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12 MSC Cruises Dover Cruise Reviews

The good parts--- The Ship was Fine.The decks and lounge areas were always immaculate and quite luxurious with plenty of comfortable seating space in all the lounges. The food was fine but we were herded together into tables set ... Read More
The good parts--- The Ship was Fine.The decks and lounge areas were always immaculate and quite luxurious with plenty of comfortable seating space in all the lounges. The food was fine but we were herded together into tables set close together for some reason at lunch time on a couple of occaisons. This felt very cramped and proved very noisy. Our waiters were in general very pleasant and did their job well. The cabin although small was well kept and always clean and tidy. We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre which were quite professional and on the last Gala night show the cast received a well deserved standing ovation. Good marks for all the above but then the downside. The bad parts---- We told boarding was at 1.oopm so we arrived at Southampton just before. We then queued for nearly 3 hours to board- not a good start.Why not stagger the times somehow there must be an easier way. The price of drinks is ridiclously high.£4.50 for small bottle of beer,£6.50 for a vodka and lemonade plus 15% service charge (greedy). £7.00 euros per person per day for tips which will be charged unless you opt out of paying. Why not put it onto the price of the holiday in the first place then no complaints. There were 2000 passengers on this ship if everyone paid this charge then that would amount to £100,000 in tips. It would be nice to know how that cash was distributed amongst the crew. We enjoyed ourselves but would think twice about sailing with M.S.C. again simply because of the over the top charges. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We booked our cruise on MSC Opera for our 30th wedding anniversary. We had heard only good reports about cruising. This was my wife's first cruise although i had cruised before. We booked MSC opera as we wanted to visit the Baltics ... Read More
We booked our cruise on MSC Opera for our 30th wedding anniversary. We had heard only good reports about cruising. This was my wife's first cruise although i had cruised before. We booked MSC opera as we wanted to visit the Baltics and as my wife is a vegetarian we thought Italian cuisine would suit us. The opera was extremely disappointing in many ways. for us it was far too regimented, if you did not eat before 4pm then you had no other option than to eat at your booked dining time (you could buy a pizza) this type of dining was very is very restrictive and the set menu was terrible for my wife who is a vegetarian. The lunch time buffet was no better than a 2 star hotel and breakfast was a joke, there were just not enough seats and people were literally queueing with trays of food waiting for a place to sit. The nightly show was very poor (magic show, juggler, can can dancers, flamenco dancers etc)the theatre was very full each night and the show only lasted about 30 minutes. every announcement on the ship was made in 6 languages, this became very boring. The smell of stale cigarette smoke lingers around the ship from the casino and one of the bars. The drinks prices from bottled water and coffee to beer and cocktails were exorbitant. It was just extremely poor in all departments and i would never use this cruise company again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I am a travel agent and I booked this two night break as I had never been on an MSC ship before, and I feel if you are selling a product you should really experience what you are selling to give an honest assessment. We travelled down to ... Read More
I am a travel agent and I booked this two night break as I had never been on an MSC ship before, and I feel if you are selling a product you should really experience what you are selling to give an honest assessment. We travelled down to Dover (UK) the day before the cruise departed, and I guess the biggest indictment of MSC Poesia is the fact that the meal we had in the local Chinese was vastly superior to anything we had on board (AND IT WAS SERVED APPRECIABLY HOTTER) We embarked at lunchtime on the 13th. Embarkation was absolutely superb and utterly seamless. Smooth and efficient. We found our way to our cabin (balcony category 11). Clean and tidy, nice space, good balcony and reasonable bathroom, so that was all fine. The only problem was there was a considerable amount of relevent literature missing from the cabin which took an age for them to actually rectify. We then went down to Guest Relations to register credit card, sort out all inclusive etc (which had been pre-booked and paid for) The lady on Guest Relations, whilst being perfectly pleasant had no idea about the packages, could not find out that we were on All Inclusive and I had to go back from deck 5, to my cabin on deck 11 to bring down the tickets as proof. Eventually after a period of faffing around it was sorted. We decided on a visit to Il Palladino for lunch which was mediocre at the very best. We both had pasta type dishes which were luke warm, and quite frankly bland. Italian ship/Pasta/Bland..........not really what we were expecting or hoping for. Ship exploration next. Always good fun and in truth the ship did not disappoint. It is lovely. Pools, pool area, bars, restaurants, in fact all the public areas are really nice. Clean bright, and each bar totally different in appearance and ambiance from the next. Casino was nice with plenty of tables and they actually have a separate poker room which is a nice touch. Then we came to another disappointment. Both of us enjoy looking in shops. It is always a pleasant way of spending a couple of hours....... and a few dollars. Very disappointed to find out that the shops were all going to be closed for the duration of the cruise due to the fact that the ship was going into dry dock at the end of the cruise. They were doing us the favour of opening up the Duty Free for a couple of hours on the Thursday night between 1900 and 2200 (fundamentally no use whatsoever as it fell between the show and the second sitting meal). Whilst I reluctantly accept that they closed the shops, it would have been nice to know in advance of joining the cruise. We then decided to take in a Jacuzzi and relax for a while at the Aureo Spa. A lovely ambiance. Child free with 3 lovely indoor jacuzzi and not over crowded, but my goodness they could do with putting some heating in the general relaxation area. Once you get out of the jacuzzi it was so cold, which was surprising for an indoor area. We went to the show on the Thursday night, and, although it was a trifle short, it was really very very good indeed. I am not normally a cruise-show person, although the person I was with is, and I would happily miss any cruise show. I am pleased we did not, as we both really enjoyed it and it provided a lovely pre-cursor to our dinner. DINNER. Average, average, average.........and that is the best I can say about it. Five courses, three of which were at a level of mediocrity that I am not used to on cruises and the other two minimally better. The company on our table was wonderful, but that is not something that MSC can particularly take any credit for. It did, however make the meal palatable and enjoyable as an experience. The worst part of it all was the seemingly total inability for them to serve up any dish at a temerature appreciably better than luke warm. A couple of little gripes dinner related (maybe a bit pedantic but hey ho!!) On Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/Princess etc cruises, if I order a bottle of wine, what I would expect to happen is that when the waiter saw that our glasses were getting low, he would ask and top up as required. Here, the bottle was just left on our table for us to pour as and when. I am not a snob by any means, it just isn't the way it should be. Also something as simple as cold water. With the above mentioned companies I would have my glass topped up from a jug by our waiter. Here it was a plastic bottle of water, left on our table to top up ourselves. After dinner we went into a couple of the bars to try and work our way through the cocktail menu. This proved very enjoyable and great fun. THe Zebra Bar was our particular favourite but as I said earlier they were all nice. Breakfast the following day was poor in so many respects. My companion had (and I use that word very carefully) a couple of slices of toast and a piece of waffle. The waffle was so hard that she found it virtually impossible to cut. We did think it may have been worth requesting a chisel to hack through it, but we felt our humour might fall on deaf ears. The toast was not appreciably better. The "hot" breakfast again should really have been done under the Trades Description Act. Yes it was a Breakfast. Not it was not hot, or even remotely close to that. This day we decided to go to the buffet for lunch which, from the food point of view was tasty(ish) however I can only reiterate it was warm at best. I truly do not know what is so difficult about serving either buffet or main restaurant food at an acceptable temperature. Between the two of us, I guess we have been on some 25-30 ships varying from Celebrity, Azamara, Cunard at one end and Ocean Village and Island at the other and we have never known a ship to be so incapable. The final insult to injurry was when I attempted to pay my bill. This had come across from the US and our bill for the two days was in US Dollars. It came to $57. I only had sterling and was told that it would be £59. As I am sure you will appreciate this would have represented an exchange rate of 0.966 dollars to the pound against an exchange rate of 1.40 roughly available elsewhere. I argued this with the Accounts man who insisted that it was correct until finally someone else intervened and said that it should be £39 and not £59, but it was unnecessary and potentially unpleasant. I will try and wrap this review up now. As a two night break we had a great time, however if I am making a genuine critique of the MSC experience I would conclude by saying the following:- 1) It purports to be 4* as does RCI/Princess etc. From a food perspective it cannot in anyway compete both in quality and presentation. 2) This is only an opinion. It appears to me that the staff to guest ration is unacceptably low as the inter-reaction with staff appears minimal and almost "fearful" 3) The language issues I have read about are unimportant and do not cause many delays or problems Would I cruise with MSC. Maybe again on a short cruise up to 5 nights, but I would not cruise on 7 nights or longer. I feel that I go on holiday to relax and the food quality and presentation would remove the relaxation element of my holiday. I would rather pay the slightly (and I do mean slightly) higher charges from some of the other companies and receive the experience they have to offer. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This trip was called Voyage to the Top of the World.  It was a wonderful cruise itinery and we were so lucky with the weather.....people on the previous trip had bad weather and saw almost nothing.Arriving at Dover we were surprised how ... Read More
This trip was called Voyage to the Top of the World.  It was a wonderful cruise itinery and we were so lucky with the weather.....people on the previous trip had bad weather and saw almost nothing.Arriving at Dover we were surprised how few people there were arriving..by the time we got to Amsterdam , our 1st port, we found out why....this was where all the italians/dutch arrived.........hundreds.....our 2nd port at Bremerhaven more germans/scandinavians and italians arrived.....We were outnumbered and it was like little italy....everything is pointed towards the italians and we felt 2nd class..entertainment was opera or classical.....and only 45mins each night.......our pre cruise requests were ignored and on finding we were on 1st sitting complained to the Maitre D who was most rude and told us virtually take it or leave it....but we stuck to our guns.........then find out that we were the only english on 2nd sitting as they have a segregation policy on their ships..........herding all the english on 1st sitting.....we were sat alone just 2 on a 4 seat table surrounded by shouting and never ending noise....not a pleasant situation......There were just italians everywhere and we would never go on MSC again...The trips were very expensive and we mostly found our own way apart from the necessityto pay for buses in tothe various towns.....The trip to 'The top of the World' was expensive but well worth it and you have to go via the excursion as there is no other way. We enjoyed the food and there was a good selection although if you didn't wantto go to the restaunrant in the evening it was burgers/chips or pizza .............that was the choice.....As with all cruises now the drinks were expensive, so as with most cruises now hardly anyone drinks........Amsterdam lovely as always...Bremerhaven wished we had taken the bus to Bremen...Alesund nice town and easy to walk to the top.....Honnigsvag sunday everything was closed but basically a one road town but we went there to go to the top which was stunning...Tromso a very interesting town lots to see...........Bergen was fabulous and we enjoyed the 'train' trip to the top butyou will need Krona as they dont accept euro..go to the information bureau for a fab rate of exchange......fin.........the ship was very clean absolutely spotless and plenty of recliners on decks.....but if you dont mind being a minority and having every announcement in 5 languages and never ending italian heard everywhere then use this line...but we wouldn't Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
The disappointment started when we arrived at Dover to be told there was no car park space allocated to us even though we had clearly stated that we required this when booking the cruise and paying the deposit!! This took a 20 minute phone ... Read More
The disappointment started when we arrived at Dover to be told there was no car park space allocated to us even though we had clearly stated that we required this when booking the cruise and paying the deposit!! This took a 20 minute phone call to MSC Cruises to sort out!We then faced the chaotic boarding process! Cars everywhere and no one to tell them where to go!On being shown to our room we then found out that we were alocated 2nd sitting for diner after requesting 1st sitting on booking the cruise 8 months previously.The food was a major disappointment - it was bland and barely luke-warm on reaching the table!!!We had wrongly believed that being an Italian cruise line that the food would be something special.One one evening we didn't even get coffee as our 2 waiters just seemed to disappear!We had done some internet research on the excursions available to us and had picked the ones we wanted to do and had priced them, thus setting ourselves a budget!!! When actually booking the trips we found out that they had risen quite considerably in price in just 1 week!!! With a couple of them already being sold out!The ship itself is beautiful and spotlessly clean. Our cabin steward was wonderful and nothing was too much trouble for him.Unfortunatly all these little things just added up and took the edge off what we had hoped would be a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Outbound from Dover on the MSC Lirica on 20 May 2009.  This ship is very clean and comfortable with excellent staff covering all our needs.  The ship's shows were good and catered for all walks of life.  On the sea days the ... Read More
Outbound from Dover on the MSC Lirica on 20 May 2009.  This ship is very clean and comfortable with excellent staff covering all our needs.  The ship's shows were good and catered for all walks of life.  On the sea days the entertainment was good, particularly the fruit carving and the jewellery talks by the manager of the jewellery shop. One criticism was the price of the drinks on board - cocktails 6.90 euros, large beer 4.80 euros, soft drinks 2.50 euros, cheapest bottle of wine 19 euros, which compared to fred.olsen prices was astronomic.  Also you are restricted to eating in the main restaurant on an evening unless you want to eat pizza.  We found this quite restrictive as we were on 1st sitting at 18.30 hours which was a rush after being ashore all day. According to the news page on the MSC website, the English had been catered for by providing free tea and coffee 24 hours a day.  However, this was not the case as there was never any milk after 8pm.On our way to Fjords, we called at Bremerhaven.  This is not a picturesque port of call and we were surprised that the ship did not have Hamburg on the itinerary instead.  The cruise terminal is at least 2 miles from the city centre, although the ship did provide a shuttle service for 9 euros.  We can only suggest that you take this option to the main train station and get a train to Bremen which is an hour away and the trains run every hour.As we travelled out of season for Norway, we found that in the northern ports of call in Norway - Olden and Geiranger, the public transport was not running as it did not start until mid June.  This meant that people on board are forced to take the expensive excursions provided by the ship if they are not prepared to walk anywhere.  However, if you want to go the view point overlooking the harbour in Geiranger, there is a local bus trip for one hour from the tourist information office which costs 200 krone.  Norway is a very expensive country to eat and drink out and a cruise is definitely the best option for seeing this beautiful country, thus limiting the need to purchase food and drink ashore.  However, knowing what we know now, we would have waited until June to take this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
It was with real surprise to have received a letter from the MSC Club asking if I would contribute 'a short, impartial review of your experience of your cruise with us' to this web site. Why you might ask, well simply put our ... Read More
It was with real surprise to have received a letter from the MSC Club asking if I would contribute 'a short, impartial review of your experience of your cruise with us' to this web site. Why you might ask, well simply put our cruise was the worst we have ever experienced. You might think that MSC would have done a little more background checking before mass mailing a letter to all its previous cruisers, especially when we spent 6 months trying to get some form of acceptable compensation from them.   Anyway some background. Having cruised before we thought we would try something different and so choose MSC's 'Italian' sophistication for my milestone 40th. We really wish we hadn't. We chose the inaugural sailing of the MSC Poesia taking in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy with a two night stay in Venice at the end. Now with anything new I expect some issues it's only natural, however I didn't expect them to happen before we even boarded. The major problem was when MSC changed our specifically booked hotel accommodation without notice and instead gave us a room in business hotel situated by the junction of a motorway, which we got a nice view of from our window. After I didn't some comparisons I found that the hotel we got was over £200 cheaper for the two nights than the one we booked and paid extra for. I raised the issue with reservations in the UK before we boarded and then again when we got on board. All I got was assurances it would be sorted out before we departed the ship in Venice - in short it wasn't.   As for the ship well when we got on the ship things started ok but it didn't take long before a number of other things came up. For instance   -          The gym did not have a supply of water, you were expected to pay for it at the bar just outside. -          Tap water was not freely available and took the restaurant staff 3 days to get to grips with the idea. -          Tea and coffee - not specialities, had to be bought everywhere except in the restaurants. -          Only one English speaking hostess available on the entire ship that was carrying over 1500 people who spoke English as their first language. -          The Italian crew members were at best unhelpful, probably due to their lack of understanding basic English, thank God for my Italian which was better than their English and that is saying something! -          Oh and of course being Italian they and were more concerned with their appearance and self importance to be of any use when you were able to communicate your needs. -          Cabin staff that needed to pay more attention to actually dusting and cleaning the glass and mirrors. -          The cinema mentioned in the literature that wasn't available/finished - we never did find out which.   I could go on with numerous other small points that when you put them altogether really puts a large black cloud over the whole experience.   At the end of the day my numerous letters of complaint did nothing to sway MSC and in general they just weren't interested in resolving anything once they had our money.   Would I cruise with MSC again? Well not at my expense. However, if anyone wants to send me on one to see if anything's changed and provide another impartial review on that feel free to get in touch.   In short, my opinion - 5 star hotel, 3 star food and 2 star service. If MSC are trying to develop their business in the UK market, they have a long, long way to go. I know of other lines that for less than the £3,000 we spent give better service, have friendlier staff and are more customer focus than this lot. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Embarkation This was the strangest one that I've ever experienced. I should probably say that first of all this cruise actually commenced 3 days earlier in Copenhagen but MSC were selling it as commencing in Dover for the UK ... Read More
Embarkation This was the strangest one that I've ever experienced. I should probably say that first of all this cruise actually commenced 3 days earlier in Copenhagen but MSC were selling it as commencing in Dover for the UK market. When I arrived at the port by taxi, I asked the driver where I should drop off my luggage and was told that it was normally just beside the entrance but it was closed. I then went in to the terminal itself, only to discover that there were no check in desks open (Check in was from 2pm onwards and I arrived at about 2.15pm). There were signs pointing to the ship and a steady stream of passengers returning to the ship. I decided that there was no other option but to follow them onboard along with my luggage. When I reached the port security just before the gangway to the ship, I explained that I didn't have my cruise card yet and there had been no one downstairs to check me in or take my luggage. He radioed to the ship and they told him to let me through as they were checking in onboard as they were only expecting 10 passengers in total to embark in Dover. As soon as I stepped onboard, one of the security staff came over to assist me, showed me where to leave my luggage and got another member to escort me to reception where they checked me in, in just a few minutes. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the port I was in my cabin. My suitcases were delivered to me 5 minutes later. Although this was the fastest embarkation that I've ever experienced it was certainly also the most unusual Ports of Call I don't do shore excursions. This is not a reflection on those provided by MSC but rather my aversion to getting up early whilst on holiday and being shepherded about in a group. I'm far too independent and I prefer being on my own or with a few friends to being in huge groups. I've also travelled fairly extensively in Europe over the past 30 years so my preference now is just to wander about for a few hours and feel the atmosphere of a place, rather than rush around trying to see every monument or tourist site listed in a guidebook. So anyone expecting lots of detailed information on any of these ports had best read someone else's review! After departing from Dover we had another day at sea before arriving at La Coruna on the morning of day 3. The seas had been a bit rough at times, but I was fully expecting this. La Coruna - we docked right in town. so no local transport required. It was only a few minutes walk to reach the waterfront promenade and as it was a lovely sunny day, I chose to wander along it for a few hours rather than head in to all the hustle and bustle of the shops in town. Lisbon - we were meant to arrive at 11am but didn't arrive until 12.30 as we'd made slow progress the night before due to heavy seas. The captain agreed to stay longer in port so we still had the same time in port. I've been to Lisbon many times before but this was the first time I'd arrived by sea and I particularly enjoyed the sail up the Tagus River which gave great views of the city skyline. It was amazing sailing under the 1966 Ponte (Bridge) 25 de Abril. As we approached it, it looked like we did not have much clearance room but we passed under just). I was standing on my balcony and being on Port side had a fantastic view all the way in. Lisbon is a beautiful and old city albeit extremely hilly. The best way to get up some streets is the trams or the public elevators dotted around the city. Most scenic tram ride is the 28 east from Baixa up to Graca and passing the magnificent 12th century Se cathedral and Igreja de Santo Antonio the 15 takes you along to the Torre de Belem and the fantastic Monasteiro de Jjeronimo (not to be missed). Other things of note are the Castelo de Sao Jorge (great views from up there) and the Panteao Nacional. If you are interested in things equestrian, you may also enjoy the Coach Museum which contains numerous Royal Ceremonial Coaches dating back several hundred years. If you have time to spare and are in port long enough, take the train out to Sintra. It's an absolutely beautiful place, so much so that it's classed as a world heritage site. There is a tourist bus service that leaves from the station and takes you up the very steep hill to first of all the Moorish castle ruins that have a great lookout over the valley below and then on to the fantastic Palacio de Pena (a Disneyland fairy tale castle has nothing on this) It closely resembles a many tiered pastel colored wedding cake. Unfortunately the inside is not as spectacular as the outside. It's very pleasant at the outdoor cafe on one of the esplanades near the top. The bus then heads back in to the town itself where you can not only enjoy the Palacio Nacionale but just wander around the many beautiful winding streets. You can also do the route by horse drawn carriage ride if you prefer. If you prefer the beach then catch the train along to Cascais or Estoril Gibraltar - didn't go ashore here as we docked in the evening and I didn't want to miss dinner and then later on didn't want to wander about in the dark on my own. We docked right in town and it looked just a short walk along the waterfront to the main part of town. I was a bit disappointed as it just seemed to have modern concrete buildings. Perhaps there were older ones with more character lurking behind! Malaga - we docked as expected at 8am, although I did not go ashore until later. I was glad I'd purchased a ticket for MSC's shuttle bus service (4 euros and you could use it as many times as you wanted to and from town). The docks were very large and industrial and I doubt that I'd have found my way out easily to the port Entrance. The ride in the bus (or rather buses) took about 10 minutes and ran every 15 minutes or so. Malaga is a very beautiful old city and I decided to treat myself by having a horse drawn carriage tour of the city and waterfront. It was well worth the 30 Euros. The commentary was in Spanish but I quite enjoyed this as I'm learning the language and was good practice for me. El Parador and El Castello were particular beautiful as were the many parks and the beachfront.... Another day At Sea followed and I stupidly had thought that now we were in the Mediterranean and well clear of the infamous Bay of Biscay, that would be the end of the rough seas. Boy was I wrong. We had the worse weather this day, so much so I ended up having to take seasickness tablets and lie down for a couple of hours. What was most annoying was it was the second gala night and I adore dressing up and having the cocktails, champagne and all the razzmatazz. I made it to dinner (minus the high heels, fortunately had a full length dress to hide the flat sensible sandals) but could not have any alcohol because of the tablets so had to forgo the champers. Dinner was great though Olbia (Sardinia) - as my research had informed me that Olbia was a commercial town with not much to interest a tourist; I'd planned on a taxi ride to a nearby beach. Unfortunately the weather although dry and sunny just wasn't warm enough for a day on the beach, so I decided to have a quiet lazy day onboard instead Genoa - final destination. As I've been here before, I decided to book a lunch time flight so I could get back to Edinburgh the same day without the need for an overnight stay in London. Cabin I booked a suite as these are the only cabins to have a balcony. It was located port side towards the front of deck 10. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table and is fine for 2 people but would be a bit of a squeeze if there were more than that. Unlike some suites it doesn't have a separate bedroom from the living area, just one long room (about the same width as a standard cabin but double the length) There is a sofa which I think converts to a sofa bed), coffee table, mini bar with cupboards either side and the TV. The bed is queen size (although can convert to 2 twins). It has a bedside cabinet either side. The wardrobe is much larger than the standard cabins and is the walk in type. There is also a dressing table that is fitted with 2 European and 2 US power sockets. The mirror opens out to reveal yet another cupboard and the mini safe. Along side the wardrobe are 2 further full height shelved cupboards with a large mirror and glass shelf unit in between. The bathroom is the same width as a standard cabin but longer, so has an additional cupboard in the vanity unit below the sink and has a bath rather than just a shower. The bath is not huge but at 5'7" was absolutely fine for me. I certainly appreciated it the days we had extremely rough seas, as I don't think I'd have managed to stay standing up having a shower! In addition to lots more space, other extras in the suite are a real hairdryer with diffuser attachment (rather than the horrible wall mounted variety with the bendy hose) and robes. I found the bed extremely comfortable and whilst I would have preferred a duvet rather than sheets and blanket, the bedlinen was of a good quality. The cabin was well maintained and my cabin steward kept it spotless. I liked having a fresh fruit bowl too which was regularly replenished. Bars and Lounges There are a number to choose from both day and night. La Canzone del Mare, La pergola & vitamin bar - all deck 11 on the pool deck and open air. La pergola opens from 7am- 8pm and the others open a little later. They serve a range of soft drinks, beers, virgin cocktails, cocktails and spirits and coffees. You can also get smoothies and juices at the vitamin bar. You can either sit at the bar or sit nearby and have waiter service. Coffee Corner - deck 6 aft above the reception area. Wide range of teas and coffees (including hot, cold and liquor). Also serves full bar menus of soft drinks, spirits and cocktails. It's a nice meeting point and a great place to people watch I strongly recommend the Amaretto cappuccino. Sometimes has live music in the evening. It's open 6.30-1.00am and is completely non smoking Lord Nelson Pub - deck 5, stern below the theatre. It closely resembles a British pub but I would not recommend it, unless you are a smoker as it is the smoking bar. Opens 7.00-1.00am The Beverly Hills bar - very pleasant lounge that has a programme of live music and other entertainment (musical quizzes, art auctions etc) It is surrounded by the shops. It has a small dance floor and opens from noon until 1am. I quite liked this lounge pre or post dinner as I enjoyed the live music, especially the classical trio that often played here. Non smoking Las Vegas Casino Bar - on deck beside the casino (as I'm sure you will have guessed) It also has live music, especially for dancing too. It has a reasonably sized dance floor. It's open from 7pm until late (anytime after 1am depending on how many passengers are still around). Although it doesn't serve drinks during the day, it's quiet a nice place to sit in peace and have a chat or read. Also non smoking L'Atmosphere piano bar - midship deck 6 handy for the smaller Ippocampo dining room and directly above the entrance to the main dining room la Bussola, It specializes in Martinis and has live music all evening (but just to listen to as there is no dance floor). Open 5.00pm-1.00am. This was my favorite as I loved the atmosphere (pardon the pun) of it. The bar staff were exceptional here and nothing was too much trouble for them. As well as having an extensive list of cocktails, they'd also create ones for you based on what they knew you liked. Non smoking. Lirica Lounge - the main show lounge directly above the theatre. Has live music and dancing every evening as well as a variety of other entertainment hosted by the young and energetic Entertainment team (cabarets, competitions, games, talent shows etc). The captain's cocktail parties are also held here. Opens 9.00pm-1.00am. Non smoking The Blue Club Disco - aft deck 12. Opens from 6pm until late (after 1am depending on when passengers leave). It has a chocolate bar. The disco music doesn't start until 11.30pm though. Drink packages Soft Drinks - 28 euros - 14 drinks Small beers - 32 euros - 14 beers Large beers - 63 euros for 14 Honeymoon Special - 2 cocktails, 6 non alcoholic cocktails/smoothies and a bottle of Asti spumante served in your cabin - 61 euros There are also wine and cocktail packages available but I did not note the prices. Restaurants and Food Breakfast - You can choose from continental served in your cabin 7-10am but needs to be ordered before 3am), buffet in le Bistrot on deck 11 (6.30-10am)or a la carte breakfast in the main dining room (6.30-9.30am). If you can't wait for your caffeine intake there is early birds coffee served from 6-6.30am or if you rise too late then try either the lord Nelson Pub or La pergola (deck 11) where they serve croissants and brioches 9-12.00, I didn't use the buffet at all on this cruise as I prefer waiter service of the dining room. The choice there was reasonably extensive with a variety of fruit juices (carton variety rather than fresh squeezed), fruits, cereals, variety of bread, rolls and pastries (I particularly recommend the pain au chocolate - avoid toast as they don't make it like you'd expect - stick to the fresh bread, rolls etc). You can have eggs pretty much anyway (the omelettes are very nice as is the scrambled eggs), bacon (bit on the crispy side for British tastes, ham, sausages, potatoes of the day usually sautEed), grilled tomato. They also have smoked salmon which you can have on its own or with cream cheese and a bagel. You can have pancakes too and they also have yogurts. Lunch - if you want to dine in the open air on the pool deck, then your choice is the pizzeria which makes a variety of excellent pizzas or the grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs, and salads both open from 12.00-6.00pm. There is also a gelateria at the opposite end of deck 11 serving a selection of fresh made ice creams (very good but are not complimentary) from 11.00-5.00pm. There is also the buffet on deck 11 from 12.00-2.30pm or the main dining room 12-1.30pm. or occasionally 2; Lunch in the dining room has a selection of 6 courses available - appetizers; salad; soup; pasta and rice: main; dessert. Meals at lunch time tend to be more international than in the evening. I particularly liked the variety of soups especially the chilled consommEs and fruit soups (very varied and absolutely delicious). Appetizers were invariably good and very varied. Pasta was always good too, although the rice dish which was usually some kind of rice salad, which could be a bit bland or dry on occasion. Main courses would always include eggs (e.g. omelette. Eggs Benedict; a fish dish; meat and a sandwich (which could be on ciabatta, foccacio or just bread) they always have hamburgers, cheese burgers etc available too. Desserts always include the ice cream of the day as well as sugar free alternatives and fruit is also available. On the whole I enjoyed most meals. Sometimes the food was warm instead of hot. I was less keen on the chicken dishes, simply because they do not use boned pieces and I can't be bothered trying to get the meat off the bones, especially when it is smothered in a sauce. Afternoon tea - is served 4-5pm. They have a selection of teas (Prince of Wales; Assam; English; camomile; peppermint and a few others) Coffee is also available. The cakes, and biscuits are Italian and may not be what Americans or the British are used too. Dinner is served in the dining rooms at allocated tables. There are 2 sittings; I chose the second at 8.30pm as the first at 6.15pm was too early for me. Dinner also has 6 courses available which are less international, usually with the food from a different region of Italy each night (although on a longer repositioning cruise of 18 nights earlier this year, they did do themed dinners from other countries e.g. Mexico, Asia, France, Spain etc) they also have grilled salmon, chicken or steak available every evening and spaghetti Bolognese, if you don't fancy the main courses available. We had 2 gala dinners in the 8 nights we were onboard. I had a fantastic waiter who looked after me extremely well. I was closest to his station, so this may well have been the reason that my food was far hotter than I'd experienced on previous cruises with MSC. I'm also pleased to report that the beef was greatly improved. I was almost reluctant to order it as I'd experienced the shoe leather variety on previous sailings but am pleased to report that I had it 3 times (filet mignon; cooked in wine and cold roast)( and it was tender and tasty on all occasions. Like lunch my favorite courses were the appetizers, soups and pasta although I also enjoyed the risotto too. Most main courses were either good or ok. I rarely had a dessert but when I did, usually the ice cream or something lighter like mousse or crème brulee, I enjoyed them. Midnight buffet - served from 11.30pm every night had a different theme. Can't comment on this as having just finished 4 or 5 courses an hour earlier, could not contemplate eating again. Crew For me the real stars 9as always on MSC) were the dining room, bar and cabin crew. My waiter was exceptional, he always was waiting to greet me and assist me to be seated. He went out his way to make me feel special with a variety of napkin sculptures rose, peacock to name but a few). If I left anything on my plate or seemed to be eating slowly, he'd be over in a shot, offering to get me something else. One night, I stupidly told him that crème brulee was my favorite dessert and ended up with 2 which I just could not mange after 4 other courses). He'd always give me recommendations as to what was best that evening. One night my main course arrived at his station a little bit early as I was still finishing my previous course. Rather than serve it anyway, it was discarded and he sent for another one, to make sure I had a hot meal. The bar staff were exceptional too, especially Arif in the piano bar who made friends with all passengers regardless of age or nationality. He was very skilled at making cocktails and would invent a few others for his regulars. He also made animals out of straws and played games with the children. He managed all this and kept the bar running incredibly efficiently often unaided by his assistant who was sent away on breaks or to help out elsewhere. My cabin steward done a great job too, cleaning my cabin twice per day and regularly replenishing my fruit bowl (he noticed which kinds I preferred and started to give me more of those and less of the others) and always took time to talk to me. Even the other stewards on my deck always spoke when you passed them (and usually more than just a Good Morning or Afternoon). They would ask what sort of day you'd had and when the weather was rough if I was feeling ok. Form previous cruises with MSC I knew that the Italian Officers and Reception staff were usually aloof and often unhelpful. However on this sailing that had improved too. Whilst I would not say that the reception team were as friendly as the other crew, they'd certainly thawed their frosty attitude to pleasant and were also helpful and polite. I also had to see one of the officers about my account and he was absolutely charming. Entertainment There were 2 showings of the main show in the Broadway theatre each evening to coincide with the end of each dinner sitting. The theatre itself is beautiful and has good sight lines regardless of where you sit. The shows had to cater for 6 languages so tended to be either visual acts (such as cirque oleil style acts; magicians; dancers; or musical (also includes a classical concert). I only went to a few shows but enjoyed the ones that I went to. My favorite was the classical concert which consisted of a good Italian tenor accompanied by a trio from Eastern Europe (pianist, violinist and flautist). Have to say this was my favorite. There is live music ever evening, throughout the evening in a variety of lounges. Some just to listen to and some to dance to. On the whole they ranged from ok to good. There was usually some kind of entertainment hosted by the very energetic group of young Italians forming the Entertainment team going on day and night. Day time tended to be dance lessons, quizzes and bingo (in 5 or 6 languages); competitions and games on days at sea there were also Italian lessons, arts and crafts and other demos and talks) Gym, Spa and other facilities The gym had only 3 treadmills (and 1 was broken) and 3 bikes, so you often had to wait a while to get on them at busy times. They had a good range of free weights and weight machines and here were never queues to use them. The gym is situated right at the front of deck 11 beside the spa and you got great views from up there. It did however mean it also felt the motion of the ship the worst when the sea was rough. Next door was a sun lounge which most passengers had not discovered as it was usually always quiet. The sauna and steam room were here too. I used the spa a few times and can recommend the Balinese massages especially the hot stone one. Not cheap but very good. Watch out for specials in the daily programme. They have a hairdresser too, the pool is salt water and not heated, so is fine when in hot weather but can get a bit chilly. The pool area itself and deck above have lots of sun loungers available (which are all fitted with an adjustable face shield). At busy times it can prove difficult to find a bed as passengers hog them by leaving towels on them. It can also get fairly noisy around the pool area as much of the day time activities take place here. If you fancy some peace and quiet, then head for the small deck areas aft from deck 8 upwards to 12. It is much easier to find a bed there. There is also a small library (although only a small selection of English books) card room, very well equipped medical centre (with extremely proficient and friendly staff), casino; slot machine area; cyber cafe; photo shop and a variety of other shops (clothing; Colombian Emeralds; duty free; perfumery; electronics and a limited range of toiletries) There is also a children's club on deck 11 but as I don't have children, can't tell you anything about it. There is no self service laundry onboard, but they do have a laundry service which is quick and good. They do a special on the last few days of the cruise where they drastically reduce their prices in their (let us do your laundry for you before you go home promo) Disembarkation We were supposed to vacate our cabins and be in our meeting points by 9am. Breakfast was being served from 6.30 onwards in the dining room as normal and slightly earlier I think at the buffet. Room service was suspended that morning (which is the norm with MSC). We docked at 9am as expected and they started allowing groups to leave around 9.30am. I knew that I was in one of the last groups, so expected to have a bit of a wait. My group was called at 10.15am. getting off was relatively simple as the system of only allowing so many off at a time, stopped hold-ups at gangways and in the baggage hall, so all went relatively smoothly up to this point. The next part was a complete nightmare. I made it outside the terminal and headed for where I'd been told the taxi ranks was. Only it wasn't a rank with the usual orderly queue of passengers waiting. Instead it was a complete free for all with no qs - and taxis stopping all over the place and just picking up whoever managed to push themselves to them first. As one of the few single passengers and with 2 cases and slightly visually impaired, I had absolutely no chance against the groups of passengers. I lost count of how many times I was pushed out the way. At first, I was not too worried as I thought "well, I'm just going to have to wait until last". However more and more passengers kept coming out of the terminal and I needed to be at the airport by around 12 and it was already just after 11. At this point I started to get really worried and a bit upset that I was going to miss my flight and have to find a hotel for the night and hope that I could buy another flight for the following day. Fortunately at this point 3 Italian ladies noticed that I was getting upset and offered to share a taxi with me as they were also going to the airport. Now that I was part of a group of 4, we got a taxi within 5 minutes and I arrived in good time for my flight home to Edinburgh via Gatwick. So anyone making their own arrangements to leave from Genoa be prepared to do battle in a scrum or be incredibly patient if there are a lot of passengers also making their own arrangements to get home. Overall Opinion Great cruise despite the sometimes uncooperative weather. Had exactly what I wanted a very relaxing time, being waited on hand and foot by fantastic friendly staff who could not do enough for me. Also pleased to observe the improvements in the quality of the food especially the beef) and the temperature at which the food was served was much hotter than previously. Only small blot on a wonderful experience was the debacle at the taxi rank in Genoa which MSC could hardly be blamed for. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
My partner and I sailed on the Armonia to visit the Baltic Capitals. The ship itself is beautiful, very well appointed and spotlessly clean. It was my first time cruising and don't think I would sail with MSC again. The food on board ... Read More
My partner and I sailed on the Armonia to visit the Baltic Capitals. The ship itself is beautiful, very well appointed and spotlessly clean. It was my first time cruising and don't think I would sail with MSC again. The food on board was very boring and tasteless. I heard American passengers state how they had Lobster and Fillet steak regularly on other cruises - but certainly nothing like that on the Armonia. Just the same chicken, fish and lamb done with various bland dressings/sauces. The pasta was good but just done with the same tomato sauce. The pizza offered at the grill on deck 11 was disgraceful - you would expect top class pizza from an Italian ship - what we were offered was too hard to cut with knife and therefore mostly inedible!!! The drinks on board were expensive but I suppose that is normal on a cruise. However having to pay for bottled water at the evening meal was a bit much, although it was available free in a machine on deck 11 at lunchtimes. The excursions are really expensive. It is much better to do your own thing if you can - there is normally transport organized by MSC from the quayside to the city center at most ports. The only time it was best to take an excursion was at St Petersburg where doing your own thing would have been a bit risky. The cabin stewards were lovely - ours named Edwin was Indonesian and could not do enough for us. Most of the bar staff were lovely too - always smiling and helpful. Our main criticism was the staff at the accounting desk - they were very downright rude, unhelpful and would much rather talk amongst themselves than serve passengers - who were afterall "just a nuisance". Sometimes you felt quite intimidated standing there. We asked reception for early morning calls several times as the excursions did leave early. None were ever received!!! Luckily we could set a mobile phone to do this as well, otherwise we could have missed some trips as the ship's time was always being changed from country to country. Overall we really enjoyed our trip and will book another cruise sometime in the future, but not with MSC!!! We understood from fellow passengers that there are much better cruise lines out there and spending all that money on your holiday you do expect to be treated with a bit more care and consideration. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was our first cruise with MSC and were very disappointed with many things. This was also our fifth cruise in 18 months having been on cruises with Costa, Royal Caribbean and Princess and so naturally we had many comparisons to make. ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC and were very disappointed with many things. This was also our fifth cruise in 18 months having been on cruises with Costa, Royal Caribbean and Princess and so naturally we had many comparisons to make. Our major disappointment was with the food and general eating/dining experience:- With no alternative dining, we ate each evening in La Pergola Restaurant, second sitting. Firstly all the "hot" courses were barely luke warm; the vegetables were always over-cooked and soft and limp; the meats were cooked to beyond "well done" and more like shoe leather and the fish was also over-cooked and dry. Whilst there were several courses and choices within each course, one had the feeling of eating in a fast food establishment in that the waiters wanted to get you out of there as quickly as possible. Coffee was not on offer ever! Breakfast was mostly a nightmare in the self-service on deck 11. Getting a table was at times like winning the lottery. With the weather not particularly pleasant or warm, eating outside was not really an option for most of the trip. Whilst one could go down to the Marco Polo restaurant and be served breakfast, the food was again not that hot. Limited choice of juices (2); no muffins, waffles, pancakes, maple syrup. Bacon over-cooked and greasy. The toast was a disgrace and so hard that it was sometimes impossible to cut through the crust! Lunch times was also a similar scramble if you wanted to snack in the self service but if you wanted french fries you had to go out in the cold open deck to get them from the burger bar and they were always less than luke warm and hard. Tea and coffee was only available at breakfast (until 10.30); lunchtime (but no choice of teas - just what came out of the machine); tea-time from 4 -4.45. Outside these hours you had to pay for them.Water was not available unless you bought it! Not all night food available, although they did have mid-night snacks brought round the public spaces some nights and of course the usual midnight buffet, which was not that brilliant. At first the layout of the ship was quite irritating, in that you would wait for a lift, get in and find that it did not go to all the deck levels as indicated on the outside of the lift! Often you would get out on deck 5 for example and find that you had to go through the Marco Polo restaurant when open if you wanted the other end of the ship. When it was closed you had to go back up to deck 6. In our opinion the best lounge of all was on deck 12...the Oasis lounge with its 280 degree view through floor to ceiling windows. This was ideally situated at the aft of the ship, but the annoying thing was, it used primarily for the disco which started at 11.30 at night. With the lovely bar, and fabulous panoramic views, you could not get a drink of anything at all until 11pm at night. So during the day, it was almost empty bar a few who braved it by going down one deck to deck 11, outside in the cold to a bar there and bring back a drink or tea/coffee. Sometimes if you were lucky you could persuade one of the waiters to bring it up for you. There was no waiter service at all during the day. Such a pity. The standard of cleanliness was exceptionally high to the point that one was constantly confronted with stepping over vacuum cleaner cables or circumventing the poor staff who constantly and continually were cleaning the same area for most of the day. This was particularly evident on the aft stairs at decks 11 and 12. It was humiliating for the crew to be seen to be going over the same stair rail that they had down a couple of hours earlier. The shows were pretty amateur as regards the dancers. The general choreography was basic; however there were a couple of shining stars (contortionist/balancing acts/high wire). It was the sameness each night, called a different theme but mainly was the same. the Entertainment staff (Animators) were just great. Fun, polite, helpful and had a genuine desire to get people mixing and enjoying the events. The sauna/steamroom suite was beautifully appointed, but for me, I prefer separate male/female. These were mixed. But annoyingly again you had to pay for the use of them. 16 euros a time! After a while the piano/music lounges became monotonous. The general crew members such as cleaners, cabin staff, waiters were all lovely. Smiling, helpful and efficient but not so those on the Accounting Desk or some on the Reception. In fact quite abrupt. Embarkation and Disembarkation was a delight. Quick, efficient and easy. We only went on two organized tours which were up to expectations, but the port of call in Bremen in our opinion, was a waste of time. Nothing much to see and being a Sunday, even the shops were closed as were most of the eating establishments. Our cabin was large, light and lovely. Couldn't fault it. Overall value for money was very good, if only they could get to grips with the preparation, cooking and presentation of the food, from all aspects. This has put us off MSC and I doubt we would ever use them again and certainly would not recommend them to any of our friends. That is a pity, because all of these points are quite simple to put right. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This cruise line may offer a cheap way to get ON a cruise but it turns out very expensive when on board, especially on the Armonia (but I imagine the same thing on their other ships). NO water is available unless it is BOUGHT (at Euros ... Read More
This cruise line may offer a cheap way to get ON a cruise but it turns out very expensive when on board, especially on the Armonia (but I imagine the same thing on their other ships). NO water is available unless it is BOUGHT (at Euros 2.60 for a 75cl bottle!). They say that ship water is chlorinated so not for drinking BUT ice cubes are supplied in stateroom and I don't believe they are made with bottled water!! Tea and coffee is not offered at lunch or dinner - but IS available free of charge for those in the know who ask for it ..... No iced tea, no ice machines, very "take it or leave it". The food itself is not all that good - sometimes good but often pretty second rate and is NEVER hot!! They actually offer fish fingers and Coley as main dishes!! That being said, the "sugar free" puddings are very good but you can't live on puds alone !! The management are surly and unhelpful - the nicest people on board at present being the entertainment team and ALL the people from stateroom stewards downwards (mainly Indonesian and always smiling - thank goodness)! The staterooms, whilst very clean (as is the ship itself) have extremely poor lighting in the bed area so reading is out of the question. The ship is very badly laid out. For instance the Medical Centre is right across Deck 7 which is also the deck for a large entertainment lounge and the Library/Card Room, so to get to these facilities one has to be very careful which elevator to use - out of those available only one set takes you to the Deck 7 public facilities. Another set of lifts (aft) indicates all the available facilities on Deck 5 but, in fact, takes you only to the lower (aft) dining room allowing no access to the rest of Deck 5 - very irritating. The cruise is multi-lingual which is to be expected but patience wears thin when put along with other irritations. We will not be cruising with them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We were on the Poesia's inaugural cruise (April 6th - 19th; London (Dover) to Venice. I was interested to see the member reviews here as well as the comments on this board. Most of the complaints seem to be about the food while the ... Read More
We were on the Poesia's inaugural cruise (April 6th - 19th; London (Dover) to Venice. I was interested to see the member reviews here as well as the comments on this board. Most of the complaints seem to be about the food while the ship itself got generally high marks. I'm writing this primarily as a ship review, but I will briefly go through the ports (I loved them all): • London - We spend two and half days here before the cruise. It's a beautiful city with so much to see in the way of history and architecture. We particularly enjoyed the British Museum. Excellent mass transit system. • Cork/Cobh Ireland - Scenic, friendly, nothing specific I'd describe as a must-see. If I did it again, I think I'd spend more time in Cobh (where the ship docks) and less in Cork. • Lisbon - I loved it. I would definitely like to go back. Friendly and helpful people. Beautiful stone and tile work everywhere. We enjoyed the Castle and the Jeronimos Monastery. • Barcelona - Attractive city. Nice parks. You have to see the Sagrada Familia. • Rome - I wouldn't know where to start. I think the must-sees in Rome are known by all. St. Peter's Basilica was amazing. • Naples - Naples, at least in the midst of its current garbage crisis, was not pleasant. I'm sure there are things to do and see there, but our experience was limited to walking through the city to the train station where we caught the Circumvesuvius line to Pompeii (wonderful) and then on to Sorrento (gorgeous, one of my favorites). • Messina, Sicily - Our time here was also limited to walking to the train station where we caught a train to Taormina. Unfortunately we didn't have much time there and found out only too late that we had gone to the waterfront when the main town was high on the hill above. • Dubrovnik - A lovely city. The main attraction is the Old City, but the whole area is beautiful. I want to get back there someday for a longer visit. • Venice - A place everyone has to visit at least once. We stayed 2+ days there and really enjoyed it. Just roam the streets and take it all in. Piazza San Marcos is a must see. Get a Water Bus pass for the duration you're going to be in port - it's a fun and easy way to get around. Aside from the main island, I would also recommend going out to Murano (glass!) and Lido. We saw all these ports on our own. We gave up on ship-offered excursions after about our second cruise having found them to be overpriced and over-restrictive. While we made significant use of public transportation (which, compared to Seattle, is outstanding everywhere we went, with the possible exception of Dubrovnik), mostly we saw these ports on foot. I would recommend that method to anyone with the energy to do it as the best way to get a real feel for a city when you are only there for a short time. It also helps work off all of those cruise calories. Now, back to the ship ... We've been on about a dozen cruises over the last 20 years, about half on Princess and the remainder on Sitmar, HAL, RCL, and now MSC. In my opinion MSC falls at the bottom of those lines in terms of the things important to me, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I'd never sail with them again (though I felt that way at times during the cruise and heard that view from many other passengers). I thought the food was OK. There were high and low points. The pasta courses were good, the main dishes often not, etc. It was definitely NOT 5-star cuisine, but it was still good. As with the ship as a whole, I'd rate it at the bottom of the lines I've been on, but not by a lot. Some things I didn't like: • The casual dining (buffet) was not even close to 24 hours and was closed entirely at dinner. That wasn't a huge deal for us on this trip, but it would have been on if we had brought the kids. We have friends that, on cruises, eat exclusively in the casual dining when dining room attire is other than casual because their idea of a vacation is never having to dress up. • It was very difficult to get ice water (that is tap water as opposed to purchasing bottled water) in the formal restaurant or the buffet. • There was no self-service water/tea/coffee anywhere and no free service except during buffet hours. • Free room service - available and extensive on the other ships we've sailed on - was nearly absent (limited to very bare-bones breakfast). Some things I did like: • The wait staff was polite and friendly • Lunch in the dining room featured a full six-course menu (appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, entrEe, and dessert) and was often better than dinner. • The buffets were of generally good quality though the desserts were unimpressive. For the most part I did NOT like the ship itself. Issues: • Very few of the public areas (library, card room, lounges, ...) even had a view of the outside. • The decorating was sometimes nice but sometimes jarringly unpleasant. The disco, for example, was about the ugliest room I've ever seen. Obviously this is a matter of taste and only my opinion. • I'm fairly sensitive to smoke which made many of the public areas unusable for me. For example, I completely steered clear of the casino. Also, since smoking in the cabins is merely "discouraged" I think you can be certain that all cabins will have been "smoking" cabins at some point within the first several cruises. That wasn't a problem for us since the ship was brand new. • Some of the public areas that I generally use on ships were sub par. For example, the library was only open for a couple of hours, twice a day - even when at sea, was very small, and had no exterior windows. • There was not enough pool/pool deck space for a ship this size. Further, they closed the pool and hot tubs at 8:00 pm. • The workout room was small for a ship this size. • The beautiful art collections that are a feature of so many ships were mostly replaced by mirrors and flat-screen TVs (promoting the ship). Everything else ... Good • The ship was new and the condition of everything was pristine. • The service staff was friendly certainly tried to be helpful. • Embarkation and disembarkation were handled well. • The music in the central atrium, particularly the classical string trio/piano, was very pleasant. The music in the lounges was generally good as well. • They were less strict than other ships about bringing your own alcohol aboard. I was even told by other passengers that they allowed passengers to buy liquor in the duty-free shop and take it back to their cabin. • The Captain's welcome aboard and farewell cocktail parties were well done. Not so good • While it's happening on all lines (except perhaps the super-premiums), MSC has taken nickel and dimeing you to new heights. For example, there is a charge (about $24, if I remember right) for a one-time use of the sauna/steam room - I've never had to pay for that before. Personally, I'd rather pay a bit more for the cruise, up front, and have the vacation itself be more all-inclusive. • The drinks, at least for an American, were very expensive. When converted from Euros to dollars, a beer or a well drink was around $9-10. • The cabins were smaller than we've seen on other ships. In general it wasn't too bad, but the storage space for clothes was MUCH less than I've seen on other ships. We had to leave a portion of our clothes in the suitcases under the bed because they just wouldn't fit. • There was often a language barrier when trying to deal with the staff - not surprising on a ship that caters to so many different nationalities, but still an issue. It was, in fact, impossible to ask anything directly of our cabin steward. We had to make requests to the main desk. • The on-board activities were, BY FAR, the sparsest of any ship I've ever been on. That made at-sea days - often my favorite - rather dull. The activities they did have were often available for only very short hours. • No deck chairs on promenade (a favorite place of mine to sit and read). • It was necessary to check out pool towels and other items (e.g. putter and ball for the putting area) on your cruise card and then wait in line to return them. They frequently reiterated the point that you would be charged for anything not returned, that there were cameras in all the shops, etc. Conveying the unmistakable message: WE DON"T TRUST YOU. The so-so: • The shows I saw were of mixed quality. In my experience, that's always the case. We had late seating and the shows followed so we tended to skip them when we were going to be in port early the next day. The number of different languages on the ship led, I'm sure, to a different mix of performers. Comedy, for example, would be difficult if you had to deliver the punch line in 5 languages. • The cruise staff and officers were polite, but certainly not friendly. • They handled the multitude of languages well, but hearing all of the announcements in 5 languages gets tiring after a while. In summary, I'd sail with MSC again, but only if it was either a very good price and/or an itinerary I really wanted and couldn't find elsewhere. Beware of choosing them based on any relatively small price advantage, because you will probably end up spending more on the ship for the same experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
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