Length: 964 ft
A modern, mid-size ship (Poesia-class) with lovely interior and a varity of cuisine and activitiesBest For People Who Want
A true bargain on a classy new ship with family activities and children's menus.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
All American cuisine for every meal; a smoke-free environment.Onboard Experience
MSC is a tasteful cruise line that has refined its product over the years after experiencing early growing pains. While MSC Cruises tries to accommodate American tastes during the Caribbean season, the onboard vibe remains European, with Italian officers and a mix of Italian, Balinese and International crew. The onboard enetertainment, pianists and vocal duos with guitar, feature excellent European performers. As in the Mediterranean, announcements are in five languages, but in the Caribbean English is the first.
The Musica-class of MSC Cruises is the second generation - started in 2006. There are four Musica-class ships including the Musica, Orchestra, Poesia and MSC Magnifica with a debut in 2010. At 90,000 tons for 3000 passengers, these ships belong firmly in the mainstream market and are comparable to Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise lines in America. Keep in mind that MSC cruises is marketed to the European masses.
There is 236,000 sq. ft. of public space inside the ship, most of it supported by an Art Nouveau design theme straight out of 1930s Europe. The main attraction is a three deck tall atrium, where the focal piece is a clear glass platform suspended a piano over a waterfall. On the bottom floor of the atrium you will find the reception desk and shore excursion offices. There are also plenty of shops nearby, including the perfume shop, the jewelry store and a kiosk for everyday notions.
There are three large showroom lounges with plenty of a grandstand style seating on raised platforms facing the stage. The entertainment may be a jazz quartet or a single piano player accompanied by his own technology. The main showroom has fine sight lines and a state-of-the-art theater featuring large cast production shows.
Altogether, there are 11 bars and lounges on the ship, and music is the common cruise denominator for all of the various nationalities onboard. During the day, one can join in trivia games, cooking demonstrations and various other activities, but keep in mind that each of these must be conducted in five different languages.
To navigate the ship, one must walk a through each public room and it is not possible to bypass the bottlenecks that are bound to occur. There is no unifying passageway or atrium from which every, or even a few, public rooms are accessible.
As expected for a European cruise ship, the highlight is the cuisine and the best on board comes in the buffet area and specialty restaurants. These alternative dining spots, served on an a la carte basis instead of fixed per person service fee, makes them more convenient and accessible. Best of all, the price will not go beyond the typical cruise ship alternative dining experience.
With MSC Cruises' "kids sail free" policy all year round these ships get especially crowded with youngsters during the summer. That policy applies to anyone 17 or under. Keep in mind that the foremost nationalities onboard are Italian, Spanish, French, German and English - in that order. While the American component becomes stronger whenever an MSC ship enters the Caribbean region, the European onboard flavor is persistent and continues to appeal to the Europeans. U.S. cruisers are advised that taking an MSC Cruise in the Caribbean does not necessarily mean that English and will the dominant language onboard. It depends on the passenger mix onboard.Decor
Each of Magnifica's public room has its own distinctive color scheme, all more subdued than the earlier ships, and each room blends well with the next, giving a sense of unity. Cabin decks are similarly color-coordinated, each in its own hue. Abundant polished brass, mirrors, glass and marble make the insides of these immaculate ships resplendent.Public Rooms
Magnifica offers 11 different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most of them situated on Decks 5 and 6 connected by a grand marble staircase.
At the other end of the scale, the L' Enoteca Wine Bar offers a selection of varietals and an even better selection of food pairings to go with them. You can choose from, Spanish, Italian, French or German cuisine traditionally consumed with wine. For under $10 one can get a plate of a cultural delight, such as pickles and sausages from Germany or breads and cheese from France.
On deck five is the Casino San Remo with a traditional Monte Carlo flair. One will find blackjack, slot machines ranging from one penny to five dollars, or euro as the case may be, and of course roulette. There is no craps table, however, as that is an American game. Behind the casino is a large sushi bar, and beyond the stairwell comes the cyber café and the Havana Club where cigar smoking is not only allowed, it is encouraged.
Deck six is the Forte Deck, which is the outdoor promenade deck encircling nothing but staterooms. Decks seven through 11 are all staterooms as well, but deck 13, Vivace Deck, begins with the Aloha Beauty Farm and Fitness Centre all the way forward. Referring to a fitness spa as a beauty farm, well I'll leave the jokes to you. Deck 12 midships is the pool and suntanning area followed by a large buffet restaurant. Fully astern is the à la carte restaurant Il Giardino.
Capproccio Deck (14) forword is comprised of penthouses. Midships is the jogging track around the pool area and astern we find the golf simulator, children's area, shuffleboard, a simulated space trip to ride and a virtual games parlor. Fully a stern is the discotheque Q32. The small Deck 14 has a tennis court and secluded tanning areas. In Europe topless tanning is still acceptable.Cuisine
Delicious pasta and risotto dishes are featured nightly. The menu lists appetizers, soup, salads, pasta, main courses and garnishes, as well as vegetarian and alternative dishes. The dessert menu includes cakes, pastries, ice cream and sorbet, along with after-dinner drinks.
While the buffet area on earlier MSC cruises ships was a source of several complaints, over the years they have gotten their act together and managed to provide a variety of cuisine with something to appeal to almost every culinary gene pool. in Europe one well have to pay for every beverage including bottled water and ice tea. Ships in a Caribbean will offer these drinks on a complimentary basis. It is possible to get water free if you can find the ice dispenser where glasses and water are available.
the only time you will get coffee free onboard MSC ships is during breakfast at the buffet area were from room service. The good news is, that you can get a fantastic espresso or mocha at any bar on the ship. The bad news is you have to pay for it.
Made to order snacks are available 24 hours a day from room service, allow 30 minutes for preparation and delivery. Continental breakfast can be ordered at bedtime for morning delivery. Expect coffee and rolls, only. In Europe, room service items will be charged for on an a la carte basis. In the Caribbean room service is gratis.Restaurants
There are two seatings in each of the two dining rooms (5:45 and 8:00 p.m. respectively in the Caribbean, 7:30 and 10:00 in Europe), and casual alternatives in the Lido buffet (6:00-8:00 p.m.) and poolside grills. The grill area on Deck 12 opens for alternative dining until 9:30 p.m. It is well protected from wind and there's plenty of shade.
L'Oleandro and Le Maxim's dining rooms are situated on Decks 5 and 6 respectively. Those prone to seasickness may prefer the mid-ship location of L'Oleandro but Le Maxim's has the better views, with the full picture windows looking out over the stern. Breakfast and lunch are both open seating, while dinner is assigned tables.Service
Most of the service personnel onboard are Indian, South African or European. Dining room service is provided by Europeans.Tipping
In the Caribbean, a daily gratuity for cabin attendants, bellboys and wait staff of $12 per person is automatically added to the onboard account, unless you're under 18 and sharing with two adults, in which case it's only $6.00 per day. The amount can be adjusted at the front desk.
A gratuity for bar staff is already included in the price of drinks. Spa and casino staff may be tipped in cash at the discretion of the passenger. In the Caribbean, they have come to expect a tip from the North American clientele. In Europe, tradition dictates that tips be presented to service personnel on the last night of the cruise. The cruise line suggests $3.50 to $5.00 per person per day for the Waiter and Stateroom attendant and $1.00 - $2.00 per day for the Maitre D'. Children under 12 pay half those amounts. Again, the gratuity for bar service personnel is included in the price of the drink.Entertainment
The cruise staff, called Animators or Pagliacci, double as entertainers who foment a lot of lighthearted fun and mischief. Every evening, musicians perform in the various lounges, and there's jollity in profusion in the Teatro La Scala.
A large deck area behind the swimming pools is used for games and dance classes. Bingo is offered on board, but pay attention or you might miss it.
Baseball and music-themed Caribbean cruises allow passengers to meet up to half a dozen baseball legends and Magnifical greats. Hitting, pitching and batting clinics, interview, Q&A, storytelling, and autograph sessions are all popular.Cabins
interior cabins are 152 sq. ft. with two twin beds that can be converted to a Queen. They come with a hair dryer, Internet access, safe, minibar and a chair with a desk.ocean view cabins are similar, except that they have a window. Balcony cabins in categories 10 and 11 add a 40 square-foot balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Categories six through nine are smaller veranda staterooms at only 126 sq. ft. Balcony suites are 229 ft. with a 40 foot balcony. They come with extra-large bathrooms including a tub and shower combination.
With the kids sail free policy, which requires that the kids stay in a room with two full fare paying adults, there are plenty of cabins with one or two upper berths and cabins with a double or single sofa bed. For families with money to burn there are connecting staterooms.Fitness/Spa
The Aloha Beauty Farm and Centre, deck 13, offers aerobic equipment in a light-filled room with floor-to-ceiling windows. The spa offerings are the usual cruise ship fare of facials and massages. There are two swimming pools and two whirlpools (deck 11). And although the pool area is surrounded deck chairs, more can be found on deck 13, nicely shielded from the wind. Topless sunbathing is allowed in specified locations.
Aerobics classes are free, with personal training sessions available for $35. Step, Pilates and Stretching classes are a steep $12 per lesson, five for $55. There is a jogging track is on Deck 12 above the pool.Attire
The dress code is resort casual with two formal nights on ten-night, three on 11-night, and four on 17- and 18-night cruises. On our cruise we found the Europeans dress surprisingly casual, even on formal nights. Not a single tuxedo was in sight, and on the jacket and tie required informal nights we saw casual shirts and pants were everywhere. A simple jacket and tie would have been enough to qualify as fully dressed on our MSC cruise.Fellow Passengers
please read the other reviews. If you want a relaxing holiday do not under any circumstances use this cruise line. Other than the waiters / room staff, the crew are either "that stupid" or seriously dont care. If english is your first language you will be treated as an interloper by the staff and the masses of rude, eastern bloc passengers. Perhaps pushing in and queue jumping should be olympic events! I dont care how cheap it is ( and it wont be after you pay for EVERYTHING) I would rather stay home and give the money to a random religious sect.The man was right, "you get what you pay for". The food is average at best, kids run riot ( remember they travel free). Cabin doors slam and walls are paper thin. Seriously, take ear plugs. Worst holiday ever. Perhaps msc should concentrate on container shipping as the level of service may just pass muster there.
The ship itself is nice. The itinerary however was way too fast; the ship was overcrowded (long lines at buffet) and the personel quite rude and overworked. Be prepared to spend for everything on board (including water and coffee at lunch and dinner). Overall not a good experience.
Must Save Cash Cruise
With the credit crunch impacting the family finances it was time to rethink the family cruise. For a family of four, cruising in the school summer holidays was becoming prohibitively expensive. Having sailed Celebrity, RCI and Princess in the recent past, it was with some reservations that we booked our first MSC cruise.
The prime and only reason for booking MSC was cost, and therefore we took MSC up on their promotional offer of full fare for the first adult, only £1 for the second adult and kids travelling free. We chose the brand new ship MSC Magnifica and paid a total of just over £1,200 for a weeks med cruise for family of four in late July, which to us seemed like the bargain we were looking for.
So what was it like?
Embarkation: A lot of waiting around and the MSC Express check-in didn't make a jot of difference. We were provided with free juice and water whilst we waited – in all, it took about 2 hours from the time we arrived at the terminal until we actually got on the ship.
Ship: The ship was onlya few months old when we travelled, (July 2010) so it was extremely well presented. The style was of a contemporary design with the use of rich warm colours of orange, brown, green and gold used throughout the ship. The layout of the ship has a number of pinchpoints especially on the upper outer decks, the atrium/shop area and just outside the main restaurants. In fact, do expect a lot of congestion on the ship at peak times. This is not a ship to get away from it all.
Cabin: With four of us sharing an inside cabin it was a squeeze, but it was clean, modern and comfortable.
Service: This was the weakest part the cruise. The service in the main restaurant was poor. We were often kept waiting for our drinks and had to pour the wine/ water ourselves, basically the staff were looking after too many tables with just one waiter to serve with another providing partial support. This was the biggest difference compared to other cruise lines where we have had up to three very attentive waiting staff serve our table.
The waiting staff in the Sahara buffet restaurant were equally lethargic and did not clear tables quickly and stood around in groups yawning watching their guests struggling to balance plates of food and cups of drink. I think MSC must be working their staff quite hard as we saw our main restaurant waiter at the midnight buffet, breakfast next morning and at lunch – great for cost control but not for providing excellent service.
The cabin staff were however excellent and we were amazed at the speed they cleaned up behind us. My daughter was pleased with the animals they made out of towels - a nice touch.
Food: The food was generally good. The main restaurant was fine if nothing exceptional. The buffet restaurant was good if lacking in depth. However, eggs were not cooked to order, there was no omelette station or freshly made waffles. This is not a ship to offer many (paid for) alternative dining venues (a small oriental restaurant, the back section of the buffet and a pizzeria (the front section of the buffet restaurant) was all that was available. The majority of customers took their evening meal in one of two sittings: 7.30pm or 9.45pm (which did lead to major congestion at change over time).
Drinks: We took advantage of the drink packages available on board (wine, water, spirits) which worked out at good value - they provided you with a book of paper vouchers which you exchanged for a drink of your choice. Slightly old fashioned but it worked nonetheless.
Fellow guests: MSC is an Italian line so the vast majority of guests were Italian. The next largest contingent were the Turks followed by the Germans, Scandinavians, Spanish, French and mere handful of Brits. Travelling with MSC was like being on a United Nations group outing. All announcements are made in at least four different languages. English was the working language of the ship so we had no trouble communicating the basics with the staff. However having to listen to umpteen messages in four different languages became tiresome after a time – especially when guests can embark/ disembark at Bari and Istanbul and the associated announcements that entails. With so many different nationalities aboard certainly creates a different atmosphere to that of an American or British line.
Entertainment: Poolside entertainment was enthusiastically provided by the mainly Italian 'animators' most afternoons. The evening shows were mainly colourful dance shows, mime and magic acts or singing or novelty acts - basically anything that didn't require the performer to speak! The shows were entertaining enough to pass half an hour, once you had endured the cruise director's evening message four times over in four languages!
Itinerary: We liked the itinerary, the highlights being Venice, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, some of the stops are very short (Dubrovnik was just 4 hours). The ship organised excursions are very expensive (especially for a family of four) eg a tour of Istanbul was priced at Euro 145 per adult, Euro 102, a total cost of Euro 494/ £420, or a third of the price of the cruise itself!! We caught a taxi at Istanbul port for £12 (each way) and saw most of what we wanted to see. We would suggest that you do you homework and try and arrange your own tours – the money you'd save could be used to treat yourself to another cruise!
Our verdict: This was an excellent value for money cruise - a fraction of what we could have paid on an equivalent American/ British line. For the price we paid for a family of four we got a very good cruise experience, which came close to but did not surpass those we had had on other lines. We are now looking for our next 'bargain' on the MSC Splendida!
We would recommend this cruise to a family looking for a cost conscious foreign holiday.
We would not recommend this cruise to a couple (the cost difference to that of a premium line is not great enough to offset the lack of service), somebody looking to celebrate a significant event, such as a birthday or a once in a lifetime trip as again the experience could be bettered elsewhere or those not willing to embrace a full continental experience!