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173 MSC Cruises Genoa Cruise Reviews

It was our 12th cruise and the 6th with MSC. We arrived to Genova by train and walked to the cruise terminal (around 10 minutes walk). 15 minutes later, we were in our Cabin. Even though the ship was full and most of the passengers ... Read More
It was our 12th cruise and the 6th with MSC. We arrived to Genova by train and walked to the cruise terminal (around 10 minutes walk). 15 minutes later, we were in our Cabin. Even though the ship was full and most of the passengers embarked in Genova, later afternoon the terminal was almost empty - so everything was smooth and fast. Our cabin was clean and nice, well maintained and cleaned 2 times daily. MSC gets a huge amount of complaints by American and Canadian cruisers. The facts (in my personal perspective) : Food can be more than hamburgers, fries and other fried things. If you cannot recognize anything else as food, stay with carnival cruises. If you interested of the European and Italian cuisine, you will love MSC's kitchen. Onboard expenses : The best option is to book and pay everything in advance on the MSC's website. The best example is the photography. If you buy photos onboard ,the small photo is $20, the large photo is $30 each. If you prepay online, you pay $177 for 100 photos - so it's $1.77 for both sizes. All other expenses, like gratuity, SPA and beauty, excursions - all of them 20-30% cheaper in advance. Our itinerary was changed once. There was a storm in Ibiza, so the ship skipped this port, we were at sea on that day and docked at Palermo, Sicily next day. About other cruisers on board... When Moses wrote about the Tower of Babel, I think he was thinking of the future cruises onboard with MSC. Hundreds of nations speaks hundred different languages. Sooo many Italian cruisers onboard. You should love their vibrant attitude or you will suffer every day on the cruise sip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
US: We are a couple in mid-fourties with an 8 year old daughter. First time cruising on a bigger ship, so YC was to us the only way to go... We boarded in Genova, it was the or one of the last Med cruises of the season, but the service ... Read More
US: We are a couple in mid-fourties with an 8 year old daughter. First time cruising on a bigger ship, so YC was to us the only way to go... We boarded in Genova, it was the or one of the last Med cruises of the season, but the service all over was not hurt by the ending contracts. Due to an extremely intense professional time I needed first and most of all relaxation and recuperation. And I got even more than hoped or anticipated. The very check-in experience (11am already!) was flawless from th the valet parking to being taken by our butler into the check-in area and first bubblies... There were apparently only three cabins boarding with us und everything went as smooth as it was possible. No hassle, no sweat (that’s difficult to me) no worries. The cabin was the “square” cabin so we had more than enough space for the following 8 days. I will not go into details about the cabin as this has been described many many times. First we went to explore the ship, while not too crowded yet and made of course the mandatory buffet stop, which was to be our last one as the catering in YC was superb. It also was one of the few strolls outside the enclave as the amount of people in the outside was too much for me; and surprisingly for my wife as well, surprisingly because she is not as quickly overwhelmed by crowds as I am. Our butler was Franco (Tien Wing) and we hit the jackpot as he and his service were impeccable, as was the cabin stewards, Anthony. We only took a short shopping stroll in Palermo, a horrible excursion in Majorca, which was the only negative of the cruise, so i cant really rate the excursions side. What I can talk about though are the fabulous people going over the top to fulfill every wish and craving. ie when the kids wanted pizza and fries, one of the bar people went to fetch it from the buffet, another time in the top sail lounge a butler suggested a chocolate milkshake that he had to go and get at venchi (5 min walk minimum). We were accompanied everywhere, because Franco always insisted on doing so. My daughter “fell in love” with Michelle, working in TSL, she actually became almost her personal assistant for the week, as the love was mutual. Drink service was quick and we even got the best of service when we started “partying” every night until 2-4 am on the one pool deck (5 out of six in our group of fellow travelers were smokers) even though the outside bar closed around 1030pm. I don’t think i ever drank as good a White Russian as I had on the Divina. We never heard a no, we never had to wait for any sitting or order, we never felt that things could get better. Demarcation was a breeze with franco assisting 8pm to the trunk of our car (which was waiting just outside the ship) and so.... ....booked a cruise of 12 days departing Miami on the 28th of February on YC of course....... that should say it all——-144 days more to wait....... Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We were to meet 2 couples from another country and have a celebration sail. First the bad... Unhelpful call center Had a complication pre-cruise. 10-15 calls (on hold 30-50 minutes each time) to courteous but unhelpful call ... Read More
We were to meet 2 couples from another country and have a celebration sail. First the bad... Unhelpful call center Had a complication pre-cruise. 10-15 calls (on hold 30-50 minutes each time) to courteous but unhelpful call center. Was told continuously to call back and ask for supervisor. I did to no avail. Dysfunctional website Tried solving via email online. Process online had a dead link. So no go. Tried checking in on website. Link inoperable Now the good... Received an email 2 weeks later resolving the main issue (charged $1900 for change in reservation that never happened). Received an email 2 days prior to sailing saying that we had been upgraded to yacht club status with a suite to die for. When we boarded we were amazed. Priority boarding and elevator usage. A butler met us and escorted us to our private yacht club area room. Concierge was exceptionally available and helpful. Lounge area and bar were convenient. Pool area was lovely. Private dining room was beautiful. Food was exceptional. Wait staff friendly and efficient. Would only recommend this line if you can secure yacht club status. Otherwise, public areas and dining areas were very crowded. Many languages spoken so hard to converse with new acquaintances, etc. Don’t know how we got so lucky, but now we’re spoiled! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The Ship: A brand new, gleaming white ship. I was in awe of the size as I walked towards the harbour at how high she sits above the water. The embarkation in Genoa as absolutely seamless. Basically no queues and excellent service. From ... Read More
The Ship: A brand new, gleaming white ship. I was in awe of the size as I walked towards the harbour at how high she sits above the water. The embarkation in Genoa as absolutely seamless. Basically no queues and excellent service. From arrival to boarding it took about 15 minutes. There were plenty of check in staff, so i have no idea why there have been so many people complaining on the forum about embarkation being stressful. Issued with room card and wrist band which we could use to open doors and pay for goods, an excellent idea. Once onboard security was quick and easy to get through. Initially we were asked if we wanted to avail of package upgrades, but because we already had premium plus drinks package all we did was politely decline. I can see why some people think there is a "hard sell", but we didn't experience that. You can choose to just walk on, stop stressing out! In photos and videos I got the impression that the ship looked a bit tacky in places, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It really is very tastefully done and looks beautiful in all areas. The layout of the ship is excellent, easy to navigate and has interactive screen throughout to help you find where you are going, make bookings and see what is happening each night. Plenty of lifts and never waiting more than a minute or two for one to arrive. Deck areas are nicely laid of and plenty of places to lounge in. I tended to find the aft (Horizon Pool area) of the ship a bit quieter and more chilled, especially on a day at the dock. We had access to the aurea package members only 'Top 19 Solarium Deck' which was nice. Its a little quieter and has plenty of loungers if you want to chill out. The only thing I would say is the MSC could make it feel a bit more special. Some plants and greenery wouldn't go astray to give it a more exclusive feel and the service here wasn't always very good to be honest. There is no bar, you have to order from the attendant or go to the "pantry" which looks like a little kitchen and i found this a bit odd. Dining: Ok people, the food on board is incredible. Let's start with the Marketplace Buffet. I really do not understand all the moaning about "lack of choice" and so on. Seriously I never found myself wanting, which begs the question, what do some people want!!?? I found all the found tasty, fresh and plentiful. They put a lot of pride into onboard cooking and food presentation. From the mozzarella factory to the breads, cakes, pizza and beautiful pastries etc. If anything it appears that a lot of people are just downtright greedy and wasteful gluttons. Try a little of everything, but waste less people! Yes, the Marketplace can be busy at peak times, but a top tip is move to the rear of the ship and you'll find lots of space, emptier buffet points and a more calm atmosphere. We ate 50/50 between the assigned restaurant and speciality restaurants. Both were fantastic. The lighthouse restaurant had great set menus and plenty of selection. Service was top notch, we never had to ask for service, they always anticipated our needs. Top tip is to go slightly earlier, about 1900 and you'll find it less busy and bag a seat by the amazing aft full height windows. We tried The Butchers Cut and teppenayki restaurants, both had fantastic service and it was well worth the extra supplement - you're on holidays, spoil yourself! **DRINKS PACKAGE** we took the premium plus package and I have to say it was well worth the money! We had whatever we wanted, when we wanted it. Everything is included on it. Everything. Even if you're not a big drinker I think it's worth it. We had champagne/cocktails in the champagne bar before and after dinner every night. We got to know the champagne bar staff well and they were absolutely incredibly good to us. We tried every cocktail on the menu, Moet and Chandon, Veuve Cliquot etc, I really can't think why you wouldn't get the drinks package!? Entertainment and activities: There is so much to see and do on board, particularly at night that you really do need to be well prepared. I suggest planning your evening carefully around theatre shows, dinner, galleria light shows and Cirque du Solei. The evening along the Galleria were my favourite. It's a real riot of colour and fun. Lots of music and dancing made it a sociable and interactive experience. The entertainment staff were excellent. For those moaning about this being a "party ship", well you need to wise up. If you don't like the music and dancing there are plenty of places for you to go, like the jazz bar (Sky Lounge) or the British Pub. You're on holidays, enjoy yourself and embrace there relaxed European vibes.... or alternatively go on a Cunard cruise if you're worried you might have fun, good forbid! Cirque at sea was a great experience. The purpose built theatre was wonderful and the shows incredible. One of the evenings it was used for the MSC Got Talent show where crew members from around the world sang and danced - Don't miss this!! Honestly it was one of the most fun and enjoyable parts of the cruise, especially the Haka Dancing ships firemen from Maori. The whole crowd was wild for it. The theme nights were fun - White night, 70s night, space night and pool party - the staff put a lot of effort into making sure people have a lot of fun and you can see it when you look around and see guests dancing and smiling. Service: Again I cannot find any reason to complain here as so many feel the need to! Never once did I find myself wanting for anything. All needs anticipated and catered to. Once some of the staff got to know my name they greeted us personally. Plenty of people on deck taking orders for drinks and atttending to all needs. On a side note it's not all about who you see, it's what you see. The ship is spotlessly clean, shining and well maintained. I never once saw a grubby surface or dirty public area. Well done to all behind the scenes staff. Recommendations: book the aurea package if you want access to the spa, it's well worth it! Great facilities and really relaxing. Because I had this package I rarely got off the ship and spent most port days here chilling out. One of the nicest spa areas i have ever used. Ignore the hard sells in the spa and you'll be good. The Sky Lounge seems to be very under used which is a shame. Head there for unique cocktails and great service with special treats! We didn't travel with children, but I think my nieces and nephews would have really enjoyed this ship and I'd love to take them some time. Great places for kids to be entertained all day. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was a 7 night cruise and our 8th (7th with MSC, 1 with RCI). We traveled with our cousin and his wife. My husband and I stayed over in Milan the night before boarding - it's a 90 min train trip to Genoa and a 10 min walk to the ... Read More
This was a 7 night cruise and our 8th (7th with MSC, 1 with RCI). We traveled with our cousin and his wife. My husband and I stayed over in Milan the night before boarding - it's a 90 min train trip to Genoa and a 10 min walk to the harbor where we dropped off our suitcases downstairs (everything was clearly marked and staff on hand to help with directions) and boarded quickly and effortlessly. The ship is beautiful and in quiet areas we could still smell the new carpets. We had a balcony cabin (9246), and the bathroom (and especially the shower) is nicer than before - no more shower curtain but a curved door. The hair dryer was fine. I took 2 plastic clothes hangers with for wet clothes to dry with fewer wrinkles. I loved the MSC for Me app - no wifi required, you can check all activities and mark the ones you would like to attend, get reminded about the show, send messages to your friends, it worked great. Table 232 during the early seating (7.30 pm) in the formal dining room was assigned to the 4 of us, and it was perfect - a square table in the back corner with the most amazing waiter - Dede. The service was great, the view perfect, the food was amazing - could not fault anything. The variety was good and portions bigger than before. Every night's menu had healthy options available, but also at least 3 deserts! I took a black cat suit, 1 pair of dressy heels and different jewelry, which was good for 3 dinners, and a LBD for the other 3 and 1 missed dinner when we came back too late in from Barcelona. My husband took a dark suit with white shirt for the 2 formal nights, and dark blue pants with button shirts for the other nights. The pool area was spacious and we received good service from the bars and waiters. We got the drinks package that we could order basically anything up to 10 euros, which was perfect for us. There was a good variety of cocktails, wines, sparkling wines etc. The music at the pools was too loud for my taste, but that's just me. There was also the odd deckchair hog, but most people just took off the stuff and shrugged when confronted when the culprits came back a few hours later. We can learn from the Europeans! The nightly free shows in the theater was very full and quite good. The Cirque du Soleil shows (we saw both!) were amazing! We went for the option of show and cocktail - 15 euro pp and so worth it. Naples - easy walk to the old town with lots of little shops. We took a ferry to Sorrento, walked around (tough walk for good views) and loved it - especially the handmade shoes. Messina, Sicily - we walked to the train station and took a 1 hour train ride to Taormina - spectacular little hilltop town with great views and pretty alleyways. Valletta, Malta - far but easy walk to the old town, which we loved. We got a map that offered 2 walking routes with good descriptions. Felt a little like Dubrovnik. The modern part of town was also beautiful with tree lined streets, clean, with nice green spaces. Barcelona, Spain - got the public bus to La Rambla, walked up to the metro, went to La Sagrada le Familia - we booked tickets in May for 10 am entry. It was amazing. We took the elevator up the one tower and walked down. Stunning. Met up with another cousin and chatted and had tapas and beer until we had to go back to the ship. Amazing day. Marseille, France - The yellow jackets were planning a protest from 2 pm, which we were warned of by a notice placed in our cabins the night before. So we just walked to the old town and took Le Petite Train to the cathedral, which was stunning. It was informative and fun. Back through the old town and back on the ship before anything happened. We received our (correct) bill in our cabin the night before disembarking. As per other reviews, we received an envelope with pictures in our cabin a few days before, which we just returned to our cabin steward, who was amazing, by the way. Back in Genoa, we disembarked with our suitcases at 8.30 am after a breakfast in the fdr and walked 5 mins to the bus station to go to Milan to get a train to Venice. We loved everyday and can absolutely recommend it. The worst of the experience was getting information from the MSC South African staff, which was very frustrating. But the ship and international staff was incredible and restored out faith. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I had read about MSC's Yacht Club being a less expensive rival of NCL's Haven. We had really enjoyed the Haven, but the prices are getting crazy! So, I called my TA to find a cruise in the Yacht Club. Boy, did she! We were in ... Read More
I had read about MSC's Yacht Club being a less expensive rival of NCL's Haven. We had really enjoyed the Haven, but the prices are getting crazy! So, I called my TA to find a cruise in the Yacht Club. Boy, did she! We were in the Royal Suite on the Bellissima, which wasn't even built when we booked! Also booked a Deluxe Suite for my son and his wife. Our cabin was FABULOUS! The beds were blissful. We had 2 balconies and a hot tub on our deck, which we made use of! The Yacht Club was truly relaxing and enjoyable. Everyone was friendly and wanted to ensure our experience was positive and memorable! We ate in the YC restaurant almost exclusively....we did eat in the steak house 1 night, as we had matching Black status. The bar in YC was pleasant, with hors d-oeures available and often entertainment (piano, violin, etc) playing. We didn't use the pool on top, since we had our own hot tub, but there was a cabana available for us, if we had wanted it. Appreciated the wrist band to open cabin door---I didn't have to carry anything! Food: we kept to the YC dining room. The portions are smaller on MSC, but that is actually a good thing....they are more in line with what a portion SHOULD look like, instead of the huge portions Americans are used to eating. Of course, they will bring additional or even cook up something special! (Yes, we did ask if they were going to have creme brulee, which they were not planning, but made special for us! Bend over backwards service!) AND, there was lobster on the menu one night, which has basically disappeared from other lines! The only disappointing experience we had was in the steak house--and it really wasn't a bad experience. We were full from our dinner and wanted to have our dessert sent to our room. They would not acquiesce, but they would allow us to come back later and have our dessert. I have a suspicion that if I had mentioned it to the YC folks, they would have been aghast and rectified that immediately, but it wasn't a big deal---as I said, we were full! Drinks were included and we never went to any other bar (except for the Cirq shows---we had the drink and show tickets. The drinks were horrible at the show! Just figure the cost of drink/show package as the cost of the show. Learned to take a drink from the YC bar and pass on the show drinks.) We purchased a spa package on-line and enjoyed our experiences. In fact, both of us ended up adding another massage. We did go to the thermal suite, but only once, but it was quite nice. What can I say....when you have your own hot tub on your balcony, where else do you want to be? Getting on and off the ship was a breeze when you are escorted by your butler. In fact, he escorted us to shows (allows you to walk right in and avoid the line), and although the shows only run about 30 minutes, we enjoyed the 3 we attended (and the 2 Cirq shows). The elevators even have a priority call for YC. BIG TIME SPOIL ALERT! We used to always lose weight on a cruise because we took the stairs. Nope, not this one! When the elevator comes direct and takes you direct, it is really hard to walk those stairs. I will say, that if you have someone with limited mobility issues, this is THE WAY to go. This was our first Med cruise. I loved the shore excursions (and the MSC prices if you purchase before boarding were more reasonable than other lines, I thought), but the flights are what keep me from doing overseas more often. I think I will wait a couple of years before doing that again. Or, maybe I'll do a transatlantic on either end of a cruise (guess that will have to wait until I retire!) Until then, I have already booked 2 more MSC YC cruises out of Miami. I am still looking at NCL Haven, but only because it is going somewhere I can't get MSC (or MSC is already sold out!) Thanks CC posters, for cluing me in to the Yacht Club! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Dining: There is a german and spanish chef so seafood was not as good as with an italian chef. Dinners are fast, our waiter was really nice. In the free buffet (Deck 15) there is a huge choise of food, and really good quality as ... Read More
Dining: There is a german and spanish chef so seafood was not as good as with an italian chef. Dinners are fast, our waiter was really nice. In the free buffet (Deck 15) there is a huge choise of food, and really good quality as well. Embarkation: The embarkation and disembarkation was really fluent on this ship, everything went well. I recommend Park TorreSud if you want to park in Genoa, it is cheap and fast and working with MSC. (60-70 € /week) Entertainment: There are good parties at night. Apart from the free (daily 35min) theater, wich is also really good, you can try Circue du Soleil, which is 15€ + 15% /person. There are two shows for this price with coctail included, Syma and Varélia. We went on Syma, it was 42 minutes long (measured it) but I think worth the price and iunique opportunity. There are some other options to entertain yourself, but those are not so cheap. 30€/30min at bowling, or 55€/hour, or F1 racing for 10 minutes which looks amazing but also costs 10€. There is VR maze or XD cinema as well. But there are more free programs as well: football and basketball court, AQUA PARK WHICH is AMAZING, and also a climbing circle at the aqua park, which is really scary and fun. Fitness&Recreation We have gold voyagers membership club card, so we can enjoy the spa one hour for free, but it is a huge hipe. I would give 2,5/5 for it, nothing special, and there was no tea, wellness feeling, and nor outside view. The gym seems to be to small at first sight for a ship with this size, but it was not full. It is a really techie gym, powered buy technogym, eg. the running machine has an option to compete with others, etc.. Pools and Jacuzzi were good, and there were nearly always space int them :). Onboard experience: There is a really nice shopping hall inside the ship, with ~5 restaurants, swarovski stairs, very nice led ceiling with good animatoons, and phermacy. There are really good programs and big parties, we love italians:). Public rooms: Especially the theatre, the LED dome, the reception and the covered pool area were the most amazing. Also the aquapark was really really good as well. Service: Reception There is a reception guy usually in the middle, and he is simply such an idiot. We asked him about voyagers system, and he acted like we didn’t know english, but he couldn’t say a normal word, and he really liked z-s. When he said to us “Zathz not zrue” we were close to call his manager, but at the and we did. The others are helpful. Cabin The cabin boy looked liked trying to fight his depression. Animators were really nice. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Yes, MSC is a cheap price and you pay for everything on board, including water at the evening meal. We filled our water bottles up at the buffet and were able to take them off the ship and back on,. Tea and coffee available all day from ... Read More
Yes, MSC is a cheap price and you pay for everything on board, including water at the evening meal. We filled our water bottles up at the buffet and were able to take them off the ship and back on,. Tea and coffee available all day from the buffet. The meals at the buffet were of a good assortment including carvery, eastern, spaghetti, hot dogs, hamburgers, chips,soup, salads,pizza,vegetarian and plenty of desserts. We ate at the restaurant for breakfast and dinner. You could also eat at the restaurant for lunch if you prefer to dodge the buffet. There was never a time that we couldn't get a seat at the buffet. Meals of average size but you could ask for seconds. There is a steak house at extra cost. We did not have the drink package preferring to buy as we needed it because we were in port every day except one, Plenty of staff constantly there to serve you. Such a sparkling ship with the staff constantly wiping, dusting and vacuuming. At least 10 very hot spas to each accommodate 8 people with warm showers afterwards, not cold. Plenty of pool activities and fantastic childrens rope course, water tubes, etc. Embarking and disembarking very smooth and well organised. The staff were very helpful and polite. I find it hard to believe that some passengers comment otherwise. Only downfall was the at least 5 different nationalities on board which didn't help if you wanted to have a conversation with someone whilst sitting around the deck. May be this was because it was a Mediterranean cruise. We did not take the shore excursions because we found at every port there were local buses or hop on off buses which were a quarter of the price of MSC. We would definately cruise on the Bellissima again, a beautiful ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
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
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
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
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
What an experience! First ever cruise and what better way to experience cruising than with MSC Meraviglia. This is a trip I will not be forgetting! I want this to be an honest review, so below I’ve listed the positives along with the ... Read More
What an experience! First ever cruise and what better way to experience cruising than with MSC Meraviglia. This is a trip I will not be forgetting! I want this to be an honest review, so below I’ve listed the positives along with the negatives and also given (I hope) some sound advice if you are thinking of sailing on MSC Meraviglia. The positives:- - The staff! They couldn’t do enough for us. So friendly and approachable. A special thank you to Halik (Waves Restaurant) you were amazing and so attentive. He quickly mastered what our favourite drink was and ensured our glasses were always full! Also to the guys who looked after and cleaned our room and changed the beds everyday. Amazing job! Thank you so much for everything! The standard was impeccable and they work so damn hard. You are all a credit to MSC! - This ship is spotless! Absolutely emaculate. Granted the ship is just over 1 years old but taking into account the shear size of her as well as the amount of passengers on board the ship is ridiculously clean! - The food/drink - Such a vast variety of food and drink on offer. In the evening we ate at our dedicated restaurant (Waves) where we were served a 3 course meal every evening with the night’s menu offering a range of dishes to choose from. Meanwhile, The Market Buffet which serves food (I believe) until 2am always had fresh, delicious food with a big range to choose from. At peak times it gets very busy yet the food just keeps coming out fresh! - You will never get bored whilst on board there is so much to do and places to explore! Now for the negatives (or things to look out for!) - I’m not saying us Brits are perfect, but goodness me some of our European neighbours were incredibly rude! We witnessed people clicking their fingers at staff and speaking to waiters/waitresses in the most patronising of ways. Never saying please or thank you. Absolutely horrific to see! Also, it would appear that certain nationalities do not know basic manners such as knowing how to queue and not push in (so frustrating!!) people would literally push you out of the way, tread on your feet to get to where they want (this 99% of the time happened in The Market Place Buffet where food is available (almost) 24/7. We even witnessed one family take two trays of burgers/hot dogs, leaving none left for anyone else queuing. Disgusting. Learn some damn manners. Excursions: What a rip off. Save your money!! I believe at least 5/7 places we visited during our 7 day cruise had shuttle buses on from the port at the cost of €12.99. They do not tell you this in advance! Allowing passengers to pay €50+ for excursions so they can access / get to the city centre which is completely unnecessary when the shuttle bus serves the exact same purpose! This being said there were of course some excursions which were more than just a coach trip to get you from A to B. But if you are booking trips through MSC just so you can get to the city centre etc do not bother. You’ll get a shuttle bus ticket on your door the night before you arrive at your next destination. (You are welcome!) Embarkation: What a long, long drawn out process. Be prepared for a very long wait!! We flew to Genoa, Italy. I do wonder if other destinations experienced as long a wait. Definitely would recommend avoiding Genoa if and when possible! After a short 1hr 30min flight we were taken straight to the port. The process up until this point was so smooth & fast! We arrive at the port in Genoa and there we waited for HOURS. The process wasn’t explained to us upon our arrival, we literally had to figure it out for ourselves. We were given a number, we soon figured we had to wait for our number to come up on a board. After waiting 2+ hours our number was finally called!! Up the escalator we went only to be met by another queue!!! This came with another 1 hour wait to get checked in. We then had to queue again to go through security when we were finally let on board. A very long process but totally worth it once you are on board the ship. Thankfully disembarkation is a lot quicker! Word of warning: You have to leave your suitcases outside your room the night before you leave. MSC did an amazing job ensuring our luggage was looked after and got to where it needed to be, we experienced no issues. But please know, you will need another form of bag for anything you need that night / the following morning before you fly home. We thankfully had a small case we used as hand luggage which were managed to throw everything into, avoiding any dramas. Additional/hidden charges: Check your bill before you leave!! We experienced double charges (which were later removed) and also a friend was charged €30.00 for a photo he never received! The queues to settle your bill at reception get exceptionally long! So word of warning, allow yourself plenty of time and check your invoice before you leave otherwise you may be in for a shock! There is a daily charity charge of €1 which goes to UNICEF (I believe) which we didn’t mind. However we did mind the daily €10 (per person!) service charge which gets added to your account automatically. (That’s €210 in service charge for us for the week) We decided to have this charge removed and paid out tips to our waiter/room attendants the night before we left, that way we know they’ve got the money. €10 a day per person soon adds up as you can imagine and not know where or who that money goes to concerned us. Other points to mention: Do not pack a hairdryer. It’ll be confiscated / kept away for safe keeping. A hair dryer is provided in the room & works absolutely fine and did the job. No tea/coffee facilities in the room which was a shame, but we understand why. If you buy a drinks package like we did you cannot use it on your day of departure! Also we couldn’t use ours on the day we arrived as it hadn’t been uploaded onto our access cards. All in all, we really enjoyed cruising with MSC. The ship is stunning, the staff are wonderful the inside of the ship is beautifully kept and so spacious. What a beautiful way to see Europe! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I was very apprehensive about this cruise after reading the reviews, I was totally blown away from start to finish. We are a couple in 50's, who have traveled a lot. We did a cruise 6 years ago with P & O and I cried the first ... Read More
I was very apprehensive about this cruise after reading the reviews, I was totally blown away from start to finish. We are a couple in 50's, who have traveled a lot. We did a cruise 6 years ago with P & O and I cried the first week I hated everything about it ! Embarkation was so smooth and easy it was a joy !!! Friendly staff to greet us, welcome drink on arrival and a real WOW factor - just like a movie set with the glitz and glamour The Cabin was just what i was expecting, clean to a high standard and twice a day, large comfortable bed and the choice of pillows. Mini bar was not included in our room but it made no difference as i just went an got a drink when getting ready. Balcony was a good size 2 chairs and a table, don't need anything else. Food, again i was shocked after reading the reviews on here, we ate at the Red Velvet every night, yes it is small portions but it is ala carte, so i wouldn't expect anything else. The food itself was presented well and tasted great, there is a choice of starters, main and dessert. Even the table wine was good. We didn't try the buffet for dinner, we did pop in there for lunch, but it wasn't our thing. Breakfast again at the Red Velvet was extremely good, you have the option of buffet or table service. The level of service in the Red Velvet was incredible, they could not do enough for you. I ordered 2 desserts every night and extra potatoes, they never questioned it or pulled a face, these guys worked really hard and enhanced our dinning experience. We bought the all inclusive drinks package and it was well worth it, we added up everything at the end and it would have easily been double the amount We didn't do any MSC excursions, we did our own thing, again it was a straight forward process to disembark daily, no long queues. Cannes Don't worry about getting a ticket from level 7, go straight to level 4 and board the tender. There is a petit train if you wanted, but we wandered freely. Palma Straight forward, get of the cruise ship and catch the local bus from outside the port, it takes you straight to town. Barcelona. Again, catch the local bus from outside the port, a few minutes and you are in town. Corsica My favorite place, its just a stroll into the town, great place for wine and food Rome We did this ourselves through a cruise excursions it was half the price of MSC and had a full day here, just wandering around. Pisa We took a taxi from the port the train station 15 euros and had booked train tickets to Pisa before we left, the train was great, i think it cost us around 35 Euros return in first class. Not much there but at least i can say i have been. Genoa This is where we started our cruise, so didn't have any time to look round. Disembarkation, again a doddle, it was really smooth, the suitcases were collected in the evening, we collected from outside the ship went straight onto a coach and then at the airport. Entertainment was ok, better than P & O but bearing in mind they have to cater for at least 6 different languages it must be hard to please everyone. All in all, i am the hardest person to please, i have no complaints about MSC cruise , all i can say is I WILL BE DOING IT AGAIN. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Had a a fantastic time on MSC Seaview. Embarkation very smooth....no queues or hassles . Cabin very clean, very comfortable beds and nice shower with bath. We had a balcony which gave you extra space and nice to sit in the sun and relax ... Read More
Had a a fantastic time on MSC Seaview. Embarkation very smooth....no queues or hassles . Cabin very clean, very comfortable beds and nice shower with bath. We had a balcony which gave you extra space and nice to sit in the sun and relax for a short time. Found Buffets a bit busy for breakfast and Lunch but the food was varied and nicely presented. Enjoyed our Evening Dinner in the Restaurant as we had lovely people as companions. Theatre shows quite good (tho some not so good ) but only lasted about 45 minutes. Pools and Loungers very busy and had to hunt to get one. Usually found one eventually. Plenty different Bars to explore and some with entertainment. Everything nice and clean and shiny as you would expect with a new Ship... very impressive! Had some nice excursions, especially in Malta and Marseille and would like to return there. Found all staff on the Ship to be friendly, cheerful and hardworking. Enjoyed my very first Cruise and would definitely sail with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Despite the reviews to the contrary, we took the MSC Seaview on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had no issues whatsoever. We had two balcony staterooms, that were located on floor 11. They were like brand new and totally clean and ... Read More
Despite the reviews to the contrary, we took the MSC Seaview on a Western Mediterranean Cruise. We had no issues whatsoever. We had two balcony staterooms, that were located on floor 11. They were like brand new and totally clean and spacious. We had twice daily maid service, 24 free room service, a drink package that we did not even finish, delicious meals in the dining room, we went to shows, we went on tours (shore excursions) and we did our own tours. They had adequate security, delicious fresh food, all you can eat 24 hours, and we were able to get off the boat one stop prior to the end easily so as to catch a plane. The boat was very clean and new, and I did not meet an employee from MSC that was not willing to help on any issues. It was an awesome experience and I can recommend this to anyone wanting a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was out 9th cruise in the MSC Yacht Club and so far this is the best one, mainly because of the spectacular new ship in the Seaside Class, the MSC Seaview. MSC have put a lot of effort to make the YC enclave better and better and with ... Read More
This was out 9th cruise in the MSC Yacht Club and so far this is the best one, mainly because of the spectacular new ship in the Seaside Class, the MSC Seaview. MSC have put a lot of effort to make the YC enclave better and better and with the Seaside Class they have made the Yacht Club excellent in all aspects. The layout with the YC Restaurant and Top Sail Lounge forward on deck 16 and 18 is spectacular. The outside lounge in front of the Top Sail Lounge is fantastic with great views. Great interiors in the YC as well as in the rest of the ship. The One Pool Deck is now divided into two main parts and the pool area with the bar and buffet/Grill is really a great place. There is plenty of seating in the shade, on section for smokers. And in the front there are two whirlpools and plenty of sun loungers. Despite that the YC have more cabins than on the Fantasia Class there is plenty of space and no problem to find a sun lounger even on busy seadays. The lunch served here is great with many choices. They make you burger, steak, fillets and fish to order, everything of good quality. The same goes with the salads, fruits and desserts. Fast drinkservice too. The food in the restaurant range from good to very good and some dishes where excellent. The portions are on the small side in my opinion but you can order as many dishes as you want. My DH liked the portions sizes so this is very subjective. The service was excellent all the time and you really felt welcome. The homemade bread and pasta was outstanding. Our butler and his assistant was one of the best we ever had. His service was always delivered with a smile and a sense of humor, loved it. We had our breakfast in the cabin and it was promptly delivered every morning. The Yacht Club guests have the premium drink package included and it goes for the whole ship. Excellent. That makes is very convenient when exploring the rest of the ship. Embarkation and especially the disembarkation was a breeze. All in all we had a great cruise and I would not hesitate to recommend MSC and their Yacht Club, it's great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The itinerary for this cruise was Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valletta, Sea Day, Barcelona. A very familiar Western-Meditteranean itinerary, but what a perfect way to celebrate the launch of a new ship and our marriage. We’d visited all of ... Read More
The itinerary for this cruise was Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valletta, Sea Day, Barcelona. A very familiar Western-Meditteranean itinerary, but what a perfect way to celebrate the launch of a new ship and our marriage. We’d visited all of these ports before, so we knew that for us the ship would be the destination, with the addition of an excursion to the beautiful island of Capri. With that in mind, we found that we didn’t leave the ship in any of the other ports, particularly as our cruise over the Christmas period covers all of these ports with the exception of Malta. To best cover the experience on this ship I’ll cover it in a few areas…. Cabin We stayed in a Fantastic grade balcony cabin, 13236. We found the cabin plenty big enough with a shower room. The shower had a nice glass enclosure (no curtain- yay!) Clothes storage was perhaps at a premium compared to some of the other ships with a lack of drawer space, however as this is ‘The ship that follows the sun” it stands to reason that most cruises will be a week or two at most, therefore there is ample space for that amount of time. Dining As mentioned in my preliminary thoughts, our first table on our first night in the Silver Dolphin restaurant wasn’t too great – the restaurant opened late and the food had by that time dried out and wasn’t appetising – far removed from the MSC we know. the service was slow and wasn’t the most friendly we’ve ever experienced. After the following morning’s breakfast we were assigned to the MyChoice dining section in the Golden Sands restaurant after meeting with Camilla who had been our maitre d’ on the MSC Meraviglia in November. That evening the experience was incredibly different – waiters who really knew their stuff, slick and efficient, friendly service from our waiter Alan from Honduras – again someone we’ve met on previous cruises. The tables in both restaurants were, as is common on large mass-market ships pretty close together but far enough apart to keep conversation to ourselves as a couple. MSC Seaview has a number of dining options, the complimentary options for guests in the main ship – ie not Yacht Club are the Golden Sands formal restaurant from breakfast and lunch, on an open-seating basis, your assigned restaurant for dinner and the two buffets – the main buffet being on deck 8 aft with terraces on both sides of the ship and a smaller buffet on deck 16. Extra-charge speciality restaurants are the L’Atelier Bistrot on Deck 8, surrounding the atrium, and on Deck 16 the Chef’s Court concept with the Asian Fusion restaurant by Roy Yamaguchi offering sushi and teppan yaki, Ocean Cay seafood restaurant by Two Michelin Star chef Ramon Freixa and the Butchers Cut steakhouse. In the middle of this area is a stunning wine and cocktail bar. As black card holders we were able to savour a complimentary meal in one of the speciality restaurants and chose Ocean Cay on the basis the food would be something different to usual – we dined twice in the Teppan Yaki on MSC Meraviglia so were excited to experience something new. We were not disappointed! The taster selection menu available as a loyalty perk offered a choice of three course meal. We opted for oysters, fish and chips and a melon soup. Ramon himself was onboard ensuring the dishes were up to his exacting standards and I have to say this was probably the best food we have eaten whilst at sea. One thing to note about this area is that it can only be accessed from the forward lifts. Not a problem, but don’t go to Deck 16 Aft with the expectation of walking forward to the restaurants! Food and drink highlights So, a key part of any cruise holiday is the food and drink. As seasoned MSC cruisers we are perhaps becoming too familiar with the menus, however this gives us the ability to understand how the food on a particular ship is compared to the other ships in the fleet we have been on. The Elegant Night menus on MSC ships are curated by the two celebrity chefs who work in partnership with MSC – Italian Carlo Cracco – host of MasterChef and Spanish Ramon Freixa. The menus on both of these nights offer, in my opinion, an excellent choice of dishes. Not to be missed are the ‘Chef’s specials’ on the left hand side of the menu under their picture is the details of their dish designed for MSC. Cracco’s braised blade of beef with pomegranate and Freixa’s duck royale (duck with foie gras) were both excellently thought out and well put together dishes, with a balance of flavour and beautiful presentation. We’d not tried either of these before as we’d not properly read that side of the menu! Beverage wise the choice available on the all inclusive drinks packages is extremely varied, with something to suit every taste. We took the All Inclusive Restaurants and Bars Deluxe package and were able to enjoy all of our drinks without the worry of a large bill at the end of the cruise. The Champagne bar on deck 7 serves Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne which is included in the deluxe package – great digestif to enjoy. A selection of oysters and other seafood is also available from this bar – we enjoyed three oysters here on our first evening at a cost of €9 together with a couple of glasses of champagne. Daniel, Anna Maria and Anastasia here work incredibly well as a team – as it’s not too busy they have time for a bit of a chat. It was wonderful to see them again after previously meeting them on other ships. Bars Over our years of cruising we have noticed that when getting onboard a new ship most passengers will find a venue they gravitate to. On MSC Seaview for us it was the Seaside Lounge on Deck 8, with the excellent service of Tayla, Gusti and Pun creating a great atmosphere. This bar offers a wide selection of cocktails and wines, as well as the usual beverages. The entertainment in here in the evening was a jazz singer whose voice was second to none, with almost as much depth as Nina Simone. Over the way from the Seaside Lounge is the Sports Bar, with a number of screens showing various different sports. We were absolutely delighted to see Francisco from MSC Fantasia and MSC Meraviglia in this bar, and he seemed genuinely pleased to see us too. The Sports Bar has a wide selection of beers both on draught and by the bottle, as well as various cocktails and mixed drinks. Both theSports Bar and the Seaside Lounge have access to the outside promenade, with seating readily available. Seaview has a multitude of other bars – we made it our mission to get round them all, and I think we succeeded! It’d take too long to write something about all of them, however I will just mention the area in the Piazza around the Chocolate Factory where the evening’s entertainment is a party band with some great tracks and the Panorama Bar on Deck 16 offering your usual pool-side favourites as well as those ever-so tempting creamy cocktails – Molten Lava anyone?? Overall experience MSC Seaview offered something entirely different from any ship we have ever been on, and what an experience it was. Unlike MSC Meraviglia which was inward focussed on the extravagant central promenade, Seaview is all about connecting you with the outside and the sea. Each bar had plenty of seating, and with the design of the ship the added bonus is that the bar areas all have a different atmosphere and feeling. This ship never felt crowded, even on our day at sea – probably because of the high number of balcony cabins, the promenade and the deck space. There is an abundance of activities, from ten pin bowling, the longest zip-line at sea, an aqua park, rope bridges, the casino (I had an excellent stroke of luck on our final night!) a beautiful theatre, gym, spa, three swimming pools available for the general ship’s population, arcade games, live music… It would be impossible to become bored on this ship. So, I’ve often written of my love affair with the line’s previous flagship MSC Fantasia for its timeless beauty and elegance (hard to believe she is now ten years old!) So, how does MSC Seaview compare? Well, she’s obviously much bigger and newer. Strip that away and what you have is a ship with the undoubted feel of an MSC Ship, public areas that flow from one to another and of course those sparkly stairs. I had previously said that it would be hard to improve on Fantasia, but, with Seaside and Seaview I think MSC have done it! This holiday, despite the small niggles on the first night which should be expected with any new restaurant / hotel / cruise ship, was a great success. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to the wonderful crew for making our honeymoon so special, and I hope we will all meet again soon! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
This was our 14th cruise and our first on MSC. As we got closer to our sail date, (April 1), started to get nervous about the poor reviews. Well, those worries left us when we boarded in Genoa. we had a large suite and were in the ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise and our first on MSC. As we got closer to our sail date, (April 1), started to get nervous about the poor reviews. Well, those worries left us when we boarded in Genoa. we had a large suite and were in the Yacht Club, so the service is unbelievable. Food, drink, butler service was out of this world. Yes, we were in the Yacht Club, had our own bar, restaurant and pool area, so this review is skewed as we were on a ship within a ship. That being said, we thought the entire ship was beautiful. Ate at Butchers Cut and the Japanese restaurant and were thoroughly impressed. All staff were courteous and the shows were very good. Now, I can see where some people had issues with this cruise. A few times walking around the ship, I was amazed by the amount of people that we saw. Pools, promenade, Jacuzzis seemed to be packed. others that we would have a drink with stated the same observation. Also, be prepared to hear announcements in numerous languages. It will start to wear on you. Excursions: Had a great time on all. The one to Rome was LONG. I think everyone on bus slept on the way back! Others in all ports were good. Best was a private tour out of Genoa to Portofino. BEAUTIFUL Also, the butler takes you on and off the ship at all ports. You by-pass all lines. This includes lines for all shows. This is a great perk of the Yacht Club. Just be prepared for people staring and mumbling under their breath!!) Overall, we loved MSC and in huge part to the yacht club. we will definitely cruise with them again Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Initially I was concerned with some of the reviews that we had read. We decided to continue with the cruise and this was the best decision we could have done. Yes the cruise was different than the US based cruise lines but if you are ... Read More
Initially I was concerned with some of the reviews that we had read. We decided to continue with the cruise and this was the best decision we could have done. Yes the cruise was different than the US based cruise lines but if you are going to sail with a Eupoean ship, keep an open mind...be willing to experience other types of cruises. The ship was clean and the staff was wonderful. We booked the angled balcony suite with the external jacuzzi. This cabin included the Aurea experience which allowed us to do priority boarding, free choice of dining time, unlimited drinks and two massages (one per two adults). There was so much to do on the ship, so even if you with to skip a port of call, you will not regret it. We really could not understand how some passengers had negative experiences. My suggestion to anyone that chooses to read this review is to understand that everyone is different and therefore expectations are also different. For us, we chose to create our own wonderful memories upon this beautiful vessel! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This is a longish review as I had read some very negative MSC reviews prior to leaving Australia for this cruise on MSC Orchestra. However, we still went with open minds and open hearts. Travelling is also an often emotive topic- as ... Read More
This is a longish review as I had read some very negative MSC reviews prior to leaving Australia for this cruise on MSC Orchestra. However, we still went with open minds and open hearts. Travelling is also an often emotive topic- as people may not have much precious vacation time, may have had better experiences on other holidays and so it becomes quite comparative at times. We have cruised from Australia previously - so this was our first European Cruise. We had been to Europe previously but always driven cars and caught planes. We chose this cruise because it represented great value for money. The opportunity to visit France, Spain, Malta and Italy from the cruise ship, seemed too good to be true and our Cabin 8199 cost us just $2800 AUD. Our cabin was right at the end of the ship, with a balcony. We also pre purchased 2 x 2 Excursions, in Florence and Rome. So with the excursions, the service charges and drinks that we paid for (as we went) and some MSC organised buses into towns on top we added around an extra $800 AUD, giving us an all up a spend of $3,600 AUD for us both! The very best part of cabin 8199 was being on the balcony - the view leaving ports like Genoa, Valletta where the views where just stunning, the balcony was also very spacious and quite wide. We did have a little bit of muffled doof, doof but not too bad and not too late, as we were over one of the discos, but nothing that kept us awake. Actually, the cabin itself was absolutely wonderful, with plenty of space, lots of hanging in wardrobes, drawers, safe and coat hangers etc. The bathroom was quite large and even though we did have a couple of issues with the toilet flush mechanism - they were responded too and fixed very, very quickly. The cleaning of the cabin we only wanted 2nd daily and we where happy with that. The meals in the Restaurant were mostly very good, we had a few outstanding meals and a couple of not so good, but overall similar to a wedding reception menu/style. We quite enjoyed the buffet for breakfast and sometimes dinner, as the choices were greater, you could go when you were ready, go back for seconds if you found something you really enjoyed, plus there was cold water, tea and coffee and always nice pastries to enjoy. People formed queues and we didn't see any pushing or shoving, as others have suggested. The embarkation procedure was great, we also had no issues for any excursion times and each time left port without any delays. The entertainment - which we went to 3 nights, was good to excellent! the young performers were energetic and the shows were fun. A couple of opera singers in one of the lounges were fabulous. We are not big drinkers so didn't stay out late, plus we were so tired from the early starts and all the walking in the cities. The Itinerary was excellent, the 3 stops in Spain were outstanding and Valletta was just amazing. We also loved Genoa as well. The amount of time to get into Rome and Florence via the buses, means that the actual time spent in those cities very rushed. The beds are just blissful, OMGoodness did we sleep well, such excellent beds!! We wish we could have brought them home with us. A majority of the people on the cruise were from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Spain. English speaking people are a minority, but we loved trying to guess who was from what country! Despite my planning to use some learnt Italiano most staff and people took one look at me and just said English? haha and most guessed we where from England, I was even asked was I Danish? So, the language issue wasn't problematic. Many couples with limited English made attempts to be friendly over meals. The passengers like us, were mostly older, with a third of the boat probably under 50. Families with little ones as well. My only improvements which I have also suggested in feedback to MSC 1. was it would be nice to have an English speaking TV show or two on, as we didn't have anything in English apart from CNN NEWS channel. 2. we hadn't realised that we would be charged 16Euro each for the buses into quite a few cities, not a big issue, but good to know, budget wise 3. the amount of times you are asked if you want a photo, became quite annoying 4. people on our dining table went on different excursions and we were puzzled as to why they paid a considerable cost to not even have the option to go into main attractions, such as the Cathedral in Mallorca. The excursions were only 4 hours long, giving them another 4 hours on the boat. Sure this is good for some very old people, but not giving folks the option seems a little underwhelming. Overall, we loved the cruise the boat was quiet, smooth and we would certainly go again with MSC. As a Footnote - Since arriving back home, I had an email regarding a Viking Cruise, Barcelona to Copenhagen - it sounds amazing! No children under 18 (but we like kids), no charges for internet, drinks, one excursion in every port etc etc............. BUT the price for this 15 days cruise is just on $7,000AUD per person. It is true you get what you pay for and many people will think that to be easily affordable, but to us it is not. Our 21 day holiday (we stayed in Italy and went to Venice and Lake Como - Varenna was the best for 5 days to unwind) all up costs - so including, air fares, trains, food, etc - was just on $11,000AUD, so we would recommend MSC highly, to people who want to make their options, money and the amount of times they travel stretch!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We wanted a cruising experience - unlike the Sydney based ones where you have a few days at sea before you see anything - and the Orchestra itinerary was the perfect solution. We embarked in Civitavecchia in a very well run and ... Read More
We wanted a cruising experience - unlike the Sydney based ones where you have a few days at sea before you see anything - and the Orchestra itinerary was the perfect solution. We embarked in Civitavecchia in a very well run and professional process to gather the herd of new passengers. We were very impressed with our cabins for their layout, the space and state of cleanliness. Our first night aboard included the mandatory evacuation procedure, a great dinner in our fine dining restaurant with terrific staff and then a brilliant show to enjoy before retiring early as the following morning we were in Genoa. This routine of port hopping continued around the Mediterranean with wonderful destinations and terrific sailing between them enjoying all the features and comforts of the MSC Orchestra. This included terrific food and service enjoyed at every on-board outlet from fine dining to buffets, bars both topside and internally, a cigar lounge, two heated outdoor pools, 4 hot tubs, a tennis court, mini put-put greens and quoits. All capped off with sensational nightly shows and of course the casino and disco to keep going all night. The staff seemed to be mainly Indonesian (from Bali) and from the Philippines so service was generally impeccable under the guidance and leadership of the Italian crew. Our only complaint being our fellow passengers and the way they treated each other, the staff and the wonderful facilities provided... They had a level of rudeness and no-care that was very disappointing. (smoking within the ship in designated no smoking areas, leaving tons of uneaten food because in a buffet environment they load up without consideration of fellow passengers of staff that have to clean up after them, and general rudeness to everyone around them! Despite this, overall we enjoyed a sensational holiday aboard a marvelous ship with a great crew, a really wonderful itinerary and a truly magnificent experience enjoyed in order to discover the magic of the Mediterranean - thanks MSC Orchestra Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise for a family Christmas holiday and prior to leaving I became very anxious after reading all the negative reviews. We had an amazing week on board a beautiful ship and not one of our group of seven had any ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a family Christmas holiday and prior to leaving I became very anxious after reading all the negative reviews. We had an amazing week on board a beautiful ship and not one of our group of seven had any complaints. Embarkation was the quickest and most efficient I have experienced. It was as quick as boarding as a Yacht Club passenger which we have done in the past. Disembarkation was as good and undoubtedly the best I have had in my over 10 cruises. Personnel were amazingly friendly and good at their tasks, from waiters to cabin staff. Even those working the administration side were helpful. We only had reason to use them twice and never waited more than 7 minutes each time. Considering there are so many passengers I find this exceptional. Food was good and varied and came to the table quickly and hot. We had breakfast in both the restaurant and the buffet. Divine eggs Benedictine. I found the portions sufficient but if you have a healthy appetite there is absolutely no problem on taking everything on the menu. It is served with a smile. I highly recommend the drinks package. We also ate at Eataly and the Teppinyaki. Both were excellent. The shows we saw were enjoyable. Cirque de Soleil was cancelled the night we had reserved for but this was due to bad weather. Understandable considering the nature of the show We were fully reimbursed. The balcony cabins we occupied were comfortable with excellent beds and the storage space is sufficient for a week. The bathroom with shower was perfect for a cruise ship. All was spotless and remained that way for the duration. The attention given to kiddies is amazing. Our 6 year grandson did not want the cruise to end. The staff are to be highly commended. We never used any of the tours offered so I am not in a position to comment. The gym has modern equipment and the spa is fabulous. So, for all those people out there who have done nothing but complain, perhaps they should start questioning themselves. Are they generally complainers and always dissatisfied? Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
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