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660 MSC Cruises Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

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
Read all the reviews before going and bad service+food was almost universal in them. However these I found were totally unfounded. At Venice the embarkation was rather chaotic but relatively speedy with helpful ground staff, most could ... Read More
Read all the reviews before going and bad service+food was almost universal in them. However these I found were totally unfounded. At Venice the embarkation was rather chaotic but relatively speedy with helpful ground staff, most could speak good english. Upon entering the ship I was impressed by the decor+furnishings, interior appearance etc... (BTW, travelling with 2 children) Service: The crew is mainly composed of South East Asians however wherever we went onboard they were incredibly polite and could speak passable english, enough to get you what you would want on a cruise. Even if not totally knowledgable they were very helpful in every way. Our waiter at dinner was very polite and he did not try to hide the fact that you had to purchase water, found this a bit penny pinching of MSC but we felt it was not worth it to spoil our dinner for a few euros.Other than that the service I received everywhere from cleaners to officers was adequate if not excellent. Our cabin was cleaned/made up at least 2 times a day. Food: Very large choice of Food at buffet during lunch but less choice at dinner, contraty to some reports there was some slight variation every day but dinner+breakfast stayed quite similiar throughout though quality of food was excellent. I only ate at the sit down restaurants twice in the whole cruise, food was simply average compared to the buffet. Water+tea is always provided at the buffet free of charge. Excursions: Staff at excursion desk were friendly and didn't try to pressure us into buying trips, gave us good alternatives to booking an excursion. We did book one at Istanbul as we felt it was too large to explore by ourselves but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some are quite pricy though I tried limiting the number we booked. General appearance: The ship if anything was extremely clean, the crew was working visibly hard to keep everything polished and clean, pool deck facilities and cleanliness were very good though it does get very crowded on some days. Other passengers weren't the rude pushy Italians I read, most were polite and Buffet dining was crowded but orderly. Entertainment: Shows were simply stunning. Dancers, acrobats, singers and actors all performed with great skill and all the shows I watched were spectacular, never failed to impress. Didn't do many of the daytime activities due to visiting ports most of the time. Overall I found the ship impressive, manned by helpful and polite staff and English speaking passengers just as well catered for as the Italians. Food was excellent but the sit down restaurants need a bit of work and there are quite alot of charges of everything onboard such as bar surcharges, water etc..but I was very glad to pay everything at the end. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our third cruise and second cruise with MSC. Embarkation in Venice was very quick and easy, the best we have experienced. We had done online check-in which made the process faster. I don't really understand why some ... Read More
This was our third cruise and second cruise with MSC. Embarkation in Venice was very quick and easy, the best we have experienced. We had done online check-in which made the process faster. I don't really understand why some people don't take advantage of the option to check in online. We were shown to our cabin by a friendly member of staff which was a nice touch and something that we hadn't come across before.The cabin was small but adequate and although the window was mostly blocked by a lifeboat, there was still reasonable natural light coming in. There was decent storage space and lots of hangers. There was a movie channel on the tv with some fairly new films being shown though many were repeated during the week. The bathroom was a bit old looking and in need of modernisation. The ship was bigger and more modern than I had expected given its age. The coffee bar was particularly nice. The theatre had nice tables at almost every seat however this took away from the space for seating so it wasn't really big enough for the more popular shows. The shops were quite good, particularly the jewellery shop. The pool area was big enough despite what I had read about it being crowded- as far as I could see you could always get a sun lounger even at peak times. The gym was too small and got very busy when at sea. There were two bars on the pool level as well as an ice-cream bar and a pizza/ fast food grill. The food in the main dining room was very good and there was lots of choice. I always enjoyed the risotto dishes in particular. We ate in the dining room every night and for most of our lunches. I could not find fault with any of the food. The buffet had a reasonable selection although the salad options were not that good. I was always amazed to see how many people chose to dine at the buffet instead of the dining room- they really missed out on the best food! Although the roast of the day in the buffet was always delicious and I got into the habit of trying it out every evening before dinner in the dining room! The service was good and we found that all of the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. I simply cannot believe the negative comments some people have made in their reviews about the staff- our experience was nothing short of excellent. We got the "allegrissimo" drinks package which cost just €23 per person per day. We found this to be tremendously good value and there was a very good choice of drinks on it including draught beer, a few wines and lots of cocktails and spirits. At night after dinner we often went to the casino and the nightclub. The nightclub was usually busy and good craic. It was particularly nice to go out on the nightclub balcony at the back of the ship at night. We did not watch all of the shows but what we did see was good. The two male gymnasts were excellent as were the jugglers. The guy who did the cardboard outfits was also good. The music and singing in the lounges and bars around the ship varied from good to poor. The entertainment team were very active in getting people to dance at the various parties with live music which was nice and helped to create a good atmosphere. As MSC club members we were invited to a nice reception with the captain on the second formal night. There were free drinks and tasty finger food. It was very enjoyable and a nice touch. Ports Venice- it was really something special to cruise through Venice, I would really recommend watching this from the back or top of the ship. Venice is very beatiful but a few hours is enough which makes it a great place to visit on a cruise. Ancona- we walked around for about an hour up a nice shopping street and to a small outdoor market. It was nice. Corfu- really lovely old town and port. Don't pay for the bus transfer, it's only a 15 minute walk from the ship. Walk to the top of the fort for nice views. We were sorry we didn't bring swimming geat for a dip in the sea. Santorini- we made the mistake of walking up the donkey path from the port. It was too hot and smelly and crowded. In hindsight we should have either booked an excursion or just had a coffee at the port. Athens and Argostoli- we didn't get off the ship. Montengero- stunning! A beautiful setting were the ship seems almost surrounded by mountains. A nice little old town. In summary I would say this cruise was young and fun with great food and friendly service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
this is the second time we have cruised with MSC but it has been marred by their very poor procedures. We had to fly to Verona, were then bussed over 100km to Venice to board. Although we hold MSC Member cards with priority boarding ... Read More
this is the second time we have cruised with MSC but it has been marred by their very poor procedures. We had to fly to Verona, were then bussed over 100km to Venice to board. Although we hold MSC Member cards with priority boarding this was not possible at Venice so had to wait for 4 hours to get to our cabins. The cruise itself was really good, staff extremely helpful and pleasant, entertainment good and MSC Divina is stunning and spotlessly clean. And then it all turned sour. There were 15 of us in our party and we had to disembark very early, meeting at 7.30am to start this process - before anyone really felt like eating breakfast. We had asked if we could leave later but were advised that as a festival was on in Venice that day all roads were closed and water taxis not available from the industrial port we had to dock in and then advised we had to go to the airport. We were dropped off at airport approx 9.30am and our flight was not until 17.30. We spoke to the MSC rep at airport about keeping our luggage but this was not possible and airport charged 6 euros per case (x15) and would have been approx 300 euros to get into Venice. MSC were desperate to get everyone off the ship as quickly as possible and did not really care about travelling with children or adults with medical conditions. Bearing in mind MSC sell their cruises as 8 days/7 nights it most certainly is not. On day 1 we got to our cabins at approx 5pm and had to depart on day 8 at 8am Bearing in mind this was a package booked by MSC they should have taken flight times into consideration during their disembarkation procedures and show some thought to their customers. We will not book again with MSC because of this which is a real shame because everything else about the Cruise was brilliant. Get your act together especially when it comes to the final day of what is a very expensive holiday and not let customers go away with a bad taste in their mouths, the solution was really quite easy, let cruisers stay on board to enjoy the facilities until at late as possible before transferring to the airport - we were not the only ones camping out on the grass Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Embarking in Venice went smooth. Everyone was curtious on the whole entire ship. People getting on the ship were clueless and trying to get away with cutting and not dropping their luggage off, but were stopped and informed of the ... Read More
Embarking in Venice went smooth. Everyone was curtious on the whole entire ship. People getting on the ship were clueless and trying to get away with cutting and not dropping their luggage off, but were stopped and informed of the procedures. The ship itself is already showing wear and tear after only 2 mths at sea. The carpet in our room was snagged, there were missing tiles all around the pool. Stair edges worn down. We had an outside window cabin. The window was large enough for an adult to sit in. We also had the 2 bunks down over the king bed and still felt like we had enough room. No memory foam as I have had heard mention. But we were also only Category 5. Would have been nice to have a few more shelves in the closet, but we managed. The room cleaners worked aroudn the clock it seemed. The room was kept clean at all times from them. Having the Olympics on was a plus, even though it was in German it gave us something to watch aside from the 3 english speaking news channels. We only dined in the main dining room for 3 dinners. The choices did not interest our family of 4. The first night we ate in the DR it was good. But the other 2 nights were not enjoyably edible at all. So we ate all our meals for the most part at the Buffet. My kids lived off French Fries. There were a few choices that changed everyday, but most stayed the same. Bacon every morning couldnt even be called a 1/4 cooked. It and the sausage were not edible. BF menu at the buffet was the same everyday aside from potatoes somedays, and hashbrowns other days. Lunch and dinner at the buffet was the same everyday normally aside from the Ethnic corner and the daily specials. Some evenings there were a few choices on the buffet that were also on the DR menu or they would show up the next day on the lunch menu. The couple times I tried to have steamed vegies, they were so laden with salt they weren't edible. Trying to find a place to sit wasn't to big of an issue aside from this morning at disembarktion. Other then that people just sat whereever and shared table space. We chose not to do the Allegrismo drink package and did just the tickets. Purchased the European Beer package and was only allowed Heinken or Becks. Even though there was 8 different European beer choices. That is american beer to my husband. A couple times he was able to get good German beer, but it was a hassle. I also bought the basic water package of 14 bottles. It was the basic nasty San Benedetto. Called toilet water in our house. We also had the 7 free bottles for being americans and didn't need it all. The water at the buffet tasted great. So we drank all we could. I brought 6 liters home to feed my animals since they dont care where their water comes from and I payed for it. The pools(small) were normally crowded, but you could get in them. We only got in 2X being that fresh saltwater is pumped into an empty pool everyday and it was freezing. Finding a chair was difficult at most times. A few times we saw the pool area bosses go through and do a sweep of 50+ towels off chairs as well as belongings because people would leave them "saved" allday. And they warn you it will happen if a chair sits idle 20-30 min. The arcade consisted of 8 different games. The slide is only open 2 times a day for 2 hrs. But children would congrigate at the bottom and not move, so it would take 10-20 min between each turn for others because they wouldnt move. My children found the whole ship boring(young teens). Attempted to do the arts and class thing they had on the schedule each day and was told it wasn't for kids. As for the stops. Bari Italy,Katakolon Greece,Izmir and Istanbul Turkey and Dubrovnik Croatia. Bari: we chose to walk the pier into town. Even though we read that you werent allowed to. Many did it with no issues. Saw several of the main recommended sites and walked back. All at no costly excursions. Katakolon: we went off reviews and chose not to go to Olympia. Instead walked through town and caught the little put put train up the road 15 min and got off at the beach(no jellyfish like in the waters by the ship). It was 6E for adults and 4E for kids.(An excursion to a different beach 30min away was 23E PA) There are multiple shops through out the town all selling the same stuff and extremely pushy people. One place we did business with and will do more if they ever get an internet business up called "Aristoteles Olivewood Workshop". About half way down the main drag on the left. Great non pushy folks that speak english. Awesome gifts to be had in there. As well as prices. We saw a few similar pcs in other stores for more. Izmir we chose to prebook with Ephesus Deluxe tours based on reviews and wasnt the slightest bit sorry. Our Guide Bill(who also has his own side business guiding cant find his card at the moment) was awesome and SO knowledgeable. We were only in port for 6 hrs so they shortened it to 5hrs for the same prepay price it just wasnt suppose to include lunch and a rug demonstration. We were unsure of our time frame and so rushed through Ephesus un nessacarily, But still saw what we went for. Would have loved to tape all he told us. When we were returning I asked him about possibilities of seeing rug demonstrations in Istanbul the following day and he said we had time to spare and took us to a place that made them Even though he said they werent pushy etc. and wouldnt haggle the price was the price. They came down 2X for a total of 20% but we still did not buy. They were laying out carpets left and right and men kept coming from all over with more. We were just interested in how they were made. Istanbul: We walked out to the main street and caught the tram to the Blue Mosque and all the surrounding tourist spots. It was definately tourist must see spot. We wandered the outside of places and then chose to go into the Cistern after reading many recomendations. While it is neat, I wouldnt recomend others go in. It isnt all "that". They have a photo gimmick set up with people drapping you in Turkish Royal garb and then you can buy the photos or a disk. Well I saw someone with a disk and they guy said 60 Lira. I said no I have 20 and he said 45 and I said no I have 20. Well needless to say, he took the 20 and I got a disk of 29pics of my kids. Unfortunatley not a large variety on it, But hey it was only 20Kuna. We then went onto the Bazaar. It is a maze of pushy people. Some willing to dicker and others not willing to budge. We got so lost we wandered till we got to the spice market. More pushy folks who are less willing to haggle, but I found a few who would. We were then just over the bridge from the dock, so wandered the Galtica Bridge back. Dubrovnik: Even though Rick Steves says you will get tendered into the old city not true with the Divina and a couple other ships we saw there. YOu get tendered into the new port(We were given a ticket for tender spot and time. Most people werent there nor paying attention to directions, so we didnt have to wait for several tenders, we left on the second one by just walking along with the guide.)And have to make your way to the other side of town. Transfer was 10E PP. We chose to take one of the many taxis that was 10E total for 4 or 75 kuna. Dropped us at the wall. The views were nice on the wall but very hot on it. We then wandered the main streets. All the same stuff in most stores, but extremely high prices. Got 1 pizza for our kids and drinks for us 4 and it was 151 Kuna. In another part of Croatia we were in a few weeks ago we only payed 120 for 4 pizzas and drinks. Most things are in Euro and they have to stop and think when you ask the price in Kuna since that is what I had. The admission to wall included the fort next door on the hill. Dont waste your leg strength, not worth it. We again listened to Rick Steves book and chose to take the bus back. He said it would be 10K but it was 15K a piece for us 2 adults and 1 of the kids. So total we payed just under 20USD on our own for transportation instead of the 49USD we would have payed with the Cruise transfer. You can get all the souveniers back at the pier. The ones under the huge building are cheaper then the individual tents set up on the outside. The cruise ship is now at dock and you can walk on and not be tendered back. As for disembarktion. The cafeteria wasa mob scene and no where to sit. Folks also just hanging out till there leaving time. It is done by floor. You have to be out of your room by 730. Since we were the bottom floor we were last. We were told to be at meeting spot at 945, they finally came for us at 1005. We walked down, got our luggage and walked the 25min walk to train station. Took a few min longer then when we came since 4 ships were also disembarking and folks were all over. Hope this has helped someone! The evening shows, even though enjoyable were only 25-30 min long and the finale on the last night was only 20min long. Great performers, but to short. Being that it was the only entertainment on the show aside from all the pianos playing in different lounges. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our first foray into European Cruising. We have previously cruised twice with the children in the Carribean, most recently on NCL Epic's inaugural season. We travelled as a party of 4 in a 'Cove' balcony suite. ... Read More
This was our first foray into European Cruising. We have previously cruised twice with the children in the Carribean, most recently on NCL Epic's inaugural season. We travelled as a party of 4 in a 'Cove' balcony suite. Embarkation Was the best we have ever encountered. Well done MSC! We stayed the night before our cruise in a hotel in Mestre, who provided transportation to the cruise terminal for €4.00 each. In Venice terms this was a bargain. We left the hotel at around 1115 and in a little over an hour we were in our cabin! The fact that you seem to be able to board this cruise at 4 out of the 5 ports of call seems to aid the 'hotel' team in turning around the cabins. The Ship Having previously cruised Epic we were expecting big things! Divina is a small cruise ship which they have tried to 'pump up' and make everything bigger. In our opinion it really doesn't work. She is pretty enough to look at, she's clean, well cared for and new but her designers are obviously French and Italian. She is like a high end Citreon or Fiat, looks races with her Pinaforina lines but fails miserably when it comes to practical performance. Here are a couple of examples. Look at any of the worlds big Cruise ships, Epic or the 2 RCL ships, Oasis or Allure they have 'central corridors' which their restaurants, bars, are arranged off of. To walk from one end of the ship to the other you do no have to walk through a crowded bar. On Divina Deck 7 is just a series of rooms joined together. You feel really self conscious when you have to walk between the performers on stage and the bar they are entertaining - very loud too when you have to walk only a few cms away from their speakers! The pool deck is a disaster. Admittedly we went during the school holiidays - kids cruise free all year on MSC - so we were expecting it to be busy but again the poor design does not help. The ship only has 2 pools that are available to the majority of passengers. I say 2 there is a 3rd pool a the rear of the ship in what is supposed to be an adult only area that was filled with more kids than the main pool! I believe the MSC Yacht club has its own pool too. The second main pool on Deck 14 is under a retracting roof, this is fine but the area around it is given up to tables and chairs and not loungers? His means tha the pool basically becomes a haven for unsupervised children who's parents have found an inch of deck space 3 decks away! I think the record was 15 children in 1 spa pool all of whom did not seem to have a responsible adult in sight. To be fair to MSC a pool attendant was trying his best to create some sort of control but kids will be kids. I also question why n a sea day MSC find it necessary to empty the entire contents f ever shop nboard onto the pool desk when space is such a premium. Not only that but every time they do it on the same non-smoking side of the ship, where space is a premium anyway. The Cabin Fantastic - excellent - well done MSC! The Crew They all work very hard to get a difficult job done. The cabin attendants, waiters, waitresses, Spa masseurs and cleaners are all extremely helpful and everything is done with a smile. The Food We could not fault it! The Black Crab restaurant food was great. Always hot, always tasty. I cannot believe they have the ability to cook pasta and risotto perfect every time for tha number of people - simply stunning! The buffet was sometime a struggle to find a seat but the food was plentiful if typical cruise fayre! The Kids Program The isn't one! Well not like Carnival or NCL. This is basically a Child minding service whe they play UNO, draw or play some basic party games. Our kids could not wait to go to the kids area on Epic. There was a structured program and the vast majority of kids onboard went. On MSC it's the opposite. The majority of kids run wild around the ship and never use the club. We only used the club whilst we used the spa and occasionally after dinner to allow some energy burn off. Very disappointing. Disembarkation Again not really a problem but as some reviewers have previously stated there are a lot of people to get off. It was worth getting up early to witness the ship quietly slip back into Venice - magnificent views of St Marks Square before the tourists get up! Overview You get what you pay for! After a week on Divina we could see why a similar cruise on NCL costs about half as much again more! The kids program could be improved and would make a huge difference to life onboard for everybody, customers and crew alike. It is obvious that the MSC design team did not do a familiarisation on other ships before they designed Divina. There is nothing to occupy people on sea days. No climbing walls, no flow riders, no zip wires and no crazy golf. All of which would be effective at alleviating the demand on deck space on sea days. They have this strange 30 minute rule on sunbeds which is only enforced sporadically. I understand what they are trying to achieve but with no outdoor dining and trip to the bar or ice cream shop taking a good part of 30 minutes it seems groomed to failure. In fact with 2 children and no kids club we could have been away from our sunloungers for more than 30 minutes without any problem a all! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My husband & I have cruised with MSC 2 times: the MSC Fantasia & the Divina. We enjoyed both vacations very much. The cruise line does an extremely good job of maintaining and cleaning their ships and presenting fresh food in the ... Read More
My husband & I have cruised with MSC 2 times: the MSC Fantasia & the Divina. We enjoyed both vacations very much. The cruise line does an extremely good job of maintaining and cleaning their ships and presenting fresh food in the major eating areas. The downside is that some of the passengers are just downright rude, e.g. bump into you and not say excuse me, try to hoard and reserve deck chairs when no one's in them; talking in loud voices unnecessarily, allowing their children to accompany them into adults-only areas and misbehave. The staff in general have not been properly trained in customer service. Given the international nature of the passengers, they may think they do not need to learn or attempt to speak English, but this is the international language, and one they may rely upon to communicate effectively with most passengers. The majority of the staff do smile or go out of their way to provide outstanding service; rather, service was perfunctory, except for our cabin steward and our server in the formal dining area who were outstanding. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Tessera, which is near the Marco Polo Airport in Venice. The city of Venice is accessible by city bus, but takes between 30 to 50 minutes to get there via bus and then water taxi (valporetti), depending on the traffic. We went stayed 3 nights and went into Venice 2 times, so we purchased a city pass for both. The hotel provided our transfer to the Venice Cruise Terminal and breakfast as part of a special package rate. Recommended local restaurant: Al Quadrante: a pizza place that serves other Italian dishes, and it's GREAT! The pizza was not oily and the crust was out of this world. My pasta dish was also delicious. We did not partake in the onboard activities, except for frequenting the casino, which was our major form of evening entertainment. Given the fact we were there every night of the cruise, one would have thought that the casino/bar staff and servers would recognize us and personalize their service; however, this did not happen. These are the little touches that one misses on MSC, whereas when one has experienced outstanding customer service, the experience is much more positive. A 7 euro gratuity is automatically charged each day, so there is no individual tipping. The food in the main Dining Room: The Black Crab was hit or miss. The pasta & soups & desserts were the best; the meats were not good: gizzly & flavorless. Be sure to order 4-5 courses so that you have enough to eat compared to American standards. On our first cruise we did not attend a single show; this time, on the Divina, our daughter & son-in-law went to one of the shows and raved about it, so we attend the remaining ones. Caberet quality with lipsynching and live singing. Some outstanding indivdual performances, but overall, just OK. However, we're glad we went (full houses all nights). Disembarkation went smoothly; however, we purchased the transfer from the boat to the Airport and we had to wait in the heat for over an hour for the MSC bus to arrive. We decided that we should have paid a bit more and left via taxi because it cut our duty-free shopping time short. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Having booked the Divina at fairly short notice we got what turned out to be an excellent deal �£699 balcony room less 5% online booking (this 5% is wiped out by service charges. Some reviews did make me wonder if we had done the ... Read More
Having booked the Divina at fairly short notice we got what turned out to be an excellent deal �£699 balcony room less 5% online booking (this 5% is wiped out by service charges. Some reviews did make me wonder if we had done the right thing. In a nutshell this is a continental, family orientated "monster" (size wise) of a ship. Mainly Italians plus Germans, Spanish and French as the main users, so don't expect afternoon tea and a three course Michelin star dinner. Let's start with the staff, we found them to be helpful and charming, only one or two struggled with English but on a multi language ship this is to be expected. Embarkation was fairly painless, our luggage was transported from the service offered at Venice station and it didn't take long to get on board. Disembarkation was a little slower, organised but slow, again, you have to consider the ammount of people leaving the ship so all in all it was OK. The only hitch is getting back into venice when off the ship as other cruises were disembaking so the dockside was pretty busy. The buffet food was fine, we never had a problem finding something to enjoy, there was an issue with seating on occassions but with 4000+ people it had to be expected. The evening dining is a seven course continental style meal, some dishes were excellent, mainly they were good with one or two disappointing plates, but you never left hungry. Our cabin was fine, everything worked and everything clean. The Allegrissimo drinks package was well worth it, drinks on board are expensive but when bottled water, beer, wine, cocktails, fresh fruit juice etc are included you can't really go wrong. We only did one show which was good, other shows had good reviews off other passengers we met. Entertainment in all the bars seemed a little below par from the small exposure we had to it, this was balanced out by some fine entertainment in the main lobby by the crystal staircase, the pianist and the trio of piano and two violins were excellent, we had many a relaxed evening listening to them. The Gym needs more equipment considering the amount of people on board and we didn't really use the pool area so can't comment on the facilities other than on our day at sea, sun beds were rarer than rocking horse droppings! To briefly sum up, we travelled as a couple and thoroughly enjoyed our time on board considering what we paid, don't expect 5 star dining, entertainment and services. If you have a problem with children on board, don't go in the school holidays the same goes for the continental style of the ship. You will meet a tiny percentage of rude arrogant people of all nationalities, they exist in everyday life as well (you should have seen the neanderthal tendancies of some people every time cherries appeared at the buffet!) Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
WE WANT TO WARN EVERYONE ABOUT CRUISING ON THE MUSICA! My husband and I just took the 7 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Venice in June 2012. I did a very similar cruise on the Costa Victoria with a gal friend in 2006, so I have a ... Read More
WE WANT TO WARN EVERYONE ABOUT CRUISING ON THE MUSICA! My husband and I just took the 7 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise from Venice in June 2012. I did a very similar cruise on the Costa Victoria with a gal friend in 2006, so I have a good basis of comparison. The new cruise terminal in Venice has a monorail that unfortunately ends at least 1/3 mile from the Musica. There were signs for a free shuttle, but no personnel to be found at the exit of the monorail. During our 20 minute "dry run, without luggage" walk in the hot sun, there was no shuttle to be found. . . no covered walk way either. We ended up having to pay 20 Euros to a taxi to haul us and our luggage from Pe Roma= a BAD way to start! Baggage check in required us to stand in an outside (covered) line about 30 minutes. . . also HOT. Then there was another 30 minute line inside the air conditioned entry hall to get ourselves checked in. In addition to our cruise packet, I was asked to sign a form saying that I asked for water to be served at meals. Then there was the gauntlet of "independent contractors" who ran the spa and retails shops. . . handing us separate pieces of paper for their "deals". . . very unorganized. Our cabin had a nice sized balcony with 2 chairs and a small table, but the upholstery inside was worn and needed a good clean. Our mini bar had 2 bottles of water that were opened and half empty. We had to ask the cabin steward 3 times to take them away, so we would not be charged. When we went to the buffet on the 13th floor for a bite of lunch, it was nothing short of chaos! There was no attempt at "line" organization of any kind. People were literally pushing and shoving to get to food that was luke warm and bland, at best. Tables were almost impossible to find. Waiters were already stressed and rushing around attempting to keep the food stocked and tables cleaned off. Everything was served on badly scratched plastic. . . not appetizing at all. Children were crying or shouting and running around, completely out of control. When we recovered enough to go to the nicely appointed Maxim restaurant for dinner, we were thankfully seated at a 4 top with a lovely Australian couple. There were very few English speaking guests on board (average 50% Italian and 30% Spanish). We had a nicely prepared dinner with good service in a relatively peaceful environment. UNFORTUNATELY, when it came time to settle the account, we were asked for our water voucher. When I explained that we did not receive any water voucher, our waiter went for the dining room manager. That fellow was rude and insisted that we must have vouchers because I signed the form at check in. We were embarrassed at the scene he was making, all over a bottle of water that we often bought at the supermarkets in Italy for 19 cents (they charged 2.30 Euros). He finally said we could bring an extra voucher the next evening. When I went to the reception desk the next morning to sort out the water crisis, the clerk was also rude, saying "why would you sign for vouchers you did not receive?" When I tried to explain that no one mentioned vouchers, she continued to blame me for not being organized. I even went all the way back to my cabin and brought every piece of paper from check in, even the ones from the trash. She still did not believe me and said I needed to take it up with the customer relations manager. She said he was busy and I should wait or come back. Since the fellow in line next to me was protesting loudly that he had already waited 20 minutes for the manager, I stated that the manager should call me in my cabin when he became available. To make a long story very short. . . the rest of the cruise went much the same way. Although, after meetings with the managers of customer relations and food and beverage, we were immediately given precious water vouchers (free only for Americans and Canadians), and moved to a dining table by the window, etc. . . the lack of organization and professional management meant pushing and shoving for every excursion as well. Yes, this cruise line has good entry prices, but they have additional (excessive) charges for everything. . . those € here and there really add up. . . especially at the US dollar exchange rate making everything 30% higher. You are not allowed to bring on board even non-alcoholic beverages because they want you to buy every bit of liquid you put in your body from them, at their marked up rates. Plus they add service charges for drinks, in addition to the 7€ per person daily service charge. Their entry prices, along with free children in the room, means they end up with chaos that they don't/can't control. I found that Costa Cruise lines has better food and a much more peaceful experience in a similiar price range. I would not recommend an MSC Musica cruise to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We chose this cruise despite the poor reviews, based on the personal recommendation of friends who did this cruise last year and because it suited our date/itinerary/duration requirements. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise ... Read More
We chose this cruise despite the poor reviews, based on the personal recommendation of friends who did this cruise last year and because it suited our date/itinerary/duration requirements. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise despite some shortcomings of the cruise line. Positives: Beautiful Ship. Cabin (& bathroom) was spacious, well appointed with plenty of storage space. Cabin service was very efficient, and cabin was cleaned twice daily, so we always had clean towels etc. Great itinerary although we did not take any ship excursions (we learned on our 1st cruise that ship excursions are generally a rip-off and that doing our own thing was much cheaper and less restrictive). Negatives: Service in Main Dining Room (Le Maxims) was pretty dreadful. This is clearly a management/training issue, as it's a widespread problem, also apparent in Buffet restaurant although there were some really nice dishes interspersed. Buffet breakfast was not brilliant, cold eggs and and generally lacking freshness and smacking of mass prepared food. If we didn't have our expectations raised by RCI & Celebrity, we may have found the food OK. We were not approached once by the Maitre D throughout the cruise. In fact the Maitre D even avoided eye contact when we entered the dining room.....really disconcerting. This also seemed to be an issue with other staff, as there were no friendly RCI staff style greetings forthcoming (apart from cabin staff who could hardly avoid us as we passed them in the narrow passages). On RCI & Celebrity, the crew evaluation questionnaires seem to be a huge deal and staff really go out of their way to ensure they get the best ratings. On MSC, this seemed to be a non-issue, and this is probably part of the underlying problem with service levels - the cruise line doesn't really seem too fussed about getting it right. There seems to be a bit of a "this is how we do it, take it or leave it" attitude. Dining room staff knew nothing about the wines and there was never a Sommelier in sight, so we just drank the wines out of the package we bought in the order that they were in the voucher booklet. On that point, the voucher system for wine or beverage packages is just plain dumb. Other lines just place a sticker on one's cruise card for this purpose. We had to remember to carry vouchsafed with us. Pool areas were very crowded and noisy, with lots of kids all over, but we could always find a quiet spot on the upper decks to relax, or retire to our own balcony for some time out. I had 3 massages on board. The first was actually very good, but the 2nd was poor (possibly because I didn't buy any products offered by the therapist after the first one). They also messed up my booking for the 2nd one which was supposed to be an hour, but after 30 min she announce "your massage is finished", so they re-booked my 1hr session and didn't charge for the 30 min mix up (after I dug my heels in). 3rd massage was not good, and I left with the feeling that I was rich tourist, exploiting the massage therapist, a sharp contrast to the warm welcome reviewed on day one! I guess this could be the sense of staff dissatisfaction with their working conditions coming through. If that is the case, then MSC need to sort it out. Unlike many other reviewers, I had no problem with the European cultures or multi-lingual announcements. My attitude is that if you don't like foreign cultures, then stay at home! Don't expect to find America in Europe! We absolutely loved all the ports, but I will not rate them as we made our own shore arrangements. Docking times were a bit short, especially with Santorini & Mykinos being visited on the same day. I would possibly cruise with MSC again if the price/dates etc suited our requirements, but only if we couldn't find similar with another line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We enjoyed this cruise. Not perfect, but very good indeed. We are a retired UK couple in our mid 50's with adult children. We try and travel somewhere every month - a mixture of long and short haul trips -- we've done 125 ... Read More
We enjoyed this cruise. Not perfect, but very good indeed. We are a retired UK couple in our mid 50's with adult children. We try and travel somewhere every month - a mixture of long and short haul trips -- we've done 125 reviews to date for Trip Advisor since 2007 and took over 600 flights during one 10 year period, so we think we have a reasonable idea about travel and service. We are only occasional cruisers, but we are doing 2 this summer due to the really great deals on offer. We don't go on any organised excursions and like to do our own thing. We chose this cruise for the excellent itinery and a very keen price. We took a cab from Marco Polo airport to P. Roma (Euro45) or you can take the ATVO bus (E6). We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Olympia near P. Roma (see Trip Advisor review from NeilandBarbara). Day 1 Sunday depart Venice. At approx 12.00 we took the People Mover from P. Roma (1 Euro each. Multi language machines). Then a 2 min walk to the shuttle bus. Well signed with MSC flags etc. Quite a quick check in -- reasonably busy, but efficient. No welcome aboard cocktail. We went directly to our balcony cabin 12166 deck 12 starboard side. Cabin was a reasonable size and looked new. Nice burgundy and blue colour scheme. King bed with 3 drawer bedside cabinet each side. Plenty of wardrobe space. Hair dryer in desk. 2 x US 110v and 2 x Europe 220v sockets above desk. Small chair and table. Minibar/fridge. Efficient aircon. Small flat screen TV with CNN and Euronews. Lots of multi language channels. Interactive TV for pay movies and you can check your account through the TV for the ongoing charges. Very clean and well presented room. Housekeeping was efficient every day. Evening turndown service. Room was kept immaculate by the staff -- thank you. Bathroom -- larger than previous cruises we've done. Good shower, but a curtain rather than a screen. Plenty of storage. Good extraction. Liquid soap dispenser by sink and in shower. Nice and bright with a large mirror. Balcony -- reasonable size. 2 comfy chairs and small table. We departed Venice at approx 18.30. Fab views as you depart, but a bit tight time wise, if you are on the 19.00 1st sitting. Breakfast Room service served 07.30 to 10.00 -- card on door the night before. Buffet 07.00 to 10.00 - Gli Archi cafe deck 13 L'Oleandro a la Carte 7.30 to 09.30 deck 5 Lunch 11.30 to 16.30 Gli Archi cafe 11.30 to 13.30 L'Oleandro Afternoon tea -- 16.15 to 17.00 Gli Archi cafe Dinner 1st sitting 19.00 Maxims level 6 1st sitting 19.00 L'Oleandro level 5 2nd sitting 21.30 Maxims 2nd sitting 21.30 L'Oleandro Late snacks 12.15 various locations -- but never quite made it!! Kaito Sushi (fee) 12.00 to 15.00 and 19.00 to 24.00. We did not try it. Il Giardina Italian (fee) 19.00 to 23.00. Set menu E24 supplement. Fine views from rear of ship. We ate here twice and really enjoyed it. We bought the wine package -- 6 wines and 7 large water bottles for E115 and the water package of 14 large bottles for E26. Better value than buying separately. You get a book of vouchers that you give in each time you want something. You are not supposed to us the vouchers in the Italian or Sushi restaurants. All additional charges have a 15% service charge. Day 2 Monday Bari Arrived 12.00. Offloading passengers by 12.30 and collected new passengers. We got the MSC shuttle from the gangway at approx 14.00. Cost E6 return each to the city centre -- took 10 min max. Nice place to stroll around and have a beer/coffee. Interesting cathedral and castle. Departed 18.00. Day 3 Tuesday Katakalon for Olympia Arrived 12.00. Good views of the Greek coastline. The small town is 2 min walk from the pier and is the access point for Olympia. Lots of small bars/restaurants/shops. Nice small marina. The train station to Olympia is a 2 min walk to the right of town. At the end of the pier, Geotravel had luxury aircon coaches to Olympia for the great price of E10 return (www.geo-travel.gr). Entrance fees extra. Coaches leave approx at 13.00 -- back by 16.00. All on board 17.00. Depart 17.30. 1st formal dinner. Day 4 Wednesday Santorini and Mykonos A 2 port day. We've been to Santorini before and it still amazes. The island is the remnant of the tip of a volcanic crater (caldera) that had a massive explosion in approx 1600BC. It left a lagoon 12km x 7km, into which ships can sail. Some think it was Atlantis. A stunning place to sail into. Arrived at 06.30. The ship first anchors off Athynios, a small port where coaches can get to the sea to meet the tenders to take the excursions. Then the ship then moves to allow tenders to take people to Thira port, where there is no vehicle access. You need to go to La Scala theatre to get a ticket for the tender. All well explained in the daily sheet. All went quite smoothly. We were on shuttle 8 -- left at 09.00. You have to get a cable car or a donkey to the main Thira town on the cliff top (you can also walk of course. Cable car costs E4 each way. There was a small queue at the cable car, but it moved quite fast. Thira town is quaint, with narrow cobbled streets. Plenty of shops and bars with fab clifftop views. We did not use the donkeys -- it looked cruel to us, having to carry people up the steep steps in the heat!! From the port, you can get a boat to Oia (the World Heritage Site village) for E20. This includes a coach return to the cable car. We went a bit later than the masses and returned before them, so no queueing really anywhere. Lots of shuttles at the end for the stragglers!! So no one will be left behind. Departed 14.00 and sailed between the island of Naxos and Paros. Mykonos -- arrived 17.00. No show tonight and buffet is earlier. Early and open seating in Maxim and L'Oleandro. Took MSC bus from gangway to Mykonos town -- cost E9 return. First bus out 17.30, last bus back 23.45. Nice small town -- narrow streets and whitewashed house and a small fishing harbour. Depart Mykonos 00.30. Phew a busy day!! Day 5 Thursday Piraeus Arrived 07.00. We decided to take a day off and did not leave the ship. We've been to Athens a few times before and have seen all of the sights. I was even tear gassed in Athens in 1975, when I accidentally wandered into a student demonstration/riot!! Lots of burning buses etc and a few people killed. See - are not all boring oldies!! Athens is a hot, dusty and noisy city, but the Parthenon and Athens museum are world class sites and a must see if you've not been here before. The city centre is 12km from Piraeus. Departed at 16.00. Great views of numerous islands as we sailed along the Greek coast. Day 6 Friday Corfu Arrived at 12.30. Good views of the fort as we sailed in. We took the MSC shuttle to the town centre -- cost E8 return. Corfu is a pleasant town with some nice parks and plenty of shops. We've been here before, so just wandered around the town and enjoyed a cold beer. As we sat in the cool of a bar, we saw the people on the MSC walking tour - they all looked very hot, bored and dejected. Departed 19.00. 2nd formal dinner Day 7 Saturday Dubrovnik Arrived at 07.15. A beautiful entrance to the harbour. We took the MSC shuttle to the old town -- cost E10 return. You must take your passport or photo ID, as Croatia is not part of the European Union. Immigration come onto the coach. Some were sent back to the ship looking rather foolish -- so be warned. We walked the walls -- cost approx E10 each. You cannot pay in euro, only local currency, but they do take a credit card. Most shops and bars etc do take euro, so there is no need to buy any local currency. The walls were quiet when we did it, but it looked hot and busy later. It took us about 1 hour, with a cafe stop. Take plenty of water, it can get hot. Only suitable IMHO for those who are fit and healthy. The city is beautiful and one of the highlights of the cruise. We would have liked to have stayed a few nights to see the city at night -- we will be back. Departed 14.00. Again great views of the coastal islands as we sailed north. Day 8 Sunday Venice Normal disembark routine - cases outside of cabins the night before with colour coded labels. They give you a pack with all the info the night before. You are allocated a place to wait to be called to disembark. We arrived at the outside Venice lagoon at 07.00, but had to wait for over an hour before we could dock. Presumably due to the authorities. You are supposed to be out of your cabin by 07.00 -- we stayed until 08.00 and then went for breakfast. Our UK flight was not until 14.45, so we were in no rush. We wanted to miss the rush. It was a misty morning as we pulled into Venice, so the views were not so good, but WOW what a place to end a cruise. We did not go to our meeting point, but just wandered off about 10.00 and picked up our luggage in the colour coded areas. All very easy really. Took the free shuttle bus to the People Mover. Some congestion here due a faulty ticket machines, but port staff were handing out tickets. We then got a local bus from P. Roma to airport -- cost E6 each (ticket from driver). Arrived at airport before 11.30 with plenty of time for our 14.45 flight. I would not recommend a flight before 14.00. Food We enjoyed all of our meals. Breakfast - we had some in the buffet, some a la carte in L'Oleandro. Lunch - we had most in the a la carte L'Oleandro. Different menu each day. We did find the buffet busy at times, but always plenty of seating and lots of food choice. We found the food choice and quality very good in the a la carte. A bit less so in the buffet. We had 1st sitting in Maxims. Good food and excellent service. Different menu each day. We ate twice in the Il Giardina a la carte restaurant. Good value for a E24 supplement and excellent service. Pool We did not like the pool area. Why saltwater pools in 2012??? They were always very busy with lots of children. We always managed to find a quiet place on deck 14 at the stern, behind the funnel -- much more civilised. Lots of spare sun loungers everywhere. Staff We found them friendly and helpful at all times. Not all spoke good English, but it is understandable on an international ship. We never had any problems communicating. Their English was always better than my other languages!!! Shows We went to 3. They were enjoyable, well performed and well attended. The pre-show announcements are multi language, but this only lasts a few minutes. Other We did not use the spa or do any activities. We did not use room service or go to the disco. Bars They seemed to be everywhere. Always had good and swift service. Prices were reasonable and the choice was huge. Final bill We kept a daily eye on this via the interactive TV in the room. They give you a paper bill part way through the cruise and a final bill the on the last night. Our bill was spot on -- well done MSC. Just had to sign it and hand it in to accounts. Overall We enjoyed this cruise very much and find it hard to understand the moaning and criticism of recent reviews. The itinerary was excellent, the ship was very nice and felt new, and it was very, very good value. The only downside for us was too many children. MSC offer free places to children under 18 sharing a cabin with paying adults -- so lots take advantage of this offer. That's free food and entertainment for the kids -- no wonder the place was full of children. They were mostly well behaved, but made the ship feel over full. We are not anti child at all and have our own, but we would not use any cruise line again that gives free child places -- someone is subsidising them and it's those without children on board. Well it won't be us again. We also much prefer "anytime dining" to set meal times. So much more convenient and you meet more people. Hope this helps and we're happy to answer questions via - the.plesteds@virgin.net. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely ... Read More
Just returned from a weeks cruise on the msc fantasia, where to start after reading so many poor reviews I thought I should try and help others who are going to cruise with msc or is just about to book. Firstly the ship is absolutely brilliant , spotless beautiful and well kept .The staff in general are really nice but you do come across the odd moody one mostly the Romanians for some reason, after numerous conversations with waiters I found out that they do not have any days off and work for a 9 month period ( shame on you MSC no wonder they walk around like zombies, you try working an 11 hour shift every day for 9months). FOOD Overall no great shakes the main two dinning rooms are the worst they have no idea of fine dinning and the waiter runs around trying to get everything done. The food is hitty missy some is good some is dreadful , it is never consistent. I was with Royal Caribbean and they are hands down the best I have had.Next if you are on the first sitting which is 7.00 pm then they usher you out at about 9.00pm for the next sitting which starts about 9.00pm, the first sitting should be earlier to allow the staff more time.. The buffet at dinner time is reasonable and you can usually find something to eat look out for the ethnic area you often get the best food their. It is really busy and the Italians pile theie plates high ( worse than the brits LOL ) . In the evening there is no ethnic area food so the choice isnt as good but still okay. For some reason the food is at its best just over warm neve red hot. Breakfast is reasonable plenty of choice but sadly no fresh cooking like on Royal Carribean their omlettes were to die for.Do's and Dont's First day on board go to the meeting you will get the offer of three excursions which are good value three for £90.00 . Its hard to beat this price even doing it yourself and they were good we did the Aix En Provence, Genoa and Tunisia shopping and history. DRINK For some reason the Brits and Irish can book an all inclusive drinks package before you go ,there is two called the Algrisimo one is £150.00 pp and the other is £250.00pp No kidding we had the £250.00 pp which allows you to use your mini fridge we emptied it daily LOL , also you can drink all the top Brandy's and whiskies plus the cocktails and you can have tea and coffee from the bars free as well. The Piazza ice creams and cakes are free with that one too. At the end of the holiday we had spent over a thousand euros so the £500.00 we paid was well worth it. You get the water free and bottles of wine in the main two restaurants and by the glass everywhere else.Yes beware the bottled water will cost you a small fortune. Overall the ship is great the food is poor the staff are great ,the passengers okay apart from the Rusians ,the Germans dont know how to queue. I would go again for the price Id paid. Oh and the balcony cabin I was upgraded to was fab. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We booked this cruise 10 days before departure from the UK. We had been recommended MSC by people we had met on a previous cruise. We boarded the ship at Barcelona, an easy transfer from the airport, 30 euros in a taxi , or you can take ... Read More
We booked this cruise 10 days before departure from the UK. We had been recommended MSC by people we had met on a previous cruise. We boarded the ship at Barcelona, an easy transfer from the airport, 30 euros in a taxi , or you can take a train and then a taxi to the port. Check in was easy,in groups, then you boarded the ship. First impressions, its amazing ! Very palatial and its enormous ! When you board, you are shown individually to your stateroom ! Our cabin was excellent, large , beautifully appointed, colour schemes were chocolate brown and burnt orange colours. The cabin is well appointed, a nice sofa , coffee table, LCD TV , great shower room, very powerful shower and nice toiletries. Bathrobes were provided, a nice touch, some ships you have to fight for these ! Our balcony was massive , we were on a corner , furnished with table and 2 chairs. The whole ship is very impressive, very glitzy, loads of cosy bars, all with some form of entertainment, singers, particularly good in the wine bar ! Some bars had pianists, others had a trio...all very good ! Deck space is excellent, even on the sea day, plenty of sunbeds available ! Pool towels plentiful and you can change often as you like. Pools onboard, were a nice temperature as were the hot tubs . Gym was superb and always had plenty of space to workout . The spa is beautiful , well appointed, lovely thermal suite, but as usual, treatments onboard , very expensive ! The buffet runs an entire deck, personally, we are not fans of buffets, due to hecticness of them, this was surprisingly calm ! Yes, the middle of it was chaotic, but the far ends were peaceful. You can always get a table, and staff are fantastic, as soon as one guest vacates, the table is cleaned for the next guest. Main restaurant, onboarding , we discovered we were due to be sat on a table for 8, we asked to be moved, and this was accomodated, again with no fuss !!! If only all ships were like this !!!! Food onboard is excellent, if you so wish, you can have 7 courses for both lunch and dinner !!! The restaurant for sit down lunch is available daily, again very welcome !! Entertainment was good, very different from the big US lines, but this is because there are so many nationalities on board, so there was a Michael Jackson tribute show, one called FANTASIA , which was excellent, most featured some acrobatics, who were amazing. The staff on this ship were fantastic, very warm , friendly, smiley and they looked happy. The ship was spotlessly clean , and cleaners were evident all over the ship. In fact, I would say, it was probably the cleanest ship I have ever been on. Some reviewers before mentioned the amount of smokers around, and the fact smoking is permitted in some bars, as a non smoker, I was concerened about this, but I have to admit, there was absoloutley no issue on this ship at all, maybe the air con is more efficient ! Its our 1st cruise with MSC, we were a litle dubious having sailed with Costa in the past, which we didn't enjoy .MSC is a different world ! Great staff, fabulous ship and fantastic value ! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
For years I've been a loyal Sandals customer but decided to try a cruise for the first time due to a special rate offered in the Yacht Club. It is everything and more than the advertising says. We got off to a rough start; due to a ... Read More
For years I've been a loyal Sandals customer but decided to try a cruise for the first time due to a special rate offered in the Yacht Club. It is everything and more than the advertising says. We got off to a rough start; due to a 4-hour flight delay, we missed the ship in Civitavecchia. We stayed overnight and caught the train to Genoa the next day; as soon we arrived in the Yacht Club reception area all the stress disappeared. Here's what I loved about it: - beautiful, spacious cabin with lots of drawers and hangers for clothes - private balcony where we enjoyed wine and food ordered from room service - the deck at One Pool was so spacious you could have an entire area to yourself, plenty of towels available. The service was very prompt and the buffett lunch a nice change from the more formal dining room. - the service and food, both quality and variety, in the Yacht Club restraunt was fabulous - dine at whatever time you want - the Top Sail lounge was lovely with high quality snacks available all night (the little Gran Paderno cheese bites were great) - all the staff, especially our butler Donny, were wonderful. Nothing was ever too much to ask. - the cabin was immaculate with fresh towels supplied twice daily Just a fabulous trip I would do again in a second. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
The negatives - MSC does not care about you in any way once you get on the boat. All they want is to turn you upside down and shake as much cash as they can out of you. They are only short of wearing masks and holding you at gun point ... Read More
The negatives - MSC does not care about you in any way once you get on the boat. All they want is to turn you upside down and shake as much cash as they can out of you. They are only short of wearing masks and holding you at gun point to extract cash. Everything is plus 15% on top of the overpriced items. Tours are the biggest rip off, you can do all the tours locally for a fraction of the price for example a taxi tour in Tunusia is €40 for up to 5 hours for 4 people MSC want min €50 per person. We did a trip to Rome -train €15*4 return and express, hop on hop off bus €38 for 4 MSC can charge up to €97 per person. If you dont pay for the tour they give you no local information you need to wait until you get off the boat and talk to tourist information who are happy to provide you with the information. STAY AWAY FROM THE MSC TOURS. Getting on to the ship took over an hour, make sure you do the online checkin and avoid the ques. Asking for information from reception is pot luck if you telephone them from the room they answer apologise for the problem and never do what you ask them even when you call them 3 times. Everything is in 4/5 languages why cant they have and English session followed by Spanish followed by Italian everything takes 5 times longer. The entertainment is very poor - mainly the dancing - some of the acts are great but they seem to be thrown into the middle of very poor dance performances - I cant blaim the dancers they are only doing what they have been taught. However the kids and the wife did enjoy it. Bingo €10 for 1 game - because of the languages it takes over an hour. You must pay for water in the restaurants, tea and coffee are only available until 10am unless you pay. Bring your own water into the restaurants. The pools are salt water and you tend to come out crusty. The positives - The boat is out of this world it my first cruise but I have never seen better. Prior to getting onto the ship baggage was taken from up and dropped to the room excellent. Room is spot-on with a balcony but dont do anything less the inside cabins are terrible - pay the extra dont ruin it by doing it on the cheap. If you like you bacon and cabbage the fine dining is not for you. The trick is to order 7 courses (this is apartently they way the Italians do it). All the courses are small - some people were ordering starter and a main but it not enough. What ever you want they will deliver. If not you can also use the other restaurants. Nobody tell you to bring trousers and shoes I was dining in trousers and a shirt with people on the next table in black tie. Dont let that put you off you paid for this experience too. Shoes on a foreign holiday with baggage prices - no thanks. Other than reception I had no problem with staff they were as helpful as they could be, but they never engaged in conversation. The Cruise director Enzo is Italian - enough said. You must understand that the Italian on board have no manners (its in the breeding) open the door for them and you could be there for 15 minutes. They hold the lift to engage in conversation, skip and jump ques and talk as loud as they can, they will remove your towel from your sunbed and sit on it even when your wife is lying on the one next to it. After a while you just wave your arms and shout, they get the message. Have I said enough!!!!! All said myself and my family had a wonderful time and a great experience its a great way to see a new city every day. From people I spoke to at the bar that have been on more than one cruise they say its not as good as others. Be open minded we did not pay a lot for our experience and therefore our expectations were low. Would I do it again YES was the food good YES I would have loved to talk/email someone prior to departure to ask questions - markglynn@oceanfree.net - remember I have a job and cant answer everybody but will try to do so. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We have just returned from 7 nights on the Armonia and the only saving grace was the places visited. Embarkation was smooth and quick and we were on board in less than half an hour, The ship itself is beautiful and very clean everywhere. ... Read More
We have just returned from 7 nights on the Armonia and the only saving grace was the places visited. Embarkation was smooth and quick and we were on board in less than half an hour, The ship itself is beautiful and very clean everywhere. The cabins are ample as cabins go with a good sized window. Nicely decorated and very comfy. Shower a bit on the small size but again adequate. We arrived in Venice and immediately went sightseeing. The ship did not leave until 7 pm. On our return to the ship we looked for the buffet. Here the negative comments begin! Food was 98% Italian. Pasta was everywhere and melon. LOTS of melon! It seems we British eat a staple diet of beefburgers, hot dogs and chips as that was the choice day in and day out. Salads consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, if you were lucky and Brussels sprouts and broccoli!!! 1 serving dish each of cold Italian meats and processed cheese. Portions were absolutely tiny to say the least. As each slice of cake/quiche/dessert was placed on a plate for you, we were inclined to just take 3 or 4 at a time. Any meat dish was served by a server behind the food counter (strange buffet; always thought the point was you served yourself) who gave you 1 of whatever it was. 1 slice of meat, 1 hot dog, 1 beefburger. If you asked for more you did get it but you shouldn't have to ask. The portions really were so tiny a small child would have eaten at least 3. The buffet was NOT open all day as on other ships and between 2 and 4 there was absolutely nothing to eat! At 4 they re-opened for afternoon tea which comprised of sandwiches cut in triangles, rolls about 2 inches long and cakes so small you could fit a whole one in your mouth at one time. This was the only time you got free tea and coffee with a meal. At all other meals you had to pay for drinks, including water, unless you went outside to the Pizza bar and walked back into the buffet with your drinks. During this afternoon tea time not one of the sandwiches were marked up with their ingredients. This could have been very dangerous for anybody with allergies as they were serving egg mayonnaise and fish sandwiches. You could ask the servers but more often than not they did not know themselves.Another problem in the buffet was the number of children running riot. Their parents didn't seem to care what they were doing and allowed them to run around knocking into people. Apparently all under 18 year olds travel free.One thing we found on this ship and no other we have used is that there was no ice cream for anybody in the buffet. Yes you had to pay for it if you wanted it.Every other ship has supplied it at least as a dessert and several have had it on deck as free. The variety of all food was non-existent with the same things night after night. Breakfast again was a joke with barely cooked scrambled eggs, burnt bacon and baked beans which looked as though they had been re-heated more than once and were disgusting. Sausages were frankfurters. Toast didn't exist! There was a variety of cereals but none of it tasted 'right' Tried the restaurant (Marco Polo) just 3 times, once for dinner and twice for breakfast and on all 3 occasions the waiters messed up our orders. Needless to say we did not use the restaurant again after that which was a shame as it was a beautiful restaurant. The entertainment was OK but very amateurish. We have sailed with other cruise lines and they have had excellent West End style shows. 2 main singers every night who were not very good. Dancers seemed to use the same dance steps, just to different music! All the introductions were in Italian, Spanish, German and then finally English. When we booked this cruise I did check out reviews and decided that everyone wants something different and that is exactly what you get with MSC especially if you have cruised with other companies. Sadly we did not find it a pleasure. Staff were without a doubt the rudest, most arrogant people we have ever met and yes they were all Italians. I am sure that all Italians are not like this generally but it seems to be part of the interview process; 'how rude can you be? Very? Great the job is yours!! Those on Reception were definitely the worse. They would not acknowledge you and would carry on chatting to each other. The other main problem was the language barrier. Most of the staff spoke very poor English if they spoke it at all. If you advertise yourself as an International Cruise Line, English should be a basic language.We have never encountered this on previous cruise lines, This lead to several problems like when we ordered 2 large draft ciders and were given 2 small bottled ciders. When I pointed out that was not what we ordered the waitress said 'but I've opened the bottles now' Totally unacceptable. The best piece of advise I can offer is this; On MSC Cruises EACH passenger is charged 7 euros PER day for gratuities.This goes to people like the Head Waiters and Wine Waiters. Go to Reception and tell them you want it lowered (if you feel you have had some sort of service) or removed completely as we did. It is NOT compulsory and you do NOT have to pay it. They won't like it but they will remove it from your end of cruise statement. Just stand firm. We told them we had not received any service worthy of a tip and when we listed our complaints they were not in the least bit interested. STAND FIRM. It works out to just under another £100 a week on top of what you have already paid for the trip. Not to mention the 15% service charge on top of any drinks you order. Disembarkation is a shambles to say the least. By now they have had your money and want nothing more to do with you. Our flight was at 5.35pm and were originally told we would leave the ship at around midday. By 10 am we were on our own. Dumped in the port terminal for the next 4 hours with no information. When we asked what time the transfer coach would arrive to go to the airport we were told 2 pm. The coach arrived at 1 pm so if anybody had decided to go out some where thinking they had 4 hours to spare would have missed the transfer coach. There was an area to leave your luggage which charged 3 euros. Not sure how secure this was as we did not use it. As I said the only saving grace of this cruise was the ports we visited which were all stunning. Venice, Ancona, Corfu, Pireus, Santorini and Kefalonia. Would definitely NOT use MSC ever again. Not even particularly good value in the price. Came home very hungry. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
This was a very last minute holiday for us and we were pleased with how the travel agent made sure we got on this cruise. We got it at a very reasonable price and got an upgrade to an outside cabin which was great. Couldn't complain ... Read More
This was a very last minute holiday for us and we were pleased with how the travel agent made sure we got on this cruise. We got it at a very reasonable price and got an upgrade to an outside cabin which was great. Couldn't complain about embarkation as that was quick and efficient and our cabin was fine. Our luggage arrived almost immediately and we were unpacked and ready for an explore in next to no time. Great start! Well, things went down hill after that. The ship itself is fine, nicely decorated lounges and bars. The pool area is rather bland and well worn but given how many Italian kids were on board, we didn't spend any time there. We were appalled by the lack of hygiene in the buffet restaurant. There was hand gel but no one insisted you use it so nobody did. There was always food on the floors and tables were left with dirty dishes and not wiped down. The same food was served every day and my biggest disappointment was the salads. I thought Italians would serve really good salads but every day there was chopped iceberg, a few tomatoes and nothing much else. At breakfast the same foods again and nothing appetizing. The cooked food was awful and the scrambled egg looked like vomit. But the worse of all was the horrible plastic blue mugs to drink from. First thing I did was to buy a china mug from our first port of call. The majority of the passengers were Italian and we have never met such rude and obnoxious people in our lives. They have no sense of personal space, push in front of you as they obviously don't believe in queueing or allowing you room in the lifts. And they are so loud, shouting at each other and arguing. We had second sitting for the evening meal which wasn't till 9:30 and the food served there was really poor. This is the first cruise we didn't put any weight on. There was no water served at the table and no coffee after the meal. These had to be bought at extortionate prices. The wine list was so expensive that we didn't bother with buying a bottle but stuck to the half carafe of the house red which was OK. Our table waiter was on his own and had five tables to serve. All the tables sat 6 or more and he worked very hard and with a smile at all times. Him and our cabin stewardess were the friendliest crew members and they weren't Italian. Because we had a late sitting, we had to see the shows before we ate. They were very good especially the guy with the cardboard costumes and the 2 jugglers. Drinks on board are very expensive and there is a 15% charge on every drink, not to mention the 7 euro each per day service charge that gets whacked on your bill. Trying to get this removed is an ordeal and unfortunately it is the likes of our cabin steward and table waiter that have their wages docked if you do manage to get it taken off. Money tips to individuals are not encouraged. The best part of the cruise were the ports although we were only in them for half a day. We've been to most of them before so knew what to expect. The last port was definitely the best. Kotor in Montenegro is so beautiful, the old town, the scenery and the friendly natives were wonderful and sailing out through the windy inlet was magnificent. Disembarkation was a disgrace. We felt that now that we'd paid our money they just wanted rid. We had to be off the ship really early and expected to take an expensive tour which took you to the airport after it was over about 3pm. Our flight was not till 11:30pm so we did not want to be at the airport so early. There was no information for our disembarkation, no idea when a shuttle bus would be available to transfer us and we had to have it out with the reception staff which was very difficult. In the end we decided to do our own thing. We bought a shuttle boat ticket that stopped at several places in Venice and gave us a pleasant hour and a half on the boat before dropping us off at the airport. We put our luggage in the baggage hold for 6 euro a piece and jumped on the bus back to Venice for an afternoon of sightseeing and a meal.All this was cheaper that the organised tours off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Real cruise cost is MORE EXPENSIVE than cruise fare shown on MSC website: EXTRA hidden Service SURcharge acknowledged in cruise booklet at check-in, NOT SHOWN on MSC website. Total cost = Cruise fare + hidden Service SURcharge of 7 ... Read More
Real cruise cost is MORE EXPENSIVE than cruise fare shown on MSC website: EXTRA hidden Service SURcharge acknowledged in cruise booklet at check-in, NOT SHOWN on MSC website. Total cost = Cruise fare + hidden Service SURcharge of 7 euros/pax/night. For example: for 7 nights, 2 persons: Cruise fare + 98 euros (7 euros x 7 x 2 pers.). Too much time spent at sea. Except Athens, Santorini and Montenegro, there is not much worth seeing at the rest of the destinations. We book an exterior, Ocean view, cabin on deck 9: - Corridor and cabin sting ammonia - Quality of the cabin is equivalent to a 3 stars hotel room - The bathroom starts rusting - Many machine oil or grease stains on bed sheets and towels Buffet: self-service, cafeteria quality cooking. Restaurant La Pergola = cafeteria+ (plus) quality cooking + good service. Wi-Fi Internet: available only on deck 5. Buy 10 euros for 60 minutes BUT surf the web for about 15 minutes and... FINISH! NO MORE air time! Buy new credit! Inefficient Disembarkation briefing and a greedy Reception staff incapable of using there own MSC Terminal map to guide or Help passengers in need of catching the Venice ATVO shuttle Bus to Marco Polo Airport. Venice ATVO shuttle buses (5 euros) leave for Marco Polo airport every 1/2 hour. While ONLY ONE trip of MSC shuttle buses to Airport at triple cost (15 euros), scheduled to arrive at Marco Polo 11:00 - 11:30 for flights up to 18:00 (5-6 hours waiting time). Pay expensive! Good luck, and be patient! Cruise amateur beware: - Real cruise cost is MORE EXPENSIVE than cruise fare shown on MSC website: - hidden Service SURcharge acknowledged in cruise booklet at check-in, NOT SHOWN on MSC website. - Total cost = Cruise fare + hidden Service SURcharge of 7 euros/pax/day, for example: for 7 nights, 2 persons: Cruise fare + 98 euros (7 euros x 7 x 2 pers.). - Too much time spent at sea. Except Athens, Santorini and Montenegro, there is not much worth seeing at the rest of the destinations. We book an exterior, Ocean view, cabin on deck 9: - Corridor and cabins sting ammonia - Quality of the cabin is equivalent to a 3 stars hotel room - The bathroom starts rusting - Many machine oil or grease stains on bed sheets and towels Buffet: self-service, cafeteria quality cooking Restaurant La Pergola = cafeteria+ (plus) quality cooking + good service Wi-Fi Internet: available only on deck 5. Buy 10 euros for 60 minutes BUT surf the web for about 15 minutes and FINISH! NO MORE air time, Buy new credit! Inefficient Disembarkation briefing and a greedy Reception staff incapable of using there own MSC Terminal map to guide or Help passengers in need of catching the Venice ATVO shuttle Bus to Marco Polo Airport. Venice ATVO shuttle buses (5 euros) leave for Marco Polo airport every 1/2 hour. While ONLY ONE trip of MSC shuttle buses to Airport at triple cost (15 euros), scheduled to arrive at Marco Polo 11:00 - 11:30 for flights up to 18:00 (5-6 hours waiting time). Good luck, and be patient! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Where to start! We are normally independent travellers, so decided to book directly with MSC. This was a reasonable experience and the person dealing with our telephone booking did select a good room for us, which was appreciated. On the ... Read More
Where to start! We are normally independent travellers, so decided to book directly with MSC. This was a reasonable experience and the person dealing with our telephone booking did select a good room for us, which was appreciated. On the Forums, some bookers seem to not have received a room allocation at time of confirmation. We were given a balcony cabin 12134. That's deck 12 on Aurora, mid ships and not too from from lifts. Our party consisted of myself with my two daughters aged 21 and 19, so we shared a double bed and the sofa bed was turned into a large single bed each evening during turndown. Received the cheque book type confirmation a few days before - this was couriered to us by DHL from Naples. However, it was incorrect and I had to phone to point out the mistake about one of our airport to port transfers that had been included, and so it was emailed out within 24 hours on a A4 sheet. Our flights from UK to Italy were included as part of the package, as the prices were excellent - we couldn't have done anything better ourselves. I checked! However, the flights to Venice from London did not arrive in time (no matter which airline you used) so we had to fly from LGW to Verona (there were 35 other Divina passengers on this BA flight too). I was expecting some assistance at the Gatwick check in from MSC but it was just do-it-yourself. As this was part of a group booking, I found it a bit irritating that we couldn't do online check in. Check in Arrived at Verona with the usual scrum that you may expect. Looked for the MSC rep - there were lots of other travel companies there too - and she duly appeared about 10mins late. A comfortable air conditioned coach awaited us outside the terminal building. Criticism at this point - we had only eaten the BA breakfast, and there was no suggestion that we may like to get something to sustain us at this time. Little did we realise that we would not eat until dinner that evening on the ship! Fortunately, the first sitting at 19:00. Coach transfer (this was the bit we were missing in the original travel details) was smooth and took us right into the port, to the terminal building adjacent to the Divina. Here's where the good experience ended! Embarkation check in was the worst I have ever endured. Queue outside the building, passport check and deposit luggage with the appropriate tags. Enter building and given a number - 23 in our case. Waited in another holding area with seating, toilets and that's it. No food, no drink and lots of pushing and frustrated bemused people. It seemed like several hours, but think it was (only!) 90 mins. Every 30mins another number was called to join yet another queue. I had completed the web check in form beforehand, in the hope that this would fast track us, but don't think this saved any time at all. Pointless! When we did finally join the queue to actually check in, the photographer tried to take our photos around a ship's wheel. What a joke - sad, tired and frustrated subjects. Sorry, didn't buy that particular photo! Room Balcony room on 12th deck. 2/3 of our cases already waiting outside our room, the last case delivered within one hour. Room was great. As this was our first cruise, didn't know what to expect, but thought it very acceptable and well planned. Bathroom had a clever glass folding modern screen, good shower head with reasonable jet. Single sink but lots of storage and glass shelves. Shower contained cylinders of shampoo and soap but not conditioner. Also a soap pump at the sink. Plentiful toilet roll (that says more about me than I probably realise) and tissues. Exceptionally clean. We took more hangars for the wardrobes, and a four way extension cable plus continental adaptors. There are two sockets in the room, with a hairdryer built into a drawer. Stored our cases under the bed otherwise these would have been annoying. TV had various standard channels - Bloomberg and CNN were the only English channels. Also had ship navigation channels which was really interesting if you are sad like me! Balcony had two chairs and a small table. Sofa was made into a bed during turndown but daytime was room for two. Huge mirrors made the room look larger. Air con/heating was good. Your cruise card (like hotel room credit card key) opened the room and slotted in for power for the room. Cleaning was good. Got caught out one day when a clever machine came along the side of the ship to clean the balconies and windows! Fresh bath and hand towels twice a day. Two pillows per person. Two bathrobes not three. Altogether very pleasant. Food If you like tasteless 1950s style food, then you will love the food in the Calumet or Manitou buffets. Worst food that I have ever eaten on a holiday. Everyone descending at roughly the same time filling large plastic dinner plates with tasteless creations. Different stations served different themes but still puzzles me how you can create food that either tastes all the same or of nothing at all. The only food I found acceptable was the melon. Only slightly better food in the serviced restaurants - Villa Rossa or The Black Crab. However, the waiting staff, mostly from Honduras, although smiling and trying to be helpful, struggled with any English or Italian. Forget about asking questions about food or drink. The more you pay as extras on the ship, the better the food. We ate at the pizzeria La Cantina di Bacco - great pizzas and vastly better than the ones served in the buffet. Sacramento Tex Mex - mixture of burgers and nanchos. Nothing to write home about. The final evening I decided to push the boat out (sorry!) and dine in Galaxy. Professional service, tasty food well presented, great wines. Totally deserted! Also had very nice cakes and good coffee at Caffe Italia inside the Piazza del Doge. Ice cream at the Pool Bar was nice. Gala dinners - there were two. Some people made an effort - cocktail dresses appeared. Other people did not bother too much. Beverage stations in the buffet areas had 24hr tea, coffee and iced water. I am a bit of a coffee snob - which coffee beans were used for this brown liquid???? Why was decor in the buffet Indigenous American tribes??? Plastic ornaments? Mmm! Drinks packages What a ridiculous system! We pre-purchased the Cheers package but even with an explanation from the Reception on the ship, still not sure what we were entitled to where. On the way back to the airport after leaving the Divina, we discovered that some people had books of tickets that they gave to waiters so that they knew how much and what kinds of drinks they had available. For some reason, we didn't receive this or were made aware of its existence. So confused and would have ordered more bottles of water if we had known. As it was, we were told not to leave them lying around the room, as the mini bar staff would try to charge us (which they did!). It seems that you can only use the vouchers for the Cheers package in the buffet and the all inclusive restaurants. Any where else, you get charged. Plus the service charge!!! Beware the bottles of water they place in your rooms are not free. Entertainment Pantheon Theatre is well equipped and comfortable. Shows were different themes each night (will someone please explain why we had a show entitled 'Pharoah' one evening. We weren't anywhere near Egypt!) Same weak singers, reasonable dancers and acrobats each evening doing slightly different things. The Michael Jackson show was the best. Lighting effects and costumes good. The Euro Cup final was screened in the theatre, and this was the most enjoyable entertainment. Not because I am a football fan but because there was such a great atmosphere. Strong and noisy Spanish contingent had a great time, Italians slunk out towards the end. Franco the cruise director (are we supposed to know him?) was an expert in five different languages. Didn't participate in the Giant Bingo or any pool games. Excursions After a lot of investigation we went on KAT01 Olympia and Shopping from Katakolon and IZM02 Ephesus from Izmir. Both trips were value for money. Great English speaking guides, comfortable air conditioned coaches, careful drivers. Olympia was a bit of a disappointment as expected more excavation. Olympia shopping consisted of a few souvenir shops and cafes. Ephesus guide, Sarah, was particularly interesting. Trip included a surprise stop at a pottery but there was no pressure to buy. There was also a toilet stop at which the local vendors suddenly appeared. Both guides talked about their culture, history, people, language, religion, agriculture, politics. All kinds of topics that made the trip interesting as well as guiding us around the main points of interest at the sites. For Bari, Istanbul and Dubrovnik we did our own thing. Used local transport. After disembarking, we wanted a quick trip to Venice before our flight. We spent some time working out luggage storage (railway station or airport), transfers by boat etc. In the end, we took advantage of an MSC trip that was announced the night before which was the perfect answer. Disembarkation quickly and early, dedicated ferry to near St Mark's Square straight from the Divina. Three hours to wander and back on the ferry to the port. Collect luggage (miraculously still there) and coach to the airport in time to check in at 17:30. Couldn't have done it any cheaper and certainly not as easily. Pool areas Lovely facilities with small pools (nice temperatures) and jacuzzis. Pity that MSC didn't enforce their own rules about kids not allowed in adult only pools. Lots of kids running around all over the place. Crowded jacuzzis also full of kids. Usual lounger rage from some adults. I guess this was because the Divina was full? Safety procedures Lifebelts are located in the wardrobes. You need a degree in origami to work out how they fit. You are assigned an assembly station and shown what to do - in five different languages. This was done before we cast off from Venice. Be careful to select an adult size. I must have looked like an idiot not realising that I was wearing a child's life vest! To sum up Fabulous ship that has some spectacular interior design - ornate, luxurious and extravagant. Swarovski crystal staircases, lots of glass, use of gold and red. Themed bars. Very clean. Hand gel at all the restaurants. Access from port to town were very good for all the stops. Such smooth sailing but perhaps we were lucky with the weather. However, food and embarkation procedures let this cruise down big time. First and probably last cruise unless someone can convince me that it's not all like this? Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
MSC Divina, Yacht Club Suite, Istanbul-Bari-Katakolon-Izmir-Istanbul-At sea-Dubrovnik. After a very successful cruise in a Yacht Club Suite on board the MSC Fantasia in the Western Med last year it was with big expectations we booked ... Read More
MSC Divina, Yacht Club Suite, Istanbul-Bari-Katakolon-Izmir-Istanbul-At sea-Dubrovnik. After a very successful cruise in a Yacht Club Suite on board the MSC Fantasia in the Western Med last year it was with big expectations we booked the brand new MSC Divina for holiday this summer. Again in the Yacht Club as this concept is truly great for us. A silent haven within a mega ship with personal service, great comfort and relaxing atmosphere. A paradise for our holiday. And we were not let down. MSC Divina is a sister ship of MSC Fantasia but there are some improvements here and there, like a bigger Top Sail Lounge in the Yacht Club and not at least, toilets on the Yacht Club One Pool Deck. They are similar in layout so no problems to navigate around this BIG ship. The ship is shiny, very clean everywhere and it seems like MSC put it's proud to keep their ships in an immaculate condition. Embarkation was a breeze, we took a water taxi from our hotel, then a quick stroll down to the terminal where the Yacht Club staff and our butler waited for us. We were on board in less than 15 minutes. Maybe it helps to do the MSC web check-in, I don't know. Our cabin was a Deluxe Suite on deck 16, 33 sq m. Perfect size and only 3 sq m smaller than the Royal Suite we had last year. Darker interior colours than on MSC Fantasia, but a very cozy and relaxed atmosphere.The walk in wardrobe is nice. A word on warning, water taxis in Venice are VERY expensive, costs start at EUR 70. We had our dinner served in the private restaurant Le Muse and as last year, the service was great. Regarding the food we thought for a second that the standard might have fallen a bit, after a rather bad main course the second evening. After a couple of days the food improved a lot and we had two great gala nights with terrific food. Organisation in the restaurant was also bit chaotic in the start as well but also that improved as the week passed on. As the ship is completely new I guess they have some organisation issues going on. As last year we had our breakfast in the Top Sail Lounge. Great views there and a lot to choose from. We had wonderful lunch served on the Pool Deck with different food every day and several hot dishes to choose from unlike last year when they only had one hot dish. Maybe they listened to our customer feedback form? The staff in Yacht Club is very good and they offer exceptional service. Some of them had transferred from MSC Fantasia and it was very nice to meet them again. At the pool deck the pool staff took very good care of us and in the Top Sail Lounge live piano entertainment took place every evening. It was a very international atmosphere on board, we met other passengers from the US, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain and Italy in Yacht Club. We did not use any shore excursions from MSC except from at the disembarkation day in Venice when we had a late afternoon flight. The organisation of the excursion was not the best and I have to say that it was not good value for money, even if the airport transfer was included. Next time we will organise our disembarkation ourselves. The ship is amazing and we had a great cruise from the very beginning to the end and we highly recommend MSC Yacht Club. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
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