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679 MSC Cruises Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

This is the third MSC cruise we have done. Great value and this Cruise company is very friendly and helpful for wheelchair users. Some cruise companies do not allow wheelchair users to disembark at 'tender' ports, MSC will try ... Read More
This is the third MSC cruise we have done. Great value and this Cruise company is very friendly and helpful for wheelchair users. Some cruise companies do not allow wheelchair users to disembark at 'tender' ports, MSC will try their best to allow you to get off at every port. The ship itself is an older refurbished cruise ship. Although not as extravagant or big as some of the other in the fleet, it is quite quaint and very nice. The wheelchair cabins are very spacious. The bathroom has a wet floor wheel in shower with a fold down seat. The only negative is that the seat means your back is against the shower controls. All areas on the ship are accessible with a reserved area in the theatre. The restaurant food was very good as was the lunch buffet and snacks. Being small passenger numbers was a bonus when trying to use lifts or find tables or deck loungers and this was never a problem. The staff were great and I was called to reception twice just so they could see if there was anymore they could do for me. This cruise embarked at Venice. Although bridges are an obstacle, Venice is reasonable accessible for wheelchairs if you are prepared to move from section to section via the excellent and helpful ferry system and well worth the effort. The first port was Ancona, very hilly and not that wheelchair friendly but if you are up for a bit of exercise the markets were good and the produce market was worth a visit. Corfu was next, use the local bus (accessible) at the port to get to town. A bit of hill work will get you into the main town, great market area and lovely setting. Santorini was the next port, beautiful views from the ship and if you are in a wheelchair that's where I'd stay. Been here twice and gone ashore both times (for family). The gondola is accessible if your chair is under 650mm wide but once up top you can't go anywhere without continuous assistance. Athens was next. Trains are accessible and cheap but second time here and strikes both times. Paid 120 euro for taxi for 4-5 hours. missed acropolis last time with strikes so was determined this time. Got there only to find the stair climber to access the lift was broken. Paid the staff to lift me up steps to the lift. Once up top it was pretty hard going but great to see. Plaka suburb for shops and cafes was inclined but pretty accessible. Argostali was the next stop. This town was rebuilt after earthquakes so doesn't have the old age feel to it.Nice stroll along water front and head to main square for markets. Right of the port about a km to find a place for a swim. Kotor was next, an old medieval walled town. Quite small to easily move around. My daughter walked to the top of the hill which was a highlight for her. Back to Venice. I recommend MSC for wheelchair users in general and this was a nice cruise both onboard and ashore. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Just back from a week spent on the fabulous MSC Armonia visiting the eastern Mediterranean out of Venice. There are many negative reviews about MSC on this site, so I thought I'd give people considering this cruise line a different ... Read More
Just back from a week spent on the fabulous MSC Armonia visiting the eastern Mediterranean out of Venice. There are many negative reviews about MSC on this site, so I thought I'd give people considering this cruise line a different perspective from someone who really enjoyed MSC. We are a couple on our eighth cruise. We've previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, NCL & Carnival. This was our first cruise with MSC. We booked this cruise primarily because of the amazing itinerary, but also because of the great price. We got a balcony suite for about a third the cost of the equivalent on RCI. We arrived in Venice the night before, then took our hotel shuttle to P.Roma the next morning. The port isn't far and you have a couple of options to get there. The cheapest is to use the People Mover, which I think costs a euro. Unfortunately we chose to take a taxi, which cost 20 euros to really just go round the corner! You live, you learn (or not as I shall explain later!) Embarkation was very quick, very easy. Drop bags off, queue for about 10 minutes to check-in, and you're done! We'd pre-paid for the 23 euro per day drinks package and this is indicated by a sticker on your electronic room key. Disembarkation was as easy. We were staying in Venice so didn't have any issues with hanging around all day waiting for the usual late flights back to the U.K. Our balcony suite was on deck 12,. An escort takes you to your cabin. This is by far the biggest cabin we've ever stayed in, very well laid out with plenty of storage space (including a huge walk-in wardrobe!), and a comfy sofa that you can sit on without giving yourself deadleg. The large balcony is very private. The bed was also very comfortable, but is two singles pushed together so prone to separating slightly during the night. The bathroom is a fair size, with a bathtub as well as a shower. Bathrobes come included. There is a hairdryer provided, and also a room safe. All kept immaculate. T.V. is flatscreen but quite small for the size of the room. T.V channels, or lack of, are dire, but we always bring our own entertainment so this is never an issue for us....worth noting though. Cabin steward was great, like the invisible man. No smoking on the balcony, but smoking is allowed in the cabin. Muster is unusual in that you are required to wear a lifejacket. You have to hand in a card to confirm your attendance. Very well organised. There are several bars, all nicely laid out. There is a top bar with fabulous views, opens until late. There is a smoking section by the outside bar on deck 11, and in the bar on deck 5. Not obtrusive though, and there are plenty of non-smoking areas. Bar staff lack the personality of other cruise lines we've been on, but all were professional and fairly on the ball. No problems with the drinks package. Our particular package covered everything we wanted, I can thoroughly recommend, even for moderate drinkers. One criticism of the barstaff though was that at busy times, they took an age to bring orders. They don't encourage you to get your own drinks at the bar, which we usually do. We didn't use the theatre. Public areas reminiscent of a nice hotel, but no breathtaking atriums. Shopping areas are again well laid out, and the 'heavy sell' is very low-key, unlike RCI or NCL. Any dealings I had with the front desk were dealt with efficiently and professionally. To my surprise, queues were respected by everyone on this cruise, buffet queues, tender queues etc. Queues for tender tickets were quick. We took the newspaper package, where you receive a printed copy of papers from home for 12 euros per cruise, very good value. We also took the laundry package, I think it was 30 items for 25 euros (something like that) a bargain. Queues for tenders very well managed. Being from the U.K. we are able to purchase an internet 'eurobooster' package whilst overseas, which costs 5 pound sterling per day for unlimited internet access. This was worth every penny as we were never far enough away from land to lose the signal. A great way to avoid the on-board internet costs which are notoriously expensive and very slow. Gym was well equipped, you need to sign a waiver before using. Got quite busy when the ship was at sea, but usually quiet before 8am. I was most apprehensive about the dining options because I'd read in various places that the buffet is only open for 2 hours at lunch and not at all in the evening and we don't usually eat in the MDR. Well this wasn't the case at all. The main buffet IS only open for two hours for lunch, but the open air part of the buffet (which serves burgers, hot dogs, pizza etc) is open from noon until 4:30pm, and the main buffet IS open in the evening. Choices were good, but sometimes there were long queues, but as already mentioned, I didn't see any queue jumping. There is also a midnight buffet but we didn't use this. Room service very limited, didn't use this either. We noticed that there was a no encouragement to use the hygiene facilities....no staff on hand to remind you 'washy washy'. The MDR was a revelation, a great option for breakfast and lunch as well as the evening. Breakfast options excellent. We were sat with other cruisers from the U.K. Waiters were really nice. Portions were small, which is just as well, as there are several courses to choose from. All tasted really good, and the pasta courses were superb. Different options are available every evening. On this cruise, 2 evenings were formal dining. One evening was Italian gala. Quick mention about the fantastic ports: Ancona: you can easily walk straight into town. Reminded me a bit of Livorno, lots of markets on the day we visited. Corfu: Didn't get off here, but quite a walk to town, or you can pay for the shuttle. Santorini: Tendered. Although it sounds a short stop (i.e. about 5 hours) plenty of time to get the cable car and have a look around. Stunning. Athens: Got the ships' tour. Was more like a shuttle drop off than a tour, but was cheap enough so worked out fine. The day we were in Athens was the day of a transport strike, so only other option would have been private taxi. Our tablemates did this and paid a reasonable price to be escorted around. Kephalonia: Tendered. Breathtaking port. Good place to have a walk about and have lunch. Also a good option for hiring a car. Kotor, Montenegro: Walk off straight into the Old town, Again a stunning port. Another good option would be to hire a car. Venice: if you can, get a couple of days at the end of your cruise to explore this fascinating place. We will definitely cruise from here again. Note though. Our hotel in Marcon has a shuttle which we could have picked up for 5 euros. But instead we took a taxi which cost us 50 euros. Apparently this is the norm, but we did feel ripped off! To sum up, this was a terrific cruise, the itinerary is amazing, great ports. I was surprised at how much I liked MSC. We'd previously done a bargain cruise with Carnival, which we did enjoy but felt that it wasn't the cruiseline for us and I was initially concerned that this would be the same with MSC. I felt like MSC pretty much left you alone to enjoy your cruise which I really liked, I also didn't feel like they were trying to extract every last penny from me. My fellow cruisers were not the raucous bunch I was expecting, all very well behaved ? Dining was a lovely experience, food was much better than I was led to believe from previous reviews I'd read. And the cabin was a lovely space to spend lots of time reading etc. MSC doesn't have the special feel of RCI, but doesn't have the price-tag to go with it either. I will definitely consider cruising with them again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We planned on spending 5 weeks in Italy and then sailing home (Rome to Galveston) on the Mariner of the Seas. We booked time in Venice, Naples, Sorrento and Rome during that time and then found this cruise to Greece and Montenegro at a ... Read More
We planned on spending 5 weeks in Italy and then sailing home (Rome to Galveston) on the Mariner of the Seas. We booked time in Venice, Naples, Sorrento and Rome during that time and then found this cruise to Greece and Montenegro at a very reasonable price. After reading some of the reviews and speaking to our travel agent, we were somewhat concerned about the negative comments made about MSC in general and the Armonia specifically. This is our impression of the trip. We embarked at 12:30 PM in Venice and it may have been the easiest boarding we have ever encountered. The staff was wonderful, the process was well managed and it took less than 20 minutes before we were actually led to our cabin. Other lines could learn something here! Lunch was served, we took time to walk around the ship and returned to our cabin to find our luggage already in the room. This was around 3:00 pm. We actually had time to unpack prior to the lifeboat drill (jackets required) and still had time to change before dinner. All of this was a first in our cruise experience, and a pleasant one at that. Meals were our concern, mostly because of the reviews, including the water and language issues. It is apparent that most of the negative reviews are from American travellers who have never truly immersed themselves in the culture of another country. We had no problems whatsoever, the food was very good, the entertainment was first class and we were always seated with English speaking guests when possible. We received a large mineral water each day which was more than enough for dinner, and were able to get all the drinks we needed at breakfast and lunch. Complaints about the cost of water were puzzling. They charged Euro 2.70 for a large bottle which was comparable to, and in cases less expensive, than we paid in most restaurants in Italy. Our waiter, maitre d and captain at dinner all spoke passable English and were professional, friendly and competent. The menus were better than the Mariner on most days, and the portions were just right. The wine prices seemed to be on a par with most other cruise lines, as were the soft drink prices. I would rate the food in the top 25% of all cruises we have taken (50+). We chose the cruise for the ports. In order: Ancona, Italy Corfu, Greece Santorini, Greece Piraeus, Greece Argostoli, Greece Kotor, Montenegro We never book ship excursions, so I cannot comment on how well they are run, but people we spoke to on the ship had only positive things to say about them. If there was one issue, it was that we had short times in port, but we did a LOT of ports and were able to visit everything we desired while there. One definite positive was the late arrival and departure in Santorini. We were able to get to the top of the mountain (the girls via donkey, and the boys via cable car)and take the bus to Oia for the sunset. We had plenty of time to explore both Thera and Oia and the sunset is one of the world's great wonders! We were the last ship in port, and everyone else left without having that opportunity. This alone was the worth the price of the trip. Ancona was a pleasant surprise, and you can see the old city on foot without a tour guide pretty easily. The same can be said for Kotor -what a beautiful setting. We made arrangements for travel to Athens, only to discover that the city was closed because of the arrival of the German Chancellor, but the Acropolis was open, so we spent the day there and at the new museum in the city. All in all, the ports were what we expected and we couldn't have been more pleased with the experience. Now about the ship. Again, there were some negative reviews, most of which we found to be totally inaccurate. First, the ship was spotless. I have never seen a ship this old kept this clean or well maintained. Obviously it was an aging vessel and did not have many of the "amenities" of the newer vessels, but the line could not have done a better job of maintaining the facilities. Our cabin was large enough and had plenty of cabinet and wardrobe space. Beds were a little less comfortable than some of the major lines, but still acceptable. Staff were friendly and helpful, and the bars, shops and public rooms nice in every respect. Interestingly, the library had more books in English than any other language, and has an honor system for check out - which was very convenient. The entertainment was general in nature, and held every night of the cruise. This is an older theater, and does not have the stadium seating you may be used to. Get there early for the best seats, and there is bar service through most of the show. Most was in English, even on Italian night, so we never had an issue. The cruise director spoke 5 languages, so we got to hear about the show in all of them every evening. Since my wife and her sister seemed to be in love with him, it did not appear to be a problem! Disembarkation was as well handled and easy as the boarding process. We took our time getting off, since our train to Naples didn't leave until after 1pm. It was well organized, plenty of waiting areas and the staff never pressed us. In all respects I would give the ship a solid 9 on a 10 scale. This is the caveat for MSC. This is an ITALIAN cruise line. It very much resembles daily life in Italy and adheres to the customs of the country in most ways. If you have never, and do not want to travel as a local, embracing the culture of this country and understanding the people and the cuisine, you will hate this cruise. We saw it happen. It is unfortunate, and lends credence to the "Ugly American" stereotype we have created abroad. If you understand that you are not at home, remain open to new experiences and prepare to make allowances for things you won't find here (iced tea and hamburgers come to mind), you will have a great trip at a very good price. We will sail with them again if the opportunity arises. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Firstly would like to say some of the reviews leave a lot to be desired. We booked our cruise on Jan 2012. We flew from dublin to venice the day before our cruise and stayed in Quarto d'altino this was a perfect location where the ... Read More
Firstly would like to say some of the reviews leave a lot to be desired. We booked our cruise on Jan 2012. We flew from dublin to venice the day before our cruise and stayed in Quarto d'altino this was a perfect location where the train station is at the back of the hotel with train running regularly to central venice at €5 per person return journey of about 25 min. Checked into our hotel after a free hotel shuttle bus collected us from airport lunched and went on train to Venice when you come out the steps of the train station the city stretches out in front of you I must say I was awe struck at the site. We toured on foot for half a day and found fantastic little cafes off the tourist trail had a fab pizza which turned out would have fed us both but of course we had one each !!! Back to hotel to prepare for the cruise ahead ordered a taxi who arrived promptly the next day and dropped us at cruise terminal where we were quickly ane efficiently dealt with by very pleasant MSC staff the terminal building for anyone who didn't cruise before was like an airport terminal where you got a welcome drink and were treated really well on a rota basis we were left on board after going through security with your hand luggage. Once on board we were shown to our cabin immediately and it was clean and comfortable an outside cabin with a big square window which gave us a good view next time would book a balcony just for the extra space even though we only stayed in cabin to sleep. So much to see and do on board. We had booked a drinks package which turned out to be a great value we thought because oneofis doesn't drink alcohol and you had to book for both occupents of cabin but it turned out to be great because I could have icecrean , Fruit smoothies and non alcohol cocktails whice were really good.we got off at all the ports of call and did our own tours just mainly walking to where we wanted to go, when we got off in Athens we teamed up with a couple who were at our dining table and took a taxi €80 for 4 hours for 4 it was brilliant we saw all the sites and had pleant of time to explore our driver had fantastic english and a sense of humour our friend from our table it was his 60th birthday and the taxi driver took us up the hills to a cabin and we had a beer to celebrate all beyond the call of duty !! My favourite was Santorini an Kotor what spectacular views in both places and the sail into Kotor was breath taking. The staff , food and ship couldn't be faulted and would highly recommend another MSC cruise it has a real Italien feel about it if you go with the flow and are not fussy slike some of the guests you have a whale of a tim. I also took a reflexology treatment and got a complimentary back massage it was wonderful. The seating arrangement at the dining tavle for dinner was great 8 complete strangers , 3 irish, 2 english, 1 italian, 2 canadian had a ball and met up after dinner in the lounge for the entertainment our friend who was 60 had champagne and a cake ordered secretly by his wife a great night was had by all !! When we disembarked we went back to Quarto D'altino hotel with the same taxi company very good service, dropped our luggage and took train back to venice until a very late hour and met up with the couple who were at our table for the week and enjoyed a great night.On the saturday wer enjoyed a great trip on the vaporetto with a day ticket where you can hop on and off at your leasure. Went to st marks square just to say we had visited everything very expensive and touristy so we returned to the little back streets for another wonder flew back on the sunday so altogether we had 10 days away and what a wonderful experiance it all was all in all would do it all again and will be booking for 2013 shortly and most definitely with MSC. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We boarded the ship in Venice, having booked a package which included flights from London and transfer to the ship. Our daughter (9 years old) is in a wheelchair. The transfers, both to and from the ship were very smooth, with MSC ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Venice, having booked a package which included flights from London and transfer to the ship. Our daughter (9 years old) is in a wheelchair. The transfers, both to and from the ship were very smooth, with MSC staff assisting us with embarkation and disembarkation. Once onboard, we were immediately taken to our cabin, a category 5 oceanview on deck 8. The cabin was very clean and comfortable with enough space for our daughter's wheelchair despite not being a disabled cabin (there are no disabled oceanview cabins on this ship which, considering its size and age, is disappointing). Our cabin steward was excellent. He came and introduced himself shortly after we settled in our cabin and took note of any requests. He was extremely attentive and very friendly. We found the food excellent, both in the buffet and a la carte restaurants. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Calumet Buffet Restaurant on Deck 14, and were assigned a table for dinner in the Black Crab Restaurant on Deck 5. Our table waiters were excellent. There was plenty of variety in the buffet restaurant which included daily specials and 'Ethnic Corner', with foods from a different country on each day. We found the crew to be generally very helpful and friendly. The passenger mix was very cosmopolitan, with guests from all over Europe as well as some from the Middle East, Japan, China, USA and Australia.Now for the niggles. We found the shore excursions to be very expensive, so we only booked 1, in Istanbul. The excursion included the Blue Mosque, Museum and Grand Bazaar as well as a visit to a carpet manufacturer. There just wasn't enough time to fully enjoy the sights. For example we only had 20 minutes in the Grand Bazaar - barely enough time to walk in and look at a few shops. At the carpet manufacturer we got the hard-sell, which I found a little overbearing. We opted for the shuttle bus service organised by MSC in Bari. We found this to be very disorganised as hundreds of people were pushing to get onto the buses and we stood no chance with our daughter in the wheelchair. We ended up having to request an MSC crewmember to come and assist us as there was nobody organising the queuing for the buses. We had a mixed experience from reception staff, with some being very helpful and others indifferent or struggling with the language. The lifts on the ship were important to us, as we were unable to use the stairs with our daughter in the wheelchair. The lifts were very heavily used and in my view there just weren't enough for a ship of this size with over 4,000 passengers. We sometimes had to wait as several full lifts passed. We did, however, discover two side lifts tucked away from the main stairwells which were not as heavily used, and ended up using these for the remainder of the cruise. Lastly, the onboard shopping proved to be a less-than-satisfying experience. The day after we embarked we went to the Logo Shop on Deck 7 to purchase a metal model of the Divina mounted on a wooden plinth. The shop assistant told us that they were out of stock and would not be available for the duration of the cruise. There was even an advert in the daily magazine suggesting that if you purchased 2 models you could receive a 25% discount, despite no Divina models being available. Also, they seemed to run out of bags to put purchases in. They seem to have a serious stock management issue.All in all though, I would say the experience was positive and we are very much looking forward to our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
At half term we went on the MSC Divina for a Mediterranean cruise. It was a bit of a strange holiday for us as our eldest had gone to university so it was the first holiday without her and our youngest was on her own with us oldies. Also ... Read More
At half term we went on the MSC Divina for a Mediterranean cruise. It was a bit of a strange holiday for us as our eldest had gone to university so it was the first holiday without her and our youngest was on her own with us oldies. Also my parents who are in their 70's came with us for the first time and it was their first cruise. I apologise for the length of the review, but I didn't want to miss anything out. EMBARKATION: This went really smoothly. We caught a taxi from the airport which dropped us right by the ship and we then queued for about 15 mins to go through all the rigmarole you need to do before getting on. Quite smooth really. SHIP: The MSC Divina is a huge ship with the most amazing Swarovski staircases in the reception area with a beautiful grand piano on the lower floor. It all looks spectacular. Although the ship was huge the only place that seemed really busy was the buffet restaurant, which was very manic at times. Everywhere else was just right, except the Black & White Lounge after the main show had finished, but even then we always managed to get a seat. We usually managed to find a sunbed, usually on the upper deck. Our cabin was a good size with not quite enough storage space for 3 of us, as our daughter was sharing a cabin with us. She slept on the settee which was opened each night for her. The only trouble was she didn't have a duvet so she was a bit cold sometimes. Lovely balcony with 2 chairs and a table. FOOD: Fantastic choice of food in the main dining room, lovely presentation, but the taste wasn't really that good. I soon realized that the fish dishes were better than the meat dishes so stuck to these mainly. Pasta was always al dente. We used the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. It was always manic and difficult to find a seat for 5 of us. Most of the tables are for 4 people. We usually managed to find one at the back of the restaurant though. The only trouble was by the time you got to the back your food was lukewarm. The Magnifique Buffet was visually stunning, but again absolutely packed and it was hard to actually get to the food. The Black Crab restaurant itself was beautiful, but we were put into a little side room with about 6 tables in, so sometimes we felt left out when something was happening in the main area. Baked Alaska parade was the worst I've ever seen (or not seen as we were in the little room) and only lasted for about 10 seconds. We had the Allegrissimo drinks package which was brilliant. Practically all the drinks were included, and ice-cream, and it meant you weren't worried about the bill at the end. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows in the theatre were amazing. There was a tenor who was fantastic and a female singer who was so-so. The dancers were really good and there were also loads of acrobatics, tumblers etc and even a bit of a magic act. For some reason the Michael Jackson show got a standing ovation, even though you couldn't see the dancers sometimes when they just showed a whole music video of Michael Jackson and the dancers missed one of the most famous parts of the Thriller dance out! Unfortunately on the last night they just repeated parts of the previous 6 nights, which was a bit disappointing. Franco the Cruise Director was hilarious with his signature pose and you could see people during their days on shore copying him. PORTS: We didn't do any of the ship's excursions, but made our own way around: BARI: We just walked from the ship into the town and walked around the cobbled streets. There were loads of men on the rocks by the sea catching cuttlefish. This really is a beautiful town. Getting back onto the ship was a complete nightmare. We must have queued for about ½ hour. The problem seemed to be due to people embarking here and having to put their luggage through the scanners. KATAKOLON: We caught a taxi to Olympia (I think it cost €100 for the 5 of us). We had a walk around Olympia and had a run on the track. The taxi then dropped us off amongst the shops in Katakolon for some retail therapy. IZMIR: We caught a taxi, as the sightseeing bus by this time was selling tickets for the bus in about 1½ hours time. I think the taxi cost us €20 each and he took us to the various tourist places. The driver was lovely until we asked him to drop us by the clock tower instead of going into the Grand Bazaar. He kept saying he couldn't stop there and insisted on taking us into the Grand Bazaar to a certain shop where he was obviously going to get a commission if we bought anything. Not impressed! ISTANBUL: We took the advice of a previous reviewer and caught the tram to where the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia etc were. The tram was really cheap and easy to use. Just turn left out of the port, walk down the main road until you come to the tram station, then buy your tokens to get you onto the station. Get off at Sultanahmet and you can see the sights. Don't miss the Basilica Cisterns which are the other side of the main road from Hagia Sophia. We then walked to the Grand Bazaar, following the signs, which is the most amazing place if you like shopping, then caught the tram back. DUBROVNIC: By the time we got off the ship all the taxis had disappeared so we caught the ship's shuttle for €10 each, which turned out to be really handy. The last time we staying in Dubrovnic we caught the bus into the town, but it was quite a walk to the bus stop for my parents. The shuttle dropped us off outside the town walls. We then caught the cable car to the top of the mountain to see the view, after which we walked around the town. We had to wait about 5 mins for the shuttle bus back to the ship. DISEMBARKATION: We were told the night before leaving that due to the colour of label we had on our luggage, we would have to disembark at 8.00. My parents were told 8.15. As our taxi wasn't coming until 10.00 I asked reception if we could stay on a bit longer. They just said "You want to stay longer, you stay longer" (obviously in an Italian accent), so in the morning we lingered over breakfast and then sat in the reception lounge until we decided to leave. It is mainly Italians and Germans on board so all the main announcements are made in several languages, which can go on for quite a long time. The games around the pool and in the Black & White Lounge were only in Italian so it was difficult to work out what was going on sometimes, but all the staff can speak English well. On the whole we had a lovely time. My younger daughter missed her sister and didn't go to the teen club, as she was worried it was full of Germans and Italians, but she enjoyed the party dances in the Black & White Lounge. She also enjoyed being chases around by the photographers! The time in port wasn't really long enough for us, although it was plenty long enough for my parents. This really was an excellent cruise for them with only a few hours in port and plenty of time to have a nap! VIEWS OF A 16 YEAR OLD ENGLISH GIRL: PORTS: I have always loved Italy and Greece so I enjoyed visiting Venice, Bari and Katakolon. I was excited to see the places in Turkey since I had never been there before. Like any other teenager when I am on holiday I try my hardest to get a tan. When we visited Izmir I decided to wear a playsuit due to the gorgeous weather -- bad choice. I have never had so much attention in my life. I don't particularly enjoy attention and found it horrible that I even had 60+ men staring at my legs. So piece of advice, COVER UP. Also, if you're white be prepared to be ogled. FOOD: Even though I am a very fussy vegetarian I absolutely loved the food. In the buffet it is safe to say there is something for everyone even if you have the risk of being trampled on by very hungry pensioners. In the evening we went to the restaurant. Even though we were stuck in the corner with the other people who spoke English I still enjoyed my meals. There was a large variety and plenty of it. Because there are seven courses you expect them all to be small -- think again. Every single evening I exited that room in a food coma, it was wonderful. (Don't expect to lose weight). HOWEVER, my favourite night on every cruise is Baked Alaska. Usually (with every other cruise line) the waiters and chefs make a massive deal out of it, parading around the whole restaurant doing silly dances or what not, BUT no. To say I was incredibly disappointed with the display would be an under statement. They walked to some stairs (by the quickest route) stood there for half a minute and then left. Not cool. CRUISE SHIP AND STAFF: Personally I prefer smaller ships than this. There were way too many people sometimes to enjoy yourself and not enough space -- major traffic jams. The staff were amazing. A few of the waitresses were having banter with my granddad which was hilarious to witness. I did tend to get harassed by the photographers, which escalated when my mom told one of them my name. This led to me being stalked for practically 5 days of my holiday hearing him shout my name. OTHER PASSENGERS: I try my best not to judge and be nice to other people, but this holiday made it impossible. It is rather easy to know the nationality of someone either by the way they look or if you can hear them speak and know the language. I just found them all rude. I've been brought up with manners and try my hardest to stick to them, but the Italians and Germans do not seem to possess any. Numerous times I held the door for people or waited to let people past and not once did I get a 'danke'/'grazie'. They didn't go by the suggested evening wear. I do enjoy to dress up and understand that other people don't, but wearing jeans on a formal night is just unnecessary. And then for rude old people to look me up and down and bitch about me is rude and uncalled for. Also, if you are travelling with an English 16 year old pre-warn them that they will most likely not find another English person around the same age. I do love my family but I did long for company of my own age in a language I could speak. Another point, I love exercising, I always try to keep fit, as I did try on the ship. However, whenever I went to the gym it was packed with people who clearly were only there because it was something to do. There was a girl in Harems. I'd understand if it was yoga but she was on an exercise bike and she was wearing converses. I'm sorry, but if you want to stay fit, your only chance of actually exercising in the gym is if you wake up at opening time. By the way, you know that running track they say is on board, they lied. ENTERTAINMENT: Loved it! The shows were fab and Franco (cruise director) was brilliant. After the first two nights I thought I wasn't going to enjoy the shows because there were quite a few old songs and opera. But then they jazzed it up a bit and I really enjoyed them. I know it seems lame for a 16 year old to be doing party dances but I thought they were great, although it was quite hard to follow them when the instructions were in Italian, but I soon got the hang of it. If you want to ask me any questions, just state the sixteen year old. I'm happy to answer anything ? Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
First of all let me say that my wife and I are fairly experienced cruisers and so have plenty of points of comparison. Negatives - Announcements in five languages. Fairly short time allowed in port. We were aware of both these before we ... Read More
First of all let me say that my wife and I are fairly experienced cruisers and so have plenty of points of comparison. Negatives - Announcements in five languages. Fairly short time allowed in port. We were aware of both these before we travelled and so they came as no great surprise. In any event the announcements were only made about three times a day and soon ceased to intrude. The amount of time in port is, to a large extent governed by the itinerary and as the destinations were a major factor in our choice of cruise this criticism is also tempered with pragmatism. Positives - We made our own way to the terminal (earlier than scheduled following the advice of a previous critic) and were in our cabin by 1pm and our luggage swiftly followed. Our balcony cabin was excellent being somewhat larger than previous cruises and there were welcome surprises in the bathroom with fluffy towel robes and best of all proper shower doors rather than a clingy curtain. It was immaculately clean and kept so by our efficient and friendly steward. We ate in the buffet for both breakfast and lunch and whilst it was always busy (the ship being fully booked) we never failed to find a vacant table. Dinner in the Villa Rossa Restaurant was generally very good with plenty of choice from the several courses on offer although it has to be said that the salads would have benefited from a little more tomato,cheese, onion etc and a little less lettuce. The staff were invariably efficient and friendly. The evening shows were excellent if a little samey with a very high standard of singers, dancers and acrobats. The money saved on not having a resident band (all the music being "canned")was very well spent on the artistes. A major plus was the Allegrissimo drinks package. We are both moderate drinkers but it was great fun at dinner to check with our fellow diners how much "profit" we had made that day. Disembarkation was well organised the only minor criticism being a lack of signs for the free shuttle buses from our remote berth to the Venice "People Mover" All in all a splendid cruise and we will strongly recommend MSC to all our cruising friends. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
My partner and I have just returned from a cruise on the MSC Divina. Now I have cruised before on P&O from Southampton, however for my partner this was his first experience. To sum it up this was a perfect holiday in every way, ... Read More
My partner and I have just returned from a cruise on the MSC Divina. Now I have cruised before on P&O from Southampton, however for my partner this was his first experience. To sum it up this was a perfect holiday in every way, relaxing, hot and very well serviced, but to start you in a clear picture our only niggles were as follows - 1) the adults only 'infinity' pool is not adults only (we are fine with kids but this struck us as a bit of a pain. 2) some of the other guests on board were down right rude and ignorant (not MSC' fault) 3) end in Venice was spent sitting outside the terminal for 4.5 hours as coach transfer didn't leave till 1415 (again not MSC' fault, we should have booked the transfer to the center) Okay on reflection most of our niggles were nothing to do with the line itself, more other people and our own unguided knowledge. From the start of the cruise were were happy with the processes and ship, she is a monster of a girl but beautiful all the same, well planned out and designed and had a very nice atmosphere when we were walking around. The cabin was also spectacularly clean and tidy, good size as well in comparison to most I have seen. Embarkation - This to be honest is like organized chaos! Flight and coach transfer was painless and very easy as there was a representative at Marco Polo airport to greet us and get us to the transfer point. When we arrived at the terminal, as mentioned it was chaos, but it flowed well and was also painless. Instructed to drop our bags and went upstairs to check in where we could get on board straight away, all in all from airport to cabin took no longer than an hour all told. Went for lunch and ship set sail as planned, with mandatory drill done prior to slipping her lines. Food & Entertainment - Food wise the ship had it all from the usual buffet to the traditional dining and extra charge services. We ate in the buffet for the entire week, more from a point of view of flexibility than anything else, although the menus for the main restaurants looked very nice! The menu in the buffet didn't seem to alter much, it was much of the same most days, but all hot and a wealth of choice available from the usual grill fair and some ethnic dishes. The entertainment for us was a little lax I have to say. we went to three of the main theatre shows which were all very good and had everybody seeming to enjoy themselves. During the day however and throughout the evening there wasn't a huge amount to do or get involved in, this again didn't bother us too much as we are quite happy to chill out and just have a few drinks rather than go to nightclubs and tribute acts etc. What was available we found to be good and there were plenty of areas to sit and drink. Now Divina has been designed to carry 3500 passengers. 90% of the time you did not realize there were that many people on board. There were always areas available to sit around the pools and in bars as well as there being plenty of sunbeds. Little tip for you : on deck 18, overlooking the middle pool and in front of the funnel is the solarium, up here remains very quite for the duration of the cruise as many people do not explore this way. This is a good area to sunbath and chill out peacefully if required. There is also a large whirlpool/jacuzzi up here as well, go careful though as the ships horn is up here which is very loud and if goes when unexpected it scares the life out of you!!!!! All in all everything was arranged well and well planned. The staff were attentive and polite and always happy to help, the tour arrangements were great and again well planned with no queuing and a seamless process. The ship as well is very well decorated and feels very stylish and grown up, which for an Italian line i was expecting some garish colors etc. More on ports below, but cruise wise was excellent and I would strongly recommend sailing with MSC to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Just had a fantastic cruise on MSC Divina, my 14th cruise. Been with many other cruise lines but this was my first MSC - hopefully will not be my last. Very well organised embarkation in Venice and very satisfied with inside cabin. We ... Read More
Just had a fantastic cruise on MSC Divina, my 14th cruise. Been with many other cruise lines but this was my first MSC - hopefully will not be my last. Very well organised embarkation in Venice and very satisfied with inside cabin. We always pay for cheapest cabin but it had a large king+ bed (2 singles together) and was very comfortable. Few things I noticed this line did not do - no towel animals, no chocolates, very little information available about the port you are visiting, no free water with evening meal or tea/coffee. We paid for an all inclusive package on board and easily spend well over the cost of this. The package we took was 23 euros per day per person a total of 322 euros - we spent 610 euros (yes we did enjoy the sparkling wine and cocktails, but also bought teas and coffees). Beware though they add an extra 15% service charge to this amount taking it up to 370.30 euros - they did not tell us this and when we complained about the extra service charge the receptionist misunderstood and removed the full service charge of 7 euros per person per day from our account!!. I jotted down the cost of drinks for you to know before you go, (all in euros)cocktails average 6.25, large draft beer 4.90, small 2.90, wine 5.50, cappuccino 2.00, coffee with milk 1.60, 33cl coke, fanta, lemonade etc 2.70. Even if you are all inclusive some drinks you still have to pay for these include Jack Daniels and coke 7.75, and strongbow 5.50 - ALL PLUS 15% SERVICE CHARGE. I would definitely recommend taking out a drinks package. Only trip we paid for was Olympia which was great and Venice on last day. Paid for bus into Bari and you could have walked to castle and historic area. In Izmir paid 50 euros for a taxi to take us to Agora, the castle and a mosque. Istanbul we paid 10 euros for a taxi to take us to historic square BUT BEWARE no taxis around square he dropped us off in a quiet street away and when we needed to get back to ship could not find a taxi ANYWHERE. Left it late and had to run through streets desperately trying to find a taxi, eventually did and he totally ripped us off 40 euros to get back to ship and we must have run half way there. Dubrovnik we used ship transfer bus and had a wonderful visit. Lovely hard working staff, great shows which I loved. English was often the first language spoken which surprised me and I understood everything had to be translated into 4 or 5 other languages. Wonderful tenor on board and great acrobats. Some small negatives - Europeans on ship do not queue and push in front of you not matter how patiently you have been queuing - this was to get on/off ship or buy bus tickets. More children than other cruises I have been on but they did not really bother us you can find places to sit away from them. Have to buy tea and coffee apart from buffet area. Same food every dinner time in buffet area as a vegetarian I had chips, pizza and salad every day. Evening meal not best food we ever had if you are a vegetarian get used to egg plant and even as a meat eater my husband said the other cruise lines were better BUT we were full and the soup and salad courses help fill you up. To summarise we had a wonderful cruise, brilliant itinerary, also understood because of distance not full days in port. Would recommend MSC and Divina is big and beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
I have never been on a cruise before so I had no idea what to expect. I don't have a lot of money so I never thought I'd ever be able to afford to go on a cruise, but I was told about a £99 2 night last minute ... Read More
I have never been on a cruise before so I had no idea what to expect. I don't have a lot of money so I never thought I'd ever be able to afford to go on a cruise, but I was told about a £99 2 night last minute "taster" cruise on MSC Opera by a relative. Unfortunately, it was SO last minute that I couldn't find anyone to come with me so I ended up paying £168 for sole occupancy of a twin cabin. However, I could just about manage that so I booked it. I live close to Southampton (why does this site describe it as "London Southampton" when Southampton is 65 miles from London?) so I took the bus to Southampton then walked to the departure terminal. I love ships and boats and I'm also a keen amateur photographer and even before I got on board I was taking photos. When we were allowed on board I went up onto the upper deck and took more photos. MSC Opera is a nice ship, not too big. I decided to take the stairs rather than the elevators most of the time because I decided I needed the exercise and if I'd been able to afford a 2 week cruise I would have been able to lose at least 10 pounds with all the exercise I got. I found my cabin, took my bag inside and unpacked. I kept getting lost until I realised that odd numbers are on one side of the ship and even on the other! We had the compulsory lifeboat drill, but they didn't take our names. If I hadn't told my name to the crew member in charge she would not have asked me and I would not have been marked down on her list. I was very confused about the "extras". We were given a list of what was and was not included in what we had already paid and it said that non-bottled water was included, but I wasn't given a choice. It was bottled (extra) or nothing. Also, coffee in some places was extra but not in others and if, like me, you're on your first ever cruise it's not easy to remember which places. I tried to find where to have my evening meal. We were all given a plastic card to use on board with the details of the restaurant, sitting number and the rest, but mine didn't have any of that so I had to go hunting around the ship to try and find where I should go. In the end one of the senior restaurant staff, after consulting with another one, scrawled an indecipherable hieroglyph on my card with a marker pen and escorted me to a table on my own. He apologised, saying that normally they tried to put people on their own with others in the same position but somehow they'd slipped up with me! I was talked into paying for a "package" so that I could have alcohol with my meals on both nights but I would have done better to have paid for my drinks individually because I only had one glass of wine per night and that wouldn't have amounted to 37 Euros. The food portions in the restaurant were fairly small, but pleasant and well presented. The staff were attentive and pleasant and the surroundings were attractive. Most of my fellow passengers seemed to be from New Zealand, some from the Netherlands and there were a few Americans, French, Italians and a scattering of other nationalities on board too. I speak several languages to a greater or lesser extent, but it's amazing how much you can communicate with a smile and a lot of gesticulation if you meet someone who speaks a language you don't. I didn't sleep very well. I had to get up and put in my earplugs around 2 am because it sounded as though someone was moving heavy furniture around. I'm not sure whether it was cleaning staff changing shifts, but it went on for some time. I didn't want to put in my earplugs on the second night because I'd asked for a 5 am wakeup call so that I could put my nightdress and toiletries in my bag in time to put the bag outside the cabin for collection before 06:30 so I slept very badly indeed. We docked in Ijmuiden on Wednesday 5th. I was meeting up in Amsterdam with a friend I know online so I didn't sign up for the excursion, just for the shuttle bus to the ferry terminal at Velsen and the ferry itself. That cost 18 Euros (8 for the ferry). The shuttle bus driver was very harassed because she was on her own so the group I was with had to hang around in a car park for almost 1/2 hour before she could take us to the ferry terminal at Velsen. Fortunately, I always allow plenty of time for catching connections so I managed to meet up with my friend in Amsterdam at our agreed time of 12:30. Then the ferry at 16:20 to be back at Velsen in time to catch the final shuttle bus to the ship. I'd tried that morning to send an email to my Dutch friend but gave up 12 minutes and 4 Euros later! My card didn't work so I dialled 99 on the internal telephone and was told to come to Reception and get a new one. The girl on Reception said my card must have become "demagnetised" because I'd "obviously" had it near a mobile phone or a camera. None of my other cards have ever been affected and it was in the same card wallet. She gave me another one which this time had a proper restaurant sitting printed on it. I tried the same terminal with the same result then the one next to it - which worked. THEN I realised that the keyboard was European and I couldn't find the @ key - the most essential key for an email! In the end I gave up trying. No, I'm not a "little old lady" who knows nothing about computers. I have a Master's degree in IT! I didn't take advantage of any of the entertainment on board. If the cruise had been longer I probably would have done, but I'd started off early to get to Southampton to board the ship and by the time I'd unpacked and eaten it was almost 10 pm and I was tired. The same with the following night. After several hours wandering around Amsterdam in the hot sun and hanging around waiting for the bus all I wanted to do was eat and go to bed because I knew I had a very early start on Thursday. I also didn't use any of the other facilities. I took one look at the price of the beauty treatments, massages, gym and other such things and had to lie down till I'd got over the shock! I had a feeling it would be expensive, but it was all WAY out of my reach! On Thursday it was time to disembark in Cherbourg. We'd been told to muster in the Caruso lounge, but when I got there - on time - I found only 3 people. Over the next hour or so more people arrived and then we sat and waited ... and waited ... and waited. The excursion numbers were called. By then I'd got chatting to a small group of other people who were catching the ferry back to Portsmouth and we remarked that those people on the excursions with the designations ABCD would have 30 minutes more time than those with EFGH. We who were disembarking from the cruise didn't get off for another hour afterwards. There were no drinks available - not even water - while we were waiting. We finally disembarked to find a waiting shuttle bus to Cherbourg town and the ferry terminal on one side and a horse-drawn carriage to Cherbourg on the other side. ALL were expensive. Since the ferry was tied up about 100 metres behind the ship and it was a pleasant sunny day, six of us decided to walk. That there was nothing in the Brittany Ferry terminal (all four shops were shut because "there is no staff available") was no fault of the cruise company so I won't complain about that. Suffice it to say that we bought a cold drink from a small van parked outside and lay on the grass by the car park till it was time to leave. The interior of the Cherbourg cruise terminal was almost deserted as well. It's a huge 19th century building with a newer part tacked onto it, but there was ONE staff member in the entire building - at least the bits we could see. There were some large ship models on display in the newer section, but no information with them and we were hustled past them at some speed. I really enjoyed my cruise - most of it. I'll divide my comments into two halves. Pros: Very friendly staff Nice ship, not too large Food - tasty and well presented Cabin - surprisingly spacious, although it might not have been with two of us sharing Cons: MIRRORS EVERYWHERE - even on the ceilings of the restaurants! If like me you don't like looking at yourself in a mirror, it's not a good experience! Very confusing to try to work out what was included and what was not. I shouldn't have let myself be talked into spending 37 Euros on something I didn't need Not very organised - as my experience with the restaurant, the bus and the computer demonstrated Tiny pools. I didn't take my swimsuit because I knew I was only going to be on the ship for 1 full day, but I wouldn't have been able to swim in either of the pools at all. They were fairly deep (over 2 metres at one point), but not very big VERY expensive extras! I suppose if I'd stayed on longer I would have worked out what I did or did not need but it would have been good to have had more details Overall impression: lovely ship, nice and clean and well laid out. I like taking photographs so I spent a lot of time on the various decks snapping away. Would I go again? Yes. On the same ship? Yes For longer? If I could afford it Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
This was our second cruise with MSC. The Opera is one of the smaller ships they have. The public rooms are not very spectacular. The cruise was very pleasant however and very easy an well organised. The cabins are quite small (only the ... Read More
This was our second cruise with MSC. The Opera is one of the smaller ships they have. The public rooms are not very spectacular. The cruise was very pleasant however and very easy an well organised. The cabins are quite small (only the bed and a chair with small board, no couch), but cosy. All the ship was very clean. MSC Opera has about 700 cabins and 1800 people sailed on board. So buffets tend to be very crowded. The buffet restaurant is on one of the top decks. The outdoor space of it is not at the aft but in the middle, wich makes it a bit noisy and there is practically no view but only to the sky above. During cruising days almost all deck chairs were occupied, but there is always a space to read or just to take a sunbath. The two swimming pools were nice an always good for a dip. The jacuzzies were also full of people. I would recommend the cruise for people with not too much expectations but you like a have a decent cruise for a very reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We were on the MSC Musica recently and it was by far the worst cruise ever, and none of the other cruises taken were considered bad. It seems that once we hand over our money, we were ignored. We were provided very little information ... Read More
We were on the MSC Musica recently and it was by far the worst cruise ever, and none of the other cruises taken were considered bad. It seems that once we hand over our money, we were ignored. We were provided very little information and all information pertaining to the cruise magically disappeared from their website a week before the embarkation date. In spite of their "One of the strengths of MSC Cruises is our Customer Care Service. Our staff is at your disposal for any enquiry you may have. Please contact the MSC Club at any time, as our staff will be happy to assist you." We were totally forgotten. However, we managed to get to the ship, and it was a long, long walk from the public transport to the check-in counter. It was chaotic, and the staff did provide disinformation. But it also seems all they want to do is to sell the extras associated with the cruise, and everything else including drinking water was extra. Even the quality of food on board was questionable. Services generally were downright poor, and I never encountered good service from any of the Italian staff. However, our Dining Room attendants were great as was the man who maintained our cabin, they were all non-Italian. We had various former Italian prison guards acting as Maitre-Ds in our Dining Room. You would also think so, by the way they bark at passengers! Scheduling of activities on board was very unsatisfactory, as were the facilities. They were either poorly maintained or inadequate. The table tennis gears were falling apart is an example. The pools were too small. We did experience a couple of good acts in the evening performances, and the billings oftentimes had nothing to do with the content. And the way MSC handled shore excursions were really insulting. All disinformation and making sure their services are the only one used. We were totally discouraged to deal with the local services provided on shore, except of course those arranged by MSC and only after they have had their cut. Disembarkation and embarkation procedure were rudely and inefficiently done. There are many, many other incidents that I didn't describe, but the bottom line is simply AVOID MSC! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We always dreamed of seeing the Mediterranean and the affordability of this cruise allowed us to fulfill that dream. $1400 for a balcony cabin (price to 2 people not per person) for a 7 night cruise is a good deal in my book. We had ... Read More
We always dreamed of seeing the Mediterranean and the affordability of this cruise allowed us to fulfill that dream. $1400 for a balcony cabin (price to 2 people not per person) for a 7 night cruise is a good deal in my book. We had sailed on MSC previously in the Eastern Caribbean; it was our first cruise experience and an enjoyable one overall. So with that great price we decided to try the again. We read all the reviews and knew from past experience what we could anticipate in terms of food, service etc. The bottom line is that after the cruise we felt for the most part we got what we paid for but will likely not cruise MSC again. We also learned that if you have the money, its best to see these ports via plane, ferry or some type of transportation that gives you the ability to stay at least 2 nights in each port. I didn't feel that way about the Western Caribbean but definitely feel that way about these ports we visited: Olympia, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Corfu & Dubrovnik. Getting on the ship: It's a long walk with luggage to the ship from where the water taxi drops you off. The entire process took about 40 minutes but they did not give us what we needed for one of the packages we purchased so we had to go to reception and get that straightened out. Not a great start from a service perspective. I don't have a lot else to offer that the previous reviewers have pointed out but I will just run down a quick list of observations: 1. Getting on the ship 1. Food in buffet for breakfast & lunch is pretty much the same every day and I would call it mediocre at best but edible. 2. Food at dinner in the dining room was usually pretty good. We were seated with 6 other Americans and we all said the food was pretty good and some dishes were really good. Only few were rated as poor. The far is Italian each night but variable enough that I did not get bored with it, except for one night where I just could not do any more Italian and just nibbled on a few things. 3. Service in the dining room was pretty good. Our waiter had a really tough time the first night, just could not get anything right, bringing dished out at the wrong time, giving them to the wrong people, forgetting things, etc. I recognize the waiters have a very hard job especially with the language barrier. They know some English but there is somewhat of a barrier. I did feel rushed toward the end of each dinner, the staff were usually rushing to get us dessert at the same time they were dimming the lights telling us we had to leave so the next sitting could begin. This was no fault of ours; we had no control over the pacing of the delivery of the courses. I might suggest they try something less than 7 or 8 courses so people have more time to enjoy their meal, & have coffee, tea or dessert wines after dinner. 4. Service in the buffet was hard to come by. The first day we sat down for lunch, our waiter did not come back for 15 minutes after taking our drink order. When we tried to find out where he was and the other waiters tracked him down, he proceeded to lecture us on how busy they were and we just had to be more patient. Not a good start for service. 5. Service at the bars was the absolute worst. I can't tell you how many times I waited 15 minutes or longer just to get someone to wait on me while standing at the bar, especially at the bars by the pool. They were understaffed, which I completely do not understand considering the amt. of money they must make on alcohol sales. I have heard other cruise lines have people trying to get drinks all the time; it's totally opposite on this cruise line. The other huge issue I had with the bar service is that they don't have any real bartenders. The bartenders have been trained to make whatever is on that drink list and that is it. I asked for simple drinks such as midori sour, amaretto sour, and chocolate martini and they had absolutely no idea how to make it. I tried to show them but it was to no avail. If you want a chocolate martini (not an ice cream drink or whipped cream drink but a real chocolate martini, go to the casino bar, they have crème de cocoa and you have the best shot of getting the bartender to make a drink. There is no excuse for not hiring real bartenders. 6. Cabin - this was our first cruise with a balcony cabin and we enjoyed having the balcony. The room was big enough considering how little time we spent in the room. The bed and pillows were comfortable. Those are the two most important things for me. The bed quilt had a tear in it and the chairs of the balcony were in disrepair. The shower & bathroom were big enough to not feel overly cramped. Lots of storage space, suitcases fit under the bed. A couple were were seated with a dinner had a cabin towards the back of the ship and the motor was so loud the ceiling rattled and they had to be moved to different cabin. 7. Overall Feel of the Ship - decidedly Italian. I would say about 90% Italian and some Germans. I think there were less than 50 Americans on this ship. I welcomed the cultural experience but was ready to come home after the cruise. Let's just say it takes some tolerance, especially if you are accustomed to good manners. It was like a free for all at the buffets, not many courtesies are extended, and I can't remember one time when anyone held a door for me or held open an elevator to give me time to get one. Common sense courtesies where I come from were pretty non-existent on this ship. The ship was pretty well maintained but not as spic and span as the Opera ship we cruised on in the Caribbean. 8. Pools & Hot Tubs - they seemed clean to me and not too crowded. 9. Animation Team - they were pretty entertaining but not as good as the crew we had on the Opera. They pretty much did the same dances and games day after day. I remember a lot more variation on the Opera. 10. Shows - First night was very sexy and avant-garde. Second night showcased a very good tenor and Soprano. One night they had some really good acrobatic work, showcase of great strength. The rest were really not memorable, except for night with a big tenor that had enough vibratos to sink the ship. Oh and one person singing the theme from the Titanic, an odd choice I think. 11. Lounge Entertainment - this was okay, nothing to write home about. DJ in disco refused to play music we wanted to hear despite their being only a few people in the disco. 12. Stability of Ship - it was smooth sailing except for one night where we ran into high winds. I usually need the motion sickness patch but only needed it for one night. 13. Drink Package - we purchased the Allegrissimo package but not the premium package. It was $322 Euros for two people (not per person) for the entire 7 nights. We found a way to get our money's worth as added up our drink receipts and they came to $780 Euros. A lot of that was wastage as many of the drinks they delivered were undrinkable. The wines available with this package are just okay and they are the same every day. They have a very limited draft beer selection (Heineken, Budweiser, Amstel Light) in most bars and by the pool. Bottled beer is not included in the package. Most of the fruity and sweet blender drinks they serve by the pool are included in the package. Vodkas such as Smirnoff and Absolute (plain Absolute) are included. Grey Goose and any of the flavored vodkas are considered premium. Bombay Sapphire Gin is also considered to be premium. Jack Daniels is considered to be premium. Midori, Baileys, Courvoisier are not premium. You can order multiple drinks at one time using the package. You can also order doubles they usually want one drink card with package for every 2 drinks they bring. They put a star on your cruise ship card to denote your drink package. To give you an idea of the cost of drinks if your not buying the package, Diet Coke 2.70E, B52 - 4.90E, Small Water 1.45E, Large Water 2.90 E (although Americans only get one free bottle of water per day per person), Cape Cod 6.25E, Cosmopolitan 6.25E, Jim Beam & Coke 6.25E,Baileys on Rocks 4.90E, White Russian 6.25E, Small Draft Beer 2.90E, Large (40CL) Draft Beer 4.90E, Daiquiri 6.25E, Glass of Merlot 4.50E, Pina Coloda 6.25E. 14. Ports - Venice - we spent a few nights in Venice pre-cruise and absolutely loved it. We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky, which was beautiful. I recommend 3 nights here pre-cruise. Bari - this is really one you can skip and stay on the ship to relax. The city does not do much to cater to tourist and there isn't much to see other than few churches. It is a moderately long walk into town. Olympia - we took a private taxi tour and enjoyed the historical sites. We stopped at a beautiful restaurant overlooking a lovely beach. It was very nice. The ship was late in arriving; we did not get into port until 1:45pm and had to be back on board by 6pm so we really did have not much time. This had me thinking, I really came all the way from the US to spend 4 hours here? Not enough time. Santorini - we took the ship tour because we knew we would be the first off the ship. That was important because we had to tender from the ship to the port and then if not taking the ship tour, you have to wait in line to take the vernacular up the mountain. The gov't workers in Santorini were on strike the day we arrived so we wanted to avoid that line. We were on the first tender and then a bus picked us up and took us to Ola. We had about 1.5 hours on Ola, which was barely enough time to walk through part of town and take some photos. The streets are narrow and crowded and it takes a while to walk through the street and you have to give yourself time to get back to the bus. From there they took us to a winery overlooking the ocean and it was a gorgeous view. We stayed there for about 45 minutes and then they took us to Fira and we walked around Fira but needed to find our own way back down the mountain. The line for the vernacular was over an hour long so we walked down the donkey path, not pleasant but was the only way we felt we would make it back to the cruise ship on time. The ship arrived in Santorini at 9am and we had to be back on board by 2:15pm. Mykonos - Ship arrived at 7:30pm, by the time we got off the ship it was about 8pm. We took a taxi into town (too far to walk) sharing it with 2 ship friends. We walked around for a few hours and had a drink at bar right on the ocean with the water lapping at our feet. We had to get in line for a taxi about 11pm so we could be assured get back to the ship by 12am. Again, not enough time. When we booked the cruise it advertised that it overnighted in Mykonos, which was a big attraction. Well it you call getting back on the ship at 12am and leaving at 1am overnighting then I guess that counts but not in my book. Corfu - one our most favorite days. Rented a car (50 Euros) & split cost with 2 ship friends. Headed to a gorgeous beach and rented a paddle boat and spent a few hours in and on the water. We then tried to find Mouse Island but could not find it. The ship arrived in Corfu at 1pm and we had to be back on board at 6:30pm. Again not enough time for as far as we came. Lesson learned. Athens - we took the subway to a stop near the Acropolis (Monastrocky>) and walked up a hill to the Acropolis. It was breathtaking, all the history and view of Athens were breathtaking. We walked around the city and took the subway back to the ship. It's a very long walk from the cruise doc to the subway station so it going that route, would suggest building that into your time schedule. Probably 20 - 30 minute walk at a fast pace. Taxi is an option but traffic was really bad and some folks we know got stuck in traffic and almost missed the deadline to be back at the ship. Some folks we knew took the red bus tour but with traffic being so bad they did not get to many sites. The ship arrived at 7:30am and we had to be back on board by 3:30pm. The people in Athens could not have been nicer to us. They warned us of pickpockets and the tourism office by the Acropolis is a great source for information an d maps. Dubrovnik - architecturally this city is beautiful. We arrived early in the morning so it was quiet and we walked the walls of the city without gaggles of tourists from other ships. It was a highlight of our trip. The setting is breathtaking. The currency is not the Euro so beware, many people tried to rip us off with the currency conversion trying to charge as much as 7E for a soda. No diet coke or diet Pepsi available here, they only have Coke Zero. No idea why. Once the tourists from the other ships arrived, the charm was lost; the inside of the cit is basically a ton of touristy gift shops, restaurants and wall-to-wall people. The ship arrived at 7:30am and we had to back on board by 1pm. We took the ship shuttle into town the cruise port; this is the best way to go. The cost was 10E per person round trip. Departure: We booked the cruise shuttle back to the airport (15E per person). This is a great deal compared to the water taxi and takes only a half hour compared to the water taxi which takes about 2.5 hours unless you hire a private water taxi which then it would take about 30 minutes. The cost of a private water taxi was $150E for 4 people including luggage. We had a bit of trouble locating our luggage at the cruise port, they had them grouped by numbers and the numbers corresponded with the cruise shuttle, we were on the first shuttle so ours had no number. One of our bags was put in group number 4 by mistake so we had to look through tons of bags to find our missing bag. The loading of the bus was chaotic with someone getting on our bus that was not supposed to be on the bus causing them to unload and reload the entire luggage and then they forgot to put our bags back on the bus and we had to demand they be put back on the bus. Two of the folks we dined with had one of their bags damaged (ripped up) by the cruise line when they were being loaded onto the ship. The cruise line refused to do anything to assist and told them to call an 800 number when they got home. Not a solution when you have clothes to pack and suitcase that can no longer function to hold your clothes. This is my biggest worry about cruising this line again, I understand that problems happen from time to time and I think cruise lines should be evaluated on the frequency of those problems and their ability to make things right. This cruise line seems to have frequent complaints and they seem to have no desire to make things right when something goes wrong. We knew the service gaffe risks going into this cruise so while disappointed the cruise line did not exceed our low expectations, we still managed to have a good time and met some really nice people at our dinner table. As I said in the beginning set your expectations according what you have read on this site and take advantage of a good cruise deal if you can find it on MSC, if your willing to tolerate all the stuff I described above. If you can afford better and know other cruise lines can deliver better service, food etc, then go that direction. I think you have the information available on this site that is needed to make the best choice for yourself. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Review of MSC Armonia, September 28, 2012 This is not a cruise for the average American, but if you know what you are getting into you can have a very good time. Moreover, Italian cruise lines (MSC and Costa) are often right now an ... Read More
Review of MSC Armonia, September 28, 2012 This is not a cruise for the average American, but if you know what you are getting into you can have a very good time. Moreover, Italian cruise lines (MSC and Costa) are often right now an amazing bargain, partly due to the fear caused by the resent Costa Concordia disaster, one of the worst since the Titanic. As usual, people always over-react to bad news, and the Italian lines are probably now the safest in the world due to new and stringent safety measures. For example, both Costa and MSC now have the most exhaustive muster drills you have ever seen. You are given a card to turn in at your muster station and if you don't show up you will be required to attend a make-up session. Everyone must correctly don their life jacket and show that they know where to line up for their lifeboat. Some good things about MSC: 1) You get a chance to meet folks from lots of other cultures. Americans were only about 1-2% of the cruisers on our Italy and Greece cruise and about 20% on our Caribbean cruise on MSC. The MSC Armonia cruise was about 50% Italians, 20% German, 10% French, 5% British, 5% Czech and 10% other (mostly Eastern European) countries. 2) Internet is amazingly cheap, about 12 cents per minute in a package, about 1/5 the price of American-owned cruise lines. It is also much better with speeds varying from .5Mps to 8 Mps, and very reliable. 3) Service at the front desk is better, with large separate desks for accounting, purser, and shore excursions staffed with lots of knowledgeable people. 4) Most MSC ships have lots of open outdoor space at the back of the ship on almost every floor, great for quietly getting away from poolside crowds. American ships tend to turn that stern space into cabins. 5) Embarkation and disembarkation is a breeze on MSC, much better than American ships. They have special secure places to leave your carry-on luggage while you eat, and they don't rush you off. Some negatives: 1) Italian ships have a lower space per passenger ratio, so rooms can be smaller and public space is definitely less, so that the ships can be crowded. 2) It is annoying to hear messages again and again in 5 languages, though MSC is one of the few lines with no messages in the rooms. 3) Service is a little gruff, especially in the dining room. This is partly due to the fact the Italians believe that supervisors and management can only be Italians, so there is no opportunity for advancement for the rank and file. For example, one virtually never sees non-Italian head waiters or Maitre'd. 4) Food is not as good as on the American-owned lines, even adjusting for European tastes. 5) The pools are not heated, making for some very cold morning swims. 6) There is virtually no entertainment, other than the major shows, and those are a little strange for US tastes. With passengers speaking 10 different languages, you can't really have comedians, magicians, mimes, etc., so standard shows include a hula hoop artists, jugglers, contortionists, clowns, and a very strange man dressing up in cardboard mockups of famous women's outfits (we called him the cardboard drag queen"), who was extremely popular with European audiences. However, the singers are occasionally of opera diva quality, as was the case with the female singer on this ship. 7) For similar reasons, there will be no Karaoke, trivia contests, photography classes, computer classes, galley or bridge tours, backstage theater tours, art, ice carving, etc. Specifically, our latest cruise on MSC Armonia would rate a B-, or 3 ½ out of 6 stars, compared with all of our 22 cruises. But it was nevertheless, amazing value for the money since we paid under $400 for an inside cabin including all taxes in late September. This was for a 7-day cruise which included port stops every day in Greece, Italy and Montenegro. Embarkation. Embarkation was relatively easy, with reasonable lines and only one more stop for customs after checking in. Venice is a nice place to visit before the cruise (everyone should see Venice before they die, though the amazing crowds there sometimes make you want to die). Boarding the ship, the Israeli security team was smooth and efficient. A head cabin steward met us and brought us to our room, which was a nice touch. We had only hand luggage since we had spent a few days in Venice before and didn't want to be dragging large bags all through the narrow streets and rivers of Venice. A large portion of the ship was given over to shopping stores. The ship had excellent stability and we experienced almost no rolling, even in mild-moderate waves and wind. Cabin: Our cabin steward was excellent, and constantly asked what else he could do to meet our needs. He performed almost at the level of a personal butler. The room was very plain, with almost no art, but was very well laid out. There were two 110 volt and two 220 volt European style outlets at a well-laid out desk. The night stand had no drawers, only shelves. There was an older tube style 15-inch TV with only 2 English channels. Bathroom size was ok, but with the smallest shower stall we have ever seen on any cruise ship. The shower head, pleasingly, was high enough that it could be used by non-midgets. There was no bar soap or toiletries in the cabins. Robes were only supplied to balcony and suite patrons, but our cabin steward managed to sneak two of them to us. Toilets were unusually quiet for a cruise ship; we didn't feel like we would be sucked in and blown out the side of the ship. Food: There was a restaurant for those with fixed dining, but, unlike on American or Northern European cruise lines, the waiters were not trained to get to know the passengers or their preferences. We never even met our Maitre'd and they and the head waiters seemed to serve no obvious function on this ship. Food was sometimes barely palatable to American taste, with tough, fatty meats. A few dishes (mostly Italian food such as eggplant parmiagiana, most pastas, and zuppa di past y fagioli, were home runs. Omelets, bagels, pasta stations and other staples of most cruise ships were not available. Seatings were at 6:30pm and 9 pm, late for American standards, but it worked well. The cafeteria on the pool deck served decent food, but variety was not great from day to day, except on the entrees. The ship charged for ice cream, crepes, and juices other than watered down breakfast juice. The ship only had two ice machines and one of those was usually broken. As a nice gesture they gave all North Americans coupons for 7 free 1-liter bottles of water (I guess they figured out we like cold water, but are not used to paying for it). We were well-matched with our 6 other table mates, the only other middle-aged Americans on board. Activities and Entertainment: As stated above, there were essentially no activities other than the main shows, some lounge acts, and an occasional dance class. The lounge acts wouldn't pass muster in suburban Denver. The one exception was the jazz pianist/sax players, who were truly excellent. Unfortunately, they camped permanently in the only full-smoking lounge on this ship, which was terminally uninhabitable, except for the emphysematous cruiser. The big theater, La Fenice was attractive, with a good sound system and lighting. Unfortunately, it was designed very poorly with only 300 seats, half of those with terrible sight lines. This on a ship with 2000 passengers, most of whom had to stand or leave every night. If you could find a seat, the quality of the big shows was surprisingly good, with near Las Vegas quality dancers. The male singer was ok, but Italians seem to have a surplus of truly diva-quality female singers and the MSC Armonia was no exception. Claudia was a 10, whether singing pop, opera, or show tunes. The other performers stayed on the ship all seven days and performed most nights. These included a hula hoop/acrobatics girl and the above-mentioned cardboard drag queen. Rounding out the troop were two Cirque de Soleil quality acts: 2 strongmen who performed graceful and amazing lifts and contortions and the best juggling act I have ever seen. The jugglers actually got dressed and undressed while juggling 4 pins plus their clothing. Disembarkation: Amazingly simple: just get off when you want. Lots of exits with no waits at all. Ports: 1) Ancona, Italy: Not the most beautiful city in Italy, a little gritty, but very interesting and nice that we dock right in the town. It is a popular ferry port for boats to Croatia, Montenegro and Greece. We climbed the hill to the very attractive church were we enjoyed a festival with a local choir and hiked over to Hadrian's Arch, perfectly preserved from 200 AD, and larger than the Arch of Titan in Rome. 2) Corfu, Greece: A beautiful island very walkable main city with 2 fantastic 15th century Venetian forts, a beautiful synagogue, nice Esplanade and constant games of cricket, made popular during transient British rule. 3) Santorini, Greece: Arguably the most beautiful island in Greece. The town of Oia is the one on the cover of almost every Greek guide book. The ship anchors at the "old port", 1000 feet below the cliffs that make up the island (most of the island sunk into the sea around 1500BC causing the tsunamis that helped bring an end to Minoan civilization) and the sunken part may represent the "lost" city of Atlantis. Take the donkeys (only 5 euro) up the path to the city of Fira, and then take the bus to Oia. MSC nicely arranges this stop from 3:30pm to 10:30pm, so that you can enjoy Oia's famous sunsets. 4) Athens: The ship is only in port for 5 hours, so we took the fast Metro from the port of Piraeus to Athens (a one mile walk from the pier and a 15 minute subway ride) to the Acropolis and did the free Rick Steeves iPhone walking tour of the Acropolis and wonderful new Acropolis museum. The cafe in the museum is fantastic, with good WiFi and reasonable prices with an amazing view. 5) Kefallonia, Greece: The beautiful island where Captain Corelli's violin was filmed and takes place. The main city is not very interesting, so we rented a car (much cheaper, only 25 euros, if you do it in advance) and explored the beautiful island. Very easy driving with courteous people, signs in English, and beautiful scenery. 6) Kotor, Montenegro: Surprisingly, the highlight of the trip. The beautiful inland bay of Kotor is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful in the world, a cross between San Francisco Bay and the Amalfi Coast. We took the on-off bus to little towns in the bay and it was wonderful. Don't miss this port if you get a chance to see it. 7) Venice, Italy: Venice is always wonderful, though it is much more crowded than our visit of 7 years ago. The streets are totally gridlocked with people and the constant flooding makes it impossible to move around. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
The cruise left from Venice and took us to Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Argostoli, Kotor, and back to Venice. We arrived early at Venice port, about 12.00 noon, and boarding was very quick and efficient, within minutes we were on ... Read More
The cruise left from Venice and took us to Ancona, Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Argostoli, Kotor, and back to Venice. We arrived early at Venice port, about 12.00 noon, and boarding was very quick and efficient, within minutes we were on board. We had lunch at the buffet and then went back to town, as the ship left only at 7pm. For this, it is essential to bring your passport or ID! From Venice Port, the people mover takes you to Piazzale Roma for 1 Euro. Our cabin NR. 8033 was an inside cabin in the front. Very quiet, could not hear anything from our neighbours or the ship's engine, the only noise came from the Armonia lounge below, which was quite loud, but there was not program there every evening, so it was bearable. We had the Allegrissimo drinks package for EUR 23 per day and person, and we had a lot of fun with it. For breakfast, we ordered cappuccino and freshly squeezed orange juice, instead of the normal coffee and juice available at the buffet. With meals, we always had a glass of wine (or two...), and for sundowner, we always enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine on the deck. For sure this package saved us a lot of money, highly recommended. We had breakfast sometimes at the buffet and sometimes at the main dining room. Lunch mainly at the main dining room, much nicer. Dinner always at the main dining room, late seating at 9.30pm most evenings, which was quite late (even 10pm on the Santorini day). The quality of food was excellent at the main dining room, so-so at the buffet. We did not participate in any of the organized excursions, we made our own tours: Ancona: a nice town, from the ship it was only steps to the old town. Nice walk there. Corfu: we walked into town, it took us about half an hour, this can be a hot walk. On the way back, we took the city bus for EUR 1.50. It leaves from the old port and takes you straight back to the cruise port, easy to use. The bus stop in front of the cruise terminal is inside the port area. Santorini: you need to get numbers for the tender boat, make sure you get them early, at 9am. Once ashore, we took the cable car to the town of Fira for EUR 4 per person. Nice walk in Fira. We walked back to the port, but it was not a nice walk, the path was sometimes blocked with donkeys, and it is quite smelly. I would recommend to take the cable car also for the way back. Athens: about half an hour's walk to the metro station, from there it is a short ride (6 stops) to Thissio, at the foot of the Acropolis. The metro fare is EUR 1.50 each way. Argostoli: tender boat to get ashore. If you want to leave the ship early, you need to get numbers again, but we were not in a hurry here, for disembarking at 10am it was not necessary. The tender boat dropped us off right in the center of Argostoli. Don't miss the huge sea turtles near the fisher-men's boats! Kotor: the pier is a few steps away from the old town. Very nice walk there. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We chose the MSC Devina because it was a new ship and we wanted to experience another cruise line It took one hour to board the ship and a further hour to organise dinning times. We had booked second sitting dinning nine months ago but ... Read More
We chose the MSC Devina because it was a new ship and we wanted to experience another cruise line It took one hour to board the ship and a further hour to organise dinning times. We had booked second sitting dinning nine months ago but this had not been automatically allocated. Not the best start to our holiday. The ship was exceptionally clean and tidy as was our stateroom. We booked a balcony room which was very disappointing. The balcony was metal therefor we were unable to see anything when seated. On previous cruises we have had a glass balcony and feel this restricted view should have been flagged up prior to booking. The dinning rooms felt cramped and the standard of food and food presentation was poor. We spent most of our evenings at the speciality restaurants, which did involve additional payment, but service and food standards where excellant. Staff did not appear to be motivated to please, and some lacked basic customer service training. Ports of call were interesting but a little rushed. The ship was very noisy and children were allowing into every area including the adult only pool area and even the casino! Disembarkation was quick and easy, perhaps the best part of this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
The ship is beautiful. Our cabin is spacious and airy. The dining and cleaning staff attentive and friendly. There is no tea or coffee at dinner time. The photographers are intrusive everywhere on the ship. I had reserved 4 shore ... Read More
The ship is beautiful. Our cabin is spacious and airy. The dining and cleaning staff attentive and friendly. There is no tea or coffee at dinner time. The photographers are intrusive everywhere on the ship. I had reserved 4 shore excursions over a month before sailing on the MSC web-site. They had no record of them so I missed the tour in Bari and had to re-book the others. Coffee only available in the cafeteria. All the bar staff are aggressive in pushing booze. We don't drink. Coffee only available in one bar and they charge. A welcome aboard sign on the sparkling water is words only. You are charged for the water. Ice cream only in the Coffee Bar. You are charged. In short, if you have cruised before you will be irritated very quickly. The ships layout in the public areas is design by a disoriented wanderer. Reboarding after a port of call requires climbing 3 decks before you get to a deck that the other elevators are accessable. Having grand time. I only choose the cruise because of Venice, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. I should have paid a bit more on gone on Holland America or Royal Carribean. If you like being irritated then this is the line for you, otherwise choose Costa, at least you can have some excitement ;) Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
The cruise was selected because of the schedule and specific ports of call. The main source of frustration was the daily newsletter and the personnel working the service desk. The main nightly entertainment was listed in the ... Read More
The cruise was selected because of the schedule and specific ports of call. The main source of frustration was the daily newsletter and the personnel working the service desk. The main nightly entertainment was listed in the newsletter as a single name with no explanation of what it was and the service desk provided little additional information. The newsletter arrived so late at night, that planning for breakfast in order to attend scheduled tours - the service desk rarely had the tour time schedules the night before. When asked about what currency should be used at different calls, the service desk answers differed with the accounting desk. When we discovered that we would have to wait an hour and a half after the last tour group left the ship in Venice, we decided to try to go ashore on our own. When we ask the service desk if they had a map of the port so we could see where the water bus stops were, we were told they did not have one. Asked if they knew when the stops were located they said they did not know. We were left to wait for the late schedule ship to S. Marc Square. When we return we had to go through customs before boarding the ship. Once thru customs we walked past a water bus stop RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BOW of our ship! When I complained to the supposedly service desk supervisor, there was no apology or expressed concern. I doubt that I will ever recommend MSC to any of my friends or relatives in the future. As a side note: Don't worry about the dress code for the main dining facilities. You saw a many t-shirts and jeans as you did coats and ties. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Our port to board the cruise that we chose was Venice so before the cruise we flew Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi into the city of Milan and immediately after checking in a hotel next to the Milano Central train station we went to Duomo and ... Read More
Our port to board the cruise that we chose was Venice so before the cruise we flew Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi into the city of Milan and immediately after checking in a hotel next to the Milano Central train station we went to Duomo and spent our day there. The following morning we bought a ticket with Trenitalia (36 Euros- 2nd class ticket) from Milano Central to Mestre Station where we spent one night in Venice in a hotel close to the Mestre Station (Lugano Hotel). There after checking in we took the bus to Venice (aprox 15 minutes) and once in Venice we passed our day walking around the city. About Venice, I could say that is a pretty city but to over crowded with people and prices are very high since is a tourist popular spot, not to mention that even if you want to use a bathroom you must pay. (Must husband said as long as there is a bush there is a toilet!) The following Day we started out for our adventure and went from the Lugano Hotel in Mestre to Venice. We arrived to Venice we took the people mover to our cruise, (1Euro per person) and as soon as we got off the people mover there was a sign for passengers of MSC where some free busses would pick up there and take you to the Cruise to start your checking process. Recommendations in Italy: -If you are only staying one night there are many hotels in Mestre that are close and has easy access to Venice and better prices. -If you are planning to use your credit card, some places would ask you for your pin number in a credit card, so be sure you get that number from your provider. - If you are using public transportation in Italy, whatever ticket you have, do not forget to validate your ticket before you climb on board the train. My husband and I took the MSC Divina out of Venice, Italy in the first week of September 2012 and had a wonderful time on the ship. Boarding the cruise was relatively smooth I could say that didn't take us more than one hour from the moment we got there to our standard inside cabin 12187, located on Aurora deck 12. Our overall experience in Divina was great. The beautiful floating city is huge boat, so big we could not walk every single floor in our 8 days on it, but we try to be in almost every single public spot of the boat, not to mention that the views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean are breathtaking, and the ride on Divina is smooth as silk. About our destinations we think that it's hard to deny that The Mediterranean Sea (Latin for "the middle of the earth") is one of the most diversified cruise destinations in the world with many of the most amazing ports ever to be found, even if my husband and I agree that since Italy is a beautiful country the port of Bari is not the nicest to visit in Italy. Safety procedures Lifebelts are located in the wardrobes. Compulsory emergency drill for all guests and emergency lifeboat exercise is held in your assigned an assembly station and shown what to do - in five different languages. The Ship - Public Areas There were a lot of these: restaurants, bars, a 24-hour casino whilst the ship is at sea, a big theater, library, shopping stores, gymnasium, pool, Jacuzzis and spa. The bars and lounges are attractively furnished - good solid comfortable chairs and seats. There is smoking on board in some designed areas, but all the restaurants were all non-smoking. Restaurants: There are many restaurants in this cruise, for all kind of food lovers in case you do not want to eat daily in your assigned restaurant. In our case we booked a 2nd dining seating and the hours of dining seating are one at as 7pm, and the next being at 9pm. Honestly the reason why we booked 2nd seating is thinking about diner at that hour would be most for adults. Our assigned restaurant for diner was the Villa Rossa, in there your table is assigned since the beginning of your cruise and you share the table with the same people, and we were very lucky to have a good dinner table, and our waiters were always greeting us with a smile. Entertainment: Every single night on the cruise there is a show on the Pantheon Theater and the cruise director Franco would introduce the show on more than 6 languages so not matter what language do you speak you would be able to understand what the show is going to be about. The Michael Jackson show was the best. Lighting effects and great performers. In general, we must say that we enjoy the shows every night before going to our diners. On the other hand Most of the bars had resident singer's bands or Djs, and there are plenty daily activities everywhere you go on the cruise, just be sure you read your daily program that you won't miss anything. Wifi: We brought our i-phones and a laptob computer that we use to connect to the internet and when you brouse to use the internet it takes you to the msc webpage and you pick different increments, 30, 60, 100, etc, minutes and we chose 100 min for $15.00 euros and just connected to download my email to keep in touch, it's automatically charged to your room. Just be sure to logout! Or your time keeps running until you expend your last coin. Ports to Visit on this cruise: Bari Italy In this port we caught the MSC shuttle bus that take you from the cruise port to the city, and from there we just walked around the small narrow streets of the city and visited it churches and the harbor. Katakalon Greece After Bari we headed down the coast to Katakalon where we took a private excursion to Olympia, offer just as soon as you start working in to Katakolon with a company called Global Travel (for only 10 Euros for person the transportation) Olympic is the original places were they started the Olympic Games. We visited there the archaeological site and for that, one hour is more than enough time. (Tickets are 9 Euros for both archeological and museum or either one for 6 Euros for person) and from there back to Katakolon were we now headed back to the boat, since there are not many hours in this port. Izmir Turkey We found that overall; the best way to tour the city was to find a taxi at port and request for them to take us to the place we want to visit ( In our case it was the ancient city of Ephesus and the virgin Maria house). Therefore, we hired a taxi driver as soon as we got off from the ship and spent our day in this magnificent place. (We paid 90 Euros for the taxi ride). Istanbul Turkey Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents. It is the nearest Asian city to Europe, and the nearest European city to Asia. Istanbul, in my personal opinion, is one of the most exciting ports on the Mediterranean. Ships tie up right in the center of town and if you decide to, you could literally walk to the Galata Bridge and just a few minutes from there take the tram, in our case we hired one of the many drivers that parked outside the boat waiting for passengers to head to the tourist places, in our case here we visited the Topkapi palace, the blue Mosque and the grand bazaar. Be sure to negotiate the rate with the taxi driver. It is good to mention that in this port you would have many hours since you get there at 730 AM arrival and you must be on board by 430 pm. (Wepaid 90 Euros for a taxi to take us to The Blue Mosque area, and in there we visited The Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and Agia Sophia. and from there take us to the Grand Bazaar and bring us back to the port all this from 9 am to 230 Pm.) so my advice is if you book a taxi be sure you arrange your hours from that time until at least 4 00 PM that you won't miss a minute in these fabulous city. Also Don't pay the taxi driver until after the end of the day and your returned to the ship! Dubrovnik Croatia Our last port of call was Dubrovnik in Croatia; there we rode a MSC bus from the port to the city center, which is surrounded by walls. We walked around and saw the most important buildings and stop to see everything that this place has to offer. My advice is if you go there be sure you enjoy a cold beer or one of their famous ice creams and one of the many ice cream shops, and them be ready to walk the city and appreciate its beauty and since is right on the coast you would have the chance to see some beautiful breathtaking views. Disembarkation our luggage was collected from outside our cabin late on the last night after we'd labeled it. Then we were up early for our disembarkation process. We waited for a while in the main theater then our group was called and sadly, we were off the ship. We found our luggage very quickly, saw it loaded onto the coach, and waited for just a few minutes before setting off. We again took the people mover and one time in Venice, we caught an airport shuttle bus from Piazzale Roma to Marco Polo airport (6 Euros for one way for person). Buses run often and it takes 20 minutes to the airport so we got there with plenty of time for our 230 Pm flight back to Dubai with Emirates Airlines. Top 5 Must-Pack Items for a Cruise - After this cruise I would say that we would like to recommend this top 5 items: - 3 copies of your passport, 1 in your suitcase, 1 to take with you in port and 1 to email yourself in case you lose your documentations when traveling. -One envelope to save bar receipts in case you get charged for something you think is not correct, or just to keep control and order with your receipts. - TSA locks. -umbrella, sweater and something to cover your heard, personally we used the umbrella not on our cruise but in Venice since was raining two days in a roll, you never know when you would need it, and your scarf is always useful if you plan to visit places that require women to cover their hear. - One small extension cord, since there are not many places to plug your electronics on the cabin. Conclusion: My husband and I had an outstanding time on this trip and it will hold many memories into the future, we made new friends and we are so glad for the opportunity we had to do it. In addition, I thanks every single person that make this trip an unforgettable experience, and I do recommend people to experience the travel on board an MSC cruise whatever would be their destination. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Overall a pleasant trip. Food was very good and room was nice. Unfortunately we traveled at a time of severe unrest in the Middle East. My wife and I visited Tunis and later that same day they had a riot (Sept 11, 2012), Marseille where ... Read More
Overall a pleasant trip. Food was very good and room was nice. Unfortunately we traveled at a time of severe unrest in the Middle East. My wife and I visited Tunis and later that same day they had a riot (Sept 11, 2012), Marseille where they had a demonstration, and Barcelona where they had strikes(I think over austerity). It certainly wasn't MSC's fault but heck, I'm paying for excitement I didn't reckon on and it was unsettling. We made a grievious error eating breakfast at the buffet every day until the very last day when we ate in the dining room. Crowded, noisy, rude travelers AND busboys-not a pleasant experience. We should have eaten at the dining room every morning-great waiters, beautiful room, quite! Our mistake because we always had good experiences at breakfast buffets on other cruise lines. Disappointed with entertainment(shows). Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Our overall impression of this cruise was very positive, and we would align ourselves more with skintman's assessment than with more negative reviews. The key requirements were definitely in place: a safe and well managed cruise on ... Read More
Our overall impression of this cruise was very positive, and we would align ourselves more with skintman's assessment than with more negative reviews. The key requirements were definitely in place: a safe and well managed cruise on an excellent, well maintained and very clean ship, with friendly and courteous staff. Our balcony cabin was very pleasant: well equipped, spacious enough for us, comfortable bed. There were a lot of different nationalities represented in terms both of passengers and staff. Some passengers were in large family and friend groups, and at times the children were a bit noisy. It's probably inevitable in the main school holiday period, and with apparently free places for children. Those looking for a more sedate environment might not be too comfortable on the cruise, but certainly our cabin provided the peace and privacy whenever we needed it. We had our evening meals in the Oleandro dining room; the food was generally good to very good, and the service was efficient and pleasant. We only bought one excursion - we generally managed to do see what we wanted to without too much of a problem at 30-40% of the shore excursion price. A bit of research on the Internet helps. Truth to tell, we felt at times that there were too many money-making activities, ranging from hard sell drink packages to expensive shuttle coaches and including expensive photo packages at meals, embarkation, and 'meet the captain' functions. The daily service charge of euros per person, as well as the 15% service charge on drinks purchases, all added up! We are not particularly extrovert or gregarious people; we might have enjoyed the trip even more if we had felt inclined to join in drinking sessions at bars, casinos, pool entertainments, holiday camp-style competitions,but we were quite happy not to. Every evening there was a well choreographed light entertainment show, designed for an international audience and delivered by an energetic and talented group of singers, dancers, athletes, conjurers and jugglers. Not top class, but innocuous and generally good quality. We chose the cruise as it was a relaxing way of visiting a number of places we wanted to see - Greek islands and Dubrovnik in particular. We return with a sense of mission accomplished and a feeling that we would like to cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
First, a bit of background about ourselves. We discovered cruising about 15 months ago, and since have been on 13 cruises on Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Costa, and MSC. All our cruises have taken place in ... Read More
First, a bit of background about ourselves. We discovered cruising about 15 months ago, and since have been on 13 cruises on Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Costa, and MSC. All our cruises have taken place in Europe and Asia. Since all our cruises have taken place over a short time span it puts us in a good position to make comparisons and rate the different cruise lines against each other. This review concerns our 2nd cruise on the MSC Armonia on a 7 day cruise to Venice-Ancona-Corfu-Santorini-Athens-Argostoli-Kotor-Venice in August/September 2012. Booking: No special items to note here. Check in can be completed online and is a bit easier than most cruise lines. Some drink packages can be pre booked as well as excursions. No credit card is required during the pre booking process as you are charged to the room account when you get on board. Drink Packages: A note on drinks -- the only drinks included with your fare are juice (breakfast only),tap water, coffee, and tea. Iced tea and lemonade are NOT included -- this seems the norm with non-American cruise lines (Costa free drinks are the same). You can purchase a coupon book for beer, or soda. Be warned however, the bar staff is very strict on the use of the coupons. Beer coupons for example are only good for the draft beer of which there are only one or two varieties, Carlsberg being the most available. Cocktail coupons are good all top-12 cocktails (e.g. pina colada or BBS) and for a classic martini, but not good for any other drinks such as special martinis like an appletini even though the listed price is the same. Embarkation: We took a blue line boat from St. Mark's square to the cruise port. From the boat dock it was a short walk to the ship. We booked last minute and did not have a ticket booklet, but the process was smooth and painless. The staff placed tags onto our bags, we handed them to the porter staff, and headed inside with a boarding number. Walking to the check in desk (no line) we checked in are were given our room keys. As we walked away from the desk are boarding number was called, and we proceeded through security and boarded the ship. Other Passengers: It should be noted that this section is what you can expect with most cruises in Europe and Asia, especially when American or British passengers are not in the majority. Different cultures have different views on personal space and the way to stand in line. Different cultures are not better nor worse: they're just different. Expect people to cut in front of you in the buffet line, push their way ahead in line for the front desk, and run in front during excursions (actually, the excursion run is common even in the mostly American cruise too, especially with our Holland American cruise). The people themselves seem very nice, but when they're in groups -- watch out! Ship Condition: About what can be expected for a ship this age. Some areas starting to look old, but the ship is kept up very well. Public areas are very clean and in good shape. Bathrooms always clean. The room: The Armonia is an older ship and the majority of the cabins are oceanview or inside. The rooms with balconies are classified as "suites" and have a price tag to match the name. The suites aren't special from what we were able to see through an open door while the steward was attending the room, maybe even a bit small compared to most ships' balcony rooms. Back to our oceanview room -- the room was nice and the window was great. The largest and cleanest window we had seen during our cruises (clean during the first few days anyway). We had a bed for two (the beds had some trouble staying as one unit), a desk with a chair and a small stool. Bathroom was average size with a standard shower. Soap and Shampoo was available using an on-wall dispenser. (The dispenser was okay, but wash cloths are not provided. Having been on an MSC cruise before, we took along a small sponge for the soap) Room was cleaned well and cleaning staff was very friendly. Don't expect any towel animals :( Temperature control seemed to be very sensitive, but controlled the temperature well once set. Room Service Breakfast: Nothing too special. Only breads, cereals, fruits, yogurt, coffee/tea/juices were available. No hot food items. Juice was very watered down and was without a doubt the worst juice I ever drank -- anywhere! Room Service Lunch/Dinner: We didn't order lunch or dinner but from what I was able to tell there was a charge of 3 euros for one plate and 5 euros for 2 plates. Menu was very limited and did not include items from the dining room. The Buffet: General -- we never had a problem finding a table inside or outside. Not sure why, but it was a nice surprise on a ship. Breakfast -- skip this. Go to the dining room instead. The items are identical, only the dining room has them hot and fresh. Stay away from the juice unless you like tomato juice. Lunch -- not bad. Low selection, average quality. We were surprised that with an Italian ship that they would have such a poor selection of salad greens (only iceberg) especially considering the dining room salads were pretty good. Dressing was a very runny Ranch, so-so Caesar, Thousand Island, and Italian. Fighting off the line cutters, some food was average, some was terrible. The grill was better than average supplying us with hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and fixins. The pizzeria's pizza was non-consistent, but on the good days it was excellent. The high point of the lunch was the fresh pasta. Available drinks at no cost are water, tea, and coffee. If you can, spring the extra cost for bottled water. The tap water had a taste that it had been through a garden hose. Deserts were average. Dinner -- similar to the lunch fare. Same salad, same grill. Nothing special to report. Drink service can be hard to come by, as the same great staff that had been helping you out at lunch are now spread over the many lounges throughout the ship. Dining Room: General: The wait staff on the Armonia wasn't as friendly as most ships we've been on. Our particular servers were great but you can tell the employees don't seem as happy to be on board as with most cruise lines. (noted with both our MSC cruises) Not sure what's going on with MSC but some employee programs to boost morale seem to be in order. Breakfast -- The dining room is your best bet for breakfast on the ship. Did I mention to stay away from the "juice"? The wait staff is plentiful, but it seems that they aren't as helpful as during dinner. (something we've noticed on many different cruise lines) Lunch -- we never made the dining room lunch. Dinner -- Dinner times were 7pm for the 1st seating and 9:30 for the 2nd seating. No anytime dining options are available. Upon request we were able to get a table for 2. (was actually a table for 4 but without other guests) We felt a table for two was rare to come by as the ship only has 3 or 4 tables of two. The majority of tables are set up for 6-8 guests. Food quality was average for a cruise. Good portions, excellent pasta. Surprising again was the need to request olive oil and balsamic vinegar which is normally a staple of the Italian dinner table. Our servers were excellent and happy to please. On the dinner attire, we had 5 casual nights and 2 formal nights. Dress code was not enforced. Although we dress up, I'm happy to see the lack of enforcement. You paid for your vacation -- you choose how to dress. No need to carry a tux or dress halfway around the world if you don't want to wear them for vacation. Pool: 2 pools and 2 hot tubs. Water was a bit chilly, but acceptable. Seating was available everywhere, we never had a problem finding a seat -- also a nice change to most ships. You'll have to use your key card to check out towels. Save the receipt so you won't be charged upon return. Outdoor Activity Basketball, mini golf, ping-pong and shuffleboard are available on the 12th and 14th floors. Equipment is available on the 5th floor at the reception. Please MSC, put the putters and balls near the mini golf course. Leave a basketball or two at the court. Leave some paddle and balls at the ping pong table. Entertainment Shows -- The European ships have a challenge for entertainment as the passengers come from all over the area speaking German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, and other languages. The entertainment has to be mostly non-verbal to accommodate so many languages. Mimes, acrobats, visual artists, and instrumentalists are the norm. Quality of entertainment is not up to RCI / Princess / Costa standards. All music is taped and some of the singing is live. Lounge Entertainment: Lounge acts are mostly a one to a three person group, with electronic karaoke like backing. The entertainers are actually reading a karaoke screen on their laptop accompaniment. It does the job - but without the presence that comes with a live band. Excursions: Very well organized -- especially the city shuttle services. We only took one tour with the ship and were happy. English tours can be hard to come by -- some of the less popular tours may have the English group canceled. Our tour was a German and English combined tour. As we told you about the different cultures earlier, we were really surprised when we were making a leisurely walk towards the bus when a German man literally threw his body in front of us when we were one step away from boarding. He split up from his wife just to make the jump in front of us and nearly knocked us over. I'm pretty sure he must have been running because there was no one immediately behind us. On that note, make sure to stand up as soon as the bus stops. Unless you're really lucky don't expect anyone to let you out of your seat. If you're okay with being the last one off the bus it's not an issue. Shopping area staff: Great -- very friendly, very helpful. Photo staff: Nice photos, friendly staff. Not too pushy at all. Spa: Specials every day. Prices seem lower than most ships. We didn't use the services. Desk staff: Helpful, friendly. Keep in mind that most passengers bring problems to the front desk. A smile and asking the staff about their homes or day can go a long way. Learn to say thank you in Italian, Filipino and Indonesian. You'd be surprised how that can make someone's day. Disembarkation: Standard color tags for your luggage. Assigned rooms to wait. You'll get two copies of your final bill on the morning of departure. Sign one and give to front desk, keep the other. Well organized. MSC Club: Even though we signed up for the club with the survey of our first cruise we found ourselves as non members. We just happened to check if we were members and found this out on this 2nd cruse. Although we were then signed up we will not receive any credit for the first cruise. That can't be a good way to encourage repeat business. I'll make another attempt to get credit for this but I'm not expecting anything. On the value scale, sometimes you get what you pay for. We had a very discounted fare on this cruise and we didn't feel that we were cheated. If we had paid a bundle however, we wouldn't be too happy. I don't want to sound like we had a bad time; on the contrary -- we love being on the ocean on any cruise. We were sad to leave. My suggestion though is to check the fare and don't expect a Costa, RCI, Princess or Holland American experience. Embrace the other cultures, enjoy the ports, and happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
The Divina is a beautiful ship that is very impressive a quite large. Having sailed large ships like the Norwegian Epic, we were hoping to surpass our cruise experiences by choosing the MSC Yacht Club. Butler They advertise a butler ... Read More
The Divina is a beautiful ship that is very impressive a quite large. Having sailed large ships like the Norwegian Epic, we were hoping to surpass our cruise experiences by choosing the MSC Yacht Club. Butler They advertise a butler on hand, but that was not exactly the case. He was there if you called but Butlers should be there at your door and with you everywhere on the ship. You don't have a "personal butler", I believe there was 5 for the whole Yacht Club with about 50 rooms. Embarkation/Disembarkation The boarding process was very smooth with no lines and queues. You are the first on and off the ship as promised. Drinks The yacht club does offer complementary drinks, but there is a catch. Even though you have a card that says yacht club you can only get free drinks at yacht club venues. Absolutely obnoxious. You are only limited to a menu of drinks. They offer virgin strawberry daiquiris but they dont allow you to have alcohol in it without charge. You are better off getting a regular cabin not in the yacht club and sign up for the drink package so you can drink at any bar on the ship. Food ABSOLUTELY THE WORST FOOD. I don't know if it is good for mediterranean standards, but the food quality was horrendous. All of the meat was extremely fatty, the chicken was either rubber or too thin to realize what you are eating. Bacon should not be considered meat on this cruise. It is pure fat. There was one night that was extremely fancy and they served wonderful food by a recognized chef. I don't understand why that is not possible every day, at least for the Private Yacht Club Restaurant Le Muse. The placement of the restaurant is also ridiculous. The yacht club pool, bars, lounge, concierge, and rooms are in the very front of the ship on the 15/16th floors. Le Muse is in the very back so you have to go down to the 7th floor and fight your way through the mobs of people looking for their pictures in the the photography center. The buffet. I could complain for days. Lunch is decent with the most selection. Food is still terrible quality, I think the best food there are the french fries, and I am not the typical American that only likes "American food". For dinner I was slightly offended at the buffet. They have a special section for INDIANS ONLY. WTF? They were serving delicious Indian food with curry, nann, etc, and they would not allow any white people in there. I think that racism at its finest. Excursions Excursions were fantastic, except for one. You were the first off the boat again. For Venice I recommend staying overnight a day before your cruise. Bari was not very appealing so we chose to go to Alberobello (great decision). In Katakolon we went to olympia. Take a cab. You get bored very fast. There is one structure standing and the rest is ruins. The tour guide was terrible that talked about everything on her mind even politics. I'm surprised the bus driver didn't eject her out of the door. Izmir was beautiful, we went to the Sheraton at Cesme, very beautiful! Istanbul was also beautiful. I recommend the deluxe excursion even though it is very pricy. Dubrovnik was my favorite. We did the wall excursion and the views were absolutely stunning. Shows Advertised as Broadway quality it fell very far. Same people singing every day, it got old by the second day. Only went twice. Casino. Very small and the whole room is an ashtray. Smell is horrific you need a gas mask. Overall Very disappointed in the quality, especially when paying a premium at the yacht club. Had high hopes and they were all let down. I will not sail MSC again. I do not recommend it. Great itinerary though! Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
MSC Divina review- Departure date 08/11/2012- Cabin type Yacht Club De Luxe Suite - YC1 This was my first experience with MSC and I came away very impressed. I had not considered the line in the past but the combination of a brand new ... Read More
MSC Divina review- Departure date 08/11/2012- Cabin type Yacht Club De Luxe Suite - YC1 This was my first experience with MSC and I came away very impressed. I had not considered the line in the past but the combination of a brand new ship and the itinerary that went to both Izmir and Istanbul was enough to sway me. I am glad we took the "risk" and sailed with MSC, I feel we got a lot of value for our investment. The Divina is a gorgeous vessel. The attention to detail in the art and architecture is amazing. Obviously the designers wanted to create a place of beauty and one can tell a lot of expense went into items such as the crystal staircases (on which each step is filled with cut crystals that look like diamonds) lovely sculptures and paintings. The Yacht Club complex is done in rich earth tones and feels more like a boutique hotel than a cruise ship. The cabin was a bit on the small side given what I am used to (I would say more like a mini suite) but the quality of the materials used were very luxurious. The bed was similar to a temperpedic and by far the most comfortable I have ever slept on outside of my home on land or sea. The pillow menu was extensive including two different types of memory foam pillows. Our butler did not bat an eye when I asked for six pillows. (I have fibromyalgia and need to support my limbs when sleeping). The linens were very high quality and the carpet passed my white sock test with flying colors. (I always put on a pair of white socks and drag my feet in the room whenever I am checking out a new ship or location- if the socks stay white you know they take cleaning seriously- believe it or not they have turned dark brown in some places that are considered 5 star). A lot of planning went into the lighting, of which there are many options, including hidden in the headboard and along the walk in closet hanger rail. A huge mirror is in front of the bed which I am certain some people might find as an extra perk lol. The bathroom and balcony are also both on the small side. The bathroom has a tub shower combination with a glass wall that covers half the tub and works like a shower curtain or door. There was plenty of storage in the bath and main cabin. The amenities were pretty standard, lotion, shower cap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner and a facial soap. It would have been nice to see some extra items that I have become accustomed to like q-tips, bath salts, linen spray etc. but each line is different. The lack of specialty toiletries would not affect my interest in rebooking. In fact I already booked the YC on the Preziosa for next year. The YC is insulated very well from the rest of the ship and it is quite possible to never leave the complex except for when heading to La Muse the YC restaurant. The food is very good in La Muse as is the service. We had a beautiful view of the "infinity pool" and some sculptures. (It is a stretch to call that pool an infinity pool- it is a nice pool with balcony type glass to look out at the ocean but really is not the same as a true infinity pool) The all inclusive drinks package that comes with the YC is a very nice perk! We loved the itinerary especially Istanbul which was an amazing day. Although we spent most of our time up in the Yacht Club while on the ship I did tour the other areas on the sea day and did not encounter any of the issues people had expressed concern about such as overcrowding and smokers. It did not appear any different than any other large ship, there appeared to be plenty of loungers and with multiple pools and hot tubs there appeared to be room for everyone. I saw activities for all ages including a water slide, bowling, a 4D movie theater and a Formula One racecar simulator that looked very popular. We only walked through the Casino once but I did not smell any smoke and I am quite sensitive to it. I have compiled an in-depth day by day review with links to photos and the daily programs. You can view it here. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1700848&page=2 Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
And I had something to compare it to - we just finished cruising on RCI, Mariner of the Seas, Western Carribean, which was amazing (food, staff, ship itself). I only picked this ship because of amazing itinerary - many Greek islands, even ... Read More
And I had something to compare it to - we just finished cruising on RCI, Mariner of the Seas, Western Carribean, which was amazing (food, staff, ship itself). I only picked this ship because of amazing itinerary - many Greek islands, even though the cost on MSC Musica was almost twice as much as on RCI Mariner - but again, wanted to see all those islands! I sailed in July 2012, only getting to review now, in Jan. 2014, very sorry for the delay, but wanted to do it. Just to board the ship was an ordeal, ship was the farthest one away from the monorail in Venice, then the long, long line-up in the heat, people jumping line, it was pure suffering and seemed like chaos. Ship is fairly new, but looked dated, stains on the carpet, worn out look inside, outside the cabin. No welcome, just 'find your own cabin". First thing, I was just famished from not eating all day (last meal breakfast in Rome the morning of, train ride to Venice), then I get to my cabin and go up to find something to eat, it was around 5pm. There was absolutely nothing, buffet restaurant closes something like 4:30pm, reopens at 7pm. I couldn't comprehend that there was NO food on the whole big ship for 2+ hrs? (every other ship I've been to had a pizza place, gourmet sandwich place - awww, dear Mariner of the Seas one week before... yummy). I asked staff, he disappeared in the kitchen, then brought me 2 apples..... Nooooo, I'm thinking. The sailing away from Venice though was amazing - feast for your eyes, sailing into the open sea from beautiful Venice. So I come at 7pm to the buffet restaurant, and again such a disappointment with the choices of food - first what I see is... burgers... hot dogs... fries... 2-3 salads, yes, other stuff, but really poor basic selection - maybe I was spoiled on other ships (cruised on Emerald Princess, RCI - 2x, Carnival - 4x, Norwegian Dawn, Disney Magic - all I was super happy with) - but I thought it was the norm, to have some good food while cruising. Breakfast - lunch, again average-below average, slim choices, crowds, nowhere to sit, it was bad. The set sit down dinner was eventually kind of ok, but they charge you for bottled water (that is sooo CHEAP) - had some coupons, but not for every day, why not put a carafe with ice for the whole table? They charge for everything that is free on other ships, eg, ice cream. Little things, but together the ship comes across as cheap - disappointing. What shocked me most though is how rude (mostly) Italian staff are. Not the little working bees, wait staff, room stewards from Indonesia, Phillipines - they are very polite! I've seen Italian staff - usually in higher up position to be rude to the lower ranked staff (from Asia), very sad. Especially rude was the head waiter named Bruno, he scolded me for not being able to find me seat once, was sarcastic when I didn't want to order anything to drink when no free water provided... Not just Bruno I remember also staff at the Accounting Desk (there is no ATM on the ship, and no banks really at some tiny islands... so go figure), they act like it's your own fault, you dumb passenger, forgot cash? Too bad, so sad. Most of the passengers are Italians - I've never seen so many people jumping line, shoving, some almost got into fist fights - in a simple line up for food... about who was first. I'm not a difficult person to please, I've traveled a LOT, but this was just bad. When you want to cry.. in frustration... on your dream vacation, that's just bad. The day we disembarked in Santorini was a total fiasco - many passengers on the ship complained afterwards... if they only let you know before hand what's to be expected, but of course not... It's a tiny area when the tenders take you - and that day there were other FOUR ships there! So imagine the crowds of people being dropped off at this small place - from where there's nowhere to go. You either have to take cable car (1+ hr wait) or donkey taxi (1+ hr wait in the HEAT), to get up the mountain where you can do something. I had no clue how this worked, so wasn't prepared (if you take expensive tour - they have it arranged - but not if you want to go on your own). Crowds of sweaty angry people from 5 ships, some jumping the long line... (we had only 1/2 day on this island), those who opted to take a donkey up the hill - abandoned the idea after seeing the poor animals (but they're used to it), but mostly you ride a donkey, the one ahead of you starts pooping - you end up with fresh poop on your flip flops... if you want to walk it - again narrow steep steps up big hill, watch out for poop, fast moving donkeys who bump into you... just a nightmare. Total disorganization. It was my first time on MSC - and never ever again. I guess it's OK for people who have never cruised before, because they just don't know any better. But if you can compare - you're just shocked but how different - Princess - RCI - Carnival - you name it... can be. I remember cruising on Costa Atlantica in 2007, Carribean, also Italian ship... but it was nowhere as bad as MSC... That cruise (Costa) was really nice... Sigh... So overall - embarkation - chaos, cabin average to below average, service - depending from whom, bad from Italian staff, good from the little worker bees, lower positioned staff, food - buffet upper deck - bad, evening sit down dinner - OK, entertainment - average. Shore excursions - good.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
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