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562 MSC Cruises Genoa Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise based on the value for the price and the ports of call. The ship itself was nice although there was extensive leaking on the 9th floor the duration of the cruise. The main areas were well maintained and quite clean. ... Read More
We chose this cruise based on the value for the price and the ports of call. The ship itself was nice although there was extensive leaking on the 9th floor the duration of the cruise. The main areas were well maintained and quite clean. The staff was very nice although it seemed that they could use more wait staff in the various bars. The wait time for pool side drinks was quite long and it appeared that there were only 2 waiters on duty at the pool each afternoon. The food left a lot to be desired. We tried eating in the main dining room once and it was a horrific experience both for service and food quality. The buffet was better although there was not a lot of variety. Also lunches were superior to breakfast and dinner. Often there were wait times to get into the buffet both at breakfast and lunch time. Entertainment was very cheesy including their show which was a tribute to Jim Carey’s “The Mask”. After the first day my 10 year old son refused to go to the kids club due to a lack of fun age appropriate activities. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Booked this cruise nearly 2 years ago. I have sailed with MSC a couple of times beforehand so I had an idea what to expect. We embarked at Genoa, as we had stayed overnight in a local hotel we boarded early so that part was very ... Read More
Booked this cruise nearly 2 years ago. I have sailed with MSC a couple of times beforehand so I had an idea what to expect. We embarked at Genoa, as we had stayed overnight in a local hotel we boarded early so that part was very easy. What we did not like was we were hassled to have our photo taken prior to passport control. We told the photographer the we did not want these as we would not buy them as we were in our travelling clothes (not a good memory) in order to get past them we eventually let them take our photos (more on this later in review) On boarding the ship we were impressed with the interior all nice and sparkling, we took our hand luggage to the cabin. First impressions very fairly positive. We got changed and quickly headed for a hot tub as we thought ship was going to get very busy later on. We headed for the buffet, seemed to be a good selection to choose from. Later on we looked at the daily program, this advised as that our 8.00pm dining time had been put back to 8.30pm, so we decided to watch the show. when the show had finished we made our way to the lighthouse restaurant on Deck 6, we met the lady at the front door and she said that we were late and the restaurant was closed. We told her that the program said dinner was at 830 but she did not know this. She called over the restaurant manager and explained the situation. he eventually let us in together with about 50 of us that had also read the program. Food was OK but portions small, as most days the food was warm but not hot. The menu makes food sound spectacular but it is as most places nice patterns on a plate with a bit of sauce applied with an upside down spoon, We went back to cabin to unpack, by this time the bed located in ceiling void was down, only problem was poor design that the ladder stopped the wardrobe door from opening (if wardrobe had been located 1 foot nearer to door the would not have been this problem) Bathroom is small but adequate, nice shower but not enough room to dry yourself. We could not find the bin at first but we eventually found it under sink by giving a panel quite a tug. As the cruise progressed we wanted to try out some of the things on offer on top deck, I wants to do the Himalayan ropes course so I got up there quite early. when it was my turn the chap said where is my blue wristband (I had no idea what he was talking about) he told me to go to reception on deck 5 to get this. (I was not happy) Later in the day I went to reception to get this wristband, reception did not know what I was talking about. I went back up top and saw a different person and he said I had to go to a little table the was hidden by the top of the slides to sign some for of waiver. (I did a ropes course of the Carnival Horizon and there was no such hassle, they even had little lockers to but your pocket stuff in as you were not allowed it on the course). I said can I leave some stuff here but was told this was at my own risk. It was soon noticed that there is a lot of charging for the extra activities. this annoyed me as I had been on the Splendida a couple of years ago and to do the bowling, racing car and 4d cinema was a fixed price of 35 euros for everyone in cabin for the whole cruise (7 days) no such luck on this, MSC operate a thing called fun pass which I think is the wrong choice of phrase. it is not a pass in any way. It is a scheme where you but so much credit a you are given a little extra for free, only trouble is that the racing car is 10 euros a go and only lasts 5 minutes so entertainment will not last long unless you have very deep pockets. the 4D cinema was excellent but again very expensive as was the 10 pin bowling. Only on the last day did I do any of the activities (my son 1 go on the racing car and each of us 1 go on the 4D cinema and boom 15 minutes later you are 25 euros worse off. A few days into the cruise there was a photo package on our bed, we had a very quick look and realised that these were the photos they had taken when we boarded, they looked awful. We put them in the pocket shelf under the TV. A couple of days later. I noticed there was a charge on our account of 35 euros from the photoshop, we went to reception to complain as we found there was also a little slip of paper in this folder that said I had to tick a box to say If I wanted them or not. The reception said that I should fill this in. I pointed out that this practice is unfair, I told them that if I want something I will go to the place, pick it up myself and go and pay for it in the standard tradition. I did say to them that if a were to leave a dirty sock in my cabin with a note inside asking for 10 euros with a tick box yes/no (same difference). Zoe (the in cabin assistant is a total waste of space, less said the better on this so called technology) Plenty of storage space in a relatively small cabin, 2 large wardrobes and a very small safe. Buffet food during the day times could be a bit hit and miss Breakfast was plentiful but the 2 downsides of the buffet are 1/ People wandering aimlessly about, not realizing that a queue is forming 2/ The button to press when you want a drink you might have to press it at least 6 times. We had the Cirque du Soleil including in our booking. It was Ok but nothing to write home about. The Galleria Bellisima is quite spectacular looking but that is about it, the tiny area where entertainment takes place is too small With such a large ship I think they need to have 3 decks of entertainment as the galleria is a huge void of space covering two floors where on smaller ships the are more bars and areas to watch something a little different. This does not exist on the Bellissima so that is a big no from me. The theatre is Ok, thankfully the shows are only 35 minutes long and too samey too much dancing. When shows finish the galleria gets packed very quickly, I found it easier to go up to deck 7 and walkalong With a ship of this I was surprised that we were bobbing up and down from Malta to Barcelona via a sea day. on board Activities via games and quizzes were virtual non existent We had the Easy package which you are limited to Heineken if you wanted a beer, Bar list state 40cl but when you get your drink you find the glass is only just over 3/4 full. We did order a smoothie but when we saw the banana they put in it, there is no way we were going to drink that. Be careful if you have allergies in the MDR as the waiters seem to be a little vague on what this means. 2 on our table had a nut allergy. so the head waiter had to really look after them as some of the items bought out DID contain nuts. My wife booked a hair appointment, she attended on time but was told she was an hour late. they did realize that they were wrong but did not apologize, to a woman getting your hair done is supposed to be a pleasurable thing, but my wife was not happy with this experience. Disembarkation was very easy. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise as it was stopping at ports we wanted to visit on dates when we wished to be away. The Bellissima is a stunning looking ship and has something for everyone. Our cabin was on deck 10 midship and was lovely with a ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was stopping at ports we wanted to visit on dates when we wished to be away. The Bellissima is a stunning looking ship and has something for everyone. Our cabin was on deck 10 midship and was lovely with a balcony, reasonable space and being a new ship did not show any signs of wear and tear. Our cabin steward Genesis was attentive, friendly and always happy to see us. He maintained our cabin beautifully and recognised a particularly special date that we celebrated whilst on board ship. At this location on the ship it was difficult to know whether the ship was moving it was so quiet with no noise from adjoining cabins or fromthe engines. Our allocated restaurant was The Lighthouse on deck 6 excellent choice for us as we had a table for 2. The menu was varied and offered something different every day to suit most requirements. Meals were well presented and of good quality. Service was excellent and the staff who served us each day at table 479 were Carissa and Abdul and are worth a special mention for their professionalism and attention nothing was too much trouble and again went out of their way to celebrate our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Breakfast and lunch served in the Marketplace was a challenge. There was plenty of choice and something for everyone but the shear numbers of diners at any one time made the experience quite stressful. The staff were as efficient and patient as they could be given the logistics of numbers and seats available at any one time. There were good shows on board and plenty of entertainment for all ages. The musicians who played in all of the areas were first class with music choices to suit all tastes we particularly liked the Jazz trio who played each evening on Deck 16. We purchased the Cirque Soleil show and dinner at 40 euros each which was very good value for money . The show was excellent, food very good and Alwyn and his team served everything beautifully so that dinner was served before the show commenced. We have scored food at 3 because of the breakfast and lunch experience. Weather whilst on board ship was not particularly good so consequently much of the outdoors facilities were not in use. They were however very clean and well presented with water facilities to suit all tastes the water park on deck 18 would be great fun for families. We enjoyed our holiday we would cruise again but not for cruising sake but to see particular places that are included in the itinerary. We did not book MSC excursions but instead booked with local providers in Naples we did a tour if Naples and went to Pompei in a small group of 6 with a very knowledgeable guide. In Messina we did the same and rode the cable car to the top of Etna and visited Tourmina. Again an excellent excursion with small numbers and a local guide. Every other port we did our own thing and really enjoyed. This cruise met our expectations and we would consider MSC in the future provided the itinerary met our requirements. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We embarked on at Genoa. The cabin was a good size, the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Everything we needed was at hand. The bathroom although small, served our purpose. Unfortunately Zoe was unresponsive. The ship is ... Read More
We embarked on at Genoa. The cabin was a good size, the bed and pillows are very comfortable. Everything we needed was at hand. The bathroom although small, served our purpose. Unfortunately Zoe was unresponsive. The ship is beautiful and lived up to the hype. The personnel were friendly and courteous at all times. I know the waitrons and entertainment personnel work exceptionally hard in ensuring the client enjoys the experience. Our dining experience was good. We had interactive personnel which we appreciated and engaged with every evening. Food was excellent as well. We unfortunately missed out on the captain’s dinner since we attended the Circ du Solei performance which was entertaining. The buffet areas were a bit noisy, but then that is expected. We only did one excursion and that was to Pompeii, which was well organized. The downside was we were not able to enter certain sections since the operators had not informed the tour operators in their new times. We will most definitely plan our next MSC cruise Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
4th cruise with MSC, first time divina. (before: music/fantasia/splendida). Always nice cruises, otherwise wouldn't have booked a 4th cruise :). Sailed from Genoa to Venice. Balcony state room fantastic (11094). Also booked the ... Read More
4th cruise with MSC, first time divina. (before: music/fantasia/splendida). Always nice cruises, otherwise wouldn't have booked a 4th cruise :). Sailed from Genoa to Venice. Balcony state room fantastic (11094). Also booked the premium drank package at 39€/day. The cabin: Room was like we knew from previous cruises but this time no curtain at the shower but a shower door. Improvement! The cabin steward who normally is somewhere around, especially on the boarding day, wasn't there. And in the end, we never saw him during the whole cruise. All other cabin stewards we saw daily, but ours...??? although room was kept clean and towels were changed twice a day, but room was never prepared for the night like we were used to have on previous cruises with MSC. (curtains closed/beds opened/towels replaced/last checks/...). And then the last night...nothing at all. Even no fresh towels. It was like if for MSC on the last night you are no longer welcome... Was this a big problem? No, but you except the same level of service for your entire cruise. Dinner: 1st thing to do was to change dinner seating. Dinner booked online on msc page: 2nd seating but cruise card mentioned 1st seating so up to the Maitre D to change into 2nd. Changed with no comment. Then it was time to use the cruise card/drink package. Bars: Premium package entitles you all drinks on the menu up to 10€. So let's start with a Paulaner Hefeweizen. After the first one asked for a second. "Sorry, out of stock". De bar on the other side still had one (or more...) So far no problem. Then ordered a prosecco superiore. This is not the standard prosecco you get with the easy package. "Sorry out of stock". This went on for the entire cruise. Not everything on the menu seems available in the bar...even if you ask for a mixer with a premium brand vodka/gin/whisky/...you should stay close to the bartender to make sure he uses the ordered brand. Is this a big problem? No, but if MSC sells you a package with the promise you can order drinks up to 10€ they should deliver. Otherwise it is wiser to stay with the cheap drink package. The daily shows: 1st I would like fellow passengers to remind that they have 2 x the same show a night in order to offer everybody to join a show before (for the 2nd seating) or after (for the 1st seating) dinner. So please don't join after the show has started and if you come late don't want to grab a chair in the middle of a line so you want people to stand up and let you pass. Thank you :) The show on the first night was a tribute to tina turner. Music and singing was OK. Dancers were doing their thing. The show on the second night were Italian songs. Same dancers. Became already a little annoying. The show on the third night: singing an the same dancers. We left after the third song and didn't return the rest of the cruise since the program mentioned singing and dancing again. Shows on previous cruises were beter: some singing/some dancing/some acrobatics/some magic/some theatre/...but not only singing and dancers. Is this a big problem? No, but variety is more then welcome?!? The dinners: We knew what to expect but this time food was really flavorless. And the problem with the wine was that they give you the wine menu (premium package, remember :)) but it is hard to get the chosen wine... We had the impression that the food at the buffet restaurant was better this time than in the restaurant. But the most inconvenient was the dinner on the night we were at Palma the Mallorca. Since the schip only left at 23:30 they decided for an open seating dinner. Thus: not at your table and maybe even not in your restaurant. The waiters couldn't follow at all since at once all passengers seemed to have decided to dine at around 20:30 or so...what a disaster! My advice to MSC: keep the seatings like they are. If yo are not on board for the time of your seating -> you go to the buffet. Easy no? Is this a big problem? No, but rather inconvenient and stress for as well waiters as for the passengers. All this made it a rather strange cruise. Did we enjoy it? YES, we were on holiday but we had made better experiences with MSC. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
wanted to try the yacht club experience and do not regret! The only thing we missed was an indoor pool or indoor Jacuzzi for the Yachtclub. We also found the yachtclub restaurant way to far from the yachtclub cabins.You have to walk all ... Read More
wanted to try the yacht club experience and do not regret! The only thing we missed was an indoor pool or indoor Jacuzzi for the Yachtclub. We also found the yachtclub restaurant way to far from the yachtclub cabins.You have to walk all the way to the other side of the ship. Food was very fine, but not realy special. The gala night had a very simple menu. The waiters are very friendly in the Muze! The ship is beautiful, The staff very friendly. The shows are good but just not that good as the MSC seaside. The decoration of the shows is quiet simple. The Casino is great. Very little smell from the smoking area. We didn't do any organised excursions. In Palermo. The hop on Hop of that was great to see the city. In Cagliari we just took the bus up the hill to Porcel to visit the beautiful kathedral and walked all the way down. We have already been to Rome. A good alternative for Civitavecchia is taking a taxi to the Tenuta dell'Argento restaurant at 10 minutes drive from the city. It is a farm in the countryside we you have the best fresh meat restaurant. If I would go again on a cruise with Msc, but always in Yachtclub. All the rest is to crowded. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We previously cruised on Costa, Carnival and Holland America as suite guests. We purchased a suite on MSC. This time there was no champagne in the cabin, no daily fresh fruit, no coffee and no hair conditioner. And no folded towel animals ... Read More
We previously cruised on Costa, Carnival and Holland America as suite guests. We purchased a suite on MSC. This time there was no champagne in the cabin, no daily fresh fruit, no coffee and no hair conditioner. And no folded towel animals :-) One of the mirrors was making a rattling noise in rough seas when the boat was rocking. Needless to say the noise was keeping us awake at night. Cabin server did not pay attention to details. I had to call Guest services to have hand soap refilled, bath towels and bathroom floor rug delivered. He was not picking up drink glasses that we were bringing from a bar. There were times when the glasses were sitting on the table for two days. Excursions were nice and most of the tour guides were very knowledgeable. We didn’t care for the tour guide in Marseille- Ola or Olga. Her English was not great and she was sometimes out of words. We were surprised she was not better prepared for the excursion. Her English vocabulary was poor. Shows were excellent and I gave MSC a score of 10 for their entertainment. You will enjoy their evening shows! Food - food presentation was 7-8 on the scale. Portions are really small. Breakfast and lunch for suite guests were the weakest areas. We had breakfast 4 times in a private restaurant but gave up after the 4th day because omelettes didn’t have the ingredients that we ordered and light Pepsi and orange juice were not delivered. So we started going to the buffets. Spa - I had 2 massages and a facial. Bali massage was great but the hot stone not so much. There was no music for the first 20 minutes because the system was down. I sent the massage therapist to the front desk twice to ask about it because all I was listening to was the sound of the blinds hitting the window frame. Hot stones were getting cold and the technician was not removing them so I was cold. When I walked in, the room was cold. The technician told me she was cold. So how was I supposed to relax when my feet turned into icicles? The temperature should have been much higher. Facial - they don’t have the arm that releases steam and warms up skin. Basic setup. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We booked all inclusive package for couple (3 massages p/p). When we tried to schedule our massages the spa reception lady told us that they cannot accommodate the time when we wanted to have our massage. She gave us all the rubbish times ... Read More
We booked all inclusive package for couple (3 massages p/p). When we tried to schedule our massages the spa reception lady told us that they cannot accommodate the time when we wanted to have our massage. She gave us all the rubbish times instead (our scheduled dinner time). She said they are fully booked. But how can they be fully booked when they are offering discounted massages everyday. The couple we met on this cruise who cruises regularly said to us that it's better not to book it in advance because they will give you a schedule according to your liking if you book it right there and then and they have discounts everyday anyway. Spa is basic, just 3 thermal rooms. No jacuzzi or whatsoever. Food is average. Not too bad. Not that great either. Bathrobes not available unless you pay extra hundred pounds (available for aurea guests only). Do not get the fantasia upgrade, there are travel companies who can give you free water at bella experience. Fantasia is not worth it unless u wanted a Mediterranean breakfast delivered to your room everyday (just croissants, bread, jam, cereals). Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We booked this cruise a year in advance with an inside guarantee quad cabin. We were given a free upgrade to an outside cabin with a porthole #5078. Room was well laid out, enough room for us and 2 teenagers. The couch lifted to form a ... Read More
We booked this cruise a year in advance with an inside guarantee quad cabin. We were given a free upgrade to an outside cabin with a porthole #5078. Room was well laid out, enough room for us and 2 teenagers. The couch lifted to form a bunk bed. Shower was larger then other cruises. We had mid dining 730 and ate every night in the dining room. Because we are from the states, msc included free bottled water while in dining room during lunch and dinner. We did late shows every night and loved all the singers and dancers. The pools and water slides were nice. Had fun doing the bridges. The shops on board offer designer labels and prices! They really push drink packages. We opted to save money and just go with what is included. Odd- no coffee in dining room with desert during dinner time. Buffet was good selection. They automatically add a donation to UNICEF on your account everyday that will be removed if you call down and ask for it to be. We pre purchased internet package 4gb for 4 devices that worked for our family for the week. Signal was good enough for chatting with clients and checking emails - not enough to stream. Food in dining was good - no lobster (available as an upcharge.) No menu posted for dining room as with other ships but we asked each night to see the next night menu so we could decide buffet or dining room. We ended up eating every night in the dining room. For such a large ship, tons of elevators and never had to wait long. People embark and disembark at each port of call. Smooth process both times. FYI- need to be out of room the day you leave by 8am. We planned a later flight thinking it would take longer. We were off the ship with luggage in hand by 930am. All and all I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Summary: Good vs. Bad These are just things to be aware of - some of them aren‘t easily changeable, some are management issues. Good Food quality in the buffet restaurant. Really quite new and showing it. Cirque du Soleil ... Read More
Summary: Good vs. Bad These are just things to be aware of - some of them aren‘t easily changeable, some are management issues. Good Food quality in the buffet restaurant. Really quite new and showing it. Cirque du Soleil on board. Bad Ship design and construction: There are many issues with the way the ship was designed and built that I found to be quite negative as compared to other ships I‘ve been on. Customer-facing personnel: Unfortunately, the few black sheep amongst the crew really pull the average down, though the people we dealt with generally seemed subdued. Ship interior is quite drab. My Take: There are other ships and other companies out there... The Ship The Meraviglia is huge - at the time of our cruise, I believe it was the second biggest cruise ship in the world, taking on up to 5.714 passengers at fully booked (which likely rarely happens, as this means 4 to a cabin for many cabins on the ship). We had a good size comparison to an older MSC ship in La Valletta (the „Sinfonia“) and the difference is just stupendous. With its Christening in June, 2017, it had just over a year and a half of service under its belt when we were on it. The condition of the ship is in line with its age. Our cruise was in the 3rd week of February in the Mediterranean, so likely the ship was not near booked solid. We didn’t get stats like „passengers on board“, unfortunately, and interestingly, people got on and off at nearly every port we stopped at. There are several aspects to this ship that make me subjectively think they have to do with the French manufacturer. I‘m not a great fan of French technology products and this ship makes this feeling all the more assertive. The creaking in the cabin (remember, it‘s a pretty new ship) and the odd, intermittent shuddering or continuous vibration despite absolutely reasonable wave levels gives me the impression that the engineering that went into the ship isn‘t on par with other builders. In fact, it brought back a memory from high school Physics class, where we watched a video of the Tacoma Narrows bridge getting driven into its resonance frequency by a storm and then basically „exploding“. Not a nice thought and certainly not a noise to make you sleep well without ear plugs. While then central Promenade with a projection ceiling is a nice touch, reminding me of some casinos or even the downtown area in Las Vegas. The possibilities of such a projection screen are not utilized fully, in my opinion. Think of the Venetian, where a complete day/night cycle is gone through every half hour or so, it would have been simple and a real added value to make more of this feature here on board. The rest of the ship is rather drab. The staircases (which we used frequently - who needs a stairmaster?) have identical pictures all the way from the bottom to the top and the carpeting is held in the same rust color. I‘m not a fan of overly colorful interiors, but this is boring even for me. You have the occasional piece of art (mostly around the reception area) and one or two other highlights, but really, the ship is poorly decorated. The same goes for many of the bars. A real downer is the „Studio Bar“ - seldom have I seen a place so lacking in luster. On the other side of the promenade, the "pub" tries to add some flair and comes fairly close to looking like a British pub, though it looks like one that was just built and never used before. This is a shame - a touch of relicing would really have gone a long way here. Another negative aspect to the ship‘s construction is the way the movement of groups is restricted. As an example: all the ships we were on before (Celebrity, Norwegian and Costa) have had multiple entrances into resp. out of the main theater. This ship only has a single way out. If you‘re not sitting at the top, don‘t bother getting up until the masses have pushed their way through the catheract of an exit. It really isn‘t a pleasant experience. Lets hope there is never a mass panic in this theater or there will likely be people trampled to death. The same goes for the Carousel Lounge, where they have Cirque du Soleil performances 6 nights a week. The only entrance to the theater is through the casino. This is annyoing for two reasons: for one, the casino is a smoking zone, and while the air is obviously vigurously exchanged you still smell it quite clearly. It is also annoying if you‘re with kids, because you will be told quite rudely that you can‘t be standing near any of the gambling machines even if you‘re behind the cordon that at least optically separates the entrance to the theater from the casino floor. The impression that employees of MSC are less happy about their jobs comes across too often. From people that deal with customers being rude or just unfriendly to being told that „this is the first time working for MSC and hopefully the last“, one gets the impression that MSC is not a company with the best people management, nor one that educates customer-facing employees on the proper way to deal with those that, at the end of the day, pay their wages. The Cabin The cabin (we were in 10212) is modern and - at first glance - spacious for this category. However, that spaciousness comes at a cost: there is very little room to put stuff, especially when the couch is converted to bunk beds. Essentially, you have a double sliding door closet with hangers and a few shelves. The only drawer is in the desk, and a good quarter of it is taken up by the hair dryer. Other ships we‘ve been on provided a whole series of drawers next to the desk and cubbyholes around the TV. The bunk beds that are made out of the two-seater couch are fullsize single beds, the best I‘ve seen in a standard cabin. These come at a price, however - the unneeded upholstery from the couch goes under the bed, which leaves less space for your luggage. In fact, we weren‘t even able to fit two medium-size, upright suitcases under the bed without one of them sticking out about 10cm. Luckily, our kids had cabin-size suitcases with them, otherwise we would have been stumped at a place to put them. The bathroom is the most modern I‘ve seen (then again, the ship is quite new) and quite spacious. The shower is great, with a glass door and large enough to not feel cramped. Two drawbacks: the air is - as is the case in every cruise ship I‘ve been on - sucked out of the cabin here (which makes sense), but apparently the opening is so small that the sucking noise is very loud. It is so loud that inside you can‘t hear that people are conversing in the cabin, much less what they are saying. The other drawback is that there is no built-in nightlight, something we‘ve had in older ships. I can‘t think of any reason not to put a nightlight into a modern bathroom, but it fits with my general opinion of the ship‘s planning and construction. Because we‘ve had ships before without a nightlight in the bathroom (mind you: older ones), I had brought one with me. Unfortunately, the same „reasoning“ used throughout the ship’s design has been applied to the receptacle in the bathroom as to many other aspects of the ship: when you turn the lights off in the bathroom, the power is turned off here, too. How annoying is that? So: no nightlight. Nor can you charge your shaver overnight. Oddly enough, the TV works even without a keycard in the central power switch... There are two European (Schuko) outlets, a USB charging outlet and two US-style outlets at the desk - and the shaver outlet (110/220V) in the bathroom that turns off with the light switch. That‘s it. The cabin door provided absolutely zero sound proofing towards the hallway, which is unfortunate when you have neighbors that find it adequate to have a conversation right in front of your door at nearly midnight. Actually, you get a lot of audio from everywhere around you - subjectively a lot more than on other (older!) ships. Put that on the „bad design“ list. What also surprised me in a negative way is the poor air circulation. When you have a small cabin with four people sleeping in it, continuously getting fresh air into the cabin is absolutely imperative. In spite of the very loud suction noise in the bathroom, either the air fed into the cabin wasn‘t fresh or there simply wasn‘t enough of it, as the air quality in the morning was attrocious. This is an issue I‘ve had on no other cruise ship, not even ones as old as the Norwegian Jade! Poor ship design, once again. Food - Marketplace Buffet As our kids are not old enough to enjoy a sit-down dinner, we mostly ate at the buffet restaurant. While the food quality is really very good (better,subjectively, than on the Costa ships we were on), it is very limited in variability, all stations basically seem to have 90% identical food every day - for both, lunch and dinner - with variance only in things like the rotissary meat or salads. It is perhaps an unfair comparison to make, but if you consider the unbelievable choice in food we found on the Celebrity Constellation, this ship’s buffet restaurant comes across like a food court at a shopping mall. Unfortunately, it is way too busy for making for a pleasant meal: as with many other cruise ship buffet restaurants, the „Marketplace Buffet“ on the Meraviglia is often packed to the hilt. Sometimes, we weren’t even able to find seating anywhere. Especially beverage stations can be annoying, not only because there are obviously too few of them, but also because especially coffee seems to run out frequently. When the coffee isn‘t out, the coffee cups are. One morning, the cups were out at every station I squeezed my way to! Picking up used plates and silverware - or wiping down a table - is also something that can be improved on. It sometimes seems that there are more people walking idly around to provide (paid) bar service than people to do basic restaurant service. Unfortunately, this was also the case when the buffet wasn‘t as busy, which is disappointing. Food - L‘Olivio d‘Oro Restaurant We only visited the assigned restaurant once, without our kids. As we later found it, it was a specialty evening and the food was quite good, albeit not extraordinary. The table we were at was oddly US football-shaped and the two of us found sitting in this configuration to be a strange experience. Unfortunately, the noise level in the restaurant is so high, that aside from the friendly personnel serving your dinner at our table, we didn‘t see much of an advantage over the buffet restaurant, especially since there apparently isn‘t a kids menu (this we heard from other people). The Shows We visited both Cirque du Soleil shows: Viaggio and Sonor in the „Cocktail & Show“ variant. Without knowing the menu, we were glad not to have booked the dinner & show version, as you simply sit at tables around the circular stage and listen to guitar music while eating. Unfortunately, here too we found employees dealing with customers that would better be placed in the kitchen or in the engine room. You are led to your table by a waiter. The table number is on the paper tickets you get the night before in your cabin, and you pass by a table that holds various drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, which are the cocktails for the evening. An older gentleman in group before us was yelled at by the waiter „one drink per person, one drink per person!“ when he picked up the drink for his wife with his other hand (she was right next to him, not carrying a glass). Not a good impression. Both shows were a flurry of impressions and really quite good, though both were completely different. For small children, Viaggio is your better choice - at least our kids liked it better than Sonor (and I did, too), but both are impressive. Beside Cirque du Soleil, we also took in a very good live music and dance show and a magician. Pools + Other Entertainment There are various pools on the 15th and 16th decks, as well as several hot tubs. One pool and one hot tub are in an enclosed area (with a roof that can slide to the side). Due to the air temperature, we really only used the indoor pool, though this only made sense at offpeak times. With just one pool indoors, you can imagine how crowded it got at other times. The ship also has what they call the „Himalayan Bridge“ (a rope walking parcours) and a cool-looking waterslide that takes you over the side of the ship for part of the „ride“. The rope walking parcours is pretty cool - I did it with both kids, though you really have to hang on to your camera up there when the wind blows (and anything else that isn't attached to you)! Unfortunately, it was only available while docked. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Overall, this was an enjoyable cruise and I would sail on MSC again. My husband and I sailed with our 13 mo daughter and both sets of grandparents (in their 70s). We have all cruised several times on a variety of cruise lines. This was ... Read More
Overall, this was an enjoyable cruise and I would sail on MSC again. My husband and I sailed with our 13 mo daughter and both sets of grandparents (in their 70s). We have all cruised several times on a variety of cruise lines. This was our first time on MSC. EMBARKATION: We spent a week traveling around Italy prior to making our way to Genoa, where we embarked. We found the locals in Genoa to be the least friendly (and some even hostile) to tourists, compared to the rest of Italy. We were glad we were only spending one night there. The port itself was quite confusing. We took the metro to the stop close to the port. Once we arrived, there were very few signs. We followed what signs there were, which sent us upstairs, only to have to go back downstairs to drop our luggage off. Luggage drop off was not labeled. We ended up at a tent that looked like the right place, only to be told (after waiting a few minutes) that we were in the Yacht Club drop off. Steerage passengers needed to just leave their luggage in the road. It was a little odd. But we eventually got it to the right place and got ourselves on the ship. Our luggage arrived without issue, despite our misgivings. Once embarked, there was definitely a push for up-selling drinks and dining packages, but the staff members left us alone when we declined. We were able to immediately drop off our hand luggage in our rooms and head up to the buffet for lunch. All in all, it took us about an hour to get from the port entrance to lunch at the buffet. So despite the lack of signage and the confusion about luggage drop-off, it was a relatively quick and easy process. SHIP: The ship was stunning and always clean. There are multiple dome shows daily and it's worth catching at least one. The area that felt the most crowded was the Bamboo Pool area and the buffet (partially because they would block off parts of the buffet seating at various times). DINING: BUFFET: There was always seating at the very back of the buffet--even during peak times. The lines there seemed to be the shortest, as well. The stations repeat themselves a handful of times throughout the buffet, so there's no need to stand in a long line at the beginning of the buffet. Staff members from the pay-for-restaurants would walk around asking if we wanted to make reservations for dinner that night. Again, they left us alone when we declined. We found breakfast at the buffet to be one of the best meals of the day. There was a good variety of food, although it did not vary from day to day. There was an omelette station, a ham carving station, eggs, bacon/sausage, yogurt, fruit, cereals, muesli, Asian rice and noodles or dumplings, pancakes, waffles, sticky buns, etc. Lunch at the buffet was also pretty good. The pizza, pasta, and fresh mozzarella were always delicious. A few members of our group had pizza that had been sitting out for awhile and it wasn't as good as the fresh slices. There was also a salad station, bread, carving station, and a variety of dishes of the day, some of which were good, some not. The mass-produced desserts were similar to other cruise lines--usually not delicious, but ok. There were a few that were really enjoyable. MDR: We ate dinner in the MDR each night. Our waiters were very friendly, but hadn't been trained as well as on other cruise lines. They weren't trained to pay attention to details or anticipate needs. Some nights there would be butter for the bread, but no butter knife. Other nights there were small dishes for olive oil and vinegar, but no olive oil and vinegar. Some nights there would be a place setting for the baby, other nights there wasn't (there was always a high chair). The staff were always responsive when asked to do something, but failed to anticipate needs. Not a deal breaker, but something the training could improve upon. The food quality was inconsistent. Some nights the food was really good (ie the mushroom risotto), others it was quite bland or even not good (ie the prawns). CABIN: We had an inside cabin that was relatively spacious. Obviously smaller than ocean view or balcony rooms, but larger than the one other inside cabin we've had on another cruise line. The bathroom was small, but well designed. Our cabin steward was very attentive and always called our baby by her name when he saw her. THEATER SHOWS: There was a really great variety of shows ranging from rock to opera to flamenco. The dancers and singers were more talented than I've seen on other cruise lines. The singers did sing in English with an accent, but overall put on excellent performances. The one miss was when they had the opera tenor sing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" during a tribute show. Opera just isn't the right style for Sinatra. On the sea day, there was an opera, which was really well done in less than an hour. They had some subtitles, but they were intermittent. Unclear why they didn't provide full subtitles, which would have made it even better. GYM: The gym was small and crowded no matter when we went (early morning, mid-day, or evening). There's a waiver that has to be signed to use the gym, but they didn't ask us to sign it until our last day. ROPES COURSE/WATER SLIDES: There's also a waiver that has to be signed to participate in the ropes course and water slides. There are no signs to advertise this, so you could end up waiting in line for some time, only to find out that you had to go two decks down (to the Sportsplex) to sign the waiver and get your wristband before being allowed to participate. Once the wristband was obtained, both the ropes course and water slides were fun. The waits were never very long. POOLS: The outdoor pool didn't get much use given highs in the mid 50s to low 60s for most of the cruise. The indoor Bamboo Pool was almost always packed when we saw it. At one point on the sea day, there was a 15 person line for one of the hot tubs in the Bamboo room. This is likely less of an issue in the summer/warmer climate as passengers are more willing to use both the indoor and outdoor pools. GUEST SERVICES: I'd read several very negative reviews about Guest Services, but had no issues with their services. I went to Guest Services twice. Once was to have the UNICEF donation removed. The line was short and they were quick to comply. The second time was the last night of the cruise at 22:00. We found the embarkation pictures in our room, but left them there based on what other reviewers have said. The last night, we read the fine print that we were to return them to our cabin steward 48 hrs before the end of the cruise or we'd be charged. As we were packing up the last night, we saw this and I thought we'd have to eat the $E30 since we hadn't returned them, but thought I'd give Guest Services a try. I got in a line of about 10 people, but there was a guest services team member going through the line asking people what their issues where. He redirected me to the Photo Shop. I figured I was really out of luck at that point given the late hour, but they were still open and quick to take back my photos and refund the money. PORTS: As others have said, the published port hours are different than what actually happens--by up to an hour on both sides. For example, we were to arrive in Barcelona at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 6:00 p.m., but we arrived at 8:00 a.m. and left at 5:30 p.m. This is important to keep in mind if buying timed tickets for something in port. Civitavecchia: There's a free port shuttle from the port to the city. There are many taxistas waiting where the shuttle drops passengers off ready to take passengers to Rome and show them the sites. They were quite persistent despite declining their offers, then offended when they finally realized we weren't interested. We walked the mile or so to the train station and took the train into Rome for the day. Round trip it was Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I have taken more than 50 cruises on nine different cruise lines, but this was my first cruise with MSC, and the new Meraviglia was a very pleasant surprise. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship with a very polite and helpful crew. I had ... Read More
I have taken more than 50 cruises on nine different cruise lines, but this was my first cruise with MSC, and the new Meraviglia was a very pleasant surprise. It is an absolutely gorgeous ship with a very polite and helpful crew. I had seen all the western Mediterranean ports on our itinerary before, but they are some of my favorites. I will give you ideas on what to expect on your cruise and how to enjoy each port on your own, at minimal expense. Because this review is so long, I will divide it into sections so you can skip to the parts that interest you. THE SHIP: The MSC Meraviglia is enormous, one of the largest cruise ships in the world at 171k tons, with more than 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. The interiors are stunning, mostly white and shades of gray in the public areas and muted colors in the cabins, with none of the cheesy decor that one often sees on low priced cruise ships. There is a good online video from MSC that will give you a look at the Meraviglia's elegant (contemporary Italian design) interiors. The deck plans are standard for the industry, with a few exceptions. Long hallways are zig-zagged into shorter segments, and the two elevator silos (forward and midship) are in alcoves, which can be confusing as one exits them. The open deck was too cold and windy to be enjoyed midwinter, so I cannot comment on how well the pools, sundecks, and jogging track might function in a tropical environment. The spa and gym are separated, and the gym is relatively small for such a large ship. As a result, the usual complimentary stretch and exercise programs had to be given among the chairs in the public lounges since there is no aerobics area in the gym. There is a large indoor basketball/soccer court separate from the gym, a court that was rarely used on this cruise but is probably busy during school vacations. I did not use the spa so I cannot comment on its services or prices. As on other ships, most dining, entertainment, bars, and lounges are clustered on decks 6 and 7. The central promenade between these two decks is open and its ceiling is covered with an enormous LCD screen that provides glamour in the daytime and entertaining sound and light shows each evening. The best place to view these LCD shows is from the balcony on deck 7 at either end of the promenade. MSC uses similar large LCD screens instead of the usual stage scenery in its main theater and circus lounge, and also next to its open-deck pool. This is ingenious and entertaining, and is one of the highlights on this ship. Kids of all ages will love the effect. The atrium spans decks 5 though 7 and sparkles with millions of glass crystals embedded in its spiral staircases. Similar sparkle is present in the walls shelving wine bottles outside some of the dining rooms. Reception and cruise services are clustered on deck 5. I found the personnel there were very helpful and efficient. Waiting lines for these services are common on a ship this size, but the lines moved quickly on the Meraviglia. As an aside, we experienced two nights with hurricane force winds (72 knots actual, 83 knots perceived, Beaufort scale 12) and the ship handled them with ease. There was minimal list in spite of the ship's enormous wind profile, and I felt minimal rocking and no pitching in my upper deck cabin, which was far above the ship's center of gravity. There was the usual thud of the hull against waves that one hears in severe weather, but no noise from structural flexing. I felt very safe and would trust this ship to be comfortable even on a transatlantic itinerary. FELLOW PASSENGERS: On this western Mediterranean itinerary the passengers were an enjoyable mix of nationalities -- something I enjoy when I travel in Europe. Based on overheard languages, I estimate that about 20% were native English speakers, 20% Chinese or Japanese, 5% Russian or South Asian, and 55% an equal mix of European languages (Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and French). Announcements are multilingual but reasonably infrequent. Ironically, the Japanese and Chinese announcements were the easiest to understand because they were done by native speakers. The European languages were sometimes less clear because they were often rushed and given by non-native speakers. In this age of smartphone apps and smart TVs (each cabin has a smart TV), MSC would be wise to give all (except its safety and emergency) announcements via smartphone or TV. The ship already has a TV channel in each language where announcements and updates could be posted. Overhead announcements could be limited to one sentence in each language, giving the topic and referring passengers to their smart devices for further info. Also, most announcements are standard in content and could be pre-recorded at reasonable speed by native speakers. In any case, the variety of nationalities and languages is one of the pleasures of traveling abroad. If you want a Disney version of the world, then stay home. CHILDREN: I am not fond of children running loose on cruise ships, which is one of the reasons I chose a midwinter departure. Another bonus is that we were the only cruise ship docked in each port, and each port was relatively free of tourist crowds during the off-season. Our cruise had about one or two hundred children at most, preschool age or Australians on school summer holidays. The children were easily accommodated by the extensive play areas and children's programs on this ship. The school holiday calendar and a ship's quota on younger passengers is something to consider whenever booking cruise. CREW: All crew members I met were very polite and did their jobs very well. Even though this is an Italian cruise line, the crew were of diverse nationalities and usually used English as their common language. A special effort is made to provide some crew members for each language group, although passengers and crew were not always matched in this regard in the dining rooms or cabins. The ship is new, and it is maintained spotlessly clean by an excellent housekeeping staff. The officers are not as visible as on some other cruise lines, although opportunities are made to introduce high ranking officers to passengers. This is a non-issue for me as long as the junior officers maintain the safety standards of the ship so that fires and evacuations can be handled well in an emergency. CABINS: MSC is unusual in that it has relatively uniform cabins over four cabin grades called "experiences" -- Bella, Fantastica, Wellness, and Aurea-- based on what amenities are included at each price level. In addition, there are are the Yacht Club cabins, which I believe are not that much nicer than standard cabins but are isolated in a locked area of the ship with special dining, decks, and lounges (corresponding with the old first class). You can read further about this system on the MSC website. I was fortunate in that I applied to MSC and was ultimately given reciprocity (MSC gold status) to correspond with my elite status on some other cruise lines. In addition, I booked this cruise relatively late before departure when the price was so low that I thought it must be an error, but fortunately was real. It was by far the most "bang for the buck" that I have had on any cruise. I also got the 12 free drink vouchers with my Fantastica level cabin, a bonus that will be discontinued in late March 2019. My upper deck mid-ship Fantastica grade balcony cabin was absolutely beautiful. It was a little larger than the standard for the industry. Most of the extra space was devoted to a long (2m) sofa that could be converted to a queen size bed for two more adults. The cabin came with all the usual amenities, but no robes and no body lotion, so bring your own if needed. The bathroom was compact but had a shower large enough for almost anyone. The balcony was large enough for two standard chairs and one ottoman/table. The glass wall of the cabin and glass railing of the balcony offered beautiful views. Given the choice, I think that a starboard cabin provides nicer views in most ports on this itinerary. I did not realize how enjoyable a balcony view can be, even in winter, in this part of the world. For those with an inside cabin, there are two TV channels showing the view to the port and the starboard sides of the ship, which is an improvement over the usual single forward-facing bridge-cam channel. My cabin was especially well-maintained by my cabin steward. After a severe wind storm that coated my balcony with sea salt, the huge glass windows were immaculate the very next day. I did not go on a cabin crawl on this ship, so I cannot comment on the inside cabins or the suites. My cabin was a wonderful respite in the evenings, when the public areas and the entertainment venues tended to get too loud for my taste, as is too common on cruise ships. I do not understand why louder entertainment is considered better. To me, louder entertainment just sounds more amateur. DINING: The food on the Meraviglia is usually good to excellent, with only a few disappointments. For me the buffet breakfasts were by far the best meal of the day, equal to or better than that of any other cruise ship. The light and flaky croissants are some of the best I have ever had. The meats, fruits, cereals, and eggs at breakfast are all very good. The waffles (tough and soggy) and the orange drink (real orange juice is available at a surcharge) were breakfast disappointments on this cruise. I cannot comment on the coffee and tea, since I tried neither. There is only one sea day on this itinerary, so I tried the buffet lunch once and the dining room lunch once (I skipped Rome because of heavy rain and the usual transportation hassle of going from Civitavecchia port to Rome and back). The dining room lunch menu is limited but good, and the buffet lunch on the Rome day featured the best beef (rare filet mignon) of the cruise. The afternoon buffet snacks are also good, although the pizzas are surprisingly soggy rather than crisp. No free ice cream is available in the buffet (it is a favorite of mine on other ships), but very good ice cream at dinner in the main dining rooms is free. The food and service in the main dining rooms (based on my limited experience) is not up to the level of that on other cruise ships. The menu tends to be limited compared with other cruise lines (one appetizer, one soup, one salad). Upscale choices (lamb, beefsteak, lobster, salmon, etc.) are absent, although some of them can be purchased with a surcharge of about 15-20 euros. The fish is invariably the best main course on the menu, in small portions but perfectly prepared. The beef at dinner was often a disappointment on this cruise. The "chef's special" prime rib, for example, was a thin slice of lean, over-cooked beef that was as tough as leather. My waiter offered to bring me another item from the menu, but I was already running late for a show I had reserved. Similarly disappointing, the veal shank was a large cross-section of bone with a scant rim of meat along one edge. The dining room service is also not on par with other cruise lines for several reasons, and not the waiters' fault. There are fixed dining times -- early or late. Only the most expensive cabins have the freedom of flexible dining times. Diners are supposed to arrive within 15 minutes of their designated time, but they tended to wander in gradually. With flexible dining, a table fills quickly and the service begins promptly. With a fixed dining time, I usually spent the first 20 minutes eating bread until there were enough diners at his station for the waiter to start service. There are no sommeliers in the dining rooms, but if you enjoy wine and know your labels, you will do fine. There are multiple choices of wine by the glass in each major category (red, white, rose, sparkling). Unfortunately, the waiters are delayed in starting service in part because they show newly embarked diners to their assigned tables. Also, table assignments did not make sense on my cruise. Waiters' native language often did not match that of their diners. Worst of all, my waiter and his assistant were at a work station up one level and around the corner from my table even though my table was just a few feet away from another waiter's work station. My waiter had no way to anticipate my needs or see any of my requests. Finally, all waiters are burdened with bulky touch screen tablets the size of a library book. Most restaurant waiters make written notes at table and then enter them into a computer at their work stations. Entering each order in the computer as it is given slows down the entire process. If MSC spent just a little more on ingredients (especially the beef), trained and assigned waiters in a logical way, and allowed dinner service to start promptly and progress efficiently, dining on the Meraviglia could be second to none. The one thing that disappointed me the most in the main dining room was the absence of free drinking water. If one wants to drink water at dinner, one must pay for it -- a new bottle of water with each dinner. If only half of the 4,500 passengers have water with dinner, that generates more than 800,000 bottles of plastic waste every year, not to mention the fossil fuel wasted in shipping bottled water to various ports. Since water is free in the buffet area, making bottled water a requirement in the dining rooms is hypocrisy for a cruise line that claims to be environmentally sensitive. Bottled water should be available for purchase in all venues for those who need it, but it should not be the only source of water in any venue. DRESS: The Meraviglia passengers were well-dressed (no ball caps, rare slashed jeans) but were still casual during the day. There were two formal nights when about a third of men wore a suit and tie, a third wore a sport jacket, and a third wore a good shirt with no jacket. Women dressed correspondingly. SANITATION: Hand washing is much more effective than alcohol gels at killing bacteria and viruses. The good news is that MSC wisely installed multiple hand wash stations at the entry to the buffet and in restrooms near the main dining rooms. The bad news is that almost no one used them. There is no one to remind passengers to wash hands, and unfortunately the automatic sinks in the restrooms rarely functioned properly -- the spigots and sensors are hidden by a shelf, and it takes multiple attempts to get any water. Those sinks would never pass a health inspection. Not once did I see a man successfully use the sink in the restroom. To protect my own health I not only washed my hands before each meal, I washed my hands again after touching any buffet tongs, which hundreds of passengers had already touched. Then again, I am aware of infection risks because my former profession involved infection control in hospitals. ENTERTAINMENT: The Meraviglia has very talented singers and dancers on the main stage, and talented musicians in the lounges and atrium. Because of the multiple languages represented, almost all entertainment is musical -- no lectures or enrichment activities. Most of the music is popular and familiar to Americans, but there is one abbreviated opera performance (La Boheme) by two well-trained opera singers. The opera used ballet dancers onstage to interpret the music, which added interest for those not used to opera performances. As I mentioned, the scenery relies on huge LCD screen backdrops, which worked very well and added interest (and sometimes humor) to each performance. In addition, Cirque du Soleil presents two different shows (Viaggio and Sonor) on various nights during the cruise. These can be reserved online prior to the cruise, but schedules usually change, so check soon after embarkation to verify your reservations or to add new ones. The Cirque desk is adjacent to the reception desk. Of the two, Viaggio is probably better for kids since it involves a little more clowning around. Both programs are surcharged via a drink or a dinner package. Ironically, the less expensive drink package offers the better seating. The problem with all of the entertainment on the Meraviglia is the decibel level. Singers are over-amplified to the point of distortion -- one can feel the sub-woofer bass in one's gut. I tried the stage shows each evening (wearing ear plugs) but gave up after a few days and instead just relaxed in my cabin in the evening. This problem is not unique to MSC -- it occurs on most cruise ships. Only the luxury cruise lines seem to keep the amplification at a reasonable decibel level. Parents taking their kids to the Cirque performances should definitely consider ear protection for the younger ones. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION: This cruise was unique in my experience because passengers embarked and disembarked at every port. This made embarkation much easier -- just 1,000 new passengers daily instead of 4,500 on a single day. I am not certain, but I believe that demand and pricing varies by embarkation port, so check this if you want the best price for your cruise. This system also makes disembarkation easier at the end of the cruise -- far less baggage to offload and claim each disembarkation day. It does add a bit of a disturbance each afternoon as the newly arrived passengers are summoned to their mandatory safety drill, but this is a minor inconvenience. If you are just spending the day ashore and then returning to the ship, check the daily program since the arrival and departure times for several of the ports were changed from the original cruise schedule. SUMMARY: The Meraviglia is a beautiful ship, the crew is wonderful, and the western Mediterranean ports are enjoyable. At the right price, you will enjoy this cruise very much. WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN PORTS ON YOUR OWN AT MINIMAL EXPENSE: GENOA: I love Genoa because it seems so completely Italian, especially in the historic center, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Our ship docked in the main harbor in the middle of the city's waterfront -- an easy walk to almost any attraction and just a few minutes from the main (Principe) train station. Genoa is built on a hillside, so there is some climbing, but the waterfront alone has enough attractions to fill a half day for those with mobility issues. Pick up a map in the cruise terminal and exit right (east) along the waterfront until you reach the Galata Museum del Mar (Museum of the Sea). This is a large, modern, very enjoyable museum that is worth at least an hour or two when you are returning to the ship. See their website for hours and current prices. From the museum, cross the street and head uphill through the narrow lanes (gritty but safe) to the main street (Via Balbi). From there continue east to the Palazzo Real. There are five major palaces remaining from the days of Genoa's peak power and wealth. The Palazzo Real is the most interesting, but combination tickets are available, and it is fun to see more than one. From the Palazzo Real walk farther east to Via Garibaldi, where there are beautiful historic buildings and three more palazzi -- together called the Palazzi dei Rolli on the Strade Nuove, designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Combo tickets for the palaces are available at the nearby bookshop. The fifth palace, and the one with the most art is the National Gallery of Palazzo Spinola, on Piazza Pelliceria nearby. From there walk downhill to the cathedral and nearby fountain on Piazza de Ferrari, where you will find the Genova sign/sculpture for a photo op. The view down the historic Via XX Settembre is grand. It is an easy walk back west to the waterfront for either (or both) the maritime museum or the modern aquarium. Even if you do not enter the aquarium, there is a cute floating park at the end of its pier, with good views of the ship and the city. From the aquarium and maritime museum it is an easy walk back to the ship. ROME: I usually skip Rome when it is just a single day visit from Civitavecchia. The shuttle/walk/train/metro each way takes more than an hour (about the same as a rental car). If you decide to go into the city, I recommend getting a BIRG ticket, which covers the regional train and all transport in Rome. Rick Steves guides have excellent info on what to see and do in Rome, with self-guided walking tours. His Mediterranean Ports of Call guide includes detailed info on how to get from the port to the city. Highly recommended guides. PALERMO: Palermo has a gritty beauty and vitality that I always enjoy. Some of its main streets have been blocked off and are now pedestrian friendly. The ship docks at the maritime station near the ferry terminals. As you exit the port, pick up a city map at the TI in the small wood cabin near the gate. From there it is about 15 minutes to the Teatro Massimo, another 10 minutes to the Quattro Canti intersection, and another 15 minutes along Via V. Emanuele to Piazza Independenza where you will find the bus #389 to the fabulous Cattedrale Monreale. The best place to get on the bus is at its rest stop on the far (inland) side of the plaza across from the row of small gas stations. You are more likely to get a seat from there because when the bus starts up, it swings past the wall of the Palatine Chapel and quickly fills with tourists. Check the schedule on the internet -- I believe there is a convenient departure at 10 am and about every 30 minutes thereafter. The trip into the hills takes about 30 minutes and costs 1.80 euros each way, ticket purchased from the driver. The cathedral is near the end of the bus line and there is a gorgeous view of the entire Palermo city and harbor from the walk between the bus stop and the cathedral. Inside the cathedral are the most extensive and beautiful byzantine mosaics in the western Mediterranean. It is absolutely breathtaking. For a restroom there is a friendly cafe across the plaza, and there is a small park ideal for picnics if you pass the front of the cathedral on your left, and walk under two arches past the mini-post office. The return bus leaves from exactly the same spot where it dropped you off. Back in Palermo, the new tourist entrance to the Palatine Chapel is on Piazza del Parlamento, on the opposite side of the palace from Piazza Independenza and the former tourist entrance. If you are there Fri-Mon when parliament is not in session, you can see the royal palace at the same time that you see the chapel. The chapel is a mini-version of the Cattedrale Monreale, and just as breathtaking. The chapel can be a mob scene in high season, so go early or during the lunchtime lull. From there it is a leisurely walk back to the ship. A detour through the Palermo Cattedrale and the Ballaro street market is worthwhile. On your way back, near the Quattro Canti, is the too-sexy-for-prudes Pretoria Fountain. Near the fountain are some old Norman churches, useful because all the Norman sites have free wi-fi access. VALLETTA: Almost the entire walled town of Valletta on the island of Malta is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ship docks on the waterfront below the city walls. The easiest way to enter the city is by the new elevators which are an easy 10 minute walk to the right (northeast) as you exit the port (the TI has free maps of the city as you disembark). The elevator costs just 1 euro to go up and is free to go down. Best of all, the elevator leaves you in the upper Barrakka gardens, which have a fine view over the harbor. From the garden make your way to the Triton fountain, which is at the new gate to the city and is the terminus of bus lines that cover the island (in case you want to take a bus to one of the beach towns or to the historic town of Mdina. Bus fares are cheap and many towns are within 30 minutes by bus. From the Triton fountain walk down the main street (Republikka) to visit the spectacular St. John's (co-) Cathedral, the impressive Grand Master's Palace, and (least interesting) the archeology museum. In high season the cathedral can be a mob scene, so best to go when it first opens before the tour groups arrive. In the afternoon you can take a bus to picturesque Mdina (again, heavily touristed) or to a beach town. The only annoying thing about Valletta is that the return to the ship zig-zags through a gift shop with no apparent exits. BARCELONA: Barcelona is so heavily touristed (and so filled with scams and pickpockets) that I tend to avoid the crowds and spend my time on the periphery. The Gaudi sites, Ramblas, Picasso museum, and Gotic old town area are all worthwhile, but not fun in crowds. From the cruise ship I like to walk over the bridge (30 minutes) to the Drassanes metro station near the Columbus monument at the base of the Ramblas. Most ships offer a pricey shuttle, and later in the day the city offers the T3 shuttle bus for about 4 euros round trip. I buy a T10 packet of metro tickets (about 1 euro each, can be shared) and am on my way. I take the metro to Paral-lel for the funicular up Monjuic or to Placa Espana when the funicular is closed (it is under repair as I write this in early 2019). Bus #150 goes up the mountain from Placa Espana, with spectacular views over the cruise ships from the fort at the top (terminus of the bus). Along the way I always stop at the Catalan National Museum. The view over the city from its entrance is worth the trip, but the museum is also one of my favorite museums in all the world -- I usually spend 2 hours there every time I visit Barcelona (seniors are free -- a bonus for the elderly). The museum has Catalan art from the Romanesque through the 20th century, an amazing collection in a beautifully modernized building. I also check the Caixa Forum near Placa Espana to see what special exhibits they have. In the afternoon I usually visit some of the other tourist sites or simply amble through the old town. There are nice bike tours, walking tours, and many other things to do. The Rick Steves guide to Barcelona has great suggestions. Be aware that the current price to enter Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is now 33 euros! TOULON (and La Seyne-Sur-Mer): If you are on a large ship, you will probably dock across the bay from Toulon at La Seyne-Sur-Mer. From that dock you exit the port and turn right (west) to get to the ferry (#8M) dock about 10 minutes away. It helps if you view the port area from the upper deck of the ship first, so that you can see where the ferry stops -- it is at Espace Marine in a somewhat bleak industrial area. Any local can show you the way. The ferry costs 2 euros each way, but is included in the day pass available at the Toulon tourist information office. If you are on a smaller ship, you may dock southeast of Toulon's center, just a 10 minutes walk away from the tourist information office. Whichever dock, I suggest that you first go to the Toulon tourist information office at Place Louis Blanc. They have all the information and maps that you will need to enjoy your day. They also sell the 4 euro transit pass, which is good for all buses and ferries in the area. Just outside the office is an enjoyable street market that extends for several hundred meters up the hill. There is a pleasant walking tour of Toulon on the tourist map, or you can hop on a bus #3 or #23 to go to the attractive beaches and parks of the Mourillon district southeast of town. Alternately, you can enjoy the beach and park at Sablettes, south of La Seyne-Sur-Mer. From Toulon ferry # 18M (or less enjoyable bus #18) goes there. Bus #18 passes a few blocks west of the La Seyne-Sur-Mer cruise dock on its way north to Toulon or south to Sablettes. For those who want to see Marseille rather than Toulon, bus #23 and bus #3 go from near the waterfront area up the hill to the train station (Gare Toulon) for the ride to Marseille's St. Charles train station. Check the internet for prices and schedules. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We have been on 17 MSC cruises now and wouldn't consider any other cruise line. We tend to pick cruises based on dates rather than itinerary as we just go to relax. This time was a bit different for us as it was the first time we ... Read More
We have been on 17 MSC cruises now and wouldn't consider any other cruise line. We tend to pick cruises based on dates rather than itinerary as we just go to relax. This time was a bit different for us as it was the first time we had been away for New Year, and the first time cruising in winter. This was also the first time being on such a large ship so we were a bit apprehensive especially with all the negative reviews, but as a seasoned MSC cruiser, I know to ignore most of the bad reviews on here as they are mostly unfounded. Our overall experience was very good and I would travel on the Meraviglia again if that ship was the only one available at my chosen dates, but if given the choice I would pick a smaller ship or try to get a much bigger cabin. We travelled with our 6 year old son, another couple with a 5 year old and a childless couple. We arrived at Genova by train and walked the short distance to the port arriving around 11.30. We all had Aurea cabins so had priority boarding and had no waiting around we got straight on, however even the other queue was not very long. I think later on in the day, queues can get to be quite long when the transfer buses arrive but if you get there early enough you won’t wait very long. Our cabins weren’t supposed to be ready until 14.00 but we went straight there to drop off our bags and they were ready. One negative point was to register the credit cards, the machines on the Meraviglia are slightly different to other ships and there was a bit of confusion as it was not clear which part was to pay in cash and which was for credit cards but we got there eventually. We all had Aurea balcony cabins, but we were very disappointed with these as they were tiny. It’s amazing how the biggest cabins we’ve had were actually on the smallest ships, I get the impression that they just try to squeeze in as many cabins as they can to make more money. The wardrobe was much too small for 3 people, although we did manage to squeeze all our clothes in there and stored our empty luggage under the bed as usual. The bathroom was small but well designed with a proper glass shower door and very powerful hot shower. Disappointing that we didn’t have a bath as we usually do with Aurea cabins. Some of the Aurea/black member perks were missing at first but as soon as housekeeping/reception were informed they appeared. So make sure you know what you should expect. The ship is very beautiful and plenty to do, so much that we didn’t get to do everything. The extras were quite expensive (bowling, 4d cinema etc) – even more expensive than on other MSC ships, but you can buy Fun Passes on board which are quite good value. Little tip, don’t expect to just turn up and do bowling, especially on the day at sea as there are only 2 lanes and you need to book in advance. We did it at 14.30 on the Marseille port day and were on our own. If you have small children ask the to put the gutter barriers up, I didn’t realise this was possible at first and it was only after a few loud tantrums from my 6 year old when he kept going in the gutter, that the staff member told us about this. It was a much more enjoyable game after that and my son ended up winning! I would also not recommend the flight simulator for young children, my son was tall enough to go on, but we didn’t realise that it actually went upside down and was very scary for him and even me as we were unable to control it, I laugh about it now as we were completely safe but wouldn’t take him on again until he was much older. The promenade was a great atmosphere for parties, but not well designed for parties due to the lack of bars. There is one bar at the far end then it is all shops, so we tended to go thirsty and dance rather than wait ages to get a drink. What is missing on this ship is little bars with music to have a drink and a dance, I think they could have created more of these rather than have so many specialty restaurants. The New Year’s party was amazing and best New Years Eve I have ever had. There was also the flower power party, white party, fluo party which were all amazing, great atmosphere and great music. This was a winter cruise so we didn’t use the outside pools at all (although some crazy people did) and only used the inside pool once. They seemed to be quite spacious but I can imagine how busy they would be on a sea day. We had a massage each included in our Aurea package, and I also had an eyebrow wax at the spa. The spa therapists are all very professional and the massages are excellent. They are quite expensive though, but I think you can get some good packages, I go on a cruise for family time though so didn’t look into this. It was quite hard to get an appointment for the wax as they only have one beautician that does this, but I suppose most people do their waxing before going on holiday. The theatre shows were quite disappointing, still high quality but not as varied as on the other ships we’ve been on. I think with them having the Cirque du Soleil, they don’t want to have any acrobatics in the ‘free’ theatre any more. It was mainly singing and dancing, which was quite boring for the children. There should have been a magic/puppet show on our first night but the magician missed the boat so this show was replaced by a classical concert. Cirque du Soleil was excellent but a little short, I would’ve been prepared to pay a little extra to see a longer show. We just got the show & cocktail tickets which I would highly recommend, when you already have dinner included in your cruise I don’t see the point in reserving a dinner with the show. The dinner started an hour before the show so you didn’t get to eat while you watched the show and the drinks only seats were much better – although the Carousel lounge is so small there are no ‘bad’ seats. Be aware that these shows can be cancelled in bad weather. Foodwise I am always amazed at how people can criticise the food on MSC as for us it is always amazing and one of the main reasons we like MSC cruises. I think there is something for everyone. I am a vegetarian and I never have to eat the same dish twice – unless I want to. The food is high quality, and if you think the portions are small in the restaurant, just order double! We rarely went to breakfast as we like to take it easy in the mornings on holiday. On the days that we did get up in time we just went to the buffet, there was plenty of choice, and we especially liked the made to order omelettes that you don’t usually get on MSC. We also went to the buffet most days for lunch as we find that there is more choice for everyone here at lunchtimes and more relaxed. The buffet can get very loud and crazy, but for the whole week we always found a table easily even when we were a group of 8. The trick is to have one person reserve a table while the others get their food, to avoid your food getting cold while you search for a table. It is also easier to find a table near the back end of the buffet. On the day at sea we preferred to go to the Panorama restaurant, although there is not as much choice here and not as well organised at lunchtimes as it is in the evenings. Dinner was in the Panorama restaurant. We had My Choice but it wasn’t as flexible as usual as we were a party of 8 so not as easy to get a table with the same waiter whenever we wanted. We ate at 19.15/19.30 every night apart from new year’s eve when we were able to get a table at 21.15. Our waiter Ashveen was excellent and we were very disappointed to hear that 2 days before the end of our cruise he had to return home due to personal problems, he was very professional and gave 120% to make sure that everything was perfect for us and we were able to have a laugh with him. One thing to note during winter cruises is the risk of bad weather. We were generally very lucky with the weather apart from the sea day. During the trip from Malta to Barcelona we encountered gale force 9 winds which made it very bumpy. A few of our party felt ill during the afternoon, and 2 had to leave the restaurant early in the evening. In all my 17 cruises I’ve never experienced seas that rough before, it was so bad during the night that it felt as though we were going to tip over. I always thought that the bigger the ship the less you felt the sea, but I’ve now realised that the bigger ships get knocked around more in high winds. A note on the photos, the MSC photographers are always excellent and the photos are always perfect but I always feel I am conned on these as they are always so expensive. On the other cruises we have managed to negotiate a price on board for all the photos usually €150-200, but this just means I have hundreds of photos hanging around at home that I never look at anymore. This time I decided to book in advance a 10 photo package (any size) for €80, still pretty expensive but limited photos. As soon as we got on the ship our friends were able to book packages for all photos – digital and small printed copies for €130. I wasn’t able to change my package but I was able to add all the digital photos for €60, so not as good a deal as my friends got but I much prefer to have the digital copies than the printed ones. I am also always surprised that people on here criticise the MSC staff, I find the staff to be highly professional and pleasant. I always get a smile and a hello out of anyone I pass in the corridors and always try to have a chat with staff I see regularly. Our group was a mix of 4 nationalities – English, Italian, French and Cuban with all of us speaking at least 2 different languages and none of us had any communication issues. All staff are required to speak English so I don’t understand how any English speaking passengers have communication issues. Passengers are a mix of all nationalities and personalities which I always find really interesting. If you want to be surrounded by English-speakers then please stay away from MSC and stick to the hundreds of English speaking cruises and leave the multinational cruises to us multinationals. We never choose our cruises for the destinations and do tend to repeat ports often. My main reasons for cruising are to relax and spend time with my family, this time especially as I was recovering from a foot operation and was not planning on doing too much walking. Civitavecchia – I had planned on going to see the nativity scenes at the nearby fort, but as the weather wasn’t great when we first got up we decided to stay on the boat instead. Palermo – we took a taxi tour with our friends €120 for 6 adults and 2 children. Saw most of the sights over 2 hours and had a wander round the food market. Malta – new years day so wanted to take it easy, took a horse and carriage ride around the city for €40 (or €50 can’t remember but was negotiated €10 cheaper than the ‘official’ price) 2 adults one child, then a wander around the shops near the port. Barcelona – a city I never tire of and so easy to get around on your own. We got the port cruise (blue) bus from right outside the terminal for €4 return each which leaves you near Plaza Colombo (as does the MSC shuttle which you have to pay €8/9). We then got the Metro from Drassanes to the Sagrada Famiglia (changing at Passeig Gracia) we got a 10 trip ticket for €10.20 as we were 8. Wandered round the outside of the Sagrada Famiglia, then got the metro back to Plaza Catalunya (changing again at Passeig Gracia), and walked back down the Ramblas stopping at the food market near the middle. Marseille – stayed on ship, had a lazy morning then took advantage of the quiet ship to do bowling and 4d cinema) Overall I’ve given the Meraviglia 5/5 as I feel that MSC needs a little boost and none of the negative points I’ve mentioned ruined my holiday in any way, I am already planning 2 cruises with MSC for 2019. I would recommend to anyone taking a cruise, no matter which company, to do your research on what to expect, to avoid disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our experience on MSC Sinfonia first departure Genoa Dec 27 2018 and stayed on for the next cruise total 21 days I have done over 7 cruises now on Holland America, Princess, and Celestial. Asia, Panama, Europe, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico ... Read More
Our experience on MSC Sinfonia first departure Genoa Dec 27 2018 and stayed on for the next cruise total 21 days I have done over 7 cruises now on Holland America, Princess, and Celestial. Asia, Panama, Europe, Caribbean, Cuba, Mexico Riveria. The boarding process seemed to be a shamble, we had to stop at at-least 5 different locations We were told the cabin card would be awaiting us in our cabin after 2.00pm, we found the cabin card in the unlocked cabin, we then had to load credit on the card at a special re charge station. We were surprised at the lack of personal security as our cabin number was on the card, if we lost the card anyone finding it would know which cabin, they could access. Unfortunately, we boarded in Genoa Italy, while we expected a lot of Italians, we were not prepared for the culture shock associated with Italian people, their rudeness and loudness. We realised that there would be a lot of children and teenagers on board, but they seem to be out of control with no parental checks and no staff monitoring their behavior. Playing in elevators and running around in the late-night disco is common. We observed 1 group of teenagers at breakfast that appeared as if they had not been to bed and their behavior was that akin to addicts coming off a high. Smoking and non-smoking areas do not seem to matter, people were allowed to smoke where they wanted to. Possibly as much as 15% of the passengers were English speaking, most signage is in English only, but the majority of guests do not speak English, while we were prepared for every announcement to be in several languages, we found many non-critical announcements and social activities to be only in Italian, even the call for excursions were mostly in Italian, leaving us confused on where to go. This appeared to improve on the second cruise. The in cabin TV only had 3 or 4 English speaking channels BBC world news, Hong Kong TV news, an American news and a movie channel, showing the same 5 movies over and over with the words demonstration?? Going across the screen. The behind bar staff, restaurant staff and cabin staff were excellent, however as on many cruises the table waiting female staff (in bar areas) fall well short of expectation. The Cruise line wants to align itself with the TV series Masterchef, well they really need to look at this alignment, the buffet food fell well short of expectation of any cruise we have done, at breakfast the bacon was always overcooked, the fried eggs were always under cooked and the omelets were unrecognisable. At the lunch buffet asking for carved beef or ham made me feel like Oliver twist “please sir can I have some more” butter was never put out at lunch time we always had to ask for it. The general seated dining food in the evenings was only just acceptable with some ingredients (mainly the meats) were of low quality. Free cordial soft drinks from the buffet area were only available at breakfast, the all-day hamburgers and fries were disgusting, they clearly tried to unsuccessfully imitate a major leading burger chain. The ice cream booth service is very poor at 1.00 pm, 1 day I waited over 20 minutes for someone to arrive to serve, I asked a passing officer he said wait, about 15 minutes later someone finally arrived, in the mean time about 10 guests gave up waiting. A few of the shows were not of the standard we have experienced on other cruises but others were very good, the Cruise director? compare was very hard to understand. The ship itself leaves a lot to be desired, the ship has been extended by several meters in length. 1 corridor on deck 7 is split. To access part of the corridor one has to go up to deck 8 walk along to the next stairs or elevator then go back down to deck 7. The elevator in 1 place only goes from deck 5 to deck 9 so to get to deck 11 (pools and buffet) so to get to deck 11 you get out expecting to get the stairs to deck 11 but no--- the stairs only go to deck 10, then you have to go along a corridor to another stairwell. Once in a corridor there was no indication which was forward or aft, port or starboard. If you want to go to deck 5, (dancing reception etc.) 1 elevator that you take to deck 5 finishes up between 2 restaurants in order to go forward or aft (dancing, reception etc.) you have to walk through the restaurants, they may be full or closed with the doors closed. On at least 5 occasions the toilets would not flush, every time we rang reception, we were told they were aware of a general problem. Often there was a strong sewage smell in part of our corridor. I assume the ship was extended to accommodate more passengers, the issue here is the buffet and the theatre weren’t altered to handle the additional capacity. The trip was like a hop on hop off bus journey with passengers getting on and off an most ports of call, this became a huge issue when due to bad weather we had to divert to another port, luggage and people had to go ashore and board in tender boats. This caused people to need transport back to their assigned port and the ship to wait for passengers, to be bussed in from other ports. All this while shore excursions were trying to leave; the whole thing was a total disaster as the buses couldn’t turn because people waiting for transfers wouldn’t move out of the way of buses trying to turn around. Tempers became very high. We were given a 100 euro on board credit. I believe we were told a lie regarding weather issues, I checked internet for the actual weather for that day and it was not that bad, a day later we had to miss a port due to technical non-safety issues. I heard people that were checking out after the first cruise say to reception stating to reception in loud voices “the worst holiday ever”. The bar staff were the only saving grace for the whole cruise, I think if we didn’t enjoy a drink, we would have been very unhappy. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Having had a big problem on the previous MSC cruise, we were not sure what to expect but went with an open mind. The ship is not as flashy as some of the newer ships, but makes up for it with a yacht type feel. There are fewer passengers ... Read More
Having had a big problem on the previous MSC cruise, we were not sure what to expect but went with an open mind. The ship is not as flashy as some of the newer ships, but makes up for it with a yacht type feel. There are fewer passengers than the larger ships, so no real problems with long lines. Every member of staff we met were fantastic and worked hard, I can't understand some of the reviews regarding staff; if you interact with them they will interact with you. We never had to wait longer that 2 minutes to get a drink, when you are pleasant with the waiters they can't wait to come and serve you and chat to you. The only rude people we met were fellow passengers, can you imagine the smiling service they got when they clapped there hands and demanded "COFFEE". The balcony cbin was a bit smaller than we have had on other MSC ships, with only a corner dressing table and a box stool. It took us some time to find the safe that was located behind the mirror on the dressing table; this could be improved with a notice on the mirror. The only minus points that have resulted in 4 and not 5 stars are, the Buffet; it is fer too small for the number of people. We only tried it once and had all our meals in the restaurant, this was a very good place to eat. you can have breakfast and lunch either off the menu or the self service buffet or both if you are hungry. The other issue was the seating in the theatre, though the shows were some of the best we have seen on MSC. There are couch type seats in tiers but there are tub chairs in front of them and the tub chairs are higher than the couches. This means there is a rush to get the tub chairs otherwise you will be trying to see between the people in front of you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this particular trip because of a few reasons: 1. We sailed this same ship and route last year and had such a great time we could not wait to go again. 2. The price was just right to try the Yacht Club experience 3. We ... Read More
We chose this particular trip because of a few reasons: 1. We sailed this same ship and route last year and had such a great time we could not wait to go again. 2. The price was just right to try the Yacht Club experience 3. We had friends who wanted to try cruising, and figured this was the best option for them, and we could show them the ropes on cruising. So below are our thoughts on various aspects on this trip. Embarkation: We boarded in Genoa, Italy. We arrived at the terminal around 11 am. We dropped our luggage off at the main luggage point on the ground floor behind the ship. We did not see the Yacht Club check in point near there like it had been the year prior. Entering the terminal, we had a hard time finding where to go for Yacht Club check-in, until we were brought to the desk on the upper level. Here we finished our check-in, then waited for a couple of other groups to finish as well. In the meantime we were given a welcome glass of champagne. Shortly afterwards, a butler came down and escorted us and three other groups on board. Upon arrival into the Yacht Club, we were escorted down to our cabin, 15029, only to find it wasn’t quite ready for us yet. We were then seated in the Top Sail Lounge, and where they offered us a drink, which we gladly accepted. A short time later, the Head Butler came in, saying our cabin was now ready, and took us back to the room. Once again it wasn’t quite ready, so we went to the restaurant for our first lunch. After lunch we were brought to the room a third time, and this time it was all set and ready. We met our Butler, Jacques, grabbed our room keys then went off to the ship. We received our luggage in our room sometime between one and four. While we went through the Yacht Club check-in process, we had friends who are a family of four who went through the normal process. Like us, they dropped their large bags at the main drop-off point, then went into the normal check-in line. Because they were travelling with two small children, they were given priority boarding. Breezing through the check-in desk, security and gangway, they were on board before we even left the Yacht Club lounge. By noon their room was ready. By 1230 or so, their luggage was awaiting them outside their door. Ship: The Meraviglia was outstanding. She is well kept, easy to navigate, and has plenty to do on board. Many bars and lounges were open often with many different activities going on. Dancing lessons happen mostly at Meraviglia Bar, which is conveniently located right on the Galleria. Above that is the TV Bar and Studio which is the place to listen and participate in some fantastic karaoke! Although, the place to be no matter what time is the Sky Lounge on deck 18! They have unique cocktails and a pianist with vocalist there every night providing soft, jazz like music. The theater, while small, we found to have ample space for each show while keeping it more intimate instead of crazy packed. Shows: We saw three shows in main theater, a guest performer who did sleight of hand and the best hand puppet show I think we have ever seen. We watched Virtual, a show about a man who has a dream of being stuck in his phone, which was very entertaining. We also Born to Rock, which was a collection of classic rock from the Beatles to Pink Floyd. All three shows were very good. Our friends saw Viaggio, which they said was very good, but not as complex as some of the land based shows. Unfortunately three shows were cancelled due to a technical issue, so we could not see Sonor. Yacht Club: Yacht Club was everything we had heard it was and hoped it would be. The attentive service, the wonderful lounge, excellent restaurant, and private pool deck was all that we could want. They truly seem to have the best staff on board working the Yacht Club. That said, we would absolutely sail in Yacht Club again, as long as we are either sailing by ourselves or with a group all in Yacht Club. We felt as if we missed a lot of the offerings and amenities by not spending as much time within the complex as we could have, while still enjoying the rest of the ship. But for the price, it surely is the best deal on the market for everything that you get included. We will sail in the Yacht Club any chance we can, but if we can’t, it wouldn’t be a make or break in cruising MSC for us. Cabin: We had a Yacht Club Interior suite, room 15029. Overall the room was very nice, comfortable bed, and well appointed toiletries in the bathroom. The room did feel smaller than our Fantastica interior room the year prior, but not by much. There was a chair in the room which felt completely out of place, as it was a plastic wicker chair, which felt like it was brought down from the pool areas. We used it primarily as a place to put our backpack. Food: Overall food exceeded our expectations. The Yacht Club restaurant had very good selection of meals each night, always hot, and there was nothing that we ordered that we disliked. Breakfast in the restaurant was always a solid choice, with fresh breads, pastries, and fruit available as well as eggs cooked to order. Breakfast at the poolside buffet was a better choice for us when the weather was nice. You could get eggs made to order, fresh waffles, a selection of fresh fruits, pastries, and always a good selection of hot foods. While the standard coffee in the restaurant was good drip coffee, the bartender up in the buffet made the best cafe lattes and macchiatos. The lunch buffet on deck was different every day, featuring a pasta of the day and a grilled item of the day. The main buffet carried standard fare, with the Ethnic corner always being the busiest and best part of the buffet. Pizza was always fresh and hot, but otherwise pretty standard. One lunch down in the Waves restaurant was a huge disappointment. The menu was small, with only three options. The lamb of the day was okay, a little overcooked. Service was awful, very slow, and poor communication from server to guests in the area where we ate at. Crew: The crew aboard is quite multicultural, which is really nice. It provides every guest on board with someone who speaks their language, thus breaking the language barriers that happen on many US based cruise lines. Also, while many state the crew is stone faced and not kind, we have never found that to be an issue. Greet anyone with a smile and they are always quick to smile back and help in anyway possible. A good chunk of the crew speak English, which is helpful for us, but most of them speak anywhere from 2-8 languages. We did have some standout waitresses, Maria in the Sky Lounge and Smita in the Brass Anchor Pub. Quick to greet us anytime they saw us, and quickly learned our favorites, and in the case of Maria, would bring us new ones. Our Butler, Jacques and his assistant Nilheesh, were fantastic. The crew that were in charge of the Yacht Club buffet and bar were a great team, and even on the days where the weather wasn't the best, they had great attitude and were fun to learn a little about crew life from. I really wish I remembered all their names to give them the proper recognition. Ports: The itinerary for this run was Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Palermo, Malta, Day at Sea, Barcelona, Marseille, and back to Genoa. In itself, this itinerary is awesome! It provides just enough variation of countries and ports that you can see so many different things. Civitavecchia, we did not get off. We’ve been to Rome before and did not see reason to get off and go again, so this port provided a great Ship day for us. Palermo was great. Even with having been before, we still got off an enjoyed the Hop-On Hop-Off bus to take in the various sights, architecture, markets, and gardens. They are always a wonder to see. We did the exact cruise itinerary last year and missed Malta, so our fingers were crossed we would make it to Malta this go around. Alas, Mother Nature was not on our side and we missed Malta once again. Maybe we are the bad luck? Who knows. The bridge and captain decided to make the day another cruise day, giving us 2 days at sea. Therefore, we made the Ship our destination for those two days. Barcelona is a city we love in Europe! It’s classic and modern all mushed together. We took a stroll up to the Saint Joseph Boqueria, the market right off La Rambla. We actually got a chance to walk around and take in all the market had to offer for tourists like ourselves. Then we opted to take a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour as we wanted to make our way towards Tibidabo. Unfortunately for us, once we got to the Tibidabo stop and hopped off, we found that the Funicular railway was closed for winter except for the weekends, which put a wrench in our plans. Back to the Hop-On Hop-Off bus we went and made our way back towards the starting point. We made our way back to the market to grab lunch then back to the boat we went. The last port for us was the one we least looked forward to, the port of Marseille. It’s not that we don’t like Marseille, this was the first time we actually got off at the port. France just isn’t on our to-do list of places to visit. We got off and caught a taxi from the port to the city center where we found a lovely Christmas Market that we walked around and bought some soaps. After exploring a few avenues, most of the group we were with was ready to head back. We did notice there was some broken windows and other damage from recent protests, but nothing too bad. Back in Genoa we took some time to stroll around the streets closest to the train station before grabbing a quick meal and taking off on the train back home. Other thoughts: At the start of our cruise, there was an elevator bank that had a new express system installed. Express is a loose term in our opinion, but the whole system reverted back to a standard elevator bank by the time we left Palermo. No notice or anything, and in the end, only one elevator was left on deck 4 with an out of service message. On the subject of elevators, the Priority Service feature for Yacht Club members was hit or miss on when it would work. It was also easy for anyone on board the elevator who was paying attention to hijack the elevator that a Yacht Club guest tried to hijack themselves. Interesting perk, but one that wasn’t well explained nor one that works consistently. Even when you get the system to recognize a priority call, more often than not, another elevator in the bank will call on your floor in the direction you wish to go before your priority elevator. Admittedly, if you do overtake an elevator successfully, it is kind of fun to see the confusion on the other guest faces. There is a stone lounger in the spa that never seems to be on, whether this is intentional or not I am not sure. I asked about it once, but I don’t remember the answer. Seems that most of the growing pains of a new ship were worked out otherwise, crew seemed a lot more confident of where things were, and the technology was working with no major hiccups. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We booked Aurea Suite und as Black Member in the Voyager Club we expected high comfort and attentive service. We wanted to enjoy the five-day-transatlantik and the lovely islands of south carribean as Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts Tortuga ... Read More
We booked Aurea Suite und as Black Member in the Voyager Club we expected high comfort and attentive service. We wanted to enjoy the five-day-transatlantik and the lovely islands of south carribean as Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts Tortuga and so on. But the five sea-days are pure horror. All sunbeds were reserved by towels at 7 a.m. so that a lot of people get no one the whole day. Out of sheer need, they bought a ticket for the private sundeck reserved for Aurea guests. And so this sun-deck likewise was crowded with reserved sundbeds, so that the Aurea-guest didn't find a free one. Same in the Spa, where are not more than ten relaxation beds for all users! It's fact, that there is to less public space on this big ships for all passangers. As Black-Member and Aurea-Guest we had priority embarkation - but we had to stand in the crowd in Genua. The cabin was really fine and clean, because of the tips for the roommate. Therefor the waiters in the buffet-rerstaurants have been very inattentive, so that we get our drinks after our lunch or diner. Neither to the welcome-back nor to the black party, the captain was seen. A huge appreciation for longtime frequent drivers. As a special gift for the Black-Members we get a Pencil! Especially strange is that the Black members are awarded the same pin as deserved crew members !? The Dining, especially the diner, ('impressed by a star-cook') was partially real poor. My wife cuoldn't eat this, so we take Diner in the Eataly. 'We are the Masters of the sea' is the advertising entitlement of the cruise lin. We don't think so! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Started the cruise in Genoa Italy. This was in cruise crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean, the first few days were spent at different Mediterranean ports then onto the island of Tenerife, now there was five days at sea,this is when the ... Read More
Started the cruise in Genoa Italy. This was in cruise crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean, the first few days were spent at different Mediterranean ports then onto the island of Tenerife, now there was five days at sea,this is when the problems started, the largest populations on the ship were German,French,Italian with smaller groups of Spanish and British, all sunbeds on the top deck were taken by 6 o'clock in the morning,towels were placed on sunbeds all day with many not being used at all. Complaints were made to the ships staff but nothing was done, then some Italian families actually had fist fights around the pool area because they had taken"there sun lounger area by the pool" staff were called but refused to get involved. Many complained again but nothing done. The theatre shows were Italian in origin rather than international and became monotonous after a few days. We were on an all inclusive drinks package 25 Euros a day, but many of the drinks were not included! Although it says beer is included its not, only Heineken lager is included, all other beers are chargeable, when you order you have always to ask if it's included which is embarrassing as people think you cannot afford it. The bar and cabin staff go out of there way to make your stay enjoyable and always pleasant, on the other hand the security staff on the exit and entrance onto the ship were anything but. They would grunt at you take your hats and glasses off, stand still while we check your card,no smiles no talking to you, just as thought you were entering a country, inside the ship they would walk into you as though you shouldn't be in the way, had no respect for any passengers ( but they would not attend to the fighting by the pool , cowards). Yes people join the ship in most ports but that dosnt cause a problem, although you get a little tired of the safety drill at every port. Be aware that there is no self service laundry facilities on-board, although the ship will do your laundry for a price. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Choose a short cruise as a break between our longer holidays. Overall we had a good time the Preziosa is a nice ship very similar to the Meraviglia that we sailed on in Jan 2018. Our Cabin 11011 was a good cabin, great location with a very ... Read More
Choose a short cruise as a break between our longer holidays. Overall we had a good time the Preziosa is a nice ship very similar to the Meraviglia that we sailed on in Jan 2018. Our Cabin 11011 was a good cabin, great location with a very comfy bed. Nice and spacious and plenty of stowage. Lacked hooks around the cabin having said this I would not let this stop me from booking into this cabin again. Entertainment was limited the theatre show was poor to say the least. Service was better on this ship than the Meraviglia. We upgraded to All Inclusive, great for most drinks but not great for wines or beers. They did not even have a Sav Blanc available & only one larger (Heineken). Food on MSC really is where things go wrong. It is very hard to get a hot meal on MSC be it buffet or table service. Pasta with basic tomatoe sauce and pizza with the same tom sauce is plentiful however try to get fresh veggies, protien choices and you will struggle. Breakfast offering is all Buffet even in the sit down and dine facility they have set up a buffet where you walk up and get your own. MSC really need to address there catering it lets them down everytime. Note also if you are on a longer cruise unless you take the dining options to pay for the upgraded eateries you will only have 2 dining options the one you are assigned too or the buffet... you could become bored very quickly!! It is true MSC have people boarding at most ports for us we did not mind this although the safety briefs do get annoying in the 7 or so languages. MSC are what they say in the name Mediteranian Shipping Company (MSC) therefore expect the Med influences onboard, enjoy the shouting at each other, large families taking up tables, the pool, the hot tubs or at the very least expect this! Do not bother with the SPA facility on this ship we paid extra and well it was certainly not work it. Cold steam rooms, cold sauna's not enough chill out beds (4) for the whole ship overall the poorest SPA we have ever known on any ship. We hope this review is helpful too you, a nice ship, a nice break but not GREAT!! D&J (UK) Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Embarkation: As this was a repositioning cruise, passengers embarked at multiple locations during the cruise: Marseille, Genoa, Valencia and possibly other ports. We embarked at Genoa and, in part due to not being a full ship ... Read More
Embarkation: As this was a repositioning cruise, passengers embarked at multiple locations during the cruise: Marseille, Genoa, Valencia and possibly other ports. We embarked at Genoa and, in part due to not being a full ship changeover, it was a quick process. Ship: MSC Poesia was a nice ship. Built in 2008, it does not have a Yacht Club section. Two main Dining Rooms and one Speciality Sushi Restaurant, along with the usual Deck 13 Buffet. Two swimming pools, two pairs of outside jacuzzis. The ship did not appear full and this seemed to be confirmed by the number of cabin upgrades people had received, us included. Cleaning took place frequently, staff seen with vacuum cleaners on their backs and brass work being cleaned. Unfortunately, this was offset by food and beverage staff not checking for glasses and plates of food left around the decks and the ship generally… Cabin: We had received a double upgrade from an Inside to a Balcony. We were pleasantly surprised to find our Balcony was pretty much midship on Deck 9. Compact balcony with two chairs and a footstool, comfortable main cabin area and usual, compact shower room. Soap dispenser by the sink, shampoo and shower gel dispenser in the shower. Cruise Card validation: One of the reasons for the speedy embarkation is that you are expected to register your credit card at an automated machine (there were a few around reception and shore excursions etc). There were instructions in each cabin about how to do this. One the first evening, we made three attempts to register our preferred credit card at one of these machines. These were all unsuccessful, without clear messages as to why. So I felt that I had to register a debit card, not my preference, as MSC operate this strange system of taking a fixed amount from a debit card and then you, the guest, having to collect any outstanding credit from them in the ship’s currency on the last day – more on this later… The debit card did register successfully and I also followed the process to say it was to be used for both cabins in our party. Lifeboat Drill: Disorganised summed this up. We collected our life jackets and attended our muster stations. We both had our cruise cards scanned by personnel at our muster station. So it was puzzling when my partner received a letter to our cabin next day, stating that he must attend another drill as he had not attended the initial mandatory drill. When he called Guest Services and pointed out that he had attended and his card had been scanned, this was accepted at face value. But if they are saying people who have taken part did not attend, how likely that they have identified passengers who did not attend? Food: I was very disappointed with the food on board. Portions were very small and the food quality very low. Steak did not make an appearance once during a 19 might voyage – except with food and beverage staff touting for guests to pay Euro 18 for a steak main course. I think there may also have been a similar offer for lobster. Generally, I mix and match between buffet and restaurant for breakfast and lunch, depending on how much time I wish to allocate to that particular meal. So, on day 2, I decided to try out the restaurant breakfast. What a strange thing that was. I went to the restaurant and asked for the menu - no menu. MSC Poesia do this hybrid thing of serving teas and coffees and fruit juice drink (not 100% juice, the cheap, watered down version laden with sugar) and then expect you, the guest, to visit the buffet area within the restaurant. I don’t regard this as a restaurant breakfast and the tables in the Fontane restaurant are set quite close together, making it a challenge to manoeuvre around other guests between your table and the buffet area. I decided not to waste my time with this version of buffet breakfast. So off to the zoo of deck 13 buffet. One of my guilty pleasures on a cruise is Bircher Muesli. MSC’s version was laughable. It appeared to consist of any cereal (but generally not muesli), with some diced fresh fruit (not the iconic grated apple) in a thin yoghurt. Such a disappointment. I tried the restaurant version of lunch, again MSC’s version was a rather strange combination. You go in to the restaurant to be seated. As MSC’s passengers are a wider mix of nationalities and languages than many other cruise lines, I politely asked to be seated with English speakers. The waiters blithely asserted that ‘all’ passengers can speak English. So not the case. Time and again tables of 8 guests sitting in stony silence, as they had no common languages between them. This is such a shame and MSC appear in total denial about this issue. One of the pleasures of a cruise is meeting new people and having enjoyable discussions about ports of call etc. This is such a missed opportunity on MSC. Yes, I appreciate it might require a little more thought in terms of seating people, but I am sure it could be done. So, having got to your table (and woe betide that you ask for a table of two to avoid that language issue – even in the first 5 minutes of service we only managed a table on our own twice in the whole cruise) I found the waiters seemed to hold back from providing menus. Why? Because once again, this was a mix and match seated restaurant buffet hybrid and it seemed that the waiters hoped you would just go and avail yourself of the buffet rather than them having to serve you. As at breakfast, the same issue of the tables in the Fontane restaurant being set quite close together, making it a challenge to manoeuvre around other guests between your table and the buffet area. Dinner was one of two sittings, 6.30pm or 9pm, at allocated tables in one of the two main dining rooms. The five people who had booked via the same Travel Agent were all seated together – this did resolve the language issue as we were all from the UK. A couple of days later a Canadian lady asked if she could join us, having first been sat with Spanish speakers, who quite forcibly told the waiter they would only accept Spanish speakers at their table. The wait staff then sat her on a table of Russian speakers, so she was very isolated. It seemed a common theme during the cruise was it being run for the ease of MSC and the staff, not for the benefit of the paying guests. MSC is the only cruise line I have travelled with, where chilled water is not provided in the seated Dining Rooms. I can only guess that this was done to maximise Bar revenue. As UK guests, we found that we had an inclusive drinks package of mineral water, American (filter) coffee and tea at Lunch and Dinner. This package stated it was for UK and Irish guests. Australians on the next table were most put out at having to pay for mineral water. I was also astounded to read claims in the Daily Programme about how MSC Cruises were the only line to have received a top environmental award. How can that be when they are massively overusing single use plastic bottles for mineral water – due to this refusal to provide chilled water for Restaurant Lunch and Dinners? Another issue there seemed to be problems with was language. Our waiter was from Spanish speaking Honduras. Whereas on most cruise ships he would only have needed to learn English, on MSC he needs a good understanding of six main languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. It soon became clear that his English was not as good as you would have hoped, with incorrect starters arriving etc. This, despite all of us guests trying to help by pointing out the specific item in the menu. To be honest, it would probably have helped to have all menu items numbered and order just like a Chinese or Indian takeaway… You remember I mentioned that all UK and Irish guests had an inclusive drinks package for American (filter) coffee and tea at Lunch and Dinner? So, we get to the end of the first Dinner and ask for American coffee. Instead, our Waiter tries to upsell us to the chargeable Cappuccino and Lattes… Why, because it turns out that there are NO facilities for coffee or tea in the Main Dining rooms on Decks 5 and 6. For him to provide the included coffee and tea the Waiter had to go to the Buffet on Deck 13 and get it, just as any guest would. How ludicrous. Unsurprisingly, the hot drinks were often lukewarm due to the journey involved. So now on to the zoo of the buffet on deck 13. It took a few days to discover that actually, this was a very large buffet. This was because often they closed the back half of the buffet and thus reduced the choice. So, we tended to go early in the opening hours when all sections were open and sit right at the very back of the ship, where the buffet area was noticeably quieter. Getting hot food was a challenge. It was displayed on the buffet in huge containers and just did not seem to keep warm for any length of time. It was very much a case of seeing that something was almost finished and watching for the fresh version to be bought out to ensure hot food. Then, whether you could find accompaniments that were also hot was somewhat of a gamble. Sometimes you could wait 10 minutes at an empty food station, to see if they had run out of that item or it was being replenished. Also, the food was not displayed in an appealing fashion. I have eaten in nicer works canteens. Guest Services / Reception: We needed to visit Guest Services on a number of occasions. Generally, we found they seemed to have been more trained in conflict resolution than customer service. Better customer service in the first place would have significantly reduced the need for conflict resolutions skills later. Having ended up registering a debit card initially (against both our cruise cards), due to problems with registering my credit card (I later concluded this may have been due to the debit card entry showing it was taken by MSC Marseille – my credit card company were instructed to expect transactions from Genoa onwards – not from Marseille which was a previous port) my partner then received a letter calling him to Reception. It seems the automated system had not registered that the debit card credit was against both cards – so this had to be adjusted manually. At the end of the cruise there was a credit and due to this one small initial debit card registration (a day later my credit card did accept), on the last evening we had to queue for one and a half hours to receive our credit back in Euros – the on board currency. During this time, we both saw a white uniformed officer come and view the lengthening queue on a number of occasions, and just go away with no obvious action being taken. Shore Excursions / Chargeable Port Shuttles: The presentations about Shore Excursions were not very informative. It was easier to just go to the Shore Excursions desk and collect the brochure with more detail. We did not do any of the Shore Excursions – they seemed lacklustre and expensive. We were quite happy to do our own exploring in port. It did seem that MSC used more commercial ports than some other lines. This meant you were sometimes some distance from where the ship docked to getting into the local town. This was an excuse to sell over-priced Port Shuttles. Malta was for the Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) bus - Euro 20.00 Palma – Euro 12.99 Valencia – Euro 12.99 Casablanca - Euro 19.99 Ilheus - Euro 10.99 Despite the assertion in the Daily Programme that some of these Shuttles would involve a 20 minute drive, we always managed to walk into town in around 30 minutes. Sometimes (Valencia), the Port provided a free Shuttle bus to the edge of the port (quite a distance in itself) – this was conveniently not advertised. Entertainment: I have already mentioned the issues caused by being having multiple language guests on board. In the theatre every evening, all announcements in six languages became very tedious. Some quizzes and both the questions and the multiple choice (usually three) answers all shown on screen in the six main languages. So why did the Cruise Director feel it necessary to delay the process by reading out questions and possible answers in full in each of the six languages… It was painful and caused events to endlessly over run. It seemed the on board performers only had two main singers and the dancers were different – it seemed more strutting and striking a pose than the sort of high quality shows I have seen on other cruise lines. Many of the production shows had the most un-flattering outfits. There were also a couple of aerialists, some acrobats and a duo of contortionists (so old fashioned). It was also the peculiar way these alternative performers were somehow shoe horned into production shows in the most inappropriate ways. I also found the music for the production shows strangely discordant. For a repositioning itinerary such as this was, with 10 sea days (five single sea days and the five days to cross the Atlantic) – I thought the entertainment low key and very basic. On other lines, I may have been running from one event to another. On this ship, thank goodness for Kindles… The Library was such a disappointment. Very small, obviously needing to cater to the different languages on board. Hardly any non-fiction books, mostly extremely well worn books that look to have been left by previous guests. I did not take a single book out of the library, most unusual for me. Spa area: We were disappointed to find that we need to pay an eye watering Euro 310 (including the 15% service charge) for the two of us to access the sauna and steam room for the whole trip. We have always found at least one no charge sauna or steam room on every previous cruise, but on Poesia they were set up and carefully guarded. For that significant cost, you had access to three inside jacuzzis with five loungers (the ‘relaxation’ area), two large steam rooms (one of which never got above 30 C so was barely warm enough to sit it) versus the other steam room which was consistently at 44 C and two small saunas. By comparison, friends have recently returned from a P & O cruise told us they paid around £100 for more facilities for both of them for a two week cruise. At least having access to this grandly titled Spa Thermal Area helped us occupy our time, especially on sea days. There was an ongoing issue with the jacuzzis and one of the steam room the whole voyage. Eventually we were compensated fairly, but it required persistence and I would have much rather all facilities were working as they should have been. Conclusion: On day two or three, there was almost a mutiny in the theatre when the staff ran a promo video about MSC’s Masterchef at Sea TEN times on a loop while we were waiting for the show to start. Then, just before the show there was a glossy MSC promotional video all about MSC’s 300 years of experience (but much of that was with freight, not cruise passengers). It showed numerous officers in their white uniforms picking up towels and putting them back on passenger’s loungers etc. This was so far from reality – we saw very few officers. In fact, all that video did was make me frustrated – MSC management are in denial if they honestly think that the contents of that video reflected the experience of the average guest on board. For me, it was all the missing things. I go on a cruise to be made to feel special. MSC did NOT make me feel special at all, on the contrary, it seemed that many things were being done for the convenience of the ship’s operations, not for the best guest experience. What was missing, some very strange things: Hardly any clocks on board – we only found two in public areas. Very basic telephones in the cabin – no means to leave a voicemail when trying to contact someone in another cabin. A much lower number of rest rooms (toilets) than I have ever found on a ship – it could take many minutes to get to one. Captain’s daily announcement – nothing for the first week, then taken up by the Cruise Director for a while, then suddenly stopped. No omelette station in the buffet. No standard coffee and tea in the Dining Rooms (despite providing it within inclusive packages for Lunch and Dinner). No list of TV channels in the cabin – when I requested one and asked also about what channels were available in English – I was told it was against procedures to provide this information to guests! Displayed navigation map did not appear until a good week into the voyage. Lack of information about points of interest – nothing about passing the Cape Verde islands during our 5 day transatlantic crossing. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise of the Western/Central Mediterranean because it was convenient to my son’s school schedule, but we were excited about the Itinerary: Napoli, Messina, Malta, Barcelona, and Marseille. In the end, we were disappointed. ... Read More
We chose this cruise of the Western/Central Mediterranean because it was convenient to my son’s school schedule, but we were excited about the Itinerary: Napoli, Messina, Malta, Barcelona, and Marseille. In the end, we were disappointed. We had an Aires suite on deck 11 and the room was very nice. Spacious, modern, proper, BUT WE NEVER SAW A CABIN STEWARD. No one asked about ice in the room or extra towels. We were disappointed here. We were supposed to have a wellness consultant but could not even get a tour of the thermal area of the spa. We were very disappointed with the spa. Meal service started out strong as we had any time service in the Golden Sand Restaurant. Dinner on night 1 was great but the quality did not hold up over the week. Service, however, was good. The shows were terrible. The casino was Smokey. The music was average at best. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The enticement? Interesting ports in Europe, Africa and South America. Our first cruise experience. We agree it might be the last one. Looking back it was frantic from the moment of embarkation in Genoa. Long line ups, hours of waiting. ... Read More
The enticement? Interesting ports in Europe, Africa and South America. Our first cruise experience. We agree it might be the last one. Looking back it was frantic from the moment of embarkation in Genoa. Long line ups, hours of waiting. It's true that the ship houses over 3000 passengers, but knowing that beforehand, the process should have been smother. The cabin we had , with balcony, was really nice. Crew attendant for the cabin was hard working and really personable as were the people serving in the restaurant. The rest of the staff was silent, in general not very friendly. The food in the buffet wasn't so bad, but very salty and considering that most passengers were seniors, not healthy. Menu in the buffet section was almost the same every day and this was a 20 day cruise. The quality of the water and coffee was bad. However, the most problematic circumstances of all were the contaminated air circulating in the ship, with the result that the majority of people were sick. Another really vexing situation was the total isolation we endured during the crossing of the Atlantic, almost six days. No TV, no internet, no information. Movies offered in the cabin, did not display well. The price of the internet connection offered in fliers to the cabin was misleading as they would charge more if you signed for it. We believe that the economics of scale for such a huge crowd have something to do with this situation. We probably will think twice before signing up for this kind of cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose the Cruise as it fitted in with the UK school 1/2 term and was going to some interesting ports. We booked over a year in advance, big mistake, the flights got altered leaving us with a 2.5 hour transfer by coach each way. No ... Read More
We chose the Cruise as it fitted in with the UK school 1/2 term and was going to some interesting ports. We booked over a year in advance, big mistake, the flights got altered leaving us with a 2.5 hour transfer by coach each way. No negotiation, no alternative except to lose our deposit and rebook doing our own flights. By the time they announced the flight details the cost of flights had risen and little was available, leaving us with no option but to continue. Not a good start, a delayed flight and by the time we arrived to check in after a 2 1/2hr transfer and a less than smooth airport transfer to the coach even the photographer had gone home. Which was just as well as we where wet and bedraggled having had to paddle from the bus to the embarkation desks, we were nearly 3 hours late. Next they some how managed to transfer our 2 bags to the other MSC ship departing that day. We did alert them as to not having our bags before we left port and by 10.30pm it was apparent they had no idea where they where. Next morning we where told they were not on board either ship and were searching the port(we had had a MSC transfer from Nice to Genoa). Nothing offered apart from emergency wash bag, male briefs and socks. There was nothing in the onboard shop of any use, so we headed to the nearest shopping mall at the first port of call for basic essentials for our party of 3. On arrival back on board the HRO had us escorted to her office and told us the bags were on the other ship and we would get our bags in 2 days. No apology, and she would not sanction our meagre purchases of 3 t shirts a pack of ladies pants, 2 bra's, swim shorts, costume, 1 pair of activity sandals and 2 pairs of trainers, 2 pairs of chino for my husband and son plus a European usb charger so we could charge a phone and a stick deodorant to share. I could not find a change of trousers so was left with little choice but to continue to wear my jeans. The bags turned up late morning of our 4th day. Some of the clothes stained from being left wet from the rain at the port. The ship rolled quite badly even though the sea was not that bad. It was made worse by the cabin ceiling creaking and groaning with each roll. The extra equipment for the table tennis, table football and crazy golf on decks 11 and 12 was held on deck 5. It would be so much more user friendly to have it at a nearby bar. There was only 1 set for the crazy golf too. Our Excursions; 1st trip was cancelled no explanation and was refunded to our account not to the credit card it was booked with, the second trip itinerary was changed but we where not told until the coach had set off. We only got to the 1992 lava flow site rather than much further up Etna which was hugely disappointing. We had only booked 2 trips as we felt the quality on offer was not that good, very limited. We arranged our own trip to Herculaneum while in Naples, a car transfer that went very smoothly and despite the rain was a good trip. The timings of the arrival in Valletta was very poor. We arrived at 3pm, the Cathedral and other attractions all closed 4.30-5pm. No thought had gone into the excursions, which we had not booked in any case. Sightseeing in the dark and it was pouring with rain again. We did see the evening Gun Salute from the battery which was good. Food; not great, cool to luke warm in both restaurant and buffet. Dinner, a strange variety of menu combinations, mostly was fairly tasteless with small portions in the restaurant and a distinct lack of vegetables or a salad course. Lunch was mostly the same fare every day. The only exception was roasted veal one lunchtime in the buffet which made a good hot sandwich.The Pizza was also OK but very busy and if you wanted salad with it you had to brave the main buffet or paddle to the burger bar on the opposite side of the ship. The buffet was manic, no table space at meal times and often only 1 side open towards the end of service. We ended up getting room service breakfast as it was the only way to be able to eat without a struggle, the 'hot' breakfast options just were not worth the fight. Even in the dining room getting tea was not easy and cold milk for it even harder. the food was buffet but the hot drinks waiter service. The only cold milk was on the buffet but no spare cup or glass to be had to help yourself. With room service we had to ask twice for cold milk even when cereal was on the order. The main buffet coffee was either stewed or cold/empty. The hot water dispenser max temp 79C, not hot enough for a tea and the orange juice was just horrible, decent juice is not hard to do. A fresh squeezed one I saw at the juice bar was 5euro. The water dispensers were luke warm and at least 1 ice dispenser not working. There were often no cups/mugs to be had either. We were on Aurora package that was an all inclusive drinks package but we only saw 1 red, drinkable, 1 white, not great and 1 rose served with meals. Only 1 bar open in the day, we never saw the crepe station open. They ran out of English tea on day 4 in the buffet. Big complaint to customer services, by the next evening they had restocked. Very few people were using the hand sanitizers and it was not being enforced. The lift buttons and stair hand rails were all sticky and grubby. The pizza area and bar on deck 11 flooded and was covered in water most days. The only way to get to the buffet without wet feet was to walk down to the rear most lift/stairwell inside the ship before going up. Our teenager never found the relevant program of kids entertainment. We culminated our holiday by being first off the ship at 9 am, another 2.5 hours by coach back to Nice airport for a 6 hour wait for a 6pm flight back to London Heathrow. All in all an experience not to be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This is the firsts time I’ve felt the need to review a cruise ship after almost 10 years, and 20+ cruises. Firstly, the ship is new, massive and very impressive. Well thought out, cabins are a good size (stayed in Aurea Suite 14001) ... Read More
This is the firsts time I’ve felt the need to review a cruise ship after almost 10 years, and 20+ cruises. Firstly, the ship is new, massive and very impressive. Well thought out, cabins are a good size (stayed in Aurea Suite 14001) and the onboard app leaves every other cruise lines attempt at such, sorely lacking. Unfortunately, that’s about it in terms of positives. This was our first time with MSC, and unfortunately, I think it will be our last. I understand that every line does things differently, but our experience of RCCL, NCL and Celebrity just makes them more attractive, if somewhat more expensive too. I dislike very long, wordy reviews, so I’ll just bullet point the issues we had below: - as other reviews have stated, almost to a man, the staff were surly, unfriendly and either unwilling or unable to help. A couple were really nice, but a couple were actually very rude. - the Aurea drinks package isn’t worth having. I’ve attached to this review a photo of the drinks menu available on the ship. The items with a star next to them are what is NOT included in the package. Laughable really, and was in fact the first instance of what quickly became apparent as a ‘penny pinching’ culture on the ship - children’s menus are appalling. The main menus offer pretty much the same stuff for kids every night and crazily, the buffets are all closed between 5pm and 7pm every day, which is when most kids would want to eat. The only food available at this time is burgers and pizza. - when we boarded, we had a letter in our suite saying that one of our pre-booked tours had changed and that it would now feature travel on a small boat instead of a coach. We are unable to do this as my youngest son gets really ill on small boats (we know this from bitter experience). When we went to the shore excursions on desk to sort it out, we were told that we couldn’t cancel but could swap to another tour, all of which were more expensive, and we would need to pay the difference. I couldn’t really care less about the extra €50 but I think this is bad form. I asked to speak to the Excursions Manager and was told that she was too busy to see me, so I asked for the Hotel Director and was told that he would not see me, but I could speak to the Guest Services Manager, who essentially did nothing. He sent me a bottle of sparkling wine as an apology, but didn’t correct the issue I had. - prior to sailing we pre-booked a speciality dining package. A bit of advice...don’t! The speciality restaurants are worth doing, but if you book the package in advance, you have to eat from a set menu, which I didn’t see. Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough when booking. In any event, you can eat from the a la carte options in the restaurants but they don’t credit your allowance and make you pay the extra, they just discount any a la carte dishes by 50%. This seems a crazy way to do things to me, but hey ho. - big issue for us was the TV in the suite. It has a really extensive list of films available and they are fairly reasonably priced. However, the entire menu, including some very niche titles (if you know what I mean) is available on the home screen, so your kids can navigate the entire menu. With titles including the word MILF available, I was not impressed that my kids could see the titles, and the accompanying artwork!! - the biggest issue by far however was the entertainment for us. I know this is a truly international cruise line and there were lots of Italians, Germans, Spanish and French amongst our fellow passengers, but the entertainment was very heavy in Italian music, Flamenco dancing and opera. There was one night when a Tina Turner tribute was on, but other than that, we were really let down by the entertainment across the ship. Unfortunately, an amazing ship was not the foundation for an amazing holiday on this occasion. We had actually booked 5 balcony cabins for the same week next year on this ship, to celebrate a 40th birthday in the family, but we have since contacted our travel agent to cancel it. It has cost me a fair bit in cancellation charges, but it’s better than wasting another week. I hope that the above comes across as even handed, and I am sure this ship and experience will suit some people, but as a well travelled family and veterans of the larger ‘American’ lines, it’s not for us. To finish, one of the big pluses people think of with MSC is that it’s relatively cheap compared to Royal Caribbean, NCL and Celebrity, but by the time you upgrade the drinks package, account for all of the extras you have to pay for (bowling, zip line etc) and take into account the really very poor service levels, I’d say it’s actually a lot worse value. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our first cruise. And first time taking my step sons abroad (age 8 and 10) We all loved it! For me and my husband we like to relax but not sit around to long. So this was perfect. Loved waking to a different destination every ... Read More
This was our first cruise. And first time taking my step sons abroad (age 8 and 10) We all loved it! For me and my husband we like to relax but not sit around to long. So this was perfect. Loved waking to a different destination every morning. Embarking was lovely and easy. Lovely welcome buffet. Bags were at the door of our cabin which was a welcome sight and before the 2.30 time. Cabin was more spacious then I’d imagined. Our cabin assistant was Rammel. He was lovely. They all were. Every cabin assistant said hello when we walked past. We found prices of drinks very reasonable as we didn’t do a drinks package ( we did have the cans package which was handy) Loved the decor of everything. It was all clean, and sparkly! Shows were awesome! Very talented. As each day went on, we were more relaxed about letting the kids out of sight. They went to kids club a couple of times, they loved it and the swimming pools and water slides. Both we felt happy leaving them as were well manned and we felt they were very safe. Especially with the wrist bands Every night we went to the buffet where it was a different theme. Different countries. It was lush. Only complaints, we were told that some fizzy drinks were available at buffet, but it was very rarely accessible. It would of been handy to have the juices available all day not just breakfast. Excursions we did 2. Pompaii and mount etna. Brilliant apart from the headsets on the pompii tour were bad quality and lost connection a couple of times. Thank you Msc. We have literally booked for another one for next year. Can’t wait Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
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