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126 MSC Cruises Marseille Cruise Reviews

It was not our first Cruise, but our first one with the children. However I was expecting more... The Buffet restaurant was nothing special, actually I found it poor. Same items almost every day. The MArco Polo Restaurant was good ... Read More
It was not our first Cruise, but our first one with the children. However I was expecting more... The Buffet restaurant was nothing special, actually I found it poor. Same items almost every day. The MArco Polo Restaurant was good (thank God). I have to say that we had the better employee of the restaurant the brazilian Luana. She was very helpfull and also very friendly with everyone. My children wanted to take her home with us. We had no time to see her on the last day and they were very upset and kept saying that they wanted Luana... The public areas were a bit old. Public WC had some broke things as taps etc. The pool area has very slippery deck. I saw some people slip and fall. Very dangerous. the deck chairs were reserved very early though nobody occupied them for hours. The crew should have that in mind. Some people went on excursions but reserved deck chairs! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I have done serveral cruises and this one is definately the worst which is a shame as it is a beautiful ship. General comments are: Staff appeared tired and over worked. A number of them bordered on being rude and disinterested. ... Read More
I have done serveral cruises and this one is definately the worst which is a shame as it is a beautiful ship. General comments are: Staff appeared tired and over worked. A number of them bordered on being rude and disinterested. It really appeared like most people didn't want to be there. In saying that our room attendant and main dining room waiter were very attentive and helpful but again seemed over worked. Also one of the ladies in the Spa area (Lydia) was also very helpful and happy. Staff appear to be more interested in selling you stuff rather than providing good service. This probably comes from the company pushing them to do this. Food in the Main Dining room was terrible. Overcooked, cold and bland. Food in the buffet was much better but lacked variety from day to day. The buffet area is too small with not enough seating. People/passengers generally very rude and every man for himself - not a good experience. Spa specials bordered on being dishonest. A hair wash and dry special for 18 euro's ended up costing 31 euro's once they added on the cost of the shampoo and the conditioner! 15% service charge added to everything as well as $15 for two people automatically taken as service charge - does this money go to the staff providing the service or back to the company... it certainly didn't improve the quality of the service. Challenges with them changing their key card system - didn't advise this was happening so key cards did not work to purchase drinks in the bar.... Entertainment - saw a few shows and they were ok to watch. The quality of the choreography and timing was pretty poor though. I won't be cruising on MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I do have to give myself kudos for my logistical planning as far as arriving at the port and getting back home but our experience on board the Armonia was AWFUL. I read as much info/fine print as I could about the cruise and this ship but ... Read More
I do have to give myself kudos for my logistical planning as far as arriving at the port and getting back home but our experience on board the Armonia was AWFUL. I read as much info/fine print as I could about the cruise and this ship but was sure that the bad reviews weren't accurate; I was wrong and wish I had saved our money to do a Disney cruise instead. Children are free to stay and it certainly shows in the limited choices of children's activities on board. Our tickets were fairly cheap since I booked through a 3rd-person site which gives big/awesome discounts for military families. In all, mine and my husbands tickets were just under $700 which we thought was amazing for a cruise! I did read in the fine print that there were surcharges for services on board but I was NOT expecting to pay around 8euro every time we bought coffee, ice cream or had anyone hand us something that we couldn't get ourselves...on top of the price of whatever we bought. I would highly suggest, if you do decide to use this particular cruise line, to do some research on your destinations and book your own excursions instead of booking through the ship. I researched our destinations (Marseille, Palma de Mallorca, Corsica) and wrote down the addresses and places we were interested in seeing. If you can help it, take a taxi versus using the transportation services provided by the ship. They charged almost 20euro for adults and 12euro for children to use the bus for transportation to and from the dock at every destination but we ended up paying way less by just paying for a taxi ride. Once inside the cities, utilize the hop-on/hop-off buses or the little tourist trains which are minimal in cost and you get to see all of the highlights of the place you're in. If you have business to attend online, the wifi charges are absurd. We bought one hour of time for almost 17euro to check our email periodically since that was the only line of communication with family/work. You can't honestly tell me it costs that much money to have wifi aboard a boat, especially at the prices they charge for everything. Boarding: When we arrived at the port, we registered fairly quickly since we had already checked in online and printed a confirmation. They wouldn't allow us to keep our passports, which made us very uneasy since we are a military family and have always been told to NEVER allow our passports to be out of our possession. They in turn gave us a key-card for our trip which would get us on/off the boat and was linked to my husbands credit card to pay for anything we got on board since NO CASH is taken (which is stupid because we pulled out almost 1,000 euro in cash specifically for this purpose). They wouldn't allow us to take our luggage with us when boarding (which were only small carry-on suitcases since we traveled with Ryanair and didn't want the hassle of checking-in suitcases). We sat in our room waiting for our luggage to be delivered to freshen up after a 6 hour commute (which was just sat outside the cabin doors and several people lost their luggage due to thievery this way). Since we were starving by this time, we just left to get something to eat. Dining/buffets/bars: Our first night of dining was horrendous. After traveling all day, waiting on our luggage to be delivered and searching for the dining room, we were turned away at the door to the Marco Polo dining facility because we were "first seating" and arrived literally 15 mins late even though the itinerary says from 7-9pm. We were starving and our 5y/o child (who almost never eats) was crying he was hungry. No one pointed us in the direction of the buffets upstairs even after we told them that we had traveled all day and hadn't eaten since 11am that morning. We didn't get to eat until almost 10pm that night; that in itself was upsetting. The food was the biggest portion of our trip that I was looking forward to because it was a Mediterranean cruise, I'm expecting fabulous seafood and new dishes that I hadn't tried before! What we got was mostly fish, some extremely chewy sliced leg of lamb and veal. Since the menu is set up to be a 6-course meal, the portion sizes are very small and we figured this out the first night when I left still hungry! The only dessert choices are all COLD and consisted of ice cream (my son had no qualms with this choice), cold chocolate cake which was more of a brownie consistency and a very runny "coconut/pistachio cake" which didn't even hold it's form on the plate. The breakfast choices weren't much better and consisted of cold waffles with NO syrup, "raisin/cinnamon" french toast which had NO raisins or cinnamon and came out burnt with some sort of runny excuse for syrup and literally consisted of one piece of bread with the crust cut off. The juice is so watered down, it tastes like juice-infused water, my son wouldn't even drink it. It's almost as if they water it down just to make it go farther. The coffee is HORRIBLE!!! If you're a coffee connoisseur like I am, you will not appreciate this mud-water. It tastes like coffee flavored water with a slightly burnt aftertaste. I feel like they do this just so you will pay to buy coffee from the coffee bar on board. Oh, don't forget that 15% surcharge for a 4euro cup (literally 1/2 cup) of cappuccino with 2 inches of foam on top, so about 5 drinks of actual coffee...still makes me mad. We didn't find the upstairs buffets (on the 11th floor) until 3 days into our trip. The best food was the freshly made pizza buffet which was open at all hours. The Brassiere was okay, most of the choices were cold meats/cheeses/breads with a few "hot" items like rosemary potatoes, green beans or some sort of sausage/onion mix..we spent most of our meals at the pizza buffet. They have mugs and mud-water (coffee) and hot water with a selection of tea bags. The only FREE water you will get on board is the tap water in the machines at the buffets upstairs. You have to pay for every.single.thing. you drink except in these areas. Activities on board: For adults, if you like to gamble and drink, that's all there is to do. But this, of course, entails spending more money which they highly encourage. The shops (pharmacy, gift shop, clothing store, toy store) is extremely overpriced and has a very small selection of what you need. Almost every bar area allows smoking so the fact that a "cigar room" was in one of these areas was confusing if smoking was allowed in almost all areas of the boat. My husband and I couldn't enjoy our drink while watching the live band one evening because smoke was being blown on us from the casino which opened into the area we were in. Smoking areas are designated but aren't followed or enforced. We signed my son up for the daily activities for his age group but the only things for him to do in this small room was play with Legos, color printed out pictures and watch movies in a language that he doesn't understand. Needless to say, he went twice for about 2 hrs each time, and said he didn't want to go back. It broke my heart because I wanted him to enjoy our vacation but he ended up staying in the room with us, watching cartoons on the laptop and playing on the iPad. The nightly shows were all the same, just different costumes and music. It also would have been nice if the theater played movies during the day since they had the capability to do so. We didn't use the spa services because frankly, we couldn't afford it after discovering all the hidden charges that were forced upon us. The public areas were kept clean but all looked alike. The ship is full of glitz/glam but lacks real substance, in all honesty. Photographers were set up all throughout the 5th and 6th floors in the evenings and harass you as you walk by to take your picture. After the 3rd time, we just flat out refused and walked away, leaving them talking and begging us to take more pictures. Pools: The very small children's water area was extremely slippery, my son fell on one occasion and hit the back of his head. Some of the water toys didn't work and there was no actual kiddie pool for the kids to play in, just water streams to run through. The adult pool was no bigger than a king size bed, and that's no exaggeration! I never saw anyone in it other than a couple of teenagers jump in and climb back out. The two hot tubs were the only points of interest for everyone and with so many ppl getting in and out, I passed. I don't like sitting in other people's urine. The staff we encountered were very nice and all spoke English. Our waiters were always wonderful to us so we have no complaints with those who worked on board. Our biggest complaints would be the poor food served, the many surcharges that we were left with after it was over and being kicked out of our room at 8am and sitting around for almost 3 hours to disembark. Our bill that was left on the door was over 300euro and more than half of those charges were just surcharges, which is absolutely pathetic to me. After being kicked out of our room, we were told to sit in one of the lounge/bar areas until our designated time to meet (according to floor number) to leave the ship. Luckily, we held onto our luggage instead of letting them transport it for us back to shore so as soon as we walked off the ramp (couldn't happen fast enough for me) we grabbed a taxi and went straight to our train station. Overall, our experience was horrendous. The only reason I give this rating a 2/5 is because of the cleanliness of the boat and the friendliness of the staff. Other than that, it was a sorry excuse for a first-time experience in taking a cruise as a family vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I am very impressed with this cruise company. MSC did very well to make our cruise a great and pleasurable experience. The good point: Excellent Food, Excellent Accommodation, Amazing service from all the crew staff. Very friendly and ... Read More
I am very impressed with this cruise company. MSC did very well to make our cruise a great and pleasurable experience. The good point: Excellent Food, Excellent Accommodation, Amazing service from all the crew staff. Very friendly and always making sure we got the best product and service. The punctuality of the actual ship, always sailed at the prescribed time, arriving on time. Allowed us to plan the balance of our trip very well. The excursions we bought were value for money. We saw just enough of each City we choose. I also enjoyed the fact that we were also free to do our own tour and go exploring on our own. The bad points: The reception staff could behave a lot better, they are the first people we meet and they treated us like customers who cant pay. It felt terrible, and this particular lady just started doing her own thing with my Credit Card. I was not impressed and I had to block my card for the balance of the trip. The photos are of good quality but excessively expensive. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
There has been so many negative reports on this cruise line and ship. From boarding to disembarkation all went smoothly and was well enjoyed. We did the Allegresimo Premium package, and wow it was was worth it. Totaling up the ... Read More
There has been so many negative reports on this cruise line and ship. From boarding to disembarkation all went smoothly and was well enjoyed. We did the Allegresimo Premium package, and wow it was was worth it. Totaling up the receipts at the end we had more than doubled what was paid. The food was a bit repetitive but enjoyable and the only problem was the mini bar as only one item of each ie Whiskey, Vodka etc was replaced. No good if both wanted the same. But that was got around with ordering room services which was free on this package, so more work for them. Overall the cabin was great. The house keeper was fantastic and all the staff except the Restaurant managers were all very helpful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
There has been so many negative reports on this cruise line and ship. From boarding to disembarkation all went smoothly and was well enjoyed. We did the Allegresimo Premium package, and wow it was was worth it. Totaling up the ... Read More
There has been so many negative reports on this cruise line and ship. From boarding to disembarkation all went smoothly and was well enjoyed. We did the Allegresimo Premium package, and wow it was was worth it. Totaling up the receipts at the end we had more than doubled what was paid. The food was a bit repetitive but enjoyable and the only problem was the mini bar as only one item of each ie Whiskey, Vodka etc was replaced. No good if both wanted the same. But that was got around with ordering room services which was free on this package, so more work for them. Overall the cabin was great. The house keeper was fantastic and all the staff except the Restaurant managers were all very helpful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first cruise with MSC and sadly will be our last.  Getting on the ship was easy, the room was good a bit small but alright for a week. The food was excellent quality but a bit samey but then they cannot just pop out to the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC and sadly will be our last.  Getting on the ship was easy, the room was good a bit small but alright for a week. The food was excellent quality but a bit samey but then they cannot just pop out to the shops. The waiter in our restaurant was brilliant. The Entertainment was the best we have ever seen on a cruise ship, the bar staff were good but some would rather had not been there. The Reception was a total waste of space, we had our daily programme delivered in French on the first night so we went to them to get an English version and request an English one form then on, quite simple? not a chance everyday it was is in French despite a daily complaint, even on the last day the disembarkation information was given in French i asked for an English one as it was quite important, the Receptionist just said they've all gone and we haven't got any. Getting off the ship at some ports we asked for some basic local information again they just said, without moving their eyes from the computer screen, "outside only" that was the help offered. The room was kept clean but we did have two dirty glasses left for 4 days, on one occasion they were actually moved to another part of the cabin. At 7 am everyday we were woken by the constant loud chatter and shouting from the room cleaners. I gave our waiter an individual tip but for the first time ever we had the gratuities removed from our bill. They were were not geared up for the English and were not worth a tip. Sadly the Reception and some staff let down the rest of the crew. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was a fantastic cruise which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our cabin (balcony suite) was really good. Food was excellent. My biggest disappointment was with the staff. Except for Rafael at reception, all the other receptionists were poorly ... Read More
This was a fantastic cruise which I thoroughly enjoyed. Our cabin (balcony suite) was really good. Food was excellent. My biggest disappointment was with the staff. Except for Rafael at reception, all the other receptionists were poorly trained and could not assist us with most of our queries. Casino staff were rude. Our waitor for our evenings was a Honduran named Carlos who exceeded all our excpectations and provided excellent service in a highly professional manner, a real asset to MSC. On our last day we decided to do the Marseille excursion. At the excursion desk, we asked if it would be possible to do the excursion even though we were going to disembark. We were told that there would be a problem with our luggage as it could not stay on board. I told them we would take our luggage with us on the excursion which they said would be ok. The following morning, we asked for assistance to take our luggage (4 pieces) from our cabin to the bus. The manageress of the excursions started complaining that we would have to take the luggage to the bus. She eventually sent someone to collect our luggage but when we got to the bus, she passed a very nasty comment that it was our duty to take the luggage. I have only one thing to say about this: POOR SERVICE!!! Overall, I would do this cruise again, although I am not so sure that I will be using MSC again due to poor staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Is Yacht Club worth the extra money? I would have to say YES. It cost us about $1000 per person above the cost of a normal balcony suite. We arrived early for embarkation and were met by a butler who took us straight up to our room. It ... Read More
Is Yacht Club worth the extra money? I would have to say YES. It cost us about $1000 per person above the cost of a normal balcony suite. We arrived early for embarkation and were met by a butler who took us straight up to our room. It was a bit larger than a normal balcony suite with plenty or storage room. Very well appointed and the bathroom had a bath which was nice. We chose a cabin on the port side as we got better views when we were passing land from that side. Yacht Club entitled us to the free mini bar, room service, daily newspaper, priority embarkation at ports, use of the Top Sail bar, our own pool, bar and spa on the top deck and dining in the L'Olivio restaurant. The service in all of these was impeccable and the food in L'Olivio was outstanding. I saw some people paying for premium wines but there was nothing wrong with the free wines they served. Without exception all the Yacht Club staff were amazing, polite and went out of their way to help with any problem. I can't speak highly enough of them. I don't know what the service was like in the rest of the ship so can't comment on that. The ship is huge but didn't seem too crowded. It was spotless and there were always staff cleaning inside and outside every day. The passengers were mostly European so we didn't get chatting to many of them. Also with people embarking and disembarking at every port there were always new faces on board. It's not the type of cruise where you can get too friendly with people. Be prepared for no lift etiquette - they push onto every lift without allowing people to get out first. All the shows except one were fantastic (one was opera which wasn't our taste). We didn't really frequent the other bars on the ship as we would have had to pay for alcohol there, whereas in the Top Sail bar most of it was free. They had a pretty good selection of wines, cocktails, beers etc all free. The Top Sail bar has a great view as it is right at the top and front of the ship. The only downside was that it was the only bar where we could drink for free and you can't take your drinks out of there. There's also no entertainment to speak of. We did try to go to the gym a couple of times but all the walking machines and bikes were being used. It was disappointing they didn't have more of them. We did shore excursions in Naples (Pompeii which was great) and Tunisia (shopping tour which was okay). At the other ports we just shopped and did our own thing. The shore excursions aren't cheap (ranging from 40 to 80 Euro) and I'm sure if you researched you could organise them yourself and save some money. We just did the ship's tours as they were convenient. A small criticism was that there wasn't much information provided about the ports, and no port talks beforehand. In short, if you want a relatively quiet, peaceful time, aren't a party animal and are prepared to pay extra for luxury, good food and privileges then the Yacht Club is definitely worth it.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Booked a cruise on the Splendida Yacht club with the whole family of 5 persons (all adults). Don't understand in other reviews that people complaining about almost everything, yes even about the Yacht club. Well, we had a FANTASTIC ... Read More
Booked a cruise on the Splendida Yacht club with the whole family of 5 persons (all adults). Don't understand in other reviews that people complaining about almost everything, yes even about the Yacht club. Well, we had a FANTASTIC time on board the Splendida yacht club. It was worth the extra cost. Everything started with the embarkation that went really really smooth. Sata, a butler took us through the embarkation procedure and also offered us something to drink. Then to the boat passing many other passengers waiting in line to enter, Priorty embarkation for yacht club guests. Our butler was Jacques Paulin, a very helpful staffmember. We stayed in the yachtclub executive/family suite 12002 and 12004, it is a pity that these suites aren't really located on the yacht club decks (15 & 16) but hey those are the biggest suites on the whole ship so no complaining at all. In suite 12004 we had a bathroom with double sink, a shower and a full bathtub. The bathroom is bigger than in most apartments on land. Also a huge (on a ship) separate livingroom and a nice bedroom with flatscreen tv that we never used (no time to watch tv). We didn't do any MSC-excursions. Barcelona, Civitavechia, Palermo and Genua we all visited by ourselves for just a couple hours at the most. We preferred staying on the ship. The service in the top sail lounge, the one pool on deck 16 (with bar) and the yacht club restaurant Olivo were beyond our expectations. All the staffmembers serving us, and in the whole yacht club, were all very helpful in making our stay a most memorable one. All the meals were very tasty, have to mention about the dessert, simply excellent!! Only 1 big problem, no single one of us wanted to leave. Disembarkation was also swift. Thank you MSC and all the staffmembers and in particular Sata and Jacques. And yes our next cruise with the family is going to be MSC yacht club again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
So there you have it in a nutshell. We loved our cruise overall but ended up practically bronchial from the vast cloud of cigarette smoke that plumed out of the casino and into much of the surrounding areas. Perhaps you are considering ... Read More
So there you have it in a nutshell. We loved our cruise overall but ended up practically bronchial from the vast cloud of cigarette smoke that plumed out of the casino and into much of the surrounding areas. Perhaps you are considering sailing with MSC and would like more information than that one tagline. Would we sail with MSC again? Absolutely. Why? Our embarkation in beautiful Marseille was a breeze. The meet and greet crew were delightful. The food in Villa Verde was very enjoyable. Our cabin was the most spacious we have had on any cruise line so far. The balcony was worth it. The evening shows were spectacular. Seriously. Spectacular. Some of the dancers were a bit frumpy but the singers, acrobats, costumes, lighting and guest performers were outstanding. The cabin crew, as on every cruise we've taken thus far, were wonderful. The waiters were adorable. The food was plentiful. The cities we visited were gorgeous. The Splendida is eye-poppingly stunning. The Mediterranean is beautiful. The ship is so large that it makes the sea seem very calm. Even in winter we were able to swim in the lovely covered pool area. What would we have liked to be different? Personally I'd like to see the smokers herded off to a tender and trailled half a kilometre behind the ship but before you attack me for being unkind I'd like to inform you that I missed my one and only opportunity to visit the interior of the Louvre on the final day of our trip due to ill-health induced by attempting to extract oxygen from smoke filled air. And I have not had a cold in over 4 years! And I live a very long way away from Europe so it's not like we can just pop back over for a visit. I could go on... Apart from that, I'd have liked to see an occasional movie or something interesting up on that big screen instead of the incessantly repeated shore tour promos. But that was no biggy really. So yes, we would certainly cruise with MSC again. If you have booked this cruise I expect you'll really enjoy it. I hope you do. Take some cough lollies. Happy travels, PS I just put all this info in the deck plan review and thought it might also be useful for people doing actual cruise research so here it is again. This was a fine place. I was surprised that we were not upgraded considering that our "guaranteed cabin" cruise was booked a full year in advance and we paid full fare, when I noticed some really impressive sales as the year progressed. We made friends with a couple who had paid much less than we did and were in a much bigger cabin on deck 12. I'd say this was probably due to the Australian MSC booking office's way of doing things. If you do book through the Aust. office be aware that some of the most important information you need to action prior to your cruise is found only in the small print at the base of some, not all, of your documentation. I gave them feedback to this end suggesting they use at least bold text for this in future. So if you see your online booking form information appearing in bold, you can put it down to that :-) Or use a good travel agent. That should circumvent such issues. However, we were perfectly happy with our cabin.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
splendida 7 nights, western Mediterranean Family of 6, 2 adults and 4 kids 11,12, girls and 15,17 boys embarked in marseille dec 8 th 2013. We had 4 in bunks on the 5 th deck inside and a king opposite on deck 5 with an ocean view. In ... Read More
splendida 7 nights, western Mediterranean Family of 6, 2 adults and 4 kids 11,12, girls and 15,17 boys embarked in marseille dec 8 th 2013. We had 4 in bunks on the 5 th deck inside and a king opposite on deck 5 with an ocean view. In the ocean view room you only heard the air con ( very slightly, like a low hum, nothing to keep you awake) and in the inside cabin you heard low engine noise, I'm so glad the kids were in there and we had upgraded to ocean view for $350 nzd. It was so worth it. The kids use their iPods , so never hear the noise. Also the ocean view room was bigger, one more wardrobe and a lounge chair (kids had one chair, we had 2) and a longer desk, so well worth it for the space and being able to watch docking from bed, seeing what the weather was like, or just watching the stars at night or the coast lines as we passed with their lights. There is a 500 mm shelf In front Of the window so you can lean on that and look out with the cushions they give you for the bed. It was wonderful. We also had a room on the side that the boat followed the coast line so at 5 am when you are awake with excitement you can see the lights of the costa brava etc, better than an ocean/ sea only view only. ( we were going anti clockwise around the Mediterranean so were on the right hand side ) Ask for a cabin to face ' your' coast line. We didn't get a drinks package, as we don't drink alcohol or coffee, but caved on the first night as all thirsty at dinner, so bought 14 mineral bottles of water for 26€ and made the kids drink heaps of water from the bathroom before going so it would last the trip. The bathroom water is the same as the water in the bora bora cafeteria and they have glasses in the bathroom so you have access to water. Some reviews made out there were no drinks anywhere free But buy one filter bottle and if you don't like the taste filter it into your glass that way. Takes that ' chlorine ' taste out of it, If you have kids, get them drink bottles and just use the one filter bottle ( as they are $$) to fill their bottles from the bathroom or from bora bora water. ( which tastes better as it is colder) That water is nice, but I always add ice, so not sure if it is slightly more filtered in the restaurant than the bathrooms, it shouldn't be, it should all be the same. Water, tea and coffee and milk are in bora bora always, juice..if you can call it juice, is breakfast only. We ate breakfast and lunch in bora bora and in villa and reggia. We could sit and dine anytime, during breakfast or lunch, but Dinner we got late seating (8.30pm, early sitting 6pm) in villa which is what I asked for. It was brilliant, food superb. Bora bora plentiful and looked great just sometimes the taste was a little weird, ie the gnocchi , being an Italian ship should be mouth watering. It was rubbery, no flavour to a lot of things, just bland. Bacon seems deep fried and too hard to eat sometimes, but The desserts were always good in bora bora or the 2 restaurants ( there is one paying restaurant...Mexican. It was always empty) But it served it's purpose, there was always something there ( open 6 am till 2 am) teenagers could get full. And enjoyed it. I was spoilt with villa once for breakfast and then didn't go back to bora if I didn't have too ! Once you have fine dining for breakfast and lunch..why eat cool / cold food with the hoards! The food in villa and reggia. Always of a higher quality. Warm plates , hot food. 7 courses order as much as you want.. All 4 mains if you fancy. Sometimes the translation wasn't quite right, ie a vanilla and almond tart was actually just a custard tart... But with no base But usually it was very edible and portions were not small like some have stated. I would say medium size pasta course, normal soup dish size etc if you had all 7 which I did do sometimes, I rolled out. The sizes are fine. If you have one main course, then yes, you will go to bora bora afterwards for a feed like my kids did even after 7 courses. It was nice to have fine dining for free. Kids enjoyed it and our waiter Dominic from India a legend . We would go to the 7pm theatre show ( lasted 45 mins, late show 9pm) and then the sports bar to watch English football ( champions league was on the week we sailed...grrr) or back to cabin to get dressed for dinner. It is Sunday best more than cocktail dresses. And some just casual h&m attire. We tried to look smart at least for gala nights, kids in suits etc The shows, if any songs , were in English which was good. The purple bar had an Italian singer but she sang English songs, the other places had piano men not singing or a string quartet with no singing or if there was it was opera and you don't mind that in Italian! The announcements at the beginning of each show are in 5 languages and also at the end . But that was ok. At genoa they announced the life jacket drill in your room, even though everyone was in the theatre. What the? So much for a quick sleep at 5 pm. Half an hour of different languages,..now tie the vest like this...ay? I'm not even there. We had ours when we got in 6 days ago. They didn't do it for Rome or Barcelona in your cabins just genoa. I rang reception and said..what the!!?? They said 1000 people got on, so....!?? Shut mine off...I've heard it. We had 2600 on board, 1500 less than usual. It was great because of that. I would hate to be in the boat with it full. Italians seem to say 15 words for the 3 we might use ie 'that's great' , turns into 2 mins of yelling with their hands. After a week, I was over it. I missed hearing English and engaging in conversation with people. If you were a single traveller who didn't speak Italian or Russian and weren't seated with other single people at dinner, it would be a lonely cruise. There were no lift problems, no pushing, shoving, a high Chinese contingent, but they smoked themselves in the casino so didn't see them. Couldn't hear anyone in cabins next to us but there may not have been anyone. The restaurants had tables empty, it was just very relaxed. We liked eating in Pago Pago, at the back of the boat. The best views. It is bora bora...but called a new name half way down . When it is really busy they use the back as a ' posh' restaurant Kids had no problems playing table tennis, squash, fusball, basketball, as no teens/ kids on board. Maybe about 25 all up. Our kiwi kids met one family with teen Ozzie girls otherwise the odd French boy playing play station in the evening with my kids. Not much to do really, but the pools weren't full, due to weather..very calm and sunny, ( 12-16 deg) but not many in indoor pool and no one in the outdoor ones. ( there are 2 and one inside) 10 hot tubs around the boat. They were usually full but if you picked a good time you could find at least one empty. 2 on the back deck are good for when you are sailing out if the cities. Internet was 60 mins 16€ ( we didn't use it) movies 7€ on tv which is a ripe off! why not free? There are 2 English news channels...and national geographic sometimes , the rest sport or Russian/ Italian/ German , why not give us some movies to watch as there is nothing to do on board but sit in a hot pool. Some salsa lessons are free, but that's it, even bingo costs. You can't sit on the deck, you have to lie down as only sun loungers there. So if you want to sit and read a book you can't really..unless you lie down. The f1 simulator was 8 € , the 4 d cinema was 6€ there are space invader machines 1€ We gave the 4 kids teen cards with 30€ on each and told them to enjoy. They did... Mostly on space invader / shooting things. Hubby and I had a game of bowling €6 for 10 balls ( or 5 ' plays') And a gelato each for 2.5€ for 3 flavours, and watched the sun set leaving Sicily, and bought a cake from the pizzeria plaza type place, for 1.90€ seemed to cheap not too. They were huge slices so bought 2 different ones and shared it as a family. They were yum, but didn't need to go back once done it. The desserts and afternoon tea eclairs and tarts were ample and very tasty, we never went to the bars and bought anything. Laundry: 20 garments for 25€ We brought a clothes line ( plastic with wire inside it , 1€ on board with us ) and some pegs and washing powder, and we didn't wash jeans etc but underwear and tops and ran the clothes line around the 2 lounge chairs at night and the stuff was dry by morning ( as was your skin, use moisturiser...Central air con!) There is a clothes line in the shower, would fit 2 swimming costumes but if you brought some cheap wire hangars you could wash 5 -10 tops and hang them up to dry that way. Wouldn't fit just on the line as too small even pegged. The hangars in wardrobes are stuck in there, so bring a few of your own, or buy some in a port and throw them later We did it twice in our room and kids run their line around the 2 bunk safety bars between the two beds and their knickers dried. We brought a small torch for next to our bed incase of lights going out and we could get to kids room. Didn't need it, but handy to know it was there. Cruise gets busy after 15 th dec and Christmas and new year..nuts. A guy we met got flights from gatwick to genoa and a balcony cabin for him and the mrs £400 each. Jammy git! I'ld do it again if we could get that type of price!! Cities. Marseille port bus was on strike when we arrived, cab was €20 plus bags. Thanks France. Barcelona 3.50€ return on port bus to city Tunisia ( La Goulette ) we didn't risk scaring our little girls with men groping them so we just had a camel ride at the dock and looked through the souk there. ( use camel in souk, not near the boat. Much better ride..longer) It was perfect. Sicily, you dock right in the city, we just walked up and within 5 mins realised..what a dump and went to mcdonalds for wifi and then back to the boat Rome free msc bus to entrance to port DO NOT WAlK , too far, train station then a 20 min walk, 6€ one way 1.20 hr train ride to Rome, Got off at St. Peter's had a look inside, and then walked to colosseum, took about an hour but was great to see the sites. Then a tram back to one of the train stations on the Pisa line, that stops at the port where the ship is ( Rome is south and inland from the boat) Like a tgv but dirty and seats not as nice, but ok. Would get to 170 km/h Good ride. Genoa walked to aquarium, about 20 mins and went on the cho cho train for 7€ adults €3.5 for kids for 40 mins around the city. Was brilliant. Aquarium 23€ too Exy. Then went for a brilliant hot chocolate for 15 € for 6 of us and free wifi, so much better than on the boat as we spent 2 hrs..6 of us destroying their board band width! Hot chocs in the port of Rome were 20€ -and 26€ for Spain. So 15 € and nice and chocolatey was a good buy. We put a Christmas dec and a Maori art work on the doors so we could easily spot our door out of 100 as we walked along the corridor. Just used some blu tak. Helped us, but especially the kids find their room quickly . No counting of room numbers needed. A great tip we got off cruise critic. Body wash and shampoo in dispense bottles on wall in shower, NO conditioner. Bring your own if you need conditioner. Bring a 4 /6 power board thing, and one travel European plug. Charge everything then We got a 1€ over the door wall hook! with 5 hooks on which we used on a wardrobe door, as couldn't attach to bathroom door as it had a weird door on, but we could hang scarfs, belts, hats, swimmers to dry off it. Worked well. Couldn't find a shoe over the door storage, so grabbed that and it was probably slightly better as took up less space as you walked past. ( we had it facing the bedroom, but could have had it hanging side wardrobe) We also bought for 1.4€ air fresher glad things that sat on the side one in the bathroom ( lavender) and one in our running shoe bag! Lilly of the valley. If you don't and your shoes are smellers, you will regret not spending the money. And bring a large bag to out all running shoes in not just yours, cos hubbies smell worse after 4 days on his feet Throw them all in and food the bag down and put it in the wardrobe and let Lilly do her thing Most of the staff are from Indonesia ( Bali) so make an effort to at least learn thank you before coming aboard. The smile on their faces, makes your slight effort so worth while.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We live near the departure port of Marseille and booked this cruise as a last minute on a whim - we were actually planning on going for a weekend in Nice. As a result, we paid next to nothing for a balcony cabin and had probably the ... Read More
We live near the departure port of Marseille and booked this cruise as a last minute on a whim - we were actually planning on going for a weekend in Nice. As a result, we paid next to nothing for a balcony cabin and had probably the easiest transit to and from the ship off all passengers on board. We've previously cruised and visited most of the stops in the past; so we knew what to expect. Check-in was fast and efficient; the cabin very nice. It's the first time we had a balcony on the aft side of the ship, but I'll really consider getting one again in the future. It offered a great view, especially while sailing. It was also remarkably well noise-isolated. Once, my husband locked himself out of the cabin while I remained inside; even though I heard him knock, I couldn't actually hear him ask to be let back in. Even though we booked last minute, we could choose our own cabin and settled for a balcony on the aft side of the ship. It proved to be a great choice, the balcony was large enough, and the view just wonderful. Slight disadvantage was the increased movement at night - november can be rough on the Mediterranean - which is felt more on the front and end of the ship than in the middle.The curtain is in two parts, one that completely obscures light and a finer one, so it could fit all needs whether you prefer to sleep in a darkened room or be woken by the rising sun.The cabin itself was rather large, with a comfortable bed, the sitting area was larger than in other ships we cruised with. Downside was the blanket rather than fitted sheets on the bed. There's more than enough storage in the cupboards and space under the bed to get the empty luggage out of the way. Safe is easy to use and standard size.The bathroom was as it should be, and the shower perfect; the water was as hot as we wanted and didn't change in temperature wile showering. There was more than enough storage space. While the hair dryer wasn't as good as the one at home, it was certainly sufficient - so don't bother dragging your own across the planet. Also: it's stored in the living room, which makes getting ready for dinner so much more efficient. Our towels are changed twice a day. MSC apparently provides only one roll of toilet paper at a time; as a result, we ran out of it 3 times during our cruise. It wasn't too bad though, since there ware also the normal tissues to use in case of emergency, the cabin was cleaned/restocked twice a day and there was always someone of housekeeping around in the corridor to provide us with an extra roll if needed.The cabin was clean when we arrived and stayed that way during the cruise; house keeping did a fine job and were very friendly and polite - they also addressed us in our own language even though they were more comfortable using English. The shows were of much greater quality than we hoped for. Especially Antonio Versini and his living shadows. Staff was friendly and correct, without the 'pushiness' we experienced on more USA-oriented ships. The Mediterranean can be quite rough in November, so the ship moved a lot, especially during the day at sea. Because of our cabins location, this was worse at night. If you're sensitive to this, make sure you get some medication. Food Food was less in quality than on other cruise lines; but - especially considering what we paid - was satisfying. Note that of the 5 advertised restaurants, there are in reality only 2. The two main restaurants (Vida Verde and La Reggia) serve the same menu, whether you go to one or the other depends entirely on your cabin number). L'Olive, the upscale dining is only accessible for prime members (as is a swimming pool at the front of the ship). The Tex Mex restaurant is not included. Unless you really like this kind of food, go and get an authentic pizza in a cute restaurant in Rome - you'll spend as much and get a lot more authenticity for your money). The last restaurant is the buffet Pago Pago; which is open 20/24h. At times, it can get very busy, resulting in cold food by the time you find a place to sit, or eating in shifts if you leave one person behind to secure a table in advance. Protip: whenever possible; go to your main dining restaurant; they serve breakfast at the table, as well as a good lunch and dinner. The ports are nice and there's enough variation. Though if I had the choice, I'd rather board in Rome and add a few days in a hotel in that city, since 5 hours really isn't enough to visit the Eternal City. Overall, the cruise was a very pleasant experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We travelled on MSC Splendida with our daughter and her partner. It was their first cruise and the itinerary was good. We fancied being spoilt for a week without worrying about a large bar bill at the end of the holiday so we chose to ... Read More
We travelled on MSC Splendida with our daughter and her partner. It was their first cruise and the itinerary was good. We fancied being spoilt for a week without worrying about a large bar bill at the end of the holiday so we chose to travel in the Yacht club. The trip to Marseille was good, as was the Holiday Inn Express near the station. The cruise port is a long way from the centre of town so be prepared for a 25 euro taxi ride. Embarkation went smoothly and our butler, Ishmael, escorted us to our cabins. The cabins were lovely with walk in wardrobe and well appointed bathrooms. The balconies are smaller than on other ships we have sailed on. Ishmael took us on a tour of the facilities available within the Yacht Club. Everything was beautiful with a large sun deck/pool and the Top Sail lounge with snacks and drinks always available. We went for lunch in the Olivio restaurant, specifically for Yacht Club and had an excellent lunch with good service. The restaurant is the other end of the ship, still on deck 15 so it either involves a walk along the outside deck or navigating through the maze of bars and restaurants on deck 6. Luckily Ishmael escorted us and explained the priority lift service. We sailed late afternoon in the rain and almost at once hit rough seas, maybe the Yacht Club's location at the front of the ship makes things feel worse than they are but it really was quite uncomfortable - only 2 of us made it to dinner! The centre part of the restaurant suffers from a bad vibration which in addition to a rough sea makes things quite difficult, the food however was very good. Breakfast is available in the Olivio restaurant or in the Yacht Club Top Sail lounge (cold buffet style), both were excellent with freshly squeezed orange juice and a good selection on the menu. Barcelona on Monday was a sad affair in cold monsoon like rain. No information was forthcoming on disembarkation - in fact, no information was forthcoming at all. On other cruise lines, the Captain has always said a few words each day but there were no announcements at all. Perhaps the ship was being sailed by remote control as we did not see one officer for the entire week. Monday night was very rough again and once again only 2 of us went to dinner. The seas got worse during the night and at 5:00 am I gave up and went down to Deck 5 and slept on a sofa for a few hours as it was so uncomfortable on Deck 15 - one of our party fell out of bed due to the rough weather. No information was available about the storm and it later transpired that we were on the edge of Cyclone Cleopatra which did so much damage in Sardinia. The seas did not improve for the entire week which really marred our enjoyment of the Yacht Club facilities. Tunisia was the next port of call where we had arranged a private guide who was fantastic. We didn't get hassled at all and had a great day - our guide's name was Ben Jebar mtbjebara@yahoo.fr Very reasonably priced and really knowledgable without giving too much information. We felt safe and were well looked after. The other ports visited were Palermo, Rome and Genoa before our return to Marseille. At each port, no information was forthcoming about which deck to leave the ship, where the shuttle buses were or even a basic map of the port. On NCL, for example, there is always a talk on the next port of call with a basic map and info on some shops and restaurants - on MSC, nothing! The shows in the theatre were ok but very short but there was little else on offer. We went to one quiz which was pitiful. There was a pianist in Yacht Club a couple of times during the evening but the sound was similar to a child's electronic organ. The violinist in the restaurant played the most depressing selection of music that I have ever heard. The ship boasts a 4D cinema which was also pathetic. The only English speaking tv channels available in the cabins are news - films are charged for. Summing up, the Yacht Club offering is very good but really only worthwhile if the weather is kind to you. MSC has very little else to offer and we would not repeat the experience.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We arrived on this ship in Naples on the 29th July...checking in was quite fast and we were on the ship in about 45 minutes time it was very hot no drinks offered. We were met by a member of crew who told us our room was on a floor one ... Read More
We arrived on this ship in Naples on the 29th July...checking in was quite fast and we were on the ship in about 45 minutes time it was very hot no drinks offered. We were met by a member of crew who told us our room was on a floor one deck higher than we had booked we knew straight way and just made our way down the stairs to out room. No problems with room cleaned twice a day clean towels etc...the guy that cleaned our room was Luis G if you get him your in good hands...nothing a problem!! The buffet restaurant is very busy at lunch time so busy you cannot get a table, but you can eat in the sit down evening restaurant 12 until 2 closes around 1.40 so people turning up at 1.45 will not be seated its closed. They will also at lunch time sit anyone together. Bar staff were on the whole ok...just had one italian whom was rude to me, I was alone at the bar I had ordered 5 drinks 2 coffees and 3 juices which I could not carry to the table for breakfast....he did not get any of the other staff to help. Kids club is a problem I took my ten year old son once for half an hour he refused to go back after this....its an Italian ship I guess more for the Italian kids my child can speak Italian still not much fun but if a child is going for the first time they should be able to enjoy and want to go back. All meals and drinks were lovely. We had late sitting for dinner which was 9.45 pm every late!!...there are two dress up nights one in Messina and one in Barcelona also a mask night but not everyone wore black tie or had mask. Had a couple of shops on board. .One night they have an Italian night this is in Genoa We had the drinks package which was quite good...also had sparkling with with canapies on arrival...once in room you just call room service and they will bring them. You need to get on the bus at Tunisia, Barcelona and Merseille around 12 euros adults 6.50 children. Room 9231 agata Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Sailed on the MSC Splendida in April 13. Went with my wife and 2 kids, 9 & 11. Boarded in Marseilles for 1 week. This was our first cruise. It will most definitely not be our last. I read with interest different good and bad reviews ... Read More
Sailed on the MSC Splendida in April 13. Went with my wife and 2 kids, 9 & 11. Boarded in Marseilles for 1 week. This was our first cruise. It will most definitely not be our last. I read with interest different good and bad reviews of this ship before I booked. I have to say, how anybody could fault it and MSC is beyond me. The ship was simply stunning, the facilities excellent, the food amazing, entertainment brilliant, spotless, and the staff incredibly warm, friendly and supportive. We chose the all-inclusive package through www.cruiseparadise.ie and it was well worth it. We had paid it back after 21/2 days, as it included all drinks, cocktails, spirits, wines and beers. All water, kids ice creams etc. If you decide not for that option, be aware that prices for drinks are slightly more expensive than at home in Ireland. Expect €8 a cocktail, €7.50 for a G&T, €5.50 for a bottle of beer, €5 for an ice cream. The all inc pack was very affordable at €480 for the 4 of us for the week. Well worth it. Why MSC? For me it was because kids under 11 travel free (bar port taxes etc.) This meant it was very accessible and affordable for us for the first cruise. Will we ever travel with them again? Absolutely, can’t wait to go again. The kids loved it, the ship, the pools, the clubs, the friendships made. Boarding and disembarking was seamless and fast. We had absolutely no hidden charges applied. The room (a balcony) was the right size, was really luxurious, and the beds very comfy. The ports were well located. Average age on board was 38, plenty of kids, families, couples and groups. A mixture of Nationalities. If there is a negative it is that some people have no manners and are pushy in lifts etc. That is in no way a bad reflection on MSC, the ship or the holiday, just on them people, so if you can accept that not everybody is as mannerly as us then you will enjoy it. We chose to make our own way there and back, with me taking the ferry over and driving down (meaning we could have a few days afterwards in Paris, and could fill up with wine etc.) - Not everybodys cup of tea, but I love driving in France. Very quickly the ship becomes to feel like home. What more can I say? Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We started our cruise in Marseille and stayed the first night at Mercure Marseille Centre-a very nice hotel. Embarcation was fast, as most people boarded in Genoa or Barcelona. Our cabin was nice-small, of course, but with the balcony ... Read More
We started our cruise in Marseille and stayed the first night at Mercure Marseille Centre-a very nice hotel. Embarcation was fast, as most people boarded in Genoa or Barcelona. Our cabin was nice-small, of course, but with the balcony and mirrors it seemed bigger. We chose this cruise because of the wonderful ports. We first arrived in Barcelona and only had 5 hours there, which was enough for us because we'd already spent several days there. It would be too short for someone who's never been there. Then we had a sea day getting to Casablanca. Since there are so many languages spoken on board, the number of activities is limited. We took a lot of dance lessons given in 4 or 5 different langauges. The shows were quite good, although by the end they repeated the same performers and some of the same acts. Our next port was an entire day in Casablanca. Because we didn't want to be on our own in Morocco, we took the full-day ship's tour to Casablanca and Rabat. We very much liked the Hussein II Mosque in Casablanca. We took a long time getting to Rabat and found it interesting, but maybe not worth the bus trip. Our next port was Cadiz. We took the Seville on your own tour, which was just a bus to Seville. We only had 3 hours in Seville and spent 2 at the Real Alcazar, which was stupendous. We didn't have time to see the cathedral. We talked to people who took the guided tour to Seville, and we actually saw more than they did becuase they took 45 min. to eat. We walked through the Jewish Quarter, and they didn't see it at all. Seville is gorgeous, and we really want to return.We were much too rushed. The bus got us back to Cadiz and hour before we needed to be on the ship, so we walked around the ramparts of the city. Our next port was Lisbon, where we took a 6 person tour with We Hate Tourism Tours. We had a rainy cold day, but we thouroughly enjoyed this tour of Sintra and Belen. At 60 Euros a person, it was cheaper and better than the ship's tour. They fed us pastries in the morning and afternoon, and we had a picnic out of the back of the van with wine and pastries with meat inside. It was raining, so we ate inside the van, but we didn't waste our valuable time on a long meal. I can highly recommend this tour, called Pirates of the Cruise Ships. Finally, we had 2 days at sea and were able to relax. We had one day of decent weather when we could enjoy our balcony. Our last port was Genoa, which we did on our own. We took the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the entire city. It leaves right from where the ship docks. Then we went to a couple of palaces on Via Garibaldi-lovely, and then the Royal Palace, which was very impressive and reminded us of Versailles. We disembarked in Marseille and took a taxi to our hotel, Escale Oceania, which is right on the Vieux Port. We were also very happy with this hotel. We stayed in Marseille for 3 days. The day we arrived we took a public bus to Casis, a lovely fishing village 25 minutes from Marseille. The next two days we took tours with Provence Connection. We ended up being the only ones on both tours. It was wonderful. On the first day we took their Tour 1 to Arles, Pont du Gard, Avignon, and Les Baux. That was out best tour of the entire cruise. The next day we took their Tour 4 to Le Louberon. We went to 5 little villages in the mountains. Our favorites were Rousillon and La Fountaine de Vaucluse. I can highly recommend Provence Connection. They picked us up at our hotel and went out of their way to personalize the tours to our interest. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
The ship itself was nice the evening entertainment was excellent. Cabin was a little small but fine - had fridge wardrobe space adequate shower was small compared to other cruise lines. Lighting was dim and found it difficult to read ... Read More
The ship itself was nice the evening entertainment was excellent. Cabin was a little small but fine - had fridge wardrobe space adequate shower was small compared to other cruise lines. Lighting was dim and found it difficult to read even with all the lights turned on because of where they were placed. Main restaurants were on decks five and six but the tables were too close together making access for serving difficult for the waiters. The Irish bar and the casino were both smoking areas although there was a small section by the bar that was non smoking but you could smell the smoke. The theater was a good size but you had to be there early in order to get a seat. Seating was tiered with 2 rows of seats to each tier the front row of the tier had excellent views but the back row of each tier you were obstructed by the people sitting in front. Our complaints:- If you wanted water with your dinner of an evening or lunch during the day in the restaurant you had to purchase the water by the bottle €2.6 plus a service charge of 15%. The buffet if you choose to eat there of an evening closed at 8.45 pm so after then you could only get tea coffee or water from the machines. We found that there was no English tea of an evening only Calamine and Earl Grey (need to pocket some during the day if you like a cup of tea late at night):-) The food was Italian style lots of small dishes but we did not enjoy the cuisine we found it bland and the meat usually tough. This is our own personal opinion. We have cruised with other companies and would not cruise with these again by choice. This ship is mainly for Italians French and Spanish so there was a language problem when trying to communicate with other passengers. The staff all spoke English. Passengers were taken on at each port except for Tunis which meant the lifeboat drill was repeated each day (you only have to do it once on the port you embarked). The announcements in different languages became tiresome and sometimes they forgot to announce them in English. In the theater all the shows were in English which was to our advantage. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
The cruise aboard MSC Sinfonia was the best holiday we have ever experienced. We usually holiday in Spain and France, but now we have been spoilt by MSC Cruises, we could never go on holiday in France again. The French simply don't ... Read More
The cruise aboard MSC Sinfonia was the best holiday we have ever experienced. We usually holiday in Spain and France, but now we have been spoilt by MSC Cruises, we could never go on holiday in France again. The French simply don't know how to provide a holiday, but they know how to enjoy one, judging by the number of French people aboard. We have two children and they loved the holiday. If you want to, the Sinfonia will look after your children in a very professional, safe and secure manner. We kept our children with us for the first two days but soon gave in to their demands to join the Junior Club. There are four swimming pools, loads of activities throughout the day or you can just veg out with a book or sunbathe. There is a sunbed for everyone aboard. emergency drills for the crew are carried out every day which just goes to show how serious MSC is about their ships. The evening shows are full of energy and spectacular. The food is really healthy and good. Breakfast is a feast and lunch and dinner are 7- course feasts. The service is better than 5 star. Cabins are serviced TWICE per day. The Sinfonia deserves 7 stars for the sheer effort, professionalism, courtesy and service. the staff speak various languages - English mainly, but Italians, French, Spanish, Germans are catered for too. We can't wait to go again soon - very soon. The hotels in the South of France need to check out the cruising scene and take note. No 5-star hotel in France can compete with MSC Cruises. None - especially if you have children. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I booked this cruise after my 1st choice was on MSC MELODY i had to cancel. MY travel agent was no help is choosing another one! GETTING TO SHIP I travelled by RYANAIR the day before so i could watch the CHRISTENING! The next day ... Read More
I booked this cruise after my 1st choice was on MSC MELODY i had to cancel. MY travel agent was no help is choosing another one! GETTING TO SHIP I travelled by RYANAIR the day before so i could watch the CHRISTENING! The next day after breakfast i got a\ taxi to the ship which was quite a distance! EMBARKATION I arrived at the port at the port at 10.30am a lot before the time stated but others were there in 2 lines(no idea why or what for!!) We finally found out it was to drop off our bags. then to check-in where somehow i got PRIORITY as i had a classic card(which i later found was out of date!!) I boarded the ship as the cabins were no ready i had buffet lunch which was quite good. CABIN After lunch i looked at my cabin( i was not even shown where it was!!) It was an inside on deck 10. Quite large with a queen sized bed,mini bar,shower,safe, a\chair and pouffe and plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. RESTAURANTS I had asked for 1st seating but was given 2nd so had to queue to change it. It was VILLA ROSSA restaurant. Apart from that there is only TEX MEX which is a small charge, and GALAXY DISCO but AT 24 EUROS AND ONLY A FRENCH MENU i did not bother!! there is more choice if you have a YACHT CLUB SUITE.the food was quite basic and not a great choice especially for desserts. No TAP WATER! so had to buy BOTTLED WATER despite it being in your cabin and in the buffet! PORTS OF CALL A good choice ROME(i did my own thing on a train into the city) MESSINA i did an excursion to mount ETNA which was well worth the money. MALTA i got a bus to POPEYE VILLAGE it was\a long way and only just made it to the ship in time.DUBROVNIK had to pay 10 euros for a shuttle bus only to be ordered off as some did not have their passports(why could they have not told us?) SHOWS These were very good and varied from PIRATES,MIME, PRODUCTION SHOW to a classical concert with memorable arias(i only knew one and lots of people walked out!!) IMPRESSION A lovely ship but sadly the smaller ships had more amenities like a golf course and extra charges for everything from bottled water,charge for a birthday cake! charge for coffee and ice cream. so sadly i do not think i will be doing another msc cruise!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
I have always wanted to go cruising, and this was my first time. Overall, it was lovely experience. My only issue were the 15% service charge, and the 7 euros a day per person tip/gratuity. On our arrival on the ship (MSC Lirica) we ... Read More
I have always wanted to go cruising, and this was my first time. Overall, it was lovely experience. My only issue were the 15% service charge, and the 7 euros a day per person tip/gratuity. On our arrival on the ship (MSC Lirica) we headed straight for the Reception, as we were advised by our tour operator that we could query the the tip with the Guest Relation Manager (GRM). We had an appointment 2 days later to see her, and during this time we made a note of the things we were unhappy with. On one occassion, a waitress hadn't asked for our drinks voucher, and refused to void the transaction when we showed them to her, until we asked to see the manager. On the first day, our dinner was cold, and on another a waiter left 2 of our party waiting over 15 minutes to take a drinks order. Generally, we wouldn't have made an issue of this things, but as we had little option in paying the tip, we made sure we scrutinised every aspect of our trip. The GRM listened to our concerns, and in the end the tip charge was halved. I think it's worth buying the vouchers for drinks, as you do make a small saving having only to pay 15% on the whole vouchers, rather than 15% per drink. The food was lovely, nothing spectacular, but as I've put on over half-a-stone, it wasn't all bad! The majority of the staff were pleasant, especially the Housekeepers, who were always ready with a "Good Morning/evening, how was your day, and have a lovely evening" whenever we saw them in the corridors. Most of the staff were very pleasant, and were attentive in clearing tables, and general maintenance of the boat. The entertainment wasn't to my taste, and even though a lot of it was translated into 4 languages, I still wouldn't have enjoyed it, even it were totally in English!! The showers are TINY, and I spent most of my time fighting with the shower curtain! If you do nothing else, please get vouchers for the cocktails. It was nice to relax with a post-dinner cocktail. Please note that 1st sitting for dinner is at 7/7.30pm, and 2nd sitting is 9.30pm/9.45pm. We made the mistake of thinking that dinner sittings would be earlier, and having opted for 2nd sitting, we didn't finish eating until well after 10.30pm. Dinners are usually 5 courses, and we had 2 Gala nights where formal dress was suggested. I would also recommend taking the excursion to Rome offered by MSC. We did out own thing when ashore, but it was a rush getting around Rome in the 3 hours we had allocated, also be aware of the haggling taxi drivers in Tunis! All in all, I very much enjoyed my first ever cruise trip, and I would definitely do it again :-) Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Have just returned from an amazing three week holiday in Europe, which ended with a seven night Med Cruise. My husband and I and our four children departed from South Africa on 27 June on KLM Airways. the flight went smoothly and we ... Read More
Have just returned from an amazing three week holiday in Europe, which ended with a seven night Med Cruise. My husband and I and our four children departed from South Africa on 27 June on KLM Airways. the flight went smoothly and we landed in Amsterdam the following morning, on time. Everything went smoothly, until in came to collecting our luggage and we discovered that my younged son's bag had not arrived with us. This obviously involved going to make a report and give details so that we could be contacted when it was located. Once this was done we walked out into the pickup area to try and find our prebooked and prepaid mini bus pickup. This involved a bit of wandering around, but he could not be found. Eventually I stopped to ask another taxi driver if I was perhaps in the wrong area. He asked our surname and after repeating it a couple of times, he managed to pronounce it correctly and low and behold the gentleman standing next to him leans over and tells us that he had come to collect us, but as we took too long to come out, he was now waiting for someone else. He turned his nameboard around and there, sure as nuts, was our surname. My idea of arranging a pickup from the airport obviously wasn't a very good one, as we had now wasted 80 euros. What a great start! We set off to find another mini bus and this turned out to be very simple indeed and cost us 60 euros, so I certainly wouldn't bother with prebooking transport again, as one never knows what sort of delays they may encounter. The taxi took us to our accomodation, which was an self catering apartment above the Bulldog Coffee Shop in Leidsesquare. I was delighted that we were above a Coffee Shop, as I thought it would be perfect for popping downstairs for breakfasts in the morning. I googled the Coffee Shop from home before we left home, to see what sort of meals they served and much to my dismay it was a very different Coffee Shop to the one's I am accustomed to at home. I was a bit concerned about the location of our accomodation, but it turned out to be absolutely fine with the entrance being a separate door on the rights hand side of the coffee shop. The apartment was great, apart from the fact that we had to drag our luggage up two flights of stairs before reaching the lift. This resulted in the pull along handle on my other son's suitcase, being ripped right out. Great! The apartment consisted of 2 bedrooms, bathroom, separate toilet, a tiny loft room that didn't really have any furniture it in, but the kids managed to turn in into their computer room. There was also a lovely fitted kitchen, dining are and of course the lounge which housed the sleeper couch. The lounge and dining area had lovely big windows which opened up onto the square, which was great and very entertaining. The one thing the apartemnt lacked, was an airconditioner, which would have gone down really well. All four of our children landed up sleeping in the lounge as there was a celing fan and of course the large window that could be left open. There were loads of restaurants off the square and a Burger King about 30 steps away from the door of the apartment. We spent a fabulous 3 nights in Amsterdam, did the Hop on Hop off Bus tours, visited Ann Frank's Apartment, went on an evening canal cruise and also managed to visit the Ice Bar. We hadn't really planned on doing this, as we had read such bad reviews but we were in the area, so decided to just pop in. What fun! We bought ourselves some lovely Heineken polar hats were given great big polar coats to wear and off we went for our Polar Experience. We so enjoyed it and the kids had a ball too. Am so pleased that we went in! On our forth morning, we were collected on time, by the same taxi that had brought us from the airport. We were taken back to Schipol Aiport, where took our flight on Air France, to Paris. Whilst at the airport, we checked on my son's bag, but it had still not arrived. We landed at CDG in Paris and collected by Prestige Pickups. I had pre arranged this, but advance payment was not requested. We were transported to Eurodisney, where we were to spend the next 3 nights at the Hotel Cheyenne. My initial impression of the hotel when we walked into reception area was CHAOTIC, with kids screaming and running around. The Western themed accomodation is very spaced out and you don't really encounter any other guests until you get to breakfast in the morning and all hell breaks loose. More kids sreaming and running around and their parents shoving past you with plates piled high with croissants, ham and cheese all ready to go and prepare the snacks for the day. There is a sign in the dining room telling people not take food from the diningroom, but this made no difference at all and people were openly filling carry bags with rolls, croissants and even filling empty bottles with juice for the day. After 3 hectic days in Eurodisney we were collected on time by Prestige again and taken into Paris we we were booked into the Londres et New York Hotel. We were greeted by a lovely friendly receptionist and were given the keys for our two rooms. There was a lift was a relief. Our rooms were lovely, beautifully decorated, really nice bathrooms and windows which looked out onto the street below. We had a tiny balcony which we were able to squeeze onto, which was rather nice. We were joined the following morning by my mother and my husbands parents, as they were to spend the balance of the trip with us. We were also joined by my son's suitcase, which had arrived in Amsterdam, as we left and had had to wait for the next flight to Paris! Another two nights were spent in Paris, doing the Hop on Bus tours, dinner in Eiffel Tower, visiting the Louvre, dinner cruise on the River Seinne(Awesome) and loads of walking. We were collected by Prestige once again and were taken to the train station where we were to catch the TGV to Marseille. The station was chaotic and after much asking around we found out where we sere supposed to be. There we waited, until the gates were opened and then, the stampede. People were shoving and pushing and ramming trolleys of luggage into our ankles. Getting to our carriage was a bit hair raising, in fact I don't even know how we managed to find it. We had hardly got on and managed to cram our load of luggage into the small luggage areas, and suddenly we were whizzing off. It was such a relief to be safely in our seats after all that tearing along the platforms, trying to keep our party of nine all together. After setting off, we throughly enjoyed our train ride and the lovely scenery that flew past the windows. We were able to buy lunch on the train, which I wouldn't recommend, as we had to go upstairs and walk through a couple of coaches before we found the queue waitng to be served. There was only one lady behind the counter and she was making taking orders, heating up food, making coffees and ringing everything up as well. The menu is only in French, so we didn't really know what we were ordering. We resorted to pointing at pictures and using sign language. the food was expensive and wasn't great. We had a coulpe of dried out sandwiches, wraps etc. I should've arranged some food to take on with us. The tain journey took three and a half hours, but it seemed to go so quickly and it really was rather nice to sit still for a while after our 10 days of rushing about. Whilst on our way, we called our hotel to ask them to arrange a taxi pickup from the station in Marseille. We arrived safely in Marseille and after lugging our suitcases off the train and through the station, we managed to find our taxis, who had just arrived. we were split up into three different cars and were whisked away. We all seemed to go in different dirrections and after tearing down side roads and much ranting and raving and waving his arms around, our taxi driver delivered my mother, older son and me to our hotel, a good eight minutes after the rest of the party had arrived. My husband handed me 26 euros, as this what his taxi driver had charged, but my driver wouldn't take it from me and said he wanted 30 euros instead, as he had an brought an extra bag in his car. We were booked into the Radisson Blu Hotel and this turned out to be a great choice. The staff were all friendly, helpful and imformative. We had booked three quad rooms. The extra bed in each room, was a fold up bed and our two older boys decided to drag the matress from the other room, so that they could both be with my husband and me. We very very squashed up, but it was fine. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a problem with the airconditioner, so the room was rather stuffy. The hotel has a small swimming pool on the third floor, so we decided to take the kids for a swim. Diving or jumping into the pool was not allowed, so we were a little tense. My ten year old son climbed out of the pool and picked up a freshly rolled up towel, which he thought I had put there for him. What a commotion..the towel belonged to a elderley man who was wallowing around in the pool. He went beserk, yelling and screaming and waving his fists around. He was yelling so much, I couldn't make out what language he was speaking in. We all apologised repeatedly, but we had obviously spoilt his afternoon and he had certainly spoilt mine. I decided to return to our room to calm down. The rooms have a mini bar, where I found a nice cold bottle of water. Whilst drinking it, I paged through the hotel imformation folder, where I found the price list for the mini bar. Here I discovered that my small bottle of water cost 6 euros. With that, I decided to go and find a shop. I found a little shop around the corner, where a sixpack of small waters were 3.50 euro. What a bargain! We enjoyed two nights in Marseille, did a hop on hop off bus tour where we visited the cathedral. We tried a couple of little restaurants, but didn't find anything worth commenting on. The breakfast which was included in Raddison Blu hotel rate was really good with a huge assortment of yoghurts, fruit , cereals, nuts, dried fruit, cold meats, smoked salmon, cheeses, breads, croissants, waffles, pancakes, fried egg/omlettes/scrambled/poached, bacon, mushroom, tomatoes etc. After two nights in Marseille, we were anxious to get to our Cruise ship, the MSC Splendida. We had been on two MSC Cruises before, but both off South Africa. We managed to pack all our dirty clothing, and other bits and pieces that weren't needed on the cruise, into separate suitcases and the staff at the Radsson blu agreed to store these for us, until our return seven days later. What a lifesaver ! We managed to leave two big bags and three cabin bags behind. Our minibus taxi came to collect us at one o clock and off we went. It took about 20 minutes to get the Port and there we got our first sighting of our ship. Wow, the Splendida certainly looked Splendid. We went into the Embarking area where we went to the desk to get our Embarking Coupons. Theses could not be found, but our names were on the Guest List. After a short while, they managed to sort this out and we received our coupons. We then had wait a short while before to the Embarking Counters, to get our luggage tagged, give in our passports etc. Here we discovered, that one of our three cabins that we had booked and paid for in December, suddenly wasn't available. Even though the correct cabins numbers were displayed on our Embarking Vouchers, it simply wasn't available. We had especially requested three cabins close together, as my mother was sharing a cabin with my younger son and daughter and I could not have them running around searching for us. My inlaws had never been on ship before and they obviously didn't want to waste time getting lost and trying to track the rest of us down. Unfortunately, their cabin was the one that was not available, but they were cheered up a little, when they were told they were to be upgraded. We were then able to Embark and were guided to our cabins by cabins by a very sweet Indonesian lady. My inlaws were led off a different direction to their upgraded cabin on the 12th floor, number 12098. We were on the 11th floor at the back of the ship Cabins 11212 and 11216, dirrectly opposite the lifts which was rather handy. We had been given a map of the ship, so decided to go find my inlaws in their apgraded cabin. Their cabin was probably halfway through the ship, quite a walk. We couldn't wait to see their cabin, but low and behold it was the splitting image of ours. Upgrade? The cabins were very nice though and we were very happy with our balcony which we made sure we sat on each evening. The cabins were kept spotlessly clean and we never had to ask for anything. The cleaning staff in general seemed very efficient and every you walk on the ship, something is busy being vacumned, mopped or polished. We had been allocated Villa Verde restaurant for our Dinners and for breakfast if we chose to. Villa Verde was very easy to reach from our cabin, just a walk out the door, into the lifts and down to deck 6.As we climbed out the lift, we were right at Villa Verde. My poor inlaws had to catch a lift to the seventh floor, walk to the aft of the ship and then catch another lift down to the sixth floor. Villa Verde was lovely, the food was fantastic and the waiters were excellent. Our two waiters were Indonesian and they really were so nice and went out of their way for us at every meal. The one waiter Jorge entertained us at each meal with all sorts of creatures he created from Napkins and pieces of paper. We would arrive at a meal and my 6 year old daughter would find little paper birds waiting for her on her placemat. I had read bad reviews about the food on the ship, but was so impressed with it. The meals at Villa Verde were honestly delicious. We had lunches at the Bora Bora Cafetaria and then discovered that we could've been eating lunch at our lovely Villa Verde Restaurant. It only opened for lunch between 2 and 4pm, so of course this wasn't always possible if you had gone off on a tour. Lunches in Bora Bora Cafetaria were chaotic, with people pushing and shoving and grabbing tables. There was always long queues at the pasta stations and the fastfood (burger & hotdogs), but the other stations were not too bad. It shocked me to see how people were loading their plates with food, that no normal person could possibly consume and then you would see the poor waiters clearing these plates away with the food barely touched. What an awful waste! We booked our tours as we got onto the ship and the tickets were to be sent to our cabin. These only arrived whilst we were at dinner, so by the time we discovered them, it was already late and only when you receive your ticket, do you see your departure time and your meeting point which was normally half an hour to 45 minutes before departure. We suddenly had a problem, as we needed to arrange for our 6 year old and 10 year to join the kiddies club, as they were not coming with us on the tour. We went to try and find out about the kiddies club and the young gentleman in Reception tried his best to help us. We were told that kiddies club only starts at 9 o clock, which didn't really make sense to me, as the meeting time for the following morning's tours, was at 8.15am. I thought the purpose of the kiddies club, was for the smaller children to be kept happy and occupied, whilst their parents went off on a tour that would bore them to tears. The chap in Reception made a few calls and then told us that someone would be waiting up the kiddies club at 8am the following morning. That was a relief. In the morning we rushed to breakfast early, so that the little one's would be fed and ready to go and search for the kiddies club before 8 o clock. We did have a battle trying top find it and were really panicking as we were running out of time. No one really seemed to understand us when we were asking directions, but we eventually managed to find the room that we were meant to be in. There we met up with a pleasant Italian speaking young man. He managed a little English, enough to advise us that there was NO kiddies club that morning, because they were going on a tour!! I never quite understood whether all the other kiddies were going on tour or whether they weren't having kiddies club because of the tour...It made no sense to me at all. He went on say that he would entertain them and they could watch TV and draw...for 5 hours. By now I felt sick, we were now running late for our meeting point for the tour, our parents were waiting there for us. We didn't know if it would be possible to get our little ones on the tour with us and they hadn't wanted to go on the tour anyway. We had already paid 55 euro each for ourselves and our parents to go on the tour and at this stage didn't know if we were going to miss it completely. So, we had to leave our poor little souls with this childminder and dash off. I was so upset! Why were we not informed when making enquiries about the club, that there was not going to be any kiddies club!! We managed to get to our tour, but got straight onto the phone to my oldest son, who was still in bed, sleeping in. I asked him to get to the kiddies area to check the younger two. We got a call back from him a while later to say he hadn't been able to find them at the kiddies club. Great! How does one enjoy the tour, when they are now flapping about their children. Told the older son to go off searching again and this attempt was successful and he found them back in the kiddies room. He did phone to tell us this and to let us know that were very unhappy and were wanting him to rescue them! Obviously we had to get them out of there, so sent him back to try and get them released. This of course was a problem, because the childminder didn't want to release them to my older son. More phonecalls and my husband eventually managed to get the childminder to understand that their brother was there to collect the children and was able to look after them. Very stressful!! On our return we received the whole report on how scarey it had been at the "club" "the man couldn't really understand" them, so of course didn't really speak to them. He put the TV or a DVD for them, but of course it was in Italian. Needless to say, the 10 year old son never wanted to return to the "Club" and the 6 year old daughter said she would like to try again, but only if there were other children. She did try on another ocassion and spent the morning playing with 2 little girls, but she wasn't sure what language they spoke. on the third try, we were told the children were going to be taught a dance and they would be doing a show up on the pool deck a little later that evening. My daughter was so excited, as she loves dancing. We made sure we sat right up front so that she could see we were there to watch her. When the children arrived, I could see straight away that she was upset. The little group started with their dance, but of course the instructor was only giving instructions in Italian and all she could do was try her best to keep up. Once it was over she beckoned to us and begged us to "please come and fetch" her. When we collected her, she burst into tears and said she didn't know why the other children wanted to leave her out. They would not platy with her and when the group played "Pass the Parcel", they refused to pass to her and passed the parcel to the child next to her. She asked us to please never take her there again. Great! A bit difficult when you have booked and paid for Tours that are not suitable for small children. This really was the only issue we had with the Splendida. We had expected to encounter bad mannered Italians and we got them, but I really thought on a Family friendly ship, more effort would be made to entertain the children and to help gather children together of the same language. There had to be other english speaking children on the ship, but amongst 4000 guests, how would you ever meet up with them? Nothing is organised for teenagers either, although a Teen Club is listed on the daily brochure that is pushed under your door each evening. It is shown as been in the Graffiti Disco at 11.30pm. Our two teenage boys attempted this on their first night, but again nothing happening. On our second evening, we bumped into the Cruise Director "Enzo" after the evening show and we mentioned that our teenage boys were desperate to find some other english speaking teens. He asked how many nights we had left of our cruise and when we said 5, he said "Ooh, we'll have to do something about that". That is as far as it got, because nothing was ever done about it. I would expect them to gather the teens together during the day maybe, have different competitions at the pools and to try a identify if there were any English Speaking...put them in team, German speaking..put them in a team etc. Even it only 3 or 4 teens together, at least it is some sort of company for them. My older boys were fortunate to meet a young Swiss Girl and her younger brother on their third night when we dragged them up to the main disco on the 16th deck. My son had sat next to her and plucked up the courage to ask he if she spoke English and yipee, she did. The four of them met up regularly after that and stayed out at the disco until 4 in the morning thereafter. The tours we booked on the ship were average. Our first stop was Genoa and we booked the PORTOFINO Tour. This cost 55 Euro for adults and 39 Euro for cildren.It involved a 45 minute coach ride to Santa Margherita Ligure, where we a few minutes before climbing onto a boat which took us on a 10 minute ride to Portofino, where we spent about an hour and 20 minutes. We were able to wander around the lovely little town or stop and have coffee etc. Our tour guide said we had to have the best Italian Ice cream ever and pointed out were to get it. We thought we'd go and get one before getting back on the boat, so set off to the other side of the little port to get our ice cream. These ranged from 8 Euro for 1 scoop to 18 Euro for 3 scoops. Suddenly didn't really need that ice cream. Our second stop was Naples, where we had prearranged a driver to pick us up and drive us along the Amalfi coast to Sorrento and then onto Positano, where he took us to a lovely little restaurant which overlooked the the town, We had a neverending lunch, where the courses just kept on arriving at our table. Our driver then took us back along the coast a nd took us to Pompeii, where we managed to spend an hour before returning to the ship. The driver was very jovial and had the Italian Music going to get us into the mood! he made regular photo stops and was more than happy to take the photographs that we needed. His fee was 420 euro for the nine of us in an airconditioned mini bus. I thought it was one of our best days! Our third stop was Palermo, where we decided to pass on the tours and thought we go on a little walk ourselves. We had hardly left the ship, before we pounced on by a young lady trying to get us to take a horse and cart ride. She said we'd be shown the different sights and they'd stop and let us go to the market if we would like. This was going to cost 20 euros each, so my husband decided we should go. We climbed into our little carriages and killed ourselves laughing as we looked at each other trotting along. Everynow and then the driver mumble that we had passed a statue or a cathedral, no stopping even for a photo. Suddenly after approximately half an hour, the driver stopped and announced that we could go back to the ship or get out and explore. it was all rather sudden and we had no idea where we were, but out we got and my huband, my mother and my father in law decided to go back to the ship. off they went, leaving my mother in law, our three boys and me staning in the street wandering which way to turn. We eventually asked our way around by pointing at pictures of markets. After 40 minutes of wandering around, we foundthe market, which was a very long alley of all the usual bits and pieces that you find in markets. Didn't find anything interesting and eventually decided we were never going to get to the market, so turned around and went back. We then managed to find someone who could direct us back to the ship. The following day, we stopped in Tunisia, which we hadn't expected to do, as we had been advised earlier in the year that no ships were stopping in Tunis, because of all the unrest and violence. We were to have a day at sea, which I was quite excited about, as it was half way through the cruise and would provide a good opportunity to relax. However when first embarking the Splendida, we were told that the Tunis stop had been resumed and the ship had stopped there two weeks prior to us and there had been no problems. We decided to do a tour and booked the EXPLORING THE COLOURFUL SOUKS OF TUNIS. This cost 48 euros per adult and children were free. As you leave the ship you aproached by men bearing some sort of flower, which they force upon you and if they manage to get it into your hand or hat or pocket, start demanding 5 euro. Needless to say, they had all their flowers handed bank to them. Our guide led us to our coach, where we were with other english speaking passengers, some germans, and I think some French. We drove through Tunis' modern district and were then dropped off at the Medina(market), which seemed to be a maze of alley ways and passages and delapidated buildings. We were led up and down these alley ways, up stairs, down stairs ans eventually stopped at a carpet shop, where we told briefly what went into the making of the carpets. We were then led up some more stairs, where we had sit and watch as a mountain of rugs and carpets were brought out, each unrolled in front of us and we were given a price for each one. No one was buying the rugs and in fact the only one that was sold, was bought by my inlaws. The price started at 440 euros and my husband to get them all the way to 150 euro. We had to sit while the rest of the rugs were brought out and didplayed and then all rolled back up again. Then we could leave. Down more alleys and then into a perfume shop, where we got to smell various fragrances and people were able to buy if they wanted. Next was a shop that sold various wares and our little party were led into a separate room, because we were the only ones that had bought from the carpet shop so our guide obviously thought he could encourage us buy some handmade jewels which were in this little room. I don't think anyone in the tour group bought anything from this shop. More alleys and eventually the guide said we could have some free time. We stopped at some stairs and he said we were to meet back there in twenty minutes and then he asked us what the time was. He didn't even have a watch! Various people called out the time and everyone seemed to be a couple of minutes less or more timewise. We decided we were to hot and tired to walk anywhere and quite frankly didn't know how far we could get in 20 minutes. We found a spot to sit on the stairs and most of the tour group seemed to do the same, or they hovered around in the area. After a while, our guide returned and suddenly announced it was time to go. According to our watch, we had not been there for twenty minutes, but no one complained and off we went. I was so excited, as I thought we were heading back to the bus. I was directly behind the guide and noticed him stopping to ask directions frequently. He didn't seem too sure of where he was going. We climbed steep alleys, down little passages again, more stairs and in the blazing heat. I could not wait to see the bus. We had the younger kids with us, so they of course were complaining and of course the parents were battling with all the climbing. Suddenly we reached a door and in went the guide and we were led in up more stairs and into a stuffy room which had tables and chairs were set up. What a relief to sit. I then rembered the tour had mentioned a stop at a cafe for coffee and pastries. No coffee arrived but a plate of date pastries arrived at our table and we were able to buy a cold drink or beer. No glasses though. When then got to watch a traditional Tunisian dance. Suddenly our guide announced that four of our tour group had been left behind at our previous spot, as they had not returned to the meeting spot in time. He did not have a watch, so he certainly didn't have any idea of the accurate time. At no time did he do a head count, which I think was quite shocking. Fortunately the missing group, had run into another MSC group of a different language and their tour guide contacted our guide on his cell phone. The other guide then led them to the cafe. Our guide then told us that the lost foursome would travel back to the ship with the other tour group, as it would be "unprofessional" of him to wait for them ! I thought it pretty unprofessional of him to have lost them, but he was determined to put the blame on them and once back on the bus made sure he came to every family to ask us if we were going to tell MSC what a good guide he'd been!!! I think we were all very relieved to see our ship. We couldn't board the ship again without letting our little ones have a camel ride, while we took photos. This cost 5 euros for both of them and seemed worthwhile, as it was the same price as the flower they'd tried to force upon us. There were a couple of guys with birds on chains which they had flying around and landing on people's arms. One landed on my daughters arm and the chap who owned it tried to charge me 5 euros. I walked away from him and ranting and raving behind me. Our fifth stop was Palma de Mallorca. We took the ships shuttle into town for 8 euros per person. We could use the bus coupon to travel to and from town as often as we wished. We went into town and wandered around town and bought quite a few curios from some lovely little shops. We sat at a little cafe in the main street and my husband ordered beer for him, coke for the kids, sangria for his mom and me. Along come enormous mugs which looked like 2 litres to me. The mugs were loaded with dozens of brightly coloured straws and we just had to tuck in. Nothing came in small quantities. We all had a good laugh. Last stop was Barcelona, where we had booked the PANORAMIC TOUR AND SHOPPING for the ladies and girls and the BARCELONA PANORAMIC & NOU CAMP STADIUM for the men and boys. The shopping tour cost 45 euro for adults and 32 for children. The Stadium tour cost 48 euro for adults and 34 for children. We enjoyed the Panoramic part of the tour but the shopping part of it was a bit of a waste, as we were dropped at a bus stop and were told we had approximately an hour and twenty minutes and then needed to meet back at the bus stop. I had hoped to shop at some markets and buy some gifts for back home, but the area we were dropped in was boutiques, office blocks, banks etc. We did not want to venture too far in case we could not find our way back to the bus stop. The guys all thoroughly enjoyed their tour and it was a dream come true for my younger son to visit the stadium and he came back armed with a new Soccerball and some new soccer boots, which he locked in the safe when back on the ship. We were very sad that this was our last day on the ship, but it was time to start packing up as our suitcases had to be outside the cabin door by 3am. We enjoyed our last dinner on the ship, with the waiters come through the restarant with blazing Baked Alaskas. Lovely! We went and enjoyed our last show. We had enjoyed all the shows, but especially our first three nights when we'd had a variety show the first night, Willer Nicolodi the one man show the second night and the third night was also a variety show. Thereafter, the shows were mainly dancing, which really didn't appeal to the children, especially the boys. The standard of the dancing was very good though. On our last morning, we had to be up early, as we needed to be out of our cabins by 7 am. We had our last lovely breakfast and then received such warm farewells from our waiters. Our daughters got big hugs from them both, which made her so happy. They had been her only friends on the ship, so she was very sad to say goodbye to them. All in all, we had a great cruise on the Splendida, but would definately not recommend it to families with young non Italian speaking children and teenagers, unless you travel with friends. it can be a very boring time for children, if they have no one to play with and if they have to be dragged along on long boring tours. We ended our trip back at the Radisson Blu for one more night, before heading back home. We were able to repack bags and sort our selves out, do last minute shopping. We had a lovely dinner at the hotel that night and wished we had tried it before, as the meal was really delicious. Had lunch the next day just along the main street at Papa Pizzeria, which was very good and got a great Bambino deal for 6euro. This iclude a Pizza or a couple of other choices of meal; a juice which turned out to be a huge cocktail looking juice which they were thrilled with. They then got a generous portion of ice cream and wafer and then a little gift box with a toy inside. Definately worthwhile! Then it was time for home!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Reception Unlike the Royal Caribbean, the reception at the MSC was so cold. People here had a straight face and checked us in as if they were doing us a favor. As soon as we checked in, we were told to proceed to another counter ... Read More
Reception Unlike the Royal Caribbean, the reception at the MSC was so cold. People here had a straight face and checked us in as if they were doing us a favor. As soon as we checked in, we were told to proceed to another counter where a person with a very stern face pointed a finger towards some papers, they were promoting packages. I asked them If I could see it after I have gone into my room as I was very tired. With a very cold and rude way I was told ok. I was quite surprised at this but I thot I was over thinking for no reason. On our 2nd day we realized that all our friends ( we had 7 or 8 rooms) had a 14 bottle water package which was given to us during our booking. For some reason we did not get this package. When I went to the reception desk, they rudely told me that this package is not included in our room. I tried to explain it to them that all my other friends have this package and we are on the same package but it was impossible to reason out. At the end I had to tell them that I did not care about this package and I left for my excursion. When I returned from my excursion, I saw the water coupons on my bed. I called the reception and thanked them. I don't understand why they had to fight and argue with a customer for a water package. They could have told me that they would check it and get back to me. The next day I got a call from the reception in my room telling me that I can not get two water packages. I told them that I do not want two water packages and that I had received my coupons from them. He banged the phone down. Shuttle Bus & Excursions The next day we docked off at Barcelona, as ususal we were directed to the shuttle bus but this time I first went to the ticket counter and asked them where the bus would take me and I was told that it takes us right up to "Ramblas" . I told them that we were 2 adults and 2 children, she told me that it was better to take the shuttle. We took the shuttle and it was really shocking because with in 3 min the shuttle stopped and we all had to get down and it was a good long walk to the Ramblas. I was very disappointed. On our way back I decided to take a cab back from the same point to the ship and I had pay Euro 4.5 by the meter. This was a total rip off, I went to the accounts desk and complained about it. The person behind the accounts desk (mr. claud or something like that , I cant rembmer) agreed with me and told me that these people are rip offs and its not done but he cud not do anything abou it and I had to sort it out with the excursion desk. I decided to do that. The desk was busy booking excursions at that moment and I waited. Once they were done, I went to the lady who was free and I told them about how I was mis led and over charged 4 times. She was so so rude (Ms. Sarah) and she said we don't own the taxi's here to know the charges. I told her that I am not here to fight or argue or to hear her rudeness. I had spend over 800 euro in the ship on just eating and drinking and another 26 euro did not matter but it was a matter of principle. And what they had done was wrong. She just walked away. I asked them to call the manger and they said "manager is busy else where" (patent reply all the time). I also checked that at Genoa we had gone to an aquarium which was only a 10min leisure walk and we paid euro 18 for an adult for a ticket. But at the cruise they charge you Euro 34 per person. Dining Experience (Breakfast / Dinner and Room Service) At the Dining room. If we ever ever asked for a dish extra, we were meant to wait and we were told by the waiter that this is not a done thing. I am so surprised. One day when I asked the waiter to please get us some rice and a chicken dish, after good 20 min we asked him what happened to the order and he made a face and said, how do you expect me to keep serving your table promptly. After 20 min we got that answer and and he says stop behaving like a kid. I was shocked at this answer. Another 5 min later , he got us plain rice with out the main dish and walked away. What were we meant to have the rice with? We were there for a week , so many things happened that I just can not tell you. One day at the breakfast hall, the table right next to ours had a tray which had around 10 glasses or orange juice and there was a waiter next to that. We asked him if he could pass us the juice and he said no it was not his job. Once we got the juice and sipped it, we realizd it was water put into some powder. Not even a Tropicana or any other orange juice. Can you believe this? Also at one time we asked a waiter to get us a spoon and he refused, we questioned that how can you refuse to do this and he said that they were not allowed to touch spoons etc as the management didn't trust them. One day we ordered room service and when the server came, we had 2 plates and 1 cup from the previous day which was not cleared, we asked him to take it away and we got a reply "this is not my job" One day I could not go for breakfast because my younger daughter age 5 was not well and I was waiting for my wife to come back from breakfast so I could go for mine but she came only at 10:15 so I decided to order from room service, when I called them I told them that I know that I am 15 min late but can I please get only a cup of coffee and a croissant. Of course it was stupid of me to expect anything, I got a reply "you can get as long as you pay for it" I was shocked at this horrible hospitality, I went down to the restaurant, ordered a cup of coffee and croissant, paid for it and gave a euro 5 tip but I refused to ever order room service. Over all a horrible experience. May be if it is your first cruise then you may be ok with all this but I had gone for a Royal Caribbean cruise before this and I had some at least some expectation. I paid less at Royal Caribbean and got a 7* treatment. I paid a 7 star price at MSC and got a treatment that even a 1 star property can not give. Upon Check out We were charged Euro 7 per person , per night for 7 nights that we stayed there, we were never informed about these charges. There was a document we received that this was up to us to pay or not, but we were given this and told we have to pay this. When we tried to reason out, they refused to listen to us, and when we asked to speak to the manager, we were told that the "Manager was busy else where'. We are charged 15% service charge for any anything that you order. So why this 7 euro per person charge which comes to over euro 100. Horrible staff, horrible treatment, horrible cruise experience. It is sad because they have a beautiful ship and just because their attitude, their cruise experience sucks. I suggest if they do not like certain country prople, do not promote this ship in that country. I got to know that we pay pay much more. I paid over USD 3300 for this cruise and I believe that for Italians its much cheaper by over 60%. So why give this horrible treatment to us. This is my first written complaint ever in my life, I think you all can imagine what we all must have gone thru that I have taken out so much of my time doing this. But please remember, never never ever take this Cruise, you will make a big mistake but if you by mistake , then surely do not take their excursions. They are total Rip offs. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
As first-time cruisers, we did not know what to expect, so we read teh reviews on this site. From our perspective, I can only say that soem people just want to find some fault-so sad.We have travelled the world and stayed in mnay classes ... Read More
As first-time cruisers, we did not know what to expect, so we read teh reviews on this site. From our perspective, I can only say that soem people just want to find some fault-so sad.We have travelled the world and stayed in mnay classes of hotels and met many people.Our experience with the Fantasia was 100% positive. I like to travel to meet people. The staff on the Fantasia were wonderful, many from Bali, and so friendly and helpful.Our balcony suite was perfect and kept spotlessly clean.The food was very European, but that's what one goes to Europe for. There were lot of choices. The majority of passengers were European, so get used to European customs. When in Rome... They do not line up...just bundle into elevators/stairways etc.Yes, there is smoking permitted, but it was never a problem and there was no odour.Yes, there were children. If you are annoyed by children, go on an adults only cruise. The majority of the children were well-behaved. If you didn't want to encounter one, there are ways around it like having breakfast in your room or going to the adults-only pool. The entertainment was fabulous-as good as any in any resort at which we've stayed. If you want Vegas, go to Vegas.Yes, you might have to buy water. We didn't mind. Other drinks were reasonably priced. We didn't feel gouged in any way. The service in the formal dining rooms was impeccable. Captain Mazzi runs a very tight ship. We would go again. Embarkation/disembarkation was quick. Passports returned quickly. Enjoyed our excursions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our cruise was 28 march from Marseille, then Barcelona. Tunis,. Malta, Sicily, Rome, Genua and back to Marseille. I am Carina, 32 years old travel agent from the Netherlands, with my husband Erik, 34 years old IT specialist. Together with ... Read More
Our cruise was 28 march from Marseille, then Barcelona. Tunis,. Malta, Sicily, Rome, Genua and back to Marseille. I am Carina, 32 years old travel agent from the Netherlands, with my husband Erik, 34 years old IT specialist. Together with my Dad (65) and mom (64). We had 2 inside cabins category 3 on deck 10, numbers were 10047 and 10035 DISCLAIMER: This will be a very personal review. It is coloured by the fact that we travelled under special circumstances, as well as the fact that I am: A) European, from the Netherlands, and therefore not used to certain things like tipping, free water etc etc B) a first time cruiser, so I have NO comparison whatsoever. I will have comparison to AIDA in a few weeks, but that's hardly a common cruiseline as well. My opinions are thus based only on this MSC experience C) a flexible, happy-go-lucky person who is easily pleased, and who is easily impressed (eg we are not used to SUPER luxury travel etc) D) we travelled with my father who is terminally ill. This made some thing more difficult, more fun and more special than they would have been otherwise. E) I am a very overweight person which sometimes also may affect my level of activity and my perception of things, although I hope not too much It surely affects my appetite and liking of the food on board! That being said, let's start this review. TRAVEL On the very early morning of 28 march we were picked up by a taxi to drive us to Lille in Northern France. We had spent the night (well, the few hours that were our night) at my parents house and the kids were at home with my inlaws, who watched them the whole week. The taxivan drove us in 1,5 hours to Lille, and we arrived WAY to early, the train station was still closed! Luckily the driver stayed with us till it opened at 5:20- am so we could sit in the warm van. I am sure dad would have frozen to death otherwise, he is so skinny and so easily cold since his illness. At the station it was a short wait untill our TGV arrived (Train Grande Vitesse). We were VERY comfortable in our first class seats! The train wooshed us thorugh France in a heartbeat: in only 4,5 hours we arrived in Marseille. A very comfortable and fast way to travel. Of course the plane would have been faster, but dad can not travel by plane anymore, so train was our best bet. At 85 euros per person for a return in first class, I thought it was a bargain! When we neared Marseille, we came out of a tunnel and there she was! We could see our MSC SPLENDIDA ship in the sunshine in the distance! I jumped and yelped from excitement, to the frowning dismay of our fellow passengers LOL. At the station, Erik (my husband) and I lugged all the luggage, we wanted to make this trip and doable and easy for mum and dad as possible. We looked for the taxis and were told it would be 30 euros. Let's do it. In the end, it was 25 when we got to the ship, so that was a good cab driver. We were simply stunned by the beauty and the largeness of the ship; it promised to be a very special week! EMBARKATION Marseille is not a main port for MSC embarkation. First we stood in line for our luggage. No porters here (at least not at 11:30 am). We delivered our bags in the terminal, where they would be scanned and handeled later. In this port, you are not present if (or when?) they are scanned. In my suitcase I had some cans of pepsi and some cans with mix-drinks like bacardi cola. No problem, The suitcase turned up intact around 5:30 pm by my cabin, with all the goodies inside. After leaving our suitcases, we went up to the check in area. We registered our creditcard and recieved our board-card. We went to an information stand on drink packages. We bought the cocktail package, the small beer package and the soda package. We could not buy a wine package, this would be handled later with dinner. No worries: you can buy these packages later on also, so no need to buy A LOT at once! I was sure we would need multiple packages, but turned out we had enough. The cocktail worked out to be 12 for the price of 10 compared to buying them apart. The softdrinks (cans! big ones too) worked out to be 2,20 euros per can in stead of 2,70 euros apart (excl 15% service charge) The savings on beer was comparable, thus good deals I think. Anyway, more on drinks later. We had to wait 15 minutes and at about noon we could enter the ship. We were not met by a crewmember for a photo shoot nor to show us to our room. Maybe because we were so early, because later on we always saw people having there embarkation picture taken with a not-so-handsome sailor and a lifesaver (how do you call those rings things in english?). And we saw a lot of people throughout the week being escorted to their cabin by a white-gloved crew member. Not so for us: we just found our own way to our cabins on deck 10 to leave our handluggage. TIP: please put your lighter clothes or even bathing suit in your handluggage! I was so hot with my winter clothes untill I finally had my suitcase at 5:30 pm! Really stupid, as I have read this tip so many times before... So, check-in was a breeze but not as 'complete' as we saw later on with other passengers. (although I did not need a picture and we found the rooms pretty quickly ourselves) THE CABIN We had 2 inside cabins. I tried to get an upgrade/upsell on several levels (since I work in the industry) but failed. The ship was full or almost full so none to be had. When I saw the inside, I was not dissapointed! I found the cabin quite large (for 2 people!) with a nice big and VERY comfy bed with a mirror on the wall behind it. A little bench and table and a dressoir. Enough closet space and IMHO also enough clothes hangers. But hey, I 'only' brought 8 or 9 different outfits, and some for my husband. The bathroom was also adequate, I had expected much smaller! Water pressure and temperature was always nice. I sometimes clinged a bit to the curtain, but that is to be expected with my size LOL. The minibar was stocked and had enough room for the cans I brought from home (and the butter that was requested by our sicilian guide, more on that later) We never used anything from the minibar. The roomservice menu was not very expensive and also very small. Not many choices. Only in-room breakfast was for free (albeit not so elaborate) but we nevfer tried this. All in all, very happy with the cabins! Every night we received the newspaper for the next day. The first one in French but I asked the steward for english ones and he did so after that. I just had to 'train' him to put them under the door! He had the habit of knocking to deliver them at or after 10:30 pm, when we were usually just getting to bed or already asleep. After instructions he understood and just slid the thing under the door. (his knocking was persistant!) I also instructed him to make up our beds with seperate blankets (we just hog them otherwise and we fight about them) It took him a full day to understand what I wanted. First he thought I was cold and needed more blankets so he turned up the heat! He did his job, not more, not less. We did not have a special bond with him. My mum had only one little gripe: when she wanted to go to her cabin for a bathroom and shower visit, they were cleaning and they let her wait outside for a long time. She thought they should have let her in and resume the cleaning later, but that's debatable. We left our hand luggage in the nice cabins and went on to explore the ship. Man, it is big! And so beautiful! We were just walking around with huge smiles and sometimes with open jaws of amazement. Of course it was my first time on a cruise-ship, so I was bound to be amazed anyway I guess. The pools, the sundecks, the bars,: it all looked SO nice in the sunshine! We looked for the buffet restaurant on deck 14, BoraBora (and PagoPago, they are one and the same). In this restaurant buffet breakfast and bufet lunch is served every day (breakfast from 6:30 till 10 and lunch from 12 till 14:30) and also a teatime (from 15:45 till 16:30) conmsisting of cakes, cookies, some tarts, some sanwiches, coffee and tea. The BUFFET LUNCH was really quite OK, I thought. No way can you cook a buffet for 4000 people and have everythin piping hot! If you want hot, freshly made food, you are better off lunching in the dining room. Always a salad bar. Always some meat and cheese, some cold dishes like pasta salad or rice salad. Always some hot pasta options, pizza slices (not many varieties but nice), potatoe/meat/veggie options, a carvery station (recommended, was nice EVERY day!) and one buffet line with fries, hotdogs, hamburgers and the like. This line was only 1, and all the others were repeated. This line was therefore the busiest and sometimes took a long time to get something, especially with lots of rude people (sorry, mostly Italian) jumping in line, pretending there was no one there with them. There was also dessert stations with jello and tarts and cakes, very nice. No ice cream. I liked the food, there was always something good for me to find. !!!!! At lunch no drinks are included. You just order and get served a drink. HOWEVER: there ARE water stations that are sometimes being used by people hidden between the buffets. It is not really meant to be used at lunch, but I saw people using them anyway (and sometimes even using brutal force to try and use the locked juice machine as well! ) I have no opinion on this, as I am never used to free drinks with my lunch anywhere. I just buy them. But this is how it was anyway. Now we are on this subject anyway, let me tell you about the WATER SITUATION Yes, it is true, no free water except for breakfast. No ice water, no free water bottles. I heard recently that US passenghers now get water coupons, check with your TA! I dod not get any free water. My dad just asked for a small glass of tap water for his medication sometimes and he got it every time at no charge. So maybe if you ask friendly enough... The bottled water in your room is at charge (maybe except with those coupons) and also at dinner. Not expensive, but if you are used to free water it is a let down I guess. However consider this: MSC is usually cheaper than the american lines. If free water, iceatea or coffee is very important to you, consider that you are probably paying for it with other lines. I am not used to free anything, so had no problems with it whatsoever. The water in the stateroom is drinkable. I did and survived THE SHIP we finished our lunch and went on to explore the ship. We went up to deck 15 and saw the Playa del Sol, the so-called ZEN area, adult only pool and sundeck at the aft of the ship. Wow, it was beautiful! I could not wait to go and sit in one of those jacuzzis, unfortunately had left my bathers in my suitcase, so this day it was not going to happen. The ZEn area was very nice and if the wind on the aft had not been so cold, we would have sat there many times! This time of year, if the wind comes from behind, this area was a bit too cold, especially for my dad who is easily cold since he is ill (and lost a lot of weight). Luckily the ship is fitted with screens so that on deck 15, there are enough spots where one can relax and sit in the sun. We all had a small hour orso on the sunloungers and we were already burnt! Man, 18 degrees in Marseille sure enough is hot when you are in a windless spot. B) What we noticed all the way when we were checking out the ship, is the degree of detail everywhere. I love mosaic tiles, which are used a LOT at the pool areas and everywhere, so I was very happy. But not only those; everything was just perfectly finished. My dad worked as a tiler some years ago, and we was always looking down in amazement at the beautiful Italian tiles in all colours and shapes ans sizes, laid perfectly, cut sharply according to him. Even in the lifts! It is a ship with very elegant decor, at least to my taste. Every bar or lounge is different in shape and decor, so everyone can find his or her favourite spot! The purple bar with all purple and stripes, the piano bar for a more nautical elegant atmosphere, the sports bar with sports memorabilia, TV screens, bowling etc, the Aft lounge with wavy chairs and a nice dancefloor and so on, and so on! if you can not find a favourite spot on this ship, I do not know what WOULD be nice for you. Our favourite was the cigar lounge, later more on that. Around 5:30 pm our suitcases had arrived and it was time to unpack, have a nice hot shower and put on some evening slothes for our next adventure: DINNER We had requested early seating and a table for four at booking, and we got what we requested. There are 3 dining rooms: Villa Verde on deck 6, and 2 different floors of La Reggia, lowed (deck 5) and upper (deck 6). We were assigned La Reggia lower and it is an elegant restaurant, although all the velvet and dark yellow took some getting used to from my side. First seating is 6:30 pm and second at 9 pm, which was just way too late for us with two parents who are on medication and who are used to eat at 5, like all older dutchmen. Only on 1 night, Tunis, the seatings are 1 hour later both, because sail away from Tunis is only at 7 or 7:30. Our waiter was Mahmudi from Indonesia, a little nice man who was quite serious. He was very polite and friendly, but he never grew as close to one of his tables (as far as we could tell) as some of his colleagues. He did a very good job however and we were happy to be served by him. We got a menu which was themed on a region in italy, and we could choose from six courses (appetizers, salad, soup, pasta/rice dish, main course, dessert). It was perfect. My dad can not eat very much anymore since his radiation treatments, so he was fine just ordering a soup and a pasta dish in stead of a main course. The rest of us ate mostly 4 courses. One day I tried 6, but I felt stuffed for hours! The best appetizer I had all week was a pate with tangy orange marmelade, loved that! The best pasta dish was pumpkin risotto. The best main course IMO was a turkey dish and the best dessert was the baked alaska on Gala Night 2! (more on that later) Now this on the food in the Main dining room. It was hot enough for me, never got cold food. It was also not bland for me, as I sometimes read. Everything tasted nice and pure, not overly salted (which I do not like but may be your preference). I was SURPRISED that they managed to get difficult dishes like turkey or risotto on the tables for so many people, still tasting pretty good! It is difficult to make a not-too-dry Turkey or a not-over-stirred risotto anyday, let alone for 1000 people or so! I was impressed. Make up of the plates was not always overly pretty, but hey: it went down fast enough so who wants pretty curly basil leaves and drizzles of balsamic vinegar on the plate? For me, the food in the MDR got a 8 out of 10, some nights even a 9. As stated as an answer on one of the questions above, the MDR is the only FREE option at night. The rest are pay restaurants (more on those later). This did not bother us, we had fun and good food. We bought the WINE PACKAGE which consisted of 7 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of water, so one of each every night. This was 129 euros plus 15% and it was a good choice for us. No hassle with 'What shall I drink tonight?' We just opened a wine and a water and this was enough for the four of us every evening. About the other DRINK PACKAGES we had: if you drink by the pools, you get plastic glasses. That is OK with me, would not eant it any other way with kids running around. What we noticed, was that the SMALL beer package we pruchased was officialy for 12 small beers of 0,2 litre. This happened only in the pool areas, there indeed the glasses were tiny and 200 cl approx (and too cold according to my father). But in all other bars we went, the coupon for a small beer gave us a big bottle of 330 cc and a glass! so a TIP for BEER DRINKERS: purchase the small beer booklet, no need to buy the big beer one. You get big beer anyways in all bars except by the pools. We also had a lot of fun with the cocktail package 12 for 69 euros plus 15%. I LOVED their frozen cockatils like Strawbery Margartia and MSC Colpa di Fulmine. Thouroughly enjoyed these. BARS AND LOUNGES We used our first night to scoop out all the bars and lounges, but I am guessing it took us three days to get a total overview in our head of what was really available. There is so much to chose from for every occasion or taste! One of our favourite hang outs sinc day one was the cigar lounge. It was a quite corner of the ship, not many people there and very serene. A Great place for us to unwind after dinner and have a drink before bedtime. We are (unfortunately!) early sleepers so never made it past 10 o'clock. I think my roll call members are still angry with me for never showing up at their meetings 10:30 and 11:30 pm... I hope they understand my explanation on the roll call, I really was beat every evening, especially from guiding and helping my parents a lot. Another favourite was the Piazetta, the little Italian square in the middle of deck 6 where people meet and mingle all the time. Beautifully tiled, with painted skies and some fun shop surrounding it. I always enjoyed sitting here watching people and waiting for the cigar lounge to become empty at 9 pm, when all the pre-dinner-smokers rushed to their second seating. Too bad there was a marketplace going on every night on the Piazetta. I understand, stalls sell more than shops, especially iof they create the impression that things are cheaper that way. But it took up a lot of space I thought. There are some shops here for jewelry and clothing but also sweets and cakes and icecream. The italian iceacream on this ship tastes very good! Try it as dessert at dinner or here for a small fee in the Piazetta. If you love your icecream, like I do, you will not be dissapointed!~So creamy., hmmm! (By the way, I did not gain nor lose a pound this cruise, so I am happy with that result LOL) I also liked the aft lounge and so many more. You will for sure find a favourite spot yourself. SHOW The first night we skipped the show since it was Marcel Mimo and I sincerely HATE mime players. Can't help it, I dislike them (and clowns). I just glanced at it, got the shivvers (spelling?) and went back. The second night we did see most part of the show (USA show) but after 30 minutes we decided we preferred to do other things like have a cocktail and play some cards, or go to the casino. The show was good, well preformed, don't get me wrong. But it is all very visual due to multiple nationalities. As was the mime player, now also this USA show was singing and dancing. Very good, but not to my taste for every evening. BREAKFAST The first breakfast we had was fine. We never tried the dining room for breakfast so can't comment on that. Our sailing was full, but if you walk to tha aft of teh restaurant, there are usually spaces enough. A waiter will bring coffe/thee/ hot chocolate, another one brings juices. The buffet is one long main line (like lunch) where the frieds eggs and omelets are. The rest of the buffet area has multiple of the same lines. With scrambled eggs, bakes beans, sausages, bacon, tomatoes, boled eggs (hit and miss those boiled eggs!), fresh fruits and canned fruits, yoghurts, cereals, cold cuts and cheese, bread, jams etc, little focacia pizaa thingies, muffins and cake. I think that sums it up. OF COURSE, breakfast is the same everyday, like many complain. But what more do you need? Okay the only things missing are bagels, pancakes or waffles and maybe salmon for the fishlover. Maybe those ARE present on american lines, I don't know. I found the selection good enough to enjoy myself every morning and to eat differently every day. BARCELONA The port area is too far to walk from the city. You can either take a shuttle bus at 6 euros per person that takes you to the bottom of La Rambla, or you can take one of the long line of cabs that are waiting. Be sure to queue for this, we witnessed some Italians cutting line line and some Brits getting really upset about it. If you are 4 people, the taxi will work out cheaper (about 7 euros per taxi one way to the same location as the shuttle) We wandered la Rambla with guidebook in hand and also wandered through the narrow streets of Barrio Gotic. We have seen barcelona many times so we were able to just take stroll and take it easy. My dad got really tired very soon, so after a coffee we headed back to the ship around 1 pm. If you never been to Barcelona, I would suggest you take a taxi from the ship to Parc Guell or the Sagrada Familia (I love parc guell but both are very must-see) Maybe if time allows, you can take in both. Than let them drop you at placa de Catalunya. Taxis are abundant and cheap and metered. They might not have much small change though! At Placa de Catalunya, go inside El Corte Ingles store all the way to the top, have a coffee there with the best view in town. Then walk down la Rambla taking in the side streets and a bit of Barrio Gotic, and you will end with the Columbus statue again, where you can take a cab to the ship. The afternoon was OK, we sailed towards better weather so we were able to explore a bit more and catch some rays. The Barcelona day is half day and therefor also: GALA NIGHT These are in Barcelona and Messina. About half of the people were dressed in Gala clothing (long dress, suit with tie or tux), a quarter was a bit toned down (semi formal) and another querter did not care at all. So either way you will not feel really out of place. This is also the day of the captain meeting and cocktail, there is FREE champagne in lounges to be had Gala night had a special menu but I thought not so different from other days. It was most of all nice to just enjoy being all dressed up together! Lots os pictures are being taken but no one is obligated to buy any. We took our own on the sprakling Swarovski staircase. Would love to share it here but do not know how to add pictures DAY 2 TUNIS Well, you do not arrive in Tunis till 2 pm, so the morning was spent sunbathing and relaxing and sleeping in a bit. I even finally had a chance to sit in the aft jacuzzi! On arrival in Tunis, we were greeted by a Tunesian band an some camels that walked alongside the ship when we docked. They were there for a good atmosphere and of course if you wanted you could have your picture taken on a camel for a small fee. Now maybe a dissapointment for you: we did not go ashore here so can't comment on Tunis. We decided to enjoy the relative quiet on the ship and lay by the pools. It was 20 degrees so qarm enough for that, allthough had to stay out of the wind. It was a lovely afternoon, they even opened up the retractable roof of the indoor pool. Around 5 pm I decided to go ashore for some souvenirs. I did not need to clear customs as there is a shop with souvernis at the port. Good enough to get a fridge magnet and some herbs and perfume On Tunis day, all seatings are one hour later because of the late sail away. So we had first seating at 7:30 pm and second was at 10 pm. I was really knackered after first seating and a cocktail, so I did not make it to the meeting our roll call had around midnight, yet again. sorry guys! By this time in the cruise I was getting really worked up about some of the behaviour of some of the : ITALIANS 80% of the ship's clientele is Italian and while there certainly are lots of nice Italians people on board, we just seemed to encounter all the rude ones! I admit: when I read reviews beforehand I thought: what are these people complaining about? Lift behaviour, rude Italians, how bad can it be? Get a life! Well, after 2 days I was getting high blood pressure myself and shaking my fist in anger at the umpteenth time we were shoved aside by an Italian family who took the lift before our eyes. I just had to tell myself to relax and deal with the lift situation. We had the bow lifst, so those were not as crowded as the center ones. But it just seemed that most of the Italian guests did not see other people at all. They get in and out any lift, no matter if it is going up or down. They get in before people have a chance to get out (my mom was 'stuck' like this several times! No amount of 'scusi, need to get out here!' made them notice her. And she can be LOUD if need be! ) they cut in lines, shove you aside (also at the buffet by the way) and lost of their kids were just running around amok, playing with lifts, making lots of loud noises. I never thought I would get so bent out of shape over such a thing, but I did. It was highly annoying and one of the reasons I would consider taking another line than MSC even! Not the line's fault, but less Italians. Of course, I do not mean to generalize, I am sure not all people are like this, but we just had so many rudeness upon us... The lowpoint was when mom and dad waited for a lift. One stopped and a big rowdy Italian family with stroller came out. Mom and dad went in the lift. As the doors cloesd, the Italians realized they were on the wrong floor, so he put his foot between the lift door, SCREAMED at my mom and dad to get the hell out (in Italian obviously) and after mom and dad were so shocked they actually listened to him, they got in and left my parents standing there with their jaws on the floor. I think that was the moment my mom decided a cruise is very nice but if she ever goes again, it will be on another line, PURELY due to the high % of rudeness she encountered by, I am sorry, mostly the Italians on board. I am just saying this so you can prepare for it en try to be relaxed about it, as we did. It did NOT ruin our cruise, but it is the ONLY thing we would consider leaving MSC for. However, on our sailing the majority was Italian due to a Italian holiday period. THUS the rude people I was to encounter had to be Italians, due to the law of average. I am sure there are rude people drom any nationality, we just had back luck! If you encounter rude people of whatever nationality, just be polite and smile and think your holiday is more relaxed than theirs MALTA On the 3rd day we arrived in Malta and I was up at 6 to see us sailing into the Grand Harbour of Valletta. It was just breathtaking: on the one side we were closing in on the very surreal island of Malta, on the other side a sunrise over a practically empty ship. Those hours were beautiful, just me and the sunrise and the nearing new exciting harbour! By the time we really sailed into the harbour, a lot more people had gathered on deck 15 and 16 and were watching it with me. It REALLY is like you are sailing back into time, into some kind of Tolkien world. Very bizarre and beautifull. At breakfast we were enjoying our docking in Malta from the window and we must say: it is the most pittoresque docking place of this cruise, with the nice coloured doors and terraces We got out and walked along the dock, where we were greeted by people from the HoHo bus and taxi-service. The Hoho cost 10 euros per person, but we were not sure how comfortable it would be for dad, and how frequent, since it was a holiday (maltese liberation day I think) So we decided to go with the white taxi service. at 80 euros for 4 hours for 4 persons, it was also not expensive! The person told us that we could visit such and such and make the drive al custom made as we wanted. Full good vibes we got into a taxi with a big guy called Mario. It started out good. He took us to the presidential gardens in Valletta (I think) where we walked around for a bit. We even saw the president drive by with escorts. They were beautiful. Then he drove us to the church of Mosta, which was a nice place to visit, but very crowded with many MSC busses there. After that we wanted to go and have coffee somewhere in Mdina, but Mario wanted to take us to the arts and crafts village first. That is where mom decided she was not liking this cab driver In this so called village, tourists get dropped and pay hefty prices for handicrafts, of course the driver gets a commission I am sure. We saw a tile that cost 52 euros, which we once bought in Spain last year for 12 (and in Mdina, still a pricey tourist place, we saw the same tile later for 22). So Mario kind of wanted us to go to the glass factory as well in that village, and I said: no thank you, we want to go to Mdina now. He kind of instisted it was not to be missed etc etc, and I really had to put my foot down to skip the glass factory. In Mdina, he dropped us and announced that we would need at least an hour and he was not expecting us any earlier. ? We had coffee in Mdina and dad got tired of the steep streets very soon, so he had to go and sit down somewhere with Erik. They drank a Cisk beer, (proudly stating on the can that it was chosen australia's dfavoruite foreign beer in 1995 LOL) while mom and I explored the rest of Mdina. It was very nice. After that we were supposed to be taken to the blue grotto and see some of the coast line but all of a sudden Mario did not think we would not have enough time for this. Then I said to just do blue grotto and skip the visit ti Valletta, and all of a sudden he said blue grotto was closed today because of wind. He obviously did not want to go there. So, for our bit of coastline, he took us to see st Julians. I must say: not really what I thought we would see. I thought with coastline more in terms of cliffs and dramatic views. After a rush through st Julians he rushed us back to the ship and dropped us there a half hour early! (after 3,5 hours of sightseeing) I did not even bother to discuss this with him, as he had had enough of his way of working, but he even dared to give me an 'open' handshake. (pretending handshake, actually opening hand for tip) I cordially threw my hand into his open hand and shook it saying goodbye. He left grumpily. Hey, I do not mind tippting if service was exceptional (as you will read later on in Sicily) but this time the guy had done nothing special To the defense of white taxi service: we did see a lot of people with different drivers that had better luck than we did. I saw drivers going into the church with their people, explaining stuff and being a guide. But our driver was just that: a driver who wanted to make his own route and be done with it. Well, we did not regret it because we saw the highlights of Malta I guess in a comfortable manner, and the rest of the afternoon was free for us to laze around teh pool once again! We really got a bit of a tan there and I enjoyed the BEST Italian icecream, hazelnut flavour, it was SO creamy... JUMMM That night we had decided to go to THE TEX MEX RESTAURANT Just for a change. I had heard high praise of it. I must say: the waiter was very friendly and nice, the setting was lovely and so peaceful compared to the MDR, but the food... Nah. Not as good as the dining room IMHO. We ended up with a bill of 71 euros for 4 people for 2 courses and a drink, which was not bad, but not really worth it also. We just got the food differently then we usually have Mexican. Quesedillas were not the flat tortillas with cheese melted in them but they were rather some fried pastry thing with cheese in them. And so on. We decided to just use the MDR from that point onwards. After dinner we sat around in the AFT LOUNGE A very nice spot with great view. We got some snacks with our drinks, which was a surprise to me. Nice and comfortable chairs and live music going on. probably dancing later in the evening. After that we played at the CASINO Very nice, adequate for our liking and very shiny We all played on the machines and all of a sudden my dad's machine started the bells and whistles. He had won 180 euros! The picture I have of him next to that machine, with a HUGE smile on his face, I will cherish forever! The 180 euros went towards the bar bill We finished of our night as usual in the cigar lounge and went to bed at 10 pm (I know, we sound like elderly!) Day 5, we woke up in MESSINA For this day, I had arranged a private tour beforehand with Mario Astone on recommendation of somebody on this board. Mario quoted us 45 euros pp first for a trip to Taormina and some sightseeing, but if we could get more poeple price would be 35. He ended up mailing me that some american family also was on our ship and asking for his services, so we got in touch with each other and decided to share the ride. (35 per person, the 3 kids of the family for free) We got out the ship at 8 am, and Mario was waiting for us. I had brought him butter from Holland on his request , and got a big hug for it immediately. After a short while, the american familiy joined us: 4 adults and 3 kids. It was gonna be tight in his van! We all managed to get in the van and he drove us to the other side of the island, commenting on what we saw. What a difference with the other Mario! He took us first to Castelmola, a place the ship's excursion does not because the busses do not reach there. It was BEAUTIFUL! I must say, the whole Sicily day was for us (and the americans, I heard later) the highlight of our cruise, due to the weather, good trip and guidance of Mario From Castelmola we had stunning views on Taormina, the coastline and on mount Etna. The village was so picturesque, you would not believe it. And we were the only tourists there. After this, Mario dropped us in Taormina where we had 2 hours of free time, as per my request. I just wanted time to do our own pace and own thing in Taormina. My dad had been there 30 years ago and wanted to go back, that is why I organised the whole tour. More meant as a transfer originally, although the day turned out like an excursion. In Taormina, the american family went their way and we went ours. What a beautoful village once again, so unique and pretty. We wandered through the streets and ended up on what must be the BEST terrace with view in southern europe. We sat next to a view on Etna on one side and the coastline on the other side. All this in a lovely 20 degree sunny weather! We enjoyed an (expensive) cappuccino there and just sat there enjoying the whole atmosphere. We really could feel, smell, hear and see Sicily at it's best at that place. It is one of my fondest memories of this cruise, sitting there enjoying everything, and especially seeing my dad enjoy! After our time in Taormina, Mario took us to a lookout point where the ship's bus does not go and we enjoyed yet another splendid view. After that it was back to Messina, where we saw a church and also a viewpoint from which to see the ship, and take pictures of it. He took us to the Big Duomo (e special church with astronomical clock) where I had like 5 minutes to get some souvernirs VERY fast; we needed to get back to the ship! We said our goodbyes like old friends, paid Mario (with a good tip for this unforgettable day) and then scurried on to the ship. We entered it 2 minutes too late, and our american friends left something behind, so they were REALLy too late; I think the doors of the ship hit their butts on the way in! (funny fact: this almost-missing-the-ship experience made Erik as well as Shane (the american father) so nervous that the next day in Rome they were both, independently, nervous wrecks about getting back on time!) Well, just a GREAT day! The ship sailed at 2 pm and we sailed along the coastline of Italy. Beautiful weather, but strong wind so we had to look for a wind free spot on board. It was crowded with people sunning. Dad and I had something special planned this afternoon. I had written a polite letter to captain Mattia Manzi, explaining the special nature of our trip, and asking if we could see the bridge. We got a reply that we were expected on the bidge that afternoon! It was very fun to see the briidge and how it all works (can you believe it, such a BIG ship is mastered by a little joystick of 5 cm long???) although too bad the captain was not there. I guess the guy needs to rest sometimes LOL Our luck was that we were on the bridge at the moment that we were sailing right onto Stromboli (or so it seemed). Unique sight! That evening was the SECOND GALA NIGHT Everyone got dressed up again and we had a lovely dinner, this time with a very special dessert. The lights were dimmed and with music the waiters came in a row with flaming desserts (baked alaska) Then when this music finished, the music of VOLARE started, and the whole dining room was waving their napkins; very nice! And, I must say, the baked Alaska tasted JUMMMMM I still regret that I did not have seconds... We strolled around the ship after dinner and visited our 'usual' hangouts: the piazetta (untill 9, when all the 2nd seating fols would go to dinner) and then to the tranquil cigar lounge. Went to be again at 10 for our big day in Rome! Day 6 of our cruise, we woke up in CIVITAVECCHIA, port of ROME We had breakfast and watched the first 1000 people orso get off board to ctach their excursion busses. We got off the ship at around 8:30 and took the FREE shuttle bus to the end of the port area. (a good 1,5 km i think) From there, we walked along the water towards the station of Civitavecchia, about 1 km. There was a long line at the station, but I remembered reading on CC that you can also get the BIRG tickets inj the newspaper kiosk at the station. I quickly got 4 birg tickets there at 9 euros each. a BARGAIN compared to the rome on your own excursion from MSC at 45 euros, which is basically a transfer only. We took the 9:41 train and were in rome at 10:50. We got out in Roma Termini and bought 4 tickets for the hop on hop off bus. The only thing that would allow us to see the most of Rome above ground, within the limited time that we had. The bus (was another 1 km walking) took us past all the major sights. We could not get out everywhere, but we went out at St Peter's square and later at the Trevi fountain. There, we had lunch in a local taverna. Spagetti bolognese, what else when in rome? At the fountain, I guess 5000 people were there wanting to see it or throw a coin in it. We had to throw from a distance (hope nobody got it in the eye! ) And who did we see there? Our american friends from the day before! Unbelievable. After Trevi we finished the rest of the HoHo loop and went back to the train station. We got the 15:39 train back which was overcrowded. Dad was VERY tired after all that walking (i was so proud of him!) but luckily he could sit, and my mom a bit later also. Erik and I had to stand the entire way, pressed together with 20 other people in a tiny hot compratment, and the train was getting delayed and standing still... We arrived at Civitavecchia around 17:00, with a delay of 30 minutes. Then the long walk back to the port entrance, the shuttle bus back to the ship... PHEW what a long day! But again: sunshine and 18 degrees and VERY nice, not to be missed. We had a nice dinner once again in the dining room and we were hopefull for a last fun day in Genua well GENUA was a disspointment, mainly because it was raining cats and dogs when we got there! We did not even go out, so much rain was pouring down. A bit of a let down after all that sunshine Mom and I ventured out in the rain, but we were soaking wet and did not find iot attractive at all. Maybe we saw the wrong part of town. It seemed rather seedy. The rest of the time we filled up by playing cards, visiting the lounges and bars, having icecream and doing a nap. We enjoyed our last supper on board and were kind of sad. But I was also happy to get back the next day to my kids! We bought some sweets for them at the Caramella sweets shop on board, and some souvenirs from the Logo shop and had alast cocktail in the cigar lounge. Then it was time to pack our suitcases and put them outside. Of, I forgot! That Genua day we had a life drill at 5:15 pm! A bit late for us, who disembarked the next day. But hey, we participated anyway/ DISEMBARKATION We had breakfast and were outside the ship at 9 am. We took a cab to the TGV train station in Marseille (30 euros) but it was easter sunday so everything in Marseille was closed. Therefor we had to wait at tha train station till 1:30 pm for our train. We found a cafe to wait it out and unfortunately the train was delyed by 1 hour. When we finally WERE on board, there was no coffee and tea and the bar closed in the middle of the trip, so no food for us. And to make things worse, the train did not stop at Lille Europa, weher our taxi driver was waiting, but made an unscheduled stop at Lille Flandres. Long live mobile phones! The taxi driver picked us up there and in 1:45 hours he took us home. I think it was 10 pm when we finally got home. It was a GREAT cruise, with GREAT memories! I do not know what I enjoyed more, the cruise, of seeing my dad enjoy it so much! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
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