11 Rio de Janeiro Repositioning Cruise Reviews

April 2019 - My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (22+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our fifth cruise with Oceania; the previous cruises were the Northeastern Seaboard, Bermuda, Cuba, India, ... Read More
April 2019 - My wife and I have been on numerous cruises (22+) throughout the world on various cruise lines over the years. This was our fifth cruise with Oceania; the previous cruises were the Northeastern Seaboard, Bermuda, Cuba, India, the Middle East and Europe and Southern Africa cruises. The 17-day Rio to Barcelona Cruise started on April 18, 2019. Our trip actually started on April 14, with our flight landing in Rio on April 15. Our pre cruise Rio de Janeiro tour included a few days at the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort, which is located on the beach just west of Ipanema Beach; a great location. The hotel had great food and a very nice HUGE pool. It also had free car service to the city. We toured the HStern manufacturing offices and store (free tour from the hotel and back … worth the time to see how they manufacture jewels), Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf. The Oceania pre tour provided a lot of time to visit the local area on our own and also, the hotel pool area (nice pool). The hotel arranged for us to enjoy a Samba Dinner Show. The dinner was at a local restaurant and the show was near by. Both were wonderful. Boarding the ship was very easy. Our room was at the front of the ship on deck 6, room 6014. This was a good location as we were near the entertainment areas and the Spa, Game and Computer Rooms. The primary sources of food are in the rear; decks 5 and 9. Most points of interest are on 5, dining room at the rear and the Sirena Lounge at the front. Deck 9 has the computer room, card room and spa. The ship is a few years old but was very nice; very clean. It will be remodeled after our cruise. The staff was great and the food was excellent. Coffee, including specialty coffees, was available 24/7 on Deck 10 front and also, during select hours on Deck 5 rear. The ship provided complimentary water and soft drinks. The Program Director provided information about basically everything you needed to know on a timely basis. The ship had a cast of great entertainers on board and also a great band. They were very professional and excellent musicians. The cruise line provided two speakers who covered a wide range of interesting topics on the locations we visited and also, sea life. The passengers and the crew were all very nice people from all walks of life. The people on the ship made the cruise interesting and enjoyable. The only real negative was the price of alcoholic beverages; they are a little pricey. I signed up for the Scotch Tasting (around $20). They provided 11 bottles of Scotch to taste but only allowed 3 tastings. Three very small tastings. The bottom line … Don't do it. Take your $20 and go to the bar for your own glass of one or two Scotches. We had a lot of fun playing games and competitions to earn Big O points. We earned over 400 points which were cashed in on the last full day for Oceania merchandise. The visited Ports of Call follow. First, While in Brazil, the ship charges a 25% tax on purchases. RECIFE, BRAZIL – Our first port was located north of Rio, just south of the Equator. Recife is a quiet little city. The tour included a nice view of the city from the high point in the area, a pretty little chapel, a free coconut drink in the market and generally, a nice tour of the city with nothing spectacular to offer. It was a good introduction to life in Brazil outside of a big city. NATAL, BRAZIL – We took the Highlights of Natal tour. The drive out into the countryside was very nice and the world's largest cashew tree interesting (the tree is huge, covering more than a soccer field in area but only maybe 20 feet high). We stopped at an old prison that now is a market. The tour included a lot of time on the bus. Again, it was a nice tour of the area with nothing spectacular to offer …. oh, the cashew tree was interesting …. the highlight of the tour. Crossing the Equator was fun. Those of us who had not crossed the line before on a ship were transformed from a Polliwog into the Ancient Order of the Deep through a Special Ceremony not to be discussed further. The Atlantic Ocean was relatively came the entire cruise. MINDELO, CAPE VERDE – Cape Verde is sort of the middle of the North Atlantic, west of the African coast. The Mindelo – The Cultural Capital tour included a tour of several markets and the a liqueur tasting. The rum was great. This tour included a lot of walking through parts of Mindelo. SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS – We took the Canada Del Teide tour. This was a wonderful tour that included a great lunch in a beautiful old monastery. This is a beautiful island with many interesting buildings and natural wonders. This was a very nice tour of the island. ARRECIFE, CANARY ISLANDS – The Southern Lanzarote & Wine Tasting tour presented a completely different perspective on the Canary Islands. This island is volcanic! The tour included an extensive tour of volcanic areas of the island, a ride on a camel and a meaningless wine tasting, although the vineyards were interesting. The high point of the island is the treeless volcanic areas. It's like being on Mars. This was an interesting tour. TANGIER, MOROCCO – The Highlights of Tangier tour was a fun time in a beautiful city. We visited a mountain top vista that overlooked the city and then drove down to the coast to walk into the Hercules Cave. This was interesting. We then toured the narrow streets of the city stopping in a market and a spice demonstration. The spice demonstration was very well done and worth the time. Tangier is a very interesting city with many different ethnic areas. Again, while in Spain, the ship charges a 10% tax on purchases. ALMERIA, SPAIN – We toured the area on the Mojacar & Cabo De Gata tour. The bus ride to Mojacar was very long but worth it: Mojacar is very similar to Santorini with white buildings (no blue roofs) built up on a hill top. The views are fantastic. The tour included a nice walk around the hill top city with some free time to walk around or purchase a beer, wine or whatever. The drive through Cabo De Gata reminded me of the hillsides of Southern California; dry. The tour is generally on the bus and the views are beautiful. ALICANTE, SPAIN – We took the Alicante, Novelda and Wine Tasting tour. Alicante is a beautiful city. The tour took us to a beautiful hill top church with a organ being constructed of stone; stone is abundant in the area. We then visited the Bodega Heretat de Cesilia winery. The tour of the winery was very nice and the wine tasting … worth the wait! The wines were very nice and free flowing. Most of us purchased a bottle or two to take home. The winery is small but the grounds are large. A beautiful place to drink a few glasses. This was one of the better tours on the cruise. BARCELONA, SPAIN – We left Barcelona immediately on a bus for Madrid. Getting off the ship was easy … you just had to wait your turn. Our tour guide was standing next to our baggage and when we all were accounted for, we left on a small bus. There were only 10 of us on the port cruise tour. Our first stop was at the Poblet Monastery where most of us generally froze. We were not dressed for a tour of a cold stone fortress. The tour was very nice and worth the stop though. From there, we continued to Montblanc for a FANTASIC lunch and city tour. Then we continued to Zaragoza for the night. Our guide took us out for a beer and snack. We were then left on our own to walked around. This is a very interesting place … beautiful by night. The next morning, were toured the city including the El Pilar Cathedral …. unbelievable!!! On the road again, we stopped at Madinaceli for a quick tour and another FANTASIC lunch. That night, we were at the Melia Madrid Princess hotel. The hotel was in a great location and was very nice. The next day we took a tour of the city with the afternoon on our own. We arranged to go to a Flamenco Dinner Show. We walked there and back with several other couples. Great dinner and show. The next morning we were picked up and driven to the airport. All of our tour guides were very good. They all spoke English well and were very approachable. Overall, the cruise was educational and enlightening … no security concerns anywhere. Overall, the cruise was great and the pre and post trips fantastic. You will see many different types of architecture, topography, and vegetation. You will meet many very nice people on the ship and also, tour guides and locals. Oceania really took good care of us; they were always there to make sure everything was taken care of during the cruise and also, during the pre and post trips. They really seemed to care. A great trip. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we like the small ship experience with lots of sea days. We wanted to see Rio and Lisbon. Embarkation was a bit off-putting. We already had our bags tagged with our room number and did not need assistance getting our bags to the drop-off point. There was no place to drop our bags and we had to stand in line while others that used the porters were taken care of. Our bags were not delivered to our room--one was around the corner at another room and one was at the other end of the hall all by itself. Not a good start. The Pursuit is now only using the Azamara app to provide guest information unlike the TV that we have used on the other two ships. The daily Insights is still delivered everyday. The IT department assumes that all passengers are comfortable using apps and know how to use them. This is not true. There is limited info in the cabins about wi-fi and app usage. A user guide would have been appreciated. The only way to know how many wi-fi minutes have been used is to go to Guest Relations. The log-off app does not always work and minutes quickly are used. We generally liked the food but we ate mostly at The Patio. Half-way through the cruise oatmeal at breakfast in Windows was replaced with congee. Not a good choice. Frequently the food was cold as the warming plates being used did not keep the food hot. The service on The Patio is the best anywhere on the ship. We always got what we ordered and it was hot. We had lunch twice in Discovery and it was not good. The service is intolerably slow, the food selections are limited, and the food served was barely edible. Angelina's was wonderful but one pays for that. The veranda cabin is just like other Azamara ships. However, the fridge is now in a cabinet on the desk and that area gets very hot. There are also rough edges in the cabinet to skin knuckles on. Other cabinet doors are misaligned and easy to get caught on. As always, the room was well-taken care of by the room attendants. The guest lecturer for destinations was not helpful or informative. Silly asides for the first 10 minutes of the lecture are a waste of time. Some of the shore excursions were good and some disasters. One excursion had a major part eliminated because there was a typo in the description that no one had seen until half-way through the cruise. That typo had been there from the first posting of available shore excursions on the Azamara website and was booked because of the part that was dropped. It was great that there was an available excursion on the disembarkation day for those staying in Lisbon longer. The Guest Relations department continues to treat guests inappropriately. Telling me I am the only one on the ship that does not understand the problems with the app was not appreciated. Based on the line for the IT person and comments made by other passengers, I was not the only one. Many just didn't use the app. The officers were rarely seen unlike other Azamara ships. At the recognition breakfast for frequent Azamara guests, the captain and another officer stopped at our table for a minute. No more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not ... Read More
We wanted to experience South America and visit the above two places. The ports of call did not disappoint. We bought the indulgence package which was well worth the extra money. - The app needs work. It’s not updated and does not match the daily program. There is a lot of paper that could be saved...... The food never disappoints and the staff go out of there way to please you. We never meet so many like minded people up to the last day! The entertainment was solid and there are plenty of activities. The specialty restaurants are also top notch in food and service as well. The bar staff in the Den were brilliant. The crossing was great and the captain diverted the ship for us to see Fernando de Noronha island, 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. On our last leg from Casablanca to Lisbon, the captain did a brilliant job of steering the vessel so that we would feel the least amount of effects of storm heading towards us. He succeed brilliantly. A master class of navigation and meteorology! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. ... Read More
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. We never witnessed grouchiness or tension among the staff, in definite contrast to the larger cruise ships we've been on in the past. The service was hence over the top. Perhaps it was just our L'Austral crew, but e.g. the front desk ladies were amazing, juggling all day in at least 2 languages, and manning the reception 24/7. Always friendly with a smile, and anything we asked for was done, taken care of or checked on with efficiency. We never felt 'second class' by not being French, and 99% of the French passengers were very friendly once you tried a few words in French.. I think sometimes people get insecure and appear standoffish until you get to know them a little. Due to the itinerary, we had a significant number of Aussies, Germans, Austrians, some Brits, someone from Iceland, and a handful of Americans. Several multilingual passengers, and an unusually high number of solo travelers. That being said, it does help to speak French, since the naturalists, cruise director etc are all native French people, and not every joke or comment can be translated properly into English. All announcements were always in both French and English. The captain was very involved and you seemed to run into him often. He was there, coming in another Zodiac when ours had engine problems, always ready to help out. He navigated that vessel safely and very smoothly. His background is commanding icebreakers, so a transatlantic is probably much easier work for him. Overall recommendations: Although there's 3 elevators, they don't reach everything, for example the marina. Not a good ship for wheelchair, crutches, or walker. Cane may be okay if you can negotiate 1-2 flights of stairs. Currency on board is Euro, but you can settle your account in USD, and if you book a future cruise on board, the quote can be done in either currency. The onboard boutique/store does NOT have sunscreen, nail clippers, antacids... so don't forget those. They have mostly clothing, a few gifts, small amount of jewelry and handbags. Most of the clothing is for use in Antarctica. All high quality (mostly made in France and Germany), and thus pricey. If you wish to leave tips, you have to have cash. Unlike on other cruise ships, where you can add a tip to your bill, you can't do that on Ponant. The services in the spa already include a service charge. Food/drink: Be prepared to gain weight - we felt like Thanksgiving turkeys.. especially the desserts are too delicious to pass up, plus they have daily varying homemade gelato.. ugh. The pastry chef is top notch, French of course. And then the cheeses...! Our ship wasn't full, so during the first 2 weeks, dinner was either buffet on 6, or sit down on 2, and lunch was only buffet. You can always get coffee drinks, croissants and fruit in the main lounge on 3 in the a.m., and coffee/tea with some type of goodie from 4pm-5pm, main lounge as well. Open bar using decent brands, top shelf is extra. Their champagne is pretty good, and on certain occasions, Veuve Cliquot comes out. House wines red/white/rosé are overall decent. If you like beer, you'll be probably disappointed. Mostly Heineken, and e.g. Corona amazingly has to be paid for. Main dishes range from okay to superb - it really depends who's cooking and what. The mostly Indonesian crew is of course best at fish etc, even room service fish was fantastic. The Peruvian carving chef was amazing. Lamb most of the time was awesome. Be aware most of their beef and pork meats (roast, loin etc) are cooked 'rare' and are quite fatty. Room service club sandwich was the best sandwich we've ever had, period. Now if you can't find anything to strike your fancy, just talk to the restaurant head guy or directly to the chefs, they will come up with something for you. Spa/fitness: actually got a haircut, Elsa was very good and took a whole hour, only 65Euro. The hammam looked nice, very hot in there and we were in the tropics, so didn't use. Fitness center looked nice, mostly deserted. The saltwater pool is a decent size for a small ship, due to internal ramp you can't swim laps but it's nice to hang out or tread water. As far as the itinerary - the Brazilian government has now banned all non-Brazilian vessels from anchoring off Fernando de Noronha. It was quite a bummer, but nothing could be done about it. We received 250Euro onboard credit each as a compensation. OB credit can't be used for future cruise deposit, certain visas they arrange for you, or tips as I mentioned above. Since basically everything is already included, we "had to" shop at the boutique, DH got a real Panama Hat and I bought an Icebreaker vest and 2 Breton sweaters, nice souvenirs! Brazil: Rio - loved it and will try to return Paraty - very quaint, difficult walking on cobblestones, not touristy, and no public RR Salvador - broke my heart to see how they let their city deteriorate in so many ways.. even in the public market prostitution was going on. Very sad. Recife/Olinda - Would love to return to see the Olinda Carnaval. We had dancers from Olinda come to the ship to present a show and they were spectacular. Olinda walking tours are quite the workout walking steep hills in high heat and humidity. Guinea-Bissau, Bijagos Islands There was a couple (he French, she Portuguese) who lives on Keré Island, who acted as cultural intermediaries. Our naturalists came from Antarctica and that's where their expertise lies, not Africa, so they did not have much information. Honestly, most of my information was from documentaries I had found online at home, prior to the voyage. The Islands are definitely not touristy (there's rarely a ferry from Bissau), most of the village inhabitants are very reserved and do not interact. It appears they asked a couple of women to put on their 'good dress' and sit by the walking trail, so people could get their selfies with a person from Bijagos. I felt we were being intrusive overall, although I understand they authorized the visit and Ponant helps finance e.g. a water well etc for the villages. If you're a snorkeler/diver, this is not your spot, water murky with very low visibility. Sadly, we saw almost no wildlife, wrong season, normally there are lot of birds, hippos etc. Senegal-Dakar Well, we spent the day at an African family's B&B in Dougar, 45 min E of Dakar, and about 20min from the new airport. We booked through airbnb.com and they reconciled us with Senegal. Before we arrived there, I couldn't get out of Dakar fast enough, between peddlers, noise, the smell of urine, Sahara dust, and traffic insanities... Considering you don't wait in line for anything except the Zodiac embarkations, and the whole ambiance, it's definitely a luxury line and we're glad we chose this trip. Regardless of the itinerary glitches, we enjoyed ourselves and were thoroughly relaxed, so we booked another/ future cruise onboard, which will be on one of the sister ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because we could start our holiday in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of our two favourite destinations for overseas holidays. We knew we would get some warm winter sunshine, so precious for people in Britain. Of course ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we could start our holiday in Rio de Janeiro, which is one of our two favourite destinations for overseas holidays. We knew we would get some warm winter sunshine, so precious for people in Britain. Of course as people know Rio is a fabulous place, having a wonderful coastline,lots of places to visit and a big vibrant city. The people are very kind and helpful and go out of their way if you appear lost. Having undertaken this voyage with MSC before we knew we would get well looked after and that the fantastic Animation Team would make sure there would be plenty of good times to be enjoyed. Once again we were not disappointed. MSC Magnifica is a lovely well kept ship. Embarcation and disembarcation went like a dream, best ever anywhere. Our cabin was great (as Gold Members upgraded from inside to outside with restricted view which made a big difference). The cabin 8105, was big for the two of us and very quiet and our steward was first rate. The dining room was lovely and on request we were given a table for two which we prefer. The food was fine although the portion sizes might not suit those with a robust appetite. Sometimes some of the main courses would have benefited from a sauce or gravy. The soups were always good and served very hot. Our waiter Satish looked after us very well and made sure if we were disappointed with any of our choices we could have something else. The entertainment in the theatre was excellent with just perhaps three exceptions. Some were fantastic with lots of shows truly memorable with wonderful acrobats, dancers, singers which combined with beautiful costumes made for some lovely evenings. The last show of our cruise was fantastic finishing with all the cast, animation team, support staff on stage singing. After the performance they came down through the theatre and lined the patrons route out of theatre to shake hands. What a finish!! At every event the Animation Team were there working tirelessly and providing their priceless sense of fun. On Sea days lots of us enjoyed classes on deck for the first 10 days or so, aerobics, dance lessons and parties at night whilst in Brazilian waters. Ports of call were interesting but as we enjoy finding our own way round I am unable to comment on excursions. Only criticism - after the last three MSC cruises I have gone home with a chest cold. Surely something can be done about the air conditioning. I have taken every precaution personally, with warm wraps, jackets etc but came home with a cough and cold. Come on MSC do something for your regulars! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an ... Read More
We are from the UK and after previous cruises on Princess Royal Carribean NCL Carnival we were worried about the sailing we had booked on the Costa Facinosa from previous reviews we had read we got a great deal for £399 each in an inside cabin for the South America Transatlantic cruise back to Europe . We had no need to worry at all the ship was one of the best we have sailed on she is pure elegance and the inside cabin was the largest we had stayed in and the bathroom was huge with a large shower .Plenty of storage space in both and the bed was so comfortable. The ship was spotless and the elegant quality of the furnishings and lighting truly amazed us. The crossing was so smooth and we had hot sunny weather most of the way. After reading previous reviews that no one spoke English this was a complete load of rubbish. All staff spoke English the daily update was printed in English and the Captain gave updates in English too. After reading reviews there was nothing to do during the day again a load of rubbish there was something to do from 10:00 to 18:00 every day. We joined in pool games quiz afternoons dance lessons art and craft lesson all with English speaking staff and there were many more activities to choose from. The food and quality was some of the best we had eaten on any ship the quality of the Italian hams cheeses bread pizza meats soups salads etc etc were of a really good standard. Every evening we had a different five course evening meal in the restaurant on Deck 3 and during Gala Nights the meal was also excellent.Lots of people did wear elegant outfits for the Gala Nights. We enjoyed the shows on an evening so much variety acrobats dancers opera singers magician illusionist and many more . We would highly recommend the ship and really enjoyed the South America Transatlantic crossing we had so much value for money and would not hesitate to book another cruise with Costa . Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was ... Read More
We boarded the ship in Rio de Janiero after we were told our cabin was occupied by a travel agent for a 1 night cruise from Santos to Rio. We paid the same price as all the other passengers who boarded in Santos. Our balcony cabin was very nice with plenty of storage space and in a good location on the ship. The ship itself was quite modern and clean but the 'food nightmare' started the 1st night of the cruise. The food in the main dining room was always room temperature or cold - never hot. It was either undercooked or dried up to a crisp.The food served was a lot of casserole & black bean type meals = slopped up rubbish. There were quite a few Australians, New Zealanders and Americans on board who were not happy with the food.There was never a happy medium. The cruise was a 'dance' cruise with a multitude of Brazillians and Argentinians on board. The dancing in the lounges at night went on forever with loud music, singing and dancing and masses of cigarette smoke which drifted through all the corridors. There was not an alternative restaurant where you could buy a better meal. We celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary on this cruise and although I told the travel agent and made note of it on the booking form - this wasn't recognised. We were told if we wanted a cake or balloons etc. we had to buy them. A very disappointing experience after having cruised for 28 days (2 cruises back to back in 2010 on MSC Poesia - which was excellent) Whether it was because it was a repositioning cruise or whether it was catering to South American passengers, this was a real let down particularly when MSC is slowly tapping into the Australian cruise market. If they ever bring ships to Australia they won't last more than one or possibly 2 seasons unless they improve their food. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would ... Read More
For years my husband and I have listened to our friends rave about cruises, particularly the transatlantic cruises, so finally we decided the time had come to see for ourselves what this was all about. If nothing else, we figured it would be a relaxing, comfortable way to get to Europe (we are Americans living in Brazil). And then again, we might just enjoy it!I won't beat around the bush, after just a few days on the cruise we decided to repeat the cruise, or take a similar one, next year. We had a wonderful experience, so far beyond what we had imagined (even feared!). My husband and I are both in our 60s, we don't need or like to be told what to do, where to go, we don't like the infantilization, but Royal Caribbean pretty much left us alone. We saw that if you don't want to participate, you don't have to. You can carve out your own cruise within the cruise.What impressed us most: Royal Caribbean's efficiency — everything went smoothly, from embarking at Rio onward; the efficiency and constant good humor of the staff, at all levels; the cabin, both in its cleanliness and its design (we had an oceanview stateroom); the food (in the Aquarius dining room) which was consistently excellent; the "something-for-everyone" approach to daily activities, allowing passengers to opt in or out, as they wished; and the medical facility, which we unfortunately had to visit, but they were so good we even enjoyed our short time there!My husband and I did not join any of the organized port excursions, so we cannot speak to them. We did not use the pools, the spa, the salon or the fitness room — and certainly not the Wall — so nothing to say there, either. We did walk around and visit these facilities, and the people all looked happy!There was only one big down side: our cabin was beneath the kitchen, and particularly a part of the kitchen where large metal objects were dragged, or rolled, or otherwise gotten from one place to another over the metal floor. This would occur sometimes at 2:00 in the morning, sometimes at 4:00 in the morning, sometimes as late as 7:00 in the morning. In other words, while we were trying to sleep. We were awakened from deep sleep over and over, every single day, by unbelievably loud, crashing, banging noises. We'll never again book a cabin under the kitchen, but Royal Caribbean ought to try and figure out a way to fix this problem. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I had never been on a cruise before, although my partner had. We found the boarding process (in Rio) to be as efficient as could be reasonably expected. The ship itself is large and it was easy to get lost! But it's very clean and ... Read More
I had never been on a cruise before, although my partner had. We found the boarding process (in Rio) to be as efficient as could be reasonably expected. The ship itself is large and it was easy to get lost! But it's very clean and well maintained, staffed by (generally) helpful crew. Our cabin (on deck 5)was larger than expected. The only cabin gripes I had were the lumpy (and with noisy springs) mattress plus a pretty ordinary choice of free to air television. Whilst the vast majority of passengers were Germans, I understand that MSC is attempting to lure more English speakers to their ships. If they REALLY want to succeed in this, they would help themselves by improving the TV channel selection. I would suggest BBC World, Euronews (English service), perhaps Aljazeera (English service) and for the Americans (groan) CNN. I believe that this may be difficult at times, due to satellite signal availabilities. We did a 3 weeks-long trip from Rio to Venice which included 5 days non stop at sea whilst crossing the Atlantic. Naturally, there was plenty of time for reading. A pity there was such a small amount of English language books in the ship's library. To borrow a book is free, but I suspect that despite the (relatively) small number of English speakers on board, books were hoarded, which made it really difficult to find a decent selection. TIP: Take your own book/s. TO SUMMARIZE POSITIVES: Cost of alcoholic drinks is inexpensive. The coffee is excellent. You can even order a current copy of most major newspapers from around the world, delivered to your cabin for only $2.50! The gym is pretty good, although there was usually one or two machines not in working order. Food is generally good, lots of variety and plentiful (awesome ice creams in the restaurants at lunch & dinner!!! But none available in the Gli Archi buffet). Cabin staff are very efficient and helpful without being intrusive. Currency conversions are easy to organise at the Accounts Desk, with very fair exchange rates. The MSC cashless 'Credit Card' system is easy and convenient. TO SUMMARIZE THE NEGATIVES: Staff are reluctant to help with information on 'Do-it-yourself' options for port visits. Naturally, they want to sell their own shore excursions (not always great value) so they don't seem keen to offer practical advice such as taxi fare $$$ estimates, things to do etc. Take your own healthcare basics, such as flu tablets, cough liquid, throat lozenges etc. People were coughing, sneezing and hacking all the time, so chest/throat infections spread quickly. At one stage I spent 3 days in bed, and it wasn't due to seasickness! There's an on-board doctor, but that'll cost you $$$'s. Also, the daily programme, slipped each night under our cabin door, was not well designed. For example, the weather forecasts were useless and instructions for altering watches/clocks back and forth to adjust to new time zones were confusing. My final gripe is the amount of time it took to disembark. With about 3,000 souls waiting to finally get off the ship, I realise it's impossible to do it in 5 minutes flat. But it took forever and passengers were getting irritated. Some entertainment and/or refreshments in the theatre (where passengers wait for disembarkation) would be a smart idea. It would certainly leave a more positive impression during passengers final moments on board M.S.C. Musica. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
I've cruised over 60 times on most all the lines including a number of TA crossings. Now that I live in So Am and am retired I favor crossings from So Am to Europe. They involve less air expense for us and are usually a relative ... Read More
I've cruised over 60 times on most all the lines including a number of TA crossings. Now that I live in So Am and am retired I favor crossings from So Am to Europe. They involve less air expense for us and are usually a relative bargain on a per diem basis. We've seen all the So Am ports and we like longer cruises so the ship is now becoming the destination. Accordingly, this review will not include comments on the ports, per se.We've done a couple of crossings on 35,000 ton Oceania in the last few years. The food and service were great on this small ship, but we thought there was too little in the way of entertainment so this spring we opted for the 13 night crossing from Rio to Roma on the Mariner, a 138,000 ton quasi-behemoth that we figured would guarantee lots of entertainment and shipboard activities, however, on the basis of our on board experience we concluded that never again would we sail on a mass market repositioning cruise. DININGFirst and foremost, the food in the MDR was shockingly bad. I know that all cruise lines cut back on repositionings and crossings, but RCI, at least, has carried this too far. To add insult to injury we couldn't even get a decent meal when we paid the extra tariff in the speciality dining rooms, Chops($25) and Portofino ($20). The steaks were tasteless and most dishes seemed to be nothing more elaborate than well presented MDR fare. Bread and butter was often the best tasting item in the MDR. The buffet breakfast in the Windjammer was the most satisfactory meal of the day despite the fact there was no omelet station and the fried eggs were offered heaped together in a large serving tray. It's hard to screw up lox and toasted bagels, but RCI tried by leaving the bagels out on a large serving tray. Depending on your luck you might select one that was still warm. I saw a large orange juice machine in the Windjammer, but it was not operating. I was told the oranges on board were not suitable for making OJ, a curious and telling fact inasmuch as we were sailing out of Rio where year round I can get a liter of fresh squeezed OJ for $2.50 at my local fruit market. As a matter of fact, the oranges weren't suitable for eating either. None of the fruit was particular good, a real oddity given the venue. ACCOMMODATIONS AND SERVICEThe service in the Windjammer, specialty restaurants, and in the MDR at dinner (and dinner only) was as good as the food was bad. When I mentioned my preference for low salt, our head waiter immediately offered to allow me to preselect my dishes from the next day's menu so they would be prepared salt-free. This, they did religiously for the entire cruise. I never had better service in a ship's buffet restaurant than the service I experienced on the Mariner. Whoever trains staff is doing something right. We occupied a corner aft veranda cabin (1688) that was uniquely spacious. The extra inside and rear balcony space afforded us a comfortable environment. Ample storage space and a mini fridge were welcome conveniences. We got plush bathrobes as a platinum level perk, about the only thing of any real value that is now offered for this middling level. There were no extraordinary appointments, but the bed was comfy and the bathroom functioned as expected. Comments on the TV will follow. Our cabin attendant from Indonesia provided excellent service. He was polite, attentive, helpful and efficient. These ships are getting so big that those with mobility issues should give some consideration to occupying an extreme aft or forward cabin. The walk might be a bother for some.Despite my age I'm still something of a gym rat. For me the spa is the gym and little else. The workout area was adequate although at times there was a line waiting to go on the treadmills. There was a casino, but as I don't gamble I spent little time there occasionally stopping to watch the heavy bettors play 21.The main showroom, principle lounges, public rooms, and bars were nicely decorated and comfortable. The mid-level decks include a large open concourse space with upper deck "inside" cabins looking out over the area and shops and bars running the length of its sides. For some unknown reason there was very little merchandise in some of the perfume and merchandise shops. We didn't spend much time in the public rooms lining the concourse except for having a drink occasionally in the Schooner bar. Service by a bilingual Brasilian law school grad was pleasant. In fact, there seemed to be a lot of well educated, well spoken crew members on board. ENTERTAINMENTThe entertainment did little to make up for the poor food. In particular, the TV programming was horrific. I confess to enjoying the boob tube at night in the privacy of my cabin. We occupied a specially designed aft veranda cabin that owing to the uniqueness of the layout had a pole in between the bed and the tiny 18 (maybe 21) inch TV set. I would not have minded the obstacle (it was a tradeoff of which I was aware) or the smallness of the distantly located set, but apparently owing to some antenna problem the TV programming consisted of little more than a repetitive (ad nauseum) diet of boring 5 year old travelogues and episodes from Life at the Playboy Mansion. CNN gave out after the first couple of days which, combined with the absence of any shipboard NYT newsletter, meant living in ignorance for most of the cruise. There were few decent films broadcast. That goes for the small movie theater as well. No first run films. Truly abysmal TV and movie offerings. Parenthetically, the telephone was also on the fritz. At times, messages could not be left and could not be played back according to the instructions. The Engineering Dept was suspect.The showroom theater presentations were okay. The ship's production company's two shows of adequate live singing and inadequate dancing were not much better than fair, but were enhanced by pretty impressive staging, lighting, and especially the orchestra. In fact, the ship's orchestra was as good as any I have heard on board. Really "tight." On other nights there were some talented musical soloists. Unfortunately, there was a lack of variety in the dance music offered by the orchestra or it's subgroups/combos in the lounge venues. More than 85% of the passengers on this voyage were Brasilian so I can understand the emphasis on Latin music, but there was no other style of dance music offered at all. I live in Brasil and can verify that the natives like to swing and foxtrot, too. Not much opportunity for it anywhere. The ice show was extremely colorful and entertaining. Too bad there's only one such show, repeated 4 x during the cruise so everyone can see it.The cruise director and his team were a group of upbeat, good-natured, bi-lingual Brasilians. Bingo is not my bag. I never went, but based on my observations of the cruise director staff at other times, I imagine it was well run. "Marathon" team trivia, run on a cumulative score basis throughout the cruise, was fun (and I take my fun seriously). Surprisingly, the prizes distributed to many of the participants at the end of the event were actually nice, real prizes, e.g. tee shirts, caps, fanny packs, luggage tags, etc. On the other hand, there was no organized bridge play. For a crossing with so many sea days this was a large negative in my book. Speaking of books, the library's offerings were saddeningly sparse. Not sure how much of the lack of decent reading material can be attributed to a lax check out policy (the shelves were left open when no staff was in attendance), but if they can check out the pool towels they ought to be able to check out books and by so doing improve upon the library's meager contents.During the entire 14 day cruise there was one and only one "enrichment talk" about ancient Egypt offered in both Portuguese and English. My wife, who is bi-lingual, said it was boring in either language. Additionally, there were no port info talks in any language. I would have expected at least a crude map of the Salvador, Tenerife, or Civitavecchia port areas when disembarking. Nada, zip, nothing. The lack of decent enrichment talks, reading materials, organized bridge, and TV/movie programming made for an overall entertainment rating of poor despite the competent, fun loving cruise director staff. EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATIONMost of the passengers boarded the Mariner in Sao Paulo. We and a few others boarded in Rio. RCI advised me we could board anytime after 9 am. We arrived at 11 am and could not board. Moreover, despite the fact that we were small in number we were kept waiting outside the terminal at the luggage drop off doors for about 20 minutes for no apparent reason. After that time we were permitted to enter the almost vacant terminal where, after waiting another 10 minutes comfortably seated, we were processed in a friendly, efficient manner. Who dropped that ball?Disembarkation was unique in all my experience. If I remember correctly, in all my prior cruises passengers were asked to fill out a form advising of any early travel connections so that priority may be given based upon need. There was no such process at the end of this cruise. We were told we would be assigned luggage tags that would define the time we could disembark in Civitavecchia. As we had to catch a train to Cinque Terra, I called reception and asked if we could disembark early. The reception desk told me to hold and then advised I was disembarking at a time that turned out to be sufficiently early to catch our train, but I wonder why we were not asked and why we had to get lucky to avoid a problem (even if it could have been changed had we asked). Made no sense to me. CONCLUSIONNo amount of good, friendly service could atone for the horrible food that was served on this cruise. To say the food failed to meet expectations is a gross understatement. It was scarily bad. Generally speaking, entertainment and shipboard activities also failed to meet expectations. I think this will be the last mass market repositioning cruise we will take. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past ... Read More
The embarkation was well organised and the Mini Suite was in line with most other cruise lines Balcony cabins. Good clean furnishings and attentive cabin staff, plus fresh fruit and chocolates on arrival. Cabin was on Starboard side past midships and closer to bow. There was more than ample storage space for a nearly three week cruise. Bathroom was shower bath combo and was roomy, Cabin was adequate with enough room for two. Would be a bit of a squeeze fro one or two extra guests using the fold out sofa bed. Balcony had room for two chairs and table -- not large enough to have a deck chair or chairs. Door was very hard to open and close. Soundproofing was good.Food was reasonable and 95% of the time quite tasty though did have problem with "chewy" meat on two occasions. Big upset for us, and the four others at our table was having to pay for bottled water with meals when other cruise lines supply copious quantities free of charge. There is no Coin op laundry on board which meant that majority of passengers washed in hand basins and hung up in bathroom or out on balcony. Reason costs through ships laundry pretty excessive. Breakfast was same foods every day, and the "bacon" was not very tasty and far too fatty. Other meals did have some variety and the chefs excelled with seafoods. The variety show each night tended to bore as was same artists revamped with emphasis on Classical music. With so many nationalities on board the announcement all in six languages. Alternative entertainment was limited but the Entertainment crew were very talented in creating some funny shows out of low cost props, and use of mime --overcomes all languages -- tremendous effort. This is a 3 to 3.5 star ship and consequently what you save on fare means less benefits than the higher star lines. MSC should advise passengers in their brochures that they do provide Transfers (at a reasonable cost)from Genoa Port to Genoa Airport, Milan and Nice Airports. Overall a value for money cruise. One area of discontent was the organisation of shore excursions. After purchasing excursion tickets we had to meet at certain areas on day of excursion to obtain Stickers with Tour No. then be escorted to bus/coach. At every port this was chaos with delays occurring. MSC seriously need to streamline this process by giving Tour No. stickers with Tickets as current situation too time wasting and frustrating to passengers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010

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