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129 MSC Cruises Marseille Cruise Reviews

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
We chose the MSC Divina cruise in the Mediterranean because of its unique itinerary for a seven night cruise and because of the opportunity to have a choice of ports from which to embark. Both of these were different from the other cruise ... Read More
We chose the MSC Divina cruise in the Mediterranean because of its unique itinerary for a seven night cruise and because of the opportunity to have a choice of ports from which to embark. Both of these were different from the other cruise line's offerings and paid it off. Also, since we were flying from Los Angeles to Europe, we wanted to see as much as we could each day, so no days at sea was exactly what I was looking for. We chose to board in Marseille since my husband wanted to spend a couple days in Paris prior to the cruise. As for the cabin, we paid for an inside guarantee with the "Fantastica" experience and were very surprised to be upgraded to a mid-ship balcony. Although the ship is a bit dated, it was very clean, the service was excellent across the board and the balcony cabin was very roomy. Our cabin attendant - I Putu Kertajaya, was excellent, and honored our requests. The itinerary included Marseille, Genoa, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Palermo, Cagliari, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia. We were fortunate weather-wise with only two days of rain and good weather for the rest of the ports at the end of May, and to have calm seas. Previously having sailed many times with Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney, and Carnival, I was curious about what differences would exist with MSC, so I read many Cruise Critic reviews. I learned that there would be differences from the above mentioned cruise-lines in the food and entertainment offerings so I was not surprised to find this to be the case. Both the buffet and the dining room menus have less entree options. Also, our "Fantastica" level of service included water bottles at meals in the dining room, (we found out late into the cruise) all who had not paid for this had to purchase water at lunch and dinner in the dining room just to get a glass of water with the meal. We were accustomed to being served free water at lunch and dinner in the dining rooms prior to this experience, so this was an unusual difference for us. Also, the entertainment in the theatre was not innovative or inspired and had the nightly repetition of the same talent, unlike others we have sailed with, but I was aware this would be the case from the reviews I had read. A variety of styles of music and dancing could be found in the lounges for those who enjoy that. The ports were all very pleasing and we explored most of them on our own taking trains and buses with the exception of two ship's excursions. Since people were embarking and debarking each day on this itinerary, it was hard to get a Cruise Critic meeting or Meet & Mingle party together. Also, with no days at sea, time was limited. We received a note in our cabin that the meeting date was cancelled, but then rescheduled for dinner in the Asian Fusion (new) Galaxy lounge/restaurant. This was a delightful sushi dinner with two ship's officers and just four of us Cruise Critic members. It was a very special evening for us on the ship and the two officers were extremely friendly and personable. This was one of the highlights. We had a really good week with the knowledge that this experience would be different in terms of food and entertainment. If you are accustomed to the cruise-lines mentioned above or the luxury lines, you will have a good time IF you are aware of differences and change your expectations...it's all in the expectations and this was a great daily itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Was the largest cruise boat we have booked on, but nevertheless ran like clockwork with few long waits compared to Princess when it comes to getting on and off. Purchased cruises were excellent and as advertised. MSC for Me, the app ... Read More
Was the largest cruise boat we have booked on, but nevertheless ran like clockwork with few long waits compared to Princess when it comes to getting on and off. Purchased cruises were excellent and as advertised. MSC for Me, the app wasn’t much good, as you cannot message your fellow traveller, many things priced as extra such as F1 and flight simulator, teppanakki restaurant difficult?impossible to get the price, several days when the daily activity list and menus was zero/blank; paper based backup worked though. Bookings system worked though. Cirque at Sea was good, especially the food but our seating (dinner) was terrible and room very hot. For approx 1/3 of the audience the view is from side or behind some of the explanatory visual. We attended opera, dance and rock presentations. The rock was not well received , sung and phrased by non English speakers. We should have thought it through. Some very talented singers too!! The opera and flamenco dance was fabulous. Dining in Panorama and Waves didn’t give us a view, but the view from the Market Buffet and Sky Bar is terrific. In March we were lucky and had no rain, but you need to have several layers when you go ashore as there is plenty of shade even if forecast is 16-18. Take note: Feb/Mar usually wet. Hand hygiene is not overly policed onboard, most of us caught varying degrees of ‘colds’. There are plenty of hand sanitizers and hand wash stations - please use them. Overall, food quality is patchy. Breads and pastries excellent, salads and ‘healthy options’ quite good, cold meat and cheese great, hot offerings and deserts OK to good. The more special it is supposed to be the more disappointing it can be. This is in the general and buffet dining rooms, not necessarily the specialty restaurants. Other than Cirque, we went to the Sushi - food fabulous, but staff not knowledgeable, just salesmen. We knew what we wanted and they weren’t pleased. The lonely little expert guy (chef) in the corner doesn’t get a look in. Don’t ask for sake ‘warm’ - it causes a frenzy and I received a thimble of molten microwaved sake!! You might leave hungry from this restaurant as they never leave you alone for even 5 minutes. Drinks available in different areas varies in range. For instance I could only order Chardonnay (there are lots of beer and beer related options) at the British Pub. Package drinks purchase not economical if you will be ashore most of the days-see exclusions and fine print. Service is 50-50. Waiters tended to be a tad difficult, room and customer service terrific. Some waiters were fine but.. not all. Problem being the service daily charge added automat to your bill ( you can have it removed) doesn’t give some of them any incentive. I emphasise there were some terrific waiters!!! Room was very comfortable (balcony) and with Fantastico package we were able to order early morning cuppa from room service. Room had small fridge, small wardrobe, no robes, great big bed, 2-3 seater couch, lovely big shower/loo. You can request no mini-bar otherwise it is stocked. 1lt water €2.90. So many new people leave and board every day!! With about 4000+ passengers most of the time there are patches of noisy or rude people. Lift and queue etiquette very interesting. Kids are well catered for onboard and attend shows and dinner at all hours. During our week they were no problem! Noisy teens another matter Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Just returned from 10 nights on the MSC Sinfonia. I've been reading reviews for the last several months and had been very concerned for our sailing. Well I can honestly say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had traveled in the ... Read More
Just returned from 10 nights on the MSC Sinfonia. I've been reading reviews for the last several months and had been very concerned for our sailing. Well I can honestly say, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had traveled in the past on RCL, NOR., CELEBRITY, HA ,CARNIVAL so this is not our first rodeo. We spent 6 nights prior to the cruise in Marseille and stayed at the AC Marriott. Lovely hotel with good service and friendly efficient employees Loved La Panier, Chateau D If, and of course the port. Boarded around 2pm with no problems whatsoever. Our cabin was ready, luggage arrived, and Marco our cabin steward was fabulous--always there to help. Probably our only real peeve is the cabin. We were on the 9th deck balcony. SMALL! No sofa to sit on (bed only and a makeup stool) but we got used to it. The bed and pillows were great. You really don't need a balcony this time of year as it is really too cold to sit there. Save your money and get a oceanview. Now for the bathroom--so tiny, probably the smallest we have ever had. The shower is impossible--we are tall but not fat--even to turn around is almost impossible--forget washing your feet and shaving your legs is not even an option Food--we ate in the Covi and enjoyed the food. A decent variety offered every night and proportions were good. We learned to eat all our breakfasts in the main dininng room-. Easy to get a seat, a menu if you want to order off of and even a buffet you could select. A special shout out to Alberto, Waylands, and Keo and Alchilles. No lunches as we were on land every day. Entertainment: We loved the entertainment and thought it was well done, and quite a variety. Good singers and dancers. Most of the shows you need to reserve in advance (the night before) and it's really no big deal to do. We loved the Manhatten Bar, great servers and good pourers. Hors de ourves were served every night with our pre dinner drinks. We had transfers from MSC for 3 cities and had no problems whatsoever. So as you can tell, we enjoyed our cruise and was sorry to see it end. If I can help or answer any questions, let me know. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I would like to start off by saying that this cruise was booked whilst on-board a previous MSC cruise in the year (Voyagers Club), therefore understandably chuffed with the already discounted trip/cabin/onboard credit ect. The ... Read More
I would like to start off by saying that this cruise was booked whilst on-board a previous MSC cruise in the year (Voyagers Club), therefore understandably chuffed with the already discounted trip/cabin/onboard credit ect. The Meraviglia is huge, well planned out and therefore should provide any passenger with a pleasant experience, over the duration of the holiday not once did I see an unclean part of the ship nor did I have reason to complain about the facilities. Travelling with my wife it is fair to say that we know what we want from a holiday and can easily compare the Meraviglia to past MSC holidays! DO NOT DO THIS ! this is where we learned very quickly that this trip is going to be different in many ways. If you are willing to sail away and embrace the new you will have an excellent time..... If you natter on to your newly found friends at dinner about your last cruise and think that that the waiters will have time for you then you will probably have a terrible time... > forget that honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean or that time that you took the kids away on a cruise where you found all the fun to be had at sea! It is very hard to repeat the same experiences, my thoughts below are reasons why I state this....... 1. Technology, your granny will hate it but get used to it as the MSC is top class with scrolling information boards at every lift point (much like scrolling on a mobile phone), scan your card or wristband at the terminal to get a map, book dinner of to simply check on tonight's shows. In room TV info is just amazing with on demand movies, news, safety info and future cruising info 2. Cleanliness - Its clean and tidy, almost OCD level so don't mess up the ship or your room for that matter as your cabin man/woman will notice. 3. Entertainment - Excellent but you'll need deep wallets to get rid of the kids for an hr, 100 euros will get a arcade pass to the flight simulator and F1 car simulator and similar, the water park and high ropes are FREE though so just make sure you use this facility. 4. Adult entertainment - Cirque du soleil, I didn't know what this was at the time but just book and see the show before you board to avoid disappointment, most easily the best show that you will witness on water. SONAR was so so cool. 5. Dining, Expect busy waiters and long wait times at the bar the STAFF versus PASSENGERS ration is miss managed, the only way to have a nice little chat to staff would be the Anchor pub, and that'll be because they know that mainly English passengers go there. Strongbow will be part of your drinks package if you have it. 6. Meeting friends - Not likely, If you are really lucky to keep in touch with your allocated dinner guests and make a point of meeting up or suggesting paring up on land to do some shore excursions then maybe you will> my experiences when even trying to strike up a conversation with others are that the ship is so so big why bother as I wont see you again for the rest of the cruise, even at the voyagers exclusive party and meet the captain it was like being in the middle of a busy shopping mall surrounded by (yes like minded) strangers. Summary - I had an excellent time with my wife and can say that the ship itself is amazing and takes all week to discover each and every facility, MSC have some nice touches, ill try not to spoil all of the quirky tricks that make you feel good about being on holiday but here are two (x2) must have experiences.... A. Get up before six (6am) and walk under the dome (dome show) to see the sky and hear the morning birdsong. B. Be up on deck (poolside) when sailing away from ports to experience Andrea Bocelli's TIME TO SAY GOODBYE song (the younger cruisers will be more familiar with the film step brothers - either way its a nice touch) .......If this is your first cruise I would consider starting with other smaller ships within MSC's fleet before you go big time. Whatever you decide or if you have already booked you will have a nice trip so make the most of it and put in a little effort with others- you'll be grateful when staff remember you for the right reasons and not just because you were complaining at reception- have fun guys. Mr Lee Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
UK Booking Office, Website and Tech Support should all be closed - the "service" provided and poor systems just aren't good enough. As MSC is starting to focus on the American market, just move it all there so we can deal ... Read More
UK Booking Office, Website and Tech Support should all be closed - the "service" provided and poor systems just aren't good enough. As MSC is starting to focus on the American market, just move it all there so we can deal with people accustomed to customer service. We booked Yacht Club - the prices are getting too steep for us now, so we had an inside cabin (14005). This is by far the worst cabin we have had in 40 cruises. I will review that separately. Boarding the ship is usually an enjoyable experience for those in Yacht Club. Luggage taken at the roadside and within your cabin in under 30 minutes. A separate check-in area, complete with drinks and snacks and a private butler-led escort to the YC area. Well, the butler obviously had a day off because the pleasant young lad given the job of escorting us to YC was clueless. He couldnt use his YC card to summon the express lifts because he didnt have one. The lifts were extremely crowded so we were led from one side of the deck to the other and back again in search of a lift. When we did get one, he took us to the wrong floor, led us out and had to quickly usher us back in before the lift went - he did that twice. He remained cheery even if the rest of us were a tad fed-up. Everything (well nearly everything) about YC was perfect. Dinner was excellent every night, the private top deck was great and the small food area was great to escape the chaos in the main buffet. Service within the YC lounge was sporadic and not a patch on our previous YC cruise aboard Splendida. The ship itself, once you figured it out, was great. The Italians were Italian, doing Italian things - sometimes annoying but they are Italian after all lol The shows were actually really good - now they have the gimmicky cirque de soleil (extra charge) they have moved the "bendy wendy girls" and other circus style acts into there - leaving the theatre to present theatre style musical shows. OK they may still be short at 45 minutes but they are worth seeing (3 shows a night and need to book as soon as you get aboard). Sadly, the main buffet was a complete shambles. Splendida had an amazing salad bar area; on here it is terrible. Food kept running out, was spread weirdly around the buffet area and never seemed to change from one day to the next. Even the famous Italian pizza was poor. Trying to get a drink in the buffet (using the excellent "bar call" button system) took forever or just didnt happen. Im sure the system is fine but Im not sure any staff actually bother to look at it. Now, Ive read several reviews regarding poor staff service levels and attitude. IF you go looking for those staff, Im sure you will find them. We never did because we greeted every single one of them with a cheery hello, please and thank you and they were just brilliant. It always amazes me how they recognise you from one cruise to the next, often a year apart - give them 20 seconds and most will even remember your name. They are all stars. We are looking forward to our next MSC cruise on Seaside and then the inaugural sailing of Bellissima next March - BUT we are keeping our fingers crossed on the cabin Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The ship itself is beautifully designed, with amazing detail in the furnishings. Everything was clean and shiny. The staff that we encountered was helpful, in particular our cabin steward, Jason. The pool areas were never crowded, and it ... Read More
The ship itself is beautifully designed, with amazing detail in the furnishings. Everything was clean and shiny. The staff that we encountered was helpful, in particular our cabin steward, Jason. The pool areas were never crowded, and it never felt as if there were 5000+ passengers sharing the ship with us. We traveled with my 10 year old daughter who loved the pools and the slides. The shows were great entertainment for all ages, with a very talented cast. The food in the buffet was good, although it got very crowded at times. We ate dinner in the Silver Dolphin about 4 times and the service and food was excellent. Embarkation at Marseille was very smooth - we didn't have a very long wait at all. All cities were fairly accessible from the port, except for Barcelona and Marseille, where you have to get a bus/taxi/Uber into the city if you don't feel like walking for miles and miles! We did not do any MSC excursions, but rather chose to walk around and get the feel of each city, or do a hop on/hop off bus tour. Our major complaint about the cruise was the lack of personality. I still have no idea what the Cruise Director's name is, as no-one was ever formally introduced (except for the Captain). They spent so much time on rattling off announcements in 6 or 7 different languages that they didn't actually have time to interact personally with the passengers. We were also disappointed by the lack of a more formal dance floor/area, and the dance teachers were not up to standard. There was also very little onboard entertainment, like fun games, quizzes, etc, even on the sea day. Overall it was a fantastic adventure. We got to see places we have only ever dreamed of, and had a very comfortable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We were looking for a cruise that fit our schedule in mid July as we would be in Geneva. We chose MSC cruise out of Marseille as it seemed like a good way to introduce my husband to the cruise experience, with a new city each day. We ... Read More
We were looking for a cruise that fit our schedule in mid July as we would be in Geneva. We chose MSC cruise out of Marseille as it seemed like a good way to introduce my husband to the cruise experience, with a new city each day. We stayed in Marseille for a couple of days prior to embarkation. City is “gritty” and “edgy” as the reviewers have said, but it also made us a little anxious. We did however, visit some museums which were excellent, and also spent a day in Aix en Provence which was brilliant. The trip from Marseille (downtown) to the cruise port was about 25 minutes in taxi and no trouble getting there. The MSC staff was helpful and there were very few people, so boarding was very fast. We boarded and were able to access our room immediately. Let’s start with all the good things we found about this particular MSC cruise: 1. The food was excellent. Wherever we ate - the cafeterias, the dining room, the other eateries on the ship- the food was all top quality. We had absolutely no complaints about the quality of the food. We had bought a drinks package prior to boarding, and this I found reduced the annoyance of having to pay for each drink, or the service charges. You should know that NO beverages other than coffee,tea and plain water (not bottled) are included in the all-inclusive so you should get some sort of package if you want to enjoy your cruise. Our drinks package allowed for glasses of wine almost anywhere except our room, all alcoholic beverages, juice (except freshly squeezed we learned on the first day), and canned drinks and mineral or bottled water. It also included specialty coffees and gelato. For us this was great. 2. The cabin was large, clean, and comfortable. No complaints about the cabin itself. Good choice for us but the aft is noisy with the wake of the ship so if you don’t like that noise than it won’t be for you. 3. Itinerary. This cruise has a great itinerary and is interesting for those who like history. It goes to Genoa, Rome, Palermo, Cagliari, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia. We left from Marseille but you can choose other cities for departure. People seemed to get on and off at different sites. Mostly you are sailing at night - you get wonderful views of the ports as you sail off in the early evenings, and again views when you arrive in the mornings. Quite lovely. We did not book excursions with the cruise line because all of them left too early in the mornings for our taste (9 am or so). We did a little homework and for those cities where the ports were close we just disembarked and made our own arrangements. 4. Entertainment. It was all very good including the shows at night. The piano bar had some wonderful singers and a piano player. Very enjoyable. Some other considerations you might find helpful from our experience. 1. Check with the reception desk at the very beginning of the cruise to determine what is included with your card and to make sure that if you pre-ordered anything, it is included on your card. You need the card for everything, including getting off the ship so keep it safe We found the staff to be relatively nice but not particularly helpful or forthcoming with information. We did a lot of “asking questions” at the reception desk because we just didn’t know about certain things - like at the beginning of the cruise “how does the drinks package work? What is included”? We weren’t provided with much information - we eventually found someone who offered us a map of the ship - on day 5, which would have been most helpful on day 1! 2. The “steward” definition on this cruise seems different from my experience on Carnival, where the Steward helped you figure things out and was there to help. In our case we barely saw the Steward, he didn’t introduce himself and when we did ask questions he was unable to answer them. This could be a cultural thing so I wouldn’t put too much into it as it didn’t ruin the cruise or anything - it would just have been nice. 3. There was no concept of line-ups, for lunch, for disembarkation, for waiting for the elevators. This could be a little annoying when we were trying to get back to our room after an excursion, or when the restaurants were busy, but again, we just assumed it was different customs so we did our best. 4. The night prior to arrival in two of the ports - Valencia and Mallorca - we received a notification in our room that if we wanted to go into the city on our own we had to pay a 12 Euro fee for a shuttle. There was no option. We didn’t know this. Had we known, we might have booked an excursion where we wouldn’t have to pay the 12 Euros (each). This information should have been given to us earlier. 5. This is a big ship. It is complicated to get around and there is not always staff to help you figure things out. A little exploring should help, but it is definitely a challenge! This isn’t good or bad - just something I wanted to share. 6. The seated dining experience was not something I enjoyed. The tables were packed together as close as possible - and I mean just barely enough room between some of them to squeeze by. We were a couple, and were assigned to a table of six. I don’t know if you can ask for your own table but I would have preferred this. Even so, the fact that we were so many people packed in together was not a good experience. The service was not especially great either, and people did not seem to dress up for the occasion. We subsequently chose to only use seated dining three times out of the seven nights. It was also very disagreeable that staff were coming around to your table to “sell” you drink packages, or dinner packages. This is something that should not be done. 7. A few last thoughts - the cabins have both North American and European outlets. There aren’t that many though so an extension or extra outlet comes in handy. The shower has a cord for hanging wet clothes. There is a hair dryer that works well. There is a mini bar/fridge you can use with space for a few things. In the mornings I would go for my coffee (a quick trip with no fighting for elevators) and bring it to the room to sit on the balcony. Very lovely to watch the ship arriving. The decoration of this ship is themed on the Italian movie times of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Interesting posters everywhere to see. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Had originally planned to do a Baltic cruise on NCL for a family of 4 in 2 cabins, but prices were high and no deals to be had. Not sure if the fact that the dates coincided with the World Cup in Russia were to blame, but the overall price ... Read More
Had originally planned to do a Baltic cruise on NCL for a family of 4 in 2 cabins, but prices were high and no deals to be had. Not sure if the fact that the dates coincided with the World Cup in Russia were to blame, but the overall price was out of our budget. I find that NCL are very expensive now they only do the Premium all inclusive package, particularly if you are very moderate drinkers. Having a browse around one evening, ended up on the USA Expedia website, although we are UK based. This site has an excellent search facility, and found the MSC Seaview, which at the time was several months away from being finished. This was a western med cruise and is unique in the fact that you can get on at most of the ports of call, getting off a week later at the same port. Prices vary dramatically between embarkation ports, getting on a day earlier or later can save hundreds or even thousands of pounds for a family of 4. Genoa and Barcelona are expensive, we chose Marseille and saved a fortune, although we had to fly from Stanstead rather than Manchester to get decent flight prices. Marseille port is quite a distance from the airport.Taxi was close to 50 Euro. MSC seem to be trying hard to get American cruisers on their European ships at the moment, USA prices are considerably less than the prices on the MSC UK website. Extra benefits were $500 on-board credit if you paid by Mastercard, 14 drinks vouchers per person for the Fantastica package, and free bottled water for all cabin types.We were unsure if Expedia USA would take bookings from the UK, but when we phoned them they said it was not a problem, although that turned out to be not entirely true. We booked 2 cabins, a Fantastica cabin for myself and my wife and a Bella cabin for the 2 girls (15 & 21) paying the 2 deposits in dollars, by a fee free Halifax Mastercard. Within an hour we had had an email saying one of the deposit payments had not gone through and could we contact our cruise consultant again, (Expedia agents do not have international dialing rights as I think many of them are home based). We eventually managed to contact her and she dealt with MSC directly while we waited on the line, although it took her 30 minutes to get through to them. Next day my wife noticed that there were 3 deposit amounts on the credit card statement. we spoke to Expedia and were advised to contact MSC directly as it transpired that Expedia hadn't actually taken the payments at all, but had passed the card details to MSC to take payment directly, this was mirrored on the statement that showed MSC as the merchant. Contacting MSC call centre was a nightmare. Waits on hold of up to an hour before speaking to an agent and finding someone who could resolve it was frustrating. I spent around 3 hours on the phone over a period of a week or so before speaking to someone who resolved it. To be fair to MSC it was a few days after a major hurricane and they were busy trying to recover from the disruption. I had reason to speak the them just prior to the cruise and the call was answered in under 5 minutes. As we had booked via USA, we were associated with the USA MSC website. You cannot put your booking number in the UK website and see your booking. Unlike the Expedia website, the MSC site is a dog. We had constant problems from start to finish. It doesn't always behave as you might expect and things reset to default or just disappear. Online Check In was a nightmare, The UK address not helping, but it mainly just doesn't work. ( Tip: If you can't get your UK address in, complete the field for the second person in the cabin first, then tick the box that says "same address for all passengers"). We uploaded images for our identification picture multiple times, but they disappear if you make any changes to any other fields. When we boarded, they took new pictures any way, which over wrote the ones we had already uploaded. I wouldn't bother with the pictures before boarding again. We'd been watching the GBP USD exchange rates, and decided to pay the final balance a few weeks before we actually needed to, but we hit problems again, Our plan was to pay for one cabin in USD, pay the card off in GBP, then pay the second cabin the week after. Unfortunately the payment was processed twice again by MSC, pushing the card to its limit. It took a further 3 weeks of phone calls and emails to Expedia and MSC to get this resolved. When we eventually came to pay for the 2nd cabin, neither Expedia and MSC were able to process the payment. More phone calls and emails, we were given various reasons including a policy change and technical difficulties. I tried again a week later ready for a bun fight, but it went through in 2 minutes with no issues. we subsequently booked excursions and other add-ons via the website with no issues I probably would book through the USA again, but I'd be more prepared for the problems. I've booked through NCL via their USA call centre in the past and had no issues at all. To the cruise, eventually! Boarding at Marseille was extremely quick. Less than 30 minutes after arriving at the port we were on the ship. We were given our drinks vouchers as we checked in. Both rooms were ready. The fact that people get on and off every day means the numbers at any particular port are much smaller. There is no last night depression either when every one is getting off the next day. I think less than 500 got on that day. Most seem to board at Genoa and Barcelona. The ship is absolutely stunning. Lots of chrome and mirrors, although at times it's a bit difficult to tell where you are. Some parts of some decks can only be reached by certain lifts. Didn't have much trouble getting a lift, although we used the 2 panoramic elevators at the back most of the time as we were towards that end. There is loads of outside space, for eating, drinking and sunbathing. You cannot get to the front of any deck as its reserved for Yacht Club guests. They tend to walk around behind a butler holding a big Yacht Club paddle. Quite funny really, although a bit annoying at times. We were 8PM dining in the Silver Dolphin Restaurant had a table of 4 just for us which is how we like it. I was a bit disappointed in the dining experience overall. Limited choices some nights, Way too many veggie and vegan options unless you're into that sort of thing. We always felt a bit rushed and were out by 9:15 most nights. Portion sizes were very small with hardly any vegetables etc. The food wasn't warm enough for me, although I do like my food very hot. If you had anything other than wine it was impossible to get a 2nd drink as the staff were too busy. We did the Butchers Cut steakhouse one night, That was excellent. The steak was hot and one of the best I've ever had. There are 2 buffets, the largest on deck 8 and a smaller one on deck 16. we never had issues getting a seat at either. We actually ate outside most of the time. Always managed to find plenty to eat. Food temperature was the usual buffet lottery. Lots of sunbeds to be had, but bear in mind they are spread all over the ship on various decks. If you want a prime spot by one of the pools you will need to be up early. Lots of hot tubs around, never had a problem getting into one. There are bars all over the ship, both inside and outside, something for all tastes. Some are smoking bars, so avoid these if you are not a smoker. Seating was never really an issue, if one was full, just head off to another. Service was good, and drinks prices pretty reasonable for a cruise ship. We had paper drinks coupons, some that came as part of the Fantastica package, others we bought online before boarding (Beer, Wine & Water Easy, Soda, coffee) Not really a fan of the paper vouchers, would much rather see them electronically on your account. Had 3 issues using these, where the staff didn't correctly zero them off the hand held terminals they use to take orders. Had to go to Guest Services to get resolved, although they were dealt with quickly and efficiently. Had some great coffees and chocolates in the Venchi Chocolate and coffee bar on deck 5 Was not impressed by the entertainment on the ship at all. The main shows were very short and pretty much the same every night. A random selection of songs and dance routines, with no speech that made no sense whatsoever. Every night there were 2 bendy girls, a rope artist and a roller skating duo who appeared at random points during the show, while the dancers changed into the next costume. Compared against what NCL are doing, it was dire. We gave up after 3 nights and went to the bars instead. Other singers around the ship were very average. The DJ who deafened every one on the Deck 16 outdoor stage had a repertoire consisting of "Oh Yeah" and "One, Two, Three, Four" Did one tour to a village on Sicily by coach, reasonably priced. Otherwise did our own thing. Conclusion: Great value cruise on an awesome ship. It's a bit different to the American companies with a more European feel. Needs some work on the main dining to appeal to the American market. Entertainment needs a total rethink. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
First off, we are tough critics so keep that in mind while reading our review. We chose MSC Seaside for a few reasons. The biggest is that last year we cruised the MSC Divina for the first time last year and absolutely loved it. Our ... Read More
First off, we are tough critics so keep that in mind while reading our review. We chose MSC Seaside for a few reasons. The biggest is that last year we cruised the MSC Divina for the first time last year and absolutely loved it. Our party has 3 generations (teenagers, middle-aged/50, and in-laws in their 80s) traveling and without fail all thought the Divina, and its staff, were the best we ever had. This lead us to try the Seaside. This was somewhat of a last-minute trip so we did not have many options room wise. We ended up booking the lowest option (guaranteed cabin x3) at the Bella experience. The Unlimited Drinks special was going on. We ended up getting assigned balconies (woohooo) for staterooms on the 12th floor. Great way to start. Our thoughts are as follows: Cons: – MSC Website is the worst I have ever used. It baffles me as to why they have not fixed it. We struggled with it last year and this year. They almost lost the sale due to it. If you can’t get a website right, how can we trust you to sail a ship? -Timing/logistics seem to need a review or overhaul. For instance, the cruise critic party was at 10:00 AM. We got notice on our door at 9:00 AM. The White Night Party was on an evening before a port, however Italian night was the night before at sea. We were all dragging in port wondering why the 10:30 PM party was held the night before an 8:00 AM port. The Black Party was held at 5:00. Our dinner was 5:15. Just odd timing on things. -Quiet space on the ship is hard to come by. The ship is amazingly beautiful but the thump thump thump music coming from the main lobby permeates most areas that are meant for congregation. This made it tough for us to find space with all three generations to relax and talk. I was somewhat surprised by the music choices on elegant nights as well. I expected something a little more elegant but that did not happen. -Drink package is odd. No real place to find out what is included and most wait staff tell you something different each time. The drinks you are entitled to are free however there is a service charge (tip) for each drink. No one could explain to us what it was (we were told it was tax). HOT TIP – go to the self-service drink station on deck 8 buffet. You card will dispense beer and wine that are included in your package. It is completely at your leisure and no tip is added, -The gym is too small -I only saw the zip line operate once. Not sure why it was closed most of the trip -It can get pretty crowded in the food areas -The “library” is odd. I have never seen a library that has a pool table, checker boards and is a main walkway. I think it was more of an afterthought. -Got zinged by the minibar again. We were charged for something we did not take. HOT TIP-when you check in have the steward inventory the minibar in front of you then ask them to lock it for the duration of the cruise (we forgot this go around) -You can keep Nassua Pros: -Staff was great. Still love Rom (waiter in the for-fee dining area) -Lots to do. There was always something going on. We took many dance lessons and the instructors were fun and patient -Little kiddos seemed to LOVE that water park which was fun to see -Food was good and plentiful. Not “amazing” but good and reasonable. -Rooms were nice. Love the couch. Storage is tight as is the toilet area but something must give. -Getting on and off the ship was the best we have ever experienced. -The ship truly is amazing. You must ride the elevator at the back of the ship while at sea. The views are amazing -The bridge of sighs and infinity bridges were super cool -I was easily able to find deck chairs on the sides of the ship when I wanted a little sun nap. I am not a big at sea pool guy so this option was perfect for me - I thought the MSC for Me app was helpful. If they would add person to person “texting” or adult tracking it would be amazing. The onboard touchscreens throughout the ship are super handy too -The evening shows were really good. We don’t usually go to many shows but found ourselves going to most and were not disappointed. HOT TIP – If you are going to a show use the MSC app or a touch screen to reserve a seat. We were in the 5:15 dining rotation and could make the 6:45 show if we were there promptly at 5:15. The 8:00 show is usually booked solid so book early if you want that time. -I rode the slides with the kids and made the Mrs. try it once too. Lots of fun (I got dizzier on the brown kids slide than the adult blue slides) -Elegant night and Voyagers party served drinks and snacks. The elegant night “Happy Hour” started at about 4:45 but was not very well advertised but is a great way to start out the night -The way they do pictures is great. There are viewing stations where you scan your card and can bring up digitals of all your pix. Much easier than playing where’s waldo and looking at a wall full of other people while looking for yours Overall, we enjoyed the trip and would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I booked this cruise to spend time with my two daughters, the youngest just graduated from college, and my sister-in-law. This was the first time we all cruised together, and was looking for a fun "girls' trip". We really ... Read More
I booked this cruise to spend time with my two daughters, the youngest just graduated from college, and my sister-in-law. This was the first time we all cruised together, and was looking for a fun "girls' trip". We really wanted to do a Mediterranean trip, and the price, dates, ports fit our bill. We booked a "suite", cabin 9001 Aurea experience, because it was more cost effective if we all stayed in the same cabin. After confirming our trip, I started to read reviews here about this ship, and started doubting my choice. This was my 17th cruise, but first on MSC. I started dreading my decision from all the negative reviews, but decided to suck it up, and since my family is pretty easy-going (I'm the spoiled one), and it was too late to back out. My husband and I cruise usually twice a year, and a lot of my decision-making is on this site and other reviews. But, I'm going to say, for now on, I'm going to be taking future reviews with a grain of salt. I've never written a review, but here it goes... Embarkation and Disembarkation- Rome (Civitavecchia)- We came in a day earlier and stayed at a charming B&B. We arrived at the port at around 11:30am, and it was a breeze to get on the ship. Took no more than 20 minutes. Disembarkation- we left our bags out the night before, and left the ship about 8:30am. I'd say it was about 30-40 min from the time we left the ship, grabbed our bags, and hailed a taxi. Totally painless experience. I will recommend arriving to the ship around 11ish am, because it seemed more chaotic around 2-3pm, but we were already sipping on wine at that point. Cabin- we were in cabin 9001, at the very front of the ship. No balcony, but a panoramic window. It's categorized as a "suite", but it was more of an oversized cabin. My sil and I slept in the two twin beds, and my girls slept in the pullout couch. The twin beds were comfortable; the pullout couch is what it is- a pullout couch, but the girls were fine with it. There was plenty of space for the four of us. The bathroom was surprisingly big, and included a bathtub! I've never had a bathtub in any of my other cruises. There are plenty of outlets, including 2 US standard plugins, and a USB port. Our room steward was on top of every need, and was very discreet. My only complaint about the room is, being in the very front, it is VERY noisy when coming into port. From about 4am (if we ported around 7am), every groaning of the ship, dropping of anchors,etc, was heard in our room. But I just put a pillow over my head and went back to sleep. The girls, because their pullout wasn't as sturdy as our beds, tended to rock more with the ship. Dining- The dining was fine here. Did it knock my socks off? No, and I'm super picky. But I could find something on every menu, whether at the buffet or MDR. And I don't understand everyone's gripe about finding seating at the buffet. We never had a problem. Before we even perused the offerings for food, we found a table, threw one of bags on it, then filled our plates. The MDR offerings were decent. I agree with other reviewers that portions are smaller, but who cares? It was enough food, and if we wanted more, we'd just ask. We had a lovely woman waiting on us, Francelly, and she did everything to make our dining experience wonderful. We did have one night with another waiter, didn't catch his name, and he was dreadful compared to Francelly. So, if reviewers got him, I'd understand their bitter review. Entertainment- went to three shows and enjoyed them. Service- Another thing I disagree with other reviewers. The service was awesome. Everyone was willing to help, even guest services was very accommodating. Ports- LOVED THEM ALL! Bottom line- I think the reviews I've read about this ship did not reflect my experience. Were there snafus? Absolutely, but I've had them on ALL cruises I've been on. Would def cruise MSC Divina again, and look forwardto experience her other ships! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Because on this ship everybody can board/disembark at every port there was no queue when we embarked. When we got on we weren't told anything apart from the fact our key card will be in the room. We then felt a bit lost. We went to ... Read More
Because on this ship everybody can board/disembark at every port there was no queue when we embarked. When we got on we weren't told anything apart from the fact our key card will be in the room. We then felt a bit lost. We went to our room where we got our cruise news info. We had a balcony cabin at the rear which was quite roomy. Our cabin attendant was friendly. Bathroom was a decent size and no wet shower curtain, it was a door. The attention to detail on this ship is amazing. It looks very stylish. Lots of bars on board, all with their own different personality. Even the buffet looks stylish. Reasonable amount of choice. A Pasta station, Pizza station, regular buffet, Vegetarian and an "Ethnic" station but I think they mean more Asian food. The main restaurant is efficient. Portions are quite small, European size but very tasty. We had a table for 6 but managed to get this changed after 2 days for a table of 2. They don't have very many tables of 2. We used the gym most days and it was very big and had excellent equipment. The entertainment is fantastic. They do a theatre show every night with amazing singing and dancing. One night is an opera singing night too. The official language on board is Italian but they also do the announcements in French, English, Spanish & German. We did the behind the scenes tour which was reasonably priced compared to other companies. It was such an interesting tour, we really enjoyed it. This is our first time with MSC and would definitely use them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
After reading the reviews on here we were almost scared of what was in store if we booked this cruise, however we went ahead due to the interesting port calls. I can honestly say the ship is fine, unless of course you’re expecting a big ... Read More
After reading the reviews on here we were almost scared of what was in store if we booked this cruise, however we went ahead due to the interesting port calls. I can honestly say the ship is fine, unless of course you’re expecting a big American style liner, which it is not. The interiors of the ship may not be minimalistic fresh style found on newer ships but it has a charming almost “Royal Yacht” feeling, which we found cozy and warm. It had traditional interiors but it was not dated or dusty or unclean like it was stated here, infact cleaniness was very high onboard both in public spaces and in cabins. The one thing we do agree on with other reviewers is that food is bland. We found the dining room was awful on the one night we used it but buffet had enough to eat and there was always something but it requires more poking around than we experienced on the American liners. Honestly with such hot weather not having extensive amounts of food to eat didn’t bother us, interestingly on the flip side desserts were nicer than we had on other liners and resorts. The bars really made up for what was lacking in dining, they all had nice ambience and great staff (staff in general were friendly just not in that hyper American way) and the drinks were good and strong (though cocktails were stronger on Deck 5 than 11). This cruise is adequate and isn’t the disaster pit made out here but don’t expect it be like Royal Carribean where the ship is the destination, it isn’t but the ports of calls are amazing and the ship is comfortable and had a nice latin ambiance that matched up with the region. We can’t comment on shows or excursions as we didn’t attend them or book with MSC for the latter. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
A Cruise trip is a dream come true for many of us, especially those from the Asian countries since they are not, exactly, economy. Apart from the cost of Cruise Trip, which can amount to $280 a day for a couple, you have to reach the ... Read More
A Cruise trip is a dream come true for many of us, especially those from the Asian countries since they are not, exactly, economy. Apart from the cost of Cruise Trip, which can amount to $280 a day for a couple, you have to reach the embarkation point of the Cruise on your own. Other costs include daily trips to shore for sightseeing as the ship docks on a new location every day. The total cost on a Mediterranean Cruise, for a couple, works out to: Cruise cost = $2000 (seven day trip) Cost of reaching the port of embarkation(France)= $ 1850 Daily trips to shore for sightseeing= $700 Taxi + last day shore stay = $ 150 Wifi + drinks on ship = $100 Tips on ship(compulsory) = $140 TOTAL about $ 5000 Cruise ships are floating cities offering you every kind of facility in the form of Drinks, Casinos, Stage Shows, Pools, Jacuzzis, Shopping and every other form of temptation imaginable. There is a bar at every corner with irresistible cocktails beckoning you to try them out. Our ship was huge, with a crew of 800, management claimed to be preparing almost 20,000 meals a day. The worst part is the food. The buffet halls are open 20 hours a day and every kind of fruits, salads, pizzas, breads, hundreds of type of dishes, sea food, puddings, cakes and anything else you can think of is on offer from around the globe. It is impossible not to give in to the temptation, however hard you may try. It is no brainer, therefore, that despite all precautions, all of us put on 2-3 Kg of weight within the first two days. All the food at buffet counters is on the house. Despite all these temptations, by day two we had realized that we needed the skills of a fox to survive in this jungle full of traps at every step and if I did not watch out I would be disembarking with none of my clothes fitting me. Obviously, some strategy was required to ensure one does not pay for unnecessary things and at the same time make full use of a host of facilities being offered in the package. So we worked out a routine to do all of above, and more, as follows: We got up at 6 AM, there being no arrangement for tea in the cabin, one was expected to go up to 14th floor buffet hall to get it, a prospect hard to follow early in the morning. So we brought two satchels of tea+ milk from the dining hall in the night, heated two cups of water in our room with a tiny rod that we always carry with us, and had a nice cuppa ready in a few minutes. (tea served in the entire western hemisphere is always lukewarm, perhaps they like it that way). Water bottles are available at €3, (even the first bottle in your room is charged), but you can always fill up the empty ones in the buffet hall. We got ready and headed for the gym located on top floor of the ship by 6.30 AM. Gym is located in the forward most portion of the ship and it gives a heady feeling watching the ship sail right from the front. Completed our cycling and treadmill routine by 7 AM and then we headed for the Jacuzzi hall located right outside, which opened at 7. At this time there are few people and these huge Jacuzzi pools, which can take up to 10 people each, at a wonderful temperature of 370C, were just what the doctor ordered. After half a hour in the Jacuzzi pools, we came out, fully charged, and headed for the Buffet Hall for a fresh fruit feast (Phalahar). Despite all temptations, refrain from eating anything else. Go back to your room for a bath and getting ready for the day’s excursion. Then head for the buffet hall again by 8.30 AM or thereabouts, depending on what time will your ship dock. Now is the time to enjoy your breakfast. Best take a round of the entire buffet hall before you choose, as there are 10-15 stations to choose from, and if you fill up from the first few ones, you will invariably regret it later on. Sadly, you will notice many of the travelers wasting a lot of food, but we don’t want to emulate that, do we? You would want to go for local sightseeing in whichever town the ship has docked. One way is to book an excursion organized by the ship. These have to be pre booked. These trips are expansive at around € 60 per person. They take you in buses and halt at one or two predetermined places only. The other way is to come out of the dock and look for a 4-6 seater taxi. This is a much better and cheaper option, if you are in a group. Sometimes you can’t walk out as the dock gate is far away or you are not allowed to walk. In such cases, the ship organizes ferry services to a convenient point (on payment, of course, at € 10-12 a pop). Then you can make use of Hop on-off buses available locally or again hire taxis to go around. Since you have to be back by around 4 PM, you will never get enough time for local sightseeing. The best option is to choose a couple of places to spend time on and take a drive through the rest (better to do your homework before starting on your cruise trip). After return to the ship, take a cup of tea at the buffet hall, take a shower and get ready by 7 PM and come over to the lobby bar for a drink(not cheap by our standards, a glass of beer costs around € 5+). Some of us, lucky ones, were provided with a coupon booklet which gave us a limited choice of free drinks. Do try some of the cocktails offered, they look enticing. The evening shows commence at 7.30 PM. They are performed by professionals and are a treat to watch. These shows finish by 8.15 PM and then you can come back to the Bar or go for Dinner. All the lobbies are full of stalls selling perfumes, watches and other knick knack imaginable. There is also a huge Casino on board, many times offering you free coupons to nudge you to get going. With nowhere else to go, it is not difficult to give in. All this can get pretty heady as all the décor around the lobbies is five star and beyond. This is especially true for those who have been exposed to such environment and luxury for the first time. For dinner you either go to the buffet hall or head for one of the fancy restaurants where you are pre allotted a seat for a sit down dinner at 9 PM. If you choose the fancy restaurant route, it will take more than an hour and a half before you can finish your dinner. Also, wine or water etc., will have to be paid for at these tables. Too bad if you don’t like the dish served to you. It is no brainer, therefore, that after the first day none of us went back to that table. I suspect that, except for some stuck up guys coming to dinner in formal clothes, striking business deals, no body went back there. Some days Captain of the ship, or his Deputy, must have been the only guy having his dinner there. Speaking of the Captain, we were invited to have our photograph taken with the captain, so we all decked up in formal clothes and landed up at the appointed place. I perceived that the Captain should feel honored to have his photograph taken with a person of my rank and standing, but that guy was even more stuck up than me and he hardly glanced at the guests and stood around looking at the sky with his female secretaries fussing over him. This looked somewhat akin to a coop full of hen, with a single bossy Cock. Imagine the temerity of these guys, they wanted me to pay for this photo! I rather thought it should have been the other way around. While on the ship, avoid the temptation to shop even if watches, perfumes etc. are available at a fake discount of 30%. Best time to socialize and make friends is over a drink around the pool after you return from the sightseeing or just before and after the stage shows. Be warned that there are huge queues everywhere, especially when you enter the ship or are leaving the ship in the morning. What is surprising is that there was always a big queue at the reception. You have to wait a long time to resolve a query or get to get a question answered. If it is deliberate, I couldn’t fathom the reason. They ask you to deposit € 250 at the beginning of the cruise on your card issued by them. This card is also used for exit or entry to the ship, our passports having been retained by them on arrival. All your expenses are done through this card and deducted from your deposit. Tips are also deducted every day at the rate of € 10 per person. Parting is always a painful process but the cruise organizers seem to have undergone special training to make it more so. We were to dock at 1 PM on the final day. They asked us to deposit our luggage by 11PM the previous night. This caused us immense discomfort. It is difficult to fathom the reasons for such a wise step. To top it all we were asked to assemble at 2.10 PM for disembarkation, we all reached the assembly point, waited till 3 PM and when nobody turned up, we all just walked out of the ship. It looked kind of weird. All in all you can have a fairly good time despite these minor hiccups. Language is a barrier on European tours, all announcements are made in, at least, four languages. Preferably, best to travel in a group, you don’t feel lost and it is cheaper as well. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
A quick review of Meraviglia...... this was my second MSC cruise in 6 months, usually travelling with RCI. We boarded in Marseilles one very rainy Saturday. I think there were only about 400 joining the 'bus' that day. ... Read More
A quick review of Meraviglia...... this was my second MSC cruise in 6 months, usually travelling with RCI. We boarded in Marseilles one very rainy Saturday. I think there were only about 400 joining the 'bus' that day. Boarding started at 12 noon prompt and we were on board before 10 past. Muster was held in the theatre and then, rather strangely we were led to where our actual muster station was (a random point along the deck 6 promenade.....) . It was a very multi cultural cruise with a very large group of Chinese on board. We had a balcony on deck 9, 2 doors away from the 'secret' lift which was the perfect location and highly recommended. The only issue we had was on the last night when many Spanish teens got on board and they used the foyer of the secret lift for their meeting place at 3am, chatting very loudly. The room was well appointed, rather strange wall paining of some vegetables. Cupboard was very small with sliding doors that didn't slide very well. 2 drawers and 2 shelves. Very little storage. Suitcases fitted under the bed. Beds were very comfortable and the shower was very hot. Hairdryer in top drawer of dresser. Very odd dressing table chair which isn't a chair at all but a very heavy uncomfortable stool. No hooks on the wall to hang coats so they had to go in the cupboard. Being Black member I got a bottle of prosecco, chocolate covered strawberries, bathrobes, the chocolate ship, a backpack, an invite for 2 to a specialty restaurant, invite to cocktail party, free photo which is the one taken at the cocktail party, invite to a dance class, and and hour in the gym. I think that was all! We went to Butchers Cut for the complimentary dinner - very good steak well cooked but I found the starters a bit odd. I had the goats cheese and it came in a skillet on a rather hard base...it was too large I think. For pudding I had the cookie which came in the (same) skillet and again was a bit heavy going. The restaurant temperature was very cold and for pudding we actually moved tables out onto the balcony. Staff on board were excellent. Especially those in the English pub and in the various bars. The ship was spotless. Dress code was varied (to put it politely). The spa area is huge with so many baths and steam rooms - it was very enjoyable. Weather was not good - rain in Marseilles and Genoa. Snow in Rome which resulted in tours being cancelled. The ship was very good about keeping people informed. Music everywhere - lovely classical music in the atrium, a good band allowing for dancing in the Meraviglia Bar, salsa type band and karaoke in the On Air club; the only music I didn't like was the singer in the pub which I felt was far too loud for the space. I also liked the fact that some of the entertainment team were always around dancing with guests. The ship definitely had a party atmosphere. The ceiling display is impressive and only lasts a few minutes. Shows were proficient. I liked the one that was about the Apps. I did not go to see Cirque de Soleil. The chocolate shop is large and takes up a lot of space and I never saw anyone in there. I bought a box to go for €17.70 The Sky Lounge is a lovely quiet space, supposedly child free. One evening there were two prams in there, I spoke with the bar staff asking why they had been allowed in ...they obviously had to maneuver the prams past the large sign that says "0-18 not allowed" ti get in in the first place (!). The staff looked embarrassed and obviously did not want any confrontation. I went and spoke with another bar manager I had met earlier in the voyage. Immediately he was on his phone asking for the children to be removed...and he also wanted to send me a plate of something for my inconvenience. Now that is service! Very impressed! unfortunately it was my last night so I had to decline! There is a corner of the Sky Lounge (unmarked on any deck plan!) that is an enclosed smoking room. Meals in the MDR were fine, didn't go hungry and didn't come out feeling as if I could't eat another mouthful. Buffet had a very good selection including an Ethnic Corner which had some good dishes I like the way the MDR is open for lunch every day to although I didn't try it. The drinks package is the best value at sea. Didn't like the rose too much but the prosecco and the Aperol more than made up for it! There is a far wider selection of beers in the pub than in any other bar too. I would say that travelling as a solo it was quite a lonely experience. Most were families or couples. I have never spoken so much French! I feel that the lack of roll calls on these cruises mean you do not build up any friendships beforehand. Ship never felt crowded and was well laid out. I personally hate the Royal Promenade on RCI ships (all the ambiance of a shoe box) but this one was wide and I think the 'curves' into the shop areas helped with the flow. Shops were full of luxury items. There is also a very good range of toiletries and essential items on board too. Branded items are much cheaper than on RCI. MSC also add €1pp to your cruise bill as a donation to UNICEF. If you prepay the tips in UK it works out at £49pp for 7 days compared to the €70pp on board (which is about £61). Every penny helps! There is a huge kids area with 10-pin bowling and car simulators, and a big sports court. Outside there is a waterslide and a rope climbing frame for the adventurous. Last day was a disaster. Disembarking in Marseilles where all documentation said we docked at 8a so flights had been arranged accordingly. On board they said they docked at 9. This caused a great deal of stress to some people, not to mention expense, where people had booked cars, or tours or onward transportation. Despite having the priority Orange coloured departure group there was no organisation and it was a free for all with everyone pushing to get off the ship at once. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
MSC Meraviglia Westen Mediterranean cruise. Feb.2018. This ship is like a game changer of Italian cruise lines. It's a fabulous vessel, and we really enjoyed it. Venues and shows are spectacular, entertainment is in the ... Read More
MSC Meraviglia Westen Mediterranean cruise. Feb.2018. This ship is like a game changer of Italian cruise lines. It's a fabulous vessel, and we really enjoyed it. Venues and shows are spectacular, entertainment is in the air in a way that we haven't experienced with MSC before. I really enjoyed the opera, but there was something for everyone. It's a great ship for the cold with marvellous indoor pool areas and a fantastic spa. I did however question if it would work in the summer time since there is a lack of outdoor space. I asked someone and got it confirmed that the past summer was a disaster since there wasn't space enough on the pool decks. It's been pointed out before : it's like travelling on a bus, with people coming and the whole time. This makes the reception constantly crowded. Unlike many non - Italian ships there isn't much of a choice for dinner unless you are willing to pay up. You can however visit the buffet, which is at least one alternative. We were happy with what we got regarding quality and service, but we miss the delight of being able to choose where to go for dinner like we would normally do. General service was a mixed bag, but house keeping was top notch. With people leaving just about every day, disembarkation was great. Embarkation could have been good too, but it was unnecessarily messy. Even if it was too cold to be outside our kids had their best cruise ever. All the theatures and the kid's clubs kept them happy. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
First of all this is a big cruise ship: 19 floors, over 5,000 passengers, 1,200 crew. It is like a big floating hotel with a small mall in the center. It is quite new (June 2017), so it looks and feels new, shiny and flashy. It is a great ... Read More
First of all this is a big cruise ship: 19 floors, over 5,000 passengers, 1,200 crew. It is like a big floating hotel with a small mall in the center. It is quite new (June 2017), so it looks and feels new, shiny and flashy. It is a great ship, no questions about it... The crew is excellent. I have read reviews of this an other cruise ships and they always mention that the workers seem to be stressed out, don't have time for the passengers, seem to be on a labor dispute attitude, etc. Well, not this one. The crew, which is made of people from all over the world: Latino Americans, South East Asians, Africans, and mostly Italian supervisors, is very attentive, friendly and very hard workers. We were nicely surprised. Our room was modern and efficient, on the 8th floor. This was a low budget trip for us, so we selected an interior room without window or balcony, but that was never an issue, we just left the light of the bathroom on at night so that we wouldn't feel confused or lost in the dark. The food was good. The ships has several free restaurants, but passengers are assigned a specific lunch/dinning restaurant for the entire trip. All these restaurants have the same Mediterranean-style menu. They have different shifts and we selected the last shift at 9:15pm for dinner, which meant we were mostly surrounded by Spaniards, which like to dine late. The portions were "European-size", not "American-size" but we never left hungry. We could also go to "The Marketplace Buffet" a big all-you-can-eat cafeteria on the 15th floor. It was open 20 hrs a day and offered breakfast, lunch and dinner (all free). We had no complaint about the variety and quality of the food. There were also several other specialty restaurants (steakhouse, Japanese, Italian) that required you to pay. We had jet-lag since we came from California, and we were up at 6am every day. That happen to be a blessing, since at 6:30am the Marketplace cafeteria was just opening, almost empty except for some Chinese people that also had a similar jet-lag. It was peaceful and enjoyable, and you could watch the sun rise and the clarity impose itself on the Mediterranean waters, right outside of the wall-to wall glass windows of the cafeteria. If you tried to go to the same cafeteria at 9am you would feel like in a mad house, with thousands of people all trying to serve themselves with fried eggs, bacon, sausages, croissants and what-else, running around and avoiding each other at the same time. We decided to keep our jet-lag for the rest of the trip... You could buy drinks (wine, beers, cocktails, soda's or mineral water) one at-a-time, or purchase drink packages, which I would recommend since one-at-a-time is expensive, in the range of EUR 5 for a soda to EUR 8 or more for a cocktail. During our stay we bought two decent Italian white wine bottles at the restaurant and paid EUR 25 ea., but there were many more expensive selections in the wine list. Our waiter (we always had the same waiter assigned to our table) was super-sweet and kept our unfinished wine bottles on the fridge for the next dinner. Free juice was available at the cafeteria but only for breakfast. No free soda fountains, and a glass with soda and ice was EUR 5 ea., which really bothered me. There was free coffee, hot water and tea bags at the cafeteria, and also several free filtered water fountains and we used them to fill our empty plastic bottles that we brought with us when we checked-in, and we reused them over-and-over in our land-explorations. They also added to our package --at the last minute and without us asking for it-- a free mineral water bottle with meals at the restaurant, which was very nice. We did not try to bring in liquor or beers into the ship, since we had read on the internet that they would confiscate them, but the water bottles were never a problem. The ship had different activities every day, and we very much enjoyed the troupe that performed different shows of music and dance several times a day in the theater in the back of the ship. There were also two different shows of Cirque du Soleil and we bought tickets for a dinner-and-show night, but to our bad luck that was the only day that we had bad weather, the ship was moving noticeably and they canceled the show... They returned the EUR 35 ea. that we paid for our tickets. So, we cannot judge the quality of the show. But we need to dispel some misinformation about Cirque du Soleil shows: It is a smaller theater and a smaller troupe than what you get on a regular show when they travel to different cities. And the shows are much shorter in duration. There is no free Cirque du Soleil shows since you have to either buy a dinner-and-show for EUR 35 ea. or a cocktail-and-show for EUR 15 ea. Purchasing of tickets at the ship, or confirming your assistance (which is a requirement for the tickets to be valid) is at very inconvenient times (9:30am to 4:30pm) since this is the time that you are in land and not in the ship, and you cannot do it online. We couldn't use the multiple swimming pools of the ship since it was winter. One of the pools was in a covered area on the 15th floor but it was not totally insulated and it felt a little too "cool" for our taste. We did try a jacuzzi and it was very nice once "the masses" had disappeared to prepare themselves for dinner... We loved the Sky Lounge on the 18th floor, were we had a drink every night before dinner, overlooking the 15th floor swimming pool through the big glass windows of the lounge. No kids allowed, so it was a peaceful place and a piano was gently played in a corner... The main promenade has a nice LED dome that produces different light shows through the day and night. On the sides there are some stores and several bars and lounges, but as with the main Atrium and Reception Desk, they are overwhelmed by people on the evenings. I felt sorry for the grand-piano players at the Atrium, that were supposed to produce warm-welcoming jazzy music in that chaos of people. And there were always long lines at the Reception Desk. It was a puzzle why so many people had to visit the desk every day and night. Maybe part of the reason is that there is people checkin in-and out of the ship on every port, so they had to settle their accounts before departing the ship the next day... Internet access was the worst part of the experience on this ship. It is slow and super-expensive. We purchased a package of a little less than 1 gig of data for $38.50, and somehow it was mostly gone in 30 minutes of use. Don't ask me how, since I had disabled most of the apps background data connections. I was trying to use Google Maps to plan our excursions, but to no avail. We had also purchased a Vodafone sim card for our iPhone, so we had to wait for the ship to get very close to port to get some reception and be able to connect to the internet and plan our daily trips. Using the Vodafone card in port and on land to guide ourselves to were we wanted to go barely used a fraction of the data cap allowed, so I don't understand how the ship data package was exhausted so quickly. So, do all your research of the places you want to visit, how to get there, etc., before you arrive to the cruise ship, since you won't have barely any internet access once you are in. And buy a Vodafone or similar multi-country sim card that you can use with your smartphone on each destination. The other thing that really irritated me is the lack of comprehensive information about the different features and cost of activities in the ship, before you buy your tickets and during your voyage. The online information is fractured, incomplete or non-existent. MSC has a website and specific web pages about the MSC Meraviglia, and they have an app that you can use in your smartphone or iPad while in the ship, but a lot of information is simply not there. As an example, they feature prominently the Cirque du Soleil shows, as they should, but it doesn't say anywhere if it is included in the ticket. I had to call the cruise travel agent to ask the question, wait for them to call the company and then they told me it was included. False. It was NOT included. You need to buy a dinning ticket or a cocktail ticket to be able to see the show. I asked several other questions and they sent me links to web pages that more or less touched on the issues, but these pages are not linked to the main website, you have no way to see them unless they send you the specific link. And there is barely any information about the ports and docks, and how to get from the ship to the city that you are landing, if there is any bus service, how much it cost, location maps, etc. It is as if they expect you to just join one of their tours and never wander by yourself on the cities that you are visiting... The other thing that irritated us was the checkin process. Totally unnecessary long waiting lines. They give you some orange juice at the end, when they should have offered the juice while we waited that stupid line. While I waited sitting on the concrete floor, exhausted after our long trip from California, I kept thinking that the airlines have mastered since long ago the checkin process and I could not understand why it was so complicated for these cruise people. We had already paid for our trip, we had done a required online-checking process many days before. What else was needed? Just to show our boarding pass, passport and go in, isn't? Nope. Don't ask me why. As a compensation, de-boarding the last day our our trip was much easier and fast, except for a visit to the Reservation Desk to contest a charge from the Bamboo Bar that was incorrect, and it required us to wait a couple of hours for them to contact the waitress to confirm our dispute. I guess they didn't believe us stinky cheap passengers... At the end, you have to question if this cruise was worth it. This was our first mega-cruise experience and I think it was worth it. We learned a lot. But I realize we are not be the typical cruise passenger. Our idea before joining this cruise was to use it as a means of transportation and accommodation as we visit all the different cities in the itinerary. It brought us to each city and we didn't have to deal with moving our luggage to a different hotel each day. And of course, it's nice to have a new and clean ship, with facilities that you can use while you are there. But our original idea is not exactly correct. First, visiting the cities is not as easy at it sounds, the docks are not necessarily at walking distance and transportation gets complicated, time-consuming and even expensive, plus they don't really give you any clues, you have to find everything by yourself. Second, the cruise is a destination by itself. For a lot of people --the majority-- the cruise is the destination and the cities just the excuse. They enjoy being on the ship, eating and drinking, dancing and wearing their finest cloths at night shows, restaurants and lounges. It's a floating resort! So, we'll have to think twice before doing another cruise, and it will have to be a much smaller ship. This ship is beautiful, good service, good food, good facilities, but too big, too many people, and not the kind of vacation that I have ever dreamed of. But if you like big resorts, enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Given, that my wife and I have now completed a number of cruises (with both Royal Caribbean and MSC), I think I am finally qualified to write a meaningful review. In 2013 we cruised with MSC Preziosa in the Western Med and the itinerary ... Read More
Given, that my wife and I have now completed a number of cruises (with both Royal Caribbean and MSC), I think I am finally qualified to write a meaningful review. In 2013 we cruised with MSC Preziosa in the Western Med and the itinerary included Barcelona, Naples, Genoa, Messina, Tunis (Tunisia) and Marseille. It was a fantastic experience, which subsequently led to us fast becoming "cruise junkies". Since then we've cruised on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas and MSC Divina, on different routes in the Caribbean. Whilst on the Divina last year, we heard from the Captain at the "special" Captain's Cocktail Party (essentially a thank you for passengers who return to cruise with MSC), about MSC's plans to role out new ships over the next few years. So, when MSC invited us to partake in the live streaming of the christening/launching of the Meraviglia earlier this year, it certainly caught our interest. We subsequently browsed Meraviglia's itinerary and noticed that with the exception of Tunis, the route throughout October was the same we have previously done. Due to terror attacks in Tunis, it was replaced by Valetta in Malta. We took the decision to book, based on the ship and not so much the itinerary. And we also decided to "spoil" ourselves by choosing the Yacht Club Experience. The Yacht Club Experience (YCE) is best described as being an exclusive area within the ship, only accessible to those passengers who purchase this (expensive) option. There is a myriad of shows, bands and other forms of entertainment, including the amazing Cirque du Soleil on board, which this this review does not seek to cover. The review does however speak to our personal experience; Embarkation for us was in Marseille. YCE passengers are greeted by butlers (they are available 24hrs on call in the Yacht Club), who basically do the checking in whilst you sip on bubbly. They escort you to your cabin and make sure you feel totally pampered (I warned my wife not to get use to the lifestyle and not to expect the same when we get home!). We had cabin 18016 on deck 18. The cabin was plush, vast and did not disappoint. A chilled bottle of bubbly awaited on the coffee table, along with fresh fruit (which is replenished daily. A mini bar is also available for your use and stocked daily. The bathroom (shower only), is a nice size and packing/closet space is more than ample for the 7 night cruise. There's a Nespresso machine with coffee capsules for your use, but no froth machine. The bed was firm but comfortable and YCE passengers can request varying density of pillows. YCE passengers have access to all public areas and may also choose to dine in the general dining areas. However, the Yacht Club has it's own dining area, lounge and pool area. With 5700 people on board, it was nice to escape the hustle and bustle and retreat to exclusivity on occasion. YCE passengers also have free access to the Thermal area. This has various steam, sauna and other jet baths. We had absolutely no problem with the cleaning services, or that of the butler and dining staff. In general, I think MSC can be proud of the people who tirelessly perform these tough duties. YCE passengers also have the added benefit of being able to book excursions and shows with the YC Concierge. However, let me deal with the irritations; MSC........ when I pay for an all inclusive Yacht Club Experience and you tell me that all drinks in any of the bars and restaurants, excluding only the speciality restaurants (because this is how you advertise it), then expect me to get very irritated when I am told by the Concierge that this is not entirely the case. I then am told that in some restaurants where there are prices on the menu and in some bars where there are 2 asterisk, these are not included in the package. This scenario became the bane of my cruise. MSC...... It's either all inclusive or not. You need to be honest with me from the start! Then there is the Captain. Maybe it's not him personally, but the folk who plans his public itinerary. Passengers make a big deal about meeting the Captain... we even dress up for it. So if you plan a gala event, planned for 7pm sharp, then have the decency of being there on time! MSC.... with the Meraviglia, you have embarked on a similar operating model to Royal Caribbean, with the expansive promenade and varying themes. I accept that you need to be innovative, but you need to get it right or else it's a disaster. We have met and taken pics with the Captain of all our cruises, bar the Meraviglia...... after waiting for nearly an hour, we just gave up and went for dinner. We thought, we'll catch up with him at the special cocktail party (which on other MSC ships, is held in a lounge aft of the ship). Alas, this was also a disaster. Arriving early for the event, we were ushered to seats by the entertainment crew and when the Captain finally made his appearance, it was on a balcony in the promenade, nowhere close to where we were told to sit. I should stop whinging now. Folks, the Meraviglia is stunning and I expect the new MSC Seaside and others that will follow, to be even more spectacular. The Yacht Club Experience is very different from the "normal" exec balcony suites. I nearly forgot to mention...... we did not sample foods in the general dining areas, but in the Yacht Club, the food and wine is excellent!!! Be aware that some parts of the Western Med are already quite cold in October, with temps in the mid teens (Celsius). Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
I was very apprehensive when reading such bad reviews about this brand new ship - we were pleasantly surprised with nearly everything. Most staff were very helpful & polite, cabin excellent, ship spotlessly clean, entertainment was ... Read More
I was very apprehensive when reading such bad reviews about this brand new ship - we were pleasantly surprised with nearly everything. Most staff were very helpful & polite, cabin excellent, ship spotlessly clean, entertainment was okay, food was good quality, drinks package excellent value. Excursions were very wel organised & excelent value for money. Embarkation also was excellent. My only gripes were that the buffet restaurant was extremely busy for breakfast ( resembled a cattle market at times) but compared to prices of other cruises MSC are very competitive. My biggest gripe being the total lack of respect & utter rudeness of fellow passengers (mainly Italian origin) . Two of them almost started a fight around the pool, all over a sunbed! Other passengers all commented about this being the only thing that spoilt their cruise. Inevitably this can happen on any cruise liner! I would definitely return on a MSC cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This was my second cruise with MSC (first one was in August 2014 on Fantasia). We travelled with 2 kids (aged 4 and 2) and I missed having a specific pool were families with small children could stay (with deck chairs, bar, etc). The ... Read More
This was my second cruise with MSC (first one was in August 2014 on Fantasia). We travelled with 2 kids (aged 4 and 2) and I missed having a specific pool were families with small children could stay (with deck chairs, bar, etc). The small covered kid's pool in most of the time in the shadow and the water is cold. The opening times of the kids' club for children under 3 is really scarce. The food, on the contrary, was varied and healthy. Service in general terms was much better on my first experience with MSC; this time I have not felt that cruise members were so helpful, gentle and implicated (staff at kid's club, cabin, waiters, etc). The night entertainment can be improved (in particular the Theater spectacles). The itinerary too (many of the destination were not really worth visiting). The cabin, the common areas and the food are really good. The main hall really impressive. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I am from Maryland, USA and my wife and I wanted to celebrate our 25 year anniversary in style. You definitely want to get the upgraded suite, we were in room 12226 at rear of ship but on right side. Sun rises were excellent. The room ... Read More
I am from Maryland, USA and my wife and I wanted to celebrate our 25 year anniversary in style. You definitely want to get the upgraded suite, we were in room 12226 at rear of ship but on right side. Sun rises were excellent. The room was so large more than 200 SF! With a walk in closet bigger than ours at home. My wife Anita is so jeolous and wants a bigger closet now! LOL. There are people that like to take your spot inline, but in front of you, take your pool chair, etc. But if you stick up, speak up, and tell them no, they will back down. I had a guy butt up to the front of the line to see the host at the registration desk and I told him, that I had been waiting for over 10 minutes and to go to the back of the line. I had a guy steal my pool lounge chair while my wife and I walked around the ship for like 15 minutes. When I got back to my chair I noticed that my towel had been move over to my wife's chair and my chair was slid over to another group. I confronted the gentleman and he said he was sorry and was willing to give me back my chair but I just told him no thank you. Just stick to your guns and you will be fine. We loved the shows, The Vatican, all the churches, I spend $750 upfront on excursions for my wife and me, the first excursion was in Geno and it was the open bus one (it was terrible, the driver flew through the tour, the bus was old, the earpiece plugs into the bus and is not clear to hear, waste of money (But the Aquarium is a must! Unbelievable aquarium, (we have an aquarium in downtown Baltimore but this one has to be four times as large!) etc.. Definitely want to get the drink package, you can not afford not to! And buy it now. Do not wait to get the drink package, on the ship, they hit you up for 15% gratuity and people were trying to fill bottles with water from the dining room. Come on, people it cost money to go on vacation, spent and stop being so cheap!!! The food is not as good as Royal Caribbean. There is no assigned seating but there is assigned dining hall for your cabin and only two seating times available. So I suggest getting the Flex time package where you can go to dinner anytime between 7 PM and 10 PM. Also if you do not feel like eating at the restaurant hall, they only have one other location to eat at and that cost money called Tex Mex restaurant. It costs roughly $20 to $55 euros (for two people total) to get a decent meal there. Oh and the per deim per day per person for gratuity is added automatically to the bill but it is not $7 euros it is now $10 euros! As least for my room! The food was not spectacular. Wife and I got a tour of the spa and fitness center and we both got a free message with our package so I gave my wife both of them. The spa has spectacular views from the front of the ship on 15th floor. We got in the hot tub and it was crouded, the pool temperature on May 23rd 2017 was cool. Felt like 65 degrees. Wife and I do not have kids but the cruise did not have that many kids thank God. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Just returned from our 5th MSC cruise yesterday on Splendida and once again great value for money, excellent customer service, very good food and stunning spotless ship. Such contrast to the very disappointing cruise we took with P&O ... Read More
Just returned from our 5th MSC cruise yesterday on Splendida and once again great value for money, excellent customer service, very good food and stunning spotless ship. Such contrast to the very disappointing cruise we took with P&O in November for which I have done a separate review. I have taken 15 cruises overall over 9 years with 6 cruise lines and MSC is my first choice line now for it's overall value for money. The ships are stunning and the service has got better and better over the last few years. The staff are friendly, efficient and hard working. The drinks package is amazing value, best on the market and the food is of a very high standard although I recognise that it's not to everyone's liking but with 6 courses there is always something most would like with options for steak and speciality dining also. The buffet choice is also very good as is the freshly baked pizza and delicious ice cream and coffee's We have done this itinerary twice now so I will be looking to give them a try in the Caribbean or from the UK next. The entertainment isn't always great but that is my only real criticism of this line although there is usually a decent show or two each cruise but its just not that important to me I can't believe how much better this cruise was than the P&O cruise only 2 months earlier. Well done again MSC. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We are just back from our week on MSC Splendida. In spite of being winter, we loved it and had a lovely time. The ship is huge and its beautiful and it shines from its cleanliness, we’ve been already in Poesia and Fantasia. Loving ... Read More
We are just back from our week on MSC Splendida. In spite of being winter, we loved it and had a lovely time. The ship is huge and its beautiful and it shines from its cleanliness, we’ve been already in Poesia and Fantasia. Loving the food, we don’t eat that much and we manage to “stay fit” just walking around the ship. We had our breakfasts on the buffet and went twice to breakfast in the MDR, we prefer the calmer MDR to the bustling buffet, but be aware that you can’t have proper cappuccino in the MDR (!!!) – I know… amazing, right? The truth is we bought online the coffee cuddle coupons and enjoyed our cappuccinos throughout the bars and even on the buffet, but on our first MDR breakfast I thought that the cappuccino alike thing they brought us wasn’t the real thing, on our second one, we made our order and after tasting I manage to ask the waiter about it and he told us that in the MDR they don’t have the proper machine to make them, only at bars and buffet… Ok, I accept, but why not warning us when we make our order and spend our coupons?... Let me tell you that the coffee cuddle package is really worth it if you love your expresso, cappuccino and so on, we can even use the coupons in the coffee frozen delights they serve (this you can’t have with your allegrissimo package), and they are truly worth it. The other package we bought was the wine and water, also worth it and I believe we’ll be getting these two packages every time we cruise with MSC. (Note that the packages bought online don’t pay the 15% service charge.) Our diners in the MDR were very nice and the food was proper, with just one or two “falls”. Our waiters were very nice and our 5 year old was with us all the time (except one diner) and he always ate from our menu, not the kids one – he was a hero for our head waiter. The breakfasts and lunches at the buffet were basically the same with everything that is expectable. Now let me tell you something new, that I don’t know from how long MSC has been doing it, maybe some of you have seen it, but for me it was a first: Breakfast and lunch at the MDR is now complemented with buffet… (!) for us this was not good… I don’t know about you, but if I want buffet I go to the buffet main area on the 14th floor; Here you can also have your breakfast and lunch on the menu like before, but now you get this extra possibility and when you arrive at your table instead of giving you the menu the waiter asks if you want to go to the buffet or order from the menu. Many people might like this little extra, but it is very awkward to see people coming from the buffet with their plates full, like the buffet upstairs and so on… We went one time to lunch and two times to breakfast on the MDR and we always ordered from the menu. I asked our diner waiter about this novelty, and I believe he wasn’t very thrilled about it either. Another thing that is worth to buy on the first day is the €35 package to use non-stop the F1 simulator, the 4d cinema (which is the least appealing of all, it isn’t very worth it…) and the bowling at the sports bar, my son had a blast at the bowling! My son went a few times to the kid’s club, but he’s not very fond of it, because obviously no one speaks his language. But he loves “DoReMi” the MSC child mascot. We used the indoor pool on the sea day. We manage to have some rest, that was our main purpose by doing this winter cruise, and we enjoyed very much, my son is already a cruise fan. Now the ports: Marseille: It was our embarkation port, we arrived two days prior and manage to go to the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, and stroll through the vieux port and the streets with Christmas decorations. We also visited the Marseille Cathedral on Place de la Major and another lovely church that is a little bit of the touristic path, that is the Église Saint Vicent de Paul – amazing stained glass. We also had our anniversary dinner at La Table du Fort restaurant and the food was very good. We have already been to Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, and done a half-day cruise to the Calanques but these places are also worth a visit. (From the airport we used the free shuttle bus from the airport to Vitrolles train station and from there to Saint Charles station, then metro to the vieux port where was our hotel, on embarkation day we used uber to get to port (€21,25), nice and easy) Genoa: We have already been to Genoa city center on a past cruise and decided to go to Portofino: We catch a train on Genoa-Principe station (walkable from port) to Santa Marguerita Ligure, went down by the sea for some pictures and then waited outside the train station we catch the bus (82) straight to Portofino (€5 return), which is very lovely, it was a beautiful sunny day, lots of nice pictures here. Civitavechia: We’ve been to Rome before and didn’t do the trip there. We went to Civitavechia to some souvenir shopping and then back to the ship. Palermo: First time on this port (I wasn’t very excited about this one…). We went walking to the center and see the Cathedral, then we found a free shuttle to the city center and came back using it. Valletta: Very nice, our first time on this one as well. It was a bit rainy, but we went and see the city center and its charming. Barcelona: Sunny day. We’ve been to Barcelona before. We didn’t take the shuttle provided from MSC (€22,50 for the 3 of us) and used the one from Port (€4 round trip - €12 for the 3 of us) This time we went on the Ramblas and saw the Barcelona Cathedral (not the Sagrada Família) and went to La Boqueria market (where my son lost his second tooth – the tooth fairy went that night aboard the ship…) and also went to Barceloneta. Marseille: Disembarkation day. Used uber again (€19,45) to Saint Charles Train Station. We saw lots of people walking on port and then we realized that there were shuttle buses on the end of the port. One odd thing was that we never once saw our cabin steward… we saw his name on the card on our cabin and we realized he went several times a day to our cabin to “work his magic”, and I even let him a note with some things we needed, he provided… but we never saw him… this was a first for us… We loved this 10 days’ vacation and it was a very nice deal we got from MSC, that has always nice prices for traveling with children. The staff on board was the nicest from our 3 times with MSC. Will definitely travel with MSC again! Can’t wait to book another cruise (whatever the company)… I miss my countdown clock… Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it went to ports of call that we had not been to previously, but our primary reason was to attend the Monaco Grand Prix which was an add on package to this cruise. The cabin was clean and comfortable and very ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it went to ports of call that we had not been to previously, but our primary reason was to attend the Monaco Grand Prix which was an add on package to this cruise. The cabin was clean and comfortable and very quiet. The cabin was serviced daily to a high standard. The dining room was rather noisy and although the service was good it felt rather rushed and on several nights the lights were dimmed which we took as a signal that we were lingering in the dining room. We are used to having iced tap water at the table and not having to buy bottled water and also to having coffee served at the end of diner, this is the first cruise line we have sailed with were this is not standard. The buffet was difficult at peek times, other guests not waiting and pushing in. the design of the buffet meat that there were some very narrow sections making walking through difficult while people were at a counter serving food. The ice cream kiosk was to small, not adequately staffed and queuing not managed - twice I walked away when other guests were served when I had been waiting much longer. At the very least there should have been two members of staff serving ice creams at busy afternoon periods and a system of forming a queue initiated. We didn't attend any of the entertainment so can't comment (we rarely go to any entertainment while cruising). We noticed that there was not 'piped music' around the pool and enjoyed that (every other cruise line has music constantly - we enjoy peace and quiet so this was a bonus for us. The two pool areas were kept clean and we used the pool and hot tub daily. It is the first cruise we have been on were there are pool attendants, we feel this improved the behavior around the pool as bad behavior resulted in a whistle being blown and the culprit identified. We did have children with us but the children on board were well behaved, one or two teenagers were not considerate of other guests but considering the size of the boat it was quiet and relaxing. We only took three excursions, we enjoyed the places we visited but all were conducted in two languages and it was very difficult to follow one guide as she switched between languages. While on the whole we prefer mid sized cruise ships we were not put off in anyway by the size of this ship. Disembarking was easy in port but sometimes there was a long queue in the full sun to re-embark after going ashore. Because you could start your cruise at several ports during the week there were lots of new people onboard who were still trying to find their way around. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
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