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69 MSC Cruises Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

My husband found this cruise on Travelocity at a very good price. We have been on 13 cruises but never with MSC. At such a great price, we thought we would give it a try. Boarding the ship in Miami was a breeze. Embarkation was swift ... Read More
My husband found this cruise on Travelocity at a very good price. We have been on 13 cruises but never with MSC. At such a great price, we thought we would give it a try. Boarding the ship in Miami was a breeze. Embarkation was swift and orderly even though the staff wasn't exactly the friendliest. This should have been our first sign of things to come. Once on board, we noted how dated and in need of repair the ship was. My 8 year old son pointed out loose tiles in the shower and that the air in our cabin wasn't working very well... my 8 year old who never notices anything. I don't mean to be petty, but I am going to be petty here... Every other cruise line we have been on, we would get a towel animal and a little chocolate left on our pillow at night. Not on this ship. Our room steward was attentive and kept our cabin clean, but we missed the little "above and beyond" measures that we had come to expect as the normal standard through other cruise lines. The dining hall our first evening was a complete disappointment. It felt as if it was their very first time doing anything! Toward the end of our meal, the head waiter for our area made to over to introduce himself and it was a complete game changer. From that moment on, he made a point to seek us out for each meal. He guided our wait staff in making certain our drinks were kept filled and our food made it to us hot and delicious. The entertainment crew on the MSC Armonia was the absolute best we have ever seen on any cruise we have been on. I am not sure how many hours they put in on their performances but you can tell they work hard to perfect their routines. Each night before they would go on, the ship's cruise director and his team would warm up the crowd with giveaways and hilarious antics. I do not know what these staff members get paid but it is not nearly enough! Everything else just seemed way too crowded to enjoy. Our first port of call was Jamaica. We had to tender to shore. You had to stand in line to get a ticket to take the tender to shore. They passed out tickets through number 25 or 26. My family and I were able to make it to shore on the number 9 tender. I have heard conflicting stories about what number they stopped calling tenders at, but what can be said is that not every passenger was able to get off of the boat that day and experience Jamaica. It was not a good day. I think if they had run out of rum on board, there might have been a mutiny. Grand Cayman was, well, Grand Cayman. overpriced, hot, and busy. Costa Maya was very nice once we left the port and hired a taxi outside of the port gates to take us to Chacchoben for the day. Very nice and relaxing... and about half the price the cruise line wanted for the same tour. The day spent at Ocean Cay is a nice day if you enjoy swimming and the beach. I do not. My husband and children LOVED it. They love sun, sand, and water. Me, not so much. Would I ever sail on this ship again? No. Would I ever sail MSC again? I am not sure. I will be doing much more research and reading reviews before booking my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
This is our third cruise with MSC and they didn't disappoint. Another clean and beautiful ship with service to boot. What we found special on this cruise was the theatre entertainment both by the ship's entertainment staff and by ... Read More
This is our third cruise with MSC and they didn't disappoint. Another clean and beautiful ship with service to boot. What we found special on this cruise was the theatre entertainment both by the ship's entertainment staff and by Cirque du Soleil. Never have we been on a cruise (9 cruises) that had such consistently high value. Every show (we saw up to 3 a day) ended in a standing ovation from 800 people. The Cirque shows were especially entertaining and compared to land prices a real bargain. Our only critique would be the Galleria which became quite congested when the theatre let out. Other than that we had little to complain about (although I'm sure some will, they always do). We also had a great time at the Cruise Critic gettogether on board. A good time was had by all. A shout out to Gio the maitre'D in the main dining room. We've been on three different MSC ships and somehow he's managed to be on everyone. He recognizes us every time and always extends the best service. Thanks, see you next time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Do yourself a favor, research the ship’s age before you book a cruise. It has been decades since we have been on an MSC ship. In between we have cruised on medium sized ships with lots of lines, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, ... Read More
Do yourself a favor, research the ship’s age before you book a cruise. It has been decades since we have been on an MSC ship. In between we have cruised on medium sized ships with lots of lines, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Carnival etc. All have been great to very good. Then we went back to MSC because we saw a “Fantastica” level balcony, seven day Caribbean cruise for $567 per person. It was not so Fantastica. Embarkation in Miami went smoothly, which gave us hopes for the cruise. However, the food was terrible, with dried out fish and chicken and both pork and veal so tough it couldn’t be cut, nevertheless chewed. The MSC Armonia is very old. Even the captain blamed missing the port of Grand Cayman because the “low powered” ship couldn’t overcome the waves. So the older stabilizers didn’t seem to work well either, and we rolled constantly. The upholstery and carpeting were worn and dirty. There are kids clubs for all ages. Teens and LGBT cruisers had their special meeting areas and events. But better confine your kids to the splash park though, as the two swimming pools were both over 6’6” deep throughout, with no shallow end. There were only two Jacuzzis, so they were constantly full. The entertainment troop was small at eight dancers and two main singers, doubtless because this is an older, smaller ship. They performed valiantly but not very effectively. There was one very good band in the main bar area. The other bands were not good. To be fair, there were good points. The staff was amazingly warm and helpful, the beds were comfortable and we were one of the first ships to visit MSC’s new private island in the Bahamas. But on balance it was a memorable experience, a bad memory we don’t want you to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Because good price and wanted to try it the best thing was the entertainment group Alex ameed don’t remember the name good of all but they were just a team they should never be broken. My table 539 the best service it’s something I ... Read More
Because good price and wanted to try it the best thing was the entertainment group Alex ameed don’t remember the name good of all but they were just a team they should never be broken. My table 539 the best service it’s something I will never forget because of the teams how they work their island beautiful the only thing is that they have to clean the windows that’s the only thing that I had problem with but other thing like the buffet on the morning was the same thing no variety and same for lunch but is ok the food was good but again the entertainment group is the best thing that cruise have and the theater good movie new make more jacuzzi and ice cream was good I would all over again in they cruise with the same people thank you so much Armonia the best time I had in a cruise Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
If you want to be treated like a criminal, discriminated against and be at risk of burning to death on the open seas, MSC is the cruise line for you! My issues started even before the cruise. As a solo traveller, and a gay man, I ... Read More
If you want to be treated like a criminal, discriminated against and be at risk of burning to death on the open seas, MSC is the cruise line for you! My issues started even before the cruise. As a solo traveller, and a gay man, I emailed MSC asking if they would hold an LGBT drinks event on the cruise, as nearly every other cruise line does. The email response did not address my question, so I rang MSC here in Australia and spoke with someone who promised to inquire and to email me back before leaving for my trip to Europe. She never did reply, and once on the cruise I realised she was likely ordered not to or simply too embarrassed by what the response would be. But this was not the only issue I had. There are so many that I'll separate them: 1) Luggage misplaced. After several hours, neither of my two bags had been delivered to my cabin. I went to the buffet and just happened to come down by the aft staircase and saw one of my bags outside of someone else's cabin (other end of my floor). 2) Being treated like a criminal. The second bag, containing my best clothes/suits/shoes and such had still not appeared so I stood in line at guest services to be told it can take some time and I should call back at 4:30 if still not received. I was obviously anxious about it given that my other bag had been left elsewhere and worried about the fact it contained very expensive clothes, not to mention I'd left my housekeys in there. At about 6 p.m. still no bag so I stood in line again. Good news! My bag had been located. But they marched me down to security, where I was interrogated by two large security guards who accused me of having smuggled a knife on board in my bag and demanded I open it. I told them that was ridiculous. That very morning I'd actually thrown out some scissors I use to trim my beard when I travel when I read in the boarding documents that even scissors aren't allowed to be brought on board. I opened my bag and took out all of my clothes. They had mistaken my housekeys for a knife, but duly searched the bag and of course there was no knife. I didn't receive an apology and they tried to blame the French port authority staff who had (supposedly) placed a sticker on the bag indicating the presence of a knife. I think this was likely a lie since there was no such sticker on the bag. I complained to guest services about my treatment and had a meeting with the manager (more on that below). Another passenger (an American) I met on board had also had a similar experience. 3) At the meeting with the guest services manager, she was very nice and apologetic. She asked me what they could do to resolve the situation. I told her I did not want anything, apart from a letter signed by a senior officer of the ship apologising for this incident so I would know that it had been taken seriously and I suggested that rather than dragging innocent passengers down to security in such a case they simply look in suspect bags to make sure that what is supposedly inside is indeed inside. She claimed she'd send that feedback on to head office. I asked if it was a legal issue they couldn't simply examine the bags themselves and she confirmed that it was instead simply MSC's policy, but she'd see if that could be changed given my experience. I then mentioned that they had also not replied to my inquiries about organising LGBT drinks and asked if they could do that and she said she'd speak to the Cruise Director and let me know. I explained that nearly every cruise line offers such a service and that as a solo traveller it's a nice way to have a chance to make friends on the ship. They did send me a bottle of Italian sparkling wine and a plate of six unappetising-looking pastries along with a generic printed card thanking me for my feedback; however, I had specifically told her I didn't want any free stuff and that I wanted an apology, so I sent them back. 4) No surprise, they refused to hold any LGBT drinks. The guest services manager I had dealt with previously even claimed it would be discriminatory against non-LGBT people to have 'special' drinks for LGBT people (despite the fact there were other private events onboard including some religious group) and, bizarrely, she also claimed that it could not be discrimination because MSC (supposedly) hosts LGBT drinks on sailings from the US. Which is it then? Their concession was to host a 'single cruise' drink event open to everyone, LGBT or not, but not identified as LGBT so other LGBT people would think to go to them. I of course did not attend as I was not looking to meet single travellers; I was looking to meet other LGBT people simply to socialise. You can't just walk up to people and ask if they're gay, even if you suspect they might be, and ask if they want to hang out. Talk about clueless! 5) The morning after leaving Morocco,, I went to the cafeteria on Deck 13 for breakfast. No sooner had I sat down than I smelled a very strong odour of burning toast. But I was not having a stroke! No, instead I noticed smoke billowing out of a toaster mere feet away. There was a table with an old couple between me and the aisle in front of the counter with the toaster. The attendant looked unconcerned and walked away. I sat there is shock and disbelief. Over the next two minutes at least four, possibly five, other ship's staff walked past this toaster (which was full on smoking by now), including a guy in engineer's overalls. After a very short time, a French-speaking lady nearby got up and ran to the counter to try to get someone's attention. The attendant had come back and then, being told the toaster was nearly on fire, she sauntered away again. The old couple got up and left and I pulled out my phone to take a video of the smoking toaster. That's when a dining room manager finally ran over to the toaster and the attendant returned with someone else. This could easily have been a fire. The next day, there was an announcement in the daily program asking passengers to pull the fire alarm or make staff aware if there was a fire (which, of course, the French lady did before I even could). Apparently, their staff can't be bothered to do so themselves; it's up to the passengers. I noted, while sitting in shock at the table, that the smoke was only a few feet from the nearest smoke detector, which did not go off -- leading me to wonder if it actually even worked. 6) The food was generally of poor quality relative to other ships. It was like cafeteria food, even in the dining room (with a couple of exceptions). The portions are also tiny, which at least makes it less likely you'll gain weight on the cruise. But you have to wonder how an Italian cruise line can't even make decent pizza or pasta. And all of the food from the buffet is cold, even the food that's supposed to be hot. 7) I chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary and one of the things I was most looking forward to was taking an excursion to Granada from Malaga as I've always wanted to go to the Alhambra Palace and it seemed a convenient way to go there. But, despite MSC's website taking my booking for Granada, I found out the day before arriving in Malaga that we were not in port for long enough to complete that excursion and therefore my trip was cancelled. Of course, no one proactively told me this. I had to inquire at the excursion desk about why I hadn't received a voucher for the excursion to be told this. 8) The casino allows smoking so if, like me, you are bothered by smoke then it is a no-go zone. 9) Although they apparently think that LGBT events are somehow inappropriate, it seems that sexist entertainment is perfectly fine. The second-last show included a 'Can Can' dance at the end of which the women's near-bare bottoms are smacked by the male performers. This might be troubling enough, but what was really shocking was that the entire front row of the theatre was occupied by the children's group who were brought along to the show. The kids, ranging from I'd say 3 to about 11, were often seen about the ship together with a couple of kids' counsellors. Apparently for MSC, showing adult-themed, sexualised performances to kids is okay as long as it's heterosexual, but printing the phrase LGBT Drinks in their daily program is inappropriate/offensive (or if the guest services manager is to be believed, it's offensive in Europe, but not in the U.S.). 10) Bring your own hand sanitiser as the dispensers are routinely empty. I'd say that I managed to sanitise my hands about 25 percent of the time on entering the restaurants/buffet. The rest of the time, the dispensers were empty. I'm sure I'm still missing something, but that's probably enough to give you the idea. If I can say one nice thing about the cruise, apart from the destinations themselves, it would be that there are a few nice staff on board and especially the staff at the Il Grappolo d'Oro wine bar, which also offers appetisers from 6 p.m. on that are, frankly, the best food you'll find on the ship. If you are unlucky enough to travel on the Poesia, then make sure to go there each day as there's not much else worth eating on board and the staff there were lovely. Also, the shore excursions were excellent (even if the staff at the shore excursion desk on the ship were not), but as MSC is at pains to point out the shore excursions are not affiliated with MSC Cruises! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Took a Caribbean cruise from Miami with my partner. It was the first trip from the ships new home port in Miami. That being said, the embarkation process was horrible. Took about 2 1/2 hours. However, when we got on board it was worth the ... Read More
Took a Caribbean cruise from Miami with my partner. It was the first trip from the ships new home port in Miami. That being said, the embarkation process was horrible. Took about 2 1/2 hours. However, when we got on board it was worth the wait. The ship is beautiful, every detail was stunning and had a layer of elegance. The staff was beyond friendly and went above and beyond. Ports of call were great as well, however our itinerary changed at the last minute after we left port. This really messed up our excursions, as we did not book through MSC. The pools were beautiful, water was pleasant. The layout of the ship was good too, it did not feel too crowded. Entertainment could have been better. If you’re into music and dancing, then you’re all set. We saw the improv comedy show which was hysterical, and the magician put on a great show. We also did the dinner and cirque de Soleil show. Show was cool, but not as good as what you will see in Vegas. We had a Bella balcony room, and it was standard sized, however the decor was lovely, it felt more elegant then other cruises and more modern, but not a ton of closet space or American outlets, you may want to bring a European converter if you have a lot of things that need charged. Here is where we ran into problems. The food was horrible. The buffet was just ok, always the same food every day, and everything was bland. The complimentary restaurant was even worse. Nothing to chose from, and tasted even worse. I would suggest paying for dining because you will not be happy with the other food. Also lines. If you need to talk to reception, prepare to wait for at least a half hour. Overall, We came back super relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. This was our first MSC cruise, and be willing to try another boat of theres for a good price. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
About the Reviewer: I’m a 37-year-old male who sailed with his mother to celebrate her milestone birthday. This was my second MSC Cruise, my first being on the MSC Seaside in October 2018 (there’s a review for that voyage as well). ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 37-year-old male who sailed with his mother to celebrate her milestone birthday. This was my second MSC Cruise, my first being on the MSC Seaside in October 2018 (there’s a review for that voyage as well). However, this sailing I was celebrating a milestone of my own as this was my 47th cruise overall and my accomplishment was hitting a full year of my life at sea! Other cruise lines I’ve sailed on are Norwegian Cruise Line (Platinum Plus with over 25 cruises), Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and lastly a couple of times on Carnival. My reviews are typically written in chronological order so you can follow along with when things occurred and what my thoughts on them were. At the end there’s a summary and thank you to staff who stood out. I hope you enjoy! Day 1 – Embarkation Day – New York City After the first cruise to sail from NYC had a bad embarkation, I was happy I wasn’t arriving to Manhattan until Noon on the bus I took down from Boston. Upon arrival to the pier, the porters quickly took our luggage and with a decent tip ($2 per bag), our bags were gone and down the conveyer belt in no time! We entered the terminal and encountered a fairly long security line at 12:30PM. When I had my documents out, the lady pulled me aside and told me to go into another line which was not snaked. I did so and we were at security in no time. The check in counters didn’t have any lines at all. I was taken straight away and we were on the ship by 12:45PM. It was pretty seamless! We embarked the Meraviglia from the front of the ship and walked down the indoor Promenade with the giant LED screen, the largest at sea! It was impressive, although some of the shows watching them looking straight up later in the cruise would make me get dizzy. To best view them, go to deck 7 by the spa and look the long way down the promenade. Helpful Tip: We registered our credit cards at the onboard kiosk on Deck 6 by the elevators mid-ship. There are two types of machines to register your room card with. One takes cash and credit cards, the other one takes credit cards only and is smaller. The cash machine had so many people fiddling with them, I just wanted the card machine and this was located on Deck 6 starboard side. We went to lunch at the Market Place Buffet up on Deck 15. The buffet is quite lengthy. Each side has the same type of sections. In the front on the port side is the pizza station which serves pizza pretty much ALL the time (breakfast pizzas, and a changing variety throughout the rest of the day). There’s a pasta, salad, rotisserie, sweets and wellness sections. On port and starboard side there was ethnic sections which largely consisted of Mexican / Spanish foods throughout our voyage. In the back of the buffet (most didn’t walk that far), there was a stir fry section which was really good. During the voyage, on port days, the back section of the buffet was closed. We grabbed a plate of food and sat on the outside deck overlooking the Hudson River. It was overcast but not too chilly to enjoy a lunch out there. While eating lunch, I connected to the ship’s WiFi and loaded the MSC for Me app. This app is quite handy in booking reservations for all the shows and seeing what’s on. It also has a chat functionality which you can use to stay connected to new found friends on the ship. It was the first cruise where I used the chat functionality and it worked quite well. The app also gives you guidance on where things are in the ship and how to get to them. I strongly urge you to download this prior to the voyage so you can take full advantage of what’s on offer and waste minimal time at the touch screens scattered throughout the ship. After lunch, it was announced the staterooms were ready. We proceeded to our stateroom and the luggage was already there! This was quite impressive given how short of a time it was. The rooms were ready at 2PM. Stateroom 9218: This is a Fantastica balcony stateroom. If you don’t know what Fantastica is, it’s a tier level of room you book on MSC ships where you get certain amenities – main among them is room service. This stateroom was located starboard side on the mid-ship bump out and it was the second to last room heading aft in the mid-ship bump out. MSC seems to have a standard stateroom format as the room looked exactly the same as Seaside. The closet was small and didn’t have enough hangars (we remembered and brought our own). There is two cubbies and two drawers on the right side of the closet with the safe in the middle. There’s also another cubby on the floor of the closet on the right side. The bathroom consisted of a shower with glass door, very deep sink (love the sink design on MSC) and a counter which extends down the wall for storage. There are three shelves in the bathroom. The stateroom was in physically good condition upon initial inspection. It quickly became apparent due to the ship’s configuration with the bump out, we must’ve been on the end of the vacuum line with our neighbors being the last. The toilet was very picky so you had to flush it constantly. We had to get it fixed twice during the voyage. The refrigerator was good at cooling items such as the water containers we brought. There’s a desk drawer under the counter top, it’s quite big and another helpful place to store stuff. The light to the left of the beds was constantly flickering during the voyage. I never used it but when the evening turn down was done, it would flicker. I don’t know if it was an electrical issue or what not. I did not report it. Now this part is important, when the ship was at sea and we had some rough sea conditions due to passing cold fronts, the room was constantly creaking! For a ship as new as this, I couldn’t believe the amount of noise the room made. It wasn’t anything the ship could do to fix it as it was the room itself. I still slept but when you were in the room, you could hear it with the ship’s movement. If you’re a light sleeper, book another room and probably not on the bump out. Of more important note, the room did NOT have any Kleenex / tissues. We asked for a box and were told the ship does not provide them, only to Yacht Club guests. Some guests on the previous voyage (where an illness had started to break out) were given them who were not YC guests. This would later come back to bite MSC big time. If you’re going to be an Eco Ship, why not get rid of bottled water but instead tissues? I’m still scratching my head over this one. After unpacking, we headed down to the dining room to change our dining time. We requested the early seating but when we said early – we didn’t mean 5:15PM. I don’t know why MSC doesn’t allow a person to pick slots in first, second and third order so that if you booked an experience, they could work best to accommodate you. Having fixed dining times is inherently lazy of cruise lines anyway! It’s the one thing on MSC that I do not like. The restaurant manager switched us from Waves at 5:15PM to 6PM in Panorama. Panorama is a really beautiful restaurant aft on the ship. However, what I didn’t realize is when he switched us, we went to a table share with two other couples. Thankfully they turned out to be quite lovely people when tables around us had some really odd pairings with people swapping out. This process took us over 1 hour to do so if you don’t like your dining time, change it first thing when you get on because the people pile up and you don’t want to spend your first day of holiday waiting. At 5PM as we wasted so much time getting the table and time changed, it was the compulsory emergency drill. Our muster station was in the casino (oddly it was on Seaside as well). We arrived early to get a seat for mom and waited and waited. People were not attending the drill like they were required to. Finally, it started and it was over in the blink of an eye. They only demonstrated how to put the life jacket on. The rest was found on the stateroom TVs which was clear during the voyage people did not watch (throwing cigarettes and other items overboard, smoking on the balconies, etc.). Fellow Passengers: There was truly an international mix of passengers on the ship. I became friends with people from Germany, Holland, Canada, Austria and Greece! What unsettled me was the group of people MSC used to fill the ship closer to sailing. I booked fairly last minute (8 weeks out) and thought wow, the ship is still fairly open. However, when they discounted the prices even lower around 3 weeks out, the passenger make up got really interesting both posting online beforehand and on the ship. The Cruise Director joked about it not being a Carnival ship one night in the theater, well I guess he never visited the nightclub. Those folks causing issues were the scum the low pricing MSC did brought onboard, amazingly and not shockingly… all Americans. Before you say how rude, I’m American but I do have a sense of propriety and class. I understand everyone is on holiday but save your offensive shirts, surly (perhaps drunk) comments, feeling up your fellow (perhaps drunk) cruisers for your stateroom or better yet… don’t cruise if you can’t act correctly in public. Most of the latter stuff was in the nightclub. Cruisers also didn’t seem to practice good hygiene either leading to a massive spread of a sinus and upper respiratory bug throughout the ship. Cough etiquette goes a long way. Coughing into your elbow is great way to stop the spread of germs, but most just chose to cough on everyone else. The lack of tissues made the spread of germs on all surfaces even better. Way to go MSC on that one! I will give credit to MSC for trying to make the situation right during the voyage. I truly appreciated the guest services hospitality when my concerns were addressed. It was dinner time in Panorama and the first night menu resembled a similar one to NCL with the vegetable spring rolls. I had the lamb t-bone. The spring rolls were great. The lamb t-bone was incredibly small so I asked for a second portion. Lino, our head waiter, delivered it without issue. Lino and Frederick in Panorama offered great service throughout the cruise. Frederick was very attentive and constantly filling my water glass. The food was way too salty and it just made me thirsty incessantly. Frederick would have to refill my water glass up to five times during the dinner service! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Serge Massot We booked the 8PM showtime for the ventriloquist. I realize there’s an international audience on the ship so he would say somethings in English and I believe the other parts were Spanish. However, the little character was not really amusing and he was hitting on female passengers and calling other male passengers ugly. It was entertainment but not the kind I experienced on Seaside. I know Meraviglia had to add entertainment to the ship as they only had 7 production shows but this guy was not very entertaining overall. After the long day of traveling and getting up early, after the show I showered and relaxed. It was at this time that we discovered the room service menu’s inadequacies. I remember having room service on the Seaside and not having any issues finding something to eat. This cruise I was up in the buffet for breakfast more than I had anything from room service. Mom found items but it was challenging as she doesn’t like chocolate (and most of the menu was chocolate items) and can’t have dairy. Other entertainment going on the first night was a welcome party from the cruise staff around 10:45PM in the Promenade and the disco with the DJ after 11PM. DAY 2: At Sea The weather was still chilly outside and the seas were kicked up. Cold fronts coming off the USA East Coast would cause issues during various days of the cruise. Today was the Cruise Critic gathering and the ship did it nicely with cocktails being served at 10AM and little bites to eat. This time they let the passengers mingle a bit before they introduced the officers and presented us with a cake. It was a very nice touch and I got to make some great cruise friends along the way! It was today I discovered the Gym on Deck 16 mid-ship and wanted to do a workout since the weather wasn’t warm enough for it. The gym was packed solid and hideously small for a ship this size. Some of the cardio equipment was broken further compounding the crowded feel of the place. I went for a walk around the walking track with mom that goes around mid-ship to aft on Deck 16 to get some steps for the day. While doing the walking track, it’s single file so where possible I walked outside to the right of it to talk with mom. Runners were coming along on the other lane or just running everywhere and not staying in their lane. When you got to the aft section of the Horizon Pool where the track loops around on the Starboard side, you go right through a smoking area! How dumb!! If you’re trying to workout, why on Earth would you want to inhale smoke?! After an early lunch, I decided to go to the gym and finally found a spot to work out on the mat. I did have to work in for one of the two benches near the free weights. Very few guests were sanitizing equipment after use so I did before each usage. The side room which could be a good stretching area, was locked as it had the spin cycles in them. An aerobics room was missing on this ship since they used the basketball/soccer court for those classes. You couldn’t take a mat down there to stretch though! After a brief nap, I went to the single / solo cruisers gathering. It was there that I met two wonderful ladies at the bar who introduced me to some of the bar staff they knew from a previous voyage. All the bartenders and wait staff in the Sky Lounge were really friendly, helpful and out-going. It would become a good place for a pre-club drink or to pass time between activities. It was the first formal night of the cruise and I had the beef tournedos. The meat was cooked to order and very well presented but the sauce was way too salty. I didn’t have time for dessert as the ship had scheduled the LGBT gathering at 6:30PM in the Sky Lounge and I wanted to attend. Both the LGBT and the singles were unhosted events and unlike the Seaside – occurred every night of the cruise from night 2 onward at the Sky Lounge. Since we booked the 9:30PM show because I was unsure whether or not the LGBT gathering would run late or not, mom and I went to the Sportsplex which included the arcade, bowling, F1 simulators and the flight simulators. I purchased the Fun Pass pre-cruise for $100 for what I thought was unlimited usage of the entire complex, it turned out, it wasn’t unlimited but that’s not too much of a worry after the weather finally moderated. Of note, the bowling only had one functional lane meaning you had to arrange an appointment to use it. The 4D Cinema was intense. I played all three of the interactive movies with the skeletons in the mine one being the gentlest of them all. It’s quite an intense experience. The arcade has minimal games for a ship this size: 1 competing motorcycle game, Star Wars Game, shooting game (which didn’t seem to be working during the voyage much) and a demolition style sit down race car game. Turned out I was really good at destroying opponents in this game! The arcade would be a good place to pass time in between moments in the evening hours where entertainment gaps existed. I would highly recommend the Fun Pass at $100. The 4D Cinema is $10 per person, bowling is $25 for a half hour play, F1 was also expensive. One bad weather day and you could easily hit the $100! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: One Day More It was the first production show of the cruise, featuring Broadway hits like Singing in the Rain, Cats, Les Miserables. The productions make extensive use of LED walls for graphics saving tons of space for props and endless costume changes back stage. The production cast tonight was great, the opera singers were more overpowering of their cohort singers in group numbers but I knew they’d both be shining stars during opera night later in the cruise! I would definitely recommend catching this show on the ship! Tonight, was the first night I went to the Attic Club disco on the ship. It was here that I discovered one of the two DJs from the Seaside was onboard (and he wasn’t the better one from Seaside – DJ Tony). At the bar in the nightclub was a younger guy with his head down sleeping, apparently passed out. Security went over to check on him and let him stay there but he put his head back down. Eventually he ordered two Red Bull and was much more awake but only caffeinated. It was a good night out but most hung outside at the Horizon Bar to smoke on the starboard side. With the crosswinds, it would waft across the deck into the non-smoking area making it impossible to get air. The Attic Club was insanely hot as the ship still had the heat on from the colder cruises. I retired shortly around 1AM. DAY 3: At Sea It’s October 30th and the ship began coming alive with Halloween decorations. The culinary team in the buffet carved pumpkins yesterday all day in the kitchen they make the fresh mozzarella in and today they setup a display of them with fake candles. The display was just as you entered the Marketplace Buffet. Also, in the Meraviglia Lounge, they had pumpkins carved on the tables there and the whole bar was even more decorated than the previous day. Actually, the whole Promenade on Deck 6 was alive with Halloween items, including some scary looking man who was later used for photos by the ship’s photography team. The weather was not cooperating so well so the Fun Pass was used to play some bowling, arcade games and 4D Cinema before heading back to rest for the afternoon. The temperature outside was finally starting to moderate a bit but the weather was still overcast with occasional rain showers. We also found a nice place to go for a walk downstairs away from the smokers. It was on Deck 7 forward and was a horseshoe from port side to starboard side through the front tunnel in the ship from one bump out section to the other. It’s by the life rafts and was a good place to go to not be in the direct sunlight as well. There are NO deck chairs on this deck, it was strictly used for walking purposes only and it’s not very well advertised. Crew do a lot of work out on this deck so parts may be shut off as well. Today, the ship delivered strawberries and prosecco to the room as part of the Diamond status Voyager’s Club welcome back gift. Prior to sailing, make sure to status match with your other cruise line’s loyalty club status. On NCL I’m Platinum Plus which makes me Diamond on MSC. Just before dinner it was announced Cirque du Soleil’s scheduled performance of Viaggio was cancelled due to the rough sea conditions. I was scheduled to attend the 9:30PM showing. It would become practically a routine to visit the scheduling guy at the Carousel Lounge to get the shows rescheduled this cruise. Why would you ever build a show lounge at the aft of a ship for a Cirque performance? The least amount of movement is mid-ship! Tonight, after switching the dining time around, the birthday cake showed up to the Panorama restaurant for mom. The first night it was delivered to the Waves Restaurant because we were scheduled to be there but the second night I left early before it could be served. It became a running joke this cruise because the travel agent also bought a cake for my mom’s birthday so there were TWO cakes floating around the ship! The section host, William, did a splendid job of tracking them all down and getting them arranged though! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Born to Rock The second production show of the cruise with the production cast was mom’s favorite. She loves rock music and loved all the tunes. They had Tina Turner and many other rock legends. The production was pretty solid with full usage of LED panels and several wardrobe changes by all. Less group singing in this production so it made it a lot smoother. A definite must catch show! THEME NIGHT: Country and Western Night MSC has several theme nights on their American sailings or so it would seem (some appeared on the Seaside as well). The first theme night was Country and Western. I don’t particularly like country music but I was interested to see what they would do. The cruise staff dressed in Western attire and danced to the same line dance songs you’d hear most other places with a few country dance tunes thrown in for good measure. The overhead LED panels in the promenade had different graphics displaying throughout the event. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Beer Prov Adult Comedy Show This was an adult’s only improv comedy show. It started slow and just died. It wasn’t too funny and when it took too long to setup the next act, most people, including myself walked out. I felt bad for them but with a more engaging party (Country Night) going on just feet away, I felt my time could be better used to watch people have fun than those four TRYING to be funny. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Black Light Party Cirque du Soleil might’ve been cancelled but the Carousel Lounge was still open for usage. I loved the Carousel Lounge as a nightclub. Yes, the bar had a significant shortage of various types of alcohol requiring you to walk to the casino bar to get your drink but the lighting system and sound systems in there were FAR superior to the Attic Club. It also was much better climate controlled. It was sad the Neon party only lasted one hour before they closed it down at 12:30AM and sent us up to the Attic Club. DAY 4: At Sea – Happy Halloween MSC Meraviglia Finally, a good morning to go sunning on the pool deck after breakfast! I went up for a little while before returning to the room to join my mom at the Welcome Back Cocktail reception on the Promenade Deck 6 for all Voyager’s Club member. The event was attended by all senior staff on the ship with little snacks and drinks being served, including non-alcoholic ones. The best part was the production cast came through and did a song and dance number for us after the captain came by to say some remarks and toast. There was also a history presentation on the LED ceiling. It was very well done and probably the best welcome back party I’ve attended on any cruise line to date! After a buffet lunch, it was time to hit the gym. While most folks were out on the pool deck or worked out earlier, I could find a corner to do my ab workout and didn’t have to battle nearly as many people for the equipment. Dinner tonight was ribs and an Asian Salad. The salad was good. I asked for a double order of the ribs and still felt hungry. I didn’t order more because of the showtime and needing to get to the theater. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Serge Massot Yes, this ventriloquist came back with a new show dubbed to be full of surprises and laughs. Some of it mirrored the first show and there were new elements. The female he selected from the audience clearly didn’t want to do it and looked like she could’ve punched him at any time. I was sitting in the back and her unwillingness was palpable from there! It was a show to see but again, if he’s on, take a pass on it. THEME NIGHT: Halloween Several cruise guests, largely Americans, dressed up for Halloween. The top 3 were picked by the cruise staff for final voting up on the bridge in the Promenade. I dressed up as Cesar, quite a few vampires around but the winner of the contest was a group of drag Pan Am flight attendants and a pilot. I’ve never had my picture taken by so many cruisers before! A ship’s photographer named Veronica (I think) also snagged me for a photo shoot and she did some amazing poses. She was having a ton of fun with it! I don’t customarily buy ship photos but I did from her shoot. She’s got a good eye! Music tonight was by DJ Fabiano and the LED ceiling was on fire with creative and spooky graphics. I’ve done 3 Halloween parties at sea and this was by far the best one yet! Bravo Meraviglia entertainment team! The after party was up in the Attic Club and Horizon Pool Bar at midnight but since I was getting up to go ashore tomorrow, I went up for a bit and went to bed. Cirque du Soleil was cancelled again tonight, although it was the SONOR show I was scheduled to see. It was again due to the ship swaying in the sea conditions (high winds). DAY 5: Land Ho! ST MAARTEN After a quick breakfast, it was off the ship and in a taxi with other guests to head to Maho Beach. I was heading to Cupecoy Beach, a LGBT friendly beach on the island. It cost me $30 for the trip for myself one way. When we arrived at Maho Beach, the beach was underwater and the sand had gone up over the wall and a bus got stuck causing a traffic jam. This should’ve been my clue to get out but I didn’t. I went to Cupecoy anyway and the beach conditions were similar. The beach was underwater due to the tides and high seas. I stayed and sunned myself on the rocks until some other cruisers from the ship arrived. We walked the different inlets from above and admired the views. I split the van on the way back with the other guys from the ship. It took us one hour to get back to the ship because the traffic was so bad. Mom spent the day walking around Philipsburg, St Maarten and finding tissues. She wasn’t sick at this point but the only option available at the time was to use toilet paper to clean out your nose when you awakened in the morning. This was very silly to her (and eventually to me too when I saw what a lack of it was doing to the ship) so she sought out tissues and made that her day ashore. She was successful. You knew it was starting to get bad on the ship because a hand sanitizer lady appeared in the entry way to the Marketplace Buffet. She wasn’t there until this day. When I arrived back onboard and synced by phone back to the Meraviglia Wi-Fi, the restaurant reservation was gone showing what time we were supposed to have Teppanyaki. My mom reserved the Teppanyaki for me to celebrate a career advancement. SPECIALTY DINING: Kaito Teppanyaki This specialty restaurant is where a cook prepares a meal in front of you using a grill and puts on a show. The price varies depending on what meal you select. I had the Samurai meal which was 7 courses and included sushi, salad, soup, tempura, steak, rice and dessert. Mom had the vegetarian version of it with tofu, cucumber rolls (versus tuna rolls), tempura, salad, soup and dessert. Dominique from the Philippines prepared our meal on the grill and did an excellent job of the show. I asked him if he’d been on NCL doing it as the show was quite similar and he said he actually did work on NCL. If you’ve done Teppanyaki on NCL, this is similar but with more food (courses). Also, during the reservation process, the lady asked my mom if I was celebrating anything and she put it in the computer. To my surprise, during dessert time, the Kaito crew came out with a congratulations cake and sang a modified happy birthday congratulations song to me! I wasn’t expecting it and it caught me off guard… my mom’s payback for the birthday cake for her earlier on I presumed! It was a great meal with excellent service. I would bump into the waitstaff in the mornings up in the buffet and they’d always greet me by name. Impressive! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Antonio Versini: A world of Hands I figured this would be the standard magicians show with sleight of hand magic tricks and such. It actually was that and a whole lot more. He put up this projection light on the starboard side and this circle screen in the back and started doing impressions with his hands of animals, singers while songs were playing and morphed them all together. It was quite impressive and unique as I’d not seen anything like this before at sea. THEME PARTY: White Party A signature event on MSC seems to be their White Party. It’s simple, you wear white and dance the night away. It was the first night a party was held at the Atmosphere Pool outside. It was high energy once the line dance songs ended that accompanied most theme nights on the voyage. We had some good EDM tunes before the party shut down at midnight and moved to the Horizon Pool and Bar on Deck 16 / 18 aft. I stayed up until 1AM enjoying the fun before heading to bed. DJ Fabiano was spinning the after party. At the bar, one of the late bookers was drunk and loudly complaining about how crappy the music was. He was a complete buzzkill for anyone near him at the Horizon Bar. DAY 6: FORT-DE-FRANCE, MARTINIQUE We called on Fort-de-France, Martinique and when the morning started it was sunny and I had a leisurely buffet breakfast. I was joined by another solo from New York who hopped on last minute. She was very pleasant and we chatted for a bit. By the time I got off the ship, the sky had changed and storms were coming. The local dancers were out and performing tunes for photo ops. We decided to head to the museum we couldn’t see the last time we were there because it was Sunday. This time it was Saturday and the museum still closed because it was a holiday weekend for them (All Saints Day). The problem with going to the other side of town was the sky opened up and it down poured. Everyone ran for cover; my very large umbrella was no match for the deluge of rain that came. I ducked into an open shop. It was at this time we began to realize most of the city was closed! After getting soaked, it was time to head back to the ship and change. We decided on a leisurely lunch in the Panorama Dining Room. It was leisurely alright; it took 1.5 hours to get our lunch service and it largely seemed because the waitstaff didn’t want any other people to sit in their section again. We never dined in Panorama for lunch again after this one experience. In the PM, I returned to the gym and did a workout waiting for the sun to come out and then watched as the new guests embarked. The cruise was split into two segments to try and get more of it sold. We had a lot of new faces but sadly the sick ones were still around coughing everywhere. I continued to use my avoidance precautions as best as I could but the buffet was a hot bed of germs. Tonight, seemed to be a Greek themed menu so I stuck with the selection of Greek plates including Zucchini meatballs (Kefeta [sic]), slovaki and a custard pie for dessert. A table mate recommended all the dishes and he was supported by Lino, our head waiter for our table. It was a pretty tasty meal. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Virtual The third production show of the cruise featuring the singers and dancers. The show is with more modern music and features a cast member interacting with a phone which has different apps. Dancers come out as dancing emojis and such. While the costuming was engaging, the show, in my opinion, was the weakest one of all the productions. It just didn’t flow right and seemed wonky as they moved from app to app on an iPhone displayed on the LED screen. THEME NIGHT: Space Party I didn’t know or have anything for this party to wear so I just went as I was. It seemed like a lot of cruisers just showed up because it was on right after the show. It was at 10:15PM in the Promenade. The LED ceiling had different solar system displays and stars showing. It was a nice party with the cruise staff decked out in light up silver wardrobe. The funny part was the party was over at 11PM and they told everyone to check out the after party up at the Horizon Bar. When I went up there along with several other cruise guests, there was no music! Someone messed up this night and left a one-hour gap between the two parties! When the DJ came up, it was music under the stars at the Horizon Bar and not inside at the Attic Club. The lack of music and movement for one hour made me exhausted so I headed to bed shortly after midnight. DAY 7: BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS Our arrival was a nail biter for those of us on the starboard side of the ship. We watched as the ship backed into the channel and then come alongside a shipping container vessel (carrying some MSC containers by the way), and then slowly inching back. It was probably the tightest park job I’ve ever seen by a ship. We had to use this section of the pier because it was Sunday and the trolley trains wouldn’t be working. It was truly a sight to behold and nice work by the shore pilot and the bridge crew for an awesome docking without hitting anything (cargo ship or pier)! It was Sunday so everything was largely closed here. It wasn’t due to the same holiday in Martinique but just a very traditional church-going island. This actually worked in our favor as we decided to head to the Garrison and see if the George Washington House might be open. The ship was doing a tour to it so we figured we would try and the walk was a nice jaunt from the ship. We arrived and found a worker who was doing some clean up and said we could enter for $10USD per person. We did and walked the whole site and when we were leaving, the curator actually had just come back from church to close it up. He opened it before church for the ship’s tour. We lucked out! It was noon so we tried a place close by, one of two that were open for lunch called Brown Sugar Restaurant. It was a buffet lunch for $40 USD per person, since the other food option open was spicy Jamaican, we had to dine here. The service was non-existent. We needed water as the sun had emerged finally and it was a scorcher but the lady seemed to make it a chore to refill the glass even once. The buffet was extensive but not worth the money they were charging. After lunch, we decided to take a taxi back over to the port because it was so hot! The one-way taxi fare cost us $20 USD. Back on the ship, we showered and relaxed. Tonight’s dinner menu was not appetizing. I had the strip steak off the always available menu and it was tough despite requesting it be medium. This was one of two nights where I found the main dining room’s menu seriously disappointing and I’m not a picky person by any means. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Come Il Mare This night featured the Italian opera singers of the Meraviglia. We had heard them in earlier productions but tonight showcased their range. It was a spectacular show. Before the show and the previous night, the cruise director made it a point to say the show wouldn’t be for everyone. It wasn’t for everyone. The interpretations were on the side panels of the words being sung. The problem was the port side panel with the English was partially blocked by the curtain to the stage. I still enjoyed it! An aside: What I found really rude was despite the warning, the folks who had the 8:30 dining time still attended the show and got up and left en masse to their dining room! It was beyond rude given the caliber of the production being put on. MSC needs to put a block on reserving the show times if it overlaps with the person’s scheduled dining times. Folks with late seating need to see the first show only. Folks with the early seating see the second or third shows depending on when they finish. It’s much more respectful to the performers and the audience that way. THEME PARTY: Pirates Party Channel your inner Jack Sparrow mate and come along on the promenade for a fun-filled night at sea! I had a pirate shirt with me after learning of this theme on the Seaside the year prior. It was well-received by the staff who were surprised anyone had anything to go along! It was a typical night of line dances. However, when the party ended at 11PM this time around, I knew there would be a one-hour gap between music so I went straight to bed. DAY 8: GRENADA MSC SHORE EXCURSION: Spices and Rainforest Despite having been on so many cruises, sometimes I do go to someplace new. Today was the day to explore Grenada using a ship’s excursion because I didn’t know the island. I always take an organized tour the first time to a place and then go on my own the second time after I have my bearings. With that said, do NOT take this tour if you’re prone to motion sickness. The roads in Grenada are tight with lots of twists and turns and ups and downs. I got was getting car sick in the back and trying to get some fresh air. The AC in the tour van wasn’t working effectively and the hot air plus the lady who was coughing her head off up front was making me feel more nauseous. Finally, at the lake when I almost puked, the driver let me open the back window. I was fine thereafter but we had already stopped at the spice factory and driven well over an hour like this. The spice factory was short but informative with a 20-minute presentation and then time for shopping in the gift shop out front. The next stops were in the mountain at a lake and national park and then the Annendale Falls. The falls were spectacular and I wish I could’ve gone swimming but timing didn’t allow for it. They had cliff divers doing crazy jumps into the water for money. When the tour returned to the ship, I was still queasy. Overall, there were cheaper taxi options available doing a similar tour minus the nutmeg factory. However, no tour will be without the windy, bumpy roads so keep this in mind. We sailed for Curacao at 2PM. I went back and sunned for a bit before catching the Snow Party up on deck. At the pier welcome back show they had today, they had the snow machine out there and it appeared again on the pool deck for fake snow during this party. I live in New England, the last thing I wanted to see was snow – fake or real! Ha but it was a good afternoon party to have poolside and helped pass the time. SPECIALTY RESTAURANT: Butcher’s Cut (Elegant Night) As a Diamond member, you are given a choice of complimentary specialty dining. We chose this restaurant. The sommelier was quite helpful in finding mom a non-alcoholic drink she could order since the first one she had ordered; the ship didn’t have one of the ingredients. I ordered a glass of Robert Mondavi and the sommelier delivered it promptly. He was very attentive and so was the specialty restaurant manager who stopped by to say hello. I had the shrimp cocktail, the New York Steak (better quality than main dining room) and cheesecake for dessert. It was a nicely paced meal with great service offered by all. It was a nice evening to have dinner away from Panorama and well done! FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Way Yet another production show brought to you by the production cast of the MSC Meraviglia. It was a high energy dance show with some opera thrown in. I sat much closer to the stage than I usually do for this show because it had filled up quite early tonight. The dancers had a soda fountain themed attire and several wardrobe changes. I liked the energy from it and would recommend it. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Cirque du Soleil’s VIAGGIO The production was off to a very slow start. It didn’t seem too engaging. When the jugglers and all the other entertainers got going together, the show ended. It took forever for it to ramp up to something exciting and when it did, it was over in the blink of an eye! Yes, there were people walking on the LED wall sideways and a bike which was being pedaled across the ceiling but this show was not like any other type of Cirque show I’ve seen before. It was my first Cirque du Soleil and frankly, I wasn’t impressed by it. My mother fell asleep because it was boring. Other guests were just as confused as we were when the show ended because it had just started to get good when it did so. Being so short, it meant it had to be high energy the whole way through and instead it seemed like the last 10 minutes were. I would skip this show. I did the drink option for $18 pre-booked online. THEME NIGHT: Gatsby Party The Gatsby Party was taking a step back to the roaring 20s with cruise staff in period costumes. Since I was in Viaggio during most of it, I didn’t hear the actual type of music played but the LED ceiling was still putting on a good show while it was happening. DAY 9: CURACAO We arrived at 1PM. I went up on the sun deck and grabbed some sun before our arrival. I started to feel a bit under the weather today. Mom had started to feel that way at the end of the previous day. By the time we docked at 1PM, I was definitely coming down with something. During the afternoon, mom and I walked over to the Maritime museum and had a look around at the exhibits. The museum was not too far from the Queen Emma pontoon bridge. We had a walking tour of historical buildings in Willemstad we did afterward on our own. The ship was offering something similar but we found this walking tour online and it actually explained buildings quite well. We walked around quite extensively before heading back to the ship. Tonight’s main dining room theme was Tropical Night. The menu featured Jamaican jerk chicken and several other Caribbean favorites. It was a good menu, but not perhaps if you’re not a fan of spicy foods. It seemed like the spices weren’t too heavily applied though to the dishes I had but I have a high tolerance for spice. I went back off the ship after dinner since we were in port until 11PM to grab a drink in town with friends. It was a nice night off the ship. Most of the crew were off the ship that worked during the day, the production casts had the night off and were out and about in town. I returned to the ship and skipped the Tropical Latin Party to go to bed. I was exhausted and wanted to try and beat whatever this sinus thing was happening. Thankfully I had bought more tissues! DAY 10: ARUBA Today, mom and I walked around town which was scorching hot as the sun was out! It looked like it was threatening rain but it never materialized. We first went to the National Aruba Archaeological Museum. It was highlighted in a tour book of the island we had bought years earlier. When we arrived, the gentleman said we were in luck as the museum had just reopened during a ceremony the night prior with a new exhibit as well. The cost of admission was FREE. The museum was quite interactive and extensive on the island’s history and archaeological finds. I enjoyed it and would recommend it! The Aruba Historical Museum was also in Oranjestad and it was a five-dollar admission fee. What the gentleman at the ticket booth failed to state was this museum was also under renovations with the exhibits squished in the middle of the floor and largely unlabeled. They were in the process of moving things around. You could climb the fort tower and get a view in both directions. Overall, I would pass on this museum until they’re done their reorganization of exhibits. The island has a few other museums on offer as well and can be found by going to Visit Aruba’s website. We didn’t go to the model train museum as it was too far out of town. However, there was an antiquities museum in town as well. There was a free trolley running very infrequently from the port taking you on a loop around town. It was free as well. This was new since the last time I was in town. The entire port area had been done over nicely. When we returned to the ship, this was the first port where workers were outside squirting you with hand sanitizer besides the girl in the buffet. The gym was largely deserted so after a late lunch, I went there to do a workout and see if I could sweat out whatever this bug was coming on. I took a brief nap before getting ready for dinner. I didn’t write down what was on the menu tonight but it couldn’t have been too memorable as I didn’t take photos of it either. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Life is Magic Now here was a proper magic show with sleight of hand tricks, the sawing in half of the beautiful lady, putting her in a box and escaping and then switching it out for the magician. The show was definitely engaging and used some of the dancers as well to move things along between his wardrobe changes or setting up for the next act. I would recommend this show if it’s still around on the ship for the 7-day itineraries. For the second time, the production of SONOR from Cirque du Soleil was cancelled due to a technical issue. This time it wasn’t due to rough seas. When I went to go and change out the tickets, they were in the midst of a dress rehearsal or something and there were a bunch of technicians standing around. Since this was the second time I had to re-schedule this show, I wasn’t happy. If they had done this rehearsal earlier in the day instead of going ashore (which they did do because I saw them out), the cast would’ve discovered the technical problem and got it fixed in time. I was starting to regret booking any of the Cirque du Soleil shows on the ship. THEME NIGHT: 60s, 70s and 80s Party The cruise staff once again dressed up in their best 70s outfits, mostly bell-bottoms and glistening tops. The party was true to the time frames in questions featuring songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s which were heard at most of the other parties. I didn’t finish the party and went to bed. DAY 11: At Sea The morning consisted of a Welcome Back party for Diamond Card members only on the deck 6 promenade with more drinks and light snacks available. The LED screen did a performance of outer space landing on Earth and then the Captain and the senior officers appeared on the bridge. They seemed to be keeping their distance from the cruise guests as a good portion of the ship was now sick with whatever upper respiratory / sinus bug was going around. In the afternoon after a buffet lunch, I went out to the sun deck and relaxed. They had a King of the Sea show on at 4PM but it seemed like they picked up random people to do it. It wasn’t overly entertaining so I went back to the room to shower and take a nap. Tonight’s dinner was a formal night and the beef tournedos were on the menu again. I ordered a double of them as the meal was good the first time around. The first one was very tender but the second one on the plate was overcooked. I’m not sure how that occurred but the salt from the covering made me thirsty the rest of the night. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Paz This is a production showcasing the Flamenco dance with the art of Picasso on the LED screens behind the dancers and rotating through the audience projections. The lead dancers did an amazing job. The footwork of both of them was so fast and graceful, it was a good show. The artwork itself was enjoyable to see and how they worked it into the show. Definitely a must catch, especially if you like the flamenco dance. MOVIES UNDER THE STARS: Cars 3 The ship had run a few shows and music video type productions on the big screen at the pool but tonight was Cars 3. I hadn’t seen it in its entirety with my nephew and was waiting on the silent disco to open so I watched it for a bit until I got to a part I saw and then got a drink and came back. It’s nice they have a movie on the big screen because during the day, the screen is largely used for what’s on at the pool deck with no movies playing. There’s just tables and chairs setup but no food on offer like Princess Cruises does with popcorn and such. The bar is open there if you want to do a walk-up drink order. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Silent Disco The Carousel Lounge once again opened up with a silent disco. Housing three channels, one EDM, one Latin and one old school, there was plenty on offer. It seemed most people were on the first channel which the DJ was actually spinning in real time. The other two were pre-recorded it seemed. You had to check in for the headset and check out for it. The problem was, the bar in the Carousel Lounge didn’t have Grey Goose so I had to exit to get a drink at the bar straight ahead in the casino. You also had to hand over the headset when you had to use the bathroom which was just outside the Carousel Lounge. It seemed a little bit silly if they scanned your cruise card for taking one of the headsets. However, the Carousel Lounge was an amazing venue and it was a fun night. The music continued after the Silent Disco ended up at the Horizon Pool and Bar. I stayed up a bit later to dance to the music before finally crashing to bed around 1:30AM. DAY 12: JAMAICA Now if you’re wondering why we hit Jamaica, it was because on November 4, 2019 after sailing from Grenada it was announced due to operational issues on Ocean Cay, the island was not ready to accept ship visits. As a result, the compensation offered was a $100 onboard credit and a 20% of cruise fare paid to be applied to a future cruise. The compensation offered was astounding for missing a private island. I wasn’t sure they were going to make it there when I saw the photos on Cruise Critic prior to sailing but if we did it would’ve been nice to be one of the first. Turns out three sailings stops were cancelled and now it seems on hold for the next sailings as well. Since we would’ve had 3 sea days instead of 2, MSC decided to have the ship call in Ocho Rios, Jamaica since there was berth space available. When we arrived in Jamaica, we pulled in and looked like we were going to dock at the James Bond pier which was not close to anything but swung a hard left and came around to the other closer pier. We didn’t book anything on this island as we’ve seen what we wanted to see. Mom just wanted to go to the shopping center outside the port area with Margaritaville and to find another box of tissues. The tissue hunt brought us way outside the port with all the harassing taxi drivers trying to sell you tours every 2 feet and then other seedy characters trying to sell you marijuana. Both were out of luck, in MA marijuana is legal. I don’t smoke it but told them it was legal back home so didn’t need it. They didn’t like that response. Ha ha! Soon, those annoying folks are not going to find someone to buy it. One interesting thing to note, while the taxi drivers were all local, a predominant part of the stores we visited in search of tissues were not owned by original islanders. We had noticed this in the last few ports but this was really in your face here. No wonder the locals are not making any money if they can’t even sell their tourist wares. It seemed more desperate than my last visit. I truly was annoyed with the locals pushing stuff at me every couple of feet. I wanted to get back to the ship asap. I really wished MSC had gone somewhere, ANYWHERE but Jamaica like Cayman or Cozumel! Tonight, was Italian Night on the ship. In the main dining room, the menu was Italian themed with meatballs as an app, chicken parmigiana and Osso Bucco on order for mains and a lemoncello-type of dessert. The waiter also brought the second cake for my mom that was ordered by the travel agent. It was a nice touch and they did a whole big thing. The cake said Best Wishes and it was handled by William, the section lead. FEATURED ENTERTAINMENT: Meraviglioso Amor The last of the production shows was the second best for mom (Born to Rock her first) and one of my favorites as well. The production featured hits like Gloria, foreign love songs with familiar lyrics so the person knew what it was no matter what language it was. The dancers and singers came together at the end along with the cruise staff and selected staff from different areas to say goodbye to Italian opera singers singing Time to Say Goodbye. It was a fitting close to a great show and a capstone to the production shows presented throughout the voyage. After the show ended, we hurried down the promenade to the logo shop for the Logo Shop Happy Hour where if you buy 3 things you would get 20% off. I bought a Lego version of the ship for my nephew for Christmas and two magnets to give him of the Doremi character for the refrigerator and trip souvenirs. I was also entered to win a ship figurine signed by the Captain. Since it was 9PM, I stuck around for the drawing. I didn’t win it but it was a good thing I hadn’t because my luggage was already overweight! THEME PARTY: MSC Little Italy The cruise staff were dressed in the colors of Italy but sadly I was exhausted so I went to bed after quickly stopping by. To be in theme, just wear red, white or green or all three! DAY 13: Sea Day The last day on the ship meant doing things I’d said I was going to do the whole cruise and never got around to. After walking a bit in the morning after eating breakfast, mom and I stopped by the Bamboo Pool for a smoothie. The Bamboo Pool had a bunch of delicious smoothies and the MSC for Me app tipped me off to them when they offered a special earlier in the cruise. I did stop by and look at the beverage menu and said I would return. I never did until today. I had the Strawberry concoction with yogurt and it was very nice. Mom sampled a different one without the yogurt in it and hers was a purple color so I’m not sure what was in it. The drinks cost $6.50 each but were pretty decent for the price paid. I spent the rest of the morning catching some sun and returned for lunch to the Marketplace to meet up with mom. After lunch we decided to head to the Photo Shop to pick up the complimentary Mediterranean night photo and find the others. I found the Halloween photos and decided to buy one of them. The embarkation photo didn’t look good so we chucked that. Vanessa who did the photo shoot with the Halloween photos rang us up. I asked her why they had printed all these photos when you can tap the cruise card in the kiosks and print them around the corner. It is so wasteful and you have to jack up the price of the photos to cover all the paper and chemical waste. MSC should have a selection pre-cruise where you choose if you want any photos printed or if you want them done digitally and you can request the print be made if you like it. This would be more environmentally friendly and perhaps the cost savings could mean they’d purchase tissues for the staterooms again! Win win, right?! After finishing up with the photos, I met up with some cruise friends at the Polar Aquapark in the aft part of Deck 19. I had not been up there the whole cruise but wanted to try the water slides. The water slides were a ton of fun. Two of them require an inflatable tube to ride, the other one which shoots you into a bowl doesn’t require a tube. The bowl slide was not as fun as you don’t shoot around it as much and then stop and have to climb out and go down the stairs. There are other water features largely geared towards kids but tons of adults were in the water park having fun too! After the water park, I needed some sun to dry off as I had to finish packing stuff including the bathing suit. The girls who I met were in the Aurea area up front on Deck 19. I wondered what this area was like as it faces the pool deck. It wasn’t relaxing because the music from the pool deck is blasting right at you. It was also a bit windy up there since it was so high up. I went back down to Deck 18 forward behind the screen and a nap. At the last dinner we had an amazing time chatting with our table mates and wishing each other well in our future travels. We also missed the Beer Prov Adult Comedy Show. I wasn’t too saddened by missing it and instead enjoyed the company of our fellow table mates a bit longer. We returned to the room to do the last of the packing and get the bags out of the room. They had to be out by 1AM but ours was out by 9:30PM. We went to bed early because we had to meet in the Carousel Lounge at 7:30AM. All Diamond US citizens had to meet at that time and were assigned Lilac 1 luggage tags. DAY 14 – MIAMI, FL, USA I was up at 5:15AM to get ready and the Marketplace Buffet was open at 6AM. When we got upstairs, the Norwegian Breakaway was still in the Miami turning basin. Goodness, what an early start this was! We were in the channel in the early hours of the morning and tied up. The siren they have on the inside of the ship by the bulkhead doors that opens out is so darn loud and ricochets off the buildings it was impossible to sleep with our starboard side facing the pier. This made a long day even longer. We reported to the Carousel Lounge as directed by the information left in our stateroom. You had to vacate your stateroom by 8AM anyway. We noticed none of the luggage tags had been called. This continued for over an hour as we noticed more and more cruisers disappearing from the Carousel Lounge with Lilac tags. We had a noon flight and needed to get off the ship. When 8:30AM came and they said disembarkation had been stopped, I made my move and asked where the actual gang ways were because we needed to get out. The lady told me where they were but disembark had stopped. When it resumed, we were in position and got off. Most of the lilac people had done so as well. There was huge gaps in luggage in the terminal for a luggage color that wasn’t called yet! No wonder the whole disembarkation process was messed up. The line for the non-US citizens inside the terminal was lengthy. All of them needed to be fingerprinted. For US citizens, all they did was snap a photo of the passport with a handheld device and send us on our way. The US citizen line moved faster and those were supposed to be the ones getting off the ship first anyway if people read the instructions! We made it to the airport by 10AM and checked in for our flight home. THOUGHTS ON SHIP DESIGN: The Meraviglia is a ship dubbed for all seasons. Her overall design supports her being a ship for cold weather cruising only. Her top deck is woefully inadequate for the passenger load she has and this will become a problem when the ship commences its Caribbean season. One side of the ship is always shaded from the smokestack back and deck chairs are crammed in every nook and cranny along the walking/jogging track. If you’re looking for a proper sun deck, stick with the MSC Seaside sailing year-round Miami. The ship’s interiors have some really beautiful spaces including the crystal staircases in the atrium. There’s a lot of wasted space on Deck 6 and 7 midship where the entry to the dining rooms and casino / Carousel Lounge are respectively. The gym is a postage stamp and is in dire need of better equipment and expansion. The promenade is great but with all sorts of sales going on and photography setups, it makes passing this area a pinch point every night on the way to the shows. The bathrooms on this ship were always distant from where you were, especially for the nightclub. If you wanted a bathroom that was large enough from the Attic Club, you had to walk down past the kid’s club to the ones by the elevators. The Horizon Pool had a one stall bathroom on Deck 16 but this wasn’t enough to support a mildly packed nightclub. You’d always have to walk a distance to use the bathroom. This didn’t make sense if the goal was alcohol sales! Likewise, for the sun deck, if you are on Deck 18 forward by the solarium roof, you have to come down one deck and go inside across the Bamboo Pool below where you were sunning and into the bathroom there. There didn’t seem like any convenient bathrooms to the Atmosphere pool deck either. You had to go into the Marketplace buffet to go bathroom. I never found it more cumbersome to need a bathroom on any cruise ship than this one! I found this truly odd. The Carousel Lounge is a far superior venue and fully equipped with a lot of audio-visual equipment. I’m surprised only a very small portion of what the equipment was in the lounge was used for Cirque du Soleil. It was evident either the shows were changed in some way to shorten them or to make it easier for the cast. There were projections and a large circular screen which were never deployed during either Viaggio or SONOR. I tend to notice production aspects more and love a good visual show. Sonor used some visuals on the LED wall but not nearly as much as the room was capable of handling. Lastly, the ship’s walking and running tracks are so crammed during warm weather days with sun bathers and people trying to run and walk and just figure out what they’re doing, it would make sense to have walkers use the Deck 7 semi-loop and leave the runners topside. My mom got clipped a few times by runners while staying in her lane. The runners didn’t seem to care or apologize for it either. This ship is not the best for fitness if you’re looking for that. STAFF SHOUT OUT: I always like to recognize staff who went above and beyond to make my holiday memorable. Ahmadi, my stateroom steward for accommodating most special requests (sans tissues) and always greeting me in the hallway no matter the time of day or night when he was working. He got used to our schedule and cleaned our room when we had our dinner. Our dining team of Lino, the main waiter and Frederick, the assistant waiter, were amazing and kept us hydrated and offered us more food if we wanted it. If we wanted more, there was rarely a wait. William who oversaw this team of amazing professionals was also quite attentive and handled a special request to find decaf tea for mom. When coming to the USA, the Meraviglia had to get rid of this nice tea display case which didn’t comply with USCG Vessel Sanitation program inspection criteria. As a result, it was a hunt for various versions of tea. He saw to it mom had her supply! He also oversaw the birthday cake situation and figured out a workable solution! Ryan De Leon in the Sky Lounge and in the nightclub was also amazing. He knew my name and my drink order by heart! Lastly, the Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant cook Dominique for a good show and the team who would greet me whenever they saw me in the Marketplace Buffet when they were up there selling the restaurant. Even the guest services staff on this ship were so kind and helpful (unlike Seaside’s guest service staff). I had a repeated issue with the ink on my stateroom keycard rubbing off in the intense heat topside and they replaced it without issue and with a smile. They have the toughest job on the ship constantly getting yelled at! SUMMARY: The Meraviglia is a nicely decorated ship. The LED panel is a great way to entertain. The night time cruise staff went out of their way to make the ship enjoyable and make sure everyone was dancing. The crew on the ship were the happiest and most efficient if I had to compare it to the Seaside last October. The crew made the trip. The chef could lay off the salt and I’m not a foodie but if I’m saying it was salty, the food was not as good as the Seaside’s preparation was. I didn’t encounter a rude staff member anywhere on the ship and only had slow service once, in the main dining room during lunch. I know the crew had a chance to get off the ship finally in each of the ports we visited. I think that plus a crew party helped to lift spirits among them. Would I recommend the Meraviglia? For top notch service, yes, I would! Would I sail on the Meraviglia again? I’m not so sure I would. If it were the Caribbean and the Seaside were on offer, I would probably sail Seaside instead. If it is a cold weather cruise, then I would consider Meraviglia again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This is our first MSC cruise. I so wanted tonlove it but I just cannot. The ship its self is really lovely andthe cabin with balcony is spacious and comfortable. The food is adequate. Nothing special but not bad either. It does not ... Read More
This is our first MSC cruise. I so wanted tonlove it but I just cannot. The ship its self is really lovely andthe cabin with balcony is spacious and comfortable. The food is adequate. Nothing special but not bad either. It does not compare to the likes of NCL or RCCL. The cabin steward is friendly andcthecwaiters we had in the main diningvroom were nice. However re the bar staff I generally feel that they are doing you a favour and prefer each others vompsny. Mot much happy service from them. Thd spa is one of the worst we have been in at sea. Small rooms and not even kept tidy. I acyually asked for a refund . After some back and forth with the guest relations supervisor we did get it back as I had no intention of using the space agsin. The worst is the entertainment. Not much hsppening in thd day and thevnighttime shows were poor quality . I felf like We had gone back to the 1980's. The cruise director was not very visible and a bit over the hill hence the old fashioned vibe of shows possibly. Overall the ship is nice but just has not much atmoshere ehich is a shame . It is a bit hit and miss on everything. I guess you get whag you pay for. Even on formal night most guests were not even dressed up which added to the lacklustre ferling. Will prob not go agsin with MSC. Just not for us ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This cruise was a disaster from start to finish! I can't believe we paid so much and got so little in return. - Embarcation was a HUGE fail. There were no signs or people providing information regarding luggage at drop off. There were ... Read More
This cruise was a disaster from start to finish! I can't believe we paid so much and got so little in return. - Embarcation was a HUGE fail. There were no signs or people providing information regarding luggage at drop off. There were 2 stations to hand off luggage. We waited in one of the lines only to be told we were at the wrong place (EVEN) we needed to go to the other one (ODD). How were we supposed to know? The guys handling the luggage were extremely rude, but probably employed by the port not MSC. - Inside was chaos. I wish I had taken a picture. Thousands of passengers trying to make their way with no signs and very few staff directing traffic. Where is the priority line? Good question. My guess is there wasn't one. It took us 2 hours to onboard, but we were "lucky" because it took some passengers over 4 hours. There was only one gangway open! REALLY? I have been on smaller ships, and we regularly had 2 gangways. We heard a lot of possible explanations/excuses, but I have no idea if any were true. Once on the gangway we were shocked to see only one MSC crew member scanning cards. There were two stations, but they were only utilizing one. Ridiculous! - Safety on board was not a priority. The Muster Drill, which is mandatory and emphasized on other ships, was a Cluster. - Despite making our dining reservations immediately upon boarding, we were dismayed to find out that they had all been cancelled the next day. We had issues re-booking and getting the dates/times we had originally selected. - The food was sub-par with the exception of Butcher's Cut. Unfortunately, we didn't have that until our last night. We had the Tryptic dining package, and were surprised by the limited options afforded to us. On our other non-MSC cruises we have had our choice of anything on the menu, with only a few items upcharged (i.e. lobster). Not so on MSC...I was charged $3.84 for a side of mashed potatoes in Ocean Key despite the fact I did not want any of the options offered. So my dinner was going to be mashed potatoes, and they arrived cold. I couldn't believe they still charged me. - The SPA had a number of issues. Poor design in the ladies locker room had the door opening to the lobby, which could cause some unwanted exposure. The lockers are stacked 3 high, and if you are assigned the top one you would need to be 6' tall or stand on the bench (another safety issue). There was water on the floor, but no mats to help prevent slip and falls. There were only 3 thermal chairs, and only 2 were working. Other facilities were not operational as well, yet crew were still trying to sell Spa Packages throughout the cruise. There is apparently no limit to how many they sell, despite the obvious overcrowding. -The captain skipped one port and shortened the stay at Quebec City. This was to be the highlight of the trip, and we looked forward to seeing the fall foliage along the St. Lawrence. Instead, we left at 1am, and missed it. We were told it was because the impending bad weather, but I can't help but think they were trying to avoid refunding another day's port fees. We had been running behind since we left New York. The embarcation issues delayed our departure by hours. It's hard to believe that a ship this large could not make up time. I know weather issues later in the trip are not under MSC's control, but I don't think we were getting the full story. -The phones would not allow anyone to leave messages. Such BASIC functionality, like so many other things on the ship...FAIL! -The TV didn't work the majority of the cruise. Their Highly Sophisticated Satellite System was another bust. We spent over $400 on internet...which was not great...but our only option. - The lines at the Customer Service desk were always long...filled with disgruntled passengers. Sadly, we spent a lot of time there. -The cabin design was odd.I suppose it was intended to be "sleek". However, the safe was located on one shelf in the closet. This limited the drawers to two. The depth of the closet was too shallow, meaning the clothes had to be turned at an angle in order to close the door. There were no other shelves or cubbies around the desk which would have been most helpful for storage. We ended up leaving our suitcases open on the sofa. - There were 2 positives for me on this cruise...our cabin steward was great and they had Dr. Pepper on board. I love DP! Only one bar (in the buffet) would keep them in the fridge, so I didn't get a cold can like I prefer...but still loved having it. -There were 100 people in our group, and our travel agent was with us. He worked non-stop to try and resolve the issues...meeting with ship department heads everyday. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been without him. SUMMARY - this was our worst cruise ever! If I could rate it lower, I would. We are Diamond Plus on RCL, Platinum on NCL, and have cruised on other lines as well...including one other MSC. I can't imagine EVER taking a chance on MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This was our first cruise, and whilst we booked it when we were a little tipsy, so glad we did. This was a holiday to celebrate my 40th... This was a Barcelona round trip. We stayed in the city the night before and had an extra night ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and whilst we booked it when we were a little tipsy, so glad we did. This was a holiday to celebrate my 40th... This was a Barcelona round trip. We stayed in the city the night before and had an extra night once we left the ship. Barcelona is a great city I've been to several times before so would recommend that. Embarkation was a breeze. As we had Aurea experience, we got priority boarding so sailed straight through checking and embarkation. It was really easy to follow, especially for people who had never done this before. We boarded the ship around midday, and whilst rooms weren't ready until about 1.30pm, we went to see if we could drop our carry on's off, and we could, which was really handy. Advice: carry on a little as possible... most people need less than they think. Our experience came with a drinks package, can't remember what it was, but it was the one before they changes to Easy etc. However, pre-boarding, we upgraded over the phone to the Premium Plus. Found the food in the restaurant and buffet to be really good with lots of variety. I hate over attentive staff so they standard European service was perfect for me. We did speciality restaurant in the Asian Fusion and Tappanyaki, both were really good. As we'd upgraded our drinks package, we were also able to spend lots of time at the champagne bar without fear of the final bill. Bar service was always pretty fast. Morning coffee from the atrium bar before disembarking, there was a bar just for Aurea experience, and that was good. Ship never felt too full or crazy. The theatre shows were OK. With it being a multilingual ship, not so easy having the spoken word on stage so much, though i would say they need to drop the Tina Turner show. The internationalism of MSC was one of the things that drew me to it. Didn't do any ship organised excursions; it was Europe do never really difficult to get around. Being from the UK, I've been to the mainland lots. First port was cancelled due to operational reasons (didn't find out what they were), and went to Toulon. Found this out once we embarked so didn't have much time to do research. Did the casino, and had fun. Limited myself to 30 Euro and it lasted quite a long time. The MSC for Me app was really useful; highly recommend people download it. You can use it on the ship ships WiFi without having a WiFi package. The screens around the ship were also very good. As we were Aurea, we also got the wristbands, which were really handy for everything. Just couldn't leave the ship without the card. Disembarking was easy. Whilst we needed to be out of our cabin early, we were able to stay on board for a few hours before going to check in to our hotel. We got a WiFi package and didn't use all the date. We also got one of the laundry packages and that was great too. Loved this so much, we're booked on the MSC Meraviglia for November from Miami. I expect service will be a little different. Looking forward to it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Background This was my 80th cruise overall, with most of them being on Celebrity in the past, followed by Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Carnival. We found an incredible offer back in February on this 7-day ... Read More
Background This was my 80th cruise overall, with most of them being on Celebrity in the past, followed by Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Carnival. We found an incredible offer back in February on this 7-day cruise and could not pass it up. My partner and I went and traveled with a close friend of ours who booked a solo cabin. Pre-Cruise We started our journey in Miami. We actually flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before, picked up a rental car and enjoyed lunch before heading to Miami. We checked into the Holiday Inn Seaport and then returned the rental car. We took an Uber into South Beach for dinner before retiring for the night. We checked out at 11am and headed to the port via an Uber, which was very inexpensive. The Ship We arrived at the port and were onboard before noon. The entire process was easy. The ship is stunning. Magnificently constructed, although the gray and burgundy theme inside was not my favorite color palette, it was gorgeous. The layout was fun and different than any ship I had been on. The majority of the fellow passengers were from Europe, and we loved it. Our stateroom was on the 13th floor, a balcony aft. We had booked an inside guarantee and the upgrade fairy gave us a kiss... the first time ever for me to have this kind of upgrade! Also, MSC did a status match of my status with Celebrity, which was amazing. We loved the aft elevator being right outside our door and gave us quick access to the upper pool deck on 16 or the adult only pool on deck 7. Also, the buffet on either deck 16 or deck 8. Our stateroom was very spacious and perfect, I could not have asked for anything different. Food is always subjective. I have to say in my opinion, MSC does a very good job. The buffets for breakfast and lunch had a beautiful array of foods with a lot of variety. Overall everything was very good and we were always more than happy with what our choices were. At dinner, we had the 7:30pm seating on deck 5, table for 3. The food was very good, I still give Celebrity tops, but I have to say I think that MSC rivals the food that the rest of the lines offer. Service in the main dining room lacked a bit, our team had 3 other large tables of families, and they were all high maintenance, but we were patient and enjoyed. They do three seatings in two different dining rooms. Very courageous, but they pull it off.. the thought is exhausting to me if I were a server! The shows were excellent. We saw two, which we booked from an interactive screen onboard. We saw Wizard and Starwalker, both excellent. Just like the dining times being divided into 3, so are the shows. The theater is small and intimate, I think the smallest I have encountered. I did notice the missing orchestra pit and musicians, which I did really miss. Overall a great experience. The onboard entertainment was excellent. There was always something going on, and the live musicians were all very good. There were theme nights throughout the cruise that for the first time I have ever seen... people participated with vigor! They brought outfits and all. I have to say, I do not know how they knew about them as I never saw anything about them other than the white party, which I saw a post on Instagram about. The ports were great, although I would like the port times to be tweaked, but I understand the logistics with the 7-day itinerary. We were in San Juan first, from 5pm-1am. We walked into town and did dinner and had some cocktails. Next up was St. Thomas from 7am-7pm, we went to Secret Harbor and had a fabulous day of snorkeling and lounging. The restaurant there is not great and expensive, but the rest of the day was perfect. Third stop was St. Maarten from 7am-2pm, which is really too short if you want to go to Maho or across to Orient Bay, so we just walked into town and enjoyed our time. Last stop was Nassau from 12pm-6pm, where we went to Junkanoo beach which was just a few minute walk and we had a great day there. The chair hogs were out in the most amazing display I have ever seen. During peak times on days at sea I would say that 80% of the chairs were sitting empty with towels on them. Horrible. And nobody policing them. This is where the line needs to step up their game. The adult pool was great, although it was very deep at 6'5"... so be aware. It is salt water, which I loved. We had the easy package included with our stateroom and it was fantastic. They let you get two drinks at once, so we would often do doubles as their pours are small. If you want a foo-foo drink that is over the limit, they let you order one as a virgin with a shot on the side ;-). The internet was the best I have ever experienced. Instead of charging by the minute they charge by the GB. I loved it. I had a 3GB package included with the room and I worked every day and only used 1GB of it. If you avoid social media, videos and pics you are golden if you need to work. It was fast, too. Very happy. In the end.. MSC, you have us. We loved it and cannot wait to return. The value for the money is amazing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
My husband and I decided to book a very spontaneous trip on MSC Magnifica four days before the ship was to set sail through Expedia. We were coming from Boston, USA and took a non-stop flight to Rome, then a smaller flight to Bari, Italy ... Read More
My husband and I decided to book a very spontaneous trip on MSC Magnifica four days before the ship was to set sail through Expedia. We were coming from Boston, USA and took a non-stop flight to Rome, then a smaller flight to Bari, Italy where we embarked. We read some of the negative reviews (mostly about smoking on the ship and staff being rude) but decided to risk the trip anyway. We are so happy we did!! We found most of the criticisms of MSC and the crew to be completely inaccurate. From the moment we boarded, the staff, crew and bartenders were fantastic and very responsive to any of our needs. We did not have to wait very long for drinks, everyone was friendly to us and the ship was gorgeous. The cabin was ready when we arrived with our bags already in the room. The cabin was nicely furnished, very clean, comfortable bed and a beautiful room with a balcony. The dining in the main dining room at night wasn't my favorite. The food was good but nothing blew me away with flavor. If you are what we call in the states "a foodie", this is probably not the cruise for you. The buffet for breakfast and lunch was good, however. Very nice salad bar, hamburgers, french fries, pasta, homemade pizzas, rice, Thai dishes and lots of other choices. We went on the cruise for the Ports of calls and a spontaneous adventure. The dining portion and food were a low priority for us. The Activities on the crew were fun, we danced, had drinks at the cool bars, sat in the sun, and attended many of the Broadway-style shows. They were cute shows with skilled dancers and singers and a nice way to end the night. The thing we loved the most was the amazing ports of call. Every Greek island and/or city (Venice, Montenegro, Bari) was outstanding. Too much to write but a trip of a lifetime. Everything and more that we had hoped for. I highly recommend this cruise. The only small difficulties were lots of Europeans do smoke, but only outside. Not many people spoke English so we were a little isolated (but my husband found that to be a positive lol), the initial Embarkment was a 2.5 hour wait to get on board, and lines were a bit confusing in the buffet area for breakfast and lunch. I recommend going to the buffet right when it opens to avoid the frenzy. The only people I found to complain were the Americans who didn't have a lot of travel experience. Their expectations were too high for some of the places they visited off the ship. We understood that traveling to these ancient cities there would be lines and confusion since they are not equipped for the influx of thousands of tourists descending on their infrastructure at one time. Some of the ports of calls would have 5 cruise ships show up at one time letting 4,000 people off per ship. One last thing, I do believe you need to be average to good shape to walk around these ports of call. I am in good shape (45 year old female) and found it to be moderate to above moderate exercise to get around with lots of cobblestone walkways and uneven terrain. I was grateful my 80 year old parents decided not to attend the cruise with us as I don't think they would have had the energy to walk around. Overall I would rate this an excellent trip and would do it again with my family in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We travelled as a couple on an 11 night transatlantic from Salvador to Barcelona. We primarily travel on Royal Caribbean and this was our first time on MSC. As such this review will be comparing the two. Good Points - Great Cabin ... Read More
We travelled as a couple on an 11 night transatlantic from Salvador to Barcelona. We primarily travel on Royal Caribbean and this was our first time on MSC. As such this review will be comparing the two. Good Points - Great Cabin Explained in the cabin review - Almost Great Designed Ships The ship was designed beautiful and designed exceptionally with every detail almost thought out. The ship was kept meticulously clean - Great In-house Entertainment The in-house shows were very good although were 35 mins each. Costumes, make up, lighting were superior to RC. - Slightly Cheaper Drinks We don’t drink much so don’t purchase packages. Drinks were about 20% cheaper than RC and tended to be a similar size. Nice touches in the Sports Bar was providing nachos and dips with drinks. The drink alcohol measures also tended to be large. - Always Available Sun Loungers There was sun loungers always available even when very busy - An Affordable Ship Tour At $45 for a three hour tour of behind the scenes of the ship this felt like good value compared to RC price which on Oasis was around $80-90 (which we didn’t take up). Now to the negatives - there is a few: - Some Design Flaws Whilst the ship is beautiful they made some mistakes; The theatre has 934 seats - on a ship with a capacity of 5300. This means that the performers are forced to do 3 x 35 minute performances a night. Whilst these didn’t always sell out (as booking is required) I feel the theatre should have had more capacity to reduce this to two maybe slightly longer performances. The seating is also very tight on leg room. The pools are all 6ft deep with no shallow sections (with the exception of the kids play park) The dinning rooms are too small. This cruise wasn’t full but heard previously of issues with not having enough tables in the restaurant. This results in some very closely configured tables which almost resemble banqueting halls where your almost sharing tables with your neighbour. This didn’t happen to us but it could be pot luck whether you land one of these tables. I’m also not sure if this is down to the table situation but they tend to run 4 dinner sessions 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm - there is also a my choice dining option. If you aren’t in within 15 minutes of that time then the restaurant closes. This policy leads to everyone arriving in a 15 minute window. Servers maybe with 6 tables or more each then need to take orders, serve drinks, bread and food. Not staggering tables affects quality of service and also I’m sure has an effect on the kitchen staff as well. Very open venues. Many of the entertainment areas aren’t intimate or open and have limited seating - so often what happens is a performer is playing to people who are not there to see the act but people who are just there taking a seat. Often the venues are also corridors to other places which then has the effect of major background noise. - The food was very hit or miss The food in the buffet and main dining at breakfast was to a similar standard to RC although with possibly slightly less choice Lunch in the buffet offered less variety than RC and the one time we had lunch in main dining it was ok. Again they seemed to seat people in one waiters section meaning they had immediately 8 tables to serve in quick time. We had dinner in the main dining each night and it was very hit or miss. Some dishes were surprisingly good others were just ok. Portions tended to be smaller than RC - which I think is a good thing - as often RC portions can vary and tend to be large. We developed a system to ensure we got alright food on MSC - we found they tended to be better at seafood and fish dishes than other meat types. For desserts their ice cream and ice cream sundaes were actually very good. They were also very good at pizza and (crisp) fries at the buffet. - Water At dinner service we were entitled to complimentary bottled water - which seemed to be rationed with one bottle coming out at a time. I’m not sure why they don’t just serve water - I actually would prefer a big jug of iced water from the tap than create more plastic to be recycled. - Sanitisation Whilst cleanliness was very good on board hygenie such as hand sanitisation was more an optional occurrence. There was hand sanitiser stations and even hand washing stations in the buffet but many just didn’t bother. By the end of the cruise a large number of people seemed to have a cough. - Disembarkation at some ports was a nightmare We stopped at Tenerife and Malaga on this trip. Tenerife was actually very smooth. However Malaga was slightly dangerous. Due to three medical evacuations by air and bad weather the disembarkation time was understandably changed to 2:30pm. People queued from 2pm with no staff to manage queues these quickly got out of hand with no real queuing system, people joining the lines as they come down the stairs or out of lifts. Some of the queue were then sent to the crew exit to alleviate this. But that was somewhat a bottleneck > with again people coming down stairs and lifts and joining in a mass. - Lack of Activities On board there was somewhat limited daytime activities. On RC we enjoy attending the trivia which is up to seven times a day. It is a great way to meet people as well as break up sea days. On MSC it tended to be dance classes with only three trivia sessions across 12 days. On one day they had 3 activities scheduled at one time and none for three hours. They also had a guest lecturer on board who we attended several talks and was quite interesting. On speaking to her she stated that she only does the transatlantic cruises - what would they have had if she wasn’t on board. There was a lot of entertainment staff even more than on other lines so felt they weren’t utilised as well as they could be. - Languages It became quite monotonous to hear every thing repeated in 6 languages. MSC is European, and I was shocked how seemingly few US customers were on board which make up a large proportion of RC guests regardless where they sail from. Unsurprisingly the majority were Brazilians meaning Portuguese was the main language. Being from the UK and having a little grasp of a few languages I would have struggled without English which was certainly a minority language on board. I’m not sure there is a solution to this problem. Although perhaps they could announce in one language and display subtitles in other languages on screens in places like the theatre. - Not the best imported shows The shows which are imported tend to be languageless or language light. These were a mime act (x2), singing act (x2) and a Ventriloquist using somewhat common words from multiple languages. In fact the best part of these shows was often the audience participation bits which were only a small part. Overall these certainly were not as good as guests performers on RC. - Service was not as friendly as RC I felt the staff were not as friendly as RC. They all did a good job but didn’t really talk. On RC servers of food and drink tend to be really bubbly, restaurant managers visit our table each night and most other staff great you in the corridors of all ranks. I felt this was in a minority on MSC. The staff were still good at their job and some were really friendly. For example a waitress at the chocolate shop remembered us for the rest of the cruise and greeted us each time we walked by, the maitre’d at main dining was very chatty and always acknowledged guests, deck staff cleaning the deck at 5am even gave out a strong good morning in Portuguese. Some other points; We had 3 air medical evacuations during this cruise and these were handled really professionally - it was good to see that if you need specialist medical help even 500km off the coast that attempts will will be made to get you that help. The Spanish Search & Rescue Service Salvamento Maritimo sent a Puma helicopter and an AirbusHeli plane to evacuate a staff member who was in labour with the baby in the breech position. An unusual announcement came over the tannoy in another language first and I picked up the words gynaecologist or obstetrician as they are very similar. The next day whilst at the buffet they made an announcement of “Mike Echo” over the tannoy and the evacuation was in full progress. MSC was the first cruise line to search my bags getting off at a port. As we were on holiday for 17 days we really needed to wash some clothes. I hadn’t preordered a washing package which were reasonable in advance. But per piece priced onboard. As we had washed clothes before off ship on our last transatlantic we thought we would do the same again. Last year on RC we carried off two rather large stuffed full weekender bags no questions asked. Even Spanish police and didn’t even look as we walked through with them. However MSC security were puzzled why I might be taking a weekender bag off the ship and wanted to know what was in it, scanned it and then did a quick visual search. This vigilance I believe is a good thing although what bag size is too big - I was shocked to have not been at least stopped last year with RC. On MSC others got off with backpacks no questions asked. Beware of the shuttle sale at Malaga. This has been mentioned by others before but MSC somewhat tried to sell a $10 shuttle to the city centre from Malaga cruise terminal stating it’s a 20-25 min bus ride away. In reality it’s about 25 minutes leisurely walk by the marina. A taxi would be about €6 each way, and if you wanted to do specific things may just save you a few minutes. Overall we left feeling we enjoyed a relaxing 11 nights on board. We would sail again with MSC possibly on their smaller ships (which we tend prefer) on itinerary rich sailings negating some of the activity issues although we have another two transatlantic sailings booked with RC for early next year so possibly not anytime soon. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Firstly this was our first cruise so we have nothing to completely judge against, however the things I will talk about was our experience. On arrival onto the ship we we’re badgered by staff wanting us to sign up to a drinks package ... Read More
Firstly this was our first cruise so we have nothing to completely judge against, however the things I will talk about was our experience. On arrival onto the ship we we’re badgered by staff wanting us to sign up to a drinks package which we had already sorted pre arrival. This also didn’t stop for a couple of days. ( by all means assist customers but make staff be seen but have customers approach staff ) We also were constantly bugged by the staff photographers constantly asking if we wanted our picture taken and even after a polite no they then pleaded ‘it will only take a few minutes ‘ whilst following us. My polite no’s were beginning to wear very thin towards the end. To add insult to injury the one time we gave in, we were then automatically charged £34.99 to our card before even seeing them. From the reception they told me it was down to me to say I didn’t want them to have the charge removed. So I was glad to keep an eye on my account on my tv in my cabin. Otherwise it would have been a shock on leaving. ( may be better for customers to say yes before charging). Each place we docked at we were badgered if we wanted taxi or sight seeing bus. All were stupid prices and you can do so much better sourcing your own public transport at great prices.... it got tiresome as they wouldn’t take no as an answer. I feel msc security/ dock security should monitor this and actively reduce this annoyance. Now the ship is an absolute beautiful design. Really took our breath away. The mid ship sky screen shows and displays were very good. The shows onboard were very very good and thoughly entertaining. And at 30 mins I feel it was too short but understand with time restrictions for the program it has to be that way. I had no issues with my premium drinks package and recommend this is purchased. The staff were all very friendly and pleasant and had no bad experiences in the dining room with food or waiting staff. The cabin ( we had a balcony) was a nice size and I would say it was a slightly smaller than the average Travelodge room but pretty much the same layout. Tv channels were slightly limited ( but who comes on holiday to watch tv ). The safe is quite tiny and we couldn’t put our iPads in it. But it was simple to use. The Bed was very comfortable with two pillows. Balcony size ok. Mini bar idea not so good. .... it is not covered on the drinks package. I think to enjoy the balcony it would be good to use from mini bar to save having to go to the bar for purchasing drinks to carry back. Most drinks in there can be from the bar anyway. ( just saves borrowing and restocking ourselves the next day early). The spa is amazing and well worth the visit. Spent most days in there for a couple of hours recovering from our days walking. However on the sea day it got very busy. Maybe it would be good if msc only allowed the package deal only people to access on sea days and offer no day pass. ( could earn more money for them and balance the numbers out for spa visitors). With the numerous relaxation areas jacuzzis and steam/ sauna rooms and ice room. Not forgetting the emotional showers there are plenty of places to relax and rest. Never gambled before and the casino was an awesome experience. Staff very friendly and when it was quiet we asked how to use tables and all was explained very well. There are serious gamblers there, and people like us who had fun with between 10-30 Euros per visit. We actually visited most nights and actually walked away with more Euro’s than we started with. The water slides were fun to use, and the pools were relaxing. And the external hot tubs on the deck were very nice also. Anyone in two minds about first time cruising, I think the ship will give you the experience that will help decide if it’s for you. And as for us......... we will stick with msc and look out for more locations this ship will visit and try out the other ships in the fleet. We have been converted to a life of cruising for sure. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our 9th cruise and we chose Seaside because of its design. We wanted as much outdoor space as possible. Tired of the old "Food Court" atrium designs. The outdoor seating for food and drink was beautiful. There was so ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise and we chose Seaside because of its design. We wanted as much outdoor space as possible. Tired of the old "Food Court" atrium designs. The outdoor seating for food and drink was beautiful. There was so much outdoor space the ship holds true to its motto, "Follows the Sun"! At times, we had difficulty finding shade, but no big deal. We upgraded to a larger cabin 14003 way up front on deck 14. Space was nice, balcony was disappointing. It was a full size balcony but only half available to look out due to the steel support wall for the corner of the ship. We were directly under the bridge so it was nice not having sunlight glaring in our eyes or camera lens for photos. My wife loved the complete privacy of it so I guess it has its pluses and minuses. The Mirror and chrome design was stunning. Absolutely gorgeous, especially the crystal stairs. People couldn't take enough pictures of them. However, due to all the mirrors, there is a place on deck 6 were we almost walk into them several times. The signage is very limited. When elevator doors open, its hard to see what deck you on on. We found out, after a couple of days, that the deck number is on the left post of each elevator door frame. But, because of the chrome, its hard to see. There are large deck numbers on the wall opposite elevators, but not always visible when doors open, and again in bright chrome. Yes, there is always the digital read out and voice in the elevator! The App is the true shinning star on this ship. Very well done. You have access to daily activities, you own personal list of things you checked and, easy show reservation as well as checking you account balance any time. Food was very good, especially in MDR. Appetizers and soups were hit or miss but main course was awesome every night. Contrary to what we have read, the buffet had many changes daily, pre-made sandwiches were different everyday and the carving station in the back was awesome. They were carving roast beef, lamb, pork, turkey, ham, etc.Yes, they had pizza and burgers everyday but what buffet doesn't? Broadway style shows were unbelievable, the best we have ever seen. Outsourcing to a theater company is definitive the way to go. The ships activities crew was top notch, they were everywhere and easily accessible. A really great bunch of kids. Service is probably the only place this ship falls flat. After being in the US for 15 months, you would think the service crew would have the understanding of "Where is the soda machine, toilet, towel exchange or can you make me this drink??" Boy, they do have a lot of teaching to do, not just because of the language barrier, which we were stunned as to how you do not understand simple words such as Coke or Ginger Ale or Sprite, but overall how many of the staff did not know where things were. Training, training, training is what is seriously lacking in this area. Our MDR waiter was difficult to communicate with the first few days, but by the end of the week, they knew exactly what we were looking for, this should have been the case by day 2. I had a bartender give me Scotch because he could not find the Seagram's 7, and he thought I would not notice. I have been drinking 7&7s ever since Tony got me started on "Saturday Nigh Fever". We did notified the Bar Manager and he assured me they would look into it. (not the movie, the problem). Management was always willing to listen and correct the situation, if possible. We wound up receiving Champagne and Chocolate covered strawberries (which we gave both to our neighbors) for one problem, and a tray of pastries for the bar debacle (also gave to the neighbors). Stop trying to put out fires guys and train your staff! We did manage to find an awesome bartender, Julius, at the Miami beach bar. He made the best Mudslides with ice cream, yes, they have a Gellato bar right in the middle of the pool bar. We also found Ron down on deck 5 at the Seaside bar. This is their flagship bar in the atrium. This is the place to go see and be seen. Ron was such a talented mixologist and always smiling. He was so willing to please and always went above and beyond. His section of the bar always had a crowd, I'm surprised the ship did not tilt in that direction. My wife was not feeling well and he made her the most fantastic hot chocolate ever! She kept going back for more. The Thermal Spa was, how does Scar in "Lion King" put it..."To Die For"! I'm sorry we did not opt for the weekly pass, instead we purchased a day pass with massages. This place is awesome, Jun the manager was the best. Jamaica was sad, Grand Cayman was beautiful and Cozumel, well, it's Cozumel. We spent the day in the spa while in port at Nassau. Would we sail MSC again? Probably, but not in the near future. I would prefer an Eastern Itinerary and lets see how well Management does their training. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was my first cruise and last. Truthfully I am the type that enjoys this however want to say the staff was extrely good. From the bars to the table. A gentleman was st my table and he had issues with his meal and was immediately taken ... Read More
This was my first cruise and last. Truthfully I am the type that enjoys this however want to say the staff was extrely good. From the bars to the table. A gentleman was st my table and he had issues with his meal and was immediately taken care of. The captains on the floor was contumely checking over the floor. I enjoyed the food and it was nice not great. Many season cruisers complained. The room with the window was ok and I felt like I was in a trailer. Will say the bed felt wonderful and I slept great in it. If u want to drink alcohol then buy a package u will be glad u did. Rather lots of confusion getting to different ports. Mostly u get what u pay for. I most enjoyed Cuba. Not much reason to go to Jamaica. I did enjoy cosemel and there were nice shows Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We sailed on MSC Divina because we got got a bargain and to entice us we were "matched" to the level on NCL/Carnival, we found the ship to be nicely designed, our cabin was comfortable and the amount of amenities and dinning was ... Read More
We sailed on MSC Divina because we got got a bargain and to entice us we were "matched" to the level on NCL/Carnival, we found the ship to be nicely designed, our cabin was comfortable and the amount of amenities and dinning was plentiful, we were hesitant because people's reviews had made it seem like there was too much pasta on the menus, we found the opposite, the food was very tasty and the selections was great, they still need to work out a few kinks, in the black crab restaurant ( where we were assigned ) we had to wait for our coffee to accompany our desserts, but it seems like every cruise line is cutting staff and you don't get quite the prompt service that we expect. The itinerary was wonderful too, going to shore and coming back into the ship was painless and we loved the fact that the ship stayed longer in ports than most cruises we have taken, that was nice surprised. Another pleasant surprise was the entertainment in the theater, we enjoyed all of the shows, they did an amazing job and would certainly would do another MSC Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Trying to find the perfect gift is always daunting, luckily i decided to gift my husband a cruise with the Msc Musica, Upon Arrival at the harbour, There was a que to get into check in and to leave your luggage, each step was even more ... Read More
Trying to find the perfect gift is always daunting, luckily i decided to gift my husband a cruise with the Msc Musica, Upon Arrival at the harbour, There was a que to get into check in and to leave your luggage, each step was even more exciting as its just one step closer to boarding, When we reached check in and all was in order my two kids, husband and i literally ran to the boarding area, We stopped quickly at the refreshments area to grab a drink and off we were ( this was so though full after waiting in the ques, a thirst quench was just what we needed) The music and the friendly staff outside just set the mood, Finally we arrived inside the ship, our passports was taken and immediately we were sent upstairs to get a wrisk band for my 7 year old, so basically this as to be worn by the child throughout the cruise, as it makes it easy to locate which cabin the child is,incase they get lost. As we explored we bought our drinks package and went on the 13th deck for our buffet lunch, this was my favourite spot throughout the cruise haha hence the weight gain, everything was perfectly set up, different types of food, bread rolls, salads, dessert, tea coffee and water is always served. We sat at a table and indulged in our scrumptious lunch btw the buffet is open 20 hours, breakfast lunch and supper, And the pizzas is thee best tasting pizzas ever, Everything is always in order as soon as u done eating theres always someone to clear up ur table. Making it easier for the next person to come in, After eating we went to our cabin to change up and went on deck to do the drill, Finally we set sail, the experience of just leaving was absolutely amazing. Everyone was filled with excitement. We had abit of a confusion with our cabin and illena from reception was the absolutely best, so friendly and she even sent up a bottle of champagne and some yummy snacks for my husband on his birthday. Theres so much to do on the ship but we mainly hung out on the deck as the kids wanted to be in the pool, there is a kiddies and teens club aswell, my 7 year old loved it and still talks about his teachers, they provide activities the entire day for the kids and believe me its so safe. They even take the kids for dinner and it's so exciting for the kiddies, Again the level of quality and security is absolutely amazing these ladies and gents are so patient and caring with the kids, Everything is always in a order, at 8pm every night we were allocated a restaurant which we could dine in, the food is absolutely amazing and our waiter was so friendly and welcoming, the manager if this restaurant was extremely rude and to be honest he was the only bad experience throughout our cruise, The shopping is a must, my husband bought me the most beautiful jewellery and the 4.5 liter drinks is absolutely well worth it, Island day: Day of island was amazing such beautiful experience, u have to get a ticket on board which will tell u what boat number u are, u go to the 4th floor and a boat awaits u, nothing to be scared about again everything is always in order and safe, when we arrived at the island the blue waters and music and views was just breathtaking. There's alot of locals selling stuff so carry some cash, it was extremely hot so we went straight to the buffet, freshly caught grilled fish and the delicious water melons and mangoes was my favourite, A dj and also a live band makes u feel so blessed just to experience this.We spent the day in the water and then finally decided to leave early as we didn't want to wait long with the kids, The boats started loading up and we finally entered the ship again, As we entered there was a gentleman handing us an ice face clothe again very well thought of as coming out from the heat, this ice cloth was a bit of heaven for us, Back to sail and after refreshing up we went on board for some activities. What amazed me was everything was always in order, the staff are all very hard working, A few are abit rude but majority are so welcoming, oh please be careful when buying drinks on the deck, if u not using ur drinks package, we paid 45 dollars for two jack Daniels and two cans of coke, yet at the bar across is was 5 dollars. So always ask the price before you purchase. The theater the night before we left was absolutely amazing we got to see the captain break some moves, so friendly so creative and overall it was definitely the best experience ooooh i forgot to mention i felt sea sick for two nights so make sure u take something and they also provide some tabs at the reception area. Would i recommended this cruise? I will be off my head not too, A lifetime experience, My Kids are still talking about it and my husband says he doesn't no how to top this for my birthday hahahah. Overall I'll be back again Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The reason for the cruise was to celebrate my 30th birthday. When looking for a cruise to match my birthday, MSC had the perfect dates , great itinerary and was quite cost effective for a 7 night cruise which are some of the other reasons ... Read More
The reason for the cruise was to celebrate my 30th birthday. When looking for a cruise to match my birthday, MSC had the perfect dates , great itinerary and was quite cost effective for a 7 night cruise which are some of the other reasons I chose the cruise. The cruise departed from Miami which meant us flying from Johannesburg in South Africa Via London to Miami. Having arrived a day before the cruise departure, we stayed at the Courtyard By Marriot hotel which was approximately 10 minutes away from the airport and offered a free shuttle between the airport and hotels which was very convenient. On the day of the cruise we made our way to the cruise port with uber which cost approximately 10 dollars with a promo code . Upon arrival at the MSC cruise terminal our bags were taken from us and we were directed into the cruise terminal building. Passing through security was quick and easy and it was not very busy, we then proceeded upstairs to check in area where our cruise cards were issued. This did take some time as there were quite a few people here still filling in paper work etc. After receiving our cruise cards , we were allowed to embark the ship but before that we took a group pic which we could view and purchase later on the ship. Once on board we eventually located our room as many people were running around doing the same. We had booked an inside cabin which was quite nice and spacious for 3 grown adults. The reason behind booking an inside cabin was because we spent most of our time out and about on the ship so did not make sense to book a balcony suite unless our plan was to just stay in the room. After dropping our bags were started exploring the ship and started trying to figure out what was located where and how to get there. This took a while and by then we were hungry so off to buffet we went. There was an array of things to eat , so we were really spoilt for choice. We had a vegetarian in our party , and she was quite pleased with the selection of food . Other than he buffet there was pizza place where we could get pizza 23 hours of the day so this also kept us quite happy.There was also a formal dining restaurant which were we allocated to as well called the Marco Polo. This was an option should you not want to eat at the buffet an face long queues . The food here was also quite good . Our pots of call included Montego Bay Jamaica, George Town Gran Cayman,Cozumel Mexico and Havana Cuba. For the first 3 ports of call we have a few hours shore to go around and explore, either on our own or with a excursion booked through MSC. When it came to to Cuba , we arrived early in the morning and only departed the following afternoon giving people lots of time to go into Cuba and have a real feel of what the place is like. The weather in most of these places was quite unpredictable due to it being the Caribbean but all in all it was quite nice. With regards to entertainment, each morning an daily itinerary is sent to each cabin detailing the event of the day from about 6 am each day until 11pm each night.There is something to please everyone , whether you want to dance, watch a game, watch a theater show or simply chill at the pool and just take it all in. The entertainment team do a great job and getting people to have fun and engage with others aswell. Disembarkation is also a lengthy process and it is done deck by deck . The night before , a seminar is held in the theatre detailing how disembarkation is done and what to do. this is quote handy as it avoids chaos and its done in many languages to avoid any confusion that could take place. according to the deck you are staying on, you are given a time and meeting place to disembark which moves the process along. As you disembark , you cruise card is scanned and you are on your way ,As a momento, you are allowed to keep your cruise card which i thought was really cool for those reminiscing moments . Once you disembark, your bags are color coded and waiting for you to pick them and make your way home after amazing 8 day cruise across the carribean Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We have been cruising with msc for many years, actually since 2009. This specific cruise was the first of three back-to-back cruises, as we only disenbarked on the 19th of december 2018. This cruise was the most exhausting experience ... Read More
We have been cruising with msc for many years, actually since 2009. This specific cruise was the first of three back-to-back cruises, as we only disenbarked on the 19th of december 2018. This cruise was the most exhausting experience ever. Embarkation took 3 hours 45 minutes. Once we passed customs, the ship served warm juices on the side, what a welcoming drink, after all the time in the shed to get through customs. Then another queue to collect vouchers. More qeues to activate the cabin account. The ship is beautiful, the staff tried to be helpful, but some of the guests behaved like barbaric pirates and this resulted in everything being hectic. The cabin was neat & clean, yet as a black voyager guest, apparently the only one on the ship, i did not feel welcome at all, i became my duty to inform the voyager desk, who was rarely available, that my cruise card need to be updated. We eventually, four days later started to receive the voyager welcome drink and platter in the cabin. After the 3rd cruise embarcation was completed on the 16th of december, i was horrifically embarressed by the hotel staff, after confirming the night before, that the seating arrangements for the second seating for the final cruise will remain the same. This was confirmed and after being seated, as arranged, we were moved around like chess pieces. I have never been this embarresed on any cruise, for that metter, not ever in even the average african restaurant. I then wrote a note to the customer service desk, indicating the situation and stated that i am not happy with the situation and the treatment from staff. The customer relations manager, chanel, the f&b manager, the spa manager, the casino maneger and other staff had a meeting and i was requested to have a meeting with them. Several issues were recitfied and we were treated with dignity and sincerely appologised to for the inconvenience and lack of acknowledgement. The main aim for this cruise, was to scatter the ashes of my partner, whom cruised with me since 2009, every single cruise, last in december 2016. We had booked a cruise for december 2017, but due to jason's medical state, he was not able to partake and we decided to cancel. Jason passed on 20 may 2018, and his wish was to scatter his ashes during a cruise. I've made all the arrangements, took all possible actions into consideration, arranged for all the documentation, made the relevant arrangement on the ship, to ensure everything is done legally and without consequinces, but eventually cancelled the request, as this was suppose to be a memorable experience, and not coupled to horrific memories. Therefor jason is back at home. I will cruise again, it's the most relaxing and practical holiday for me, as im a event planner, the head chef of my company and the owner of a venue in gauteng. I've refered hundreds of my clients and guests to msc, always tell people of this super experience, the most awesome service and amazing shows. To cruise is the only holiday for me, as it was for jason. Therefor i will not consider the last cruise i took as an indication of cruising experience, as there is so much more, i have experienced it in over 15 cruises since 2009. The portuguese islands and pomene was done and developed in great taste, well arranged and really confortable settings, but not really africa friendly, as the guests have proofed to other more sifisticated guests, that manners and etiquete lacks and can create chaos even in the best of planned events. Thank you again for a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I have cruised before, but my wife had not, and she was looking for "an over the top" experience". So I began searching for big ships doing the Mediterranean in November. MSC had a lot of ships and the Meraviglia is one ... Read More
I have cruised before, but my wife had not, and she was looking for "an over the top" experience". So I began searching for big ships doing the Mediterranean in November. MSC had a lot of ships and the Meraviglia is one of the top 10 largest ships afloat, very new, and the video was amazing. The reviews however, were anything but amazing. Like lukewarm and even negative reviews about our favorite restaurants, I have learned that most negative reviews are more about missed/too lofty expectations than reality. The biggest gripes about the Meraviglia seemed to be food and staff. Since the boat is so high tech and wondrously equipped, no one really complained about the ship. Sure enough, even our tablemates as well as others on board echoed the Cruise Critic complaints. They ranged from now having butter and iced tea (both free, readily available) to non English speaking staff who were "unfriendly". If your attitude is "I am the guest and I expect to be served", you will be disappointed. If you engage the staff with your own smile and understand they work 11 hours a day, even my first time cruising wife was amazed at how every waiter and staff person smiled back.....even when they had to say "no" (like when we were late for dinner and the gatekeeping waiter apologized saying he was not allowed to let anyone in past 7:45, so I asked him to ask for his captain, which he did, and of course, the captain, his boss, let us in). MSC offers the lowest prices afloat for the most interesting itineraries and the newest boats.....but unless you are traveling Yacht Club, you just cant expect white glove service--but you can expect politeness and cleanliness and entertainment and "service". And we got all of this and more. Dinner. We only ate at the standard Waves Restaurant. Three sittings, We were the second. The appetizers and desserts were great, the entrees, though varied were not as good and need improvement. Not to worry though because the astonishing buffet, open 20 hours a day, had stupendous selections of excellent food from simple salads, to homemade pizza, Halal and ethnic specialties, rotisserie *the roast veal carved to order was smashing), plus an on board mozzarella factory (you could see it being made) that ensured great caprese salads and more. And they changed the offerings every day! Housekeeping. In a word, perfect. No goofy doorknob hangers telling staff to clean up the room. Just press a button. Spotless. The Room. We opted for an admidships deck 12 interior cabin because my wife was worried about seasickness. The cabin was huge, with a queen plus bed, great pillows, lighting, etc And the bathroom has the best shower afloat in my experience with infinite hot water! And a blow dryer!. Staff. What a great group of waiters and support staff rom Central America to Ukraine and Africa. Just knocked themselves out to please! It surely helped that we engaged them instead of treating them like servants. Prices: For 5Euros we got any two items delivered free to our room. Drinks were 6Euros. The best ice cream and chocolate (made on the boat) were $1-3Euros. The coffee, water, tea, ice tea, etc. were all free at the buffet. So no complaints about the "extras" The experience: 32 elevators, four pools, an arcade full of shops, sky bars, full size basketball court, full size bowling alleys and a water slide that went OVER the edge of the ship, outstanding singing and dancing "Broadway" type shows and Swarovski glass staircases made onboard life hugely satisfying. The guests. Where were all the seniors? This was the first cruise I have ever been on where there were so many families, disabled people, young honeymooners, babies, kids, etc. from so many different countries. A true multi-cultural experience. Our table mates were from the Dominican Republic (an MD and his wife), honeymooners from Colombia, and a couple from Florida. A great itinerary and all of the above for $1300 for 7 nights? Yup, and we cant wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I have to say after some of the bad reviews we were a little concerned, but honestly the Seaside exceeded our expectations on every level. We had a great time onboard, and in fact, are now planning another MSC cruise out of Miami. The ... Read More
I have to say after some of the bad reviews we were a little concerned, but honestly the Seaside exceeded our expectations on every level. We had a great time onboard, and in fact, are now planning another MSC cruise out of Miami. The buffets and the four dinners we had in the MDR were fine. The buffet breakfast was terrific - there was never much of a line for the omelette stations. We had three dinners in the specialty restaurants and were very happy with all of them. However, they do need to turn down the lighting in the Ocean Cay seafood specialty restaurant. We had no service or communication problems with any of our wait staff. Our balcony cabin, Bella experience, was adequate but as noted in many reviews showers are small and more drawers would be welcome. Our steward kept it clean, well stocked with towels and every day refilled our ice bucket. We enjoyed the international feeling and met some great people and made friends we who plan on cruising with in the future. Entertainment - don't miss the great shows! The best we have seen at sea. They are performed three time each night and are about 40 minutes long. You have to reserve in advance for which time you want to go - do this ASAP when you get on board. The two later shows fill up as word of the quality of the entertainment gets around. The sea day "Butterflies" opera show was also over the top. One of the highlights for us was the "Behind the Magic" tour of the ship. A full three hours of walking through all the areas you don't normally see. The tour even included a peek in a crew cabin, crew lounge and crew dining room, as well as the regular kitchen, yacht club area, and laundry. If you are up to the walking you will not be disappointed with this tour booked through the excursion desk. Again, we had a great time and would gladly go on the Seaside again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
About the Reviewer: I’m a 36-year-old male who sailed with his mother for the first time on MSC Seaside (9/29/18). I’m now a seasoned cruiser with this first MSC cruise being my 45th cruise overall. Over half my cruises have been on ... Read More
About the Reviewer: I’m a 36-year-old male who sailed with his mother for the first time on MSC Seaside (9/29/18). I’m now a seasoned cruiser with this first MSC cruise being my 45th cruise overall. Over half my cruises have been on Norwegian Cruise Line with the remaining being on Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and a handful on Carnival. When sailing on a new cruise line, it’s hard not to compare it with past experiences so you may see some comparisons throughout. The review is written in chronological order. I hope you enjoy it! DAY 1 – Embarkation Day – Miami, FL It was a simple enough drop off at the newly built Terminal F for MSC Cruises. Porters were outside to greet you and take your luggage. While signs are posted tipping is not required, I usually throw them a buck or two for faster delivery. Upon entry to the terminal, the queue for security was empty and this was at 11:15AM. I was astonished it was so empty as other Carnival cruise ships down the way had lines out the door. There was no wait at the check-in counter. The pre-registration photo we had uploaded for security wasn’t in their system, so they had to re-take the photo. We were given our cards, explained the procedure of how to link the card when we got on the ship and given a map and welcome aboard brochure. The nice lady also gave us the black boarding card pass. We were status matched as I’m Platinum Plus on NCL to Black Card status on MSC. When they called black card members to board the ship, we did so and were one of the first across the gangway. Upon entering the ship, we found the kiosk right away to link the credit cards and took care of that first. It was a simple process if you’re accustomed to using a POS device in a retail store. Just follow the instructions on the screen and there’s many languages to choose from to walk you through it. There are several devices around the atrium area on Deck 5 and on Deck 6 as you enter the ship. Afterward, since the ship was still so empty we decided to go to the Ipanema restaurant and see about getting the assigned time changed. We were given a 7:15PM dining time. This was too late for mom, so we asked to be switched to the 5:15PM seating. We were told we could show up by 5:30PM when it was switched and did so for the cruise. We were assigned a two-seater for both dining times. This worked out well. I still prefer the flexible dining on NCL versus the assigned times and while MSC offers it under the Aurea experience, I don’t want or need any of the other stuff in the Aurea experience to pay that kind of money for it. It was off to lunch in the Marketplace Buffet on Deck 8 aft. This expansive buffet has a salad station to the right and a pizza station to the left to greet you. A fresh fruit station is by itself on the right as you enter. The buffet wraps around the kitchen and features a Mediterranean station, Ethnic station (largely featuring Spanish and Mexican dishes along with Stir Fry and rice for the Asian market). I was impressed with the selection of items all the way around. We sat outside under the overhang for the suites above and looked down at the Deck 7 aft pool. While eating lunch I loaded the MSC for Me app and booked all our shows for the week. It was fairly quick and simple to do. If you don’t have a smart phone, just utilize your stateroom TV or the TVs on the walls at the elevators to book your shows. Ship Tour and Thoughts: We strolled the ship afterward and I was impressed with her size and layout. Unlike the Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships on NCL, the Seaside doesn’t have a lot of choke points. She has a great flow to her. The main atrium is expansive and always alive with energy. On embarkation day they had a DJ playing there and the music was AWESOME!! I was very excited to see the rest of the ship. It’s modern décor with a lot of white, off-white and greys. Different venues help to change out the color scheme and while shiny metal is abundant, it’s not done in a tacky way like you’d find on a Carnival ship. My favorite venue besides the atrium was the Garage Club. It’s based on a 70s drive in and the bar is quite long, the DJ booth is an actual car you can get into and out of using the driver’s side door. The décor also included a jukebox and old soda fountain-type seats. My mom loved the décor in this room too. She even managed to get herself for a picture on the scooter they have by the aft entrance. The chocolate bar was tucked away but when we found it, I could see what other cruisers were raving about. The walls just rain chocolate! The amount of chocolate in there would give the best chocolate lover a tummy ache! Be sure to catch this gem on Deck 6 midship. It also serves chocolate as well as non-chocolate coffee drinks. If the atrium bar (Seaside Bar) is backed up, head up one deck and grab your drink there. The best feature my mom enjoyed was the Waterfront Boardwalk. Unlike NCLs boardwalk which is tight, and you can’t walk past people too easily on it, the Seaside’s is expansive and wide open. The added feature of walking on the Infinity Bridge which sticks out over the side of the ship on the port and starboard side is also nice. In the aft part, you can sit on the boardwalk as part of the buffet dining experience. It’s not for an upcharge or fee like it is on NCL. Plus, there’s plenty of seating for guests along the boardwalk, something NCL has never done correctly. MSC really took this concept to the next level and did a GREAT job with it! For interior cabins, this is a perfect place to connect to the ocean and get some shade too if you don’t want to sun on the pool deck. The pool deck is expansive and while they do have a very large kids play area, it doesn’t occupy the entire main pool area like it does on the NCL Breakaway class. This is another big thing MSC did right on the ship design. The Miami Pool is the main pool and it’s aft. There is so much seating around this pool and just aft of it by the Bridge of Sighs. If you want a more secluded feel and not as much sun, the Jungle Pool with its interesting décor is more midship. I was really impressed with the pool deck layout on this ship. Stateroom 12147 – Fantastica Balcony At 2PM it was announced the rooms were ready. Our balcony room was situated on the port side about midway between the aft and forward elevators. The room itself had a huge seating area and couch with the beds by the balcony door. The balcony was large! NCL has shrunk the balconies to the size of a postage stamp. These were quite roomy and I’m tall. I could sit facing the ocean and not have my knees in the glass where the railing was unlike on NCLs new builds. The room had plenty of counter space and the sofa could be used as well for staging some items, mostly backpack storage and to put the pillows on that weren’t being used. The bathroom sink was quite interestingly designed as it comes to a point where the drain is in more of a deeper contour than on any ship I’ve sailed on. However, this quirky sink actually turned out to be the best sink I’ve used on a ship when it came to cleaning out my water canteen used ashore. It fit perfectly! There was ample storage with two shelves and the sink shelf itself. The toilet was in an awkward place where at my height I needed to sit sideways on it. The shower was spacious enough but the automatically closing door on it was annoying sometimes. My only big drawback to the room was the amount of storage in the closet. You had three shelves which were fairly deep and two drawers. The rest of the closet was for hanging items. I brought hangars with me but the room only had about 10 hangars total supplied in it. For any future ships based in America, MSC might want to consider re-designing their closets. Tip for guests, bring your own lightweight wire hangars and to hang your own stuff. Otherwise, the rest of the room was fantastic and spacious! My luggage was already in the hallway by the crew door when we went to the room. After looking at the room, I went down the hallway and grabbed it and delivered it to the room myself. MSC does state it can take up to 7PM on the first day for the luggage to be delivered. I had unpacked and stowed the luggage underneath the bed but mom’s luggage didn’t come before muster drill. Our muster station was in the casino. The early birds got the seats and the late comers had to stand. They repeatedly announced people to get to the muster stations as they scan your card to show attendance. It was another real time technology item which this ship had a lot of. After the muster drill had ended we circled back to the room and her luggage was finally on a trolley in the crew stairwell. I pointed to it from the hallway and the worker delivered it to the room. It was a brief unpacking before heading up to the cast-off party on deck. ENTERTAINMENT: Welcome Aboard Dance Party with Cruise Staff This was the Seaside’s version of a sailaway party. The ship doesn’t leave Miami until 7PM so they have the party just before the dinner service starts. We went up to the Miami Pool on Deck 16 aft by the large TV and hung out. There was no one up there. I don’t know where people were, but they weren’t there for the party. Two cruise staff members came over to try and get us out on the dance floor to dance but instead chatted with us when we said there was no way we were going to do it! Wang from China and Johnathan from New Jersey both introduced themselves and told us a bit about how the entertainment would flow for the week. I asked about how the White Party was and both assured me it was THE party of the cruise if I loved electronic dance music. We stayed at the party for 25 minutes before hurrying off to the first seating dinner. They brought the flags through and the Doremi children’s characters out. DINING: IPANEMA RESTAURANT Our table 685 was on the starboard side along the walkway to the kitchen. Our head server was Ian and his assistant’s name began with a R. Ian greeted us and welcomed us to the Ipanema Restaurant. He presented us with the menus and upon inspection, minus a few extra pasta dishes… they were like NCL’s main dining room fare. I was very surprised with this and wondered if the food quality would be the same. I ordered the spring rolls and it was nearly identical to the ones on NCL. Mom asked for a special request which couldn’t be accommodated since they had to order it from provisioning below decks, but it was accommodated every night thereafter. Service tonight ran a little long. It was weird to have them turn on the lights so bright to get people out but they did at 6:45PM when we didn’t have our dessert yet. The first day is always chaotic for both crew and passengers alike. It was the longest dinning time we experienced of the whole cruise. After dinner it was back to the room just in time to watch the ship sail off from the channel in Miami. We made it back to our balcony to wave to the folks on the port side at the restaurant located along the jetty. We stayed out on the balcony until the pilot disembarked and then headed for the evening’s show at 8PM. ENTERTAINMENT: Frank Forever – Production Cast MSC really knows how to produce shows. The amazing talents of the male vocalists sounded spot on with tunes from Frank Sinatra. What wowed me even more was the costuming. The backdrops were done by LED projection to save space but MSC used it all with the costuming for their productions. Tonight’s kick off with Frank Sinatra tunes had me excited to see what was to come. After the show we returned to the room and then things kind of fell apart again, we couldn’t get through to room service. It was the first day, so I was sure things were busy for them. We had tried before the show to get them unsuccessfully and earlier in the afternoon before the party. Finally, I thought it would be good to go down to Guest Services to see if they could get them. When I told them what I wanted, a pitcher of ice water, I was sent to my restaurant Ipanema. The lovely restaurant manager there named Daniela helped me out by repeatedly trying room service until she got them. She told them I needed a pitcher of ice water delivered. I went back to the room with hopes it would arrive. What happened next was not to be expected. First, we had a bottle of water delivered. We already had one in our mini-bar so we didn’t need another. The pitcher was all that was needed. The second time we had an ice bucket filled with warm water delivered. The third time it came with ice in the ice bucket with water. The fourth time was when the room service had changed shifts and someone there figured out to use a coffee urn or hot water urn to deliver the water. This went on for about a hour. Looking back, it was hilariously funny for the different interpretations but in the moment it was really annoying. The lady who delivered the correct item at the end agreed to setup a nightly delivery. I was very thankful for her to do that. Sadly, I never got her name. She did deliver it the next two nights and then suddenly it stopped. When we called, they were aware of the order and sent it up but we could get through and that shift knew what we were talking about. DAY 2 – SEA DAY We had placed the card outside the room for the in-room breakfast from room service. A time was chosen and they were early but I was already awake. Mom prefers to have a leisurely breakfast on the balcony which is why I chose the Fantastica experience when I booked. I didn’t need the drink vouchers and she didn’t drink that much regularly so I knew she would have difficulty in using them all. Anyway, the room service order arrived but the order was wrong. Soy milk which the ship had wasn’t there and whatever the juice was that was delivered, it wasn’t straight orange juice. It was some sort of orange juice mixed concoction. MSC’s room service wasn’t leaving a good taste in my mom’s mouth and was starting to dampen her experience. The buffet was four decks down so I offered to go down here and try and rectify the issues. She declined. I went up to the pool deck in the morning to grab some sun and read. We were on the sunrise side of the ship but I wanted to check out the vibe at the main pool and more importantly see if there were any deck chairs available. There were a lot of people up there but there were plenty of deck chairs available for 9:30AM. On most North American lines, the chair hogs are out in full force. On MSC there weren’t nearly as many. I think the diverse international crowd helped to stop it from happening. The pool deck had activities going on all morning long. Cruise staff and the fitness instructors were getting people engaged. They were doing a much better job and working harder than I’ve seen any other cruise staff in recent memory. Meanwhile mom went for her walk around the ship to get her exercise in while I was getting sun. She said she was impressed with boardwalk and how easy it was to walk it compared to the Breakaway-class NCL ships. Mom and I went to lunch at the Seashore Restaurant on Deck 5. When I went to enter the dining room, a lady stopped me and told me I couldn’t enter because I had a muscle shirt on (sleeveless but not a tank top). She told me I wouldn’t be allowed in. As I went to figure out what to change into and head back to the room, a lady walked past me wearing a string top from the pool deck and could be seated! I wasn’t too happy. When I came back with the t-shirt, the lady thanked me for changing and promptly sat us by the window. When I went in, there was a guy with a tank top on. After having jogged up 7 flights of stairs to change in a hurry, I wasn’t too happy about it. I didn’t see any dress code requirements in the daily newsletter in the room either. The lunch service was leisurely, and the food served was good. After lunch I stopped by guest services again, this time I was asking to see if I could talk to Yannis – the Seaside Hotel Director. In the morning, I happened to watch the navigation channel and it had the pictures of the senior officers displayed. When I saw Yannis face pop up, I instantly recognized him. I sailed with him a few times on NCL. He was very personable and I wanted to congratulate him. The guest services representative asked me tersely why I wanted to speak to him. When I told him I knew him from NCL, he persisted and asked me if something was wrong and I told him things were fine… well not room service. He took it that I was going to complain to Yannis about the room service and stated that he would send him an email to get in touch with me. I later learned the guest services person never sent the email. I went back to the room and changed to head back out to the pool deck and we had our shore excursion tickets delivered. A difference is they don’t deliver the pre-purchased shore excursion tickets until the first sea day along with the folks who did the first day purchases on their TVs. It’s a difference from all the other cruise lines so one worth noting so you don’t end up queueing on day 1 for no reason. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the pool deck until it was time to freshen up for dinner. Wang spotted me and tried to get me to do the men’s water polo. It was 4:15PM and told him I couldn’t due to timing. He was having a hard time getting people to get involved but he was trying as were the rest of the cruise staff. The pool area was crowded too but loungers were still available! I was amazed! Dinner tonight was in Ipanema. Mom’s special request was delivered, although in a huge quantity. Sergio Texeira, section supervisor, came over to get the order quantity right and he made a note. He saw to it and delivered it every night personally. He did outstanding service on the cruise. The menu for the night was pretty good. Food presentation and taste were good too. After dinner we decided to check out the atrium a bit and see what was going on. It was just after 7PM and the place was bustling with activity. The captain was out taking photos and there was a queue. We just went to see what was going on and observe the action on all decks. We met a nice couple there and saw them later on. The ship was just alive with music in every venue. We strolled around before heading back to the room and off to the show. ENTERTAINMENT: The Dream – Production If I thought the first show of the cruise was fantastic, this one was phenomenal. The incredible cast had specialty acts intertwined with vocals so good they would send shivers down your spine. How two guys can balance themselves like they did was just jaw dropping. There were just so many specialty acts within this production that you left not noticing it was shorter than the average cruise ship production but just do darn good! Don’t miss any shows on this ship! MSC knows entertainment! Tonight’s Theme was Gatsby. Some cruisers really got into the spirt of things and dressed in appropriate period clothing. The cruise staff gave away prizes for the best dressed as well. There was a Gatsby party in the Haven Lounge on Deck 7. While waiting for the Gatsby festivities to start, we watched the Love Game Show. It was entertaining and helped pass the time while waiting for the Gatsby party to begin. After the party was over, mom went to bed and I stayed up to experience the Garage nightclub. The music was good. Outside on the Deck 7 aft pool they had the Brazilian night and Brazilian music playing. It was well attended. DAY 3 – SEA DAY Today we decided to give room service a break and went to the dining room for breakfast instead. The service was great. The food was exactly what was ordered. We sat next to a nice couple from Miami who we would see all over the cruise ship for the rest of the cruise. Daniela, the restaurant manager, came over to ask us how things were, and we told her the story of what happened with room service. She couldn’t believe they would do that and said there must have been a language issue. She apologized for it. I went up to grab some sun for the day and mom went for her ship walk. I was still surprised at the number of deck chairs available! Mom and I met for lunch in the buffet. The buffet selection seemed about the same as the first day minus the carving stations. After lunch, I went to check out the gym to see if I wanted to do a workout as it appeared cloudy and possibility of rain outside. When I entered the gym, the trainer asked to see our cruise cards. He had me wondering if I had gone into the spa instead. He presented us with forms for a waiver for using the gym. I just wanted to look around. He made sure mom didn’t use any equipment as she didn’t sign the waiver. I signed the waiver. I decided to return afterward in proper gym clothing to use the equipment. When I did, I noticed everything was in kilograms not pounds. Take the weight and times it by 2.2 for your pound measurement. I also had to hunt for towels and was completely baffled by the lack of them. The trainer saw my confusion and asked if I wanted one and he handed me one. They also had the sanitizing spray at the counter to clean the equipment. All the wipe dispensers were empty. It made me wonder how clean the gym was. The shower area didn’t have any towels either. When I asked the trainer, he said to bring the beach towels and use that. How silly! There were plenty of towel storage areas built into its gym and shower area but not stocked. He said it was because people were stealing the towels. If this is the case, they should setup a specific towel station by the spa to change them out. If the trainer is busy, no one is available to hand the towels out and they’re not bath towels either. I never went back to the gym after this. I just continued cardio throughout the ship by taking the stairs to most floors and walking the Boardwalk at other times. I went back to the room to freshen up and get ready to split myself into three pieces. The Cruise Critic gathering was scheduled for 5PM in the Haven Lounge as there were over 140 people signed up for it. However, the schedule also had the first and only solos, LGBTQ and 20-40 somethings meet and greets at the SAME time! I went to the Cruise Critic gathering first and finally got to meet Yannis Kazalis, the Hotel Director and congratulate him on his promotion and movement to MSC. I told him I wanted to sit down and talk with him and catch up but because of scheduling, could we do another time. He happily obliged and gave me his handy phone number on his business card. I sat down for a brief minute and then took off to the LGBTQ meet up at the Seaview lounge. I never made it to the singles event before I had to go to dinner at 5:30PM. I talked to Yannis about the timing of these events and why they were on day 3 of the cruise versus day 1 and explained to him about why it’s important for solo cruisers to be able to make connections the first day of the cruise so they don’t dine alone if they don’t want to. I explained how NCL’s solo program works and suggested something similar be implemented on Seaside to help those guests. I also said the LGBTQ meet up didn’t need to be hosted either but suggested it also be held the first day for cruisers to connect. ENTERTAINMENT: The Wizard – Production Show The female vocalist stole the show in this production. The costumes of this Broadway style show were just astounding to look at. The specialty acts built into the show were also daring and breathtaking just the same. I can’t even begin to tell you how truly amazing the Seaside shows are. Don’t miss any of them! It was country western theme night and I passed on it. I was waiting for the silent disco to open so I went up to the Miami Pool and watched a Celine Dion video of her tour. It was good but long and I left to go to the silent disco at the aft pool on Deck 7. The headset channels 1 and 2 were latin based and the third channel was stuck in the oldies genre. When I checked out the headset I had to scan my keycard and to scan it back in. When I went into the garage club, DJ Tony was playing the EDM music I liked so I stayed in there for a bit before heading to bed. DAY 4 – ST MAARTEN We decided to give room service another go today and again the orange juice was the other concoction. I gave up trying to get it and mom’s cereal order wasn’t right either. We dined leisurely as the ship tied up in St. Maarten on the balcony. I went ashore briefly to look around in the port shops and went back on the ship. Make sure you take off your baseball cap for scanning before entering the ship. They don’t want you to wear it through the metal detector, it must go through the xray. This was something new to me and unique to MSC. MSC EXCURSION: ST BARTHS ON YOUR OWN Our tour departure time was 10AM. When we got to the theater, it was us and one other tour that was left to get off the ship. We went ashore and to the water taxi platform where Dutch immigration authorities were waiting to inspect our passport before we boarded the taxi. When we arrived in St. Barths, the immigration officials stamped our passport for entry. We arrived to St. Barths around 11:15ish. Most of the shops in town were in the process of closing for their lunch period by the time we found the souvenir ones. If you wanted to take an island tour, the taxi operator would charge a flat fee of $120 for a full taxi. It was up to the guests to figure out who was going to go with whom. People had taken all the spots with good leg room and being tall, I couldn’t and wouldn’t sit in the middle seat. We opted to do the walking tour we had from a Caribbean tour book instead. Others went to the beach in another taxi. When we started walking around we discovered everything was closed including museums, shops and the information center. At a place we stopped at for lunch, the lady told us the season doesn’t pick up until October when there’s more ships in town and when the hurricane season is over. She said a lot of shop keepers take their vacations during this time or have limited morning hours. She was right about this. The major museum was under renovation as it had been damaged by the hurricanes from the prior year. The other museum in town was also just closed for the day when we got to it. Had we known about the lunch break the islanders take, we would’ve reconsidered doing this tour. I wouldn’t recommend this tour if you’re a history buff or want to see anything outside of an island tour or go to the beach. Shell beach is within a good walk from the ferry terminal. We didn’t get back to the ferry dock in St. Maarten until 5PM and back on the ship until dinner time. On the way to the room, I stopped off as I climbed the stairs and told Sergio we wouldn’t be able to make it as we had just boarded the ship from a tour. He said no problem and to have someone come down to the dining room to obtain the special request. We went to the buffet after watching the sunset and the ship cast off. Initially the worker stated she couldn’t accommodate the request and wouldn’t find Sergio. When pressed she got her supervisor who sent another worker down to Ipanema. We ate dinner and Sergio came up and delivered the request in hand, finding us in the buffet! What excellent customer service! ENTERTAIMENT: MY LIFE IN MUSIC – Production Tonight’s show was by far the best production of the cruise for me. While I didn’t always understand or recognize some of the Italian favorites being sung, the female vocalist did an outstanding job once again. The show closer, Time to Say Goodbye from Andrea Bocelli was done perfectly by all the vocalists both male and female. I was so moved I shed a tear. I thought I might have been exhausted but it really was good. I was one of the first to give the production cast a standing ovation. I was exhausted so I did turn in early and didn’t stay up for tonight’s 70s themed disco party. DAY 5 – SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO I slept so well that I was awake for the embarkation of the pilot on our side when we approached entrance to San Juan. I opened the curtains and dazed in and out of sleep as we rounded the fort into San Juan. We were the first ship to come in. I saw two more on the horizon as we went around. Room service arrived and the order was wrong again. I made it a point to find time to call Yannis and follow up to setup a meeting time with him on the sea day. We disembarked and headed for the Starbucks. I needed a matcha powder fix badly. Hint hint MSC, get a green tea latte or any type of tea latte going on your ships. I’d buy it for sure! The only latte available on the ship was a coffee based one. At Starbucks there was a map of old San Juan. We ordered and looked at the map and decided to go for a walk. I said we hadn’t been to the museum of San Juan history that was on the map so we went for a walk there. The museum was larger than I thought and quite helpful. Some of it was in English but all of it was in Spanish too. If you know some words you can figure out what the signs say. The museum does close at noon for one-hour lunch. On the way back, we passed a maritime museum on San Francisco street. While it is not as extensive as the other museum, if you like nautical history, you should check it out as it has a collection of items which are unique and intriguing for the small admission price. We headed back down to the ship just as the clouds in the distance looked threatening. We did some photos in front of the ship and got on just as the Harmony was pulling out. The three separate gangways the ship had helped to speed up getting guests back on the ship from port. The mid ship gangway didn’t have any stairs so it was perfect for my mom to use. People with handicap difficulties were encouraged to use that one while others were instructed to go to the back one which had stairs up to Deck 5 entrance by Guest Services. Tonight, we dined in Ipanema restaurant with Ian checking in on us and knowing my double meat order. The portions are a bit small on the Seaside and I knew that going in so I just asked for more food. I didn’t want to double up on desserts, so I did on the entrée. ENTERTAINMENT: Timeless – Production Another incredible show featuring specialized artistic performances and song numbers by the cast. The stage design was great too. The usage of props in this show was good too. Unfortunately for some strange reason they fogged the entire room heavily causing me to go into a coughing fit and lose my voice. The show itself was great but one suggestion is tone down the fog effect. ENTERTAINMENT: WHITE PARTY This is a signature event on NCL and on MSC, it’s pretty much the same. It’s a big party under the stars where liquor is flowing, line dance songs are playing, conga lines are forming, and people are just staying out late having a good time. The party kicked off with a DJ set in the atrium and a small show by the cruise staff before heading upstairs to the pool. The party was off to a typical start with the line dance songs lasting longer than NCL and then it flipped to EDM format. It was good until the party stopped and everyone was sent to the garage club on Deck 7. It was hideously packed and hot in there. The doors were propped open but the body heat was just too intense to stay in there. I ended up strolling the ship with some new cruise friends. It was also easier to order drinks from bars away from the main venues as the bartenders were overwhelmed. DAY 6: AT SEA It was a leisurely morning at sea with room service once again delivering the wrong cereal and orange juice product. I was left scratching my head on this one. I don’t know how they can’t figure out what dispenser they’re taking the juice from. We walked around the ship a bit until the Mega Day Sales event in the gift shop. Mom wanted to get there early for selection and as expected, the place was full of people. It didn’t help they were raffling off some prizes so more people walking through stayed around. When it opened it was a crazy free for all with pushing and shoving. Goodness me, I can’t stand shopping as it is but this was just crazy! Thankfully I provided protection for mom so she didn’t get pushed and shoved. Today I also got to sit down with Yannis, the Hotel Director and talk. We got caught up and talked shop and how I ended up on MSC after so many cruises with NCL. He wanted feedback on how the cruise was going and what needed improvement too. I told him about the room service being the weak point for my mother this trip and it was really starting to make her mad. The daily mess ups for something we had to pay extra for (Fantastica is needed for room service as Bella doesn’t have it and that’s base fare pricing). He took down notes and asked why I didn’t call him earlier. I always feel bad calling, especially when you’re responsible for 80 percent of the crew on the ship! I also told him about moving the gatherings around or at least not having all three at the same time (Cruise Critic, LGBTQ and Solos / Singles). When I explained why the latter two should be on the first sea day, he could see the sense in it. Americans are about connections and wanting connections. For solo travelers and single travelers, they want to meet and especially want to find dinner buddies (if they want) so they don’t sit alone at dinner. I cruise solo frequently and the worst part of it is dining alone at dinner. People stare at you and it makes you feel uncomfortable. I’m happy to see a change will be implemented for this. I told him about the white party and it being longer up on deck as the garage club can’t hold a crowd that size, especially with a sea day the next day and more people wanting to party. Yannis took copious notes based on my feedback. I hope it helps enhance future guest’s experience on the ship – especially for the 20-40 somethings solo/single folks and the LGBTQ audience. It was great to sit down and catch up as well. Yannis is just what the Seaside needs to polish itself up in the American market. ENTERTAINMENT: FLY – Production This production truly meant to fly around the world in song and dance. The costumes were elaborate. The performers from Africa finally made their presence known in a truly astounding act of tricks ranging from stacking themselves up to the ceiling and then collapsing much to the gasps of the crowd. The talent this entire cast is downright amazing and something I’ve never seen at sea. It was a short 35 minute production but action packed. If you blinked you could miss something! ENTERTAINMENT: QUEST GAME SHOW If you’ve seen the Quest Game show on other cruise lines, this is MSC’s take on it. While the end of the quest game show is the same, there’s two parts of the show… the first section is where you run up with the item they’re seeking and who does it the fastest gets the most points. The second part is well… more amusing depending on your take of it. I won’t spoil it but go anyway and have a good time. I floated around the ship with the Beattles tribute in the atrium while waiting for the garage club to open. The aft pool deck was playing Latin music. I chilled in the garage club but largely sat in there alone for one hour sipping a drink. A few folks came in ordered drinks and left. Finally, I just walked around the ship once more to find something going on and went back to bed. It was a quiet night. DAY 7: NASSAU, BAHAMAS Eureka! Room service arrived and it was 100 percent correct! I’m beyond thankful for this. It saved a rough start to the day with mom. We pulled straight in to the pier today. On a last minute whim, mom and I booked a shore excursion the prior night with a 15% off discount offer. MSC EXCURSION: Glass Bottom Boat This excursion got us off the ship at 9AM and on a ship headed for the reef. On the way out to the reef, the tour guide told us about all the houses we were passing on Paradise Island and who they belonged to from the likes of Chuck Norris to Oprah Winfrey to singers. When we arrived at the reef we headed downstairs to the viewing area and saw lots of fish. The reef itself was nice and there were smaller fish hanging out in the more intricate areas of the reef. The guide told us what the fish were. We stayed there for about 20 minutes before making our way back to the ship. When we came back to the pier we had to dock on the other side of the ships and by the straw market. For the price paid, it was a decent short tour. Where the boat disembarked us by the straw market meant we were getting swarmed with vendors trying to sell things from handicrafts to weed. I’ve been to Nassau many times before and if it wasn’t for my mom wanting to try this excursion, I wouldn’t have gotten off the ship. Ok, well maybe to go to Starbucks which I did do but after that I would’ve gotten back on and relaxed. We walked around a bit until I finally had enough and told mom I wasn’t leaving her out there alone as I don’t trust Bahamians. Nassau is full of violence from muggings, pickpocketing to murders. Always be on your guard in Nassau and never do any unlicensed taxis or tours for your own safety. We returned to the ship for lunch. I went up on deck and caught some sun for a bit. Wang finally roped me into playing a game show game up at the Miami Pool. I only agreed to it because there was only a handful of people sunning up there. The ship was leaving and people were in other places watching it. The musical game was fun but I couldn’t get any of the tempos I was hearing as quite a few were Latin based. The two I knew someone else ran over to do. I did win the prize for best dancer in merengue. I’m clueless as to how I did that! It was the farewell dinner in Ipanema with Ian, his assistant and Sergio. It was a great last dinner service. I wish I could’ve brought them home! Ha! After dinner ended it was time to listen to some smooth electro in the atrium for a small bit. I loved the music in the atrium. The beats were always good there. ENTERTAINMENT: PETER PUNK – Production If you’re thinking it sound like Peter Pan, it’s because it is! It’s an adventure featuring pirates, a dinosaur, the tumbling troupe, the balancing boys, the hoola hoop guy and many more. It was an elaborate production and my second favorite out of all of them. This is not to mean that any show was bad because they were all outstanding. I finished packing and put the bags out and went to check out the pirate party in the Haven Lounge. A lot of people turned in early so the pirate party was more of getting caught up and saying goodbye to some friends made along the way including some cruise staff. DAY 8 – MIAMI, FL – DISEMBARKATION MSC likes to start things a bit too early. The ship was docked early and disembarkation started at 7AM with the express walk offs. I don’t know who went that early but clearly folks did. We were to go at 8:15AM. All guests were to be out of their rooms by 7:45AM which was the earliest I’ve ever been out of a room. With a too leisurely breakfast in the dining room, we didn’t make it and just headed for the gangway when we finally did get out of the room at 8AM. Our luggage tag had already been called and getting off the ship was super easy. The uber to the airport was immediate and I had really kicked myself for not booking the Noon flight. I didn’t want to rush mom but MSC did that for me! Conclusion: The entertainment on this cruise was unparalleled by any North American cruise line. I was in awe of the performances I saw. I give a shout out to the talented cast who perform the shows THREE times a night and don’t miss a beat! The ship itself is impressively designed and passenger to space ratio is good. You don’t feel the crowd even though the sailing had some 4600 guests. The crowd was about 50 percent international and 50 percent American. The international mix made the ship exciting albeit somewhat challenging to communicate with other folks. MSC is doing their best to cater to both markets on the ship and I can tell the effort is there. Service everywhere outside of room service and the two guest services staff members was amazing. When the shift lead at Guest Services helped us on the last day, we got the change we needed for tipping and tipping envelopes with a smile and promptly. I wish I had dealt with that gentleman the previous two times! These members of the ship’s crew and staff are to be commended for their excellence in customer service: Ian (Waiter) and his assistant waiter who remembered my mom’s wine order by the third night and served it without us asking. Sergio Texeira for handling a special request every night and going above and beyond to see it through. Daniela for handling the room service issue for me the first night of the voyage and being a friendly face around the restaurant. Marie Leonnel, our stateroom stewardess from Madagascar, who cleaned our room with both speed and efficiency and kept everything well stocked including the ice. Her attention to detail is to be commended. Wang and Johnathan on the cruise staff who did their best to get me engaged and for being friendly faces about the ship. A big thank you to Yannis for taking the time to sit down with an old friend and for hearing my feedback. Hopefully some of it will be instituted on upcoming sailings. If any NCL cruisers out there are reading this, Yannis Kazalis is now with MSC on the Seaside! In the end, I will return to MSC. I’m not sure I will do the Fantastica experience again unless mom sails with me. I would be content with the Bella service. Having to pay so much more for the Aurea experience to have anytime dining is not worth it for me. In that sense, NCL still wins for flexibility of dining but NCL needs to watch out… MSC is right on their heels with this beautiful ship. Just a little bit more polishing of the crew in some areas and they’ll kick NCL to the curb. I look forward to trying the Seaside again as a solo traveler and perhaps other ships as their itineraries are far more interesting in some regions of the world! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This ship was chosen for a number of reasons. It was new (still under construction) when it was booked and we had never sailed MSC, having sailed on Carnival and NCL previously. We were initially booked into the Yacht Club in an inside ... Read More
This ship was chosen for a number of reasons. It was new (still under construction) when it was booked and we had never sailed MSC, having sailed on Carnival and NCL previously. We were initially booked into the Yacht Club in an inside cabin. However, as the cruise date approached, a friend expressed interest in joining us and there were no Yacht Club cabins left that could accommodate three persons. I called MSC and they booked us into a Fantastica cabin on deck 13. It looked like it would be in a great spot. And then the ship launched and out came all the bad reviews and all the problems. And it seemed like cabins were being dumped in droves. And to my surprise, one of the aft balcony Aurea suite cabins that held three persons became available. So we switched again from a Fantastica cabin to an Aurea suite at the back of the ship, overlooking the aft pool. So the Aurea level of service came with a lot of perks which we enjoyed including the massage. I had read on other boards to book your massage if you're in Aurea as soon as you board or all the good massages and times are taken up. So that's what we did when we first got on the ship, and we each received a one-hour amazing massage in the spa. Granted, it was early in the day (930 or 10am I think), but still, it was amazing. When the hostess printed off the receipt for the massages, it was almost $500 reduced to $0 because of the Aurea package. We were also seated in a special area of the Seashore dining room. We had only experience Your Time Dining once on NCL, and this was similar. You showed up and got a table. We never waited. And because I know the relationship between guest and waiter is an important one, we always asked to be seated in the same section with the same waiter so he came to know us. It made for nice continuity with dinner. The Seashore Dining Room was lovely. I don't understand all the beefs (no pun intended) about the food. It was perfectly fine - not five star gourmet, but dare I say very to excellent and I'm pretty picky. I don't remember having to send anything back to the kitchen once because it was overdone or underdone. The waiters did seem a little harried, but were always polite and courteous. Remember people - this is a European line! Dining in Europe is an 'event', not something to be scarfed down in 15 minutes - so yes - it took a while but we enjoyed our meals and had great conversations while we enjoyed various breads before our appetizers arrived. The shows were good but strange. We went to all but one, and none seemed to really be what the title said it was going to be. The theater is small so go early if you want a good seat. You do have to book your shows in advance if I remember correctly. We never had an issue with ordering drinks at any of the bars. The bartenders were efficient and we always received the drink we ordered. With the Aurea package, the drinks are included, but we decided to upgrade to the Premium package. This was the only problem we had consistently on the cruise. We had to remind the waitresses and bartenders we had the Premium package when we ordered Premium drinks and were told consistently we did not. I had to gently remind them and ask them to open up the reservation and they always were able to find the upgrade and so we received our premium drinks at no charge. It was more annoying than anything else, especially after gone to Customer Service who also had to go into our reservation to see we had upgraded to the Premium Drinks package. I was told then that there should have been a sticker applied to the front of the card with a code on it, indicating the upgrade. The customer service agent give me three blank white stickers, and told me what to write on it, which I did and gave one to each of my traveling companions. Even with that sticker on the card, I had to gently prod the waitresses and bartenders to open up the reservation to see the upgrade. It became less of an issue as the week passed, because the bartenders came to know us, and knew we had the upgrade. Embarkation was a little confusing. When we arrived, there were two lines - one for the Aurea guests and one for everyone else (Yacht Club I believe went in a different door). Yet there was no signage, so initially, we got into the big line, until one of my travelling companions asked what the shorter line was for. So we asked, and they looked at our tickets, and said the shorter line was for us. But if we hadn't asked.... Once upstairs, at check-in, we were told there were no wrist bands, and we had to get them on the ship, yet we saw folks in the lounge wearing them! So we were able to get them on the ship, but then our reservation disappeared entirely. Again, an irritant that was quickly solved by going to Customer Service and it was all sorted out in a matter of minutes and we had our wrist bands and they worked just fine. We had also purchased the specialty dining package (three meals) and were told when we booked it included the Teppanyaki. We were slightly disappointed to find out the Teppanyaki restaurant was included in the 'other' specialty dining package (for Roy's), not the one we had purchased which included the steakhouse, the seafood house and Roy's (but not the Teppanyaki). The other issue we had with the specialty dining, was the wording of the menu which was very confusing. The waiter in the steakhouse which was our first specialty dining experience on board, was somewhat surly, when I said I wanted two appetizers and an entree and no dessert, and he said he would have to charge me for one of the appetizers. I replied and told him the wording of the menu said I could choose three courses from any of the following - it did not specify I had to order ONE appetizer, ONE entree and ONE dessert. We spoke to the manager, but he was firm and wouldn't budge. So again, we made the best of it. The food was very good in the steakhouse but not as good as the steakhouse on Carnival. We also ate in the seafood restaurant. The crab appetizer was enormous (5 different types of crab) and was included in the specialty dining package, even though that appetizer alone was something like $39! We tried eating in the Asian restaurant for lunch one day because they were booked up for dinner but it was a rough sea day so we didn't get to eat there. I would say this - if you're planning on eating in any of the specialty restaurants, go immediately to see them once you're on board if your PVP hasn't already made the reservations for you. This is the second thing we did after embarkation, after securing our massages. Overall impression of the ship - it's beautiful and glitzy. The outdoor space is amazing all over, given the wide decks and the ability to eat al fresco. We never had a problem finding a seat in the buffet. I would say this. I really feel the interior spaces have been sacrificed for the addition of more cabins and all the out door space, so the inside spaces felt small and cramped. The casino is ridiculously small for the size of the ship. I will also say this about the muster drill and something to keep in mind if you're a North American. Because it's a European line, the announcements are made in six languages, so it can take a while. Be patient. It's for your own safety. The one thing I did find a little disappointing as a gay man, was there was only one LGBTQ meeting on the second night. On NCL and Carnival, they have more than one, so if you missed it, you missed your only opportunity to connect with other LGBTQ cruisers. However, the MSC staff member that facilitated the meeting was wonderful and charming and engaging, and got us all talking. So it was well worth the effort for us to attend. Would I sail MSC again? Yes. I would. I'm looking at the Meraviglia in 2020. Again, your vacation is what you make of it. Nothing in this world is perfect. And while I agree you should get what you pay for, we are all human and mistakes can happen. Go with the flow, and deal with issues when they arise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Apologies this review is huge (over 9000 words) please see section headings if you don't want to read everything! Reasons for choosing this cruise: I chose this cruise as I wanted to be able to take my two (grown-up) children ... Read More
Apologies this review is huge (over 9000 words) please see section headings if you don't want to read everything! Reasons for choosing this cruise: I chose this cruise as I wanted to be able to take my two (grown-up) children for their first cruise and it was a bargain price which meant I could actually afford four adult fares for two cabins without breaking the bank or taking out a loan, ha-ha. I very quickly realised you get what you pay for. A pretty poor experience overall and had it been my first cruise would certainly have put me off cruising again! Thankfully I have far better experiences to compare with having previously travelled once each with Princess and Norwegian and twice with Royal Caribbean. So, it won’t put me off cruising again, but I would not book MSC in future unless I was convinced they had made radical improvements. The itinerary: Rating 3 stars – average – good selection of ports. Southampton, Le Havre, Zeebrugge, overnight in Amsterdam, Hamburg, return to Southampton. However, this cruise realistically began and ended in Hamburg, Southampton was the first stop on the itinerary for those who boarded in Hamburg, as evidenced by the 'Welcome Aboard Party' held on our finally stop in Hamburg for those starting the new itinerary... We chose this itinerary as, having previously done two Mediterranean and two Norway cruises, I wanted something different, and thought this sounded an interesting selection of destinations. Booking/web check-in Rating 1 star – terrible. Before travel we already experienced problems (and it is hard to say how much of these were down to MSC themselves and how much due to our agents). The web check-in was fine, for my cabin, but I was unable to access for the other as I kept being told I needed another booking number, which I did not have as I had only been given one, eventually it was MSC that managed to get me access to check-in my children for their cabin. The MSC website also has a habit of glitching badly if your computer stores cookies so I had to clear the cache frequently to use my account. As my son had Epilepsy and Autism we had completed a special needs request form to request our cabins be close to each other, this was sent to both the agents and MSC. I never actually got a response to this request and after initially seeing we had been allocated cabins on decks 8 and 12 I contacted both MSC and my agents, the agents said the cabins were booked on a guarantee basis so could not be chosen, when reminded I had filled in a special needs form their response was 'oh did you, you'll have to wait and see what MSC say' whilst MSC stated (as it says on the website) that it is for the agents to manage this is you booked with one, when told this the agents said it was down to MSC so I was going round in circles. About 3 weeks before we sailed both cabins were listed on the web account as deck 8 but opposite ends and sides of the ship, by two weeks before sailing the cabins were back to deck 8 (starboard, aft) and 12 (port, fore), so still opposite ends of the ship 4 decks apart, not great when you have special needs. The only good thing was we had been upgraded from inside cabins to an outside partial view (lifeboats blocking windows so outside view pointless really) and a balcony. I would have been happier to keep inside cabins that were next to each other as the distance was a problem once on board as other issues arose. I was also starting to panic about getting our embarkation tickets as two weeks before we had not received them, and after speaking to our agents the tickets for my cabin were sent out, but again they were asking for another booking number for the other cabin, and did not answer my question about if it would be a problem that the tickets they had sent me were not for the same cabin number as was showing on our account on the MSC website. The other tickets finally came a few days later, but I never got an answer or replacement tickets for the ones that were wrong. Port Parking: Rating 5 stars- excellent (but no relation to MSC) We had booked port parking at the same time as booking our cruise. The parking was a little way from the docks (10-15 minutes drive) but the parking agency, Air Lynx, seemed efficient, we received a call from them about 5 minutes from arriving, checking if we were on our way. Once we arrived we were unloaded into their shuttle minibus and taken straight to the docks. Embarkation in Southampton: Rating 4 stars – very good Very good, quick straight on board. Thankfully, the luggage porters were able to give me new luggage tags for the ones we had the wrong cabin number for, and at the check-in desk they also said it wasn’t a problem that the tickets were wrong, and we should just go to the cabin number we knew it should be on board, and if there were any issues then go to guest services. However, our tickets had stated that our embarkation time was 17:45 which I found very late, there was no way I was leaving it that late to arrive, so we actually arrived earlier (around 16:15 and it seems everyone else must have too as there were no other passengers waiting to board. I think we could probably have arrived even earlier without having any problems with the time not matching our tickets. Once on board – initial thoughts. Rating 2 stars – Poor. Once on board a series of signs directed new boarders to the Tiger Bar, where you are pounced on instantly by people selling drinks packages, not really the welcome you would like. We don’t really drink alcohol, and there was no way any of the ‘all inclusive’ packages for that would suit us, they seemed very expensive unless you are an alcoholic. We did end up buying water (14 bottles), speciality coffee (I think it was 14 drinks again), and soft drinks (14 drinks) packages, which were in the form of vouchers you can use as you please during the cruise, for a total cost of 178.25 euros including the 15% service charge, it worked out as just a small saving (1-2 drinks per package) on what you would pay buying them individually, it did feel like a high pressure sales tactic to be accosted this way as you got on board, and it clearly worked as I bought! We then went straight to our cabins, which were open and ready, this was good as often with earlier embarkation there has been a delay in getting to the cabins for me on cruises. However, it later became clear that this was due to the cruise having already started the day before, and there were also people embarking at disembarking at most ports from what I could gather, something I haven’t experienced before. Our cruise cards and a daily planner were waiting for us in the cabins, which were actually the cabins we were expecting them to be at least. In my son’s cabin there was a letter that acknowledged the fact he had additional needs, it stated someone would be in touch to support during the evacuation drill, but this didn’t happen, and I was unable to support my son during this myself as again, due to our cabins being so far apart our emergency meeting points were separate (D and G) at opposite ends of the ship for the drill. In a real emergency situation there is now way I would have allowed us to be separated in this way, so I don’t know what would have happened! Thankfully we didn’t have to find out… The drill itself consisted of sitting in a bar whilst being shown how to put on your lifejacket was explained in around 6 different European languages and that was about it. I’m not convinced I would actually know what to do in an emergency situation based on this drill. Cabins – Rating 3 stars average On deck 8 we had an outside cabin for my son and daughter to share. On arrival this was setup with a double bed, despite having asked for twin beds (they did fix this quickly once we went to guest services, at least). This cabin was an outside partial view, with lifeboats outside the window, to be honest I don’t know why they bothered with the window, it seemed pointless as the view was fully obscured by the lifeboat. The cabin was clean, tidy and compact, nothing to get excited about but nothing to complain about either. On deck 12 we had a balcony cabin, again at first glance, clean tidy and compact. Later, we noticed that the sheet on the bed had stains that had not come out in the wash, and there was a rip in the quilt that had been concealed under the sheet. I was glad I hadn’t bought my usual big ballgown for the Gala/Elegant nights as there wouldn’t have been enough room for me to put it on in either of these cabins, so they were a bit smaller than others I have had. The cupboards and drawers did not have handles and most of the drawers were stiff to open. The showers were okay, pressure a bit low but I think that’s par for the course really, it just makes washing your shampoo out of thick hair a bit harder. As always power points were limited (and being European on this ship) and due to the shape and size of travel adapters you could only use one power point at a time as the two points available are very close together, so you can’t plug in two adapters at the same time. They were also too close to the desk making larger items such as camera battery chargers, impossible to plug in at all (we bought a European extension lead in a supermarket in Le Havre to enable us to use the power points more effectively). Having a kettle, with tea and coffee was a good addition that is growing in popularity on ships, milk rather than cream would be better here and just 2 milk cartons is not enough, we would have to pick up extras at the buffet to bring back to the room, but anything used did get replenished when the room attendant came by. The room attendant was not as attentive as we have experienced before, we did not see him more than once or twice, I don’t even recall his name. And no folded towel animals!? Every cruise I have been on these have been a feature I have grown to look forward to seeing, it was disappointing that there were none, and then they did a demonstration on the final sea day so it’s clear that these do happen on MSC too, so not sure why we didn’t see any? Cruise Card/onboard payments – rating 3 stars average Your cruise card is your onboard ID and payment system. It is in your cabin upon your arrival and requires activation within around 24 hours (up to 23:00 the day after embarking). On previous cruises I have provided my credit card details before going, or at the cruise terminal so this was a bit different. Whichever way you to chose to pay when you activate can be changed until the day before disembarkation, the options are credit card, debit card and cash. You need to take the card to one of the activation point machines located near guest services. Before doing this, I spoke to guest services as I was worried that it authorises 250 euros straight away, and I would be linking my card to all 4 people, I didn’t want a 1000-euro charge, thankfully they said it would only be the 250 euros for all of us and I could link all payments to the one card, but as with so many things on this cruise the original information was not clear so if you didn't go and ask you wouldn't know how things really worked, they could save themselves a lot of unnecessary trip to guest services if information was clearer at the outset, you shouldn't have to go and ask for it to be explained. You can check your account at any time at guest services or on the interactive TV in your cabin. This proved useful as I found that our onboard credit was not being used against my card and charges for a donation to UNICEF had been put against my card, both of which was able to resolve quickly at guest services. Having the cruise card for onboard spending is the same on all cruises I have done, and it is good, but also you can easily run up a big bill if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing (just like a credit card really). At the end of your cruise a bill is delivered to your room for you to verify the amounts charged (or go to guest services to resolve any discrepancies) before you leave. The ship – rating 3 stars average The ship itself was nice looking, inside and out. No spectacular staircases or highlight spots like some cruise ships. It did feel a bit claustrophobic at times as there isn’t much open space, it’s very closed in on all decks except for the uppermost open decks 13-16 (with 14-16 not really being full decks as such, rather bits of deck on top of deck 13). Signage could be better, even though it was smaller than most of the other ships I have been on I found it much harder to find my way around. I don’t recall seeing a single trash can (bin), and the toilets were difficult to locate. It turned out (I discovered on talking to crew later in the week) that the reason bins and toilets are not well signposted is that the wife of the owner of the cruise line considers these things to be private and advertising them ‘trashy’, that isn’t a helpful explanation and ignores that fact that being able to locate a toilet quickly is an accessibility issue for disabled passengers, who may need to be able to locate one in a hurry, not to mention that if you are seasick you might also need to do this! When you did manage to find a toilet other than in your cabin they had this automated flush feature, not that might sound handy, however it seemed to malfunction on a frequent basis. Often the toilet would flush as you sat on it, providing an unpleasant suction sensation you would rather not experience whilst being sat on a toilet! Then it would not flush when you had finished so you had to locate the tiny button to flush it manually. The frequency with which toilets seemed to be closed for cleaning seemed high and unnecessary as I went in and found the cleaner in one cubicle but all the others could be used, it might be better just to put a ‘cleaning in progress’ sign up to make people aware someone is in there, but not close off completely as you can often walk half a ship before you can find another toilet, and then find it is also closed for cleaning! MSC seem to have favoured quantity over quality, cramming as many people in as possible with low fares to entice you onboard, smaller cabins and less space overall. Information and communication are generally lacking in every aspect of the cruise and often misleading in my opinion, you will see more on this in other sections. First Evening/Medical – Rating 1 star terrible if it was possible to give zero stars I would! After the drill, we popped back to our cabins to return the lifejackets, and our luggage was already there, another bonus point for MSC having waited many hours for luggage on some of my previous cruises. We then decided to head up to the buffet for something to eat as it was coming up to 6pm and we hadn’t eaten since leaving home at 12noon. Before we got into the buffet my son starting acting oddly and I knew a seizure was coming, he was already having a complex partial seizure and we were trying to get him to sit down before it developed into a grand mal seizure (it is always difficult to get him to sit down as he is virtually unresponsive in a complex partial seizure, and will just be asking for the nearest toilet) staff began to panic, and people started crowding round and I tried to explain he was about to have a seizure and let us deal with it, but if they were worried then send a first aider. Myself and my daughter caught my son and lowered him to the floor when he went into the main seizure phase. Then what I presumed was a first aider arrived along with a huge crowd of people in uniform. People were speaking to me in German and other languages I didn’t understand, I said that we speak English and I know what I’m doing. Someone was filling a syringe with something and I had to shout at them not to try and stick a needle in my now sleeping post-seizure, severely needle-phobic son! A doctor had now joined the collection of people and was saying he needed to give him something to calm him down, again I said no they couldn’t do that, his seizure had finished he just needed to rest now. I wanted everyone to just back off and leave us alone, but now the doctor was there he insisted on getting a stretcher to take my son down to the medical centre to check him over. The ability of anyone in attendance to speak good enough English to manage a medical situation was inadequate to say the least, they did not understand what I was telling them, and I did not understand them. Once done in the medical centre they again wanted to poke my son with needles which he did not need and kept touching him despite me saying they needed to stop as he doesn’t like being touched, it was only once I said he was autistic that they seemed to understand that word and backed off a little. Whilst he was still coming around the doctor was pestering me for his cruise card, so I had to dig through his pockets to find it. As my son woke up we just wanted to get him back to his cabin, so he could rest and recover fully, but when we tried to leave we were told we had to wait for the doctor to check him over. One of the doctors’ aides returned with his cruise card and a bill for 140 euros, before we were eventually granted a wheelchair to take him back to his cabin. Later, I went to guest services to enquire why I had been billed 140 euros, and to contest this as in my mind nothing had been done that constituted being paid for. I was informed that it would be investigated but that there are fee’s for using medical services, to which I responded we had not wanted, needed or received anything I felt warranted this bill. The bill itself was not clear about what exactly we were being charged for, merely stating ‘Epileptic crisis Examination out of the Medical Center’. I was told I should claim it back on my travel insurance (later in the week I received a call upholding this opinion. Once home I enquired with my insurance but given to value of the excess to be paid it ended up not worth claiming as I wouldn’t get much back, so I am out of pocket 140 euros for nothing. EHIC cards also do not cover cruises so I can’t claim it back that way either). Dining for the whole week - rating 1 star - terrible: We don’t usually bother with the main restaurants as we don’t like taking several hours to eat a meal and having specific times to eat. For us the buffet restaurant option gives the flexibility to eat what we want, when we want. So, I can’t comment on the main dining rooms, and I never buy speciality dining meals at an additional cost, I don’t see why you would want to pay for food onboard when there is all you can eat available for 20 hours a day? Oh wait, quality I guess might come in to play here as you will see… I did hear one passenger mention that being gluten free they were disappointed that, due to having to wait so long for their food in the main dining room, they ended up eating separately from their family, and I think if you had any specific dietary requirements you would need to eat in the main dining room as these were certainly not catered for in the buffet. Once my son was feeling up to it we went back to our original plan of getting something to eat in the Sahara Buffet restaurant by now it was around 8pm. We felt the selection on offer wasn’t great in comparison to other ships I have been on, lots of bread, and cold meats/salad but limited choices in cooked foods. Pizza and fries were available pretty much consistently throughout the week and as they were often the only edible option we were sick of them by the end of the week, although for an Italian ship the pizzas were nothing like an Italian pizza, more like a frozen one I might get back home. Having several fussy eaters in our group we thought we might have better luck on other nights and that it was maybe just this first evening where the buffet options seemed to be catering to a more European palate, specifically German, and there were also a lot of Indian/Asian cuisines (possibly due to the chefs and galley staff being more from that part of the World). Unfortunately, as the week progressed there was no improvement in the food and being a bit fussy (e.g. two of us not liking seafoods) was clearly not to blame. What we did eat seemed to also be bland and of a lower quality than what I am used to. The only vegetables most of the time were raw/cold. The cooked breakfasts were the only meal of the day worth eating but even those seemed heavily greasy. The mugs for hot drinks were always filthy, dishwasher residue white smears on the outside of the blue mugs, and rims you needed to wipe before using, I presume this was a problem of the dishwasher machine? The selection of desserts was just a bad, we didn’t have any most of the time. It was laughable that they promoted the ‘Traditional British Sunday dinner’ when all they had was beef and Yorkshire pudding, no roast potatoes, and no suitable vegetables, and if you don’t eat beef, there was no alternative like chicken or pork, I ended up with Yorkshire pudding, with greasy, slimy, green beans and a preformed, plastic turkey burger (from the grill), and no gravy. MSC really need to have better look at English meals if the want to cater more for the British market as they claim. I was very hungry for some decent food, especially cooked vegetables when we got home! On board entertainment – first night: rating 2 stars - poor Obviously, the events of the early evening meant we hadn’t really had chance to look at the daily program yet. When we did we were disappointed to see that for the first night aboard there was no sail-away party on deck, or in any of the lounges/bars. The only entertainments available were two dance classes, a Bee Gees & Abba tribute and cocktail demo (at the same time in different locations), a gap of around one and a half hours or so with nothing on and then at 10.30pm trivia. In the theatre a Mime show with ‘poetry, comedy and talent’ was repeated at 19:00 and 21:15 for the different dining times in the main restaurants. But except for the latest theatre show and trivia we had missed everything else, except for some very generic (think karaoke level skill but supposedly professional) singers in the bars, giving us nothing to do on our first night, except try and explore the ship then go to our cabins as we were pretty exhausted. Please see further comments on onboard activities/entertainment for the rest of the week below. Rather than give a minute by minute report on the rest of our week I’ll turn now to the different facilities and activities etc. Onboard Activities (inclusive) – rating 3 stars average For included on board activities, besides the pools, there was shuffleboard, two foosball (table football) tables, two table tennis tables, and the sport deck (deck 16) - a netted sports court for tennis/basketball. The sports deck was very high, windy and cold so we didn’t go out there after an initial visit to find it. The table football and table tennis were always occupied, so even when we collected a ball from the Virtual World centre (where all sporting/game equipment was available to loan) we ended up taking it back not having had a turn, they shouldn’t loan out more balls than they have tables for. With such a limited selection of activities it’s no wonder they were so busy when people were onboard, I imagine if you want a chance to use them you need to stay onboard when docked, but then why are you on a cruise to different ports if you aren’t going to explore/visit them? Other Activities (chargeable) – rating 2 stars – poor So, they have a 4D Cinema, this is not what you might expect, I was thinking IMAX, I was wrong. I was looking forward to watching a movie onboard, as they don’t have the free movies under the stars I have enjoyed on each of my previous cruises I thought this would be a nice alternative, I was wrong. What they have is a set of simulator chairs and a projection screen where they show simulation experience shows (think pretend roller-coaster) behind a curtain in the ‘Virtual World’ on deck 14 and it costs 7 euros per person to watch/ride/experience this, needless to say I didn’t bother spending cinema ticket prices for a simulation. There are no movies on board at all unless you also want to pay 7 euros to watch one on the 19-inch TV in your cabin (which, by the way, has virtually no English language channels). Virtual World was the ‘entertainment hub’ where you could loan games and sporting equipment and swipe your cruise card to play at additional charge air hockey, a motorbike racing game, or two arcade games (a crane toy grab and one of those where you push something in a hole to try to win). Then there’s Mini-Bowling, I made the mistake of swiping my cruise card on this two-lane rip off machine! 6 euros down the drain, as before you have chance to even think about adding other players a 20 second timer pops up for you to start playing, you then get 5 rounds of two balls, each with just 20 seconds to react and boom, game over! No instructions, no warning this is going to happen, how they call this bowling I don’t know, and I learnt the hard way why no-one else was using this game, hidden away in the nightclub that doubles as a teen place right next to the children’s club room, because it is a con, that’s why. On deck 7 in the Sports bar there is a self-righting Billiards/Pool table, now this we did use a few times. At 6 euros for an hour it was probably the best value, paid for, item on board. As we enjoy playing pool this activity was popular with us and kept us occupied for an hour here and there, especially on sea days as there wasn’t much else to do. Even if the self-righting mechanism kicked in at some strange times, wobbling the table unnecessarily causing you to have to wait for it to stop jiggling so you could take a shot. Onboard entertainment - Rating 2 stars poor The daily planner received in your cabin each night for the next day details all the entertainment that will be available for the upcoming day, this is the same on every ship I’ve been on, even if they call it different things. As mentioned, when we boarded the first planner had very little entertainment listed, we which put down to it being embarkation day… until we saw the next one… Again, we didn’t think it too much of an issue that there did was not much on during the day as it would be a port day, but the evening looked rather lacking considering we would all be back on board then. Unfortunately, this was actually the standard for the whole week. Virtually nothing on during the day, so if you were only ashore for part of the day (morning/afternoon only excursions for example) there was not much to occupy you when back on board (and of course as is always the case a lot of other things, such as shops and the casino, onboard are also closed whilst in port due to Maritime law etc). If you wanted a dance lesson, you were in luck, these seemed to be the main feature of the daily entertainment program, with several different sessions each day. There seemed to be a few kids and family activities each day (for those with younger children), the occasional game, and trivia, and that was pretty much it on port days, with the odd additional item in the evenings, the nightly theatre show and a late-night disco. Trivia was our favourite activity, and probably the only thing that was of regular interest to us out of the limited choice available, we attended as many trivia sessions as we could (and even won a couple of t-shirts - when they mega quiz buffs weren’t playing who always won, ha-ha). Even Trivia though had a confusing element, being called different things on different days, and a feature comment one day in the programme about joining the ‘biggest trivia event at sea’ but it didn’t say where, when or how to join in. There was a single craft activity (papercraft) on each of the sea days, but there could have easily been many more of these type of activities – scrap-booking, knit+natter, crochet the list of ideas goes on and on, being a crafter myself! There could also have been activities put on (unhosted) that just gave likeminded people a time and place to meet up – reading group/book club meetup in the library, puzzle/crossword group, chess club – literally anything goes. I saw a single item in the programme about Masterchef at Sea, but no further information was included so unless you went to guest services to ask for more information you couldn’t join in. There were also very long gaps between activities, such that in many cases there would be two or three things happening at one time, then nothing for a couple of hours or more. The majority of entertainment also seemed to only take place in the Tiger Bar, despite there being numerous other locations around the ship (bars/clubs/pool deck etc the ship has 17 Bars & lounges in total) that could also have hosted activities. Heck, even the theatre could have been utilised to show movies seeing as there was no-where else you could watch them on this ship… As for the theatre, the shows seemed to be mostly musical/dance themed items, that I guess were chosen to avoid too much of an issue of the many different languages of the passengers. We only went to one theatre show (Sophisticats) and it was of a below average standard (to me, being someone who attends several theatre performances each year back home). There was also a British Vocalist/Humourist, Paul Fredericks - who was an average voiced singer and humourless - who walked off the stage when an announcement interrupted his performance, very professional (unless that was meant to be a joke!? But it wasn’t funny…) (BTW, never heard of him before, he is not what I would consider a well-known British performer). A noticeable missing item was Karaoke, and when this did appear on the bill it was at 11pm for 45 minutes on the Saturday night – I later found out this was due to a new Karaoke machine having been delivered whilst docked at Hamburg on the Saturday, so maybe it will feature more in future… Spa – rating 3 stars average I’ll be honest this rating is based purely on the pricing as because it was so expensive in comparison to other cruises I have been on I did not use it, despite wanting a massage. A couple’s massage was 230 euros and the only offers came in your daily planner at 9pm or later and if you tried to book the following day you were told it was only valid for the previous day. The offers that did come up were not great and as such I didn’t get to find out if the facilities or treatments themselves were any good. It's a shame as I really could have done with at least one hot stones massage! I'm also a bit of an Elemis snob when it comes to my spas and they don't use Elemis on MSC Magnifica... Fitness centre – rating 3 stars average Again we didn’t actually use the very small fitness centre, any classes were at an additional cost, but I couldn’t see how a class would be possible as the space was so small, unless there were only 2 people attending, or there was a hidden room I didn’t see!? Pools – rating 3 stars average The undercover pool and hot tubs seemed popular and were often busy. I don’t recall seeing the outdoor pool used, when it was open, most of the time it closed as you got back on board after a port stop and seemed to be having work done on the hot tubs must of the week. It felt too cold to use the pools really, so we didn’t bother. They looked small and I could imagine if it was warmer they would have been heaving with people. WIFI – rating 3 stars average Another rating based on costs. You would think by now cruise ships would be starting to bring their prices down for this facility, it’s not really a luxury nowadays but is still priced as one. Art Gallery – unrateable Okay, so apparently there is an Art Gallery (as with every ship I have been on), there are signs for this on deck 7, couldn’t find it anywhere!? Is it hidden behind a wall? If so where is the door? It’s a mystery we didn’t solve… Casino – rating 3 stars average Smaller than other ships but the same sort of set-up, poker tables, slot machines, electronic roulette and a handful of coin-drop machines. We had a couple of games of roulette, which as anyone who has played knows is a game of pure chance so nothing much to say about that. The coin-drop machines used MSC tokens of no currency or face-value, you inserted euro notes in a slot and were granted a number of tokens to play with (20 tokens for 5 euros, giving them a value of 25 cents each). Unless you are an avid gambler, who really knows what they are doing, Casino’s (a staple of all ships) are just a big waste of money, the only reason we played at all was to try and fill a little of the dead time, I guess that it what they hope for… Library – rating 2 stars poor I’ve yet to find a cruise ship that has a library that I would actually consider to be a decent library. My own library at home has more books than all 5 cruise ships I have been on so far! There are sections for each of the languages most likely to be travelling, so in this case many European languages. Each has a handful of shelves. The English language section didn’t have anything of interest at all, good job I bought some books with me (I never travel without a few books). There were a handful of trays with puzzle sheets in different languages, the English one was a crossword. I’m not sure if there were meant to be new one’s daily (on other ships there have been daily puzzle sheets) but on at least one of the days we nipped in to pick one up and there were no English language sheets at all. I’d love to see more happening, even un-hosted, in ship libraries, they would be great meeting points! Photography – rating 2 stars poor I’ve always enjoyed getting professional photos on my cruises and was looking forward to doing the same again on this one. I knew I couldn’t get my kids to run from one photographer to another all night on the formal night, as I would normally do in my Cinderella ballgown, so opted for just visiting two. We chose a plain black background and the staircase. I had already enquired about packages and felt uncomfortable with the lack of transparency in pricing and packages (being used to plenty of detailed information about the range of deals you can get on print and digital images, discounts for more purchases etc). I was told to choose what I liked then I would be told how much it was as it was all done by barcodes…? So, we spent ages going through the photos, easily discarding a large amount as they were blurry, or eyes closed. We narrowed it down to two piles, four must have photos and a larger number of extras that would depend on the deals available. Upon showing these to a member of the photography team, I was told it would be 30 euros per large (12x8) photo and 20 euros for the 8x6 size, discounts only begin at 10 photos, which would be 10% discount. This didn’t seem like a great deal, 10 photos would be a minimum cost of 200 euros, I’ve had deals for less than $200USD where you get EVERY photo taken on board (one time this was almost 200 photos!) so I decided as it was so expensive we would just have the four. I explained that we didn’t want the four favourites in the 12x8 size they had printed them in as it was too big, we would prefer the 8x6 size, to which I was told I couldn’t choose what size I wanted (another never-before-experienced shocker). I couldn’t understand why it was not possible for them to just print the size I wanted and was told the files are locked when I asked, ‘do you not have the original image?’. It all seemed rather strange, and I just said to forget it, what a rip off. Later, after having complained about this, I was told that it is something to do with the system (outdated system by the sound of it) that if they amended my photos to the smaller size it would ‘ruin’ all the others as they would also be changed (errm, you’ve already printed them, don’t offer people the chance to choose what ‘they’ want, and don’t offer additional prints or digital versions so what difference would it make changing it now???), but I was offered the chance to have the files on CD for 10 euros per picture which I accepted despite still feeling it was far too much really. When I got home I found these images were not the originals, but as printed, so two of the four were black and white, so in the end I was still not happy with the result and had to then go and print them myself. MSC really need to look at updating their system so people can have the photos they want, in the size they want, colour, black and white, print or digital and a better range of offers, 10% off 200/300 Euros is the only offer, and it really isn’t much of a ‘deal’ (they also do not offer the CD option, I only got that because I had complained). Not really sure why they felt it was acceptable to print blurry images and attempt to sell these either!? Shopping/Public rooms/Bars - rating 3 stars average Signage on board was poor (as mentioned before in relation to toilets) small, vague maps of your current deck hidden away on walls, bar names identified by seat colour in many cases from what I could tell, and god help you if you happened to get in the wrong lift and end up at the rear of a closed restaurant, trying to navigate to which floor you could then actually get round to the stuff you were looking for was bonkers. I normally only take a few hours to get oriented with where everything is on a ship, but I still wasn’t sure which way to go for anything, other than the most frequently visited areas, by the time we got off this one! The public areas on the whole are very difficult to navigate. Onboard shopping is always a bit of a gamble on cruise ships. Depending on the exchange rate you can either be getting a bargain or totally wasting your money. MSC is no exception to this rule. It’s handful of shops include a few of high end watch, jewellery, fashion and bag shops, a mini-mart and their signature logo store. No duty free on this ship, not really sure why, location or onboard currency being the Euro I guess? Not much to say about the shopping as we didn’t really buy much, prices were a bit high in comparison to when the US dollar is the onboard currency on a ship. The main atrium where the shops and other public rooms are mainly found is the most open part on the inner ship with a waterfall feature and staircases connecting decks 5-7. Guest services, future cruises, the excursions desk and internet cafe are amongst the public rooms. Bar service is slow, you can often wait 20-30 minutes for a drink even if it’s not that busy. In most bars there are staff floating round who might eventually come to your table, or you can go up to the bar yourself, neither gives a quicker service than the other, many bars seem to have a number of floaters but only 1-2 people actually behind the bar making/preparing the drinks. There is no self-service launderette, but you can use the bag in your room to send things down to be washed, ironed etc, the prices seemed about average for individual items, however you should buy a package before boarding if you want more as the price difference is quite a lot, the deal to buy a laundry package beforehand was really good. Of course, you might not need any laundry doing or are happy to wait till you get home, but if you do be aware of when you want your items for as it requires being sent off before 10pm the day before you want to receive it after 5pm… Staff/Crew – rating 3 stars average (entertainment team 4 stars – good) The entertainment team are a credit to the ship, they make everyone feel welcome, encourage participation and are a lot of fun, they also try to remember names. Elsewhere the staff are fine, but not as interactive as some places, only one bar member was actually up for a bit of conversation and we hardly saw our room attendant (and never got any towel animals). In some cases, there were those that seemed a bit rude or ignorant, but it might have just been another indicator of the language and cultural differences (although I’ve not experienced this on other ships that are just as diverse). Cruise critic and Crew Coffee & Chat meetings – rating 3-4 stars average to good There were two opportunities on board to voice your opinions/give feedback about the ship and your experiences, one for Cruise Critic members (with cake) and a crew coffee and chat meeting. These seemed to only be attended by a handful of British passengers who didn’t interact with each other much. Several senior crew members attended each meeting and I had the opportunity to mention most of the things that I have included in this review. The response in relation to the medical issue was not great, but at least the people I spoke to were aware of the situation so that shows there is communication between the staff. Most of the rest of my feedback was well received, even if nothing ever comes of it. The entertainment director seemed the most enthusiastic about taking on board our suggestions in relation to entertainments, such as the karaoke and virtual world (cinema). Most other British passengers I spoke to either at these meetings or elsewhere on the ship had the same concerns as myself in relation to the toilets, food, and lack of entertainment on board in particular. I think these meetings are helpful for passengers to feel listened to in their concerns and ideas for helping MSC improve to meet the needs and expectations of it’s guests and good because I have not seen them on other cruises I have been on (although they may have been there but I didn’t feel the need to attend being much more satisfied with my experiences) It remains to be seen if anything actually comes of it… Obviously, there are many different types of individuals, couples, and groups who travel on cruises, as a youngish couple this was the first time we had travelled that wasn’t just the two of us and I would certainly say it is much easier when we don’t have the kids, even if they are grown up themselves. A few group types require a bit of a mention as to the suitability of this MSC Magnifica cruise for them, as far as I am able to comment: For families with children/under 18’s – rating 3 stars average Not having younger children I can’t say much, but there did seem to be adequate activity for the younger children in clubs, I’m not so sure teenagers would feel as well catered for on here as they would on ships with more adventurous activities such as rock climbing walls and bigger video game arcades. The ship did seem family friendly and there were always a few family activities on the lean activity programme. For solo travellers - rating 2 stars - poor I didn’t see anything for solo travellers mentioned on the daily programme, and I heard someone mention they had struggled with the pricing and packages when booking as a solo traveller. Having been a solo cruiser in the past, I would say Norwegian Cruise line were far more geared up for solo travellers, with solo cabins, special prices and a host of activities/meet-ups specific on the programmer for solo travellers. LGBT – Rating 2 stars - poor My youngest identifies as non-binary and was pleased to see an LGBT meetup on the programme, not once but twice during the week. Unfortunately, this was short lived as it appeared either no-one else turned up or anyone else attending was as clueless as they were as to if they were in the right place, if anyone else was there for that meet-up or were just sitting in the bar having a drink. The bar in which the meet-up was scheduled to take place was split over both sides of the ship and although the programme indicated left/right for those unfamiliar with what would be the left/right of the ship it was not easy to work out if you were in the right place, a better location would be one of the bars with a clearly identifiable meeting point. At one of the crew meetings we asked why these meet-ups were un-hosted and suggested that maybe something could be done to identify the meetup point. It was explained that there had been complaints about being too ‘obvious’ in the past but they liked our suggestion of just putting a small rainbow as a discrete indicator of the meeting point and it is un-hosted as although there are crew who identify as LGBT they didn’t necessarily want this identified to passengers, which is understandable, but at the same time shows how much improvement is still required in the general public in relation to diversity and equality. Hopefully other LGBT passengers find they have a better experience and feel more welcome to be who they are in future. For those with Disabilities/special needs – rating 2-3 stars poor to average (depending on disability I guess) As already mentioned we faced a few issues having a member of our family with autism and epilepsy on this ship. At times the constant flow of announcements in 6 or more languages is overwhelming even for those of us without sensory issues, I feel this persistent flow just after we boarded may have been a contributory factor in my son’s seizure as it could have been a sensory overload for him. In addition, I noticed accessibility issues for disabled passengers with things such as the toilets being difficult to locate, and the corridors being too narrow to get a wheelchair down when the room stewards/cleaners were about (when they were not then it was just about wide enough for wheelchairs, but there seemed to be obstacles more often than there were not). Being aware just how much the medical charges would be for things would be very helpful, apparently these are listed in the medical centre itself, but we didn’t see them there. And of course, we had completed a special needs form to request close cabins which we did not get any response to at all. There was a note in my son’s room when we arrived but other than that we did not get any other acknowledgment or support for him on board. For smokers – Rating 3 stars average As with all ships now, no smoking on balconies and cabins (it doesn’t stop everyone, but I can’t say I’d want to be in a cabin that smells like an ashtray!). For now, at least, there is still smoking on one side of deck 13 and one side of the casino (only when it is operational), these areas are quite well marked so if you do want to smoke you can easily find where you can, or if you want to avoid it you can clearly see and smell where to avoid! Disembarkation – Rating 1 star – terrible I know it might not have been the ships fault that we docked late (although it might have been for all I know, we seemed to be in the port at around the expected time but didn’t dock for ages, so who knows what was going on) but what a shambles! Information about disembarkation was left in the cabins the night before giving luggage labels and a time for attending your meeting point – no option for self-disembarkation, but on asking at guest services I was told we could do this. Our meeting point was the theatre at 9am but we had to be out of our cabins by 8am, (and the clocks needed changing back to UK time which wasn’t mentioned in the information, and we forgot that they had changed when we left!). We kept our luggage to take off ourselves as we didn’t want to get stuck in the terminal waiting to pick up our luggage, and I’m so glad we did this as when we eventually got into the terminal most of the luggage had not been unloaded. In the morning we got up early, went for breakfast in the buffet, then collected our luggage vacating our cabins by 8am. We went straight to the theatre to wait despite it being an hour before our allotted time, expecting to be able to get off at 9am, what else can you do when everything is closed on the ship due to docking and you have all your luggage (which they did have an option for leaving in the ‘Poker lounge’ but then you would just be stuck waiting to get it out of there instead of the terminal). Unfortunately, getting off at 9am wasn’t to be as we hadn’t fully docked yet. In fact, it was around 10 am before we could join the ship long queue of people waiting to get off. You see, by the time we had docked (now very late) and the ship had been given the all clear to allow disembarkation all the other groups were also waiting as their allotted time had come and gone. During the waiting there was a series of short comedy clips playing on the theatre screen, of which we saw the same clips at least 4 times during the wait. Other than that there was nothing to keep people entertained, announcements were infrequent (but repeated in multiple languages as always, and only provided minimal information that we were waiting to be cleared – stating the obvious) and only one member of staff in the theatre to guide people, so you can imagine it was just a free-for-all once they finally said we could get off, no-one paid any attention to being told it was ‘pink’ group to follow the staff member to the exit, everyone just started heading there (those who hadn’t already gone straight for the exits rather than join the rest of us in the theatre. It was such a relief to get off the ship after 2 hours of being stuck, we were lucky as we just had to get on a shuttle back to our port parking, but others missed connections as result of the chaos. Worst disembarkation I have ever experienced, and as Southampton wasn’t even the main stop on this cruise it was definitely the largest number of people getting off, we hadn’t seen hundreds waiting the morning before at the start/end point of Hamburg. Ports/Excursions – Rating 2 stars – poor Most of the ports were heavily industrialised and you needed to head away from them to find the local town or anything of interest, but this is not uncommon around Europe, so isn’t a problem in itself, but if you are looking for picturesque ports you might want to consider Norway instead, or other destinations where you won’t be docked in freight ports! The distance to the local town varied greatly for each port, Le Havre just a 10 minute short walk, Bruges 30 minutes away by coach/shuttle, Amsterdam 30 minute walk, Hamburg 20 minutes coach/shuttle. To be honest I’m not a fan of cruise excursions, they often cost far too much for what in many cases is just a coach ride to a location, but sometimes a necessary evil as it can be hard to work out how to get to some places yourself unless you have been before, or it isn’t far. As such I organised my own excursions/activities for each port and highly recommend others do the same. I will write about those separately and have given them reviews on TripAdvisor. The options available for each port were limited, over-priced and in some cases so far from the port it seemed crazy that people would consider it an ‘excursion’ at all, for example in Le Havre you could get on a coach for around 3-4 hours to go to Paris, with the same length journey back to the ship, you would be lucky if you got 3 hours in Paris itself for your 6 hours plus sat on a coach – no thank you, there are far better and cheaper ways to visit Paris. It’s a shame the focus of excursions is generally to take you away from the port in which you have docked, Le Havre has a rich history of its own that could easily be explored with a guide, walking tour, or as we did a Segway tour (booked privately at a fraction of the cost a ship excursion might charge for such a thing) but there were no options for this. We had to book a ship ‘excursion’ to get to Bruges from the ship, I pre-paid for this before we travelled, and it cost far too much for a 30-minute coach ride to Bruges, and back to the ship. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to have the guide on the coach talking a little bit about Bruges, but it wasn’t worth £41GBP per person. And in Hamburg there was a shuttle bus to the town centre which was 15.90 Euros per person, cheaper but no better value for money and the return was chaos as the shuttle only ran every 45 minutes. We got to the pick-up point to find that it was already full and had to wait for the next one, and by the time that arrived there was already enough people to fill two coaches so half of them would have to wait for the next one again. I suggest looking up local tours, activities, museums etc before you go, buy your tickets online direct or via TripAdvisor and print your self a map of the dock/port area so you can plan out how to get to your chosen activity from the ship once docked. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
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