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185 MSC Cruises Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

I am reviewing on behalf of two couples that sailed on the MSC Preziosa in the final week of October in 2014. We all thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise-liner experience, are hooked and looking forward to further cruises. As you will see ... Read More
I am reviewing on behalf of two couples that sailed on the MSC Preziosa in the final week of October in 2014. We all thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise-liner experience, are hooked and looking forward to further cruises. As you will see from our ratings, there were only two components to the cruise that we found could do with improvement; the embarkation process was poorly organised, slow, mentally and physically draining at the end of a long day; and, the excursion package we purchased to Ephesus during our Izmir stopover seemed designed to hurry us through the site visit in order to get us to a leather factory outlet store. We spent an equal amount of time between the site and this factory, which we believe devalued our experience and detracted from the purpose of the excursion. MSC state that these excursions are not owned or run by their company, which is fair enough, although I believe they should survey users to provide feedback to these third parties and even move to different suppliers should the feedback prove consistently poor. We found our own way around Bari, Katakolon, Istanbul and Dubrovnik without issue and would encourage people to read port reviews and plan your own excursions. Apart from these two things we had an extremely enjoyable trip. The food in the Inca and Maya buffet was of a very good standard. We always found a table within a few minutes of arriving and we never experienced piles of used plates (mentioned elsewhere) even though the cruise occurred over a midterm break and was completely sold out. There is daily variation in speciality and ethnic serving areas that we would recommend you search out should you bore of pizza, hot-dogs, burgers, pasta's and the like. We were lucky enough to enjoy the second dinner seating (8.45pm) and found the food of a very good quality served attentively and professionally by (Francis) Joel and Surrag. The evening entertainment in the enormous theatre was cleverly choreographed and professionally delivered. We purchased the Allegrissimo food and drinks package, which was excellent value for money, and if you are partial to a few drinks, highly recommended. We spent a lot of evenings in La Cafeteria (Chocolate and Coffee) bar as it was close to our cabin and because of the delightful service provided by Prati. We found all the crew and staff to be very approachable, happy, attentive and totally professional. Joel, Surrag and Prati, however, were wonderful and added a very welcome personal touch to our experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We booked with MSC Cruises and particularly the fantasia as it had an excellent itinerary and had no days at sea. We booked directly with MSC and had the allegrissimo drinks package. We booked a mid ship balcony cabin on the 10th floor. I ... Read More
We booked with MSC Cruises and particularly the fantasia as it had an excellent itinerary and had no days at sea. We booked directly with MSC and had the allegrissimo drinks package. We booked a mid ship balcony cabin on the 10th floor. I had to stop reading the reviews on Cruise Critic as they we're making me want to cancel the cruise altogether. After spending a week on the ship I honestly couldn't understand what people moan for considering this was nearly £1500 less than the equivalent Royal Caribbean cruise including the drinks package! We flew into Venice Marco Polo airport with British Airways and on arrival at the airport we had no transfers organised. Its extremely easy to get into Venice from the airport, hop on the ATVO coach to Piazzale Roma,across the street to the people mover which drops you right into the port. All for the princely sum of 11 euros return, so much cheaper than a water taxi! Embarkation was efficient but slow. We queued outside to have our luggage taken off us, we we're then sent to the check in area upstairs to receive our cruise cards. You are then given an embarkation card and have to wait for your number to be called before getting on the ship. They do sell drinks packages at check in, cheaper than buying it from the UK but you are whacked with a 15% service charge on every drink so it does work out cheaper buying it in the UK overall. The cabin was excellent, extremely clean and spacious with great furnishings. The bed was extremely comfortable but it was two large singles zipped together which is a little annoying. Huge wardrobe with plenty of storage space, free safe and a great shower. Loved having a balcony as well! Our cabin attendant was excellent, extra pillows and sheets we're brought when requested. We could hear the muffled sound of people upstairs and walking past the room but it didn't disturb our sleep. The ship was beautiful, amazing public areas and spotlessly clean. The ship is massive, we we're finding places we'd never been before 3 days into the cruise. Ask for a map of the ship from reception it came in very handy. Pool areas are amazing both indoors and outdoors. We never had any problems in getting sunbeds or space in the hot tubs. Everything was well maintained, they we're even repainting walls whilst we we're there. Announcements on the ship are kept to an absolute minimum, when they do play its barely audible from your cabin anyway so you don't get disturbed. Food was good in the main dining room, I could never not find anything to eat off the menu. Alot of previous reviews have said the pasta was underdone, you are on an Italian cruise line, its al dente! Waiter had our drinks ready on the table before we sat down, food was hot and served quickly. The buffet could be a bit of a scrum at times but there was plentiful choice, how you can't find something to eat would be beyond me with the vast expanse of buffet available. Food was reasonable quality, lots of cold meats/salads/burgers/curry etc. The freshly made pizza was excellent, one to try! The free juice drinks are just about palatable, they are like squash. If we wanted a seat we just walked to the very back where it was quieter. Entertainment was a little sparse during the day but most people get off the ship including us, we usually just sat around the pool having cocktails and reading a book. The shows on this ship are vegas quality, loads of acrobats, dancers, magic and singers. Some of the stunts that we're performed we're seriously impressive. There was always something going on at night, we usually found ourselves at the l'insolito lounge at the back of the ship as the band was very good. Service was sketchy, at the pool there is no point waiting for a waiter to come to you, we just went to the bar and got drinks from there, it didn't bother us as we are used to going to the bars to pick up our own drinks anyway and gave us an excuse to move from the sunbed. The bars I found to be better, we would often sit in the fantasia lounge before dinner and someone always came over straight away to take our drink orders so there was no need to get up, this was the case in many of the bars. I think the way some people talked to the service staff its no wonder why they wouldn't want to serve you again. We we're always extremely friendly and polite with the waiting staff and many would remember our drink orders. Passengers on the ship are from all over Europe, unfortunately many of them do not have any manners, they will cut in line etc. A few people tried to shove in front of me but a gentle prod and a few kind words usually gets them out of my way. Some of them can be LOUD but as we've travelled Europe extensively it doesn't bother us. There we're many Americans, Australians and British on the ship but we're in the minority. We did not book any excursions with MSC, they seemed very overpriced for what they offered. We visited Olympia and Athens using a separate tour company and its very easy to get around other ports using local transport. At Santorini you need to get a tender off the ship, if your not getting off in the first hour its docked you don't need a tender ticket, so we had a relaxing morning and avoided the scrum of passengers getting off. Maps of the area are provided at reception and every day you had a programme to let you know what was available at each port. Disembarkation was superb, cases we're collected in the night from outside the room and we we're given a coloured disembarkation card. We had breakfast, went to the theater once they called our colour and then we we're off the ship and cases collected within 10 minutes. Overall we had a brilliant holiday, we went on board with open minds after reading some of these horrendous reviews of the ship. Many of the unfavorable reviews are from people comparing Cunard to MSC, they are not exactly in the same price point are they? I think if you do the same you'd enjoy yourself. This is an italian cruise line with European passengers. If you don't like italian food being served and a diverse culture on board MSC is not for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was the first time on this cruise line and I absolutely loved it. It was the cleanest ship I have ever been on and being an avid cruiser that says alot. Crew was constantly cleaning everything down to using a toothbrush style brush to ... Read More
This was the first time on this cruise line and I absolutely loved it. It was the cleanest ship I have ever been on and being an avid cruiser that says alot. Crew was constantly cleaning everything down to using a toothbrush style brush to clean the metal stair runners. Typically I do not go to the shows but being the first time on the Divina I went and sure glad I did. The entertainment was excellent - could NOT have been better. Went to every single show and they were perfection which certainly doesn't happen very often. Found the crew to be exceptionally friendly. There seemed to be a communication issue at times but it was due to lack of understanding the English language. I certainly did not hold that against them as they just need more interaction with American passengers. This in no way affected the enjoyment on this cruise - as a matter of fact they seemed to try harder to please passengers. The ship was beautiful inside and out. The decor was outstanding. The cabin was a great size being slightly bigger than most with balconies. The room was always immaculate. The food was fair and comparable to other cruise lines but seemed to be better in the buffet at lunch rather than dinner in the dining room. Can't wait to get back on board - LUV THE DIVINA - she is one of a kind as I find myself comparing this cruise to others and she is #1. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I cruised with my 80 year old mother - so mixed generations. The ship is stunning -possibly slightly large for us but still possible to escape the crowds. We did not really use the sundeck and pool area as it was pretty crowded and noisy ... Read More
I cruised with my 80 year old mother - so mixed generations. The ship is stunning -possibly slightly large for us but still possible to escape the crowds. We did not really use the sundeck and pool area as it was pretty crowded and noisy throughout the cruise as the ship seemed to be full. Did swim in the "indoor" pool which was quieter and lovely. Cabins are spacious and very well appointed - plenty of storage and the showers are super. Balconies have chairs and table - great for sunning and generally relaxing. The cruise experience is very European - most of the passengers were from southern europe - Spain and Italy and they do tend to be exuberant and noisier than we are used to as well has having low tolerance for queuing - they just don't! Once you get used to the culture differences (we all have them!) it was a great experience. Food was good - not fine dining but always plenty to eat and could always find something to like. The buffet had massive variety of dishes at breakfast and lunch. We ate in the Arabesque restaurant - early sitting is quite early (6.45pm) and late is quite late for Northern Europeans (9.15) - but we had the early and worked OK. For the size of the vessel the administration worked OK - took us about an hour to check in and board - not a pleasant location in Venice though for the boarding procedures - very basic. Took us only 25 mins to disembark so that worked fine. We did not take any excursions - seemed quite expensive so we made our own arrangements - walked or took local transport/taxis in all the ports - was easy to do. Entertainment was just OK - half an hour show in theatre each evening - varied themes to appeal to many languages - the repetition of everything in 6 languages at the start of the show did get a bit irritating but is necessary as there is such a range of nationalities. Also the last night was a bit of a cheat as it was a repeat of everything earlier in the week! All the bars and other venues we visited were lovely - drinks prices were reasonable - we just had the wine package which was great for us but most people went for the fully inclusive which they were happy with. We were seated with other British people at dinner but at breakfast and lunch the tables in the restaurants are mixed which we enjoyed as we met many nationalities that way.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Venice and sought our MSC sign in the Arrivals Hall. There was every other cruise line and other companies but no sign of MSC. Eventually, we found our contact and she was behind the others but the ... Read More
After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Venice and sought our MSC sign in the Arrivals Hall. There was every other cruise line and other companies but no sign of MSC. Eventually, we found our contact and she was behind the others but the sign was down as she was checking names off her list. We were directed down the hall, past the coffee stand and out to the MSC office outside. After checking in there, we waited 20 minutes or so before we were led to the bus in the car park, not an easy trek with a trolley. The coach had no room for hand luggage overhead larger than a handbag. The trip to the port was quick and we were dropped at the end of a queue for bag drop. This was a long queue but in 20 minutes or so we dropped our bags at the door and proceeded upstairs to check in area. This was crowded and the first thing was to get our silly cruise photo taken. This was humorous and kept us smiling while waiting to check in. Check in was smooth enough and then we had to wait for number 15 to be called. This entailed a long wait and there was juice and water available. We had arrived at about 12.30 and we boarded at 2.15pm. We were told our staterooms would not be ready until 2.30 but we sneaked up and it was ready so we dropped off our bags. First Impressions Ship is beautiful and shiny. A lot of reflective surfaces, mirrored elevators and, of course, the famous Swarovski stairs. This was a favourite area for photographs all week. Our stateroom was a balcony, B2, port side, quite forward. There is an overhang from the top deck but it only causes shadow from about noon to 2.00pm on the sea day. The view down was towards deck 7 and lifeboats. View forward was restricted by the hump. Stateroom was very comfortable and spacious enough. Plenty of room under the bed for cases. Hairdryer in drawer was surprising good, I am told. Ice bucket provided but never filled, nor did we seek it to be filled. Met steward a couple of times, by accident. The room was kept very well. One towel animal and a note wishing us an enjoyable cruise. The balcony door slid open and stayed open as it is heavy. The aircon seemed to stay on even when the balcony door was open. The lock for the door is a button which was quite stiff so we did not bother locking it. Food This is the most contentious issue regarding MSC as far as I can see from other reports. Overall, we found it almost as good as NCL or RCCI. The buffet was chaotic at times. It seemed that food stations, although supposed to be replicated around the buffet, actually had different offerings. Many people recommend the ‘Ethnic corner’ at the rear of the buffet but we never found anything appealing there and we love Indian food. Buffet was good enough for breakfast and lunch but lacked choices and replenishment of meat in the evenings. I did not find bacon until day 3. It was crisp and streaky, very tasty. Perhaps I was late to breakfast as they cleared up quite early and from 10.00 it becomes continental. Pork sausages were plentiful and nice. Omlettes were folded without fillings and there was plenty of fried/boiled or scrambled eggs too. We ate breakfast in the MDR one morning and the omlettes there are really good. We had Egg Benedict in the MDR and it was not good, served on toast with a thick slice of fried ham. There was a vinegary taste which I believe is used to help poach the eggs. We ate most evenings in the MDR, early sitting at 6.30pm at a 6 person table. Our tablemates were very pleasant company. Our servers were very efficient and we were always out by 8.10pm, much of any delay caused by us chatting and so on. Wine was replenished reasonably often though we had to ask most nights. Wine was served by the glass. If someone was late to dinner, they were served in their own time and we often had different courses on the table at the same time, without problem. The menu was a 6 course affair, staring with a meat or fish course, e.g. smoked salmon and shrimp, followed by a salad, depending on the port of call perhaps Greek, with Feta cheese or Italian, Mozzarrella etc. Next was soup. Choice of consommé or ‘cream’ which was not very creamy. Soups were nice though. Next was pasta course, very filling, too much food really. The main course was meat, twice filet of beef. However, the beef was very small and sliced like roast beef. It was very tasty though. Dessert was good, Tiramisu, Baked Alaska etc. No coffee or tea at dinner. Allegrissimo Package Allegrissimo package was well worth the money, €23 per person per day. The price of drink on MSC was high, as the price number was similar to NCL/RCCI except it was in Euro. So it was easy to reach or exceed the package price, which included bottled water and coffee. The included wines were good enough. The bottle read ‘La Zolla’ and this was the only label offered despite the drinks menu claiming that there was a choice of 2 whites, 2 reds and a rose. Most cocktails were included. The wait staff were generally very good. The staff overall were very polite and helpful. There was one staff member that I found rude, a pool towel attendant. My tablemates found one of the security staff at the gangway to be rude. Overall, though, very polite staff. Photographs It has been said that MSC photographers are not as ‘in your face’ as other lines’ snappers, but we found we could not walk through the public areas without being offered photo opportunities, on the sparkly stairs or wherever. Even the life jacket drill was a major photo op, more so than a safety drill, I suspect! Entertainment The shows were spectacular and very well choreographed, with acrobats and trapeze artists but, after a few days, they became repetitive. Only on the first night was there an act which had been brought on board, a tenor and pianist, very good. Every night had a theme i.e. Pandora, Wonderland, Queen, Italian songs, and Witches of Paris, and the final night, which we did not attend, was a ‘Best of’ night. The Cruise Director made his announcements in 6 or 7 languages before each show, which kicked off promptly at 9.30pm, for 1st seating diners. Each show only lasted 35 minutes and there is no bar service in the theatre although you can bring in your drink. There was entertainment at most bars throughout the evening. we found the El Dorado Piano bar most comfortable and the music was of mainly Turkish influence and very pleasant. Most nights, some patrons would do a belly dance or arabic dance of sorts. The Green Sax bar had easy listening with some dancing. Safari bar had most action with the entertainment crew arrivingf there at 11pm to organise games etc. This was also a smoking venue along one side. The Galaxy Bar on 15 had disco music late at night. TV There are 3 stations in English, apart from the safety channel; Sky News, Euronews and CNBC. Interactive TV service is clunky but I could see our onboard account on the last night. €2 was added to our account as a UNICEF donation which we had not consented to. We left it, as it is a good cause. Pool Areas There are 3 public (non Yacht Club) pool areas, the Solarium which was a covered area with no loungers, just chairs, a Aqua Park with a large pool, surrounded by loungers and a few hot tubs. At the rear of the ship is the Garden Pool, also referred to as the Infinity Pool. This pool was filled to the edge on some days but not on others. Nice area with plenty of loungers, if you get there early. This is not an ‘Adults Only’ area. Bar service at all pools. Above the Garden Pool is another sun deck with a children’s water park area and the steps to the water slide which I didn’t try. Ports of Call The ship called at Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik with one day at sea. Excursions are heavily promoted on the TV and around the ship. We did not use any ship excursions, preferring to DIY at Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Port stops are short except for Istanbul. Disembarkation We left bags out before 1.00am last night. Our assembly colour was light blue. This is indicated on the tags left in your room last evening. Gathered at the appointed time and were led off promptly to waiting luggage and queued for coach to airport. Only a 15 minute drive to Marco Polo and there in plenty of time for check in. Overall Impressions We were pleasantly surprised with MSC and the Allegrissimo package made it a worry free trip. With our only reservations being some aspects of the food, I would have no hesitation in sailing MSC again, based on price and itinerary. All things being equal, I would choose NCL, RCCI and MSC in that order, but I enjoyed them all.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
As my husband was on his first ever cruise, I decided to ruin him forever by booking us into the Yacht Club. I know this is going to come back and haunt me on our annual sailing on the Oscar Wilde from Rosslare to Roscoff! Flights and ... Read More
As my husband was on his first ever cruise, I decided to ruin him forever by booking us into the Yacht Club. I know this is going to come back and haunt me on our annual sailing on the Oscar Wilde from Rosslare to Roscoff! Flights and transfers were included in our package but one thing that bugged me was the inability to check ourselves in online and select our seats with Aer Lingus (this is because MSC book a block of seats under a single reference number) but we were exceedingly lucky to get a pair of emergency exit seats and buy breakfast onboard. At least 30 of our fellow passengers were cruising and had already affixed their MSC luggage labels to their bags. Me, I brought a roll of sellotape and slapped them on when we landed in Venice. The MSC staff met passengers at the arrivals hall, brought us over to a marquee where we were checked in and assigned our coach number. 10 minutes later and we boarded the coach. Put everything but your handbag in the luggage area underneath, there isn't room to swing a cat in the overhead bins. Arrived at the port about 25 minutes later to see a huge line of passengers waiting to check in and board. Not for us - off we toddled to the Yacht Club entrance where we met one of the first of many butlers for a speedy check of our passports before being escorted to the YC check in area. Prosecco awaited. The perfect start. About 10 minutes after having our (very unflattering, can we do that again please) photos taken and our ID cards issued, we were welcomed onboard into the YC reception. More prosecco. Finally, another lovely butler escorted us to our suite 16027 and showed us around. We explored the ship thoroughly. Not impressed by the stink of cigarettes in the vicinity of the Casino -reminded me of Las Vegas, but not in a good way. The Inca and Maya buffet were chaotic and the food was ok, but not fantastic. All of the bars were great with friendly staff, a good selection of drinks (book the Allegrissimo package in advance to save a lot of money) and the evening shows in the Safari lounge were good fun. Bingo in the Platinum Theatre (3 books for €20, play for a full house only) was as camp as a row of tents and utterly hysterical - have never laughed as much in my life! Shows in the theatre had a tough job trying to keep every nationality entertained. It wasn't for us, but fellow passengers loved them. Now for the good stuff. The Yacht Club is exceedingly lovely indeed. The pool area is exceptionally spacious, with lots of loungers and side tables, poolside drinks and snacks, two jacuzzis and a swimming pool. We had a few breakfasts and most of our lunches at the pool bar. With beer and martini Royales. Sure, you're on your holidays, what's not to love? After an initial rocky start, La Palmeraie turned into a lovely restaurant for formal dinners and breakfasts. Giorgio, the maitre d' and Leonardo the sommelier were charm personified, even offering to deliver dinner to our cabin when they heard I was sick. Didn't have the heart to tell them we got superb pizzas from Eataly delivered to the suite instead. The Top Sail lounge is a beautiful space to have a few drinks in, before and after dinner. It also had a lovely continental buffet breakfast. The cons : the wifi isn't free and it's bloody expensive. We didn't bother buying a package and I waited for free wifi at shore stops to catch up. Speaking of Eataly, we had a delicious dinner at Italia by Eataly to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It's a small space so you must book in advance and the menu is very small. Notwithstanding that, the food is exceptional. i would happily eat the tortello with liquid pesto every day for the rest of my life. We weren't drinking much as I was in the throes of a vicious fluey virus so our bill came to the princely sum of €57. As for excursions, we did our own thing in Bari and paid €10 each for a place on Bari City Tours (the blue noddy train) and it was extremely good value as our guide really showed us around this beautiful town. For the other ports, we booked a package with Cruising Excursions. Katakolon was a disappointment - I think our guide and his utter uselessness had a lot to do with this. Olympia wasn't a patch on Ephesus which was the highlight of the cruise for us. On our final night, we were issued with colour coded luggage tags to make sure we were off the ship in time for our flight. Our butler escorted us dockside and to the baggage hall where we collected our luggage and hauled it to our coach. The Yacht Club experience was over and we were back to normality... Departing from Venice was a stressful pain in the rear - UK & Irish flights seem to check in at Desks 80-90 which, oddly enough, aren't located in the departures hall. No, they're in the basement beside arrivals. We suffered so you don't have to. You're welcome... The security lines were long and hellish but nothing compared to the utter chaos at the departure gates. We went down to our gate, took one look at the heaving mess and sprinted back up the stairs to daylight, seats and wifi. The panino at the Airest shop (pay at the cash desk in advance, again you're welcome) aren't cheap at €6.90 for two fillings, but are amazing quality. A litre bottle of San Benedetto still water is €2.50. So, would we do it all again? Absolutely. But only in Yacht Club, so I'd better start saving again... Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just returned from a fantastic family holiday on the MSC Armonia. The itinerary was outstanding, the highlights being the arrival and departure from Kotor, departure from Venice and Santorini and Mykanos in one very long day. Embarkation ... Read More
Just returned from a fantastic family holiday on the MSC Armonia. The itinerary was outstanding, the highlights being the arrival and departure from Kotor, departure from Venice and Santorini and Mykanos in one very long day. Embarkation was perfect. We were met by a MSC rep immediately when we cleared passport control, and on the bus within 15 minutes. We arrived at the port terminal at about 11am with embarkation not due to start until 2pm, but they let everyone on anyway with very little waiting so we were on deck enjoying lunch before noon. The drinks package is excellent value with a wide variety to choose from. White and red wine included is decent table wine, and the sparkling wine was very good. At mealtimes they would give us a bottle of wine rather than serve us by the glass which is sometimes the case on other cruise lines. Food in the buffet was excellent and varied with plenty of room to sit at most times, with fresh pizza available at all times and fresh pasta being cooked to order on deck at times. Food in the restaurant was very good also with a great choice of interesting fish dishes which is my favourite. Entertainment in the theaters was very good but limited to dancing, acrobatics and singing due to the wide variety of languages spoken on board. Plenty of activities on the pool deck to keep everyone busy if that is what you enjoy. Also, some very good parties in the nightclub. Passengers were mainly Italian families, but quite a few Brits and other nationalities and everyone seemed to get on fine together. All age groups were represented but it was a very young and lively ship. We took two excursions. Jaz Beach in Kotor was lovely but the MSC rep seemed to be more interested in chatting with the bar-staff who should have been serving free drinks to their guests at their seats. We had no drinks at all despite asking four times, and other bar-staff would not serve you at your seats as you had to be served by the MSC appointed staff who were too busy chatting. The Katamaran trip to Brac from Split was superb and well worth the high cost. The MSC rep could not have been any better and we were well looked after. The only drawback of the cruise was that service was sometimes slow or rushed. The staff were fantastic and tried their best, but there were not enough of them to cope at peak times. The restaurant staff looked after so many tables that you rarely had time to talk to them or have any relationship, and the bars on the pool deck got extremely busy. Disembarkation was very efficient but we were in the airport for 10:30am for a 4:00pm flight!   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Reviews seem all over the place on this one so I will do my best to alleviate some concern. You are on a ship with European passengers not American ones. You will hear Italian, German, French, and finally English. We met very few Americans ... Read More
Reviews seem all over the place on this one so I will do my best to alleviate some concern. You are on a ship with European passengers not American ones. You will hear Italian, German, French, and finally English. We met very few Americans so some of the bad review I think are cultural clashes. If you are some snobby American that only wants to be with Americans and don't realize that there are other cultures out there that does things differently then this is not the cruise for you. Now on to the review. We had a great time. Let's start with the good. Our cabin was spacious and well kept. Our housekeeper would make the bed in the morning and then make it again and turn it down in the afternoon. The room was kept spotless. She was available 24 hours a day by a simple phone call. She spoke English well enough for her to understand us in all of our exchanges. Toward our last day we opted for the 20 items for 20 euro laundry package and our closed came back cleaned and pressed. The service in the dining room was spectacular. Dinner was a 7 course meal and you would get to choose between two items for each course and three for the entree. Also there were items they always had like a cheese plate or fish for dinner. The waiters hustle. The 7 courses is very much a European thing but everything here is flexible. Want 5 courses then just pick those. One complaint I read was that the entree is small. By American standards it is. You need to get to know your server and start conversing with him. Call him by name. OMG this takes effort for the Americans. Your server needs to converse in about 4 languages so he might not be that great in English so work with him. After a short time for the entree I was having him bring double portions on the entree, or I would have him bring two entrees on the same plate. On night we had baked Alaska so I had him bring a second one because the first one was so good. I thought the waiters were amazing. The menus also have items marked "Chef's Choice" - I never had a bad meal if I picked that. There were clunkers - about 3 in 49 courses - if it is bad just don't eat it - you won't run out of food. On person complained that all the food was cold - not true - never had a cold meal it just didn't happen. If the person got a cold meal in the dinning room why didn't he send it back and get a hot one? Breakfast in the dinning room was the same - hot - high quality and you get as much as you want. Finally - MSC has heard you Americans - you get a liter of water for every dinner free. I thought the entertainment was very good. Maddy is the cruise director and has to repeat the intro in Italian, German, French, and English. The English part was superb. She is high energy and does a fantastic job. The acts were entertaining. They have to appeal to a wide range of audiences and they do. Most nights you have to get there early to get a seat. There was good acrobatics and singing. Most were in English. One was a little too loud (Tenor night). Some pretty cool - the tribute to Michael Jackson ended with the entire audience sing (in English no less) 'We Are The World". There was an acrobatic duo that balanced on top of the other head to head. Never saw that before. We arrived at the ports on time and disembarkation was fairly quick. We used the shuttle MSC provided to get into town. It was fast and efficient. In the two places that didn't have shuttles, Athens and Santoriti, there was public transportation. The shuttles are extra but are worth the price. We did not do any excursions and didn't feel cheated. You have to be quick about it but there is time to see quite a bit while in each port but you won't be able to see it all. We had a good time in each port of call. We thought Bari would be boring but even there we could find something interesting to do. The rest of the ports were fantastic. Now the bad. The buffet is almost always a madhouse. Sometimes it is difficult to find a seat. There is a wide selection of food. The food there is all over the map and that is why we preferred the dining rooms when possible. The fruit is excellent and fresh, there are usually carving stations which was usually pretty good, there is a limited supply of vegetables but usually always potatoes somewhere, the pastries were almost always dry, there is free coffee, fruit juices, water and milk for breakfast. For lunch the fruit juices are shut off. Most food though was generally hot. Most tables are in groups of 6 so you generally will have to join with someone. People don't know the meaning of a line and will sometime just cut in front of you - I think it is cultural. People will also not ask if they can sit at your table and just sit down - again I think it is cultural. It is best to avoid the buffet as much as possible. Eat breakfast and dinner in the dining hall and eat a late lunch snack when you get back from you port - this seemed to work best for us. This is not an all inclusive cruise where they have drink packages and such. But if you just drink water for dinner you can avoid all that. And of course there are other options in the buffet and at breakfast in the dining room. Eating in the dining room you will sit six to a table. Some might be uncomfortable but we sat with two New Zealanders and two Austrailians so had a jolly good time and even went with the New Zealanders to the shows at night. Also there is too much marketing going on which can get a little annoying. If you are American I can see where some of this might be out of your comfort zone. I thought we got a great value for our dollars and was able to interact with different cultures to boot. It was fun, interesting, and I gained four pounds.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I just read inner peace review, and I basically endorse all of their comments. We are a family from Mexico. Two adults and three kids (18, 15 and 8). We have cruised many times before.(Royal Caribean and Norwegian). We really enjoyed past ... Read More
I just read inner peace review, and I basically endorse all of their comments. We are a family from Mexico. Two adults and three kids (18, 15 and 8). We have cruised many times before.(Royal Caribean and Norwegian). We really enjoyed past cruises, but this experience at the Preziosa was by far the better! The Euopean flavour of the ship, the crew the guests and the ports of call are hard to imitate. I don't think people is rude. Service is very profesional and usually they give an extra effort. Embarkation was a problem, but for for reasons no imputable to MSC. something happened in the Terminarl Cruise of Venice that no Cruise Ship was authorized to be inside the terminal that Saturday. All of the big ships were somewhere else in the lagoon. MSC did a great job making tender embarcation with hired small boats. by 1:30, we were having lunch. Our luggage was in the room by 2:15. The ship is wonderful. Elegant, clean and very enjoyable. We had two balcony rooms (13046 and 13052). both were great in terms of space, cleanliness and service. The views fantastic! especially, the balcony is HUGE.Our attendants were great and everything worked perfectly. The pool areas (3) are arguably the best we have seen in any ship. Bars everywere! Allegrisimo Package is a must. Entertainment team is great all day long. Yes, the say everythin in 5 languages, but who cares? in my opinion is part of the service. There were people from Italy, UK, Germany, Holland, Croatia, France, Mexico, Spain....a very international and cosmopolitan group.everybody needs to understand. Kudos to those young guys enterteining alll of the guests with so many different customes and languages!!!! Food. Food is everywhere and everytime. I love high quality food. we found some. If you expect a 3 Michelin stars food, go to a diferent establishment, no to a Cruise Ship. In our opinión, quality and quantity of food was adequate. Particularly at dinner time, food was well presented varied and consistenly good. Our attendants, Martam and Valerie were great! At the begining of the cruise, we were planning to have dinner at Eataly or Italia restaurants. It was not necessary. Shows. good enough to spend a nice time. Casino was very good. Ports of call. With the exception of Bari, we booked a "Combo" package with Cruising Excursions. great quality, service and Value. Bari was a very enjoyable experience. We took a bike tour (Velo service). Very convenient, good and authentic Katakolon/Olimpya. Not the best of the stops. Izmir. Ephesus is marvelous. Virgin Mary House was a nice surprise. Istambul. The Mesquites are fabulous. I personally didn´t like the Gran Bazar. it would be nice to have more time in the city. Dubrovnik. Beautiful! the best stop!! Venice....well, is Venice.... Thanks to MSC and the Preziosa Crew. You gave us a great time. We will definitively go back to cruise with you again. And to all those negative reviewers, with all my respect, don´t make confusinfg postings in this type of forums.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I was a little concerned reading these reviews before our holiday but having now returned from our trip there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Our group consisted of 3 couples (30/40 year olds). This was our third cruise having ... Read More
I was a little concerned reading these reviews before our holiday but having now returned from our trip there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Our group consisted of 3 couples (30/40 year olds). This was our third cruise having sailed with Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the past and this was definitely the youngest cruise we have been on and the busiest night club at sea we have ever seen. There was a good mixture of nationalities on board, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, German, English, French. Embarkation didn’t go as smoothly as on previous cruises, no fault of MSC though, this was due to a festival in Venice and not allowing cruise ships into the terminal. We arrived for check in at around 10.30am and were given a check in number. As the ship wasn’t docked at this port we had to wait to be transferred to the ship via water taxis so the terminal got quite busy and crowded. We didn’t get to the ship as early as we had hoped but it seemed to be quite organised and got there in the end. Once on the ship we set about exploring ……….... What a beautiful ship !! Bars, lounges, Atrium and Swarovski staircase were very impressive. Our cabin was on deck 10 near the back of the ship. The room was lovely with lots of space for everything and a large bathroom and shower and more than ample sized balcony. We didn’t meet our cabin steward throughout any part of the cruise which was quite unusual compared to the other cruises where you are constantly chatting to and seeing the stewards day and night but that was fine and our room was always clean, tidy and towels changed twice a day. The buffet can get very crowded but we always managed to get a table. Food sometimes ran low but replaced quite quickly and the pizzas constantly being made in front of you were the best yet. I think eating in the main restaurants occasionally for breakfast and lunch would have been a calmer experience and more civilised. For our evening meal we were on the late sitting in the L’Arabesque Restaurant and the food was always fantastic. The portion sizes are smaller and we found that 4 courses were ample but you can order as many as you wish. After a couple of days our preferred drinks would be waiting for us at the table when we arrived, white wine, red wine, sparkling wine etc. The only downside is that if you are on the Allegrissimo drinks package then there is a limited selection in the main dining room but not so in all the other bars and lounges. The Allegrissimo drinks package was well worth the money and would highly recommend this. The staff were not quite as friendly as we have previously experienced on Carnival and Royal Caribbean but they got the job done efficiently and sometimes I think it was possibly due to a language barrier (English) but other times, yes, they may possibly have been rude ! We didn’t dine at any of the speciality restaurants so cannot comment on these. We did the majority of excursions on our own which we have always done on previous cruises as it is not necessary to pay the high price of cruise excursions. Bari, Italy Walked into the old town of Bari which was lovely Italian cobbled streets with a castle and sat with a coffee and ice cream and watched the world go by. Olympia, Greece We paid for a coach transfer to Olympia (20 Euro) and then paid at the gate for entrance to the site and museum (8 Euro). Ephesus, Turkey Paid for an excursion with MSC as the site is about a 1 hour coach journey away and we had a limited time at this port. The tour was amazing with a very knowledgeable guide – a must ! Istanbul, Turkey Walked off the ship and jumped onto a hop on hop off bus ( Big Bus Tour-Istanbul) 25euro. Thought this was the best way to see all the sites of Istanbul and hop on and off throughout the journey. The Blue Mosque is very impressive. Day at sea The pool area gets very crowded on days at sea and you have to be up early to get a sunbed. The area around the main pool can get quite loud and lively but was a good atmosphere, the only downside is that the bar service can be quite slow. Dubrovnik There is a coach transfer into the walled town (12 Euro) which is beautiful and walking the walls of Dubrovnik is a must. Disembarkation was quite an ordeal as on previous cruises we have been able to take our own luggage off the ship but were not allowed to do this with MSC. It was very busy and we were delayed due to bad weather conditions in Venice. Once we were off the ship the queues were horrendous to get the MSC transfer coaches to the airport but as we were making our own way there we managed to collect our luggage, struggle past the crowds and jump into a mini bus to the airport ahead of most others. All in all we had a fabulous holiday, as did our friends and would definitely cruise again with MSC.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a kids-free cruise through the Eastern Mediterranean on the beautiful MSC Preziosa. We had initially booked an aft cabin (with a juliet balcony) but decided to upgrade to Yacht Club ... Read More
My husband and I celebrated our 15th anniversary with a kids-free cruise through the Eastern Mediterranean on the beautiful MSC Preziosa. We had initially booked an aft cabin (with a juliet balcony) but decided to upgrade to Yacht Club some seven months before the cruise. We are glad we did as it booked out shortly after and we thoroughly enjoyed the additional space and luxury of the Yacht Club. Neither of us enjoy crowds and the ship can be very busy in the peak summer months! This was our first cruise and was pretty much absolutely wonderful. We enjoyed the eclectic mix of passengers, language and cultures. The ship was beautiful and absolutely pristine. We didn't participate in any on-board activities and I am not aware of what was available. Our time was filled up with the ports, relaxing and enjoying this time away together without kids. Yacht Club: - our butler Suresh was amazing and I wanted to bring him home at the end! - we loved the escorted service when embarking and disembarking. It made getting through the crowds painless. - the facilities were top notch - the staff in the Yacht Club venues all had a wicked sense of humour which we very much enjoyed and appreciated. - the food was divine with the only exception being the Eggs Benedict which had cold sauce not warmed. The coffee was amazing and when we commented on this to Ivan, our waiter, he said "But of course. I am Italian!" LOL! - the deck 18 sun loungers could have benefited from offering some shade options - that sun was VERY hot in July) and the deck heated up to the point of making it unpleasant to walk barefoot. That said, the facilities up there were amazing and there were always plenty of loungers available. Shows: These were inconsistent. They had to cater to a multi-lingual audience but whilst some acts were excellent (particularly the male acrobatic trio) there also seemed to be something lost in translation at times. The Avatar show was just incomprehensible. It didn't help that they started it with the theme from Star Trek. I've watched the Avatar movie several times and I couldn't make head nor tail of the show. Excursions: We didn't take any shore excursions through MSC. We really enjoyed the choice of ports and for the most part felt that we had sufficient time in port. Embarking and disembarking was not onerous though being in the Yacht Club made a significant difference. We did the Behind the Scenes tour on our sea day and found it to be really well run and fascinating. It was well worth doing. Cabin: The cabin was spacious and well appointed. I very much enjoyed the full bath and the separate walk in wardrobe. We found that there was plenty of storage space and the bed was high enough to slide suitcases under. We particularly liked the position of our cabin (16029) as it was only a few metres from the stairs leading down to the Concierge and Top Sail Lounge on Deck 15 and a few steps from the stairs leading up to the pool and bar on Dec 18 (there is no deck 17). It was super convenient and I loved swooshing up the golden staircase anytime i needed to go to our cabin. The only drawback was being woken early when they put the deck chairs out above us. I am a very light sleeper. My husband didn't hear anything. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We had only cruised once before and it was awful it put us off doing another one. We saw this all inclusive cruise with a balcony at a good price and to destinations that we had not been to and we are so glad we went, it was fab. ... Read More
We had only cruised once before and it was awful it put us off doing another one. We saw this all inclusive cruise with a balcony at a good price and to destinations that we had not been to and we are so glad we went, it was fab. The ship is huge but we never felt that there were 3500 + people on the ship there was always places that were not crowded. It's really a beautiful ship with fantastic décor. The food was excellent always plenty of it at any time of the day and in very nice restaurants. Top deck for adults only, was worth paying for, very peaceful with a nice jacquzi and plenty of free sunbeds. Sailing from and back to Venice with a birds eye view is a wonderful experience. We cruised to Bari, Katacolon, Santorini, Pireaus for Athens, Corfu town and Dubrovnik. All fabulous places with plenty to see and do. We loved our cruise and would be happy to do another one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I was a first time cruiser from the USA that lives in Spain. I will start off by stating that overall, this cruise and MSC exceeded my expectations. However, I did a lot of research before I booked, as I do with anything. Now, it is ... Read More
I was a first time cruiser from the USA that lives in Spain. I will start off by stating that overall, this cruise and MSC exceeded my expectations. However, I did a lot of research before I booked, as I do with anything. Now, it is importantly to realize that everyone is different, and with a ship this size that is catering to 3900+ passengers, you can’t realistically expect that you won’t find yourself in a situation where you get a little miffed at something or someone. I read reviews about how the food was awful and cold, and that service was horrible, and that there are kids running amuck everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that those people are blockheads. There are people who walk amongst others, that don’t take the time beforehand to figure out what it is they are getting into, much less know how to work around an unpleasant situation to make the best of it. They are probably also people who don’t like being out of their comfort zone or have never experienced different cultures. You need to know that many different cultures of people cruise this route. You will find very polite and queue (line) respecting Australians and British. And you will also find all for one, cut in front, didn’t see you there or care much less Spanish and Italians. These are cultures and ways of life. So this is what you will run in to. I have lived in southern Spain for over a year now, after having been raised in the Midwest of the USA, where being helpful, polite and respectful is a way of life. I had already been conditioned to the stepping in front of you thing from Spain, and therefore it didn’t bother me. However, if you find extremely large crowds, quarters full of people moving about, and line cutting or going in front of you to catch the elevator might ruin your day, then don’t take this cruise. Just find something else with much less people that will agree with you. Restaurants. The food in the dining rooms (table service) for breakfast and lunch are very good. The speed of service is reasonably timed; however it’s a little overkill on the offering of bread. Most people would prefer to be offered beverage service 5 times per meal instead of breads and croissants. But eventually you will be able to make your beverage order. Again, the food is very good, but the comfort of seating isn’t very relaxing. The food in the dining room for dinner is fantastic. The service is very slow and it is very loud in the dining room. However, if you take a look at the number of people being served, and the number of service personnel that are using the system MSC wants them to use, it is quite acceptable. I read reviews that stated the food was horrible and cold. The food just isn’t going to arrive piping hot when they are trying to serve a thousand. And I think people who haven’t experienced many different cultures will be turned off by unfamiliar tastes. You get about 6 courses for dinner at the restaurant and the seating is comfortable. The buffet on deck 14 is a bit of a madhouse free-for-all. If you do go to the buffet, take the time to walk the entire oval shape of serving lines first. This will let you know where there are plenty of seats, and what you will find at the ethnic food corner. I read reviews where there wasn’t a place to sit. Again, pure numbskulls who don’t take the time to explore their options. They think they should be able to walk into very good quality for the masses cruise line, and have everything fall into their lap. Most of the time there are plenty of open seats at the back of the buffet restaurant, where it is much quieter. Allegrissimo Premium Package. I saved about 60 euro ($82). Both my wife and I would have some of the 4 euro coffees a few times a day, and my daughter would have the milkshakes as well. I also enjoy Scottish Whisky, so at 7-10 euro per shot, that adds up considerably. Even the 21 year portwood Balvenie was included. When you add in the tropical drinks during the day if you’re at the pools, the wine per glass for lunch or dinner, sodas and other beverages, then it starts to become of value. But that was buying for us only since we didn’t go with any friends or buy any drinks for other people. If you feel the urge to buy other people drinks, then you will definitely save a lot of money with the premium package. Plus, I took advantage of room service, the coffee/cappuccino bar, the dessert bar, the spa bar, the mini bar, and beverages at meals. It’s a pretty weak mini bar of about 6 different sodas, 3 cheap liquors, 2 fruit drinks, and some peanuts and Pringles for snacks. The room service food was pretty good, but the amount available on the menu was lacking. Also, the dessert station is very good. There are about 12-16 flavors of gelato and some very good cakes, pralines, macaroons, and other tiny sweets at the dessert bar. Just as advertised in the package, it included all items here, so I literally took home a bunch of pralines. The smoothie concoctions at the Spa bar are pretty good. They are available with or without the sugary syrup that enhances the flavor. Without it, the drinks literally taste like liquefied fruits and vegetables. The coffee bar has 4 interesting coffee concoctions (with or without liqueurs), along with regular coffee and cappuccino. And there is a gelato station on the pool deck with the 12 or so flavors. Bars. When it’s busy, the service is very slow, except in the cigar bar where most people won’t go due to smokers. There just aren’t enough service personnel to match the number of passengers in both the bars and the restaurants. However, if you do it right, then you can stay satisfied. You can order a drink and take it anywhere except to the theater. So, if you’re going to have an alcoholic beverage, go get one at the bar and then take it back to your room while you are getting ready. That way when you show up to slow service, at least you’ve already started. Most of the cocktails I ordered were pretty good. Also, there are entertainers throughout the ship and in most large bars and lounges. Some are not very good, and some are okay. They do help a little with the ambiance, especially around the main lounge. Back to the cigar bar; they have some Domincan, some Cuban, and some Italian cigars to choose from. I was surprised that the Italian cigars were that good and they were the cheapest. Pools and hot tubs. There are plenty of children on this ship, and they are in full force at the pools. If you were a kid, isn’t this where you’d be? So if you are thinking you are going to soak up the sun in peace and quite, take a dip in a hot tub solo, and have a drink delivered to your lounger, then this isn’t the place. Find an all inclusive resort somewhere else that has a reputation for no children. There is an adult’s only deck, but it is located very close to the kid’s water slide. No Einstein award for that one. Evening shows. They are very good, but also a bit random. From acrobatic maneuvers, to singing to dancing all mixed into a show. My opinions consider the fact that it is part of the cruise package, and not a high priced ticket I paid for independently. So, the talent for this value was better than I expected. Although we only went to 4 of the 7 shows, I only felt that 1of them was not worth sitting through. The Pirate show was best, followed by the Michael Jackson tribute because I am an American. I noticed the older Europeans were none too impressed with that show. The Michael impersonator didn’t have the flair that Michael did, but my wife explained to me that if he tried to do that with the wig he was wearing, it wouldn’t stay on very long. Also, Michael grabs his crotch a lot, much like the original Michael, so if you don’t want your kids to see that, then don’t take them. Ports and excursions. I didn’t get off the ship for Bari or Dubrovnik. We were pier side for all ports except Santorini and Dubrovnik. I had excursions booked for English, which meant English along with another language such as Italian or Spanish, or both. Meaning the guide would talk in one language and then the other, much like the announcements on the ship. I like excursions because all I have to do is show up on time and they take me where I want to go on an air conditioned bus, and they get me back to ship. The ship won’t leave while an excursion is still out. Yes, you might experience a crying and bored 3 year old on the coach. For the people that just want to set foot on the soil to say they have been there, then there are usually the little portside shops and restaurants. For me, that is no way to experience a city. You would only be experiencing a port. And when the ship is at anchor, rather than pier side, a tender boat fare to get you ashore will cost you around 10-12 euro roundtrip. If you take a cab then you won’t have a great view as you are driven around, and there won’t be any explanation of the history or culture. And then you’ll also wind up paying close to what an excursion would have cost anyways. You are only in port for 4-7 hours depending on where you stop. Problems and customer service. I experienced a carpet soaked cabin room upon my return from before dinner drinks on the second evening. This was due to driving the ship into a heavy storm and a balcony drain that was blocked from being painted over. The storm was severe enough that the water level rose so high so quickly, that it seeped in through the door jam at the bottom. The customer service I received to mitigate the problem was satisfactory. The Chief Housekeeper visited my room and asked me if I wanted a different room. I would have accepted, however they didn’t have another cabin like 11010 that was available. Having personally dealt with situations like this, I mentioned it should be fine if they use a wetvac to suck up the water and then leave the doors open to help ventilate. So we left for dinner and didn’t return for 6 hours or so. Unfortunately they didn’t have a wetvac, but rather a carpet steam cleaner on wheels that couldn’t suck up the water like a wetvac would have. Over the next few days the odor became close to unbearable. However, they were already booked full, so we had no choice but to stay in our room. By the last 2 days, the odor was gone, and the carpet was dry. Also, the reviews that mentioned trouble having charges removed at customer service are true. I spoke to someone about removing a few charges that shouldn’t have been on my bill and they said they would speak to the person who can remove it and then it would be taken care of. But my last night’s bill included those extra charges, so the next morning before leaving the ship I had to go down to customer service and speak to them again. They were eventually removed, but the conditioned attitude from the personnel at the customer service desk is to say why they can’t until you keep pressing for your request. However, anywhere else you go on the ship, they do not like to say no to your requests and will do their best to accommodate you!! Cabins. I am very particular, so I knew that if I didn’t have a room with plenty of space and a fantastic view, then I wouldn’t have been comfortable. So I chose cabin 11010 (Aurea Balcony Suite) and would recommend if you are booking for that class of cabin, choose a cruise date where you will get either 11010 or 11009. I could literally lie on my bed, and look out 2 huge panoramic windows and see wherever we were. It was more relaxing to look at the views of a port with my head on my pillow, than from the pool deck. Also, the balcony for this cabin wraps around to the end of the first panoramic window to where there is an access door for the rest of the balcony. It was left open when I arrived and I didn’t want to upset the folks with the panoramic view windows without balcony access, so I didn’t walk in from of their windows. I would have guessed the cabin suite to be about 450 square feet with 100 square feet of accessible curved balcony. I could see from the back of my side of the ship to about the 10 o’clock position when walking the entire balcony, so about a 240 degree view. However, it is very windy when sailing above 10 or so knots. Plus the location of the cabin is far away from where you would find kids doing any nighttime tomfoolery, and there is no one above your bed. The bath room had a tub with a shower nozzle. I am 5’11 and I had to duck a good bit to wet my hair. Your cabin steward will visit you twice each day, and will restock all towels, clean the entire cabin, make up the bed, and restock the mini bar on each visit. Spa!!! If you pre-booked massages online, hopefully you can cancel before your cruise so you can save 30% on 6 massages plus cruise access to the spa or 20% on 4 massages with 4 spa visits. A spa visit could also be a visit to the adult only solarium on deck 18 rather than a visit to the saunas or steam rooms. That is the offer as you are checking in pier side at their building and the next day. And if you wait until the Athens port day, then the reflexology massage will be 50% off. On the last day, all massages are 50% off. And there are plenty of appointments available. Now, the massages themselves are not that great. I have enjoyed massages for over 20 years, and so I think I have had enough to provide an accurate rating. I give them a 5 out of a 10. Oh, and if you have seen a picture of a hot tub in the Spa, then that is on some other ship. The Spa manager confirmed this when I asked where it was. The FANTASIA only has 2 steam baths (Turkish baths), 5 or so saunas, a yoga room, and a relaxation room where you might get some sun through the glass windows if the ship is sailing in the right direction. The gym is really nice. The weights and equipment are Technogym. If I were to ever buy weight equipment again, it would be Technogym. And you can run or walk on the treadmills and have a fantastic view beyond the front of the ship. Photographers. There are several photographers trying to earn a living onboard, so they are a bit aggressive. I’m sure they have to be to make a decent living. They will be all over deck 7 around 6-10pm, and they will visit you at your dinner table for gala night. Also, it is quite entertaining to watch the photographer who cuckoos at people to get their attention so that they won’t photo bomb his shots of other people. Then he will also do a hedgehog noise as he is shooting the photo. Just find a spot where the crystal staircases are and sit down to enjoy a few drinks and you might see him. Other. I didn’t buy the wifi service, but my daughter used the internet café for 10 minutes of internet time for 26 euro. She was not impressed with the value. The whole thing where people put their bags in the passage way the last night did lead to seeing some people in their underwear. But if you are going to see people in their swimwear, what’s the difference? Smoking is allowed in the Casino and the Cigar bar and you can smell it if you walk through the casino or get near the doors of the cigar bar. People will also smoke on their balcony on the last morning as they are less worried about being kicked off of the ship since it is arriving for their disembarkation. It was so strong it woke me up before my alarm did. Places I didn’t visit: Sport’s Bar, El sombrero TexMex Restaurant, Le Etoille French Restaurant, the 4D cinema, the Virtual World, the Cyber library, Toscana Wine Bar. Embarkation. You will get in line outside of the building adjacent to the ship and turnover any baggage you would like delivered to your room. After that they direct you up to the next level for check-in. This is the only point where I was a bit of a jerk. When you’re dealing with masses of people together in groups, it’s hard to determine what is going on, and sometimes it’s just the group trying to figure out what they need to do. So I literally walked around the line where everyone was forming to have their picture taken. MSC is directing everyone to a line for that picture so they can sell it to them later. I went to the priority check-in line because I booked what used to be known as the Aurea Balcony Suite, and they had signs that still stated Aurea Suite. I don’t think MSC has updated their signs to reflect the new deck plan. There I was given my cruise card, which is the room key, charge card, and boarding pass all in one that you will use throughout the ship, anywhere you go. Then I was directed to another line that was forming, and saw another sign that had priority boarding on it with no one standing in line there. So I walked up to the entry point and a representative asked me for my priority boarding pass. I told him the lady at the Aurea Suite desk didn’t give me one. He gave the look that I should have had one, but then he let me pass. Again, they don’t like to say no on this ship. After that you just walk through the gangway (jet bridge) to the brow, and walk on board. You can then go wherever you want where most things are open. The buffet will be open, and even the dining room will be open until 2pm. Some bars are open at that time, and you room will be ready too. The time for boarding on my ticket voucher stated 13:00 (1 pm). However, they were boarding as early as 10:30am, but just didn’t send me an email to inform me. The German couple I spoke with in Venice as we were headed to the port told me there was early boarding for their cruise as well. Disembarkation. If you have an early flight, then show the personnel at the customer service desk your booking to verify your flight time, and they will give you the bag tags for an early departure (08:35 walking off the ship). Finding my bag was very easy since they group all luggage according to the bag tag color and place it in a building just off of the gangway. Just outside the building are taxis. A taxi fare to Marco Polo Airport is a flat 45 euro ($61) and is a 25 minute ride. Warning: the departure procedure at Marco Polo airport is ridiculous. They will check in 2-3 airlines with the same departing flight time at counters that are 3-4 side by side. There is no counter for Iberia only or counter for American Airlines only. They combine the airliners for check-in at several counters which you will stand in one line to approach. Then you will go through the security check point, which took 20 minutes. Then at the gate, they will board 2 planes at the same time. Another 15 minutes of standing in line. Summary. If you are taking this cruise, you are signing up for maximum value and service for the money spent. The FANTASIA is beautiful, and even though it is starting to show very subtle signs of wear, most people won’t recognize it. I found this cruise to be well worth the money we spent. I would choose MSC again, but only after I experience another cruise liner before doing so.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I too have a number of cruises under my belt and I'm wondering if I ve been on the same ship as some of these reviewers, This is a great looking ship that is very well maintained, with some great public areas. The cabins are very ... Read More
I too have a number of cruises under my belt and I'm wondering if I ve been on the same ship as some of these reviewers, This is a great looking ship that is very well maintained, with some great public areas. The cabins are very roomy, clean and of a high stndard, bathrooms in particular, the balconies are very private (earlier this year I was on a Princess ship where this was not the case) The food is fine, no worse or better than other cruise Ive been on. Staff were vey attentive in the dinning room and noticed if a plate of food was being left and very, very quickly offered to bring something else. The dinning rooms are cramped and the buffet is indeed a bun fight; however, in my experience all buffets' are some what of a nightmare. The expereince in the buffet can be minimised by taking breakfast in the dinning room I ve never been on a cruise where the staff had Engish as a first language; on the whole staff we're pleasent; some more than others. I too chose this cruise for the itinerary, and luckily we had no problems with any of the ports. Didn't notice any more selling than any other cruise. Pool areas are disappointing too small for the number of passengers and here's the rub there are too many passengers, however, if you move away from the pool areas you will find sun beds free and it didnt spoil the cruise for us. If you've booked this ship please don't worry you will have a great time. Travelled with husband and our two daughters in their early twnties. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
As others have said, some of the reviews below were starting to make me a bit jittery. This is my 6th cruise - I have previously sailed with Royal Caribbean, NCL and Thomson's. Out of them all I have found the service on the Thomson ... Read More
As others have said, some of the reviews below were starting to make me a bit jittery. This is my 6th cruise - I have previously sailed with Royal Caribbean, NCL and Thomson's. Out of them all I have found the service on the Thomson ship to be far more genuine and better. With the exception of Thomson's all these ships are huge and very busy, but I think no worse than 4 star hotels throughout Europe at meal times or trying to find a sun bed. Having said that we had no bother at all, but heard many others grumble. The ship is stunning; by far the prettiest ship, all staff we're friendly and helpful - one small criticism is that getting a drink at the Garden bar at peak times is chaotic, but I knew who was in front of me and simply shouted "excuse me, I'm next" when it was my turn! People were a bit pushy, but I was pushy back ;-).... when in Rome. The drinks package is fantastic. My main grip with Royal Caribbean and NCL is the service charges and price of alcohol, it spoils things as it is so expensive. I loved my balcony and the views were stunning, food was fantastic, cocktails and prosecco on tap, and staff were brilliant. The portions are small but you can order as many courses as you like - chill and enjoy it. For the first time ever we had to sit with other couples in the restaurant at dinner and we had a ball. We paid the 10 euro to access Top Deck on the day at sea, and have to admit it is the first time I have ever been charged to enter an adults only section - which wasn't even that nice and very loud from the pool below, the infinity pool is stunning. The main show was a bit repeditive, singing and acrobatics every night and all other lounges had live music (which were of a high standard), there were no shows to the callabor of other cruises, but there is an full entertainment itinerary. Venice - Embarkment was very busy, but queues moved quickly and staff were great. We checked in at 12pm and walked along and bought tickets for Alilaguna water taxi, which runs every 30 mins to St Marks Square (5 mins walk from ship and 15 euro return, journey is 20 mins). Bari - do it anyway you like - there is an open top bus a little from port, a small road train or walk. We took the rickshaw for 50 euro; our guide was great and very knowledgeable, we got pictures taken with the ladies making pasta and a complimentary ice coffee, which was delicious and we bought more. A taxi is 12 euro to town and a honestly 2 mins drive. Katakolon - We visited Olympia. We booked on line with Cruise Excursions as I have used them many times all over Europe, they are ABTA registered, the guides and service are great and they are far less expensive than the ships cruises. There are local buses at port that will take you direct to Olympia and back for about 10 Euro. Izmir - We went an excursion to Ephesus with Cruise Excursions and the place is just fantastic. You must see it as it is only an hour drive away. Other people took the open top bus around the city, which can be found just outside the port. Istanbul - We took another excursion to the Blue Mosque, Sophia, the Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar, which are all within 5 mins walking distance of each other. It was very rushed and I would have loved more time in the Bazaar. I found the Turks far less of a pest than those in holiday resorts and got exactly what we wanted at a great price... I had no time to mess about and they wanted a sale! There is an open top bus and a taxi should be about 10 Euro - it is too hilly and hot to walk. The skyline from the ship is stunning and something you will never forget. Dubrovnik - The local bus is 2 Euro each way and takes you straight from the port to the old town where you can jump on the open top bus ( 8 Euro), climb the wall (100 kuna, no Euros accepted, but they do accept credit cards) or taxi for 10 Euro each way. The city is stunning and gorgeous to walk about the streets and climb the steps!! The churches are open to visit free too. There are lots of options at every port so you will never be stuck for something to do. We had a wonderful time and would certainly go back again.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
After reading the reviews I was a bit concerned, but I am so happy that I did not find any of the negative experiences reported to be true for us. This was my 4th cruise. I have been on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. This was by ... Read More
After reading the reviews I was a bit concerned, but I am so happy that I did not find any of the negative experiences reported to be true for us. This was my 4th cruise. I have been on Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival. This was by far the best. We were particularly concerned about all of the reviews about the chaotic check-in. We had no problem at all. Yes there was a line but it was orderly and moved quickly. We for there at 11:30 and were on the ship eating at the bountiful welcome buffet by 12:15. Our room was not ready until 2:00, but we enjoyed exploring, eating and drinking. The luggage was at our room before 2:00. The room, for a cruise ship as spacious. We has an inside room on 11th floor and my daughter's family was in yacht club. Their room was quite large with spacious balcony. On most cruise ships I have not found the balcony to be worth the extra cost. On Preziosa I think it is a nice extra because it is a large balcony and the ship travels pretty close to shores so there is much to see. I enjoyed some late evening sunsets and moonlight from daughter's balcony. However, I did not feel at all deprive because our room was very quiet and nice. So about the pushy, arrogant, rude Europeans.....Well, I never had that experience - not even once - never. People were kind and respectful enough. Did people come ahead of you in buffet line? Yes... but mostly because people stand and stare for long periods of time. If you are gazing at muffins and I only want the croissant that is ahead of you I do not see reason to wait and wait. So yes people will go around you, but not in a rude way - just efficient. So about the ship running out of food at buffet??? Well, I never ever had that experience. There was always plenty of food....tons of food. There were breads and muffins of all types, wonderful warm croissants, oatmeal, eggs, bacon, salami, ham and more fruit and cereal than you could possibly want. Is the seating hard to find? Well only if you insist on sitting right by the buffet. There are tables all around including on deck. There are plenty of places to sit, but occasionally you might have to walk a few steps. My favor place to sit was on deck 14 at enclosed tables that overlook the view. I never had trouble getting table there. So about the rude staff that does not help you at all??? Again, that was far from my experience. I found the staff the be delightful and attentive. There are trying to manage people that speak many different languages and I think they did a wonderful job. I highly recommend the drink package if you like beer, wine and other spirits. There was always a server close by to bring drinks. Let's just say we did get our money's worth from the drink package. They can tell by looking at your ship card that you have drink package so you will always get a bill that says zero. I was never bothered by the announcements in various languages. Once I heard what I needed in English I turned back to enjoying my drinks and family. It is important to keep in mind that they only have to do messages in Italian - the rest is courtesy so it seems odd to complain about it. There were occasions when announcement were only in Italian, but I figured if I really needed to know they would have announced in more languages. My meals in the dinning room were great. The food was good and plentiful. I was often full by the 3rd course. They brought us as many bottles of wine as we consumed and all was part of the drink package. I am not sure how much more food anyone would want. Perhaps people complaining that there was not enough food speaks to the obesity problem in USA. Trust me, you will not starve on this cruise. If you need more food than they serve ask yourself why. Every port of call was beautiful, but Dubrovnik, Croatia was the most spectacular. My suggestion would be more time in Croatia and cut out the Bari, Italy stop all together. It did not add much and time in Katakalon and Dubrovnik would have been better. There are deals galore when you get off ship. If shopping is your thing this is a good cruise for you. On the day at sea the ship has huge shopping event on the deck. I bought Valentino handbags for about $55 and would have paid hundred in USA or on ebay. The sales people in Turkey can be relentless. You just have to be firm - well they will still keep asking but stay firm. In summary, I can say that I have been on cruises that cater to you more. But, I really do not like or need that. Some of the over the top kindness on carnival, rc and others is just about trying to get more tips. It is way to syrupy and fake for me. I prefer the European cruise - the staff is kind, bring what you need and keep it moving. Now if you are seeking a slave ship where every worker is at you beck and call this is not it. If you want reasonable serve on a really beautiful ship with great ports of call this come aboard. I highly recommend it!!! About the wifi situation. I have T-Mobile so I have free international service. It does not work when ship is moving, but free at the ports of call and when ship is docked. There were many times when we were sailing that my phone picked up signals other than ship so I was free to use phone. But....it was better to just unplug and enjoy. Perhaps all of the complainers about this cruise had very difference experience or different expectations. I enjoy other cultures and do not expect people to cater to me. I think it is pretty awesome to be on a ship and not have to constantly tip people. We were charged $7 per day to cover all tipping. I think that pretty darn excellent. My granddaughter is 5 and loved kids club. The staff loved her too. She was ready to go everyday and it was hard to pull her away. She did not seem to care about the language differences. She had a blast. Perhaps teaching children to enjoy and embrace differences would be good before sending to Kids Club. Okay - here is a bug tip that likely would save on the complaints....Read your newsletter every night. It tells you call that you need to know for next day. It is not just random information. I think people that were confused and felt things were disorganized had not read the directions and information. It was smooth sailing for us. In fact it was pretty perfect!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Having read the reviews about this company and ship myself and my wife were worried, but from the embarkation our fears were unfounded. I really do not understand what some people are saying about the cruise, I even read one from a person ... Read More
Having read the reviews about this company and ship myself and my wife were worried, but from the embarkation our fears were unfounded. I really do not understand what some people are saying about the cruise, I even read one from a person who was on the same cruise and they have complained about the children running around, there were very few children on this cruise, you could have counted them with little trouble. The staff were amazing, the food incredible, the ship out of this world anyone who chooses to sail with this ship will have a brilliant time so don't believe the reviews. So why the poor reviews, well I took note of them before I went and can only come to these conclusions, some people want a home from home experience, Blackpool with sun, they don't want to experience different food, different cultures, different languages or a different way of life. You will get all this on the fantasia, I do not understand why people arrive in Greece and expect everyone to speak English, does everyone in England speak Greek? Getting off and on the boat was never a problem, maybe because we waited until all the tours had left then walked off at our leisure, finding a seat in the buffet was simple, either just walk to the back of the buffet, which had a beautiful view or be prepared to seat beside someone, you didn't have to talk to them if you didn't want too! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Last year we cruised with friends in the Western Med with MSC and had a wonderful holiday. This year, we decided to go it alone and I must admit we read some of the reviews before leaving and felt worried that we had made a mistake. How ... Read More
Last year we cruised with friends in the Western Med with MSC and had a wonderful holiday. This year, we decided to go it alone and I must admit we read some of the reviews before leaving and felt worried that we had made a mistake. How wrong can you be! We had a fantastic week and since returning have been looking at our next cruise with MSC. We booked the fly cruise deal and were a bit disappointed that the flights were from Gatwick. This means a 4-5 hr drive to get to the airport, but we booked ourselves and the car in at the Premier Inn for the night (would recommend this hotel). A quick hop over to the terminal in the morning and we were off. We arrived in Venice and were immediately instructed to go to the MSC desk. We checked in and waited for about 10 minutes or so before taking their bus to the port. On arrival at the port, there was a lot of activity but we were moved swiftly from place to place (bag drop, check in etc). We received our cabin cards and were on the ship at 13.00. We had arrived in Venice at 11.30 and were in our cabins at 13.30, which we thought was an acceptable time. As others have said in previous reports, the ship is beautiful and spotlessly clean. The cabins are surprisingly spacious and comfortable. We drank in many of the bars and sometimes had to wait for service because they were so busy, but mostly we chose quiet areas and were served without a problem. Our only gripe is that smoking was allowed in the casino and one of the bars and we feel that smoking should not be allowed anywhere inside the ship, but this did not mar the holiday at all as we just avoided those areas. We had a table for 6, but only 2 other people were sat with us and we got on with them really well. In fact, I looked forward to seeing them each evening to find out what they had done during the day. The food in the restaurant was superb and we met some interesting people during breakfast and lunch. We paid for Allegrissimo and totaling up our bills when we returned home showed this to be exceptional value as coffee, water, smoothies are all included. Yes, the buffet is busy but you can usually find somewhere to sit (I appreciate that this is easier for a couple than a family.) We didn't have any problems with the food as there is such a wide choice. We found all the staff to be friendly and helpful and didn't have any language problems. We decided to pay the extra for the spa and wellbeing package. This gave us unlimited use of the spa every day of our cruise and a 30 min Bali massage. Again, we thought it was well worth the extra money. The spa was a fantastic place of tranquility and we would use the sauna and Turkish bath before taking our books to the relaxation area for total peace and quiet. Fab! We did excursions in Athens and in Dubrovnik and the were very interesting, but mostly we found our own way around. There is not always a lot of time on shore and this sometimes has an impact on what you do but we are happy strolling around new places and soaking up the atmosphere. On our last day we booked a shuttle to Venice for the day. On our return we were transported to the airport for our flight. We were there about 3 hours before our flight and as our flight was delayed we did have quite a long time in the airport. On reflection, I would book our own flights next time and might even stay overnight in the disembarkation port. There are a lot of people on the cruise and if that is going to be a problem for you, then don't book this enormous ship. Mostly there are Europeans on the ship with Brits being very much in the minority. It's not little Britain, it's very much Italian and you have to embrace that if you cruise with these.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Having read the reviews below we were very apprehensive about going on this cruise but these fears were unfounded. We have cruised with carnival and RCI and whilst the boarding at Venice was not as slick as these companies it was no ... Read More
Having read the reviews below we were very apprehensive about going on this cruise but these fears were unfounded. We have cruised with carnival and RCI and whilst the boarding at Venice was not as slick as these companies it was no hassle. Take a number and board when called. Probably about an hour start to finish for us. The food in the buffet was plentiful and of a good standard. The food and service was as good as other cruises we have been on and the staff were excellent. We shared a table with 4 others from Scotland and their company was fantastic. The ship is cleanse and bright and couldn't want for more. The drinks package is fantastic value and far superior to anything we have had before. Someone complained about the entertainment and whilst it doesn't have the variety offered by the likes of carnival we found it good and very professional. Nice big room but a bit of vibration due to being at rear of ship. No big deal for us but might be an issue for others In summary we really enjoyed the cruise and thought it fantastic value form money. There were a couple of issues at Venice airport but that can't be blamed on msc.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
This was our first time with MSC in the yacht club, but last summer we went with NCL Epic in their Haven, so we compared: Both are very good, but very different. A summary: Embarkation: both MSC and NCL have special care with a glass of ... Read More
This was our first time with MSC in the yacht club, but last summer we went with NCL Epic in their Haven, so we compared: Both are very good, but very different. A summary: Embarkation: both MSC and NCL have special care with a glass of campaign, butler to the room etc. Both 9/10 The room: the MSC executive and family room 12001 has the same size as the Norwegian family suite, but is completely different: MSC has a one bedroom suite with large windows in front of the ship, but outside the yacht club and without balcony. In NCL we liked the separate bedrooms, each with a bathroom. NCL has also a dining table, a balcony, DVD player and espresso coffee machine. MSC has 34 TV channels in all European languages, but no children programs. NCL has free movie channels but hardly any life TV. MSC: 8/10 NCL 10/10. The services: Both excellent and very comparable, minor differences: MSC delivers a morning newspaper, NCL reserves front seats in the shows; MSC has all day snacks, NCL delivers some in the room in the afternoon. Both 9/10 The club/haven: MSC has a few more rooms (69 vs. 58) and much more outside space. The entire 18th floor terrace is reserved, with a pool and 2 whirlpools and beautiful views. A very nice bar is available for outside breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and drinks (included with MSC). This is much better than with NCL where the space is a smaller courtyard. The NCL top floor area has become a public space. Both ships have a lounge; the MSC lounge is nicer with views in the front. Deck chairs in MSC are very uncomfortable. MSC: 9/10 NCL 8/10. Atmosphere/fellow passengers: MSC has several gala nights; NCL is casual/ no tie every day. In the MSC YC many passengers were Italian, French, Swiss or Austrian; NCL haven was mainly American, British and North European. The food/restaurants: the MSC restaurant is 300 meters away, in the back. Food is excellent and changes every day. The MSC lounge and pool restaurant have average buffet style food for breakfast and lunch. The NCL haven restaurant has excellent breakfast, but the lunch and dinner menu does not change during the week. In NCL it is not easy to eat outside in the haven. MSC 9/10 NCL 8/10 The rest of the ship: both have evening show: in MSC every day nice and with NCL one day specular (Blue Man), one day very good (Legends) the rest average. NCL has spectacular water slides but very small pools. MSC has many pools, even one with a retractable roof. The children (11 and 14) did not like the mini-club in both cases. Both 8/10. Price/ included: MSC has many drinks included, even cocktails, smoothies and some wine. In NCL only water and coffee are free. Tips are expected in NCL, or added with 15%. MSC has a very low service charge of 7 euro pppd, for adults only, but this will be increased later this year. NCL has also a service charge, but expects extra tips for all Haven staff. In conclusion: we liked both very much, with a small preference for the Norwegian Haven, but in view of the huge price difference we will certainly look at MSC again!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Having read the negative reviews just one month before we sailed my partner and our two friends were a little apprehensive to say the least. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth! Let's start with the fact that this was ... Read More
Having read the negative reviews just one month before we sailed my partner and our two friends were a little apprehensive to say the least. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth! Let's start with the fact that this was our first cruise.....it won't be the last! From arrival at embarkation to disembarking I have NOTHING but praise for the ship, the staff, the destinations. The ship is huge! It is beautifully decorated and designed. We had a balcony cabin on the 12th deck which was spacious and well appointed. The views from our balcony, truly stunning. The staff were nothing less than friendly, courteous and wonderful. As an early riser, I was regularly on the pool deck in the morning before the rest of the 'guests' had risen. I was often just myself and the (I suppose they could be called) 'deck hands'. They do not have the most glamorous of jobs, but they do it with a professional air. They was one who 'swabbed' the decks at the smoking side of the deck (where I was always sat with my iPad) and his cheery disposition (under a wooly hat!) was really pleasent. The breakfast buffet in the Inca and Maya bars was wonderful....if you bothered to go beyond the first bar! It didn't take me long to work out that going to the stern of the ship in the Maya bar was the best thing to do. Simply because the vast majority of the passengers went to the first buffet service in view and milled around like sheep trying to find a table. The choice of food was very good indeed. If you can't find something to your taste, then I'm not sure what you are looking for.... The food was ALWAYS hot and the staff refreshed empty spaces regularly. I have read that the staff are rude.....sorry, but that title goes directly to the passengers! Yes....we paid good money, but that does not excuse, what was nothing short of complete disregard for anyone other than themselves. The evening sittings for the main meal were wonderful. The staff were friendly and efficient. Our 'waiter' Waldemar from Brazil was a joy! Always happy and willing to join in with any joking....thank you so much Waldemar! Enjoy your Xmas back home in Brazil! The food was exceptional as was the choices. The theme nights were fun...if you bothered to join in! It didn't matter if you didn't, but I certainly enjoyed partaking. In another review, someone mentioned the 'Allegrisimo' drinks package. We signed up for this during the embarkation procedure (which was fine!....look, you aren't just going to walk onto the ship straight away!). It costs 23 Euro per person per day. GET ONE!!!.....it is WELL worth it! The bar staff were wonderful too (Thank you to Zhadko and her fellow bar staff friend in the Green Sax Bar (whose name I sadly can't remember! for the marvellous humour and superb Martini Classics.....) They were courteous and smiling and above all....made wonderful cocktails! I did not bother with the entertainment, but our friends went along to one in the main theatre and loved it. The itinerary was great. If I did the cruise again, I might stay on board at Izmir. I found it to be just a city, but that may just be because we missed out on it's jewels. Bari was a lovely place. Katakolo was a quaint little Greek village, but a lovely experience. Istanbul is magical!! The Blue Mosque and the Sophia Mosque a must visit! The Gran Bazarre is too much though! Far too big and I soon got sick of being bothered by vendors. Dubrovnik is beautiful (or at least the old city is). I will certainly be visiting again! In short.....please dismiss the negative comments! The ship and crew are wonderful. 99.9 out of 100. The .1 that is missing?......the charge for using WiFi is truly extortionate!.....and when you are in the middle of the Agean etc you can forget 3G! Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
First of all we have spent time in some great locations all over the world mainly in 5 star hotels. We decided to try a cruise for a change - we had never done one before - and we had a wonderful time. We were a bit nervous as we had read ... Read More
First of all we have spent time in some great locations all over the world mainly in 5 star hotels. We decided to try a cruise for a change - we had never done one before - and we had a wonderful time. We were a bit nervous as we had read some very negative reviews about MSC cruises, but those people who left negative comments must have been very hard to satisfy! Embarkation at Venice took quite a long time but with so many passengers to get on this was understandable. We had a lovely balcony cabin on deck 13 - on the port side of the ship which made it interesting when we came into each port. The cabin steward was so attentive and looked after us so well, and kept the cabin spotless. We ate in the dining room each night (L'arabesque) and had the first sitting which we had requested. We were allocated a table with a lovely family. The food was varied - there was no dish repeated on the 7 night cruise - and very good. Yes the portion sizes were quite small for each course, but you could have up to 5 courses. We chose to have the drinks package (allegrissimo) and that was definitely worth doing. The waiters at table were so friendly, and as we all drank white wine, were given a couple of bottles, and could as for more if we wanted to. We ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet mostly, although you could eat all meals in the restaurant and be served if you wanted to. All the public areas were spotless, and you could always find somewhere to sit even in the busy times. The itinerary was what attracted us to this cruise - we visited Olympia, Ephesus, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. We opted to prebook tours with Cruisingexcursions.com and they were good value with excellent guides. Disembarkation was well organised and went very smoothly for us. All in all we had a fantastic cruise, and I am already looking at where we might go with MSC next year! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our fourth cruise, but our first time sailing with MSC. Having read a lot of reviews, some of which were quite negative, we decided to go with realistic expectations...so we wouldn't be disappointed or frustrated. We were ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise, but our first time sailing with MSC. Having read a lot of reviews, some of which were quite negative, we decided to go with realistic expectations...so we wouldn't be disappointed or frustrated. We were excited about the itinerary, especially Ephesus, Istanbul and Dubrovnik so if our onboard experience was less than perfect, we were pretty sure we would still enjoy our week! Embarkation was a bit slow, but we arrived quite early so we avoided the very long wait that some other passengers had. The ship itself is stunning! The design is gorgeous--so many interesting places to explore and enjoy. The main atrium with the Swarovski staircase is glitzy and glamourous with lovely live music in the evenings. Every area of the ship was spotlessly clean. We had a balcony cabin which had attractive decor and the amount of space was comparable to other ships we've been on (Princess and Carnival Cruise lines). A lot of the negative reviews seem to be from North American / English travellers who are not used to the European culture, particularly a Mediterranean culture! I am Canadian, but I've been living in the Mediterranean for almost ten years so the MSC experience was actually exactly what one should expect when travelling with an Italian company. Of course the announcements are made in many languages--English speakers are very much in the minority! Of course the food is different--they are catering to so many nationalities. While North Americans are looking for their bagels and peanut butter for breakfast , the English are looking for baked beans, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes while the continental Europeans expect olives and salami and a buffet of pastries and cheese! I think they did a fantastic job of trying to meet so many tastes. And we enjoy trying new things. The food stations are a good idea, and I think there are shorter lines this way. Yes, people sneak in front of you sometimes, but don't let that spoil your cruise. When in Rome, be like a Roman! I think the food was delicious. There was way more than enough. One thing is for sure: it's far better than being at home :-) You definitely must try the fresh pasta, the fantastic assortment of cheese, the delicious fruit and of course the gelato! We didn't love the pizza, but it looked like most people sure did! When you go to the dining room, you have to expect a European dining experience. Relax, take your time and enjoy!! You should order several courses because the servings are not large. They assume you are going to have an appetizer, a salad, a soup, a pasta, a main course and a dessert so the portions are reasonable. I usually ordered four courses and left feeling satisfied, but not overly stuffed (like I often was when I served myself at the buffet!) I read quite a few complaints about staff friendliness and quality of service. For sure the American owned cruise lines have extraordinary service and this cruise was of a lower standard. Again, if you are prepared for this, it shouldn't ruin your cruise. This standard/type of service is typical for a European holiday for two reasons: many of the servers have very basic English (and English passengers are quite few, remember) so they aren't able to chat like the workers on other cruise lines. Also, they are not looking for a tip! I have found it a bit suspicious that everyone that goes on an American cruise ship seems to become best friends with their waiter and their cabin steward. Maybe I'm cynical, but I wonder if slipping them a few extra dollars at the end of the week wasn't considered, would they be THAT friendly??!! Overall, the MSC staff were adequate. They got the job done. They didn't joke and chat and go above and beyond the call of duty.They did what they were getting paid to do, and they did fine. Go with that expectation, and you'll be fine too! We didn't spend time by the pool on sunny days because it was too crowded. That's fine for us because we live on an island but would have been disappointing if we were going to spend time in the sun. We absolutely loved sitting on our balcony. The scenery was stunning. We very definitely recommend the itinerary. We didn't do organised excursions; we prefer to do our own thing and we save loads of money! I thought the evening entertainment was--by far--the best and classiest of any cruise we have been on. Fantastic! I think anyone of any age or culture would enjoy it, and that's an accomplishment! We read reviews about the slow disembarkation so we were prepared. We relaxed over our buffet breakfast and extra cup of coffee, then found a comfortable sofa and read. When it was time, we went to the meeting point and after that disembarking was smooth and timely. Overall, my advice is to know what your truly foreign cruise is going to be like and then relax and go with it! There is so much to enjoy and appreciate that it would be a shame to be disappointed with your week because you were expecting an American or British experience rather than a purely European holiday. We loved it and would absolutely be back in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My husband and I have just returned from an 11day cruise to the Eastern Med on the Fantasia. What a stunning ship. A bit of a bad start with no one at Genoa airport to meet us, but after that we couldn't have asked for more. Our cabin ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from an 11day cruise to the Eastern Med on the Fantasia. What a stunning ship. A bit of a bad start with no one at Genoa airport to meet us, but after that we couldn't have asked for more. Our cabin (free upgrade to a balcony) was a generous size, with a large double bed, and loads of storage space. The shower had plenty of pressure and the whole was spotlessly clean. Our cabin staff were efficient and friendly. I completed the interim questionnaire with a comment about 'lumpy' pillows, and immediately had visit from the housekeeping manager with 2 brand new ones, and that was the sort of service we enjoyed throughout. The restaurant was beautiful with a good choice of food every day; the waiters were extremely kind (helping my husband who has Parkinson's) with patience and good humour. The theatre was easily on a par with the West End, and every show was of the highest professional standard. Despite the large number of passengers, there was always plenty of seating, and never felt crowded. Only a couple of down points; although there were plenty of hand cleansers around the ship, there was no pressure on passengers to use them. The other one was that we had to leave the ship at 10am for a flight at 6.30pm, so a long, dreary day spent at Genoa airport; surely MSC could have arranged a later departure. Overall, we had a brilliant cruise and would certainly use MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Just returned from a great holiday on board the lirica.I read all the reviews and was not expecting much, however I was totally taken aback at how much I enjoyed the food which was panned before but I could not agree with this the choice ... Read More
Just returned from a great holiday on board the lirica.I read all the reviews and was not expecting much, however I was totally taken aback at how much I enjoyed the food which was panned before but I could not agree with this the choice in the dinning room was great. I work in the catering industry at a 5 star level and I have also worked on cruise ships for10 years so I know the industry very well and also had Italian family with me and they thought the food was as good as it could be for the size of the ship. People forget that you are catering for a large no of people at the same time so it will never be as good as it being cooked for individual tables and a lot of my fellow British travellers expect the menu to be catered for brits alone but this is a European style and if you don't like pasta and risotto and Mediterranean style food then don't book msc.The portions are not massive but you can have 4 or 5 courses that are smaller rather than one massive portion for a main meal, if you order an appetizer a soup or risotto a main meal and desert I promise you will be full and have a great meal the way they do in the med not our usual sit down, gub a meal and leave within 20 mins. staff in the bar and restaurant were great very pleasant..(bar table service can take time at busy times).The buffet was not as great as was busy and my main complaint was food temperature which was way too low and the staff at the buffet were inconsistent but the pizza and burger station and fresh pasta station were quick and mostly hot.. Embarkation at genoa was so smooth as well, all in all very good all round and I would say for the price it was great, so if you are a snob,or want everything for nothing or you don't like European food or people then don't book MSC but if you are a reasonable person who can enjoy yourself and not expect there own personal slaves to do everything for them then and there then I would recommend this company. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
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