I will start by saying the Meraviglia is just a stunning ship. So modern and beautiful, and she has so many spaces I adore such as the indoor pool and the galleria. I have a very unlikely hope that MSC will sell her to another line so we ... Read More
I will start by saying the Meraviglia is just a stunning ship. So modern and beautiful, and she has so many spaces I adore such as the indoor pool and the galleria. I have a very unlikely hope that MSC will sell her to another line so we can cruise her again! As sadly, this was our first and will be our last MSC cruise.
First I will address the positives. As mentioned, the ship is 5 star amazing. Our cabin, a standard inside, was much bigger than insides on other cruise lines. The floor space was huge! Unfortunately the storage space was terrible. I'm sure they could have made more of that floor space- a sofa with drawers would have been perfect.
We loved the pools both indoors and out. There are lots of hot tubs, although sadly some were always broken. We loved the galleria and the chocolate shop! Boarding in Palermo was a breeze, although I suspect that was because so few people board there.
We saw both Cirque shows (eventually, after one was cancelled twice) and enjoyed both. Although we did not think they were the same quality as Cirque dreams on NCL (despite that not being official cirque!). The other shows were.... weird. Like watching a particularly random Eurovision entry. The entertainment highlight of the cruise was the 60s party in the Galleria which was brilliant.
So, to get onto the negatives. Unfortunately everything I'd heard about the food was true. We went to the MDR twice on our 5 night cruise and then just stopped and went to the buffet instead. The MDR food was barely edible, and this is from really non-fussy people. Both nights we went to the buffet straight after the MDR as we were still hungry, having left most of the food. The buffet was fine- the choice at dinner was a little limited, especially for desserts. The ship made mozzarella was very good. While the buffet was 'good enough' it is nothing like the range and quality found on lines such as NCL. It was such a shame that the food was such a let down- aren't Italians supposed to care about their food! We were also unhappy with our dining time allocation of 6pm- when we booked a Fantastica fare, this came with promised 'Flexible dining', however MSC removed this without informing us. When I rang to query this they couldn't have cared less.
The other huge negative was service. I really don't want to say this but it felt like unless you are Italian you are a second class citizen. While we found the occasionally friendly staff member- such as the British guy working at Cirque, and some of the photographers- the others were brusque bordering on rude. Nobody seemed to know anything of how things work. We had massive problems with the photo package we had pre purchased ahead of time and wished we had not bought it. Not only was the variety of photos poor (no dinner or port photos like on NCL), but it was such a hassle to actually get them. None of their 'scanners' worked so you had to pick out your photos from the wall each night and queue up so they can put them in a box.
On the last night they were supposed to scan these boxed photos on a card for us. We had to return to the desk no less than 4 times between early afternoon and midnight attempting to get our photos, as they kept telling us different things and sending us away. They just wanted to get rid of us and had no interest in helping us. One guy would start helping us, then drop us completely because an Italian had come up to the desk- incredibly frustrating. Come midnight when they tried to send us away again as they were closing, promising 'we are open in the morning, come and get your photo card then' we point blank refused to leave until we got our photos.
Guess what- the next morning the photo gallery was shut. I'm not that fussy on service but I don't expect to be totally lied to by the staff.
Disembarkation was also a nightmare. They do not give you a choice of time. They gave us 11.20am which was way too late- I had to queue for ages at guest services and the earliest they would swap it for was 9.35. On the morning it was an absolute shambles with people pushing and shoving and staff totally clueless. In the end we had to beg to be let through by claiming we were missing our flight (thank god we actually weren't). They then corralled everyone into a tiny corridor with no room to move and no reason for being held there. It was actually a potentially dangerous situation- if a panic had set off people could have been crushed. When we've done other cruises we've waltzed off the ship in 5 minutes with no issues- I have no idea how MSC could make disembarkation this bad. It took over 2hrs to disembark.
Overall, as you can see the negatives sadly outweigh the positives. While this cruise was cheap, it was not good value because of too many poor elements. We are not hard to please- we love other mainstream cruise lines, we're not expecting luxury. But this was just not good enough. I hear they are much better in America, but there's so much choice of cruise line out there that we'll never give them another chance. Read Less