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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This ship was amazing and beautiful. Tastefully decorated, extremely clean and very nice cabins. But, the food was the downside. This was my first cruise with MSC. We've cruised many times on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, ... Read More
This ship was amazing and beautiful. Tastefully decorated, extremely clean and very nice cabins. But, the food was the downside. This was my first cruise with MSC. We've cruised many times on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity and Princess. The food on MSC was no comparison to these other lines. It was a disppointment in the main dining room and buffet. As spactacular as this ship is, we will not cruise on this ship again because of the food. On a more positive note, the activities are awesome and there is a lot to do. We loved the Aurea package! We are not big drinkers but it was worth the money since so much more is included. This ship was an excellent value and we were very pleased with our cabin, service, quality of drinks and atmosphere. It is only the food that would keep me from cruising on this ship or MSC again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Location and time frame is great! The service is friendly most of the time. However, compared to the food I had on the US base cruise ships, MSC is not on the same level. The specialty restaurants are OK, I spent the last three nights ... Read More
Location and time frame is great! The service is friendly most of the time. However, compared to the food I had on the US base cruise ships, MSC is not on the same level. The specialty restaurants are OK, I spent the last three nights eating at the dinner buffet instead of the main dining room because the food sucks. Not steak, extra cost 29.99 for Lobster Tail... I got food poisoned by eating the smoked salmon. Throwing up the whole night long, went to the Medical room on the 4th floor, the nurse was very helpful but the Doc, what Doc, he is taking his 4 hours lunch break. After all, I feel better by taking medicine that I bought from their Mini Mart and Medical room but I completely missed my Barcelona City Tour ... By the way, if you are using the Voucher for Drinks, make sure you could get most of the drinks on the menu, lots of server doesn't know that and think the Vouchers works like Package. The bathroom is good but you could hear everything that happens next door, I felt bad for the carbine next to mine, the night I got food poison, I spent the whole in the bathroom Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary but were sadly disappointed with the overall service experience. Service was non-existent from the staff. The do not greet you or welcome you at all. The F&B experience was terrible. We ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary but were sadly disappointed with the overall service experience. Service was non-existent from the staff. The do not greet you or welcome you at all. The F&B experience was terrible. We purchased the Tryptic dining package, but you don't get the full menu from the restaurants. They give you the choice of a few items only. We also had the drink package, but you can't use your drink package in the specialty dining rooms, which makes no sense at all. The ship itself was nice, but the true detractor was the service. Getting a good morning, afternoon etc was almost impossible. Maybe this was the European influence, but if MSC is wanting to expand their presence in the US, this type of service won't fly. Our cabin attendant twice left our balcony door open, not just unlocked, but fully opened. Apparently they have no concern for security either. Overall I rated them poor and would say the only bright point was the excursions were great. Sorry MSC, but you just don't measure up. It's back to Norwegian for us. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Just got back from cruise in Rome beautiful ship cabins good size restaurant waiters cabin staff excellent I don’t know how they put up with so many rude customers. Food in Buffett lukewarm was told to ask for freshly made if I wanted it ... Read More
Just got back from cruise in Rome beautiful ship cabins good size restaurant waiters cabin staff excellent I don’t know how they put up with so many rude customers. Food in Buffett lukewarm was told to ask for freshly made if I wanted it hot . Ridiculous this is how health issues start also no regard for health standard where was the hand sanitizer that all other cruise ships insist you use when attending Buffett. I saw many customers not using tongs supplied filing water bottles when clearly states not to no one stopped so I wouldn’t drink free water purchased bottled . This cruise company would be my last pick of all other cruise lines I have used. Shuttles not supplied like many other companies do profit put first used taxi instead same price. Security staff some rude butted in on conversation need more scanners for this amount of customers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
A little about us: my husband & I are 45-50 yrs old. We have cruised a total of 34 cruises on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian (2) & Carnival (2). This was our 4th European cruise but our 1st MSC cruise. The ship is ... Read More
A little about us: my husband & I are 45-50 yrs old. We have cruised a total of 34 cruises on RCCL, Celebrity, Princess, Norwegian (2) & Carnival (2). This was our 4th European cruise but our 1st MSC cruise. The ship is very pretty. The dome area in the center of the ship is a real feature. I hope MSC utilizes it in many other ways.The Stairs are beautiful. The dining rooms could have more flare. But the area outside the dining room is very nice. Food- this is where things go downhill. Food is mediocre, verging on terrible. The food in the dining room is mostly terrible & the food at the cirque show which we paid for, was not good either. The buffet was very European & we found it difficult to find anything tasty. Even the pizza was a 5 out of 10. Another Con is that MSC charges for things that are included on other cruises. For example, there’s no ‘free’ water in the dining room, no tap water. You must pay 3.50 euro for bottle water. There’s no lobsters at captains night dinner Entertainment was also lacking. That wasn’t a big deal for us because we had been out touring Europe all day, most days. But on sea days, there wasn’t anything fun to do that didn’t cost. Also, Cirque de soleil Sonor show was so very lame, almost odd. There was a singer in the lounge area who did perform a song in a different Cirque show that was really good. She had an amazing voice. Re: staff, mostly they were very nice. But, they didn’t seem to have any power or limited power to resolve issues. For example on a windy night, something on the balcony partition broke. It banged from 8pm until the next night. We called & went to guest relations several times with no resolution for almost 24hrs. I have to admit that embarkation & disembarking was really quick & easy. MSC needs to do better with everything else. Back to my usual cruise lines. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I went on this cruise with my husband and my parents who are in their late (age 67 and 69). None of us had ever been on a cruise before and we only had minimal travel to Europe in the past. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my husband and my parents who are in their late (age 67 and 69). None of us had ever been on a cruise before and we only had minimal travel to Europe in the past. We chose this cruise for the itinerary and location. I have to admit after I booked the cruise, I read some reviews about this ship and was a little nervous, but my fears were completely alleviated by my experience. We boarded at Civitavecchia after spending 2 days in Rome first. The clientele is definitely quite international, lots of Italians. I heard plenty of Spanish and French speakers as well. There were several Japanese tourist groups as well as I think one from Hong Kong. I met a few Americans on the trip, so we were definitely not alone from the U.S. This ship is absolutely sparkling clean, which is amazing considering it's size and the number of people on the ship. And that's something coming from a clean freak like myself. Everything seems well-maintained. So, to address different parts of the trip: BOARDING and CHECKIN: I was given check-in time between 3:10pm and 5pm. We got there probably around 2:30pm, but were checked-in immediately with no line. Between leaving our car service (used RomeCabs as they can drive directly into the port), we were on the ship within about 15 minutes. They pause you quickly to take a photo in front of a ship's steering wheel that you can buy later if you want, security photos, and then you walk through a few people who ask if you want drink packages and then, that was it. Nobody was pushy. It was so fast that once we got on, we were all like, "so we're on the boat now right?" We went to check out our cabins and our luggage arrived in front of our door within an hour. CABIN: Clean, modern, simple. Yes, the storage is limited but adequate. My husband and I still managed to unpack and store everything so that we didn't have to live out of suitcases I had a balcony room. It was a little cold for use, but I'm sure in summer time I would've enjoyed it immensely. The room was cleaned twice a day by our cabin attendant, once in the morning and once during turndown service. DINING: Assigned dining was fine. I'm not sure what other reviewers' comparison are for food, but I thought the dinners were acceptable. My parents loved going to the dining room for dinner because they felt it was elegant. Once they figured out they could have as many items as they wanted off the menu, they were ordering multiple entrees and appetizers every night! I thought that for a mass-produced meal that the dishes were nicely plated and acceptable. Sure the Butter Chicken didn't taste like the dish from my favorite Indian restaurant at home, but it was certainly an acceptable resemblance of it. So just keep in mind this is not some Michelin star restaurant, but a ship kitchen trying to make all these different cuisines. The waiters are courteous, remembered our drink orders from the nights before and would ask if we wanted the same thing. We never used the breakfast or lunch dining rooms, mainly because we didn't realize until the end that these existed. They don't make it very obvious. We ended up at the Marketplace Buffet for breakfast and lunch. They have an adequate spread of different foods, something to suit everyone. There's an "Ethnic Corner" that changes everyday (Mexican, Chinese, Indian, etc). The croissants are delicious in the morning when they first come out of the oven. We usually had no trouble finding a table to sit at except after the day at port in Barcelona when I presume a TON of people boarded the ship. By the way, if you have free mineral water as part of Fantastica package, the bottled water is free ONLY in your assigned dining room, not at Marketplace Buffet. The Marketplace Buffet has water, juices (in the morning), tea, coffee for free. There was always people asking if we wanted the T-Bone Steak or Lobster dinners every night, as well as drink packages. I wonder if they have to meet some quota, and that sucks if they do. They were persistent only in that they asked everyday, but when you said no they'd leave you alone afterwards that day. ENTERTAINMENT: Different show every night, definitely had European flare, much to my mother's delight. There was a medley of pop songs, Broadway hits, shortened version of the opera La Boheme, flamenco show, magician/finger shadow puppet performer, medley of Italian love songs. I suspect that American cruise lines don't have this variety of cultural component in their theater shows, but this is my first cruise so can't say for sure. Mostly the same singers and dancers every night. Some were pretty good, others were adequate, but probably not going to Broadway anytime. Still good entertainment. During the day, limited entertainment I think on-board, but most people were out doing shore excursions anyways so it didn't matter too much. They had a themed party everynight, but I was too tired to actually check it out. It did look like some people would dress for the party, but also significant number didn't. You could probably go either way and not feel like you were sticking out based on what you were wearing. We went to the Sonor Cirque show. They had some aerial and tumbling routines, simple compared to land-based Cirque shows but still impressive on a moving ship. I wonder whether they have to cancel shows if the ship is pitching too much. We did cocktails. There was only a single option for non-alcoholic drinkers and none of my group liked the option (some sort of yogurt-based drink). It'd be nice if we could've selected a soda or something else instead. The theater is circular (not completely 360, maybe more like 270). Good view from all angles I think. They had sort of three tiered layout with dinner and show audience members in the 2nd tier. Didn't use the casino. It has a few tables, lots of slots. Only open in evenings. I did use the Spa for a massage and a facial, especially once I found out they could do a prenatal massage, which they didn't advertise. Sure it was a little pricier than something you'd find on land, but I'd have to say it was one of the best massages I've had ever! They have deals everyday so if you're patient wait for a day they have a sale on whatever service you want. You can see the sales on your MSC for Me app or on the ship board information screens. SERVICE: I had no problems with anyone being rude. I'm also a pretty friendly smiley person in general so maybe that helps. But I found that all the workers were helpful and willing to engage if you put in the effort as well. I'm still absolutely amazed by how multilingual their workers are (coming from someone who speaks two languages fluently and two others at an intermediate level), although I guess you find that a lot in Europe. Only in America do people ONLY speak English...going off topic there. SMOKING: Nonsmoking in most parts except casino and designated outdoors. I was afraid smokers would be everywhere given the European clientele, but the ship's crew were pretty good about reinforcing smoking only in designated areas. I saw one crew member ask two guests to put out their cigarettes when they were caught smoking in a no-smoking deck. I don't think smoking is allowed on balconies, but some people did it anyways. But otherwise, most of the ship was pretty cigarette smell-free, thank goodness. SHORE EXCURSION: SHORE EXCURSION: We did shore excursions at Barcelona (Panoramic Tour and Shopping), Marseille (Aix-En-Provence), Palermo (Taste of Sicily), and Valletta (Mdina, Mosta, and Rabat). Barcelona excursion was just "eh" considering how much there is to see in that city. The free time for "shopping" we spent eating our way around a food market, so that was pretty cool. The Marseille stop was not bad, some free time to walk around on our own. I thought it was actually going to be more rural and country-sideish, but it's more of a college town according to our tour guide there. Palermo was not particularly impressive, although it was also raining that day unfortunately. The food was good though, especially the Middle Eastern-inspired rice balls that we got to try. My father and I LOVED the Valletta excursion just maybe because the guide was amazing and the sites were just different from the other cities. I have no illusions that a <1 day shore excursion will give you an idea what a city is about, but I do think that it is an opportunity for them to entice you back for future vacations to spend more time there. I would say that the Marseille, Barcelona, and Valletta excursions did that, but not the Palermo one. Most shore excursions we did got us back to the boat around 2pm or so. My husband and I explored Genoa on our own. It is EXTREMELY walkable! We left the ship and walked into town, saw what we wanted to see and then walked back. Maybe about 1 mile or less to get into the area where the different siteseeing things are. DISEMBARK: We were assigned a disembark time of something like 945am, but I asked them if we could get off earlier. If you want your luggage taken off for you, you have to go with the disembark time (grouped by priority and deck). What they didn't advertise though is that you can also self-disembark. I was finally told about this option after I them I needed to get off before 9am (they had said they could only move me to the 915am disembark group at the earliest). You just have to drag your own suitcase off with you. Which actually ended up being more convenient because if you have them take luggage off for you, you have to leave your suitcase out the night before. It was easier for us to have our luggage with us until we physically left the room so we could do some last minute parking. We were estimated to get into port around 8am, but we were already able to disembark at 8am and were sitting in front of the terminal at 815am waiting for our driver to take us to the airport. Overall, great experience. Would definitely consider traveling with MSC again! My parents loved their first cruise so much that they are talking about doing a family reunion cruise every other year now. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My partner and I, along with our 14 yo daughter (New Zealanders) recently spent a month (Dec 2018) in Europe including two cruises, one on the Costa Luminosa (out of Venice) and the other on the MSC Meraviglia (out of Rome). The following ... Read More
My partner and I, along with our 14 yo daughter (New Zealanders) recently spent a month (Dec 2018) in Europe including two cruises, one on the Costa Luminosa (out of Venice) and the other on the MSC Meraviglia (out of Rome). The following are my thoughts on comparing the two: Foremost I would like to say that we had a fantastic time on both cruises and staging a cruise for 2-5 thousand people is obviously a mammoth undertaking requiring staggering resources and organization. People come to cruises with very high expectations and it is always possible to set your expectations in the realm of fantasy, such that they will never be met. On the Luminosa we booked a suite, which included a comprehensive drinks package, and on the Meraviglia we booked a balcony cabin and bought the comprehensive (but not premium brands) drinks package. The total cost of both cruises (excluding excursions) came to within a few hundred dollars of each other (US$2,830+/-). OVERALL On balance we enjoyed both cruises. I preferred the Costa cruise because I really did not like the crowds on the Meraviglia. There were just too many people making too much noise with too many children for my liking on holiday. To be fair though, I'm an introvert, I have seven children, and a holiday to me means getting away from people and children, at least a bit. On that score the suite package on the Luminosa allowed us to eat in a proper restaurant with peace and space for every meal. The other thing I liked was that the suite cabin was twice (I do mean twice) the size of the balcony cabin on the Meraviglia. Dining on Meraviglia was by contrast the noisy chaos that is buffet dining (better than the buffet on the Luminosa but fundamentally the same experience) or dining in the dedicated dinner and breakfast restaurants, which are also noisy busy affairs with the tables of other diners being mere inches away from yours. While the food in the Meraviglia buffet was better, the restaurant food was just as hit or miss as the Club Luminosa. I had delicious food on both cruises and some terrible dishes. I thought Costa unfairly got a bad rap on this score in hindsight, although it is fair to say the Club Restaurant food is not the same level as a surcharge specialty restaurant on another line, it more than made up for this by being included in the price, a comfortable setting, and available on demand when we needed for any of the three meals a day (i.e. not set dining times). One of my frustrations with Costa is that the wording around booking a suite is ambiguous about including dining in the Club Restaurant for all meals. I thought this was the case and I found it to be the case once on the cruise, but I could not get a Costa agent, or Costa, to confirm that was the deal prior to the cruise. In fact I was erroneously told on a number of occasions by the Asia agent that Club Luminosa dining was NOT included. While I'm on gripes, priority embarkation with Costa was not a pleasant experience and did not feel "priority". I put this down to a majority non-English speaking crowd and therefore insufficient signs in English and the fact that much of the embarkation is managed by port security staff, who have no interest or training in prioritizing passengers who may have been promised the privilege. Other than that the Costa cruise was managed as expected and I have no gripes. The staff on both cruises were friendly and helpful, and fantastic for the most part. Gripes on Meraviglia were more numerous. Embarkation was smoother, which I put down to a bigger and better equipped port. I soon found out through additional charges on my account that MSC had changed the method of charging for drinks packages since I had paid for mine in advance, so I was now on an "old" package, which the bar staff may or may not be trained on and for which all identification of included and excluded drinks had been removed from all the drinks menus. Fun! Also the MSC website stopped recognizing our booking a month before the cruise, which was annoying; and the three specialty restaurant and show bookings all had to be redone (no big deal). MSC has an annoying habit of giving you things to do to avoid charges like delivering photos back to the room steward, who was seldom seen. Our room was not made up on two days and was only turned down for the night on one night. Costa only charged a half the gratuity rate for the third child passenger, whereas MSC charged the full perdeim rate. CABINS As I said the Luminosa suite cabin was literally twice the size of the balcony cabin on the Meragivilia, so there is no competition there. Having the personal butler was also superior, to having a room steward who did not turn up on two days because he was assigned to 1) cleaning the balconies; and 2) crew safety drills. On the plus side we booked cabin 8205 which sits just above the lifecraft and has a balcony 2.5 times the size of the other balcony cabins. We enjoyed the extra space there. DINING I have covered above. The specialty restaurants on the Meravilia were all a bit hit and miss. Butcher's Cut was very good, but sitting in the Galleria walkway is not good if you don't want people standing next to your table and yelling to their friends on the deck below. The Sushi was very high quality but light in quantity and the desert was not available. The Eataly was better than the reviews suggest, with SOME of the dishes being very good, but that was again let down by the deserts being very ordinary. On average the food was better on the Meraviglia, but the dining experience was better on the Luminosa because of the full time use of the Club Luminosa. ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES Activities on the Meraviglia surpassed those on the Luminosa although we enjoyed our included spa day on the Luminosa very much. The Meraviglia is a bigger ship and just has slightly more on offer, more bars, galleria, and water slides. We found the shows to be quite even on balance. The Luminosa shows were very good. The entertainers around the ship were somewhat limited. We enjoyed playing a game where we would work out what lyrics the singers were actually singing when they sang English songs. What they actually sang guessing at the English and pronunciation was actually quite hilarious. Trivial Pursuit had a dimension added to it when presented by someone who clearly did not know how to translate questions into English. "What color does a bride in China wear?" became "What color is the bridge in cheena?" We did not do well. On the Meraviglia three of the four shows we went to appeared to be lip-synced. Now I stand to be corrected, but it appeared to us that in all but the show including the band the singers lip-synced their way through the entire show. The dancers on the Luminosa were less ballet trained but worked as a troupe much better. The Circ-de-sole show was excellent on the Meraviglia so the shows came out even for me. SERVICE Staff and service was excellent on both cruises. Staff were always friendly, pleasant and eager to help when help was asked. We did not run into attitude or passing the buck on either ship. The staff were great. PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS We only did one excursion in the two cruises and might well have avoided that with what we know in hindsight. Most excursions can be duplicated with a significant cost savings with a little self planning. Ports really depend on the individual and where you want to go. You should want to go to Venice though. :-) Only one comment on excursions: none of the excursions offered on Meraviglia would take you inside La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This is a crime. You should not go to Barcelona and not go inside this unique and stunningly beautiful building. The outside is impressive, but the inside is a moving experience. FELLOW PASSENGERS Both cruise were far and away dominated by Italians, which didn't bother me at all. Introvert. I was surprised at the lack of Americans or Brits on the Meraviglia. I would put the population of Americans at about 1% and Brits slightly higher. If you want to meet people and make friends, this could be a negative. Good on the Italians for holidaying with their children. They don't have sitters on the ship, so the kids get an early education on how Mommy and Daddy go out and have fun at night (including in the Casino). LOL [shakes head] CONCLUSION Costa Luminosa won me over as the best value for money. The big Meraviglia was just too crowed and noisy for me. The public spaces were always filled with the din of loud conversation and no matter what time of night it always seemed from the cabin someone was slamming a door somewhere or children were running up and down the halls. My advice is, give Costa another look, but book the suite or better. I didn't book the MSC Yacht Club experience, but I have read that children rule the roost there as well, so that might not be your best solution and is pricey. Good luck everyone and I hope you have a great next cruise. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I don't get all the negativity surrounding this ship? I guess some people are never satisfied. Anyway, this was my very first cruise ship experience, and in my opinion, worth it indead. Very good first impression. Although a little ... Read More
I don't get all the negativity surrounding this ship? I guess some people are never satisfied. Anyway, this was my very first cruise ship experience, and in my opinion, worth it indead. Very good first impression. Although a little pricey for the whole 7 days on board, all went relatively smooth. The food: - Great food, excellent in fact - Unlimeted buffet for the whole journey (Disclaimer: at least when I was on the ship, we had unlimited buffet) - Went to a fine dinning experience at one of the restaraunts, although extra and a bit pricey, the food was awesome, nice presentation of food too. The ship: - A huge, magnificent ship that lives up to its name!! - First time embarking on the ship, I was wowed, by its sheer size and activities - Very posh and 'rich' looking, which is not bad at all! The Cabins: - The room that I stayed in was very clean, with a balcony - Although the cabin was a bit small, it was well furnished, with a tv, desk, bins, bathroom amenities and a couch - When I was there, the room was serviced on a daily The entertainment: - The ship was not short of entertainment and activities - I wasnt bored even when I stayed a whole day on the ship - Although some activities are extra (need to pay extra, which I did not do) Services: - The staff was friendly, if you are friendly towards them - My room was serviced everyday, with out my asking, which I appreciated - Although a good ship with excellent service, the sales assistants on the retail strip were pushy Amenities: - There are kids clubs, from ages baby-17 or 18 years - There are pools, gym, buffet, restaraunts, a retail stip and so on - Some activities are free, some not, so look and ask carefully if you are on a budget, or else it gets quite expensive!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The 5 plus and minus with this cruise. Plus. World class evening entertainment - The main company consist of 6 singers, 11 dancers and 5 musicians (alternate nights). They offer 6 great shows of 40 minutes, popular broadway ... Read More
The 5 plus and minus with this cruise. Plus. World class evening entertainment - The main company consist of 6 singers, 11 dancers and 5 musicians (alternate nights). They offer 6 great shows of 40 minutes, popular broadway musicals, history of Rock, flamenco dance, Italian songs and a modern day themed. The shows are world class with great choreography, costumes and musics. Mobile phone app - MSC for Me - while on board the ship can easily find informantion on itinerary, book restaurant and shows and check details of billing account (the most useful function in the app). Itinerary - Civitavecchia, Italy - Palermo, Italy - Valletta, Malta - Barcelona, Spain - Marseille, France - Genoa, Italy. Spa - Modern, spacious and well equipped. Daily activities - plenty of choices and varied to suit. Minus. Charity donation to UNICEF - Auto deduction of 1 (one) EUR per person per day. Chairty donation is a personal choice and voluntary. MSC auto enrolled my cabin of 4 person, of which I needed to visit the reception and wasted my time in the long line to remove the charge. The pushing of products and services - I understand cruising is a business and want of MSC to increase income and profit. However, there is a fine line between of highlighting and selling, I rather ask than to be offered. Transfer in Barcelona, Spain - The charge of 8 EUR per person between port and World Trade Centre (WTC) in the port is not value for money, since WTC is still 30 minutes walk from the city centre. In fact, the metered taxi from city centre to port is only 10 EUR for 4 person. Rushed service in the morning - the ship was full, 4,500 passengers, so I understand it was difficult for the restaurants to cope with the rush in the morning. Poor information or lack of transfer service between airport FCO and Civitavecchia. I rather prefer MSC to organise the transfer service. This was the missing link in an otherwise wonderful MSC cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Being an avid cruiser and a loyal RCI customer (Royal, Celebrity, Azamara), I was getting curious about the MSC's new Yacht Club product. Everything I was reading indicated this was the standard of cruising my husband, in particular, ... Read More
Being an avid cruiser and a loyal RCI customer (Royal, Celebrity, Azamara), I was getting curious about the MSC's new Yacht Club product. Everything I was reading indicated this was the standard of cruising my husband, in particular, would enjoy. He's not that keen on ocean cruising, particularly if it involves older ships, tired itineraries, average food and constant nickel-and-diming (i.e. the average cruising experience in Australian/NZ waters.) Upon seeing a special price for a YC Deluxe cabin on a 7-day West Med sailing in early December 2018, we decided to check it out. It was not our first trip around the Med, so we were comfortable with the fact it was going to be cold (for Queenslanders!) and we would probably find ourselves onboard more than usual, rather than remain on shore until last call as is our usual MO. A big bonus with MSC is their status-matching with other cruise lines' loyalty programs. Based upon my Captain's Club level with Celebrity/Azamara, we were automatically assigned MSC Black, which is the highest grade in MSC's loyalty program. This was a very attractive incentive that other cruise companies should explore and gave us some very appreciated additional perks. Our trip from Australia to Europe started off brilliantly with an unexpected upgrade from premium economy to business class on board EVA Airways (BNE - TPE - CDG. Thank you, EVA, every outbound sector was an excellent flight!) After a couple of days in Rome at a gorgeous, well-priced hotel near the centre (Liberty Boutique), we travelled by private transport to the port of Civitavecchia. We arrived at the port around midday and were greeted by very friendly staff who shepherded us to an exclusive lounge area for YC guests. It was empty (the whole terminal seemed fairly quiet), but was still fully stocked with a wide range of drinks and snacks. After a short wait, we were greeted by a lovely young lady in livery (coat and tails!) who we were told was one of the YC butlers and had arrived to escort us onto the ship. We followed the butler in the direction of the ship, overtaking others who were standing in line, while she held aloft a paddle with "Yacht Club" stamped across it. Not surprisingly, our queue-jumping accompanied by a liveried staff member drew some attention. At this point, we started to wonder if we had fallen down the rabbit hole. On board, we were taken to the YC concierge area and given a whistle-stop tour of the exclusive YC facilities, then shown to our cabin. The lady butler advised us we had been assigned a different butler for the duration of our cruise and he would make himself known to us in short course. Our room was outstanding. It was new, modern, spacious, heaps of storage and the bathroom was an absolute delight with a large shower cubicle, rail shower and rain shower. We had a small but adequate balcony, comfortable bedding (pillow menu optional) and, frankly, I felt the room wanted for nothing. Our butler did not make himself known until later in the evening and, to be frank, we found his attention very sporadic throughout our whole cruise. Our understanding is that the YC butler is meant to be readily available to assist you with all manner of reservations and recommendations. Unfortunately, we hardly ever saw him as he seemed to be solely focused on his other guests. (At the time of introduction, he noted he was from Indonesia and, I suspect, he believed as 'Aussies' we were too laid back to need any special attention compared to the others under his care. However, we aren't exactly the type to be found holidaying in Bali, so he rather misread us if that was his assessment.) Consequently, this was the first cruise ever that we did not provide an additional tip to our cabin staff. (Obviously, we did pay our standard gratuities - we consider these to be non-negotiable.) The disappointing butler aside, our YC experience was generally excellent, with one notable exception - the breakfast service in the YC restaurant. It didn't matter what anyone did (and we know we weren't alone in this predicament) breakfast was never more than lukewarm and usually bland. In the end, we took ourselves off to the main buffet for breakfast and were surprised that the food was much more inviting (and I abhor large ship buffets - you won't see me in the Windjammer for dinner EVER.) As for the rest of the food, drink and general facilities in the YC - just brilliant. In particular, it was nice to have a dedicated concierge desk for any questions. Given we didn't really understand all the intricacies of the YC product, it was useful to be able to confirm details without lining up. (I still don't know that we took advantage of all the YC perks, but we certainly gave it a solid try out!) Would I sail MSC again? In a heartbeat, provided I was travelling in the YC. This product leaves the other cruise companies floundering when it comes to value-for-money. We did venture beyond the YC to check out the very impressive facilities on the rest of the ship. It is big - but then it needs to be, as its catering for nearly 6,000 pax. Our cruise didn't feel overly busy, but it wasn't exactly peak season either. I had read some nightmare stories about the behaviour of the general population on board MSC's cruises and I can't say I saw anything to suggest it was that bad. It does get noisy, however, as many of the people on a European cruise of this size are from cultural backgrounds that are comfortable with 'loud'. On the whole, I didn't think the non-YC environment was any less inviting than you'd find on one of RCI's larger vessels. Thank you, MSC, for a very enjoyable cruise. Please consider bringing your ships Down Under. Australians deserve more than the many aged vessels the other cruise companies try to shunt our way. My husband and I have already recommended friends to go (they travel this April) and, for our part, we'll definitely be back. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this as our 25th anniversary and it sailed out of Rome, and Rome was on our Bucket list. Embarkation was one of the smoothest ever, as was disembarkation. Our first time on MSC, so not sure how to compare, but this was our 15th ... Read More
We chose this as our 25th anniversary and it sailed out of Rome, and Rome was on our Bucket list. Embarkation was one of the smoothest ever, as was disembarkation. Our first time on MSC, so not sure how to compare, but this was our 15th cruise overall. We were disappointed that we booked this cruise when we did to get the Circ du Soleill tickets that were part of the package. When we got on board we found out we needed to pay for this. The guy running the ticket desk told me had numerous people complaining about the same thing. They were supposed to get free tickets but had to pay. I have complained to MSC but no word back yet. Very strange not having a Cruise Director or actviities lined out like we are used to. It's also a little strange the people embark and disembark at every port, so there is no set embarkation point, new people coming and going all the time. Food was great compared to other lines we thought. We appreciated the dining room having assigned seating and times again. It gave us a chnace to get to know the staff and table mates. We never figured out how to make reservations that are REQUIRED to see shows, so only skipped in on the end of a couple. Disappointed no comedians either. I havent been on other MSC cruises, so I really dont know how it compares. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I was really disappointed with MSC system. Most of the crew were rude, rude and rude in all area of the ship. Please pay attention to your bill. Almost everyday I need to go down the reception to clarify the charges. Even though I ... Read More
I was really disappointed with MSC system. Most of the crew were rude, rude and rude in all area of the ship. Please pay attention to your bill. Almost everyday I need to go down the reception to clarify the charges. Even though I purchased the package for food and drink. They have too many package until the crew and myself also confuse what is what. Let take an example like I bought the premium package for my drinks. So it emphasized that any glass drink that is under euro 10 is under the package. But I was told that I need to pay for the drinks like sake and plum wine which was under Euro 10. Then when I go challenge with the crew they answered me " this is an Italian cruise and you are drinking japanese sake so you need to pay" so meaning all the whisky and beer from scotland and US I need to pay????? Becareful with the photo you purchase too. Please ask for a better package and do check whether they double charge or not. Most of the crew are really rude especially in the Buffet dining area. If you manage to have someone take good care of you then please do appreciate this person. I was ask this question when I try to order some drinks from the waiter " Why didn't you order just now". I also have argument with the waiter and the supervisor on the fresh orange juice which fall on less then euro 10 category. I could go on and on. Their are just tons of problem with their system. Even to the cleanliness of the cabin. Don't bother with Balcony. They don't clean your Balcony. Their shows is boring. So no point go paying for show at Curosell. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
BACKGROUND In 2016, I had taken my family on our first MSC cruise aboard the MSC Divina out of Miami. At the time, I couldn’t pass up MSC’s deep discounts, kids sail free promotion, and loyalty match program. We sailed for 7 nights ... Read More
BACKGROUND In 2016, I had taken my family on our first MSC cruise aboard the MSC Divina out of Miami. At the time, I couldn’t pass up MSC’s deep discounts, kids sail free promotion, and loyalty match program. We sailed for 7 nights to the Eastern Caribbean for less than what a weekend booze cruise to the Bahamas would’ve cost. That cruise was enjoyable, but it failed to excel or impress. It was marred with glitches, snafus, and unmet expectations. I thought of it as a budget experience which needed a lot of polishing aboard a pretty ship. My wife hated it so much that she said that she didn’t want to sail on this cruise line again. So I told myself that most likely, I wouldn’t be choosing MSC for subsequent cruises. But about a year later, I was browsing cruises for Thanksgiving 2018 and I came across a 7 night Mediterranean cruise aboard MSC’s brand new Meraviglia. What really caught my attention was not the ship or the itinerary, but an Aurea Duplex Suite, similar to Crown Loft Suites on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class ships. And what caught my attention even more was the fact that I could book an Aurea Duplex Suite for one fourth the price of a Crown Loft Suite. I’d been wanting to experience this type of accommodation ever since they were introduced on Oasis! So on a whim, I booked the only Aurea Duplex Suite available, not even knowing if I could get my wife to agree to take this trip. But she said yes, and we stuck to the plan. A year and 4 months later, the day finally came to fly across the pond to sail on the MSC Meraviglia! We are a young family of 4, which includes a 9 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. As the date approached, I questioned my sanity several times, and why I’d decided to take this trip. Don’t American families with kids this age normally take vacations to Disney, not to 5 European countries in 10 days?? I knew that I needed to make this trip as kid friendly (and wife friendly) as possible. So I did a lot of research, in order to accomplish this goal. From flights, to excursions, to onboard experience, everything was meticulously planned. And without giving too much away, I’m glad to say that it was worth it! FLIGHTS, TRANSFERS, HOTEL, AND ROME Another reason to select this itinerary was the fact that we could fly nonstop from Atlanta (where we live) to Rome, which was highly desirable, specially traveling with small children. Two of us were upgraded complimentarily to Delta One (with lay flat seats) so I gave one seat to my wife and then the the kids took turns and each enjoyed the second seat for half of the flight. I “enjoyed” my economy seat on row 25! But even in economy, Delta truly excels. Hot towels, small amenity package with eye shades, earplugs, and headphones, tasty and plentiful food selections, and extensive entertainment options. 9 hours and 5 minutes later, we landed at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. Everyone’s behavior truly exceeded my expectations. Kids were very well behaved and relaxed, both going and returning. In an effort to keep things simple for the family, I pre-booked all of our ground transfers. I used Stefano’s Rome Cabs, which was highly ranked on Trip Advisor. They did not disappoint! We prepaid for all of our transfers in (via PayPal) which simplified things further. Their YouTube videos on how to locate our driver were extremely helpful! Great, friendly, and very helpful drivers. I wouldn’t hesitate to use their services again. We planned on spending two nights in Rome pre-cruise. I had decided to book a hotel near the Vatican, since this was the main attraction in our land itinerary. We chose Starhotels Michelangelo, literally within a 5-10 minute easy stroll to St Peter’s Square. I’d read that the area where this hotel is located is not in a very touristy part of town, and that it’s not too convenient to other attractions in Rome. But for our needs, it was absolutely perfect! The hotel is modern, the staff was very attentive, and our room was nicely and tastefully appointed. It is located in a decidedly not touristy area (more residential). Our room faced an apartment building. Several restaurants and small shops, mostly frequented by locals, were only a block away. It was nice to have a little haven where to escape the mob of tourists. Eating where the locals ate not only was a highlight of our stay, but it was also easier on my pocket. In Rome, I booked “Skip the Line” Access to St Pete’s Basilica (money extremely well spent since the regular line snaked like a line for a new ride at Disney). We then took a taxi to the Trevi Fountain, did some shopping in that area, and visited the Colosseum. TRANSFER TO CIVITAVECCHIA AND BOARDING THE SHIP We enjoyed our morning in Rome. We returned to St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus with the Pope. Once again, our hotel’s location proved to be ideal. We entered St. Peter’s Square using a side entrance where the line was much shorter. Watching the Pope and listening to the Angelus was a definite highlight of this vacation, specially since the last time I had been to such an event had been 30 years prior when I was a child, and when St. John Paul II was the Pope. We then returned to our hotel for our transfer to Civitavecchia. Our RomeCabs driver was already waiting for us! We were promptly driven to Civitavecchia, one hour away. We were dropped off right in front of the terminal around 2:00pm. Our driver told us where to meet our driver upon our return and bid us farewell. I must say that I was a bit surprised at the facilities, which were basically an oversized temporary tent-like terminal. There was a line for passengers dropping off their luggage but we decided to skip that line since we were traveling with carry-ons only. We later learned that this was a mistake. We passed the security checkpoint and entered the check-in area. The smallish waiting area was pretty packed and they were calling group 22 to proceed to the check-in line. Since we had the Aurea Experience, I inquired about the priority line. The agent asked me for my Aurea priority boarding card and when I said that I didn’t have one, he said that I had to go back outside and get it from the luggage drop off checkpoint which we had skipped. I showed him my paperwork clearly stating that we were Aurea passengers, hoping that he would allow me to proceed to priority check in without the card but he wouldn’t budge. So I went back outside, got the card, and returned. I handed the card to the same agent which now smilingly allowed us to proceed. I found the inability to think outside the box a bit off-putting and the extra hassle unnecessary, but I understand that he was probably trying to strictly follow rules that he’d been told to enforce. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a small blip in an otherwise easy check in process. We proceeded to the next available check-in agent who quickly scanned our paperwork and gave us our key cards and wrist bands. These wrist bands could be used in lieu of key cards to open the cabin door and to charge things around the ship, but it couldn’t be used to embark or disembark at ports of call. Still a pretty nifty idea. We had our welcome aboard photo taken and we quickly proceeded onboard the ship. As we entered, our paperwork was once again scanned, our security photos were taken, and then we proceeded to the next desk which was for the kids club wristband for our children. We continued walking and were met by another agent who had a handheld device. She warmly welcomed us onboard, swiped our cards, and told us that our stateroom was ready and that we could proceed to it. She also informed us that lunch was being served at the buffet marketplace. In reality, this was another stop to try to “upsell” us to a drinking or specialty restaurant package, but since we already had a drink package included with the Aurea experience, she skipped that part of her speech. We then proceeded to a self-help kiosk to set up our onboard account. Quick and painless. Because passengers embark and disembark at the various ports of call, smaller groups of passengers are checking in each day. I found this to be a welcome change. The general feel of organized chaos normally associated with embarkation days when an entire passenger compliment is being disembarked and embarked, and hordes of passengers are rushing to the buffet for their first lunch onboard, was greatly diminished. The ship never felt packed. In fact, on embarkation day, the ship felt quiet and uncrowded, most likely because most in-transit passengers were off the ship and touring Rome when we embarked. OUR STATEROOM This was the moment that I had been waiting for since I had booked the cruise 1 year and 4 months ago. Would this Aurea Duplex Suite be everything that I had hoped for? In a nutshell, it was! It was an amazing 2 deck loft suite, and the only thing that I regret about booking it is that we are now spoiled for life! Two bathrooms, two walk in closets, one that doubles as a dressing room, separate sleeping quarters in separate floors, dining area, Nespresso machine, and a large, forward facing balcony with loungers and our own jacuzzi tub! The views from the loft were breathtaking. We truly couldn’t have asked for better accommodations! One drawback about the suite’s design is that it doesn’t have an open balcony. Since it faces forward, there’s a large glass wall to block the oncoming wind, but it also limits the ability to enjoy the ocean breeze, and it also limits the views left and right. Still, it was an absolutely fantastic place to watch the scenery, specially going in and out of port. Just be aware of this hindrance, specially if you’re someone who enjoys taking photos from your balcony like I do. Although this suite was truly the definition of luxury, I believe that it would’ve been better suited as part of the Yacht Club, not the Aurea Experience. The service and perks didn’t quite match a suite of this caliber. Toiletries consisted of a wall mounted shampoo and body wash dispenser, which made the suite feel just a bit less luxurious. Room service (except for continental breakfast) incurred an extra charge, and the items in the mini fridge also incurred an extra charge unless we paid extra to upgrade our included drink package. Yes, it came with perks like the mentioned drink package, access to the thermal suite at the spa, access to a private Aurea passenger deck, and complimentary massages, but our cabin steward seemed unfamiliar with features specific to this suite. For example, he failed to replenish the Nespresso pods, or provide new coffee mugs, and one day he removed our used bathrobes but never replaced them. But once again, I had to remind myself that we had literally paid a fraction of what a similarly appointed Crown Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean would’ve cost. Those do come with a butler, a long list of suite specific perks, and are located in a private, exclusive section of the ship, but they would’ve cost $16,000 thousand dollars. In retrospect, I was grateful that MSC provided a way to experience a suite of this caliber but without the overinflated price tag, even if it didn’t come with all the perks on Royal’s Crown Loft Suites. THE SHIP WOW! is all I can say. My wife and I both agreed that we hadn’t been this wowed about a new ship since we’d sailed on the Allure of the Seas during her inaugural season. Everywhere we went on the ship, we were wowed by something. It’s indeed a beautiful, well appointed, and a huge ship. It never felt crowded. In fact, during the day while the ship is in port, the ship feels blissfully uncrowded and quiet. At night, the main promenade would get crowded, but that added to the excitement of this area, which is the heart of the ship. Electronic signage can be found near most elevators, which were helpful in determining daily activities, how to get from here to there, and to make reservations for shows and other things. Technology is used for other things, like to electronically locate photos taken by the ship’s photographer which was much better than browsing walls filled with hundreds of photos, like on older, less technologically advanced ships. Entertainment on this ship is much more elaborate. The water park was absolutely fantastic. The water slides are fast, specially the one that lands you in a bowl. And even though the air temperature hovered in the 50F’s-60F’s, the water was heated which meant that we could comfortably use the outdoor pools and slides. We purchased a Fun Pass for 70 Euros which gave us an additional 30 Euros. We used them for the flight and roller coaster simulators, the 4D cinema (which is more advanced and realistic than the one on the Divina), and for a night of bowling. Overall, great fun for the whole family. Cirque du Soleil at Sea truly helped take the onboard entertainment to another level as well. The Carousel Lounge is the purposely built theater for the Cirque shows onboard. There are two exclusive shows; Sonor and Viaggio. Initially, we had booked both shows, but halfway through the week, they had technical difficulties, which required Cirque engineers to be flown in to fix the problem. As a consequence, shows were canceled 2 nights in a row, including our Sonor performance. Luckily we were able to attend Viaggio towards the end of the week, although we were assigned to the absolute worst seats in the house (back row against the wall, in a corner, so we had a sideways and slightly obstructed view which took away from our enjoyment). Still, it was a great show, with all the elements and special effects of Cirque shows on land. It is a shorter, somewhat watered down version of land shows, but still well worth the 15 Euro admission. Main theater shows were a bit lackluster. The Broadway Theater is a wonderful venue, with unobstructed views and great acoustics, but the performances felt a notch below what we had experienced on the Divina. Scenography is not as elaborate or awe inspiring, and it’s compromised of mostly LED screens. Shows were mostly a tribute to “something”, like rock bands, musicals, etc, which felt less original than the shows that we’d seen on the Divina which had a more unique feel and theming. Singers and dancers were talented, but not more talented than what you’d expect for cruise ship entertainment. Still, we attended three shows: Paz, Born to Rock, and One More Day. All were about 40 minutes long. We had access to the Thermal Suite as part of the Aurea Experience. I somewhat liked the setup on the Divina more, with a relaxation room facing floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the ocean. On the Meraviglia, the thermal suite is fully enclosed with no windows, which made it feel a bit claustrophobic in my humble opinion. It is bigger, with more features, but it also seemed to be more crowded. They do have a thalassotherapy pool which I missed on the Divina. Maybe one of the reasons why the thermal suite on the Meraviglia felt more crowded than on the Divina was because it’s a fully coed facility, which provides a more inviting environment for couples. On the Divina, several facilities are gender specific, which forces couples to split up and spend less time using the facilities. We spent more time at the Thermal Suite on the Meraviglia than on the Divina, but there were times when we couldn’t use some facilities because they were so full. FOOD AND DRINKS Overall, I feel that cuisine has improved since we sailed on MSC back in 2016. There seemed to be a wider and tastier selection, both at the main dining room and at the buffet. On the Divina it felt as if we ate a lot of pizza because we just couldn’t find more appealing options. That wasn’t the case on the Meraviglia. We enjoyed most of what we ate, although things started to feel a bit repetitive as the week progressed. For the record, we did enjoy the pizza several times, but not because there wasn’t anything else to eat. This ship does have plenty of other places to eat, but not for free. I feel that MSC has taken the “extra fee” concept a bit to the extreme. While it’s still possible to enjoy complimentary venues in addition to the main dining room and buffet on other cruise lines, on the Meraviglia we were pretty much limited to only two complimentary venues. I normally like to enjoy a night at a specialty restaurant when I cruise, but on the Meraviglia it seemed as if these venues carried a heftier fee than on other cruise lines. The one way to make the per restaurant cost more palatable was to purchase a 3 specialty restaurant package, but for someone like me who just wanted to select one specialty restaurant, these packages were not really useful and I saw them more as a way to force me to pay for something that I normally wouldn’t have purchased, so I skipped the whole concept completely on this sailing. As part of the Aurea Experience, we had a drink package included. A week before our sailing, MSC decided to “downgrade” the drink package included to the “Easy Package” (meaning cheaper, more limited). However, we were grandfathered to our original package since we’d booked before the announced change. Still, there was some confusion at the beginning of the sailing. The first bartender that I spoke to told me that I had the Easy Package, but another bartender quickly corrected him and proceeded to inform me of what I was entitled to. This included all cocktails costing less than 10 Euros, draft beers, select wines by the glass, sodas, bottled water, specialty coffees, juices, and mock cocktails. One thing that was a bit of a head scratcher is that bottled water and sodas were free, but if we grabbed the same exact item from the mini fridge in the cabin, we’d get charged for those items. I just learned to grab these items from the bars around the ship free of charge and bring them back to our cabin. Overall, we calculated that having a drink package included in the Aurea Experience saved us about $500. ITINERARY AND PORTS OF CALL First of all, our arrival and departure times at pretty much every port of call was altered from what was printed on our embarkation papers and which we had used to book activities ashore. We would learn the night before arriving at each port of call that our arrival time would be an hour later, and/or our departure time would be an hour earlier. This proved to be a nuisance because we had booked activities with a scheduled admission time based on the itinerary the way that it had been published in advance. We had to unnecessarily rush to make our admission times several times. Because we were traveling with 6 and 9 year old children, I ditched expensive shore excursions, conducted some research, and selected kid friendly activities ashore. Here’s what we did at each port: - Palermo: We booked a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tour. In all fairness, Palermo isn’t the prettiest city, but there are some interesting landmarks and sights throughout. This tour was a good way to see these sights in a kid friendly way. - Valletta: One of my favorite ports of call in this itinerary. We took the ferry across the bay to The Three Cities and booked a self guided tour through Rolling Geeks. These are golf carts which provide turn by turn directions and audio commentary of what you’re seeing. If you make the wrong turn, you receive a call in your cart from their head office and they tell you how to get back on track, A really neat way to see the beautiful cities of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa. - Barcelona: We pre-booked admission to La Sagrada Familia and the Camp Nou Experience, home of the FC Barcelona. We moved easily around town by taxi. We had planned on spending a bit of time along Las Ramblas, but my 9 year old lost his embarkation card which he had been wearing on a lanyard (I know, bad parenting choice), and he started freaking out about being left behind in Barcelona. Even though we knew that he wouldn’t be left behind, we decided to return to the ship a bit earlier than planned because we didn’t know how long it would take to get him a new card and board the ship. The process was fairly quick and simple. The agent at the entrance to the terminal had a printed copy of the passenger manifest. She quickly verified that he was indeed on the list and then proceeded to ask for his passport to verify his identity before allowing him to proceed onboard. Thankfully I did have his passport with me, so I showed it, and we proceeded to the ship. As we boarded the ship, the security officer asked for our cabin number and with that, he pulled up his embarkation photo on the computer. From there we proceeded to the information desk where new cards (for the whole family) had to be issued for security reasons. Moral of the story is that, even though many savvy cruisers recommend leaving passports in the safe on the ship when going ashore, having our passports with us allowed me to expedite and quickly resolve this hiccup in our travel plans. The MSC security officer also recommended to always take passports ashore, not only for what happened to us, but for a myriad of other things that could arise. - Marseille: We had planned on taking it easy in Marseille, head to the city center, explore the Cathedral, walk around the Vieux Port, have lunch, and return to the ship. MSC left vouchers in our room the night before offering bus transportation from the cruise terminal to the city center. If we chose to use them, our shipboard account would be charged 9 Euros per person. We decided to ditch those and take advantage of the complimentary bus provided by the city. Finding the bus was easy enough. All we had to do was follow the green line painted on the sidewalk. This would’ve been a great idea if it hadn’t been cold and rainy, if there hadn’t been three other ships in port, meaning hundreds of other passengers with the same idea, and if we didn’t have to walk 1 kilometer from the cruise terminal to the bus stop at the entrance of this industrial port. We then had to wait 40 minutes in line until we were able to get on a bus. Needless to say, we took a taxi back once we decided to return to the ship. But once we got to the city center we truly enjoyed the sights. The Cathedral was beautiful, Vieux Port was charming, and we enjoyed our lunch. Since it was raining and cold, we couldn’t enjoy sitting out on the patio as we had planned, but we still enjoyed our time. Once again, we chose to return to the ship early, first because MSC had posted an unusually early “all aboard time”, and second because we noticed an unusually large police presence as we walked along the Vieux Port. We asked a local person if that was normal and he said no, and that the police were there because of the ongoing riots throughout France concerning the escalating fuel prices. He recommended that we return to the ship soon because many roads were being blocked by protesters. Sure enough, our taxi driver had to take several detours to get us back to the ship since roads had indeed been blocked. He would stop and wave down another passing taxi and ask which way they’d gone back to the terminal, and then he’d take another detour. We finally made it back to our ship, but the uncertainty got our hearts pounding a bit. Genoa: Our last port of call. Because we were getting off the ship early the next day, I wanted to keep things simple so that we could return to the ship, pack, and get a good night rest before our return trip home. We went to the Acquario di Genova, located near the cruise terminal. It would’ve been a fairly easy 20 minute walk, but we decided to take a taxi. 15 Euros flat fee. The aquarium is a bit old, but it’s comprehensive and extensive. It is considered the largest aquarium in Europe. It was what the kids needed after a long week of sightseeing. We returned to the ship early, packed our bags, and enjoyed an afternoon of family activities on the ship, bowling and 4D cinema. DEBARKATION As mentioned before, our arrival and departure times at each port of call kept getting changed which was annoying, but nothing proved to be truly nerve wrecking until they changed our return time to Civitavecchia. When I booked this cruise and flights, the itinerary showed a 7:00am arrival so a 12:30pm return flight seemed reasonable. About 6 months before the cruise, the airline changed our departure time to 11:25am which gave me reason to consider changing the flights, even if we couldn’t fly nonstop back to Atlanta. After asking on these forums, I was reassured that I’d still have enough time to make our flight as long as there were no further changes or delays. Well, the day before our return to Civitavecchia, MSC posted a delayed 8:00am arrival time, and to make things tighter, I learned when I checked in for our flight that Delta had posted an early departure of 11:15am. Now I barely had 3 hours to disembark, gather our luggage, drive 45 minutes to the airport, check in, go through airport security, go through customs with small children in the longer, general lane, and get to our gate. Overstressing about the compressed timeline and logistics and being snippy was not how I wanted to spend my last few hours onboard an otherwise fantastic vacation. We received our disembarkation information packet in our cabin which provided red tags with an 8:30am MEETING time at one of the lounges. No mention of any other options, like self-assist debarkation. I went to the information desk to ask about the quickest way to disembark once we got to Civitavecchia. First the agent said that the arrival time had ALWAYS been 8:00am (liar, and I had the paperwork to prove it), and then she said that we had already been given red tags which meant that we’d be off the ship with the first group. I then asked her if there was such a thing as self-assist debarkation in Civitavecchia and that’s when she finally said that I could proceed on my own to the disembarkation point and that I’d be allowed to get off the ship as soon as we received clearance from local authorities. The next morning, we had breakfast at the buffet marketplace at 6:00am, and based on the hordes of passengers having breakfast that early, I was sure that debarkation would be a nightmare. One hour prior to our arrival in Civitavecchia, I lined up at the debarkation point and thankfully secured the second spot in line. The debarkation point was ideally located on deck 6, right on the Galleria Meraviglia, so my wife and kids sat at one of the bars and comfortably enjoyed one final cappuccino and hot chocolate before we got off the ship. Based on the number of people that we’d seen at breakfast, and based on our experience with self assist debarkation back in the US where half the passengers on the ship are trampling each other to get off the ship as early as possible, I was expecting a similar scenario here, but it never materialized. Only about 15-20 people total lined up to do self assist, either because nobody really cared to get off the ship in a hurry, or because nobody even knew about it. In all fairness, it wasn’t printed anywhere in the debarkation paperwork, and I only knew about it because I dragged the information out of the information desk agent. But whatever the case, it didn’t matter. I was just glad that the mob that I expected didn’t materialize. The only passengers in line were also families from the USA with early flights home, all stressed out as much if not more than us. Maybe this was another lesson on how Americans like to do things in a more and unnecessary stressful way than the rest of the world! I know that I learned my lesson and will never book a tight flight or stress over things that I have no control over while on vacation. Promptly at 8:00am, we were cleared to disembark. We walked in the terminal and realized that no customs are required getting off the ship in Civitavecchia! We were on the sidewalk within minutes of getting off the ship. It was storming with gusty winds, but standing in the rain was our Rome Cabs driver holding a very wet and soggy sign with our name on it! I could’ve hugged her! She quickly handed out umbrellas to my wife and children, and between the two of us we loaded all the luggage in our awaiting car. She helped us dry off before departing. We were literally the first car to pull away from the parking lot! Before we knew it, we were on the highway, on our way back to the Fiumicino airport. We arrived at the airport shortly after 9:00am, but it wasn’t until we had cleared the customs checkpoint and found myself sitting at our gate at 10:30am when I started relaxing again. We left Rome behind but took with us amazing memories that we will always treasure. IN CONCLUSION Our cruise on the Meraviglia was absolutely fantastic, and after 32 cruises across several cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Costa, Holland America, Princess, Disney) I can say that it was without a doubt one of the best cruises I’ve ever taken. Overall, MSC has greatly improved their product since the last time we sailed on them in 2016. Friendlier, more attentive and pleasing crew, better food options, less snafus and technical glitches, amazing new ship with more amenities, and an overall better experience. With the Meraviglia repositioning to the USA next year, MSC’s expanding presence in the region, and improved product, I believe that they will provide some stiff competition to the US based cruise lines, and I won’t hesitate to sail on them again. There’s always some room for improvement, but the positives far outweighed the negatives. I did feel that MSC’s product is designed to force people to spend extra (buy or upgrade their drink package, limit dining options to force people to purchase specialty restaurant packages, downgrading some of the perks included with the different experiences, cutting back in some free entertainment to entice people to pay for upgraded entertainment, and charging for some basic things that should be free). But then again, all cruise lines are in some way or another doing the same to increase their onboard revenue, so I can’t really point fingers specifically at MSC for this practice, but instead at the whole cruise industry. Once again, this was a wonderful cruise, and the Meraviglia truly lived up to its name, which translates to “Wonder”. This ship and experience were indeed wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
My second cruise on Meraviglia and my second time in Yacht club. Based on my two experiences i will never sail MSC outwith Yacht Club. Embarked at Civitavecchia which was a breeze, yacht club butler organised paperwork and bags within a ... Read More
My second cruise on Meraviglia and my second time in Yacht club. Based on my two experiences i will never sail MSC outwith Yacht Club. Embarked at Civitavecchia which was a breeze, yacht club butler organised paperwork and bags within a few minutes of arriving and 15 minutes later we onboard and in cabin (bags arrived around 2 hours later). The cabin was well laid out and much more space in Yacht Club than the standard balcony cabins. Plenty of storage space. Bathroom with nice large walk in shower and of course a decent sized balcony. The first perk of Yacht Club onboard was the over the top fruit bowl and sparkling wine. I can summarise my experience in a few words - if i hadn't been in Yacht club i would have hated this cruise. being in yacht club has made me addicted to sailing that way!!! The ship is huge, the crowds are huge. YC has only about 200 people in it so it is always quiet. If you want peace stay in YC if you want to mix with others its only a short stroll to the main promenade. YC benefits are great. All drinks in the YC part of the ship are included as are almost all drinks in the other bars onboard so you can drink what you like when you like without thinking about the price. Mini bar also included and they will replenish as often as you want with as much as you need. Freestyle dining meaning you just go to the YC restaurant whenever you want - no having to be tied to dining at specific times which is great for someone like me who hates routine. Food though is quite average, but plenty of it. Access to the thermal area of the SPA is another great perk. The spa is a really nice space to relax, i went almost every day for at least an hour. I found the staff in YC a bit stuck up! I guess that's how they are trained to be. Outwith YC staff much more relaxed. Particularly good staff in Brass Anchor pub!!! Entertainment generally good. Did all shore excursions on my own which was easy enough as the ship docked pretty closed to town at all stops. Disembarkation process was excellent. All in all an excellent week cruising. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Fantastic ship,our cabin was a balcony could not complain the food was outstanding the staff in the pub where the best. ALL above where the best bits below for the bad bits Hair drier didn't work first day went to reception ... Read More
Fantastic ship,our cabin was a balcony could not complain the food was outstanding the staff in the pub where the best. ALL above where the best bits below for the bad bits Hair drier didn't work first day went to reception first thing she said what did i do to it practically accusing me of breaking it. when we left port the shops duty free shops opened decided to buy a watch as it was 35%discount and it stated if you could find a lower price they would match it,so i bought one,out of curiosity next day i looked on the net found same one for 40euro less on Amazon,went back to the shop and shown the guy who sold me the watch i was told the watch on amazon was a Fake, well you can imagine,wonder what amazon would think?i requested to see the manager very rudely told go find the manager inside and he walked off,that's twice that ive been rudely spoken to by MSC staff,so i went inside the woman in the shop was no better very reluctant to get the manager,in the end she rang and the reply was,the reduction was only if you find a lower price in the shops internet doesn't count,i said where does it say internet doesn't count on the printed sign,she couldn't answer me. I have made a online complaint to MSC not that im holding my breath for a response. went back to my cabin and looked at my billing 10 euro per day per person,hmm have i had great service no so why should i hand over my hard earned cash to rude,unprofessional unhelpful staff,went back to reception to get a refund of all my service charges ans this is VOLUNTARY NOT COMPULSORY i was asked why and told them straight i will give my money to someone who deserves it. Shuttle buses not part of the Cruise 13 to 16 euro a head but if you wait 2 hours after the first shuttle bus,or they think they taken as much cash from the customers,the shuttle buses become free! The other thing which i found disgusting was opposite the reception was a signed area for disabled seating this was ignored by a group of Italians another passenger pointed out it was seating for disabled he was laughed at not one member of staff moved them on discus-ting I could go on but i havnt got the time the other customer reviews speak for them selves as we thought it couldnt be that bad,but im afraid to say it was,we where glad to be home I can supply photos should the company request Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We did a MSC 7 day cruise onboard the Meraviglia leaving from Civitacchia end october 2018 , on the sunday it was raining and the ship was delayed due to bad weather , we had been given a ticket by the MSC staff and told it was our ... Read More
We did a MSC 7 day cruise onboard the Meraviglia leaving from Civitacchia end october 2018 , on the sunday it was raining and the ship was delayed due to bad weather , we had been given a ticket by the MSC staff and told it was our boarding ticket as we arrived about 9;30 to no ship but heard it was delayed , shipped docked at 12 and mad rush to the entrance where it said board ship here , must have been about a 1000 people waiting to board after about an hour saw MSC staff start carrying stuff in , then there was a rush to another entrance , no communication from any MCS staff eventually after 2 hours standing sat down , we later found out that they call the ticket numbers when to board , nobody told us or anyone else , we eventually boarded at 4 pm . Cabin was lovely did find someones sock under the bed though , our designated restaurant was Olivo D'Doro , we ate there once food was awful salad pathetic , salmon overcooked and dry and fruit salad 3 pieces of fruit , we ate every other meal on deck 15 at the buffet , food was nice but a fight to get to it and then to find a table and queues dont work as others just push in , had to do the same or starve , ate breakfast at 6 and supper at 9 to avoid the mad crowds , lunchtime you just took your chance and fought for food , disembarking and embarking at the various ports a nightmare again just a free for all and took forever to get 4000 people off as only 1 or 2 doors open and all passengers had to have cards scanned , same for embarking took forever sometimes had to stand in the cold rain waiting to embark . On board there is no quiet place to relax in , the bars kids everywhere running , climbing on the counter swinging on chairs even late at night , description of the ship is like being at a busy shopping centre before christmass just busy busy everywhere , then its the drinks and the packages , highly overpriced , at 3 or 4 ports a shuttle bus was supplied by msc as too far from town cost between 13 - 15 euros each again overpriced and not mentioned , MSC get you on board then want to empty your wallet and bank account some examples , 1.25 l bottle of water 2.90 euros , tin of pepsi 2.90euros . We had cruised before also in the Med with a different cruise company and loved it , would i cruise MSC again ? NO , would i recommend MSC ? NO Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
A small review after my cruise with MSC Meraviglia. Background: My wife and I got 7-8 cruises with Royal (grand suites incl.) 2 with Celebrity and 1 with NCL under my belt. A few negatives; - less CHOICES in the breakfast ... Read More
A small review after my cruise with MSC Meraviglia. Background: My wife and I got 7-8 cruises with Royal (grand suites incl.) 2 with Celebrity and 1 with NCL under my belt. A few negatives; - less CHOICES in the breakfast and lunch buffet than Royal, Celebrity, and NCL. - Do NOT book a stateroom on deck 14 under the pool deck on Meraviglia. NOISY! You could hear people running, loungers placed out by the crew every morning at 6, LOUD pool parties like the white party.. When I complained about this, I got the impression that the customer service was well aware of this, and gave me a B I G discount on my upcoming cruise in February. - lack of visible crew during disembarkion/poor imformation. ( our case was maybe especially bad since disembarkion was very late due to really bad weather in Civitavecchia. Chaos. - Lack of waiters during breakfast. Ordering drinks took forever.... getting them? Even longer. Some positives; - Value for money. Dont know about cruises in the Caribbean, but the prices on MSC cruises in Europa wins BIG time over Royal, Celebrity and NCL. - Very good food in the Main Dining Room - and yes u can have several starters, mains and/or desserts. No need to go hungry. In my opinion, equally good as Royal, NCL, and Celebrity. - Drinks. Better than on Royal and Celebrity. - Butchers Cut... oh.. the best filet mignon I ever tasted on sea. - Best pizza. No discussion! - Sunny in the Main Dining Room. A waiter that know what he was doing. Good recommendations through the whole cruise. Some neutrals: - the housekeeping is not there to befriend you, but to do a job. I got real friends, and I am fine with that. Im not trying to be a friend with my accountant, bus driver or my sons kindergarden teatcher either. They are doing their job. - those noisy «foreigners». I belive this is just cultural differences. I feel a ship out of Miami is equally “noisy” as from Genoa. The difference is that many cruisers are used to cruise with others with their own language. It sounds more noisy maybe. But since I am from Norway, if find those “foreigners” equally “noisy” as English speaking cruisers. Equally «rude» as well.. People push in the buffet everywhere - me too! In my opionion MSC delivers a equally good product as Royal, NCL and Celebrity. Yes it is some differences, but all in all a good cruise product. Some differences from Royal, Celebrity and NCL, but that I am mostly happy for. We dont need 7 cruise companies delivering the exactly same product, do we? Im more than ready for my two next bookings with MSC! Royal and/or Celebrity needs to do some REAL effort to get me back.. just my two kroner.. from a normal cruiser - not paid or bribed from any cruise company............ Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Just finished a one week cruise on the Meraviglia from Rome, travelling to Palermo, Malta, Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa. We went on the Divina from Miami last year thus having experienced Msc before. First impressions were great as the ... Read More
Just finished a one week cruise on the Meraviglia from Rome, travelling to Palermo, Malta, Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa. We went on the Divina from Miami last year thus having experienced Msc before. First impressions were great as the Meraviglia is obviously much newer and the decor and the rooms were much nicer looking. We booked the Fantastica class with a Balcony room on deck 12. Great location midship. We booked excursions for every port and enjoyed every single tour. Now the not so good part: food on this ship in both the dining room and buffet was nothing to rave about. We ended up booking the a la cartes and paid a hefty price. The food there was on improvement but still nothing compared to Royal Carribean. The biggest disappointment was the service. From waiters who could barely understand english, orders being repeatedly wrong, slow bar service and constantly being overlooked (ignored) and just plain rude and unfriendly service were a total put off. Much so, that at the end of the cruise I asked to have the daily service charge removed from our bill. They did so without question. One would have thought there would be some follow up as to why but they did not seem to care. We also found that there was not much in entertainment. Live music was far and few.....we are in our 50s and are open to any kind of music. There was the odd jazz music and some very boring piana player. How about some fun and cultural appropriate live music (we were in Spain)!? We did a guided wine tasting on sea day which was fun. Other adults only activities would have been great. Went to see Cirque and saw Sonar. Not like the real cirque du soleil but still rntertaining. To sum it up we will not go on MSC again for the before mentioned reason. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
The just about 1 year old cruise liner 'MSC Meraviglia' is a great ship with lots of attractions, sights and well designed and elegant interior. She sailed a little bit unstable, reacting more intense to waves, given her size. ... Read More
The just about 1 year old cruise liner 'MSC Meraviglia' is a great ship with lots of attractions, sights and well designed and elegant interior. She sailed a little bit unstable, reacting more intense to waves, given her size. Strong winds additionally increased the cruise experience with rolling and pitching a little more than other cruise liners of comparable sizes. The weather was like a diva on this cruise, majority of nights were stormy, and there were only 3 more or less sunny and warm days. In the night 4 days before departure of the ship, I received an eMail with a reissue of my cruise ticket, containing an information about a cabin number change, which actually was an upgrade to the 'Yacht Club'. The MSC 'Yacht Club' is a separate area with suites and luxury staterooms. Admission is granted for passengers - called 'Members' - of those staterooms only. The 'Yacht Club' offers to its guests an own reception with concierge, a butler service, the 'Top Sail Lounge', open nearly all day with a bar and delicious snacks, as well as the own sun deck with pool, whirl pool and the 'MSC Yacht Club Pool Buffet', where the guests can eat and drink open air. Regular meals are served in the 'MSC Yacht Club Restaurant', with service at the tables. I prefer buffet restaurants, and if you don't know about the great variety of food in the 'Marketplace Buffet' restaurant, you may miss something, or even a lot. The 'Yacht Club' on 'MSC Meraviglia' spans over 5 decks behind and above the bridge, with 80 balcony suites and 15 smaller interior staterooms, the 'Yacht Club' has its own elevator and stairs in a small atrium. The lounge and the restaurant give a good view over the bow, as well as the sun deck, but there is no glass free outlook to the bow for photography; furthermore, most of the sun deck area is covered with some sort of sun sails. Among the amenities in the 'Yacht Club' are priority at boarding, security and even elevators, free beverages, fruits on the stateroom, a chocolate praliné on the pillow and other things. Embarkation and disembarkation, as well as leaving and boarding the ship for excursions, were always fast without long queues. The security drill in the theater took just 20 minutes and was held in different languages, even Japanese and Mandarin. Orientation on 'MSC Meraviglia' was a little bit more easier than on other ships, with stateroom numbers separated into even on starboard and odd on port side of the ship, with signs in the staircase halls. I noticed longer waiting times at the elevators sometimes, but they were an artwork of mirrors and very fast. The passengers were from many different nations, even lots of people from Asia, very international atmosphere on board, majorities were people from Italy, Spain and Germany. Many kids were on board; I also saw people in wheel chairs and with rollators. The staff was very friendly, caring and attentive, not just in the 'Yacht Club', but everywhere. American way of communication and dealing with things, I was addressed in German language sometimes. The 'Reception Guest Service' on deck 5 was not very frequented most of the time and the ship generally did never appear crowded to me. I am a buffet type of passenger, and I preferably avoid long sessions in the main dining room, I did not eat in the main dining room therefore. The 'Marketplace Buffet' restaurant was open from 06:00am till midnight, guests can stay casual and do not need to dress up. Plastic table ware was used, but the offered food was more than very good, with a great choice and variety, even for breakfast. The quality was excellent, the delicacies from the patisserie extremely good. There was an 'Ethnic Corner' with food from different parts of the world, and genuine Italian pizza was included in the cruise fare as well. Tab water was always complimentary from dispensers, many different beverages for breakfast as well. Other beverages could be ordered at the table, soft drinks were delivered in cans of 330ml each, water in bottles. Mostly, I had no problem of getting a free table, but I repeatedly noticed a scarcity of teaspoons. The nicely done hand wash niches at the entrance were used by very few guests. On the 'Galleria Meraviglia', many shopping opportunities and events. From my observation, the ship is very kid friendly, toys are being offered in the shop, as well as candy, potato chips and chocolate for example, even cheaper than at the airport. There is also a small pharmacy, and the MSC shop offers gifts and clothes at affordable prices even in my size. Also on the 'Galleria Meraviglia', there are some luxury boutiques, the 'Jean-Philippe Chocolate & Coffee' chocolaterie, the 'Brass Anchor' pub, the 'Kaito Sushi Bar' and the 'Eataly Food Market', where guests can taste and learn about Italian food, as well as purchase some of the things. Entertainment for everybody was provided nearly all around the clock at different locations on board, a little bit limited due to the bad weather, that was not allowing pool parties. Many activities were on the 'Daily Program', in the gym and the indoor and outdoor pool areas with some whirlpools, and of course in the 'MSC Aurea Spa' wellness area. I did not book any of the excursions offered in a big variety, all my tours were self organized. Internet access worked very fast only in the few night hours, the system was obviously repeatedly a little bit overloaded during daytime. I usually had to click the 'Start' button twice, to activate the internet access. Sometimes, it was helpful to log out and log in again, when the connection was too slowly. The 'MSC For Me' app is available for guests with smartphone or tablet, the guest can - for example - monitor on-board expense accounting, see deck plans and log in to the internet via WLAN / WiFi, also possible at address 'login.mscwifi.com', using the ID from the Cruise Card, bandwidth usage was shown at log in and log out. Features are offered to guests on the interactive screens in the staircases as well. Thank you 'MSC Cruises', for a wonderful cruise with so good food and your warm Mediterranean hospitality on meravigliosa 'MSC Meraviglia'! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We are avid cruisers, Platinum on Carnival, Emerld on Royal in addition to other lines with single or double cruises. This was our first time with MSC and probably not the last. We chose this cruise and ship based on itinerary, date and ... Read More
We are avid cruisers, Platinum on Carnival, Emerld on Royal in addition to other lines with single or double cruises. This was our first time with MSC and probably not the last. We chose this cruise and ship based on itinerary, date and cost. They all fit so we booked it almost a year in advance. I was very concerned reading all the reviews coming in from the beginning to the time we sailed. I know these reviews are just opinions of others and everyone’s expectations are different but I’m really surprised at all the negative comments about this ship. We sailed in the Yacht Club Deluxe suite and the rooms were wonderful. Very similar to the other suites we have done on the other lines but the addition of the coffee maker and stocked refrigerator made this just a step above them. Service and food quality were exceptional throughout the ship. We did see most of the shows at the Broadway Theatre and thought they were all done and produced well. The only slow show was the operetta, but that’s not to say it was bad, Vocally the two opera singers were great It just isn’t our style of entertainment. The ports and excursions were all very interesting. We bought the excustions through MSC beforehand and took advantage of a 15% off sale. Prices were more reasonable than other ships we have been on. We purchased the pre paid picture deal. 100 pictures for $99. We couldn’t have enough pictures taken to fill the order. We left with 90. The problem is we don’t know what we are going to do with all the pictures. But if you want a lot of pictures it is surely a great value. Overall, a cruise is what you make of it. Go in with an open mind and pay no attention to the negative and positive reviews. Make your own opinions based on you own experience. We are already looking for another MSC cruise as we feel they out performed Carnival and Royal for the money. Bon Voyage djp Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We’re a couple in our late 40’s who enjoy all sorts of holidays. On this trip we were looking for relaxation, good food and drink, dancing of all kinds, and a visit to Valetta. I also wanted to experience this new and beautiful ... Read More
We’re a couple in our late 40’s who enjoy all sorts of holidays. On this trip we were looking for relaxation, good food and drink, dancing of all kinds, and a visit to Valetta. I also wanted to experience this new and beautiful offering from MSC. We travelled in late February embarking in Civitavecchia; we knew what to expect when it came to the weather, we weren’t travelling to get a tan! There were some very positive aspects to our cruise, I’d read many reviews before we went and changed my booking based on what I'd read. A huge thanks to those people who took the time to write both positive and negative points about their experience, I hope my comments will also help others make decisions about what is right for them. We wanted to love this ship, and we did, unfortunately there were areas that we didn’t like at all. Most of those issues were caused by the number of passengers and the limited amount of real space for them to share. This was low season, and because of the weather most adults passed their spare time on just 3 decks. We travelled outside school holidays and hardly noticed any children or young people (apart from the indoor pool) whether that was because they were enjoying the facilities, which looked very good, or whether there just weren’t many of them I don’t know. We walked around the Himalayan Bridge and the Water Park and I’m sure this would have been great if the weather had been in double figures. The Ship Big, bold and beautiful, Meraviglia is just as its name suggests a ‘wonder’. When you step onboard for the first time, you can’t help but be blown away by its open space and shiny interior. This is probably one of the advantages of having guests arrive and depart every day; when you arrive many guests will be on shore so you get a really spacious, uncrowded feeling. The casino entrance, the entrance to the dining room, the sports court, there were big spaces everywhere and lots of big glass windows to look out from. First impressions count, and this impression was 10 out of 10. Deck 6 is the centre of the ship. Forward was the theatre closely followed by the beautiful galleria, the perfect place for an evening passeggiata. This is also the spot to find the shops and bars (and Eatly) as well as the excursion desk. It’s a similar experience to Royal Caribbean, but this definitely has a real Italian feeling. One deck up on 7 were the speciality restaurants and pub with close up views of the dome, the spa, casino and the Carousel Lounge for the Cirque du Sole. In the winter these two decks, along with deck 5 below are the main areas of the ship, and we found them easy to navigate. These are the spaces we used onboard Meraviglia. The Galleria This is a beautiful space. We didn’t use any of the speciality restaurants but liked the light and bright atmosphere. We loved the lounges on MSC Splendida, but as far as we could tell, the largest lounge on this ship was the Meraviglia Lounge on deck 6 just off the Galleria. Be prepared to hover if you want to sit down, and guard your seat, otherwise if you get up to dance you could loose it. There wasn’t a lot of space to dance, and when the galleria show started it was a mad dive to get a good position. Sadly we thought this lounge and dance floor was way too small for the number of passengers. I’m not sure why, but we thought the dome show would last longer and it would have a huge wow factor. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. We caught a couple of the shows but didn’t make too much of an effort to see the rest. The Gym A great addition to Meraviglia is the availability of changing rooms at the gym. It’s much better than dripping around the ship on the way back to your cabin after working out. There were a good number of machines; it was also nice to have rowing machines. There was a good choice of free weights but sadly only two bench presses. Anyone who uses a ship’s gym regularly knows sea days and after the ship sets sail is not the best time to work out, as they are always full, the same is true for this ship. However, at times it was also dangerous and the staff just couldn’t keep their eyes on everyone. There is a very small area for floor exercises and stretching, at the centre of which are pull up bars and an area to use a barbell. The area is probably big enough for a maximum of 6 small people at the most. There was a separate room with spinning bikes that was always locked. One day we walked in and there was nobody at the desk to check our cards, often the staff appeared to be helping people in the changing rooms unable to remove their belongings from the lockers. We found a small corner to lay our mats, but then we noticed a young man trying to put weights on the barbell. He was clearly struggling. Moments later he left a weight on one end and tried to move to the other side without locking the bar in place. It tipped and very narrowly missed a lady who was doing floor exercises nearby, she was extremely shocked as were we, the heavy bar only narrowly missed her head. There was quite a lot of shouting, as you can imagine. After that, we only entered the gym during mealtimes or when we could see there weren’t too many people around. Perhaps a good idea would be to have an entry system linked to a passengers cruise card, to allow access to only those who had received an induction and to help keep numbers to a safe maximum. The Thermal Area I’d seen lots of pictures of the thermal area and it looked wonderful. I’d read about the different experiences - relaxing, invigorating etc, and the coloured wristbands that go with them. I was keen to try them out. Unfortunately, things didn’t get off to a good start. The first day we attempted to visit it was absolutely packed. Not knowing quite what to do I went to the reception desk to ask for help. I explained that I couldn’t see any of the notices without my contact lenses (which you can’t wear) and I didn’t know what to do. I was told…just go in…. I asked about the experiences; I was shown the bands and told to follow the symbols. No hope, I couldn’t see a thing; that's why I asked for help :-( So I did as suggested and went to try things out. My first problem was trying to find somewhere to put my robe and towel. There were things everywhere, in the clean towels racks, any available horizontal space, even on the floor. When I eventually nabbed a hook I tried to find a place to relax. The only places that weren’t full were the ice flow room and the cold showers. Not surprising as it was freezing outside. We queued for the walk through shower; there were two ways in, the hot way and the cold way. My ‘thoughts’ were that it would get hotter or colder as you went through but it didn’t seem to. It started cold went to hot, back to cold and then warm (with rather a nice coconut smell) and you had to wait for the water to change it didn’t move with you. In our 4 visits we could never get to use the 3 hot stone beds as they were either fully occupied or had towels spread out on them. We did use the Jacuzzi with the metal beds and the standard Jacuzzi, which we found more comfortable. We also liked the Finnish sauna and the light steam rooms, we found the dark ones a bit….dark, with people lurking in the corners :-) The Mediterranean rooms, and even the ice flow room, were also good when you visited at meal times and there was enough space. I never found out about the coloured buttons outside some of the rooms, I can only guess they were to be pressed when you wanted a specific experience. Although I’m not sure the other people already using the room would be very pleased if you changed it! The Theatre We were really looking forward to seeing some live shows, and the fact that you have to book made us think that we were in for something rather special. We booked ‘Way’ which was music through the years. We love music so we thought this would be a great start. We booked through the TV in our cabin, which wasn’t too difficult. There were 6 singers, dancers and a band on stage. We’re sure that all the performers were really good, but the sound system was so bad we spent most of the time wincing with our eyes closed. The sound system was way too underpowered to cope, it was painful, especially when everyone played and sang at the same time. We would have left, some people did, but we were in the middle of the row and didn’t want to appear rude. We stuck it out but ever returned. The Yacht Club The Yacht Club was our saving grace. It really is as good as every review that has been written, and every member of staff tried their absolute best to please. We had an inside cabin. Winter in the Med is no time to be sitting on a balcony so that wasn’t an issue, we had the virtual webcam to see what the weather was like outside. The cabin had just enough cupboard space for two people for a week and was kept spotlessly clean. We were onboard in minutes after arriving in Civitavecchia, and enjoying lunch in the restaurant within an hour. Every meal we had in the YC restaurant was tasty, well cooked and diverse. We especially liked the pasta and fish courses, but everything was perfect. The waiters were wonderful too. The YC lounge was a very relaxing place to read, listen to music and enjoy ‘High Tea’ at 4pm. This was proper tea, with scones, cakes and sandwiches on a stand. It was a real treat. There were always snacks available throughout the day and drinks were served quickly. There wasn’t anything not to like about this place. The sundeck was a little under used on this trip. We did brave sitting on the sun loungers on a couple of occasions and used the outdoor Jacuzzi once. Despite the air temperature, the water was lovely and we really weren’t expecting to use this area at all so that was a great surprise. The Pianist Edo was wonderful. His sets were diverse and he could play everything from Dire Straits to Frank Sinatra, he sang beautifully as well. Once we found him there was no need to go anywhere else The Yacht Club gets 9 out of 10 from us. One point was dropped not because of the staff, but for the design of the ship, and the sometimes temperamental ‘priority’ lifts. Thankfully even one of the butlers had problems with getting priority, which he seemed embarrassed about, especially as he had insisted that everything worked perfectly! The gym location was the only real problem during wet and cold weather. The YC is deck 16 forward, the gym 16 mid ship. To get there you have to go outside, not great when it’s pouring with rain and cold. You could try going down to deck 15 then run to the covered area by the pool and walk along outside. The concierge advised the best way was to go down to deck 6, walk along the galleria then take the mid ship lift to deck 16…hmmm not great. Conclusion In conclusion we had a lovely trip on Meraviglia, we chose our experience level well and it suited our needs perfectly. Would we go again? Yes without hesitation in the Yacht Club. Would we recommend it? Yes, for families with children and maybe in the spring or autumn. Would we recommend a drinks package? Every time. Would we recommend a weekly pass for the Thermal Spa? Maybe in better weather when other parts of the ship could relieve the pressure. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was our first cruise and first trip to Europe. The ship left from Civitavecchia but since we wanted to see Rome we arrived a day early and stayed across from the Coliseum. It was about an hour and 50 Euros to get the terminal. ... Read More
This was our first cruise and first trip to Europe. The ship left from Civitavecchia but since we wanted to see Rome we arrived a day early and stayed across from the Coliseum. It was about an hour and 50 Euros to get the terminal. Embarkation was well organized and straight forward. Our cabin wasn't quite ready but it gave us time to explore the ship a little before it got too crazy. Even though there were 4000 people on the ship it was always clean and never felt over crowded. The food was good. Some items were very good, others were not but there was always something that I liked. The Eataly was not worth the extra money. It was no better than the dining room. The other al a carte were very good and reasonable. Here's the only thing you MUST remember. Know your drink package and how it works. My bill at the end was only slightly more than the daily tip while others had hundreds of Euros to pay. They always let you know what the charge will be so pay attention and you will be fine. We only had one issue when dining with people that took our assigned seating and would not move. The staff quickly dealt with the issue and sat us without too much fuss. Our cabin was always immaculate. Cleaned twice a day and never saw a single issue in any of the public areas. The excursions were pretty good. Only the one time we had an issue with language. We were one of only 2 English speaking couples that wanted the tour and we had to tag along with the Spanish group. They tried to accommodate us. The port in Malta is by far the prettiest and best for hopping off to see. Literally a 5 min walk to some very interesting sites. Make sure to settle up the night before or to activate your credit card on their system. If you had no bill then disembarkation was well organized and relatively stress free. As a North American there was a little culture shock because the locals are used to being more forceful in a crowd but a little getting used to and you get the system. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We booked our December cruise (Rome, Palermo, Malta, Barcelona, Marseilles, Genoa) well in advance, and like many others, we were a bit freaked out by the many bad reviews of the cruise. After going on the cruise, I can say that it went ... Read More
We booked our December cruise (Rome, Palermo, Malta, Barcelona, Marseilles, Genoa) well in advance, and like many others, we were a bit freaked out by the many bad reviews of the cruise. After going on the cruise, I can say that it went well compared with the 10+ other cruises we've been on with Norwegian, Princess, and Carnival. It was not perfect, but none of the cruises we've gone on were ever perfect. Each cruise line and ship has its pluses and minuses. The Pluses: - Beautiful, well maintained ship - Never felt overly crowded even though there were thousands of people aboard - Getting on board for the first time and leaving the ship after the cruise was really easy and fast. The fact that people started the cruise at different ports made things easy and fast. - Excellent, friendly staff -- especially the main waiter at our dinners. - The large touchscreens for ship info and reservations were great. - The food in the formal dining rooms came out fairly quick, so you don't have to wait too long. - Never had problems finding seating in the buffets. - Line to get an omelette went really quickly The Averages: - The food compares OK with other cruises I've been on. The food is designed for European tastes I believe, so the taste may not be quite be what us Americans are used to. So, if Olive Garden is what you think is good Italian food, you'll be disappointed. Like other cruises, every breakfast, lunch, dunner buffet has a stable offering that does not change (e.g. omelettes, breads, waffles, pizza, pastas, etc.), but they do introduce some changes every day to mix it up a bit. There was an emphasis on Italian food more since many Italians were on board. - As other people mentioned in their reviews, the portion size of the dinner food in the formal dining rooms was smaller compared with other cruise lines. I don't think this is an advantage or disadvantage. If you want more, order more. The wait staff doesn't care how many main courses you order. In fact, smaller sizes allowed you to have the stomach space to try more types of food. - The people on the cruises were fine. There was not the line cutting that people mentioned in other reviews. - The customer service desk was fine. There was a line, but it was not excessively long. - The shows were fine and were on par with many others I've seen on Princess, Norwegian and Carnival. There were 6 shows that rotated in the main theater in addition to the 2 Cirque shows. - The cabins were fine. The Minuses: - They tack on a surprise donation to your bill in the middle of the cruise. It was 1 Euro per person that gets added to the bill. It's annoying since I don't like to make donations I'm not consulted on. You have to go to customer service to get it removed. - The ship's large so depending on the cabin, it may take you quite a bit of time to get to another part of the ship. - There were less structured activities compared with other cruises. So, if you want more trivia contests, ping-pong tournaments, or cooking demonstrations, other cruises are better. - Not enough variety in the salad bar. Overall, the cruise went well and is not the nightmare that others have mentioned. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I chose this ship as I wanted to enjoy the holidays with my family in a new ship and this one looked spectacular and I thought the ports would be fun as well. Before leaving I read the reviews that other people had posted and thought that ... Read More
I chose this ship as I wanted to enjoy the holidays with my family in a new ship and this one looked spectacular and I thought the ports would be fun as well. Before leaving I read the reviews that other people had posted and thought that perhaps the shortcomings of this she would be in dining and the pay for everything culture. Let me break it down: Food I found the buffet on the 15th floor to have plenty of options to choose from. Yes, you did have the same items every day like hot dogs, hamburgers at lunch or eggs/croissants at breakfast, but to be fair, I never repeated a meal 2x during my trip and had plenty of choices to choose from. Food was good, not excellent, but certainly not terrible either. Desserts were so so, which I was glad as I didnt need the calories :) We really enjoyed the japanese restaurant for dinner one night. It was loads of fun! Entertainment Well this is an area that I find they need to work on. At every port we would leave shortly after arrival, take tours and return around 4-5 pm. Then there was nothing to do till dinner 6:30 pm and then again nothing till 8:45 for a show. Nothing before or after that timeframe. Every night they have dancing lessons, which my family had no interest in, or played some music somewhere. But there was no organized games, trivia, daily bingo, etc. Just basically nothing to do on the ship. In terms of the shows, do yourself a favor and skip the magic show. It is just dumb. The best one was Way. We were supposed to see Cique Viaggio but ocean was too rough and they cancelled show. We did see Sonor and I would say for an abbreviated version of Cirque it wasn't bad. We had dinner with the show and I would say dinner that night was mediocre. Just have dinner at the main restaurant or at the specialty restaurant. Information Most of the crew is clueless and will give you the wrong information or simply not answer your questions. It is hard to find someone that knows answers to questions. Just very disorganized. If you have a question ask 3 people and go with consensus. ALl in all we enjoyed our trip as we really liked the ports, and made the best of the time we had as family. We didn't go o the boat expecting much, and we probably won't cruise MSC again, but this is more because of our more favorable experiences with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and even Carnival. ENJOY! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Chose cruise for ports of call over Christmas holidays so my family could come with us. Do not take this ship if you get seasick. It is too tall for waves and 1/2 the audience in the theatre was motion sick when the ship began to rock and ... Read More
Chose cruise for ports of call over Christmas holidays so my family could come with us. Do not take this ship if you get seasick. It is too tall for waves and 1/2 the audience in the theatre was motion sick when the ship began to rock and roll when leaving Valletta for Barcelona. Horrid experience watching guests vomit in the theatre and walkways. Why put a cirque show on a high wave night...I am sure it was always cancelled every cruise. Cirque sonar was disappointing...we have seen three real cirque shows and sonar is a high school performance by the cheerleading squad. No other great shows on board. We found nothing to do after dinner and shows so we would go to sky lounge for a nightcap. Service was slow and poor...I could give the staff lessons. Never travelling on MSC again. Get the basic drink pkg otherwise you will pay for still water, even at dinner and lunch. Buffet is simply horrid, passengers are pushy and very rude by Canadian standards. Read Less
MSC Meraviglia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 2.9
Entertainment 5.0 3.3
Public Rooms 5.0 3.6
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 5.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.1
Enrichment 2.0 2.9
Service 4.0 3.2
Value For Money 5.0 3.0

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