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4 MSC Cruises Europe - Black Sea Cruise Reviews

MSC Magnifica 8th October 2024  Very quick check-in, on board and in cabin by 12.45. S3 family cabin - sitting area next to full length balcony windows, separated from dressing area and bedroom by curtains. King size bed, comfortable, ... Read More
MSC Magnifica 8th October 2024  Very quick check-in, on board and in cabin by 12.45. S3 family cabin - sitting area next to full length balcony windows, separated from dressing area and bedroom by curtains. King size bed, comfortable, lumpy pillows, nice bedding - not duvet but sheet, blanket and cover. Bedside tables each with three drawers. Bedside light and access to main lights. Divider cupboard between bed and dressing tables, three large cupboards, one of which contained the fridge. TV, quite small, on this divider. Interactive menu on the TV, including access to shipboard account and info. At least the account t info was available during the first few days, but it disappeared later in the week and the reception staff said that it was only visible on the last day ?? 4-seated settee, small oval coffee table and small armchair without arms. Bathroom fairly compact. Shower with curtain, which did not attack during a shower. Good pressure and soap and shampoo available in dispensers attached to the shower wall. Early sitting for dinner - 6.00 pm - which I find too early. However late sitting at 8.30 is too late for me as well - need to consider freedom dining in future. Meals at dinner consisted of Appetisers, salads, soups, pasta dish, main meal and sweet. We usually selected 3/4 courses maximum. Alternatives to menu offered daily eg salmon, chicken. There was also one vegetarian main as well. Buffet for lunch, always available are burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, pasta, chips and salad. Always adequate, sometimes really good. Special recommendation here for the freshly-made pizzas - usually about 4 different flavours - each one we tried was delicious. Used for lunch time each day. Breakfast we opted for in-cabin, to avoid the inevitable crush and push when so many cultures are on board. This trip included Russians, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Japanese, Chinese and possibly Portuguese. Most annoying - lifeboat drill after pickup in Hamburg, which included those passengers who had joined in Amsterdam the day before. Every instruction was repeated throughout all the cabins in six languages. This happened just after I awoke from an afternoon sleep, so at least it didn't wake me up. We believe this was a mistake because the following drill was not transmitted into the cabin, only the initial call for those passengers affected. Evening entertainment - we spent each evening in the Tiger Bar which is not as garish as it appears in the pictures with all the tigerskin carpets and seats. The musicians in here were very good but the Animation team were restricted in their games by the various nationalities attending. It usually consisted of audience guessing names of films or tunes or artists and running to a chair on stage, where the correct answer was rewarded with an MSC bag, or t-shirt etc. The theatre shows were all well attended every evening, because there was the locust swarm of passengers traversing the Tiger Bar on their way to and from wherever. We never did find out where everyone disappeared to, but there were plenty of alternative bars or lounges. We found the daytime in the Tiger Bar was dominated during the sea day by the Entertainment Team creating games and shouting loudly and often for applause, applause - more than a little trying, especially if we were writing or reading (or trying to). We moved into a different bar, but it was still close enough to hear the call for applause. The ship is immaculately clean and like a micro community. The service was either fantastic or very poor, with disaffected staff showing either disinterest or disdain at times. However, we on,y encountered a couple of members of staff who were miserable and the rest were delightful. In fact, our waiter at dinner and a number of bar staff were very pleasant and happy, which is what we expect at all times from customer-facing staff. Our ports of call were Zeebrugge for Brugge, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Le Havre. When we docked at Zeebrugge, due to some pervious research, we were aware that there was a free port shuttle, but this fact was never made known on board. Instead the ship shuttle at €14 was suggested. As I was unwell at the beginning of the trip, we decided to go on the ship shuttle, which took us close to Blankenburg rail station where we boarded the first train for Bruges, at a cost of €12, which is €3 each person, each way. These run from Blankenburg at ten minutes after the hour, each hour and the return from Bruges is at 36 minutes after the hour, and they ran on the dot while we were there. The trains are clean, comfortable and fast, a great way to travel. While in Bruge we had coffee, caught up with mails, FB etc. In Amsterdam we walked along the harbour, passing the river boats along the way, to the Grand Central Station. At this point the HOHO buses can be found, although we didn't use these this time as it was quite recently that we had done both canal and coach trips. We walked through the city, checked out the Sex Museum which ad been recommended to us. Although this may sound seedy, the Museum is very interesting and good value for money at €4 each. We then had our coffee at one of the Hotel coffee shops, where we were disappointed that their WiFi was not working. As we left the coffee shop there was an almighty crash as a motor cyclist was hit by a tram and everything around seemed to just stop. The ambulance was at the scene very quickly and the cyclist was quickly whisked away, hopefully not too badly hurt as he was at was on his feet just after the accident. We then continued our wanderings and were soon in the red light district, where some of the girls were showing their attributes. My Hubby commented that window shopping could sometimes be appealing - this from the man who HATES shopping with a passion back home. By this time we were both tired so we caught the No. 26 tram back to the ship - at a cost of €1.30 each. Although the ship was docked here overnight, we decided to spend the evening on board and enjoyed an excellent meal in the main restaurant. Our third stop was in Hamburg and again we paid the ship's shuttle cost of €13.90 each as we had not been into Hamburg previously. I had researched the alternatives and found that there are water buses available, and there were also plenty of taxis available. I did overhear that these were charging €20 each way, but I can't verify this. We were dropped off at the square where the Town Hall was, a most magnificent building it has to be said. After a quick coffee in Starbucks and a quick email catchup, we decided to get the HOHO tour. I was a little nervous about this because I had read that these HOHOs were more geared to the Europe languages, with English not very much in evidence, but we went on two of these buses and in each case English was available as well as Dutch and German. This was in fact one of the best value HOHOs we have been on and the whole tour lasted just over 2 hours. We both really enjoyed the sights we saw and the information that was also given. Our last call was Le Havre and we were booked on a ship's excursion to Breuille Castle Calvados distillery, with a stop at Breuille en Ange. The guide at the Castle was excellent and able to converse fluently in English and French. The Ship's guide also provided commentary in Italian for a small contingency of our group. Very interesting, very welcoming visit. The trip to the village was super, so reflecting what we expected of a typical French village in the countryside. We treated ourselves to some traditional patisseries and had a good trip back, taking in Honfleur while still in the coach, showing the contrasts of a busy port and the idyllic countryside. A good excursion, although it was certainly a little overpriced. An ambience change certainly appeared to happen for me over the last couple of days on the cruise, following the picking up of large number of Russian passengers and their children. This may just reflect the cultural differences, but the staff around and about certainly seemed to be intimated by the attitude of these passengers and I felt quite upset at times when I observed how the staff were treated as servants, rather than as the hard-working, pleasant individuals that we had encountered. It appears that the Russian culture is just louder and more aggressive than we usually encounter on multi-cultural ships or resorts, so perhaps it is a case of being more tolerant (or avoiding cruises where passengers are picked up like ferry passengers, at each port of call throughout the cruise.) Overall this was a great cruise, we enjoyed the food, the service, the upgrade of cabin, the company we kept and being in a beautiful and immaculate ship, almost all of which was attributable to MSC - the bonus was really good weather in all the ports we visited - and the excellent value for money.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
we booked the cruise as it was a good price and nice itinerary, then I got very concerned by all the bad reviews regarding the food and staff. These concerns was needless. The ship is lovely, the food in both the main dining room and the ... Read More
we booked the cruise as it was a good price and nice itinerary, then I got very concerned by all the bad reviews regarding the food and staff. These concerns was needless. The ship is lovely, the food in both the main dining room and the buffet was always hot, delicious and with plenty of choice. Our main problem was embarkation in venice which was a complete shambles, but once aboard we loved every minute. our cabin on deck nine had ample storage space and was very clean and tidy. Our cabin maid was lovely and very helpful, always had a smile and cheery hello for us. The entertainment was top notch with something for all ages. The ports of call were beautiful but we just walked off and did not book any trips. The only comment I would say is the ship does not give you any information about the port you are visiting. Days at sea did not seem to have have much entertainment apart from on the pool deck which we found disappointing as other cruise lines seem to have daytime entertainment all over the ship. Disembarkation was not too bad apart from you had to leave your cabin by 7.45 am which is a lot earlier than other cruise lines and we were not allowed to disembark till 10.20 am so everyone was just sat around waiting. Overall though a really good cruise which we all enjoyed and we would use MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Just returned home after a Magnificent 11 day cruise. Having never been to Europe and having read the reviews, I had very low expectations. Well, this trip was fantastic. Embarkation was very easy and quick. Our cabin which was a balcony ... Read More
Just returned home after a Magnificent 11 day cruise. Having never been to Europe and having read the reviews, I had very low expectations. Well, this trip was fantastic. Embarkation was very easy and quick. Our cabin which was a balcony on the rear of the ship was spacious and immaculate. We have 9229 which has a little extra hallway attached to the room which made for more storage and very private. Food, PERFECT. I'm not sure what people expect based on reviews I read but our experience in the dining room was nothing less than perfect. There were a couple of meals I didn't care for but that was because I tried something new that didn't appeal to me. Our servers, Hugo and Stephan were on it and had our lemons and beers ready to put on the table every night when we arrived. Food presentation was great and food arrived hot. The buffet had a good variety. Only problem we incurred was pushing and cutting the lines by certain people. Can't expect manners by all and that is not the cruise lines fault. The shows were very good. Being from the US we enjoyed the European feel to some of the shows. This trip was our once in a lifetime trip and we have no regrets. I recommend this ship and this itenary to all. LOVED all the ports and realize that cruising gives you a taste of each place. Although there were only 69 Americans on the ship we were never made to feel shunned. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
I had read so many negative reviews that I was hesitant to book this cruise line. I truly don't know what they were complaining about! Boarding was so swift and I was in my cabin, with my luggage without any snafus. There were 3,000 ... Read More
I had read so many negative reviews that I was hesitant to book this cruise line. I truly don't know what they were complaining about! Boarding was so swift and I was in my cabin, with my luggage without any snafus. There were 3,000 passengers and only 78 English speakers, but it was never a problem. I was traveling alone and was seated with a delightful mix of dining companions. They had all of the English speaking folks in one corner of the dining room, so we mingled with each other. I have cruised on Celebrity, Holland America, Orient, Norwegian, RCCL, Renaisance, Costa and Carnival and this was probably the most spotless ship I have been on. My cabin was spacious and very comfortable. The ship is beautiful, with lovely pieces of art and sculpture everywhere. There was wonderful music every night, several different musical styles, and lots of people dancing. Yes, the shows must cater to everyone, but they were very good. I took lots of pictures, but I haven't a clue on how to add them to this review. Dining was always a pleasure! Our waiters were wonderful and hard working. This is an Italian ship and the food reflects this. There are more courses than we're usually served. The portion size is geared to the European diner. I do hate the waste I see when portions are too large. I enjoyed the variety of food and the desserts were incredible. I always ate in the dining room, buffets are not for me. I had my coupon booklet for our free water, and we all shared at dinner, so I left the ships with unused coupons. All of the ship staff I encountered were cordial and helpful. I do plan on cruising with MSC again! When you combine the beautiful ship with the considerable cost savings, it's an easy decision. And the Black Sea is a marvelous destination. It is relatively uncrowded, such a change from the Mediterranean ports. I would suggest you take a taxi when you debark as the walk to the bus/train is very long and difficult.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
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