursions. The first day we visited the Catharina Palace, this palace is located in a small town called Puskin which is an hour by bus. When we booked we didn't know about this, but there was much to see on the route. We got a glimpse of Sint Petersburg and life in Russia. The Palace was large but we saw only a small part of it. Our guide was very friendly and spoke English quite well. It was wonderful to see, very well decorated and big. The gardens were nice, but we've seen better. The only thing was that we had to be ready at seven in the morning! On this evening we took a river cruise. We were put in a small group on a ship with live entertainment. They sung and danced a bit. But the views were the best of all. We saw for example the Hermitage by sunset. The next day we had a full-day-tour. First we had a bus tour, which improved my 'photographing out of bus' skills. And included several bus stops for taking pictures. After that we had a lunch. We expected a plain lunch but it was really different. We were dropped off at a restaurant, here were many other buses of MSC as well and we had a 5 course lunch, which tasted well and there was live entertainment. After this we went into the Hermitage. We saw a couple of paintings selected by our guide. It was very warm inside. The only thing left was a souvenirstop, which we had a couple of times this tour. All the guides were very good. On our last excursion there was someone from the excursion desk. Kopenhagen. Our ship was located in the 'Langeliniekaj', from here it's a small walk to the city centre. You are very close to the 'Little Mermaid'. And the palace 'Amalienborg' is also close by. But the centre is not as close as in Tallin. Kopenhagen is very beautiful. Dover. The most impressive of this port is not the city of Dover but it's the famous White Cliffs. We had to get up very early in the morning to see them, but it was worth it. The distance to the city centre is doable by walk, but there is a commercial shuttle bus which brings you right into the city centre or to the castle, located on a hill. We took a excursion to Canterbury. The cathedral was very impressive. We were brought to the centre of Dover, while the others went back to the ship. Now we could visit the Dover itself. And it may be not very special, being here is great. Disembarkation On the seaday before Dover we were instructed how to disembark. We got tags for our bags and we had to put the luggage in the corridor before 1 AM. So we did. The tags were divided in different colours, due to importance, so people with an excursion were the first to disembark. We were the last ones. Per colour there was a lounge where you should go, but we were told that it doesn't really make any difference where you go to. The only thing you had to do in the morning was signing your bill. We called at 9 AM and short after ten, we were off the ship. Getting our luggage went smoothly and before half past ten, we were on the train. I think I've made clear we have had a wonderful cruise on the MSC Lirica. Embarkation and disembarkation went quickly and smoothly. Our cabin was, unlike some reviews had stated, spacious enough for the four of us. Everything was clean, the ship was very beautiful, and so was the weather. Food was very tasteful. Entertainment could have been better. Service was great, the itinerary was wonderful. It was a very great first-time cruise experience. We can't almost wait for the next. Read Less
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