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3 MSC Cruises Europe - Black Sea Cruise Reviews

Having read varied reviews we went on MSC with low expectations but hopeful, as my husband understands Italian we may find experience better than others who have reviewed it. In fact the announcements on this trip started in English ... Read More
Having read varied reviews we went on MSC with low expectations but hopeful, as my husband understands Italian we may find experience better than others who have reviewed it. In fact the announcements on this trip started in English followed by German, Italian & more! I guess it depends on which nationalities make up the passenger list. Boarding-Very swift. We waited for 15 mins seated and then queued for 3 mins and then straight on and cabin ready for us. Cabin-14235 large with enough storage. Kept clean by attendant. Good balcony size - great to have breakfast on! Some engine vibration from engine when docking or turning and one night felt movement across English channel but ok. Tip: Take fridge magnets to hold back material shower curtain and put up notices/tickets in your room! Food- all good. I actually preferred the buffet where you could pick what you wanted and in the desired quantity. There was pizza slices there daily and a good fresh fruit & salad choice. Also quite a bit of vegetarian choices. We did go to dining room on a couple of occasions and it was fine but a little chaotic with a mix up of food and drinks orders but acceptable and understandable. We had breakfast in room each morning at no extra charge. This made it pleasant to ease into the day before the time off the ship. It always seemed to arrive early and staff were very good. Ice cream just wonderful at plaza and included in package. Staff- were great. Friendly and eager to serve drinks in all bars regardless whether we had package- which we did. Customer service desk always helpful too. Entertainment- not the best but acceptable. (Similar rating as Thomson but not RC or NCL Epic!) Flamenco was on twice in a week and while I enjoy it didn't want to see it twice! The Saturday show with contortionists and acrobatics was great. Someone told me the guys from 'cirque du soleil' have been training them- it showed! It was brilliant. Music in bars was varied. The best was the classical music but there were never seats so get there early if you like this kind of entertainment. Other singers were just not that great. I couldn't get English Chanel on TV other than news and really missed having music to listen to in the room. It is a shame they don't put on movies in the theatre. Excursions- we did our own thing and having researched well we found some amazing places and all at a fraction of the cost of the ships trips by using public transport. We enjoyed all the ports we visited thanks to my research beforehand. Disembarkation- at Southampton-U.K. Customs insisted on a face to face with all on the ship when we left (even those staying on ship!) This meant we queued for an hour to get off but this was not MSC's doing just UK being cautious I guess. Would I travel on a MSC again? Absolutely! The ship was impressive and food excellent so great value for money and good selection of ports. Next time I will make sure I bring my own music to listen to and perhaps a film or two on my iPad to watch. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
MSC has some pretty bad reviews, and I'm pleased to report that we had a very pleasant time on board Opera. However, it was not all plain sailing, if you'll excuse the pun. So let's start with the bad points and if you feel ... Read More
MSC has some pretty bad reviews, and I'm pleased to report that we had a very pleasant time on board Opera. However, it was not all plain sailing, if you'll excuse the pun. So let's start with the bad points and if you feel you can stomach those, I shall move on to the good points. The biggest minus for us was the very poor vegetarian food. Meat and fish eaters are very well catered for, but poor old veggies get a very raw deal - literally! Raw carrots, raw lettuce, raw onion, but often no hot veggie dish at the buffet aside from the side veg. I don't consider a bowl of boiled broccoli to constitute a meal. Often meat was added unnecessarily, reducing the choices even further Eg breakfast omelettes with added ham, breakfast potatoes with added sausage pieces, pasta with added meat or fish. Even at the sit-down restaurant at lunch and dinner time there was not always a veggie option for each course. This was particularly disappointing for the gala dinners. what there was was very samey eg cheese appetizer followed by a cheese salad followed by a cheese main course. Aubergines were presented in various ways day after day. I love aubergines, but was starting to go off them, and my poor old daughter hates them so was left with no alternative. There were no labels to indicate what was veggie and it was not always easy to tell and the staff did not always know. We did say we were veggie at time of booking and were contacted part-way through the cruise to check that all was well, but nothing resulted from our complaint. Deserts in the restaurant and buffet were generally good, the ice-cream was very nice and the pizza parlour was good. The afternoon tea was always very nice and the scones were very tasty. Tea at the tea stations was usually rather too weak and no tea or coffee was served after the meals. The other big bugbear was the tender service, which was necessary twice on this cruise. We have been on many cruises and realise that this can be a bit slow, but we've NEVER encountered anything quite so shambolic and painfully slow. MSC really need to sort this out, as it was causing considerable upset. We were informed that tender tickets would be available at 9am. At 8.30am we passed by and there was already a queue forming so we joined it. At 9am there was virtually no movement and finally at about 9.20am, as the queue was slowly moving, a man came down the line handing out tickets. We were given 'H' tickets, despite being fairly near the front. The first tickets (A and B) were called to disembark at 9.45 and C and D and 10am, then everything stopped. By 11.30 no further tickets had been called but people were leaving the ship. We joined the massive queue and were let off. No one checked what letter we were, but by then it was well after noon and other poor souls were waiting patiently for announcements. The same thing happened the next time. This time we just joined the queue that was forming, even though no tickets had been called. We were let off the ship with no one checking our letter (B this time)! It took an age, and there was much pushing and shoving. It made a mockery of the so-called system. People with J and N were in front of us. This cast an unnecessary shadow and could easily be made slicker and fairer. A surprising problem was the lack of chairs in the buffet. There were not enough to go round. I think this is because the assumption is that the outside seating will be used, but this was a Northern European cruise during a cold spell and it was either too cold, wet or windy to sit out so everyone sat in - if they could a) find a table (always a problem) and b) find a chair to place at the table. There were times when we got a table but could not find sufficient chairs to go round it. Many people brought in chairs from the deck. One final gripe was about smoking, which was allowed in too many places. the smoking lounge and smoking casino are not closed and the smoke permeates other areas and is unpleasant. On the positive side, the ship is very nice and looks well maintained. The theatre is especially good and the shows were also very good. Unfortunately fellow guests often arrived late and everyone had to stand up to let them past, and many talked through shows. The cabin is reasonably roomy as cabins go (we had a standard ocean view) but our steward was not great. Often we returned and the cabin had not been made up, despite being vacated for several hours. He always looked a tad unhappy and I wonder if perhaps he was simply over-worked. No chocs on pillows or towels shaped like elephants and swans unfortunately. There was a nice walking/jogging track, but unfortunately it was over blocked by sun loungers. Drinks are rather pricey - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ones. However, the bar service is generally quite good and reasonably fast and friendly. The restaurant staff were also very friendly and efficient. Despite some gripes this was a good cruise with some nice ports of call on a pleasant ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We boarded the Lirica at Civitavecchia to cruise to Istanbul, Yalta, Odessa, Athens, Sorrento (Capri), and Genoa. MSC traces its history to cargo shipping, and care of the ship is tops -- constant cleaning, polishing, painting, crew ... Read More
We boarded the Lirica at Civitavecchia to cruise to Istanbul, Yalta, Odessa, Athens, Sorrento (Capri), and Genoa. MSC traces its history to cargo shipping, and care of the ship is tops -- constant cleaning, polishing, painting, crew training on a regular basis, arrival always on time, and the ship is well and tastefully furnished. The ship was very smooth and quiet. It has good facilities for children, including a popular water shower over one of the pools, a youth club, and video games, such as Wii. The lounges are spacious and attractive as well as comfortable, and the library is popular as a card room, also. Embarkation and disembarkation were fairly quick and the crew was very helpful. The service by the waiters and dining staff is good; we had a sharp-looking, almost-all Indonesian staff who did a good job. The food variety and quality was generally good but not outstanding in the dining room, with two buffets, one near the pools and one fully enclosed. They are somewhat limited and not always supplied with hot food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all available in the dining room, with good service at all three times. Dining room times are rigidly adhered to, with assigned tables for dinner and casual table assignment for other meals. One strange item is that coffee is not available at dinner. Bottled water is available but no tap water is served, and American and Canadian passengers get a free bottle daily. The entertainment was typical cruise material, lots of American music, a bit loud; good dancers and a champion juggler, a couple of opera singers (an excellent tenor and a good soprano), and a Sinatra impersonator with a German accent. The entertainment seemed to be tailored to Americans, although there were large groups of Italians, Germans, and French, plus a group of Norwegians, and all the announcements had to be made in five or six languages. The theater is well designed and decorated. The problems we had with the cruise were mostly with the excursions, which were poorly described in the literature and not always well managed. We took four of their excursions. At Yalta we visited two of the Tsar's palaces, which were described as "sumptuous" and such terms. The first palace was sparsely furnished and had never been lived in - only used for summer picnics, and it was dark and not very attractive. The second, Livadia Palace, was the site of the 1945 meeting at which Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin agreed on how to divide Europe. It was an excellent visit to a very attractive location, so that tour averaged out fairly well. We took the tour of Odessa and its catacombs, and found that good. The first real problem was Athens, where we arrived for an 8-hour visit on the Orthodox Easter Sunday, and EVERYTHING was closed and largely deserted. We had been to Athens for several days on another trip but had not seen the new Acropolis Museum, and wanted to see that, but were disappointed. We were not warned until the morning arrival that we wouldn't see anything except closed buildings, but surely the staff must have known. The next problem was in Sorrento, where we paid about $190 each for a "four-hour" tour to Capri during about a six-hour stopover. The tour description said we would be taken to the center of town, then a minibus tour followed by a walking tour to the Caesar Augustus gardens. Actually, we had a two-hour tour, with no minibus tour, and the walking tour was so rushed that it more resembled a foot race on cobblestones. The rest of the four hours was taken up by a tender ride to Sorrento, a ferry ride to Capri, and a shuttle bus to a parking lot on Capri, then the reverse after the quick foot tour, with quite a bit of waiting between each of the phases. We had no more that 30 minutes to look around in Capri on our own and shop, and we were tired after the foot race. That excursion should not even be offered if the time cannot be increased and the tour properly described. In Genoa, we took the local bus tours rather than the ship tours, and found them very satisfactory -- Genoa is a beautiful city. Overall, it was a pleasant cruise, with a couple of serious problems on the excursions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
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