As a frequent cruiser with NCL, it was great to be able to receive a status match from MSC and be Black Card holders for our first cruise with their line. Black card holders get some great perks like sparkling wine & chocolate covered ... Read More
As a frequent cruiser with NCL, it was great to be able to receive a status match from MSC and be Black Card holders for our first cruise with their line. Black card holders get some great perks like sparkling wine & chocolate covered strawberries, a fruit bowl, chocolate ships, a free tasting menu in a specialty restaurant, a thermal hour in the spa, etc. Those little perks add much enjoyment to a cruise.
Embarkation was a little slow, but that was our fault for not knowing how it works with MSC. As black card holders, you also get priority boarding, and we did not speak up, so we were in the wrong line. Next time we will know. Our first view of the ship was very impressive. It is quite beautiful, with loads of statuary and beautiful artwork on the walls. The main colors in the public ares are burgundy and silver, and it's very elegant. The crystal staircases are so pretty! We were able to go right to our cabin, and it wasn't even noon yet.
The buffet was ready to serve lunch as soon as we boarded, and as we were leaving our room to go eat, we opened our door and our luggage was already there! Shocking! We have never gotten our cruise luggage that fast on either Carnival or NCL. The buffet was enormous, and they still give you a large platter for your food, unlike other lines that give small plates and no trays. We were quite surprised at the amount and variety of food, and there were different areas for Asian, Medditeranean, pizza, a carving station, varieties of cheeses and cold cuts, salad bars, and dessert bars. We prefer the dining room for all our meals, but the times we had to eat from the buffet due to our schedule, we were quite satisfied with the food. I just don't like to jockey for line position, fight for a turn at the beverages, and try finding a table until your food is cold when you finally find one. I would much prefer having someone bring me my food in a quieter and calmer atmosphere.
We had second seating at the Black Crab restaurant. I wish all cruise lines used the "your time dining" that NCL uses. But we liked going in late as it worked better for our schedule. We sat at a table for eight all by ourselves for the entire week. Pretty funny. Our waiter and his assistant were quite nice, but uninterested. No pleasant small talk, no questions about our day, strictly business, get them in, get them out. They were polite and did smile, but I didn't feel the love like I have on other cruise lines. It seemed to be that way at all the bars as well. No one tries to make friends with the cruisers. In fact I felt like some of them bordered on rude. I was usually ignored until someone begrudgingly would ask me if I needed something. No dude, I'm standing here patiently waiting because I just like to crowd up to bars. HA. But the waitresses were sweet, and it was better to sit and let someone wait on me rather than try to get my own beverage.
The food was OK. Most of the main dishes in the dining room were average. I truly didn't feel like I was eating gourmet food on the dining room at any time during the cruise except for the desserts. MSC has awesome desserts! I made sure to take advantage of their deliciousness! Took about five extra pounds of weight home, too. Sigh... I was kind of surprised that there were only two specialty restaurants on board.
The shows were very good. All of the singers and dancers were fabulous. I am not a big fan of canned music, however, so that was a bit of a disappointment.. But the performers made up for it. The costumes were beautiful and the sound system was perfect, if maybe just a touch loud. The theater was quite comfortable, and there were clear views without poles in the way of your view like some cruise ships have. There was a problem with the steps, though. There were stairs down a flight, then a ramp, and then one more step down. I saw many people stumble on that single step, and I am betting there have been some serious injuries. They really should redesign that. The cruise director's staff would do some comic things while people were being seated. That made the waiting time fun.
The pools were beautiful and there were quite a few hot tubs, but you could never get a deck chair. People would use these giant clips and beach towels to save seats and you would see many like that with no people in them. MSC needs to have a policy of moving stuff out if no one shows up in a certain amount of time, like I hear other cruise lines do.
We like to play the slot machines, and there was a good variety of them in the casino. I don't understand why it is still acceptable to let people smoke in casinos but it still is, and that makes it a little hard on non-smokers. But there was an area that was less smoky and we kept to that side of the room for the most part. My favorite waitress worked in the casino. I wish I could remember her name.
We don't usually do a whole lot of ship activities. I went to karaoke to sing one night, and that was pretty fun. Otherwise, we spent most of our free time on our balcony. It was heaven! We went to check out the bowling lane, the race car simulator, and the 4D Theater, but all those things are full of kids for the most part so we didn't use them.
The bands in the bars were good. Most of the solo performers used backing tracks which we don't enjoy, so we did not frequent the musical acts. Plus we don't drink alcohol, so no reason to hang in bars.
The ports were Antigua, St Kitts, Tortola, Guadeloupe, and St Maarten. They were all very beautiful in their own ways. Be advised, Guadeloupe is quite rainy, so bring a poncho on board! We took ship excursions in every port. They were all good.
We took advantage of the laundry service, one large bag, 30 items for $20. It said that it would be done within 48 hours, but we got it back the next day! We also had reason to visit the medical facility, and they were very nice.
We bought 5 of our photos for $60, which I think it a fair price. For another $10, they put our favorite photo on disc. I think that was a little excessive, but we wanted it so we could print it for our kids.
We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on board, and went to the Eataly specialty restaurant for dinner. Now that was a gourmet meal! The food was amazing from start to finish. Our waiter Geraldo was really sweet and quite personable. Then they surprised us with a cake and Happy Anniversary sung by all the waiters to the tune of Happy Birthday. That was very cool!
The shops were good, and there was quite a few of them. We were able to get all the little things we needed right there on board. Except for lip balm. They really should stock lip balm, lol. I got a great hat during the $10 extravaganza! lol
Disembarkation was very very slow. It's so rude to have to be out of your cabin by 7:30am, and that was for Black Card holders, like that's a good thing or something.lol Luckily our flight did not leave until three, if it was around noon, we probably would have missed it. We hear Divina has had some recent drug busts among the crew, so that may have slowed things down, but also we were still in a government shut down, so that could have slowed customs down as well. I think they should have served coffee in the theater where we were waiting, that would have made it better. It took about two hours to clear the ship, and once they did, disembarkation went pretty smoothly. I like the way they sort the luggage for claiming in the terminal, that works out well.
Over all I give the trip a B+, and I would definitely cruise with MSC again! Read Less