Entertainment on Musica hums, day and night. Typical of the daytime activities: jewelry-making class; Tango, Samba and Merengue lessons; cooking demonstrations; Italian lessons; bingo; trivia contests; art auctions; exercise classes (stretching, aerobics, jogging); and wine tastings.
Musica, musica, musica (er, music) is omnipresent, beginning at midday and lasting well into the night. Particularly popular are Los Paraguayos, a mariachi band, and the all-female Angels Quartet, which plays classical and romantic standards. Teatro La Scala hosts two shows each night, at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The shows -- "Celtic Spirit," "Le Cirque Immaginnaire," "Classical Concert with Angels Quartet" and "A Night in Paris" as examples -- are first-rate and not surprisingly, attract big crowds.
As for shore excursions, there are as many as five options at each port of call. In Naples, for instance, passengers can choose among tours of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, the historic city center, Sorrento and the Royal Palace of Caserta. It doesn't get much better than that. What can be improved upon is the disembarkation process for excursions. In a word, it's bedlam. Basically, hundreds of people, speaking different languages, descend into the appointed lounge to retrieve from harried shore excursion staffers the coded badge that signifies which bus they are to board. Lines are long and patience short. This didn't happen at just one port of call; it was all of them. One possible solution: Deliver the badges in advance to the stateroom, which is how the shore excursion tickets are dispensed in the first place.
With 236,000 square ft. of public space, Musica is roomy. And, with interior design themes reminiscent of Art Nouveau and the 1930's Art Deco movement, it is also stylish.
The social centerpiece of Musica is a three-deck central foyer, with its whimsical yet functional visual signature: a white piano suspended on a clear platform over a waterfall. Shops, coffee bars, lounges, a cyber cafe, cigar room, art gallery, library and card room all spin off of the foyer's grand staircase. This is where the reception desk, accounting office and shore excursion office are also located. Plush chairs at the base of the staircase on Deck 5 provide a great perch for people watching.
The shops, six in all, sell perfume, cosmetics, clothing, electronics and duty-free items that, we were surprised to learn, can be consumed onboard. The cyber cafe, cast in blue light, has 18 computers and often spotty Internet access. Overall, the connection is torturously slow and, at 3.33 euros ($4.40) for the first 10 minutes, it's pricey. Wireless cards are a better buy. The library, with titles and board games in five languages, has a scant three shelves of English-language books, mostly passenger cast-offs. Disappointing to us, there was no atlas or maps of the region.
One of the things Musica is not short on is lounges or bars. There are 11 of them. Il Tucano Lounge is probably the liveliest at night, and it's also where a lot of shipboard activities -- trivia games, cooking demonstrations, exercise classes -- take place during the day. The Blue Velvet Bar is quieter, and with its intimate seating area and handsome bar is a bit more upscale. The Crystal Lounge is the clubbiest of the three large interior lounges. There are also two bars on the pool deck, and just above them, is the Q32 Disco. Particularly nice is L'Enoteca Wine Bar, serving over 75 wines from provinces across Italy, Sicily and Sardinia along with Italian cheeses and cold cuts. Note: Musica is a "limited smoking" ship and each lounge is split into smoking and non-smoking sections.
There's a virtual game room, equipped with up-to-the-minute games. You've got to pay to play, though: 1 euro per game. There is also a large casino and Teatro La Scala, a theater and music hall. Musica does not have a self-service laundry.
One of the things that pleased me most about Musica is that we were able to stick to our daily exercise regimen. In fact, we ratcheted it up a bit.
There's a walking deck on Deck 14, one level above the pools. A few of us would routinely arrive just before sunrise to walk or jog. It didn't take long to establish our own little subculture: Exercisers arrive first, then smokers, then photographers. By 7:30 or 8 a.m., the deck can get crowded with passengers and crew, so I was glad to discover that Deck 7, a little-used promenade deck, was far better than Deck 14 for serious exercising. It's also under cover, a bonus on windy or wet days.
The gym, small but sufficient, is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are six treadmills, eight elliptical and exercise bikes, and six weight machines. Next to the gym is a room reserved for spinning, yoga, body conditioning and Pilates, and lectures on hot topics like "Secrets to a Flatter Stomach" and "Eat More to Weigh Less." A few of the hour-long fitness classes, such as yoga, Pilates and spinning, cost 11 euros (about $14.50).
There's a pretty extensive fitness and recreation program: table tennis, table football, miniature golf, a golf simulator, shuffleboard and group aerobics, stretching and power walking. The big disappointment for us was the so-called tennis court. We had actually packed our racquets, tennis shoes and tennis togs -- no small thing when you're trying to adhere to the airlines' 50-pound-per-bag weight limit. As it turns out, the tennis court has no alleys, is shorter than regulation and has an odd fast-playing surface. Enough said.
Deck 13 has two pools and four hot tubs. Even with temperatures in the 50's and 60's, it was heavily used.
The spa facility, open most days from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., is terrific but unfortunately named. The Aloha Beauty Farm? Ouch. The interior, however, is luxurious: colorful tile, marble and, in some places, floor to ceiling windows. There are two Turkish baths, three hot tubs and two saunas -- all in a private atmosphere with a gorgeous view. The rates: 12 euros (about $16) for one hour; 30 euros ($39) for one day; 150 euros ($200) for the length of a 12-day cruise.
The Balinese-themed spa offers a variety of beauty and health treatments including a hydralift facial, seaweed massage, a lime and ginger salt glow, acupuncture, couples massage and an anti-cellulite treatment called ionithermie. And how's this for something different? An alpha relaxation capsule -- a combination of heat, vibration, aromatherapy and relaxation therapy -- which is supposed to relieve stress, muscle tension, weight gain and cellulite. Twenty five minutes in the capsule is said to be the equivalent of four hours of sleep. There's also a beauty salon offering manicures, pedicures, barbering, and teeth whitening, among other services. Spa prices aren't inexpensive. Best to check the daily program for the "only today" specials.
Musica does itself proud with the children's program. The Space Trip, a children's "Mini Club" for kids between the ages of 3 and 13, has games, acrobatic lessons, puppet shows, arts and crafts classes, and Playstation. (On the day we looked in, there were nine kids, speaking Italian and German, on a scavenger hunt for hidden puzzle pieces.) There are also pizza parties, ice cream parties and hot dog parties. And, in a real break for parents, there's even complimentary "baby parking," as Musica calls it, during shore excursions. Space Trip is open as late as 11 p.m.
Musica Playland, on Deck 14, has two slides, a maze and wading pool. All activities are supervised.