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237 MSC Cruises Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

THE GOOD THINGS: A very pretty ship....lots of outside space for deck chairs and eating. Maps on every floor by the lifts to remind you where you are. We've been on a number of other cruise ships and the balcony cabin was one of the ... Read More
THE GOOD THINGS: A very pretty ship....lots of outside space for deck chairs and eating. Maps on every floor by the lifts to remind you where you are. We've been on a number of other cruise ships and the balcony cabin was one of the best we have ever encountered, spacious, a very comfortable bed, plenty of hanging space for clothes, masses of drawer space and a nice two seater settee. Enough electric sockets in the right places and good lighting. The bathroom (bath with shower over) was not huge but perfectly adequate for the time spent in there. A lovely spa with a very nice private space with lounging chairs at the front of the ship where you could sit and enjoy quiet time. Breakfast in the main dining room was a pleasant experience with a good choice of dishes and nicely presented food. The evening entertainment was very good, particularly the dance shows and the classical evening concerts being very popular. The bar areas were lovely, plenty of nibbles supplied with the drinks (15% charged as per American ships) and the two female Ukranian bar staff we chatted to while having our pre-dinner drinks were pleasant and efficient. THE BAD THINGS: Embarkation at Cape Town was a mess with long queues in a dismal area. Took us over 2 hours to get on board. Most of the balcony cabins are on Sibelius deck are under the pool and recreation areas so there was a lot of banging and general noise from 6.00am onwards. Although MSC pride themselves on providing a "gourmet" menu, with the exception of breakfast in the main dining room, the food was seriously bad both in the buffet area and, very disappointingly, at dinner in the dining room. The evening menu had six courses and I think I only had one really good meal in the nearly three weeks on the ship. One course was always risotto or pasta which I, my husband and two friends love but they were tasteless and stuck together in a gluey mass. The lunchtime buffet salad usually consisted off some lettuce, tomato and cold, soggy, cooked vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans etc). The pizzas, bread, pastries and chips were the only good things but who wants to live on those for nearly three weeks. I know many passengers complained verbally or in writing. Our waiting staff, whilst pleasant, were badly trained and the Italian maitre-de's spent the evenings walking around the dining room without seemingly either checking the waiting staff or interacting with passengers. The staff in the outside eating area by the buffet were at best disinterested and at worst downright unpleasant. We cleared our own table most lunchtimes and carried the dirty dishes to the clearing-up area after we had eaten or we could have sat there an hour or more without the plates being cleared. The evening buffet menu was the same as lunchtime with nothing being done to make the area more attractive (tablecloths, low lights etc). For the very first and, I hope, only time on a cruise ship we actually cancelled all the tips and only gave personally to the efficient young chap who was our room steward. I spoke to a number of other passengers who also reluctantly did the same.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Much misinformation about what was to take place in this maiden transatlantic crossing of MSC's Divina. I must say that the ship is gorgeous. Good looks are, however, deceiving. The disorganization starts at the top and filters down ... Read More
Much misinformation about what was to take place in this maiden transatlantic crossing of MSC's Divina. I must say that the ship is gorgeous. Good looks are, however, deceiving. The disorganization starts at the top and filters down to all aspects of the cruise. As cruising is relative, the relationship is based on what you have experienced before and the anticipation that you are embarking on something similar or perhaps even better than you did before. I must admit, I made the mistake of ignoring the reviews I read as the ramblings of disgruntled previous passengers (they are the most likely to write where passengers that appreciated their trip tend to dismiss it as having gotten what was expected). Unfortunately those who complained in this case understated the reality. It took me 15 of the 19 days of this cruise to even find out the basis upon which the voyage was initiated. "We are going to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean to allow those in that area to experience it w/o the extra travel." Okay, fair enough but the taste left from this cruise would tell me that I would not want to experience more which is simply not true. If one loves travel, Italy and the Greek Isles should be high on the priority list, especially their culinary offerings. MSC Divina did not come close to the mark there. They awarded their own Pizza chef as the best in Italy. I think their pizza was adequate but noting to write home about. Unfortunately it appears that their head chef was promoted from the Pizzeria and should be put to whence he came. Overcooking and over salting foods was the norm. And heavy gravy for Au Jus - it is supposed to be a sauce, not a gravy. No problem, the English cut prime rib that was smothered by this foul presentation could not have hurt or helped it anyway. Lest you think that this is an example, it was carried on throughout the dining experience. Lobster butterflied and left in the shell (not even removed and then replaced - still attached). It tasted more like lobster flavored rubber. Two of my favorite dishes ruined, uneatable! I do know good food. Being a former restaurant owner and qualified chef give me a right to critique foods with some authority. And, comparison to other cruise lines culinary gives me another rating system to use in case I was to consider my own skills to be more than what they are. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess all offer way better culinary skills. OK, Costa fell below MSC but I will not cruise with them again either. It was so bad that I felt sorry for the dining room staff that was a go between having to deal with the abuse that so often is misdirected toward them because of lack of quality that they are required to present. The bright spot in the dining room was the fine effort made by the staff there and their efforts to do well despite the insurmountable odds against them. This, I might say, was also true of our cabin steward. Meeting all our expectation and providing little extras was his mission. He too did a spectacular job. It is a shame that those were the high lights of this cruise experience. I did have a meeting with the guest relations manager wishing to see this beautiful ship be successful in its transitional efforts. I fear, however, that little of what I had to say was even a consideration. MSC will not make it in the Caribbean!!! Especially if they continue with a line of arrogant stupidity and misinformation. And speaking of misinformation, we received information almost continuously via loud speakers on all the sales, and offerings that should have been handled on a want to know basis. And in five languages no less. In preparation for their entering the U.S./Caribbean market (they will be home based in Miami for the next two years) they were required to meet U.S. coastguard standards. They drilled their crew daily, especially when we were in ports of call. If anyone stayed aboard or came aboard after being out and about, they were blasted with crew drills over the loud speakers (at least they too were not in five languages). I have had and expect preparatory pre sailing drills for the passengers before but this is required and appreciated for all who want to wonder the deep blue seas. The incessant crew training drill needs to be done elsewhere or quietly so as not to disrupt the peaceful respite that one has paid for. And, it overflowed into almost every other aspect of their disorganized presentation. I am guessing that 30% of the crew came newly aboard in Malaga. Needless to say, they required the training that was given to them as we sailed away. Yes, some of it got better as the time passed but I will have a hard time forgetting the cappuccino served to me in a demi-tasse or the 1/2 filled demi of espresso. One bartender training five newbies while customers waited an hour for their miss-made drinks. I was told by another English speaking French Canadian that I spoke with that he had over heard a cruiser from Belgium speaking about the "stupid Americans that got what they paid for and considered fine dining to be hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza". Well this "stupid American" had fine dining tastes that were not met in any way, shape or form. Even the sommelier who visited us during our evening meal was frustrated when he spoke about the ship running out of wines that were offered. Apparently, they did not anticipate that so much wine would have been consumed (an Italian ship with a 4200 passenger capacity that had 3300 aboard for 19 nights wouldn't expect large consumption of a product in which they take so much pride - yes it is good and does rival the best of the French but???) Just another glitch in their organized chaos. Oh, and paying for what you get. I have paid less for far more with others that did not try to nickle/dime me for the "not included" Unless you were U.S or Canadian, you even paid for your bottled water - poor Australians and Brits. Oh heck, we even were required to pay for coffee with our evening meals, Never mind any on board. They too were pay as you go and pricey at that. 6 Euros each for a game of mini bowling. Mom was charged $15 per book for their used (left behind) book from their library - okay, they returned the funds when the books were returned but what an ultimate insult to one's integrity. Might have been more acceptable had they advised that they would assess a charge if they were still on your ship's card and not returned prior to disembarking but... The list is far more extensive but I am as tired of writing this as you are of reading it if you have gotten this far and I think if you have, you get the picture. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our first cruise with MSC and after praise from a TV show about the ship we had high expectations. Once on board initial impressions were good. We had an inside cabin on deck 5 which was one deck below the casino and on the same ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC and after praise from a TV show about the ship we had high expectations. Once on board initial impressions were good. We had an inside cabin on deck 5 which was one deck below the casino and on the same deck as the main lobby for enquiries and help desk. The lobby/atrium was quite impressive spread over three decks with the famous swarowski crystal stair cases and several bars. Bar staff, waiters and servers were all excellent with a good mix of nationalities and most with very good English. The coffee bars and ice cream parlors were very good. Ice cream cup $2.10 12 + flavours, double cappuccino $4.10. There is a good choice of bars with most cocktails costing around $7.25 e.g. Manhattan, Pina Colada etc. Wines by the glass from$5.50 to $8.50 and bottles from around $24 upwards. Beer $5 or $6. We had pre purchased the Alligrissimo Drinks for £20 per person which was also on sale at embarkation but for the price of $44 per person in a cabin, considerably more. It is quite difficult to drink $44 of alcohol and ice cream each day for 18 days especially with days ashore. We did have problems with ordering wine as some of the more popular wines such as the Shiraz and Californian Cabernet Sauvignon ran out early in the cruise. My recommendation is to drink when you feel like a cocktail or a glass of wine and the occasional ice cream or coffee and save your money. The design of the ship is somewhat different from standard cruise ships. There is no full walk around promenade deck. You can walk outside along the port and starboard sides of the ship on deck 7 but to go from one side to the other you have to go inside past the lifts for and aft. You cannot access the front of the ship on the top deck unless you are a Yacht Club member, i.e. effectively a first class passenger. We have cruised on nine other cruise ships from five cruise lines and never have we not had access to the front of the ship on one of the top decks. You can look out of the front of the ship on deck 10 from inside the Gym through two sets of glass windows and shields. Although you could theoretically walk around the top deck 15, but without access to the front of the ship, this was made difficult by the many many sun loungers always filled with sun bathers during the day.The weather was very good fortunately for them. If you wanted to walk or risk jogging around deck 15 this could only be done early in the day or after dusk when the sun worshippers had retired to the bars or restaurants. Walking around the deck also involved negotiating the top deck Bar at the rear on the port side, which was also a popular spot for the smokers who also inhabited a long section on deck 14 port side where they had ash trays. There was no where to sit on the outside top deck 15 accept on a sun loungers apart from in the port side rear bar where you have to share with the smokers. There was plenty of room in areas on deck fifteen where chairs and tables could have been placed. We found food in the main dining room very disappointing with limited choice. Meat tended to be over cooked and portions very small with very few vegetables. Food in the Buffet on deck 14 was good for breakfast if you could find a seat to eat it at. Lunch had a reasonable choice of dishes but again was very busy. If you decided to eat later when the buffet was quieter, you risked the choice being reduced as food ran out. The evening buffet was always very disappointing with only one side of the restaurant being open and a very poor selection on offer. There was always pizza and burgers, pasta and grilled chicken again usually over cooked, but that was pretty much all. Lunch time specials like sweet and sour pork or curry and a meat joint were never offered in the evening We saw two shows both good. The story of Ben Bones and very good, the Michael Jackson tribute. Getting off the ship on port days varied from reasonably successful to totally shambolic. If you had chosen to go on a ships trip you were escorted off from decks 4 or 5 usually. Every one else who was on an independent excursion, or who just wanted to go ashore, had to leave from deck 7 mid ships through the atrium which meant everyone converging either from deck 6 coming up the swarowski staircase or from one of four corridors on deck 7 into one large scrum trying to file through one exit with two scanners for cruise cards all at the same time. Given the tendency for Europeans not to understand the concept of an orderly queue, this inevitably lead to chaos. Having said all of this, the ports of call were outstanding. Valletta in Malta, an amazing sail in through a spectacular harbour, albeit watched from the side of the ship, the front not being available as mentioned above. Malaga in Spain, Funchal in Madeira, Philipsburg in St. Maarten, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas and San Juan in Puerto Rico before arriving in Miami for an overnight stay before disembarkation, another shambles. As mentioned by other critics you have to leave you cabin by 7 in the morning only to sit around on the ship. In our case we sat in the theatre and waited for our assigned colour and number to be called. However nothing was happening. We were supposed to get off the ship as 9 a.m. our allotted time, but nothing was happening and no numbers were being called. One guest complained at the front desk and a member of the entertainment department to come to the front and explain what was happening. Apparently a problem with immigration authorities or customs, even though every one had cleared Homeland Security in St Thomas and many had also been off the ship the previous day happily wondering around Miami. So what was going on? To summarise: A large ship with some strange design features, large state rooms, excellent staff, but poor organisation, disappointing food, great coffee and tasty ice cream. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
The Divina is a beautiful ship. I like the staterooms. In the staterooms I especially like the folding shower doors that give extra room when you're not in the shower. Departure from Venice was very unpleasant. You have to walk, ... Read More
The Divina is a beautiful ship. I like the staterooms. In the staterooms I especially like the folding shower doors that give extra room when you're not in the shower. Departure from Venice was very unpleasant. You have to walk, dragging your luggage from the people mover to the ship. Thank goodness it wasn't raining! It's about one mile... honestly a mile. Regarding the food I always found something I liked. The "Ethnic" corner was a go to place to tasty dishes at lunch time. At breakfast, it's basic. There wasn't any fresh pineapple, and there were canned fruits everyday. And, someone has got to tell the chef that both baked beans and baked apples actually need to be baked! In both cases they were passed by the front of an oven. Dinner upstairs in the buffet is basically the same every day with really minor changes. MSC wants you in the dining room. Many passengers were upset that MSC canceled a scheduled stop in Nassau so they could have a publicity stunt with Fiat 500 cars, and have a travel agent inspection day. There was typical MSC confusion (everything goes to Sorrento, to Geneva, back to Sorrento, to Miami, and then back to Sorrento all over again) regarding the canceled day. Some passengers got off, some didn't. Everything was last minute and completely confused. But, MSC saved the worst until the last minute. After the big good-bye production on stage, after the helicopters in Miami, and after we filled out the questionnaires, MSC forgot to offload the luggage... Yes, that's right, they didn't have the luggage on the dock, it was all still on the ship in the morning. There was chaos in the luggage hall. People standing around, no luggage. Local staff could only say that they had never seen anything like this. Absolutely NO MSC staff anywhere! Luggage was coming out with all the colors on all of the carousels. People who got off first were still waiting for their luggage THREE HOURS LATER. And, I might add that's three hours of STANDING AND WAITING, for their luggage since there was no place to sit. Some passengers were telling local staff that MSC could send their luggage since they were not going to miss their flight. I waited over two hours for my luggage, which came off on the wrong carousel. I like MSC but this certainly left a very bad impression. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Divina...November 2-20....Trans Atlantic...Venice to Miami This was our second cruise with MSC....first one a 14 day New England to Quebec City...and this one an 18 day repositioning from Venice to Miami.....right off I must say that ... Read More
Divina...November 2-20....Trans Atlantic...Venice to Miami This was our second cruise with MSC....first one a 14 day New England to Quebec City...and this one an 18 day repositioning from Venice to Miami.....right off I must say that “we WOULD sail again with MSC ”..that statement is for those who think that any sort of criticism is bad-mouthing the company and its ships.... We had just finished two 7 day B2B’s on the Splendour of the Seas...RCCL around Greece, Croatia and Turkey....that ended on Nov 2 so had fresh memories to compare things between RCCL and MSC....it was our first time on RCCL The Ship and Demographics..... The ship was almost sold out....apparently it had been heavily marketed in Europe and Turkey for a cruise with air package.....so according to the front desk and CD there were over 900 Swiss/Germans and 700 Turks and the rest from all over Europe and Britain....a minority were the 100 Canadians...most from a package from Sunquest...200 or so from Australia...a package with air and Las Vegas...their package was interesting as it included the 7 days before this cruise, the 18 days and then the 3 day intro with all the travel agents from USA..... and lastly perhaps 75 from USA...(an Australian review would be very interesting to read as it would highlight three different cruises on the same ship) The ship is beautiful and fairly well laid out.... deck #7 allows you to go from one end of the ship from the Black and White Lounge area in the aft to the Theatre at the bow....the others go part way so you have to go up or down stairs to deck 7....there was no way to go to the bow of the ship outside unless you were a Yacht Club customer...this is kind of a negative as it is nice to go to the bow area ......the ship is spotless and well maintained....could not believe the number of crew members we saw cleaning all times of the day and night....they also appreciated a comment that showed some interest in what they were doing...ie vacuuming, polishing, cleaning windows...etc....the bars and lounges were well designed and packed at night with lots of entertainment....each lounge had a band or singer night after night for listening pleasure and dancing if you wanted.....there were 17 of them.....probably too many but with 4000 passengers you have to have places to go at night......pools in the day were crowded as the weather was hot and sunny....far too many people would get up early...stake out their loungers, put out their orange towels and leave....and come back hrs later... it was like a contest to get the best positions...for 18 days the same people were in the same spots....the pools were nice and warm and filled with salt water....after the whole day of use the water was not as clear as in the AM....suggestion is to change some of the water as the day goes on.......currency on board was in US$....which came into effect the day we boarded...so some strain on the staff to adjust so fast....casino went from Euro to $ also....some machines still had the Euro symbols....a fun place but we thought the slots were tight......gratuities were the least expensive at $8 per day....we had a Cruise Critic group and had some meetings...if you do some digging you can find comments about that process.....Andre, the new Assistant Cruise Director attended the meetings and was very candid....which was a good thing.... Ports... Venice, Malta, Malaga, Madeira, St Maarten, St Thomas, San Juan, Puerto Rico and supposedly (Nassau) which was exchanged for an extra day in Miami....we loved all of them....sunshine, hot, and interesting places, easy to move about and sightsee....our favourite was probably Madeira....beautiful location...did the Hop–on, Hop-off bus for an overview of the area, the gondola up the Monte, then lunch and a leisurely walk about the main part of town and back to the ship.....never took a ship tour in any of the ports as we did our own thing which was very easy...most of these ports you could just walk off the ship and were right in the middle of things..... Cabin We had an aft balcony cabin....11266....quite large, full sized couch, queen bed, flat screen 24”, desk area, fridge....(mini bar), nice sized bathroom with glass/plastic doors for shower, robes, two large closets, balcony with two loungers, two chairs and a table.....excellent to while away the 18 days.....cabin steward gave great service and did little extras for us....we liked chatting to him and he appreciated it....we kept getting fruit bowls...who knows from where as there never was a note....there was a slight problem with the balcony...if you do some research you can find out why as it was under the aft pool.....there was hardly any rumble from the engines.....so fairly quiet........and no loud neighbours......sometimes smelled smoke in the hallways but apparently some nationalities were not told about the new smoking rules....signs for no smoking showed up on the balcony door two days before the cruise ended....... Dining We had fixed seating at 6pm (don’t like to wait until 8:30) in the Black Crab....deck 6....table for 6 by a window in the port aft section of the restaurant.....great table mates.....two from Belgium and two from Ontario....looked forward to going to dinner each night as had so many nice chats and laughs....sometimes this makes the cruise in our opinion.......our waiter and assistant were fantastic.....after a few days the wine, water, bread, etc was always waiting for us when we arrived......service was off and on but no fault of the waiters....it was due to back-ups and problems in the kitchen, new menus and new ways of doing things......ice water was available at the table (something new).....as we were from NA we had free vouchers for bottled water, gas or no gas....so we used them up....a nice perk...(at $3.25 natural or $4.75 for San Pelligrino) ..and shared the water with our new friends from Belgium....they thought that was great.....we had the NA wine package of 7 bottles for $85....very nice house wine.....Trebiano Rubicon and Grillo Tratt....both white.....(there are also two reds and one rose to choose from )...buy before you go on the cruise and save the service charge....also had the NA beer package at $52 for 14 bottles or cans... had the odd MGD 16oz...cost at $5 each in the bars and restaurants....Food....well that is always subjective.....in our humble opinion it was fine....when compared to RCCL which we had just come off for 14 days, we felt the food and variety was better on MSC....you could have 5 or more courses each night.....appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, mains, dessert.....who would starve?....food preparation was usually good but you could never tell....if we did not like it just asked for another course and got it really fast.....gelatto was always available for dessert so would usually order a dessert and gelato....super......beef could be ordered by cooking style now....rare, med-rare, etc....previously you could not do that.....and cuts were thicker.....had lobster one gala dinner....nice and ordered the steak also to go with it......delicious....we never starved.....Breakfast in the buffet was hectic but lots of choice.....however, the stations never changed for the whole cruise.....major problem was that fresh fruit was only at the front station which was quite the hike from the back of the buffet...... better to have a quiet breakfast in the dining room.....service was fast.......Lunch in the buffet....again hectic....and repetitive.....we started eating in the dining room as was more civilized......most stations had the same stuff day after day....there was an ethnic station and things did change there..... salad was only in the front station....again a major flaw in the design.....they should have had a mirrored design front and back....would clear up many problems as most people were rushing back and forth.....so for 18 days all was fine....the staff tried hard with all the new menus and serving style....and yes....we had coffee each night with our dessert....waiters got into the flow and got the coffee cups ready as dessert was served....never went to the pay eating venues...mostly they were empty....MSC never had any outside eating areas or barbecue which was too bad as the weather was great each day....perhaps they will do that later on the Caribbean cruises.... Entertainment I think the shows were geared to an audience that speaks different languages.... hence no comedians, English production shows etc......mainly impressive visual shows, dancing, acrobatics, juggling, physical stunts etc. with names such as “Billy Bones”, “Wonderland”, “Mime Mix”, “Il Sole Mio”, “Elvis Tribute”, “Starwalker”, “The Best Of”, “Frank Sinatra” ...some were loud and impressive with costumes and activities.....the best one that we liked was “Starwalker” which was a take on Michael Jackson music and dancing.....the theatre holds 1670 people on three levels.....so really no problem getting a seat....arrived sometimes 5 minutes before the show at 9pm.....they did two shows usually, one for late seating and one for early seating.....Introductions by the CD took forever as they repeated things in 5 languages and then sometimes 6 for all the Turks.....I wonder if they will just stick to English for the Caribbean ones. The Black and White lounge was the hub of activity after the shows....with the Entertainment/Animation crew doing their stunts.....each bar also had music...really liked the couple that sang in “La Luna”.....Shops and Shopping......lots of them...most we have ever seen on a ship.....even a candy store.....final thoughts....well for five days in a row we also had “Opera Shows”....good for some but the theatre was half empty....and the big production shows had the same stunts but with different music and costumes.....so lost some of the thrill after seeing the same thing over and over.....as there was no TV for several days there was no entertainment or news in our staterooms...some problem due to the change-over of satellite feed from Europe to North America...should have been addressed sooner than it was On/Off Great embarking in Venice....dropped off our tagged luggage and checked in....on ship in probably 15 minutes....MSC had this port down pat.....Miami....well another story.....perhaps there were problems as it was the first time...but....we were to be off the ship at 8:45 to pick up luggage but were still waiting for it 2 and half hrs later.....lots and lots of unhappy customers missing planes etc.....major concern....did not see one MSC officer trying to help out and explain the problems...I think they were getting ready to have the 3 days of Travel Agents aboard..... .....only people about were the Port of Miami helpers and employees...mainly women.... and I felt sorry for them...they did their best Summary We had a good cruise....great dinner mates, nice table location, good wine, fantastic weather for 18 days, interesting ports of call, and a new, well looked after ship.....and the food...well no one would starve....there was always something to eat and if it was not what you expected or felt was not up to snuff, just order another dish......and excellent service from our waiters and cabin steward.....what can you want! Sure there were minor/major glitches depending on your point of view...organizational skills of the senior management, luggage problems, lack of information, having to call 4 different head offices before someone could make a decision, chaos at the buffet at times, loud multi-language announcements, few English books in the library, pool lounger hogs, dropping Nassau without giving a reason, misinformation as no one really knew what was going on at times. All in all we will remember the great time as the positives outweighed the negatives. We hope MSC will address the issues that caused concern and upset for many of the passengers and succeed in the North American market. As a line they cannot put their image ahead of the things that most passengers expect. A case in point would be the fantastic arrival in Miami with helicopters, fireboats, “Fiats” and Diva sunglasses followed the next day by the disembarkation and luggage retrieval fiasco. That left most people with a bad taste and that was unfortunate as the last thing they remember of the cruise..... Thanks for reading....   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Divina Transatlantic cruise Venice to Miami November 2nd 2013 This was our third cruise with MSC in Twelve months and our second transatlantic, despite all the issues with MSC since booking way back in early January we had high ... Read More
Divina Transatlantic cruise Venice to Miami November 2nd 2013 This was our third cruise with MSC in Twelve months and our second transatlantic, despite all the issues with MSC since booking way back in early January we had high expectations of the Divina which is basically a stretched Musica class ship. Embarkation. We arrived at the port of Venice at around 11-45 am handed over our cases and went upstairs to find one area to our right very crowded and one to our left where people were in queues waiting for the check in desks. MSC club said that there was preferential check in at Venice for Silver, Gold and Black card members (this has now been removed from the current club member benefits) so we went over and asked one of the staff who told us it was for Gold and Black card members only, we took ourselves over to one of the information desks and asked the same question and were then lead to a separate area and were on the ship within twenty minutes. For some reason it had been decided that Credit card details would be obtained on the ship rather than at check in and it was left to passengers to go to customer service to register their card. Once again we were never required to fill in a health questionnaire. We headed up to our room which was a Balcony on the back of the ship on Deck 10, the cabin was similar to the one we had on Poesia the year before but slightly larger with a Balcony of some Fourteen feet in length that contained two chairs and a table as well as two sun loungers, the bathroom has two opening doors to the shower rather than a curtain which was great. Wardrobe space again was similar to Poesia with a three-door robe one containing the safe and draw storage space; there is also a 2 drawer bedside cabinet on each side of the bed and two on the vanity unit. The Fridge is also housed in this unit with the TV and a shelf above. The furniture is a dark walnut colour whereas the Poesia had been a much lighter material, we found the bedside lamps were a little to dull for reading with the main lights switched off. Red carpet and Bed headboard covering and two large mirrors, table and two seat settee completed the room. Our cabin was looked after by Nengah, who did a great job and left a note for me on my Birthday this was unexpected, and a really nice gesture. We headed up to the buffet for lunch having left our carry on cases in the cabin, after around twenty minutes there was a total loss of power for around five minutes, we have no idea as to why or if it was only the buffet that was affected. A problem with Deck 12,11 and 10 balconies is that when they wash the large panoramic windows of the back of the buffet on deck 14 these balconies get the water from it so every morning the balcony was wet and stayed that way until the room was cleaned, a further problem is that if they overfill the aft Infinity pool and forget to drain it back before leaving port these three decks get soaked as the ship makes its turns which is due to the water escaping from the contained area One of the White shirted crew/officers came to check out the problem and confirmed the water was from the pool but it was never cleared away, a possible design flaw, others on these decks also had to ring customer service about the water issue. The sliding doors to the balcony cannot be latched while out on the balcony which means that if the ship is rolling from side to side the door slides open and closed with quite a thud, dangerous if you happen to be going in or out and are caught unawares. For a somewhat new ship this area suffers from a lot of vibration during ship maneuvers being above the propellers and even small sea swells made the rolling of the ship worse, Divina rolls around quite a lot more than a big ship should do and this was noticeable in other parts of the ship. The sign that tells you that you cannot smoke in the cabin was hidden behind the curtain on the fixed pain of glass, about halfway through the cruise it was moved to the sliding panel after complaints about people smoking on their balconies. The meet and greets for the roll call were arranged by Ken who worked hard on arranging them and were somewhat interesting and a disappointment, the first one for thirty minutes was attended by Andre who was the new cruise director who was shadowing Maddie who was to leave the cruise once in Miami, I think Andre was taken by surprise at the comments being made. Only water was provided at the meeting. A second meeting was arranged so that people on the roll call could meet and talk to each other due to the short time of the first one, sadly this clashed with the re arranged time of the world quiz for us, and again I believe no refreshments were provided. Andre once again attended a third meeting and gave us an insight into how MSC intended to move forward in the Caribbean, the disappointment comes in because there were a host of senior MSC management people on the ship by this time and not one of them could be bothered to grace us with their presence nor any of the ships officers! Once again only water was provided. We have heard it said before that MSC need to stop thinking of their passengers as Cargo. Our thoughts on the Divina … The Divina is a nice very clean big ship but with small areas and what seems to be less space than on the Poesia and it does have some annoying design traits, the Villa Rossa dining room is located on Deck Six at the back of the ship and can only be accessed by Lift or by stairs from Deck Seven, to go from Villa Rossa to say Deck Five you have to go up and across Deck Seven and then down again. The Atrium of Divina is possibly the best part of the ship in our opinion and looks great and it also looks like where most of the money was spent, especially the staircases. Public toilets have no Hot water! And most have just two toilets in them, there also appeared to be a lack of them around or close to the Aqua Park. Pools are Salt water as is the water slide, the Spa area is nice and the staff always greeted you with a smile, you need to watch you do not walk into the tall mirrored glass that are next to the walkway to the sauna, changing rooms and steam rooms which were free to use on this cruise unlike on Poesia last year. At the bars we had no problem getting drinks although on busy nights in some it can get a little slow with not enough servers. The Jazz bar colour looks as though it has been imported from Costa and is not the usual MSC style, this bar is the only way to go forward to the theatre on this deck even if you come through the sports bar and many times people were walking past right in front of the singers despite the main route being to the left. There are two rows of three glass mirrors on each side prior to the buffet entry when coming from the lifts on Deck 14, no idea what the reason is for this although the theme of mirrors was replicated all over the ship especially on the staircases. The Buffet design although light and airy also suffers from lack of walking space between the tables and the food areas, with two of the beverage areas in the worst place possible next to a door leading to and from the kitchen. If you want salad be prepared to walk from one side to the other to get all you need unless you get the prepared stuff in a bowl from near the bar at the main entrance. At the back of the buffet opposite the bar are some bench seats that are not fixed down, be prepared to get stuck in there as we saw one guy did and could only get out when one waiter forcefully pushed the bench away after the people on the other side refused to moved despite being asked by the waiter his wife and four of us sat close by. Also be aware of the small kids food area with its little plastic railing and entrance frame which one man walked into and knocked over! Not quite sure why he was in the kids food area. Despite information to the contrary there were some people who still went into the buffet in swimwear and bathrobes! Hot water for Tea and Coffee is stored in containers and ran out on numerous occasions so you had to wait for a member of staff to change them over or go elsewhere, not sure why they do not have them plumbed in as some other ships are. The only passageway between the Black and White lounge on Deck Seven to the Theatre without going outside onto the Deck 7 boat deck has the photo shop and cruise pictures which means there is always a bottleneck of people coming from First dinner seating and the Black and White lounge to the theatre going against those heading to Second sitting dinner or coming from the theatre or other bars. The boat deck may well be a spoiler for some people because apart from a few small areas forward and aft of the lifeboats you cannot stand at the side rail and gaze out to sea due to the design of the lifeboat stowage. There is very little deck space between the pool and the small stage used by the Animation team and for those doing the dance exercises which means you have people dancing in between the sun beds around you. On Deck 15 there is very little room between the two rows of sun beds in many areas and people are constantly falling over them or kicking them as they go by, this area is also used by those jogging or walking. We did not have any problems finding a sun bed during the whole cruise. The Black and White lounge is the biggest lounge on the ship but is way too small for the number of people who wanted to use it and also had a lack of seating, it also possibly has the most uncomfortable and worst seats of the whole ship. The theatre is a mix of Red seating and Silver paneling and poor lighting on the stage that made it difficult at times to see what was going on during the shows some of which were the same ones from the year previous on Poesia. On the nights we visited the theatre it was never full. Anyone hoping to get to the front of the Divina for a view will be disappointed as this space is taken up by the Yacht club which houses around 4% of guests on the whole ship. Shops … The ship has the usual range of shops like the Logo shop, wristwatches and sunglasses, jewelery, handbags and duty free. The Disco appeared to be very under utilized in the evenings on this crossing, maybe it will get more use in the Caribbean. Food … This is always a difficult one because what one person likes another one may hate, the buffet food was the same as the previous years repo cruise on Poesia and at times lacked taste and was quite bland, the new size burgers were just meat and no flavour. Offerings for sweets at lunch and dinner were the same for the whole 18 days of the cruise and very unimaginative. The breakfast smoothies were one of the things to look forward to with Mango and Strawberry being our two favourites. Look out for Jennifer at breakfast who will have you one there in no time and they are best mixed by Kevin behind the bar. The Dining room on the first night was late for second sitting with people going in at 9-30 instead of 9 pm and at 9 pm the next night instead of 8-30 but the following nights seemed to sort themselves out at 8-30. Food in the evening also suffered from up and down syndrome, one-day good the next poor with the odd really good one thrown in, there appeared to be a problem of consistency from night to night. Of the Four Gala nights again it was a case of 1 really good, 1 not bad and 2 poor. Towards the last five nights the Dining room was maybe only half full. Tables in the Villa Rossa dining room were mainly for between 6 and 8 people and it seemed that there were not enough tables for two people. The Majority of people seemed to observe the dress code in the Dining room especially on Gala nights. The Cold fruit soups were once again one of the best foods served. Lamb shank one night was a big order by many in both the Black Crab and Villa Rossa; it was also possibly the most returned or left meal due to the meat being tough. The Duck that night also suffered the same fate although later in the cruise the Duck a`lorange was possibly one of the best meals of the cruise. The steaks went from wafer thin to be replaced mid cruise by decent thick tasty ones although we are still baffled as to how one arrived part well done and part pink inside! The after dinner sweets were again somewhat lackluster and on a few occasions we headed to the Café Del Doge for the better tasting offerings though there is a charge. Iced water was served from jugs without being asked for and coffee was available after dinner for those who wanted it. There were complaints of slow service in some areas of the dining rooms which may have been down to the fact that one kitchen serves one deck of the Black Crab dining room while the other one served the Villa Rossa and the other floor of the Black Crab, it may also be because the assistant waiters are away getting drinks while the waiters are busy doing everything else. Smoking is allowed on Deck 14 on the port side where you come out of the buffet and the bar with the Gelato is also on this side! A bad move in our opinion by MSC, they should have moved the smokers over to the other side. Entertainment... Many of the staff are from Poesia and have worked the Caribbean before, the Animation team lead by Claudio (ex Poesia) with Brendan, Zac, Yves, Sean, Adam, Julio and the others work their backsides off to get people involved in the games but were it seems handicapped by management on this cruise for some reason in the Black and White lounge in the evenings. The main band (ex Poesia) also seemed to have their hands tied singing the same set in the same order almost every night in the Black and White lounge where 95% of entertainment was dancing. It would be helpful if before they cruised MSC advised guests that there are to be theme nights on their cruise, Divina had a White party but had to be cancelled on the outside deck due to rain, a smaller version took place inside. Then there was a /60`s/ 70`s/80`s night which was the actual dress code for that night along with a Carnival and Red White and Green night. There were Four Gala nights onboard, Two casual, a 60/70/80`s, Green White and Red, Carnival, Casual or White and Eight Informal. The water slide was available for anyone to use despite a sign saying teens only and we made full use of it on a few days, the 4D cinema was good though a cost is incurred of $7 per film, the F1 racing simulator costs $9 a go, the Shuffleboard court yes just the one is virtually unusable when there are sun beds on either side and also the entry canopy to the Top 18 solarium ($10 a day for a sun bed) at one end. Surely someone must have noticed the issue of putting the court there? During the Five day sea crossing with no satellite signal MSC announced that the pay films would be available for Free, what they failed to say was the system was only able to accommodate 500 TV’s and each day the system crashed. They were upgrading the system with the new TV programmes as we sailed to Miami from San Juan that meant a visit to every TV on the ship to re programme them all. Cruise cards seemed to be a problem this year for some reason and between us we had them replaced 11 times for various reasons including bar machines not reading them and failing to open the cabin door, plus the original ones not having the drink package code on them. Other people we knew onboard had similar issues with their cards. Customer Service Desk … Very helpful staff although it did take Four visits over Six days to get the first days bar charges taken off our account due to not having the drink package code on our original sea pass cards. Ports Visited … Malta way too short only around Five hours, Malaga 5 1/2 hours, Madeira Full day, St Maarten Full day, St Thomas Full day for some due to US immigration, San Juan Full day. Getting off the ship at a few of the ports was a scrum at times because only one exit was used which was off the Atrium and having so many people in such a small space looked like disorganised chaos. Cruise highlights … The Ports visited, the best theatre show that we saw was Wonderland. Meeting many of the crew from the Poesia again especially Wayan our waiter from last year, Claudio from the Animation team, Sylvia in the Bacco bar and all the others. Meeting those roll call members we had chance to along with many others, taking part in the various quiz rounds and games. Visiting the two remaining ports on the itinerary that we had not been to, a visit to the everglades and our two days/nights in Miami despite the storm on the last night, meeting Police Officer Sergeant Bello of the Miami Beach police department who was one of the officers keeping an eye on the two buildings being built on South beach for an Art exhibition. Cruise Lows … The big one of losing a port day and arriving a day early in Miami for an advertising day by MSC just so the Divina could be the only ship in port on the 19th of November! Not what we paid for and being fed a constant stream of excuses as to why it was being done, the worst of all making out that it was so passengers could enjoy an “Exciting” day in Miami! Many of who had already made plans to stay for 2 or more days already. Plus there were people on the ship who live in Miami and Florida. Some Theatre shows were the same as the Poesia repo cruise last year but with different singers and dancers who were not as good, very much the same menu and food as last year with a few changes. The Captain and Hotel Manager were also from the Poesia along with Cruise Director Maddie. Disembarkation … We were told by staff that around 1500 passengers got off the ship on the 19th rather than stay on an extra night. You have to vacate the cabin by 7am. We will never understand the Italian way of organization of sending people to the farthest point when there is a shorter route, being on the back of the ship our allocated lounge was the theatre! We queued at the gangway exit for around Thirty minutes during which point people were told that there was an issue with the elevated walkway! The very same one that had been used all the previous day and night and was being used by the people in front of us who had already left the ship. The real reason was the slow baggage handling that was going on down below us, have these people learned nothing ? Tell people the Truth of what is happening and stop making up stories in order to cover up the problems. Having left the ship with other people we had sailed with last year we headed to the baggage claim area which was three halls with a conveyor belt unlike most other places we had been to where cases are stored in their respective colours tag wise and you go and collect them. The bags came through very slow and we waited around sixty minutes for ours, one German man had been waiting over two hours! Others waited longer. Conclusions … We would count ourselves as liking big ships over small ones having sailed the Oasis, Mariner of the seas and Ruby Princess and while many people will like Divina for various reasons we cannot see ourselves traveling on any of the other three Fantasia class ships of MSC. One reason being that there is no access to the front of the ship other than for those staying in the Yacht club. The Musica class of which Poesia belongs in our opinion has more wow factor than the Divina and has better-allocated space; any future cruises with MSC will likely be on this class of ship. To quote one lady who has been on all the MSC class of ships including twice on Divina, “Divina is all show and no substance” her preferred ship is the Sinfonia. Any cruise day at sea is always better than a day at work and some cruises are more memorable than others, sadly this cruise will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. After three cruises we are able to say that MSC although only being Twelve years old and young in terms of cruising compared to the likes of Carnival etc have a good product but it is let down by inconsistency in food in various areas and poor management especially those of the land based operations.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I cannot believe the moans I have encountered during this cruise and some of the ridiculously negative reviews I have read upon returning . Facts the ship is beautiful the staff that I encountered were all very nice people yes some of the ... Read More
I cannot believe the moans I have encountered during this cruise and some of the ridiculously negative reviews I have read upon returning . Facts the ship is beautiful the staff that I encountered were all very nice people yes some of the food could have been better, particularly in the main restaurant and if i put my mind to it I could find little things to nit-pick on about. it seemed to me that throughout this cruise many people spent the holiday in some sort of weird competition to see who could gather the most negative notes instead of actually enjoying their surroundings and their holiday. I believe ,though I may be wrong, that most of the passengers on this ship got a very good deal on the price of the cruise in fact i doubt if they could have stayed in a travelodge for the price per night equivalent. However despite that I heard complaints about the staff not being able to speak "proper english", "too many foreingers on board" and many more unbelievable statements. The ship is international I am ashamed that I have never bothered to learn another language and certainly do not expect my waiter and cabin steward to speak half a dozen languages fluently In fact if they could I think they would be looking for a better job! I met some lovely people from all corners of the world on this cruise and enjoyed every minute of their company. A smile speaks a thousand words. I have cruised with most of the major lines RCCL, HAL,Celebrity ,NCL etc and I could have pointed out faults with them all if scrutinised enough. I have had great food with RCCL on some of their ships and mediocre food on some of their ships ...it depends entirely on the guy who is running the kitchen. I never felt under pressure to purchase anything on this ship whereas on my last few cruises with the other lines I was sick of the hard sell mentality on-board. I would personally like to thank MSC for a lovely holiday. I was travelling solo and am grateful that MSC offer such great deals on solo occupancy of cabins I would have no hesitation on cruising with them again . Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My parents and i were on a 9 week holiday from Australia and we were traveling with 5 other people. We had already done a 14 night Adriatic/ Greek island cruise on ncl Jade a week earlier. I was really looking forward to sailing on MSC as ... Read More
My parents and i were on a 9 week holiday from Australia and we were traveling with 5 other people. We had already done a 14 night Adriatic/ Greek island cruise on ncl Jade a week earlier. I was really looking forward to sailing on MSC as i had already seen footage on you tube of how beautiful it was. We organized a private taxi to drop us at the terminal and we when we arrived the staff were at the waters edge ready to take all bags off us which was awesome as with ncl we had to take them ourselves. Check in was fairly smooth and fast. My first impression when boarding the was OMG! This ship is absolutely beautiful and anybody who says otherwise is kidding themselves. The bars are all beautiful as are the eating areas. I really enjoyed the pools and the gym as well. I had my own cabin on board and it was an outside cabin on the 5 level. It was beautiful and massive. I have never seen a cabin this big and i had it all to myself. My parents had a balcony cabin although it wasn't as big as mine it was still very nice. My cabin steward was very friendly and always made the effort help anyway he could. My parents girl was also lovely. We ate in the Villa Rosa every night except for 1 when we went to Eataly. We had the late seating which we find a lot better than the early. The first night was a schmozzle. Instead of eating at 830 we didn't get in till 930. There was a lot of new staff that started that day as it was embarking on the transatlantic cruise to America. We understood that there was going to be a few hiccups so that didn't really bother us. What did bother us was the attitude of the 1st seating, some of them just blatantly refused to hurry and leave even when it was 930. We had excellent waiters on our trip. Their names were Frankie and Kurniwan. They always had our drinks waiting and always had a joke with us even if they didn't quite get the Australian sense of humor. I found the food every night beautiful. My parents and their friends often sat at the bar on the 7th floor near the atrium. The drinks waiter Darwin and Sevastina were great. Always having a joke and being funny. i found all the staff on Divina although run off the feet with obvious cut backs on staff to be very friendly and attentive. I enjoyed the food in the buffet, however made to order omlettes should be a must on cruise ships so i was definitely disappointed with that. the dessert in the buffet were awesome. Now for some negatives. My two main complaints were HANDWASHING and entertainment in the bars. In regards to these i did make complaints while i was on board and did have a meeting with the pursers about this. In all restaurants and bars there are the dispensers for people to wash their hands however people would just walked past them and not use them which really pissed me off. As much as i don't want to say it, it was mostly Europeans that didn't use them and as you can imagine it was a majority of Europeans on board. How there wasn't an outbreak of gastro ill never know. All i ask is for someone to be stationed at least at the main dining rooms and buffet and spray peoples hands as the go in. Ncl do this on all their ships so i know it can be done. Entertainment was very boring. The stage shows were great but in the bars not so much. A lady and her husband in the back bar were quite good but opera and violins every night is really annoying. Don't get me wrong they are good at what they do but when you are in the Caribbean its not something you want to hear every night. Music around the pool was non existent and there were no sail away parties. It was quite sad when you were in the Caribbean and you could hear the music on the other ships and nothing on ours. I saw the cruise directors and asked them one night why there was nothing on and happening and they said the get too manly complaints from the Europeans about loud music. I told them you do realize that you are going to the Caribbean and going to be going out of Miami all the time which means Americans, Canadians, Australians and British to name a few will not stand for boring cruises in the Caribbean They want Fun, upbeat cruises. As this cruise was about 6 months ago i understand that things may have gotten better which i really hope they have as it is a beautiful ship and the staff were amazing. The staff and the ship are why i will cruise Msc cruise Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was the maiden voyage of the Divina from Venice to Miami, 18 days aboard luxury. Well this was our third Cruise with MSC,and upon walking aboard at Venice, we were pleasantly amazed. We check internet rates,Repositioning cruises ... Read More
This was the maiden voyage of the Divina from Venice to Miami, 18 days aboard luxury. Well this was our third Cruise with MSC,and upon walking aboard at Venice, we were pleasantly amazed. We check internet rates,Repositioning cruises and do a lot of trolling cruise lines before deciding,but have found MSC have certainly upped their game since our first cruise on the Armonia. The Divina is in a class of it's own. We were originally a bit hesitant about being so low down on deck 5, but this turned out to be one of the best decks to be on. Ok if you have plenty of money and are wanting a balcony or suite,but we just like an outside room so we can see arrivals in ports, and apart from that,who wants to spend all their days cooped up in their cabin anyway We arrived at the port at about 2pm and were straight on Board and enjoying our first drinks within the hour. The terminal at Venice is very comfortable, and the processing speedy. Train takes you from the bus terminal to the berth. The Divina is a fantastic ship,as soon as you step aboard she has you memorised.and although we were a little concerned about being on a ship with over 4,000 passengers,we did not feel crowded at all.You were meeting new people each day that were elsewhere on the ship that you had not disovered. With the Divina, what we had an exceptional crew.A lot of the staff are from Bali and have the spirit and friendlyness of Indonesia,but they are worked hard for the money they get and are treated poorly by those in authoritve roles.This is why I asked to have my gratuities rescinded so I could pay those who made my trip worthwhile rather than the money go into the big pot and those at the top taking the cream. We had exceptional service from the bar persons and waitresses,always smiling, and as I have certain alergies to certain foods,the The assistant Maitre D’ checked my choices every night, and bought a menu for the following night so I could choose. The helpfulness and personal touch certainly made our trip a memorable one. Food in the dining rooms was a let down,maybe because we had had such good meals on the last cruises made us more critical,but one night we had lamb,which was sent back by the majority of those who were served it. the meals lacked variety.Chef needs a wake up call. But saying that, the buffet meals were varied and plentyful,although we only discovered the different selections on going to other parts of the massive self serve areas there was Chinese,Italian,Indian,Greek,vegetarian etc. We booked the Allegrissimo drinks package at $44 per person per day,and although expensive due to the fact my wife did not drink that much,and you had to have two per cabin. But, it was nice not to have to worry about how much it was going to cost for every drink, and there were nice wines for the evening meals as well. One did not have to worry about the 15% surcharge per drink,and speciality coffees were included. Being in the center of the ship has it's advantages,less rocking,and when we boarded it was only a short walk to our cabin. The Autrium rose up 9 floors and along with piano playing and the bars dotted around, this became quite a focal point for people to meet. tt was nice after an evening meal to congregate and indulge in a cocktail or two before retiring. There were several bars and entertainment areas around the ship to suit all tastes. We agree that the entertainment was absolutely first rate! The shows that they put on were well done, but they had a fasination with violin players,and going by the lack of patronage,it should have signalled that the customers wanted more shows and variety. A bit more of the singers and a Italian opera would have gone down better. Those that they did,were well attended. The one annoying aspect we found on the poolside,was the continued showing of MSC propoganda on the big screen,day in day out.It would have been nice to maybe have scenes from the previous days entertainment on board or movies at night . One let down was lack of buses when the ships hit a port,one would think that the companies plying the tourists would be well prepared and lay on extra services to accommodate the crowds. We really felt we were treated to a holiday and despite our misgivings of last cruises would happily sail with MSC again. One good thing is they look after repeat customers,with discounts for future travel. In fact we are booked to go on our next cruise in November on the Orchestra Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Just back after an amazing 16 nights on this beautiful ship. From the minute I walked onto the ship until it was time to leave, I was blown away with the whole experience. The layout of the ship with all the different bars and lounges is ... Read More
Just back after an amazing 16 nights on this beautiful ship. From the minute I walked onto the ship until it was time to leave, I was blown away with the whole experience. The layout of the ship with all the different bars and lounges is different to any other ship I have cruised on. First time in a balcony cabin, so nothing to compare with. I had a huge double bed and a 2 seater settee as well as a nice size balcony with chairs and table. Nice size bathroom and good shower space. If you don't like to walk far from the lifts this cabin is ideal as it is directly opposite the lifts and stairwells.  Overall very impressed with the room. I thought the shows in the theatre were of a high standard, and were appreciated by the multi national audiences. The entertainment team for me were the best I have ever seen, and I had the most fun ever on a cruise. If I had to find a fault, it was the dining room. I love my food, but to sit through a 4 course meal and still be hungry is not very good. The main course portions were to small, like a slice of meat,1 potato and maybe 6 slices of carrot After 6 nights I went up to the buffet for dinner every night. The all day buffet had the best selection of any cruise line I have sailed on. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This cruise began in Genoa, visiting Barcelona, Lisbon, Tenerife and Lanzarote before cruising the South Atlantic to Brazil visiting Salvador, Buzios and Santos where we were bussed to Sao Paulo for the long flight home with British ... Read More
This cruise began in Genoa, visiting Barcelona, Lisbon, Tenerife and Lanzarote before cruising the South Atlantic to Brazil visiting Salvador, Buzios and Santos where we were bussed to Sao Paulo for the long flight home with British Airways. The weather was very kind to us and, especially during the 6 day cruise from Tenerife to Brazil, was hot and sunny. The Preziosa is a new ship. MSC take great care of all their ships in my experience and I expect the Preziosa to look new for a very long time. A large proportion of the ships staff were either Brazilian or Indonesian (eg Balinese) and at mealtimes their cheerful efficiency was always something to look forward to. Similarly the friendly welcome or farewell on entering or leaving the restaurant. I cannot agree with a previous comment about the quantity of food in the two main restaurants. I frequently limited my choice to two items from the extensive menu in the hope of controlling any weight increase. In my experience more is usually available if required - and if a dish is not as expected it will be quickly changed. Apparently a journalist has voted MSC ice cream ''the best at sea'' - fair comment, and I would add to that their freshly baked bread. I had a balcony cabin. The bed was very comfortable - also MSC have heeded criticism of flat pillows - mine were ' standard English' ! Unlike a recent cruise on another well known line, I never had to fetch my own drinks (and still pay the 15% service charge). There were always young waiters or waitresses ready to give their attention. There are numerous bars and the main piano bar was very popular for cocktails etc before dinner. I have always enjoyed the entertainment provided by MSC on whichever ship I have been on - the shows are short but often quite spectacular. However on this cruise I felt irritated by long multi lingual announcements prior to the show (more than ten minutes on one occassion) containing unimportant information. An exception perhaps not to be repeated ? We are fond of saying "you only get what you pay for". Although I have been on about six MSC cruises, this is the first I have written about. On this cruise and each of the others I feel I have had much more than I have paid for.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Outstanding combination of European and Brazilian ports punctuated by a five day calm Transatlantic crossing was the initial attraction - the value for money pricing was a further benefit. Organisation from embarkation to disembarkation, ... Read More
Outstanding combination of European and Brazilian ports punctuated by a five day calm Transatlantic crossing was the initial attraction - the value for money pricing was a further benefit. Organisation from embarkation to disembarkation, tendering and service throughout the ship exceeded expectations. Food in the dinning rooms was average but the self serve offering were wide ranging, innovative, fresh and tasty. The coffee served at the bars ( modest charge) was made by well trained baristas who delivered a high quality product. The wide range of nationalities amongst both the crew and passenger list was a positive. Public announcements were made in six languages and were kept to a minimum. Whilst the large capacity of the ship meant the inevitable crowding in some instances there was plenty of opportunity to find a quiet corner to read or relax in peace. Having cruised on a variety of ships in the past this experience was thoroughly positive and superb value for money. Very comfortable mid ships balcony cabin with good storage and all facilities in working order. Comfortable bed, constant water temp. in shower without the annoying fluctuations experienced on many other ships. Air conditioning controls operated effectively even after long periods of the balcony door being open. Quality towels changed daily. Position convenient for mid ships pool and self serve dinning up one set of stairs - excellent for uncrowded early morning swim and breakfast on deck. I have no hesitation in recommending to people who want a comfortable and interesting voyage and who understand that big ships can have drawbacks but these can be overcome with ingenuity and a positive frame of mind. A well fitted out and maintained balcony cabin makes a big difference in this regard. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I was astounded to read that MSC have only a 54% passenger satisfaction rating, so was apprehensive when I booked an outside balcony cabin for a 17 night Transatlantic cruise for the bargain price of just £770. My wife and I have cruised ... Read More
I was astounded to read that MSC have only a 54% passenger satisfaction rating, so was apprehensive when I booked an outside balcony cabin for a 17 night Transatlantic cruise for the bargain price of just £770. My wife and I have cruised twice with P&O who set the bar very high, but we were not disappointed. On the contrary, the MSC experience was better in almost every way. We bought a cruise-only package and flew to the embarkation port of Genoa a few days early in order to enjoy exploring the ancient Ligurian port. Our balcony cabin was a pleasant surprise and with room for a sofa it was only slightly smaller than a P&O Superior Deluxe cabin, tastefully decorated with 2 mirrors and 2 cheerfully bright, colourful prints. There was ample storage space and a decent-sized fridge but no kettle or tea/coffee making facilities. Fortunately, thanks to a review on this site we knew this so packed our old kettle. The flatscreen TV had no reception while crossing the Atlantic (unlike P&O), but a free film was available daily, or alternatively films could be viewed ‘on demand’ for € 7. I would like to see free Wi-Fi being offered aboard. However a daily newspaper could be delivered freshly printed for just €2.50 a day. We enjoyed the privacy of not having cabins overlooking our pleasant balcony, with its table and 2 chairs. Unfortunately no utility room was available with machine machines and an ironing board, and laundry cost a whopping €25 for 20 items. Almost half of the passengers were Brasilian, and 11% came from Argentina. Other nationalities included French and Germans (8% each), Swiss and Dutch 5% each, and British 4%. Tannoy announcements were kept to an absolute minimum, with the Italian captain keeping a refreshingly low profile. Two entertainment officers kept us up to speed before shows, each making announcements about upcoming events in 3 languages. No smoking is allowed on board, so smokers made a bee line for one side of the pool deck where it is permitted. There are disinfectant dispensers outside the restaurants and a very grown up attitude prevailed, with no one forcing you to use them. There is no ‘Freedom Dining’, and mercifully no so-called ‘Celebrity Chef’ restaurants. You choose whether to have dinner at 18.30 or 20.30 and are allocated a table with compatriots, in our case a table of 4. The menu was a revelation, with a wide choice of mouth-watering European fare such as outstanding risottos and a large variety of fish. Popular choices such as spaghetti with garlic and pepper were always available. The wine menu was biased towards Italy, with 11 of its 20 regions represented. We particularly enjoyed our waiter’s recommendation of white Falanghina Campi Flegrei DOC ‘Cantine Farro’ from Campania (€23). Italy does not have a tradition of serving pitchers of tap water, and the Orchestra reflected that, serving good quality San Benedetto still and sparkling mineral water. Coffee and petit fours are not included. There are a couple of pay-extra speciality restaurants aboard but we enjoyed the included restaurants so much that we never tried them. The dress code was very relaxed. British males generally lack dress sense so enjoy P&O formal nights where a dinner suit is like a universal uniform. Many passengers aboard the Orchestra did not bring a dinner suit, yet everybody looked stylish and smart on the few formal nights. The buffet restaurant was exceptional. Breakfast choices always included both oat porridge and semolina and fresh fruit such as pears and mandarins. Inexplicably bananas only appeared once, as fortunately did a batch of rotten peaches. There are no trays. You grab a large plate and help yourself. There is a good selection of teas and good Magforte Segafreddo coffee. The salad bar had an extensive selection of leaf salads and vegetables, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar a most welcome alternative to the likes of blue cheese sauce. There were slices of proper pizza, served straight from an electric oven and delicious ‘gelato’ (ice cream). Cakes were OK, but P&O wine hands down in the bakery department. In the Savannah bar seat fabric is imitation leopard skin and nouveau-riche lamps grow out of baby leopards. Yet the ship is furnished in the best possible taste, with one bar bleeding seaslessly into the next on Deck 6. Three drinks packages were offered: ‘Cheers!’ for drinks with meals (£32 for 2, including obligatory 15% service); ‘Alegrissimo’- drinks and ice creams (£45) or, for serious drinkers and alcoholics, an ‘Allegrissimo Premium’ package of drinks including champagne cocktails, whisky, brandy. Ice creams and room service. Moreover with this last £81.50 a day package you are entitled to clean out the entire contents of your cabin mini-bar every day! Yet amazingly we never saw anybody rolling around drunk and disorderly. Mercifully there were no Art sales aboard ship so no ‘limited edition’ Rolf Harris prints to peruse. Passengers enjoyed shopping for perfumes and watches from tables set up right by the pools, and here you could also watch cookery demonstrations or participate in aerobics. Alternatively you could attend a dance class downstairs. Service was universally first class, even when judged against the excellent largely Indian P&O crew. A gratuity of €12 per day was automatically added to our onboard account. MSC discourage tipping individual crew members, however we wanted to show our appreciation to our cabin steward and waiters. As soon as we boarded we bought a £205 pass entitling us both to use the saunas, steam rooms and 3 indoor jacuzzis in the Spa. The sauna was heated to only 70°C and the 2 steam rooms were on rare occasions cool and a bit draughty however the facilities were never crowded. On one occasion we enjoyed a massage in the Spa by one of the Thai masseuses. From the spa we took dips in one of the on-deck pools and we really enjoyed that they filled with sea water, with all its therapeutic benefits. There was always an animated holiday atmosphere on the pool deck, and no fights over the plentiful sunbeds. Drinks are not allowed in the magnificent large theatre and there was rarely a scramble for seats; MSC shows are short, just 35 minutes, and mostly feature lip syncing, yet the dancing was divine. However we yearned for the superb live musicians on P&O Ventura! Shows featuring acrobats and strongmen were impressive. By contrast P&O's ‘Headliners’ troupe of dancers impressed us by their sheer hard work, the variety of different hour long shows they stage and live singing, but the downside is simplified, angular movements. Overall we preferred MSC's entertainment programme. Our cruise had an impressive roll call of port calls: Marseilles, Barcelona, Lisbon, Las Palmas, Recife, Maceio, Salvador de Bahia, Ihla Grande and finally Santos. Yet having 6 official languages made it impossible to hold the port talks at which P&O excel. The greatest fault was the lack of port maps showing where the ship docked. P&O distribute maps to cabins the evening before arrival together with basic sightseeing and transportation information. With MSC you either sign up for a shore excursion or you are on your own, so make sure that you do your research before you leave home if you intend to be independent. Moreover MSC gave no information about free shuttles to city centres. Fortunately I had my binoculars to view the free port shuttle, so saved €32, the cost for the two of us to ride the MSC-chartered bus to Marseilles centre. (The cost of an MSC shuttle, where required, was usually around €6 per person). Disembarkation went very smoothly, and was more comfortable than embarkation, when we had to stand in line for an hour or so in a cramped departure lounge, albeit in a pleasant mood of anticipation. (Anyone with special needs was fast-tracked). Overall this cruise was a fabulous, relaxing experience. We loved our cabin, the delicious food & wine wine, great entertainment, fine facilities of the spa area and the invigorating sea water in the on-deck pools. We enjoyed the multi-national atmosphere which made a welcome change to the largely Daily Mail-reading passengers of Middle England with whom we cruised with P&O. And it was outstanding value for money!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We have done some 26 cruises and not all were great but most were but nothing could be worse than an MSC cruise. I would never ever cruise with MSC unless it was free. To start with we left Venice on a cruise to Miami and virtually none ... Read More
We have done some 26 cruises and not all were great but most were but nothing could be worse than an MSC cruise. I would never ever cruise with MSC unless it was free. To start with we left Venice on a cruise to Miami and virtually none of the crew could speak English, there was no service at any of the pools for the first seven days. The food was the most boring and tasteless. We went to the dining room for 8.30pm and would not get in until 9.30pm a lot of the nights. My partner ordered a chicken dinner, it came out late and it was cold and all she got was a small piece of rubbery chicken and a few chips and there were no vegetables or salad, I went and grabbed the Maitre dey and all he was lost for words after mine. The buffet meals were terrible also. We had a suite which was fantastic. There was no one to complain to about anything as they just didn't care and didn't speak much English.. The ship was nice but there was nothing else on the outside decks but two pools and a couple of spa pools, no mini golf. Every time the cruise director made an announcement it was repeated in 8 languages, it was a novelty the first day but it got on every ones nerves pretty quick. For 25 days there was no entertainment on the deck at all, but when we arrived in Miami there was fireworks and entertainment for the next three nights because there were a couple of hundred travel agents sailing for the 3 nights. The food never improved but the service was a little better. If you are thinking about the MSC Divina think again and go on one of the other cruise lines. The best thing the ship had was the drinks package $28.00 a day. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was an 18 day cruise with an extra 5 days in Germany. This Cruise Line had no idea of how to treat Customers. The Reception Staff was rude with whatever question you had. We lost 2 nights of sleep crossing the Atlantic because ... Read More
This was an 18 day cruise with an extra 5 days in Germany. This Cruise Line had no idea of how to treat Customers. The Reception Staff was rude with whatever question you had. We lost 2 nights of sleep crossing the Atlantic because something had come loose in the ship's bulkhead and was banging so loud every few minutes. We reported it to Reception the first night only to be told they "were the normal ship noises for rough seas". The second day around 4:00 p.m. with the same banging going on, once again I called Reception who told me the same thing. I asked them to send a ship personnel from Maintenance up to listen to this. Once the guy got there and heard it, he was shocked because something was seriously wrong. It did not get fixed until the next day so we lost 2 nights of sleep. Would you believe then Reception asked if the problem "that didn't exist" got fixed!! The Buffet Staff were not helpful at all. One friend had broken her food and was using a walker that you can sit down on. She asked for a teaspoon for her tea and Staff would not go get one for her Instead they just pointed to where she could go get one. I wanted hot chocolate one morning and asked the guy at coffee area. First of all he sneezed into both hands and without wiping off or washing them, he pulled out 2 packets of hot chocolate while I was hollering at him not to touch them without washing his hands first. Then he proceed to walk down to all the clean coffee cups and move everyone of them with his germ full hands. It turned your stomach. They used the previous customer's napkin to wipe down the table - more germs!! Our cabin girl was pretty good but because they had so many rooms to clean, we went two days waiting for our bathroom trash to be emptied. Makes you really wonder how good the cleaning really is. The food on this ship was not good. Most of it was a lot of items thrown together and called something. No filets, no lobster, etc. The best dish I had was risotto and that was in the dining room!! The pizza station upstairs would not cook you a pizza with ingredients that you wanted. They would only fix their daily schedule and while it was on some type of a warming counter, it was always cold unless you could get a pizza just coming out of the oven. This was the same for the other side with burgers, hot dogs and french fries - always cold. One evening we were waiting for a fresh pizza to come out as there was nothing in the dining room I could eat, when all of a suddeen there was all this flurry in the pizza station. We kept an eye and the pizza maker was now making beautiful cheese and pepperoni Calzones and special order pizzas. I went up and asked if we could get a Calzone, she hesitated and said they were for the Officers. REALLY???? We have to eat cold pizza and the Officers get specially made pizzas and Calzones?? We finally shamed them into giving ua s Calzone to split and it was delicious. This shows you where their priorities are - the Staff and NOT THE PAYING CUSTOMER!!! I would never recommend MSC Cruises to anyone and we will never cruise with them again, no matter what their itinerary is. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We have gone on cruises with other cruise lines before and never had such an experience as we did on this MSC cruise. The hygiene level of the crew needs to be improved. At the buffet service alone I never saw a clean cloth used to ... Read More
We have gone on cruises with other cruise lines before and never had such an experience as we did on this MSC cruise. The hygiene level of the crew needs to be improved. At the buffet service alone I never saw a clean cloth used to wipe down the tables when people left the tables and others sat down to eat. It had gotten to the point that I would wipe the table down before we would eat on it. This was the most disturbing aspect of this cruise line. Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene, I can't say it enough times. Please educate your staff. As far as their TV service goes, this cruise line caters to non English speaking. Other than the BBC station there is nothing on the TV that is English speaking. When asked the reception desk why we would told to rent some of the movies that are offered. Mind you there is a rental fee attached. Ridiculous! Our shower soap dispenser was broken. We asked for a replacement. It didn't arrive. So we then took the top off and removed the liquid soap as we needed it when we took showers. After about 5 days it was replaced. Even the excursions the ship sponsored were rushed. We had a 7 hour bus excursion in England and we were only in the port of England for 8 hours. Talk about DRIVE BY photos from a bus !!!! I should have known there was going to be issues with these excursions because every time I called MSC or emailed them (still waiting for responses for emails I sent before we left), none of the reps had concrete answers to any of the questions. Not a cruise line I would recommend to anyone other than someone I didn't like. Do not plan on going with this cruise line again, even for free. You live and learn. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Previous reviewers made me wonder if we'd made a mistake booking this cruise again (we'd enjoyed it so much 2 years ago on the Melody) but we need not have worried. Also having paid a very low price we expected that there may ... Read More
Previous reviewers made me wonder if we'd made a mistake booking this cruise again (we'd enjoyed it so much 2 years ago on the Melody) but we need not have worried. Also having paid a very low price we expected that there may have been lots of cuts to the quality of the food, service and entertainment. Not so. The food in the restaurant was perfectly acceptable, at times really excellent, and even the buffet food was fine seeing that we eat only fruit for breakfast and salads for lunch. The theatre entertainment was good and varied, and the inclusion of 6 classical concerts made it for us, as well as the excellent performers in the La Caballa Piano Bar. Roberto's piano and singing ensured that we never had an early night! Derrick and his girls and boys were delightful. While we didn't take part in the deck games or dancing much, one had to pat the entertainment team on the back for their fun and enthusiasm. The ship is beautiful and perfectly maintained and clean - our cabin and the public rooms were spotless, and the service of the cabin attendant, waiters and bar people could not be faulted. Complaints: 1.Halfway across the Atlantic white wine ran out in the deck bars. However, a word sent to the Bar manager fixed this quickly. 2.Poolside loungers were all taken before 7am reserved by towels. A familiar problem and not policed. Irritating but not a train smash.3.Thankfully there were very few children on board, but a couple of them were unsupervised at the pool, and were using the hot tubs against regulation. Again, no policing, but thankfully this only happened a couple of times. 4.The pools have no shallow end, so it is not possible to do aquacises - a design fault, and no one could have put that right for me. We were a bit nervous about smoke as on other MSC and Costa cruises smoking has been a huge irritation - but we were grateful that this was not the case on this cruise and smoking was confined to one small space on the deck and to a 'smokers' pub' which we could avoid.So - so problem this time. We must give kudos to all the officers, crew and staff we came in contact with. Without exception they were friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make the cruise pleasant for the passengers. It was a truly relaxing, fun and memorable experience. Well done MSC. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC. We are experienced cruisers, having sailed before with many other lines (European and North American cruiselines). We did our homework before sailing and we knew what not to expect at MSC cruises (for example no free table water nor coffee or tea after dinner). For that reason many things already mentioned on this board have not bothered us. We were prepared and actually our expectations were not very high. My review touches many aspects, which I would like to rate individually.1) First some words to the Itinerary and ports of call. We have chosen this cruise because of the Itinerary. We found it a very nice way for us to travel from South America to Europe and a good alternative to flying. The ports of call were Buzios, Salvador Bahia, Recife, Arrecife, Cadiz, Coruna, Dover, Amsterdam and Hamburg.I would rate the itinerary and ports of call as very good with five stars.2) Precruise booking process. For South America, MSC has not the option of booking online. The website is of no use for us, because we cannot even determine the prices of the cruises. We are always directed to a travel agent. Being fairly independent, I usually do my own reserach for my cruises online. Once I am ready to book, I tell my travel agent already all the details and ask her to do the booking for me. This procedure was not possible with MSC Cruises. Even for the small question I had to go through the travel agent. Fortunately I have for MSC cruises a very good travel agent and things worked out fine. However since I would prefer to have more freedom for booking, making reservations and managing my reservation online, I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.3) The ship. The MSC Magnifica is a very nice and elegant ship. It is also in a very good condition. The fitness center does not have enough machines as other cruise lines though. I would rate the ship and facilities as good with four stars.4) Fellow passengers. Having read several comments from other cruise critic members about how unpolite passengers on MSC cruises are, and being used to the very considerated and polite manners from Northamerican cruisers, I was a litle aprehensive before boarding MSC Magnifica. I have to say, that I was nicely surprised. Passengers were from different countries in South America and Europe. Well educated, wealthy and well travelled Brasilians were the mayority. We have enjoyed the internationality among passengers. I would rate this aspect as very good with five stars.5) Food and Wine. For us it was a pleasure to enjoy Italian style of food. Yes the portions are not large, but they were large enough for us. We have missed a proper steak after such a long cruise but we have enjoyed pastas and rissotos. I had the best Ossobuco at sea onboard the MSC Magnifica. The German style bread was excellent. Wines were good. We could not have the allegrisimo package because of a funny explanation that South Americans drink too much and this is why it is not available on those itineraries. Really? Well, we did not need the package. Our thanks to the sommelier who always gave us a good advice on the wines. I would rate food and wine as very good with five stars.6) Cabin and facilities. We were in a balcony cabin. It was nice although small. The television was too small for any cabin. The programms on the TV were very limited with almost no news while the ship was on the Brasilian coast and during the crossing. Only once in Europe, several European channels were available. I would rate this aspect as good with four stars.7) Friendliness of the crew. Cabin attendants and waiters were very friendly. I would rate this as excellent with five plus stars.8) Interaction with officers and management response to problems. Unfortunately this is our main critic to MSC Magnifica. Officers were seldom to see. We have never met the hotel director. Every thing seemed to be fine as long as we did not need to communicate with Management. If we had some concerns, we were blocked by guest relation's personnel without being able to access the management. It gave us the feeling that if more serious problems were to arise we would receive litle help. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.9) Hygiene on board. We had the feeling that not enough measures were taken on this ship to control outbreaks like Norovirus or others. Sanitizers were many times empty or nobody paid attention if they were being used. I would rate this aspect as poor with two stars.10) Entertainment. We have loved the music from Musica in Maschera. We have enjoyed the Brasilian music in the different bars. We would rate this aspect as excellent with five plus stars.In summary we had a good cruise (according to my rating this means three stars). We would sail with them again if we like the itinerary. We would like to try a different ship instead of the Magnifica to be able to compare among ships of the MSC cruiseline. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Embarkation ========== We transferred from our Lido hotel to the Musica by Aliliguna vaporetto, arriving around a little after 11:00. It was a fair walk from the water bus 'cruise terminal' stop to the cruise terminal building ... Read More
Embarkation ========== We transferred from our Lido hotel to the Musica by Aliliguna vaporetto, arriving around a little after 11:00. It was a fair walk from the water bus 'cruise terminal' stop to the cruise terminal building but once there, MSC did well to get us through the various stages of checkin: luggage drop off, cruise card issue and credit card authorisation, security and finally boarding. All the time there was the usual ambience of chaos around us. While many nationalities are capable of reading instructions in advance and following the prescribed system with the briefest of questions and exchange of pleasantries, other nationalities can exist in a swarm of endless confusion, non-stop questions and every possible attempt to circumvent the system. The party immediately in front of us were all waving their arms and shouting at passport control. Apparently they believed that being Europeans, they had no need of passports - even to go to Morocco and Brazil. Eventually, security escorted out of the building and this is one cruise that they would miss. The information sheets we were given indicated that our cabins would be ready at 1pm so we made our way straight to the Gli Archi buffet on deck 13 for an hour. The Maitre D made himself available from 1pm in the Sala Viola for table assignments. As we were in three separate cabins on two bookings and our table(s) had not been allocated, we were keen to ensure our dining arrangements were as we wished - second sitting on a table for eight and preferably in Le Maxims MDR on deck 6 (due to comments shared on CC). We had been first in the queue and now we were being dealt with, the minions were struggling to hold back some crazy latino women hell-bent on being served next. One particularly determined woman had to be dragged back twice. It felt more like crazy fans desperate for the autograph of a retired Italian pop star they were smitten with in their youth. Next the three of us all went to find each of our cabins in turn. Angela had a disability cabin on deck 12. It was a very generous size and she was broadly pleased with it. She was surprised to see two shower stools. It was because the UK MSC office said there were no shower stools on board that they suggested she had a disability cabin. My mother and I had both been allocated category 5 "obscured view" outside cabins on deck on our guarantee category 1 bookings. Unfortunately in my mother's case the view really is obscured, even standing on her bed she could only see the orange of the lifeboat outside. Still, she knew when it is light or dark outside and there is a little more space than an inside cabin. I was luckier being forward on deck 8 where they have two smaller lifeboats and I have an almost unobscured view. It is interesting to note that the MSC deck plans regarding the positioning of the lifeboats in relation to cabin numbers appears perfectly accurate in this regard. Most people found the muster drill irritating and many let their feelings show. We were shown and told how to fasten our life vests in excruciating detail in six different languages (in order): English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and German. I would have thought that something so obviously visual would suffice in one or two languages. Despite having checked in at 11:30, our luggage did not arrive until almost 18:30. If we had been on the first sitting at dinner we would have spent the first day without our luggage. I can only understand that they must load the luggage on to the ship in a gigantic pile and because we were early on, our luggage was at the bottom of the pile. It was also very cold in both our cabins despite setting the heating to maximum and we really could have done with some extra layers to keep warm. The heating/cooling goes off completely a few minutes after removing the key card from the slot. Ports ===== We docked in Valetta around 08:00 and were off shortly after 09:00. We were directed by MSC staff on an unnecessarily long route out of the port despite Angela's walking difficulties. We then climbed to the 'summit' of Valetta - the plateau around St. John's Cathedral - via a couple of hundred steps. We should have taken the first taxi offer of â,¬10 but by the time we thought about it the rates increased to â,¬15 and they continued to increase as the drivers passed signals to each other down the line as we approached. Taxi drivers Worldwide have a certain reputation. We sampled more of Valetta during the climb and appreciated more views than we would have done otherwise. There is no doubt about it, Valetta is a stunningly beautiful, medieval 'city on a hill'. However we had been spoilt somewhat by our time in Venice immediately prior. We sensibly took a taxi back and were happy to pay the â,¬15 to be taken all the way to the ship instead of the port gate. We docked at the new ferry terminal in Barcelona, built since my mother last visited there by ship. On that occasion it was on the QE2 and Cunard provided courtesy shuttle busses to the start of La Rambla - pedestrianised heart of Barcelona. MSC is not Cunard and the shuttle bus tickets had been heavily promoted in advance at â,¬8 return available only onboard. I was naturally suspicious of this and when I saw dozens of crew being released for some time ashore making a bee-line for the "T3 Port Bus" alongside cruise guests my suspicions were confirmed. A mere scratch of the net reveals that it is possible to buy tickets on the T3 bus for ¬3.50 return. The ladies were dispatched to look at handbags or whatever they do, while I elected to remain on board and appreciate a beautiful and then quiet ship. It was so much enjoyable without the constant prattling and pushing of twelve-hundred Argentinian grandmothers. My apologies to Argentinian grandmothers everywhere. Let me just say that the peace just was sublime. My priority of the day was to have a civilised lunch at L'Oleandro's. This commenced as they open at 12:00 because the masses would surely start to return in dribs and drabs at first then like a torrent, flooding the restaurant. I then intended slipping out into Barcelona for a wander but the ladies returned in the rain with tales of most things being closed so I gave Barcelona a miss this time. The port of Casablanca is industrial and far from picturesque. Then it was for the port that the French colonial power originally developed Casablanca. It is therefore reassuring that Casablanca is still very much a working port and not just a stop for cruise ships. The taxis nearest the ship wanted to take us on tours and were not interested in a short trip into town. We could however see regular taxis and their drivers beyond the first gates, already engaged in a brawl at the sight of us approaching and watched over by two policemen. One of the drivers crossed the line of the gate as we got near which immediately caused an uproar among the others. I asked "How much to the old medina?". "Ten Euros" he shouted over the din. One of the policemen now near us immediately said "Five!". There was considerable commotion as the first driver withdrew and others offered us various suggestions on where to go, "First time in Casablanca?", "2 hours - 30 Euros", "I will take you to the mosque" etc.. Finally a quiet man stepped forward from the rear and offered us the 5 Euro fare to the medina. The main road of the medina was in the process of being resurfaced. It was reduced to rough hardcore with raised manholes etc. which just added to the scruffy, disorganised appearance. We managed to buy a a pair of leather sandals (â,¬10) and a wooden desk organiser (¬8) though we tried and failed to negotiate several other items. The problem with arriving anywhere by cruise ship is that prices rise the moment the ship docks and do not resume until after it has left. We had been followed into port by P&O's Oriana this morning, I gather also repositioning, and so for the sellers of Casablanca medina, their boat really had come in that day - twice. We were back onboard and at the entrance of L'Oleandro's for lunch at 12:35 - five minutes after opening. In Tenerife, we walked the mile into town, bought some Spanish brandy which security didn't bother about when boarding, and I availed myself of free wi-fi to upload some photos of the cruise so far. I had been quite recently before and so I didn't do anything particularly touristy. Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, was our final port of call before leaving in Rio. According to the Daily Programme, it was 2,842 nautical miles since Tenerife, our previous port of call. After crossing the equator, we were now in Summer and, around 13 degrees South in early December, about as close to the Sun as it is possible to be without leaving the Earth. And it was hot, hot, hot! We docked around 9:30 and the first in the queues were allowed off around 10:15. My plan was to stay on the ship, appreciate it when quiet, have a civilised lunch then venture out this afternoon as the masses started returning. I was overruled and regretted not doing my own thing. If you like being part of a large crowd, loads of sales hassle, noise, queuing for everything and being ripped off for everything then you too should try to get off the ship as early as possible in every port of call. If you are a little more like me, hold on and wait at least until the balance of people traffic to and from the ship is against you then venture out slowly. Salvador is colourful, historic, beautiful in the centre and interesting. I am sure had I being staying here before the MSC Musica arrived, I would have been horrified at the transformation for the day and headed for the beach instead. I grabbed a few photos, we did the essential items on our plan - cash machine (not easy!), the 'arts and crafts' market, lift to the old town and a walking tour at the top. The heat was oppressive and we retreated to the shade in the main square where there was a samba band playing and other acts laid on for us. I felt a tourist and uncomfortable with it. I may return on my own terms. Food ==== The first dinner was a mad scrum to get in when they opened the doors around 20:50. There had been many attempted incursions before then, skilfully seen off by attendant staff. We waited until the way was clear and were seated shortly after 9pm. At 9:30pm, we were still waiting for the first drop of wine. No food was sighted until after 10pm and this was just a sliced tomato with a spoonful of mozzarella. When there were only two starters to choose from, not having these ready and wine ready to go when we arrived was poor. We were asked by one of the head waiters if everything had been alright. We expressed our reservations about the long waits and he admitted that this was due to a lot of staff being new to the ship and to each other. Breakfast in L'Oleandro could not have been a bigger contrast. It was peaceful, relaxed and well-staffed. The coffee was free-flowing and staff always available if and when required. On sea days early on when the weather outside was windy and moderately rough, the interior public spaces all felt busy and congested. I am sure these are good days for the numerous onboard shops. People seemed to be buying all sorts of useless tat just for something to do. Also lunchtimes at the Oleandro MDR tended to start quiet at tghe opening but get ever busier through lunchtime. It was a challenge to find any sort of table and the crowds kept on coming in right through to the 14:00 closing time. Once installed they were not going to leave. This was clearly their intended resting place until they were forcibly moved on. They drank, ordered more drinks, another desert, more drinks, more deserts etc.. The waiters were literally rushed off their feet and their tempers visibly fraying at the edges. It was clear to see that the occasionally tardy service was not the fault of the waiting staff, there were simply not enough staff to cope with the numbers of guests and the way they behaved. We took early lunches at sea whenever possible from then on. Lunch in Oleandro's while the crowds were ashore was always sublime. When they are not rushed, it is possible to exchange a few humorous and enlightening words with each of waiters. From then on, we never never missed lunch on a port day. On the Captains's welcome gala night, Angela, my mother and I met in our finest in the Tucano bar, immediately aft of the main level of the theatre around 18:30. The staff were clearing away the residue of the 'welcome cocktails' event which, had we not been on the Allegrissimo package, we would have attended if only for some sickly sweet free alcohol. As it was, normal bar service was suspended for that hour and we had to recover from lunch and mentally prepare ourselves for whatever the first gala dinner would entail. As is usual on formal nights, the staff were smarter-dressed than the majority of the guests. I thought the proportion of men wearing dinner (tuxedo) suits was to lowest I had experienced on my three cruises to date. I know most men don't like dressing up but it does improve the atmosphere and the experience when everyone has made the effort. I keep suggesting to my family that we have one or two formal nights at home but they have never taken me seriously, so far. I can happily report that the dining experience was as good as any gala/formal night on a cruise ship I have experienced except for the slightly longer waits and slightly less personal service. If it is only 'slightly' worse in some narrow regards and better in others - e.g. the appearance and design of the ship - that makes this cruise and perhaps, by implication, MSC a good bargain. Things continued to to improve at dinner. Our regular waiter managed to keep our glasses from going dry, timings were slicker and generally the service machine operated much more smoothly. There is the regular British irritation of hot food being served lukewarm on lukewarm plates, but that is just us. Our table became so jolly that we could no longer hear the 'nosy latinos' around us - the same ones that we found deafening on the first night. In fact, trying to avoid being the last out of the dining room again, I looked around to find that we had already frightened them away before we had finished our cheese (blue, by request and superb). Somewhere, probably on a Spanish or Italian cruise blog site somewhere, there will complaints about the noisy English on the Musica. We are actually English, Swiss and Dutch but we speak English at the table, when we are not laughing that is. The Swiss couple admitted that they requested not to be seated with fellow Swiss but with British for because they preferred "the British sense of humour". As I recall their tearful faces and their attempts to hold on to themselves in some vein attempt to stop their bodies from laughing, I believe they may have got what they bargained for. One morning, we took the lift to deck 13 to investigate the buffet breakfast in Gli Archi. In particular, the ladies wanted to know what, if any, extra choices are available and I wanted to see how busy it was. I think this was 'the grass is always greener' syndrome on their part - yes there were baked beans, fried mushrooms, baked apples and pancakes at the buffet but not found on the L'Oleandro menu but there were no herrings or smoked salmon, no service of course and it was very busy. Even at 8 a.m., there were only two free tables - though we neglected to survey the aft 'Il Giardino' section which joins the buffet during the day. They convinced me to try a buffet breakfast one morning but it was at 7 when they first opened. At breakfast, I value peace more than baked apples and pancakes. The Gli Archi, in common with the main dining rooms, spans the width of the ship and one side is the mirror image of the other. At peak times there are identical buffets in operation on both sides. It is a pleasant enough space with full-height outside windows running the full length and the buffet running in parallel on the inside. As this is deck 13, the views are impressive when in or near port. The seating area is at most two tables wide. As with the main dining rooms, most tables are for six, with the few tables for four and even fewer tables for two being highly-prized as, inevitably, any spare capacity at a table will be taken up later by uninvited others as Gli Archi crowds up. At dinner, the buffet menu is identical to the main dining rooms except for the addition of fast food including pizzas, chips and burgers plus the 24-hours self-service coffee, tea and water station at the forward entrance. Drinks are waiter-served from the bar and we found this aspect faultless. Compared to the main dining rooms, you get what you expect: self-service food, waiter-service drinks, scruffy crowds and plastic plates. It is not my idea of a quality dining experience but if you are hungry it should more than suffice. My advice would be to find a table to match your party size, ideally at a window in the day for the view, and not near to an operating part of the buffet due to the swarming crowds. At dinner, you can still dress up as you will mostly be looking at each other and this would improve your personal ambience. My personal but considered view of the food is a little at odds with most of the people aboard I discussed food with on the ship and who have considerably more cruising experience than I. Their general consensus is that MSC food is below par. I believe it is not so straightforward and that there are two main factors coming into play. 1) There is excessive choice. MSC food is not an American, nor is it European. It is multi-cultural and MSC tries too hard to please everyone by offering a greater variety of dishes per meal than anyone would ever encounter in any shore-based restaurant in their own country and certainly more than on any American line. There are, day-in day-out, many items that any given person aboard would never order out of choice - if they knew what they were ordering..... 2) The printed menus are appalling. The names and descriptions of the dishes are sparse at very best but mostly totally misleading and some completely incorrect. As a result people think they have ordered one thing but something completely different arrives. The food consistently does not meet their expectations and they conclude that MSC food is poor. This is a translation issue not a food issue. Airlines take the opposite approach. Upfront in business class there may be some choice but not too much. MSC should concentrate on fewer, quality dishes of which I have had many as good if not better than on Royal Caribbean and Cunard. However, unless one experiences and memorises the names of a large number of dishes aboard, we are choosing blind each time we order. If they took the crud away and improved the information and translations, we would be more impressed with MSC food. Activities ========== After Valetta, the weather much improved. The sun was often out in a clear blue sky, the sea calm and there was much activity on deck: the walkers on the jogging track, fat ladies in the jacuzzis, fat men playing ping-pong, smokers on the tables by the bar and an increasing number of people laid out on the sun beds. All this was set to a soundtrack of nostalgic, international piped pop. On a sea day activities were a little thin, e.g. a "Culinary demonstration: pacchero funghi porcino gorgonzola" followed by "Dance lesson: Bolero". I assumed the latter was the Torville and Dean routine where one tosses oneself on the floor at the end. There was also an "Afrodisiac cocktail demonstration". Coupled with the Bolero and new culinary skills, I could have acquired all the tools I need to 'pull'. I gave them a miss. The Spa is a quiet and cool haven all the way forward on deck 13. It has a small and underused bar with just two tables and seating for just 10 plus half a dozen bar stools. Opposite the bar is the Aurea Spa reception and the whole bar area was used to display beauty products which, thankfully, I had no need of. Forward of this area is the gym area with a collection of treadmills and cycling machines mostly occupied by people who appeared to have eaten too much. There was also a small collection of unoccupied weight machines and some free weights. Half the floor area was used for paid-for exercise classes. (The free exercise sessions were organised by the entertainment team either on deck or in the Tucano lounge). The most outstanding feature of this space however was the wall of glass facing forward over the ocean. You became immediately aware of the pitching of the ship and perhaps it is not the best place to be if you are prone to seasickness, unless you particularly want to be sick that is. Aft of here outdoors was the madness of the Blue Marlin bar. All the tables were generally in permanent occupation. People sat playing cards, reading, drinking, people-watching but mostly they are talking, very loudly. They competed with the piped music system of the bar and whatever entertainment is taking place on the stage further aft which involved music of its own and often very enthusiastic animators. Not my scene. There was always a generous multitude of live music in the evenings but during the day none at all. Royal Caribbean always has at least one live venue through the sea days even on their smallest ships. Cunard, of course, have their sorely-missed 'enrichment' lectures. I feel MSC could spread their musician talent around a little more effectively - but I enjoyed it all the same. One day, I heard applause emanating from the Teatro La Scala. Quickly checking the Daily Programme, there was no event listed there so I popped to the entrance to have a look. The Maitre D was on stage with an audience of several dozen white-jacketed waiters. There was a slide on view entitled "Staff Training and Development - Body Language". That would have been infinitely more interesting that the daily talks there intended for guests. Sadly it was the final slide and the waiters were starting to leave. However, I found the constant clashes of culture by far the best entertainment onboard. It is often hysterical. If you ever saw Peter Sellers in laughing fits in the outtakes of the lift scene from the Pink Panther film when somebody in the lift releases bodily wind, then you may have some sympathy with my condition. When I pressed the lift call button, I never knew what comedy the doors were going to open to, or take place once the doors were shut. Often it was just a gaggle of short, fat, latino women chatting away apparently totally unaware that they were in a lift until the doors open. Then the doors would open and I was there. They had to rapidly finish off what they were saying and talk about me quietly, "Who's he?", "Where's he going", "Did he press a button?"' "Do you think he speaks Spanish?", "I think he is going to my floor!" or similar then naughty laughs. I kept a straight face and looked at my own reflection to encourage them to say more. As often, I would encounter one of the above in the lift alone and lost but not for words. The occupier would already be talking as the lift doors opened. She would immediately direct her words at me asking a series of rapid-fire questions in a language I needed at least a few seconds to compose any sort of response, "Where is the ", "What floor are we on", " Are we going up/down", then what sounds like personal statements as if I were a family member and knew all the names she was talking about. More often than not, people vacated the lifts looking lost, not knowing which floor they were on, where they were going or how they came to be in the lift in the first place. I started off trying to use the stairs as often as possible for the free exercise but the incentive for my own personal sense of humour to use the lifts instead was often over-powering. The facial muscles that stop me smiling at inopportune moments grey very strong on this cruise. I could write an entire book about my lift experiences aboard but I should move on. I will even have to pass on other cultural mis-matches for now. They were a total hoot often analysed and discussed at dinner with the resulting involuntary tears of laughter. All sorts of muscles achied but at least the tear ducts were kept clear. Cabin ===== This, as you may recall was an outside 'partially obstructed view', category 5 cabin on deck 8. I had the beds in my cabin seperated. To me this makes so much sense with an ocean view cabin and especially so with MSC as they tend to have one or two pull-down bunks on the wall either side of double bed arrangement interfering with the space above. Separated, one can walk all the way up to the window to look through it and the daylight shines over the floor instead of being on the the bedspread. My cabin immediately felt more spacious and light. Storage was mostly provided by the wardrobe at the entrance. This had four equal-sized doors the first two of which were the hanging space with life jackets stowed on the shelf above. The next door concealed shelves and the last a shelf, the safe with drawers beneath. The safe had the simplest operation I have ever come across. When it is unlocked you key in any number followed by enter and it locks. You have to key in the same (and enter) to open it. If I wished, I could have had a different code each time I used it! The downside to this simple operation, as I discovered, is the possibility of mis-keying when closing the safe. The safe is then locked with an unknown code. It was a simple matter to call reception and request someone to open it - but it was embarrassing all the same. The shower rooms were a little larger, as indeed were the cabins, than the equivalent grades on Royal Caribbean ships. Mixer taps and shower valves throughout the ship are made by Grohe. There was liquid soap on a push-dispenser at the wash basin and shampoo and shower gel in wall dispensers in the shower. There were no other toiletries other than tissues and toilet paper. There were two glass shelves and a small cupboard housing a bin but no other bathroom storage. I actually love modern cruise ship shower rooms as examples of optimum use of space and usability. Consequently they do tend to be near-identical. There was a hairdryer concealed in one of the two dressing table drawers. The flat screen TV is fixed above the minibar and received CNN and Euronews in English we lost reception mid-Atlantic. There was a wide range of other 'intelligent' functions' including the ability to order room service (at extra cost). These extra functions resided in another menu system which was poorly designed and responded very slowly so I didn't bother with it. Bedding was poly cotton sheets with woollen blankets and bedspreads removed and folded after the first night. The fold-down bunks featured their own ceiling-mounted individually switchable reading lights. My cabin service was perfect. I barely saw my cabin attendant. She introduced herself on the first evening back in Venice as "Joseph". I told her than is a man's name. She laughed and said "I know, it is my father's name". I am not quite sure from which country or delightful culture she originates or indeed whether I should have called her Miss Joseph or Mrs Joseph, rather than just Joseph. Either way, it was a memorable name and Joseph always serviced my cabin when I was at breakfast, which I attended as it opened at 7:30, and at dinner for which I usually left around 8. I found myself always returning to an immaculate cabin. The times since the introduction that I met her had been elsewhere by chance. I could not have asked for better cabin service other than perhaps Cunard's nightly chocolate left on the pillow. Allegrissimo ============ The Allegrissimo package was even better value than imagined. It is not just the price of the drinks to take into account but the number and diversity of the venues. Hotels designed, built and managed to be all-inclusive have far fewer for the number of guests than the Musica. Had the Musica being designed to be all inclusive, guests would almost certainly have had fewer bars, less bar service, had more restrictive opening times and had to walk further. I have long noted that the best all-inclusive hotels are those who have guests on other board bases. The Allegrissimo package also works a little strangely. It is possible to order more than one person's drinks on one card but there is reasonable diligence to ensure that the people you are with at the time are also on the same package. Typically this involves allowing no more than two or three drinks on one card and asking at least to see another person's card before accepting a larger order. At dinner early on, all cards were requested at the table, I suspect as a check on our settled table group. Each order must be signed for and a receipt is given. If an item is not included in Allegrissimo, there will be a non-zero total on the bottom line of the receipt. It is worth checking each time just in case of an error on either side. I was disappointed by the quality of the two red wines included in Allegrissimo. The merlot is almost without taste and the montepulciano just acceptable. Wine is intensely personal but I favour bigger new world wines. These two are as far from those as imaginable. The rule here is that as soon as you pay a fixed priced to drink as much as you want, the quality drops. As primarily a wine-drinker, I would veer towards pay-as-you-go on my next MSC cruise over Allegrissimo. However, if you are a heavy cocktail or spirits drinker then Allegrissimo at current rates would be the way to go. Also I hear that the Trebiano d'Abruzzo white wine is like a good Chardonnay. White wine is wasted on me so I cannot comment. Fresh orange juice was only available at La Laguna bar, centre of the pool deck. We obtained it once at breakfast in Oleandro's early on - i.e. before the staff had been trained to tell us, literally, where to go. We asked at other bars and the buffet but since consistently received the same reply. The stuff at breakfast is not even concentrate, it is sugary cordial. The Bloody Marys were fabulous. I have always loved a good Bloody Mary and the ones aboard were consistently superb down to the fresh celery stick. Where do they get fresh celery in the middle of the Atlantic? I usually ate some of the celery that came with the Bloody Maries and I don't believe it had been frozen. They bake bread every night, it is entirely possible that they also grow celery. (I also note that, if you are paying, their Bloody Marys contain two shots of vodka for considerably less than the cost of two shots of vodka!) Also the Allegrissimo drinks package was made available with a 15% 'Grand Voyage' discount, bringing the price per night including service charge down to â,¬23, a little less than the 20 we paid by pre-booking and pre-paying. We mostly met up for pre and post dinner drinks in the wine bar - the most pleasant evening space on the ship. Although primarily a venue to drink bottles of expensive wine from around the World along with nibbles, snacks and entire meals to suit, they also serve the Allegrissimo choice of wines by the glass. The furnishings are leather and wood, the lighting is in atmospheric, ambient pools, the music last night was trad jazz classics at a easy talking volume until a classical pianist took over, the service perfect and they knew what temperature to serve even included wines. Each to their own but this is mine. The Cheers package was advertised on board at ,¬14.30 + 15% service = ,¬16.44 per night. This comprises wine by the glass, draft beer and water at lunch and dinner only. However, this is a few cents more than the cost of two half-litre carafes of wine ,¬7 each + 15%). If you won't drink a litre of wine per day per person and/or want to drink wine outside the dining rooms then pay-as-you go would be more cost-effective. I can confirm the tap water in the cabins was safe to drink and tastes fine. The first gala night offers free cocktails and if you are a repeat MSC guest there will be at least one repeat guest event with free drinks. I think next time I would opt for pay-as-you-go and have the occasional alcohol-free day for health purposes. Other ===== Before lunch one day, we overheard some Australians complaining that it was impossible to find out what films are showing on the TV on what days or even what today's or tomorrow's films are other than by watching. I must agree that the poor quality of information, certainly in English but also perhaps other languages, to me is the single biggest failing of MSC. Things could be an awful lot worse but never really knowing what is going on or what we were ordering to eat is a constant source of irritation. The Daily Programme contained so many glaring errors and dubious uses of English that its usefulness and credibility are extremely limited. There were so few English speakers aboard that there is no way to spread the knowledge required to compensate for the poor quality and lack of information through the official channels. We shouldn't need the informal network. MSC please take note! I cannot understate the usefulness of my iPad while I was aboard. Apart from the obvious uses of keeping in touch by email and catching up on the news and other interests, it can bring up a map of the port and pinpoint our exact location within it, it showed our location while making passage without internet (using GPS and caching the maps), I could find out about local transport arrangements, obtain inside knowledge from the cruise forums and others, check credit card spending online, take advice on and book third party trips and tickets. I had a good stock of films to watch, things to read, my photo and video apps to edit as I went rather than be over-faced with the task when I returned and Skype to video-call home when there was free wi-fi ashore. Then, of course, I was able to write a live blog which this review is based on and is consequently full of little details that may be of use to future cruisers but which I would otherwise have forgotten by the end. I succumbed to the onboard wifi offering. Prices were: ,¬10 for 60 mins, ,¬15 for 100 mins, ¬50 for 8 hours or ¬120 for 24 hours. The ship wi-fi behaved oddly. Once signed up to a package (requires name, d.o.b. and cabin number), you are given cryptic a username and password. Signing in requires selecting the "hotspot" from the list of wi-fi networks, entering username and password, then immediately re-selecting the hotspot again before there is any internet connection. Most of my first hour was lost because I did not do the last and time was ticking away before I tried to sign-in again. To sign out, direct your browser to "logout.com". I did this twice to make sure. Another random observation, public loos on MSC are discreetly tucked away and initially take some locating. The symbol for the gents is also quite ambiguous and has confused both the ladies and gentlemen of our dining table. Never mentioned before elsewhere as far as I know is that there are no urinals aboard the MSC Musica. All the public gentlemen's loos are cubicle only. I applaud this as it avoids countless awkward situations. Also, there are no hand-dryers - just paper towels. Again this a sensible move after the trend over years of going for the convenience of the establishment over basic hygiene. Signs invite guests to open and close the doors with a paper towel too. Disembarkation =============== We were informed by an insert in the penultimate day's Daily Programme delivered that we had a meeting in the Crystal Lounge to impart important information "for passengers disembarking the ship in Rio on Tuesday, 4th December". Somewhat Monty Pythonesque, the meeting began with the words "This is for passengers disembarking the ship in Rio, Tuesday, 4th December". It was then reinforced by telling us that it was not for anyone else. Half of them left! Information onboard in English was poor but what there was is also poorly understood. In the meeting I took note of the pertinent points: luggage out by 2 a.m., out of our cabins by 7:30 a.m. (howls of disbelief), pay or sign for accounts by 9, be in the Crystal Lounge by 9:30 a.m. when "you will be escorted to the exit". Given that the itinerary when booked was for a 10 a.m arrival in Rio, the premature ejection was not well received. All my cruises have had this feel. The staff are so pleased to welcome us aboard then, on the last day, when we start to have warm feelings, we are released from the institution of the ship into the harsh reality of outside. Except we had other plans. We stayed for lunch in the buffet with the new boarders at Rio. We never even thought when we boarded at Venice and sat in the buffet waiting for our cabins that there may have been one or two hangers on from the previous cruise in there with us. Contrary to many reports on Cruise Critics taking 45 to 90 minutes depending on traffic, our taxi ride from the cruise terminal to the international airport took a mere 13 minutes. The 70 Riale agreed fare in retrospect was a little on the high side for Rio. We had planned on spending 4 hours or so in a paid airport lounge on the airside but it is an old-fashioned airport with check-in desks assigned for each flight and these don't open until 3 hours before departure. Instead, we established camp in the 'Palheta Air Cafe' on the first floor before enduring the 11 hour flight back to the UK. That's it. I hoped you found this review useful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I started to cruise in 1965 with Home Lines on the SS Oceanic. It was just a week's cruise to the Bahamas, but it was the start of a love affair that went on for many many years. After Home Lines retired, I tried Pacquet Line on ... Read More
I started to cruise in 1965 with Home Lines on the SS Oceanic. It was just a week's cruise to the Bahamas, but it was the start of a love affair that went on for many many years. After Home Lines retired, I tried Pacquet Line on the MV Renaissance on a fabulous 3 week cruise out of Los Angeles and through the Panama Canal down into South America and ending up in Ft. Lauderdale. Next came Costa, then Festival Cruises and Celebrity. For my 41st cruise, my cousin, who had cruised with me on Festival and who has been on several cruises with Princess, and I decided on the MSC's Poesia. We chose it mainly for its itinerary. Barcelona Spain, Casablanca Morocco, Fuchal Maderia Portugal, Barbados, Guadeloupe, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Bahamas and ending in Ft. Lauderdale. As well, I just love being at sea and having 5 days for crossing was wonderful for me. The MSC's Poesia is a beautiful ship, and is typical of many of the cruise lines. It was clean and the crew (Cabin Stewards, Wait Staff, Bartenders, Entertainment) were fantastic. Cabins are a bit small (we had an inside on deck 14 forward) but it was great to just be able to walk about 10 steps and be on the deck just above the pool. The entertainment in the theatre was good, however, the seats were very uncomfortable with very little leg room and because of a bad back and knee, I just couldn't sit to watch a show. Only saw one and it was excellent. There is one seat on the starboard side about 5 rows down that didn't have a seat in front of it and this is where I would seat when playing Bingo when it was held in the theatre. As well, seeing that the cruise was comprised of many nationalities, it is difficult to put on "variety" shows when everything needs to be translated into many languages. Speaking of a bad back and knee, I would suggest that if you have problems in walking great distances, don't get a forward cabin as all of the food locations are in the stern areas of the ship which meant walking back and forth 6 times each day to just eat, let alone go to any of the other areas of the ship. I'd suggest that if you need assistance in boarding and leaving the ship that you make arrangements with the line to have wheelchair assistance. On disembarking from the ship for one tour, we disembarked from deck 6 and the descent down was very steep and one gentleman who used a walker throughout the entire cruise had a very hard time getting off. I believe the staff should have indicated to him that he could be given an alternative of getting off from a lower deck where those in wheelchair were taken to get off. I met several other individuals who found the descent very difficult, including myself and the same held true for getting back onto the ship, up a steep grade. Tours -- I knew I should have trusted my voice of experience and booked tours either with an outside company or just taken a chance and got off the ship and hopped a cab (after negotiating a price with them) to see the sights. The tour we took in Casablanca was an absolutely terrible experience. The tour was to have been 4 hours in length and was supposed to leave at 1 p.m. After stopping in the late afternoon at a local market (where I'm sure the cruise tour gets a cut for the purchases made by the passengers) we were told that once we were finished in the market, we could just go back to the bus. Well, imagine coming out of the market, in the dark, and finding that your bus is nowhere to be seen, but that there are throngs of people lined up to catch the local buses. I've been in Hong Kong and New York where there are many people but Casablanca was horrific. People were everywhere and not finding our bus was an awful feeling. Finally, the tour guide showed up and indicated that we had to follow him a little way to the bus. It wasn't a few steps and my knee and back just ached trying to get back to the bus. They also wanted us to stop at another place but the entire bus said "no". We'd all had enough. We were supposed to be back to the ship in time for 6 p.m. dinner. However, we didn't return until just before 7 p.m. We immediately headed to the dining room hoping we could get dinner -- we didn't want to wait on ourselves as we were all exhausted and thankfully our waiter let us order our dinner even though we were late. The young entertainment staff on board did an excellent job of involving people in various games, etc. They are to be commended as it difficult to get such a diverse group of people involved in various activities. Both the female and male members of this group danced with many of the people who did not have a partners and played many hilarious games, which we enjoyed up in the Pigalle Lounge. Duty free shopping -- not a bargain at all. On many of my other cruises, the various shops sold affordable items at great duty free prices. Whether it was because this cruise was starting in Europe and Euros were the price used for drinks and items sold in the shops, to a Canadian, I found them very very expensive. Many ships today sell costume jewellery such as chains, rings, earrings, etc. at a very inexpensive price. The prices are usually in the $15 to $50 range for these items. However, there were no inexpensive jewellery items to be had. Even kids T-shirts were in the $19 Euro price -- ridiculous! Everything that was for sale was for the big expensive named brands and cost many many Euros. I'm sure that there are individuals who can afford to purchase these items, but in many cases I didn't see many big sales take place. Staff looked bored as they stood there every day and barely selling anything. They had a Market Bazaar nearly every day, but always put out the same items out, i.e., if it was purses, it was the same purses, jewellery -- the same. Plus the prices were expensive. I saw a Guess purse that I liked and it was $165 Euros --now translated into Canadian was around $250. We have a Guess store in one of our malls and I saw this same purse on sale there for $145 Canadian! Some rings that I liked were priced at $3500 and $7800 Euros -- no way would I spend that much money. As well, several passengers came down with the cold/flu while on board. Now, most of us know that what one really needs for a cold are Tylenol or cold meds that we buy over the counter. There were no pills like this available in the shop. A tablemate had a cold and wanted some cold meds and found none were available in the shop, so he went to the Medical Clinic but was told that it would cost him approximately $75 Euros -- unbelievable to get something! Recreation on board -- you had to go several decks down to get the putters needed to play mini golf and there really wasn't a full walking track. Deck 14 indicates that it is a walking track but it isn't a full one and as well, try walking on a sunny day when the deck is loaded with sunbeds -- impossible. There were 2 pools and a kiddie's pool (which was rarely used by any kids). The 2 big pools were also very difficult to get out of. As I previously said, I have a bad back and knee, but love the water. Getting in wasn't as difficult, but getting out was difficult as there was no shallow end and trying to get my leg up the ladder was very hard and once I slipped and fell backwards. Another lady while I was in the pool had the same problem and had to take a break once she got her foot up on the ladder step. She also indicated that she had knee problems. Many of the pools I have been in on board other ships always had a shallow end with regular stairs and a hand rail to get in and out of the pool. With the sunbeds, the area was so crowded you had difficulty getting around and I've never been on a ship where you had to sign in and out towels either! TV on board - yes, I didn't come on a cruise to sit and watch TV - however, I do want to see what is happening in the world. For the 5 days that we needed to cross the Atlantic, we did not have TV. No signal, yet somehow, they got the news for the various papers, that they charged for, but no signal for the TV. They gave you a free movie! Also, no movie shown at night on deck as advertised in their brochures. Now to the food. I read many of the reviews prior to booking this cruise ship and thought that the food couldn't have been that bad -- boy was I wrong. This was the main complaint that was heard over and over on the ship. Where to start? Drinks --alcoholic and non -- very expensive and the fact that you had to pay for tea and coffee and water was another non-impressive thing. You could buy a package, however, don't purchase it before you leave, because it was offered at $3 euros per day cheaper than what was offered pre-cruise. As well, you couldn't purchase a package for the "cabin". Each person had to purchase the "same" package or you couldn't buy it. This wasn't fair. First if you each purchased a package that included wine, it meant that you each had a bottle available to you at lunch and dinner. That's 2 bottles of wine and in our case, we only wanted one glass, but were told we had to take a full bottle. If not consumed, what happened to the rest of the bottle? Plus, if your travelling mate doesn't drink alcohol, why should they have to pay for this big package? Many people indicated this fact and were not happy about it. Buffet area -- the food never changed from day to day -- always the same choices, except sometimes, you'd have a different choice of fruit but nothing else really changed. The same held true in the dining rooms. There were the same items rotated throughout the cruise. You'd ask for something to be cooked med rare and in many cases, you'd get well done. If you sent if back, you'd probably get it done med rare but by that time, your table mates would be ready for dessert! So many of my previous cruises, when shrimp or escargot were on the menu, it would be a real treat -- however, on this 15 night cruise, shrimp were offered twice and you got 3 small and I mean small shrimp, whereas on other cruises you get 6 large size shrimp. The escargot was deep fried and all chopped up -- if you got three you were lucky -- again, usually 6 given. There was also no coffee or tea available after dinner. We were told this was the European way, but we had a gentleman from France and he said coffee and tea should have been made available. We were told that there were 2 gentlemen who made such a fuss that there whole table were offered tea and coffee after their meal. The food was also very bland compared to many other lines. If this is the European way -- it's not for me and many others who were sailing on this trip. The individual in charge of arranging the tables also needed to learn that you just don't put foreigners, who do not speak your language, together. We were fortunate in that we had the greatest tablemates! My cousin and I were placed at a table with a lady who lived in Ft. Lauderdale and as well she had travelled on the Poesia before and was shocked with the food and many other things. We were then joined by two sisters from Ireland who were absolutely delightful. Then several nights later we welcomed a Frenchman and his American wife to the table. They were so happy to join us because they had been placed at a table where the people did not speak any English and wouldn't even acknowledge them! They had travelled previously on different lines on transatlantic trips and were also not pleased with the line. But needless to say, we were more than pleased to welcome them to our table and we all became great friends and will keep in touch. It was also suggested by many that the daily newspaper put into your cabin each night be done before 10 p.m., so that people could make arrangements regarding meeting people for various things that were going on the following day. It all should be done prior to the first dinner seating. Just a suggestion. The Captain and the officers were rarely seen and as this was a longer cruise, it would have been nice to have seen them every once in a while. When you did see some of them, they rarely smiled or acknowledged anyone - it would have only taken a smile and a nod of the head but this appeared to be too much. When I travelled with Home Lines, it was an all Italian crew from Captain down and there always was a smile and a nod which made you feel great. MSC could learn from this as they advertise that this is an Italian line. We also heard from cruise staff that things would change once they began their Caribbean voyages. But this certainly wasn't of any assistance to us. If you don't mind paying for tea, coffee, and water, don't mind bland food and the same food day in and day out, expensive alcoholic drinks, poor communication re tours, etc. then go ahead and sail with MSC. However, I for one will not cruise with them again, unless things improve. They are considered to be a mid-priced cruise line, yet they nickel and dime you on so many things that by the time you add up all the extras, you could have sailed with another line, at a lower price, and one that you know provides much better amenities and much better food and service. Several people have indicated that they will be writing to the line, to let them know how they felt about this particular cruise with the hopes that MSC will improve. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
I was wondering about the very different reviews for the Poesia. Some people love it and others have been highly unhappy. I was not too thrilled about it either. I talked to people they actually booked a cruise the year before to see and ... Read More
I was wondering about the very different reviews for the Poesia. Some people love it and others have been highly unhappy. I was not too thrilled about it either. I talked to people they actually booked a cruise the year before to see and experience the ship before they booked the transatlantic cruise. They've been saying if it would have been anything what we experience here today we would not have done a 15 day cruise. So I guess the ship has seen better times and service. The ship is crowded, long lines and a crew what is highly aggressive and overworked. This ship is too small for 3000 people. We did find friendly people too. Kathrine. Now if you wanna go on this ship you better like pasta. Cold. The dining room was very interesting too. Our waiter didn't really want to deal with us at all. First I thought that is just his personality until we had some higher ups on the neighbor table. He knew exactly what to do and how to act. So I guess he just didn't care to much about us.One day we had a nice meal.Duck. It was a rubber duck. How I knew it was duck? Because it was served with the feather's still in meat. I didn't know meat could be that tough. I did take a picture from this bird. If you don't belief it I can email it. The room was nice and always clean. Somewhat small. There was only one chair in the room. So you could not really spent a lot of time there to read or do whatever. I like to drink pina colada so I bought this coupons where you get 12 for the price of 10. This pina colada was so lousy that I actually refused to take that much sugar in for such a lousy drink. Now lets go to the pool. You want to lay in the sun? You better get up around 5 or 6 in the morning and put your towel on one of the chairs or there is none. This deck was so filled up with people you had a hard time to walk through. There is one event what really made me unhappy. You can check your account balance online, and one night I found a charge on my account for a charity organization. So MSC is thinking my credit card is just like their buffet if you want some more you go and help yourself. No. The hole experience was just different from that what I expected and more important payed for. I think they tried how far they can push it. It is a business and they have to make a profit but there is a fine line between making a profit and a rip off and if you are on a cruise like that it is your vacation and your money. I recommend to stay away from MSC and go to a more enjoyable company. And than again. I wanted to cross the Atlantic ocean on a ship and I did. So it was not that terrible. We meet nice interesting people from all over Europe. Interesting conversations and we did not gain any weight what I usually do on every cruise. I didn't loose any either. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
The interior of the ship is nice; cabin adequate; theatre, dining room, cafeteria, bars are all tasteful. The problem is poor, COLD food; for a newish ship why it is not fitted with adequate heating for the food heaven knows; everything ... Read More
The interior of the ship is nice; cabin adequate; theatre, dining room, cafeteria, bars are all tasteful. The problem is poor, COLD food; for a newish ship why it is not fitted with adequate heating for the food heaven knows; everything was cold from the breakfast right through; cold fried eggs, ready made omelettes,bacon,toast is thin sliced bread hard & cold. What makes it worse is the food is brought out cold from the kitchen; a new container of food would be brought out at lunch eg sweet & sour and it was barely luke warm. The only food I ate hot for two weeks was the porridge & soup in the buffet served from the same heating container. The salad bar was really good so we skipped lunch and had a big salad at 4 to 5 pm. There are good supplies of food all day unlike many other cruise lines where if you miss afternoon tea you have to have pizza but a good choice runs right through to the evening buffet unfortunately it is COLD. The dining room was the same; I got really annoyed one evening & asked the waiter to take my meal away as it was inedible & asked him to tell them in the kitchen that I was really fed up with cold food & his reply was "they are Italian", I am unsure what this meant! The staff in both the buffet & the dining room are poorly trained or supervised. The buffet is not tidied while in use eg tables cleared but not wiped & no spilt food swept up. I enjoyed the evening meal as we had good company at our table & some of the laughter was at how bad the food was!! Poorly cooked,presented, served & cold. We took out an all-inclusive drinks package when we got on board for 20 euros each per day(which we have never done before) as we had so many days at sea & only short times in port; it proved to be very good value & would recommend it. The theatre shows were mediocre; the dancers need to spend alot more time practising so they are in time. The entertainment in the bars is REALLY good; two good groups & two singers who alternated hourly & an animation team who worked so hard & were pleasant to everyone & danced constantly. We do not take ship`s excursions but were not provided with any port information (we have found the same on Costa). They just refuse to give you any help whatsoever! TV in the cabin was the worst we have ever had. Only CNN & Euro News in English before we set off across the Atlantic then no reception so a film a day was put on free of charge (normally 5 euros!) but the film would suddenly stop of its own accord & the only way to watch was to start the film & again & slowly! fast forward to where you were; this happened so many times; it was supposed to be state of the art system!! We have tried many cruise lines & some obviously are alot better than others & as we did not pay alot for this cruise we enjoyed the lovely weather & some aspects of it but it is definetly the worse food we have experienced. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
MSC Poesia Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale November 2012 As we flew out over the sea to make our turn and descent to Barcelona we could see ahead of us the Poesia fresh from a dry dock visit and her Bigger sister the Fantasia which were both ... Read More
MSC Poesia Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale November 2012 As we flew out over the sea to make our turn and descent to Barcelona we could see ahead of us the Poesia fresh from a dry dock visit and her Bigger sister the Fantasia which were both due in port together, Fantasia heading out later on her Transatlantic to Brazil. As we headed out of the airport to find our bus we met Peter and Marian who it turned out live just 8 miles away from us. As we came down towards the port we could see Fantasia turning around in the basin prior to mooring up, Poesia was stationary in the channel waiting for her turn also before mooring up, Fantasia had moved alongside as the bus drove down to the port terminal building and Poesia was close behind. Due to the fact that the ships had only just arrived there was a wait of over an hour while the crew set up the boarding desks and the free tea, coffee and cold drink stations, we were given a boarding number and had a further wait of around 30 minutes. Soon it was our turn to head to the check in desks and we were on our way onto the ship after about ten minutes. As we stepped onto the promenade deck of the Poesia we were met by one of the crew who showed us to our cabin and it turned out he was out cabin steward as well, the first cruise we have been on where that has happened a nice touch MSC. During the whole voyage the crew appeared to be happy and smiling and apart from the ships officers were the first to say hello or good morning or evening etc. We took our carry on cases to our Starboard side Balcony cabin 10108 on Deck 10 which was very roomy including a two seat sofa and it also had lots of storage space and a decent size safe, we then headed off to find the buffet and a bar to book the Allegrissimo packages for the trip, we booked them at the bar that is just inside the entrance to the buffet and ordered our first drink of the day. Because the Poesia had left Genoa the previous day there had been a Lifeboat drill carried out there, now being someone who never reads the daily paper on the first day of a cruise until the evening we missed some vital information! There was an issue that arose over the Lifeboat drill for those embarking in Barcelona in so far as that no announcements were made and many people missed the drill including ourselves, MSC had decided that printing the time in the daily paper would be adequate and it read as “somewhere around 5-45pm” I kid you not. We headed back to our cabin having gone to the theatre for the drill but being too late for the demonstration we were turned away, we headed back to our cabin in order to finish sorting out our cases by which time the Fantasia was preparing to leave Barcelona, it made quite a sight as she slowly slid by Poesia with Horn blowing which was reciprocated by our ship. We had received a letter about the Lifeboat drill for the next day that we were to attend but with no time given, having contacted customer services about the next days Lifeboat drill one person thought it was 4-30pm, another did not know and eventually a third person managed to find out the time. We headed to the theatre Lifejackets in hand thinking we would possibly be on our own! How wrong could we be there were over 100 people there, after the demonstration and everyone putting their Lifejackets on we were taken outside to our assigned Lifeboat. I hope MSC have changed their system of thinking that people embarking on a different day will read the paper and make sure announcements are made but at least for any future cruises with them we know to check, lesson learned. Soon we were off on our own journey heading to Casablanca where we went to see the Hassan 2 Mosque, Sam’s bar from the movie Casablanca and the old market. Madeira for the second time was the next stop where we took the Hop on Hop off bus before heading to the Cable Car. The next Five days were at sea, the first three out of Madeira with the sea quite choppy and the ship moving around somewhat side-to-side and the weather mostly overcast. Once we reached the Caribbean the sea state became more stable and the weather vastly improved. The Poesia is a very clean and well-presented ship with no in your face colour schemes the public areas were immaculate as was our cabin, our favorite drinking place on the ship was the Zebra Bar with its ship wide views and great colour scheme. The Il Palladio Restaurant Dining room waiters were very hard working and nothing was a problem for them always smiling and making sure the four of us had our drinks topped up. The food for Dinner was very good apart from one meal as was the food at lunchtime. The food in the Villa Pompeiana buffet was also very good with a lot of choice of various foods from different countries, if you timed it right you could miss the queues. There is one pay extra restaurant on the Poesia which is the Kaito Sushi Bar. For the sun worshippers the back of the Disco on Deck 14 is a great place although you have to carry your own sun bed up there each day but it is certainly worth it for the great views as well as the sun. The shops on Poesia are very well stocked and there are plenty of them. The theatre shows consisted of a mixture of dance routines with acrobats included and singing and also on a few nights’ opera singers. Entertainment throughout the rest of the ship was very good. The Animation team as MSC call the people who run the daily Quiz and other shows were exceptional especially the madcap Claudio and were always hard working and doing their best to keep people entertained. One disappointment was the Mini Golf, which was lived up to its name Mini! With just 3 holes, in order to play you had to go to find one of the animation team usually in the Zebra bar on deck 6 to obtain clubs and balls, which was somewhat baffling as other cruise lines have them next to where you play. The pool areas seemed to be well attended each day once we had got to the sun but we tend to leave those for people with families and look for a quieter area of the ship. The other places visited included Bridgetown Barbados where we spent the day at the Boatyard the French owned island of Guadeloupe where we toured the town and markets, St Thomas for a second time where we visited Blackbeard`s castle and grounds and Freeport Bahamas. The Poesia is an elegant classy ship that is spotlessly clean throughout with a great crew and great food, there are many bars to choose from for a drink and one of the best things we purchased was the Allegrissimo drink package. We are looking forward to our next trip with MSC on the Opera to Norway in June and on the Divina in November on our second Grand voyage/ Transatlantic cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Embarkation was total chaos - it took an age to be called from the reception hall to check-in, then the check-in seemed very long winded. The cruise began with a four hour delay in sailing from Buenos Aires due to problems with the ... Read More
Embarkation was total chaos - it took an age to be called from the reception hall to check-in, then the check-in seemed very long winded. The cruise began with a four hour delay in sailing from Buenos Aires due to problems with the ship's engine(s) which meant we "missed our slot" on the River Plate. The following day brought another delay as unfortunately a passenger was taken ill and had to be airlifted by helicopter to hospital. We all received a letter explaining that as a result of "a force majeur" we would no longer be visiting the port of Cherbourg. This was a problem to those disembarking there but as this affected very few passengers it seemed to be a logical decision. The letter also stated that we would get 20% off our next cruise booked before 30 April 2013. MSC have no obligation to offer this for a missed port, however the letter didn't seem very official as it was not on letterhead and there was no signature and it was printed on pink paper, so goodness knows if it's worth the paper it's written on. Our cabin stewards were very efficient and we found the ship to be generally clean. Despite the the public rooms having hand sanitizers positioned outside them there was no one to enforce their use. Mind you, very few of the sanitizers seemed to work until the last day when we had heard that inspectors were due on board. The first morning we had breakfast in the buffet but it was so chaotic that for the remainder of the cruise we had breakfast in the MDR. By the second day our waiter knew our breakfast requirements exactly and had no need to bring us the menu. The good thing about having breakfast and lunch in the MDR on MSC was that, unlike other cruise lines, we were not forced to join other people at their table and could choose to sit where we knew there would be an excellent waiter. Unfortunately we weren't so lucky with our waiter at dinner who was uncommunicative and not interested in how we were enjoying our meals. We don't appreciate being pestered all the time while we are eating but not once did he ask if the food was ok. He didn't acknowledge us at all when we saw him in the MDR at other times, however we made allowances for him and decided that either his English was poor or that he was shy. He still received his tip at the end of the cruise. The ship was made up of a great number of Argentinians whom we felt, generally, were very polite and who always took time to greet people in the corridors or lifts. There were a number of Brazilians, about 60 Brits and a handful of Aussies, Kiwis and Europeans. My wife and I have travelled extensively as had the majority of the Brits on board but we don't go around bragging about where we've been. We couldn't get over the attitude of so many of the Brits who came across as the biggest braggarts we've ever met. They all seemed to be trying to outdo one another with stories about all the places they had visited. Two songs came to mind when speaking to these people "Anything you can do, I can do better" and "I've been everywhere man". They were such bores, the worst of these were the Black Card Holders who thought they were MSC Royalty and were invited to dine with the Captain. Whoopie Ding!!!! I wouldn't say anything if they were travelling on a 5 or 6 star cruise ship but a 3 star budget cruise line? Most of them only travel with MSC because it's so cheap and they don't have to pay a single supplement. We decided after our last MSC cruise 9 years ago that we wouldn't cruise with them again but the itinerary attracted us with the added advantage of sailing from Buenos Aires to Southampton, therefore only 1 flight. On the whole we enjoyed the cruise itself, the meals were generally nothing to write home about but the lunches were pretty good. The bar staff were excellent and the passengers we chose to spend time with were extremely nice people who didn't feel the necessity to show off. The ports of call were great, Rio being the jewel in the crown but it was also interesting to see other parts of Brazil - Salvadore and Recife. Unfortunately due to the delay we hit Recife on a public holiday so there was nothing open apart from a prison which had been converted to a shopping centre/craft market. Crossing the Equator in the rain was an experience, especially for those who took part in the King Neptune ceremony. The city tour of Mindelho in Cape Verde was a rip off at $71 each and very little to see. MSC certainly try to get their pound of flesh. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria was great to see from the open top bus tour, especially on a lovely warm day. Lisbon was visited on a damp day but it is still a very interesting city. Our last port of call was Vigo in Spain, we had been before so there was nothing of great interest for us there. Another public holiday so apart from the local shops in the old town nothing else was open. We had a number of days at sea and the deck games were so silly. Luckily the weather was good most of the time so we were able to relax with a book. However when it became colder and the weather worsened there was next to nothing organised by the entertainment staff on board. I was not at all impressed with the cruise director who just seemed to be showing off introducing the shows in 6 languages, just because he could. It was evident what the show was about, he didn't need to spend about 10 minutes before every show. At the end of the show many passengers made a sharp exit rather than having to sit through more of his "jabbering on". We felt that MSC really need to get their act together as far as organisation is concerned. On port days it took ages to disembark the ship because only one exit was open for passengers who were not on tours. People queued for about an hour to get off, it was ridiculous. The disembarkation process at Southampton was farcical. We had to be out of our cabins by 7.00 am but did not arrive at port until 8.15 am. Luckily we got to breakfast early because it was manic later in the morning. We were told to wait in the public areas until we were called but it was around 10 am before the first people were called. When we got off the ship the luggage had only just started appearing in the luggage hall. Normally when we have disembarked at Southampton everyone's luggage is waiting for them and it is extremely organised. This was the worst we've ever experienced on 25 cruises. After 2 lines of luggage had arrived everything came to a standstill. There were no announcements made about the delay and noone from MSC to be seen. The Port Authority staff could only tell us that there were inspector aboard the ship. We don't know what was happening because the ship was also inspected in Las Palmas and Lisbon - what must this tell you about MSC? Around 200 passengers were waiting in the luggage hall for approximately 2 hours with no announcements and no MSC representative present. Passengers began slow hand clapping and whistling to try to draw the attention of MSC officers on the decks but we were ignored. Eventually, after a 2 hour wait, our cases started to appear but still no explanation/apology from MSC. I don't think we'll be using our 20% discount to book another MSC cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was very nice with plenty of storage space and in a good location on the ship. The ship itself was quite modern and clean but the 'food nightmare' started the 1st night of the cruise. The food in the main dining room was always room temperature or cold - never hot. It was either undercooked or dried up to a crisp.The food served was a lot of casserole & black bean type meals = slopped up rubbish. There were quite a few Australians, New Zealanders and Americans on board who were not happy with the food.There was never a happy medium. The cruise was a 'dance' cruise with a multitude of Brazillians and Argentinians on board. The dancing in the lounges at night went on forever with loud music, singing and dancing and masses of cigarette smoke which drifted through all the corridors. There was not an alternative restaurant where you could buy a better meal. We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on this cruise and although I told the travel agent and made note of it on the booking form - this wasn't recognised. We were told if we wanted a cake or balloons etc. we had to buy them. A very disappointing experience after having cruised for 28 days (2 cruises back to back in 2010 on MSC Poesia - which was excellent) Whether it was because it was a repositioning cruise or whether it was catering to South American passengers, this was a real let down particularly when MSC is slowly tapping into the Australian cruise market. If they ever bring ships to Australia they won't last more than one or possibly 2 seasons unless they improve their food. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
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