MSC Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Category: Mainstream

Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.

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MSC Cruise Ships

2 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.

7 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. Families. Value for Money.

3 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.

28 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.

4 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

21 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

15 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.

16 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic

Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean

Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
3.73
from 112 reviews

Cuisine

Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms

Staterooms

Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities

Nightlife

Shore Tours

Itinerary

Alternative Dining

User Reviews

112 User Reviews of MSC Ships
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 13, 2010

Dear Saundra:

On Friday, February 19, 2010, we were packing to leave our cruise on the Poesia. When I went into the "belly" drawer of the desk, I discovered that the ship's information book was missing. I immediately called down to reception to inform them that it was missing. The lame explanation was that they do this to make sure that it is up to date for the next cruise. I said that it is an invasion of privacy and it is not right to go into drawers of the passengers until after they have vacated the cabin at the end of the cruise. I also informed the person at reception that our cabin had been missing the bath towels that day and we had had to request them to be brought to us. The answer I received was not to worry and that I was not going to be charged for the towels. The implication I felt from reception was that I had taken the towels and requested others to replace the "missing" towels.

After dinner, I returned to the cabin to get some medication and vitamins only to find

the door wedged open by the bathroom door making it impossible to see into the room. I pushed the cabin door to full open and pushed the bathroom door shut to enter the cabin. I found the maid standing in front of the desk with the drawer open and her going through the items in the drawer. She tried to make excuses, but I was infuriated and told her to get out of the cabin immediately. I told her and the cabin steward to stay out of my cabin and not to enter my cabin again. I gave him the two bath towels we had used to shower before dinner and he gave me two clean towels to shower with in the morning.

Then I went down to reception and insisted on meeting with the guest relations manager and the head of security. The concierge told me that they were not available. She tried to get me to explain the problem, but I refused as I was not going to repeat the story 3 or 4 times. I said I would stand there and continue to request on seeing the aforementioned people, and I was going to stand there and repeat my request until it was met. She knew that I meant what I said, so she brought me to the offices behind the desk. I met with the guest relations manager, some woman, who was obviously not the head of security, and some man who was supposedly the head of housekeeping.

Only then did I tell them that I was extremely annoyed and angry that my privacy had been invaded. I also explained that I have traveled enough in my 60 years and I have never had any hotel, motel, or ship employees go into drawers while I was still a guest in that room or cabin let alone remove any of the contents that belonged in the room. The lame excuse was that they have a lot today to prepare for the next guests. I told them they have 5 hours from 7:00 a. m. until 12:00 noon to do that. I told them that I understood that they have about 1275 rooms and between 2500 and 3000 passengers whereupon the head of housekeeping chose to ridicule me. He ridiculed me a couple of more times during my tirade because I spoke to him in Spanish so maybe he would comprehend the gravity of the invasion of privacy. What he didn't know is that I understand some Italian as well. He ridiculed me be saying to the others in the room that I had no reason to be so angry as to "mange" him. (as if to say bite his head off).

So far I have told this story to about 6 or 7 people including one woman who we met on board who is a travel agent. The 100% consensus of opinion is 100% for me 100% against MSC Poesia. I'm certain that if this hits the internet, it will not be a pretty picture for MSC. I have read the mixed reviews about MSC, but most of them are nit-picky nonsense. This is a very serious allegation that many Americans will not take lightly considering all that we must endure to travel since 9/11. Here are my nit-picky complaints which add insult to the injury:

1. Hal Brand from Americas Vacation Center, ordered SWEET TEMPTATION Tray of Petit Fours (10 pieces) because it was my birthday. What a disgrace! 10 cookies does not equal 10 Petit Fours. He deserves a credit back of $14.00!

2. We booked this cruise on November 30, 2009. We requested a small table (2-4) and early seating (see chart below from the MSC web-site). However, the daily programs state 1st seating at 5:30 pm with the "threat" "Restaurant doors will close 10 mins. after opening for the seating dinner."

Evening Dining Times Caribbean Sailings & Ocean Voyages 1st Seating 5:45 & 6:00pm / 2nd Seating 7:45 & 8:15pm

3. We were originally seated at a table for ten. When I balked at that I was told to go to talk to the maître d'. There were signs posted that it is impossible to change tables. He told me he would see what he could do the next night. I told him that we had made reservations for L'Obelisco for the nights of 2/14 & 2/15. He said he knew because he had made the reservations. He sent us back to the table for ten, but I refused to sit with a pole between me and my wife. Amazing they sat us alone at a table for six in the upstairs dining room.

4. The maitre d' failed to tell me that 2/14 was also the CAPTAIN'S WELCOME COCKTAIL & the GALA DINNER. By the time I got the program it was too late to change our plans from L'Obelisco to the GALA DINNER. Even though the program mentions the San Valentine's Menu $58 per couple, it states: "Tonight, our Chef suggests Sautéed king prawns." which were not available! The dinner was a disgrace with undercooked risotto and overcooked filet mignon, and very meager portions. So we had a crappy dinner, missed both cocktail possibilities, missed meeting and hearing the Captain. Lovely; all because the maitre d' did not have the courtesy to inform us of the festivities of the 14th.

5. I saw that the wine list in L'Obelisco did not include Veuve Clicuot Ponsardin Champagne. I asked the maitre d' if I could order it for my birthday dinner in L'Obelisco. He was not at all helpful. He told me to go to the bar manager to see if it could be done. Luckily I found Conrad, the Asst. Bar Mgr., and he managed to arrange it for us.

6. My birthday dinner turned into a fiasco too. I ordered the prawns and my wife ordered pasta with lobster and seafood with the pasta well-cooked not al dente. They brought the pasta and tried to serve it to me. We said no it's for her. Ten minutes later they brought me my prawns which were medium shrimp at best and no pine nuts as advertised.

7. On Wednesday, February 17th, they stated that the outside of the ship was going to be washed. When we came back to our room, we found our balcony washed but the balcony sliding door was left WIDE OPEN!

8. On Thursday, February 18th, we came back to the room and found the balcony door left open about 6 inches. Of course I have already expounded on the piece d 'resistance above which had my blood pressure way up there.

I hope that you can come up with something reasonable to compensate the ineptness of the Poesia staff, but don't even think about another cruise!

In spite of the last paragraph they have only offered a $400 credit on another Carribean cruise!

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 23, 2010

I have just returned from the January 23rd sailing of the Poesia with 50 of my family members. I'd have to say that the stage entertainment was excellent, though the food was of uneven quality; some nights were commensurate with a cruise, but some nights were really no better than a mediocre coffee shop.

The issue that was the most difficult was the room that my husband, I, and our son shared. It was at the very stern and rocked quite dramatically. I think it is because the ship is very rectangular. It is quite like a shoebox in the water; any waves make it pitch quite a bit. When looking at other cruise ships, all the others have some tapering to the hull to deflect waves, this one had none at all so on windy days with some waves, the ship moved more than any I had ever been on. Perhaps this ship was designed for the calmer waters of the Mediterranean, but it is not at all suitable for the typical waters of the Atlantic. It was worse than any of the many cruise ships I have ever

been on and I have cruised in the Caribbean during hurricane season when conditions are very windy with high waves.

But that wasn't the worst part of our room. Even though we were on the 12th floor, the mechanical vibration from the rudder and engine created so much vibration in our room that it was as if we were in a non stop earthquake. I tried to fall asleep in my berth, but it was as if someone was constantly and violently shaking the bed in time to rhythmic mechanical motions of the engine and rudder. The walls of the stateroom were constantly rattling and loudly squeaking. I am not a princess or one to complain unnecessarily, but this room was uninhabitable. We toured another stateroom of other members of our family that were in a room directly below us and it was the same. They had a 3'X5' mirror on the wall of their stateroom that was constantly, loudly rattling against the wall so that it was absolutely impossible to sleep. Their beds were also shaking violently. I tried to get a different stateroom but the staff at the reception desk was absolutely uncooperative. I requested a new room each day. On the third night, I met with their customer service representative and spoke to him for a good 20 minutes. He insisted that the motion was from the waves. I told him over and over that the waves were only part of the problem but that the mechanical movement from the engine and propeller made the room uninhabitable. I was so tired from the first night in that horrible stateroom that I slept most of the next day in complete exhaustion. My sister-in-law allowed me to sleep in an extra bunk of her stateroom midship the next two nights. My husband and son however, remained in that horrible room. After speaking with the staff each day and getting no assistance from them, I was finally able to prevail with getting another stateroom by the 4th night.

A number of people in our party became ill over the cruise with the flu. I think they contracted it on the ship. For some it was very debilitating requiring injections of anti diarrhea medication. I don't think the crew was as clean as they should have been. For example, at breakfast one morning, six of our family was eating at tables in the 13th floor cafeteria. Two tables away a sweet little girl in a high chair threw up with projectile vomiting that spewed over the table, floor, and her high chair. It was a horrific mess. The parents tried to clean up some of it, but there was more than they had the means to clean. It was at least 10 minutes before the staff came to clean it and they did a cursory job at that. The dishes were cleared and they wiped the table though from my angle I could see quite clearly that there were still flecks of vomit on the table. The high chair remained at the table with the seat of it and the floor coated in cups of vomit. My party sat two tables away and watched as people cleared away. I was absolutely horrified as the staff motioned for two recent arrivals from our family to be seated at the unclean table. It was horrible! There was a vomit coated high chair and floor at one end of this six person table, and the staff tried to seat my family at the other end. I was glad I was there and motioned them away before they actually sat down. Our family sat two tables away while we wondered how long it would take the staff to clean up the vomit on the floor and high chair. No less than 20 minutes later, the vile mess was untouched. I finally asked the staff in a polite manner to clean it up. It was at least another 5 minutes before they came with cloths and a mop to clear the vomit.

Another experience with lack of cleanliness and vomiting at an eating facility occurred on Tuesday. We had a family luncheon arranged for 50 people. We had a section of the formal dining room set aside for us and we were having a nice time. Suddenly, two members of our family at a table adjacent to mine became violently ill and vomited all over the table and chairs. A third followed so that the table was covered with a horrific mess. I don't envy the staff for the mess they had to clean up, but they did a cursory job given the potential for the spread of flu. Yes, the table cloths, dishes, and vomit covered chairs were removed, but the staff did not wipe the table with a disinfectant before putting the new tablecloth on. I stopped them and asked them to wipe the table with a disinfectant, they stalled and a few minutes later returned to complete putting the new tablecloth down without using disinfectant.

As I mentioned before, the food was of uneven quality. I don't expect prime rib every night, but what was offered in many instances was no better than I could have had at Denny's. In fact, Denny's is superior in some instances. The Chicken Cacciatore on the first night was particularly awful. The chicken patty was made from preformed and prebreaded chicken, not unlike the chicken fingers that are served at a typical McDonalds. It was covered in crushed tomatoes that were completely lacking in any spice. The lot was then covered by a rubbery piece of melted cheese. I remember thinking that I hoped the meals would not all be this bad.

The food on the last two nights were good, however, I was disappointed in the lack of food in the evenings. Our family sat at the early seating at 5:30 pm. After dinner, we went to the stage for entertainment or to dancing. By 9 pm many of us were again interested in some sort of food, but there was none, absolutely none, available in the cafeteria. Each night we had to wait until 10 pm for a paltry display of thin crust pizza. The sauce and toppings on the pizza was far from inspired, but the worst part was that the thin crust was most often burned black as the staff has not yet mastered the use of the pizza ovens. If one stayed up for dancing past 11pm, it would be best to pack a few pizzas in their pockets as even the paltry pizzas were only served for an hour.

One evening there was quite a nice deck party hosted by the ship. There was a good amount of merriment; dancing and games. However, there was absolutely no food served. One would think that an evening party would include some sort of appetizers to satiate the revelers, but there was none. Being hungry is not what I anticipate ever happening on a cruise ship.

The shore times are not conducive to excursions. In particular, the port time in Puerto Rico is from 4 pm to 11 pm. We bee lined from the ship to the fort for some sightseeing, but the late port time allowed us only 15 minutes in the fort before it closed for the day.

While the ship’s decor is attractive, there is an enormous amount of hard surfaces in genuine stone, faux stone, or glass. While these surfaces look very attractive and are typical for current decorating trends, it creates much ambient noise from sound vibrating off hard surfaces. It was almost impossible to have a conversation between six people seated at a table in the cafeteria during meal times. The formal dining rooms were better in this regard and were our preferred choice for all meals.

The pools and outdoor spas are only open from 7am to 7 pm.

Given these experiences, I would not recommend this cruise line to any one.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 23, 2010

I have just returned from the January 23rd sailing of the Poesia with 50 of my family members. I'd have to say that the stage entertainment was excellent, though the food was of uneven quality; some nights were commensurate with a cruise, but some nights were really no better than a mediocre coffee shop.

The issue that was the most difficult was the room that my husband, I, and our son shared. It was at the very stern and rocked quite dramatically. I think it is because the ship is very rectangular. It is quite like a shoebox in the water; any waves make it pitch quite a bit. When looking at other cruise ships, all the others have some tapering to the hull to deflect waves, this one had none at all so on windy days with some waves, the ship moved more than any I had ever been on. Perhaps this ship was designed for the calmer waters of the Mediterranean, but it is not at all suitable for the typical waters of the Atlantic. It was worse than any of the many cruise ships I have ever

been on and I have cruised in the Caribbean during hurricane season when conditions are very windy with high waves.

But that wasn't the worst part of our room. Even though we were on the 12th floor, the mechanical vibration from the rudder and engine created so much vibration in our room that it was as if we were in a non stop earthquake. I tried to fall asleep in my berth, but it was as if someone was constantly and violently shaking the bed in time to rhythmic mechanical motions of the engine and rudder. The walls of the stateroom were constantly rattling and loudly squeaking. I am not a princess or one to complain unnecessarily, but this room was uninhabitable. We toured another stateroom of other members of our family that were in a room directly below us and it was the same. They had a 3'X5' mirror on the wall of their stateroom that was constantly, loudly rattling against the wall so that it was absolutely impossible to sleep. Their beds were also shaking violently.

I tried to get a different stateroom but the staff at the reception desk was absolutely uncooperative. On the third night, I met with their customer service representative and spoke to him for a good 20 minutes. He insisted that the motion was from the waves. I told him over and over that the waves were only part of the problem but that the mechanical movement from the engine and propeller made the room uninhabitable. I was so tired from the first night in that horrible stateroom that I slept most of the next day in complete exhaustion. My sister-in-law allowed me to sleep in an extra bunk of her stateroom midship the next two nights. My husband and son however, remained in that horrible room. After speaking with the staff each day and getting no assistance from them, I was finally able to prevail with getting another stateroom by the 4th night.

A number of people in our party became ill over the cruise with the flu. I think they contracted it on the ship. For some it was very debilitating requiring injections of anti diarrhea medication. I don't think the crew was as clean as they should have been. For example, at breakfast one morning, six of our family was eating at tables in the 13th floor cafeteria. Two tables away a sweet little girl in a high chair threw up with projectile vomiting that spewed over the table, floor, and her high chair. It was a horrific mess. The parents tried to clean up some of it, but there was more than they had the means to clean. It was at least 10 minutes before the staff came to clean it and they did a cursory job at that. The dishes were cleared and they wiped the table though from my angle I could see quite clearly that there were still flecks of vomit on the table. The high chair remained at the table with the seat of it and the floor coated in cups of vomit. My party sat two tables away and watched as people cleared away.

I was absolutely horrified as the staff motioned for two recent arrivals from our family to be seated at the unclean table. It was horrible! There was a vomit coated high chair and floor at one end of this six person table, and the staff tried to seat my family at the other end. I was glad I was there and motioned them away before they actually sat down. Our family sat two tables away while we wondered how long it would take the staff to clean up the vomit on the floor and high chair. No less than 20 minutes later, the vile mess was untouched. I finally asked the staff in a polite manner to clean it up. It was at least another 5 minutes before they came with cloths and a mop to clear the vomit.

Another experience with lack of cleanliness and vomiting at an eating facility occurred on Tuesday. We had a family luncheon arranged for 50 people. We had a section of the formal dining room set aside for us and we were having a nice time. Suddenly, two members of our family at a table adjacent to mine became violently ill and vomited all over the table and chairs. A third followed so that the table was covered with a horrific mess. I don't envy the staff for the mess they had to clean up, but they did a cursory job given the potential for the spread of flu. Yes, the table cloths, dishes, and vomit covered chairs were removed, but the staff did not wipe the table with a disinfectant before putting the new tablecloth on. I stopped them and asked them to wipe the table with a disinfectant, they stalled and a few minutes later returned to complete putting the new tablecloth down without using disinfectant.

As I mentioned before, the food was of uneven quality. I don't expect prime rib every night, but what was offered in many instances was no better than I could have had at Denny's. In fact, Denny's is superior in some instances. The chicken on the first night was particularly awful. The chicken patty was made from preformed and prebreaded chicken, not unlike the chicken fingers that are served at a typical McDonalds. It was covered in crushed tomatoes that were completely lacking in any spice. The lot was then covered by a rubbery piece of melted cheese. I remember thinking that I hoped the meals would not all be this bad.

The food on the last two nights were good, however, I was disappointed in the lack of food in the evenings. Our family sat at the early seating at 5:30 pm. After dinner, we went to the stage for entertainment or to dancing. By 9 pm many of us were again interested in some sort of food, but there was none, absolutely none, available in the cafeteria. Each night we had to wait until 10 pm for a paltry display of thin crust pizza. The sauce and toppings on the pizza was far from inspired, but the worst part was that the thin crust was most often burned black as the staff has not yet mastered the use of the pizza ovens. If one stayed up for dancing past 11pm, it would be best to pack a few pizzas in their pockets as even the paltry pizzas were only served for an hour.

One evening there was quite a nice deck party hosted by the ship. There was a good amount of merriment; dancing and games. However, there was absolutely no food served. One would think that an evening party would include some sort of appetizers to satiate the revelers, but there was none. Being hungry is not what I anticipate ever happening on a cruise ship.

The shore times are not conducive to excursions. In particular, the port time in Puerto Rico is from 4 pm to 11 pm. We bee lined from the ship to the fort for some sightseeing, but the late port time allowed us only 15 minutes in the fort before it closed for the day. The museums and all other attractions also closed by 5pm.

While the ship’s decor is attractive, there is an enormous amount of hard surfaces in genuine stone, faux stone, or glass. While these surfaces look very attractive and are typical for current decorating trends, it creates much ambient noise from sound vibrating off hard surfaces. It was almost impossible to have a conversation between six people seated at a table in the cafeteria during meal times. The formal dining rooms were better in this regard and were our preferred choice for all meals.

The pools and outdoor spas are only open from 7am to 7 pm.

Given these experiences, I would not recommend this cruise line to any one.

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Western Mediterranean
Publication Date: January 16, 2010

after many cruises, this was one of the worst ones i have ever take. no coffee, except at breakfast and mid day tea. the rest of the time it cost. same for water. no drinking fountains.

the food was rated by our group as cheap italian food

tasteless pasta. meat that one could not cut or chew let alone digest. in other words poor no crappy.

cabin staff, great. dining staff, ok.

reception desk lacking. if you did not speak italian or german it was hard to get a answer. felt i was being looked down upon. i will never sail with mac. nor recommend it to anyone. they nickle and dime you to death.

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Southern Caribbean
Publication Date: December 20, 2009

wish i had better news..but having cruised several times before i was expecting a real nice cruise with this new cruise line and ship, but didn't get it. More specifically i always look forward to not only good food but plentiful and always available to some degree and this was the biggest let down. The food was sub par in it's preparation...only available in small windows of time...(at one point pans were literally being pulled out of line as i was putting the food on my plate..lol) room service was extremely limited and poorly prepared and tiny portions. Passengers were so put off that the midnight buffets the two they had on a seven day cruise were mass food and practically fist fights in lines for food that was again bland and unimaginable. to cut short my woes service was poor and extremely slim and slow 20minutes between courses at dinner ...my room was dirty most days..attendants randomly threw away my papers..and i rarely saw them.. in past cruises i not only saw them but new their names all in all i spent over 5k on my trip total very close

to 6 and i now find i need a vacation to get over my vacation.. the only bright point was the calibre of the shows in the evening.. very talented ..bright and glamorous really liked them.. albeit a bit short at barely thirty minutes..still well worth the watch.. our children went with us.. as this was our christmas cruise.. and i felt very badly for them as the child care staff all except for the leader of that section who was very nice and treated the kids very well were lackluster and unmotivated and made them watch movies or videos most of the time... they made an attempt to reward the children and give them gifts for christmas a few times.. (my son recieved three fanny packs..lol ) obviously an item for an adult..not a childs gift.. all prizes and gifts were adult in nature and seemed to be merchandise that the logo store couldn't sell...one little girl even burst out in tears on recieving her extremely lame gift.. i'm ashamed to tell people i took this cruise.. really sad.. disembarking today.. this same story was all i heard over and over again... just ask anyone on that particular cruise.. i'd rate it a D grade out of kindness.. at best! i cannot recommend this line..sorry
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Bahamas
Publication Date: December 20, 2009

Save yourself the disappointment and go with another cruise line. We have cruised several times now and we were really really looking forward to this trip.

It seemed like a nice new line with an elegant feel. Nothing was good about this cruise except the night show. The boat of course, being new is nice enough, but hardly enough to counter all the negative. The maintenance crew were often lacquering the wood or painting during the day, which interfered with the access.

I saw the bad reviews online before we left and went with an open mind as we wanted to have a nice holiday with our family.

The bad reviews were all true.

The food was pitiful at best. Lukewarm and bland. Not one good meal the entire trip. They put the drinks away so you could no access them if it was not a meal time. They only offered tea and water. Nothing for children to drink. The food was also scarce. We were often hungry, our children especially.

Everyone was upset so it made for a bad atmosphere. People were all very upset and voicing it.

The first thing we

did when we went off the boat was get a meal, and for the first time in a week we felt satisfied and full.

Our children did not even want to go to the kid program since all they did was watch tv or "dance".Some children cried from being yelled at, and all the children were VERY disappointed in the fanny packs and mouse pads from the MSC logo shop as gifts, as they had been promised all week a gift. One child burst into tears as she got a bandana. The kids club crew were mean and unfriendly they did not even like children. This would seem important on a kids sail free cruise and a holiday cruise. The main guy who ran the kids club was nice enough but he was not ever there.

The pool and hot tubs close at 7. There was NOTHING to do. For us, for the kids ... really awful.

The activity directors hid out, unless they were hitting on young girls ... lol more interested in their laptops than their jobs.

The 2 nights they had activities were the 2 nights we had to be up at 6am for port of call and 6 am dissembarkment. Which was another sore point.

So all in all EVERYTHING was higher price, drinks food etc than any other cruise I have been on. I am really trying to come up with something positive to say.... but I am at a loss as there was just no high point... I suppose the night show would be one thing without a complaint... but they were short ... and I am from a tourist town full of shows and I did not come to see the once a day show.

We were hungry, bored and ready to come back home after the first day. Unfortunately it was a 8 day, 7 night cruise and the 1st and last days were treated in the itinerary and by the staff as unimportant or non existent as if they didn't count... we had to be out of our room by 6:45 am EVERYONE had to be ... on the last day ... and the 1st day there was no planned itinerary... etc

I wish we would have just stayed at home, at least I could have spent the money on something we could have actually enjoyed. I could have taken 2 cruises for what we paid for this one on seemingly lesser lines ... and had a much better time!

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: November 30, 2009

you will not gain weight on this cruise, the food was really bad. i would suggest steel toed shoes. people are in such a hurry to get on the elevator they will not let you get off had my feet steped on several times. and not one sorry.. i have been on several cruises this is the first for msc. and last. the ports were nice, but they gave no info on where to shop or go. would not recomend to a american who wants to relax and have fun. should send this ship back where it came from.

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Western Mediterranean
Publication Date: October 10, 2009

MSC Fantasia Western Med. week cruise review.

Relax and enjoy this wonderful cruise . After reading so many negatives we were a bit nervous about our choice of MSC since we are first time , American English speaking only, cruisers in our mid sixties. The ship is lovely, the rooms are large, immaculate, as is the entire ship. The food was abundant and varied. The entire crew were all very polite, well groomed, and eager to help. When language was a barrier , ( very seldom) they were most patient muddling through until we all were clear on the question and the answer. The nightly entertainment in the theater varied each evening and lasted about 45 minutes . Go, do not expect Broadway Stars, but very talented , multi cultural , enthusiastic performers. Each presentation was a delight to the eye, extravagant costumes, brilliant lighting, and great musical numbers. All can be enjoyed by any language or age.

We changed our dinner seating , we were assigned a table with French speaking only couples. They were very nice, but we felt sort of awkward doing charades etc. People change every evening as

they meet people they want to eat with . The procedure is easy, just go to the dining room you are assigned between four and six. Speak to the maitre d and they will switch you . We found, that a smile or a laugh , and common courtesy is the best way to get anything , just as anywhere else in the world. We did not encounter any rude Italians, French, stodgy, whiny British, that have been alluded to in other reviews . Everyone was friendly, and in a vacation mood. I wonder, after reading so many negatives reviews , if these people are unpleasant when seeking help etc. , then are met with the same attitude . Just a thought. Coming on board was easy in Marseille, a que of about twenty minutes . Our luggage was at our door by the time we had walked around the public spaces . ( There is an orientation meeting held in your native language , but we were not aware of that . It is listed in the daily paper that in your room when you arrive. We just didn't read . So check that as soon as you get to your room .) Disembarkation was easy, there is a meeting the night beforeand you also get papers on what to do with passports etc. It was fairly simple, you do not need to be in the lounge at 8 am, but you do need to pick up you passport at reception AFTER 8 am. We didn't leave until around 9:45.

A hint : The ship sells goodmaps of each town at Reception for .50. Well worth it so you can plan ahead. We basically did our own thing in each port except Naples and Barcelona. Naples we did the Pompeii tour, but would suggest you do the Museum in town since most of the artifacts from Pompeii are housed there. Barcelona: we caught a Blue bus to town, meets at the terminal, 3 Euros round trip compared to the MSC shuttle at 6 eurs. Then caught the Hop on and Off bus right at the drop off spot. There are people at the terminal with information and pamphlets, just ask. This was a more reasonably priced way to go than a tour.

Marseille: The Old Port. You need to take a taxi or walk out of the terminal ( about a mile and a half ) to the bus stop at the entrance the terminal or take a Hop on and Off bus which was there at the dock, too far from town to walk . Genoa: the port and the back streets. We just walked to town, you can walk to the Aquarium too. There are inexpensive harbor tours , like 10 euros. Palermo: we walked to town , head for the old town and the main shopping streets. We found an old market street that was absolutely glorious in colors along with some old, incredibly beautiful 1600s churches tucked in among the food vendors. Tunis , get a cab right at the dock for about 40 euros for three hours , the driver will wait for you when you want to get out and walk, shop or eat etc. and tell you about the area . Palma, again we walked to town. The harbor is vibrant, some fun seafood spots, the Cathedral is at the far end of the harbor, a couple of miles. Worth the leisurely walk .The grounds are interesting as are the back streets . Wonderful little shops tucked in the side streets with pastries, and other goodies. Barcelona: ( Hop on and Off ) the huge food market was immaculate in the old town area, a good place to have paella for lunch. The Olympic Games grounds offers a good view of the city. We were impressed at how clean the city is. The tram to the fort was a hit with others in our dinner group. The itinerary of cities was excellent.

A couple of suggestions. Take some wire hangars and a few clothes pins fo the clothes line in the shower, ask for a room on the left side of the boat since that is the side that faces the coastline. We took two insulated/covered coffee mugs and instant ice tea and lemonade . Used the ship water and had ice delivered every day ( no charge). The ship's water is fine to drink. We chose the soft drink package for 29 euros.If you want to go on an excursion you need to book them within the first day or so to save 5%. They do their darndest to book you on a tour in your language, but sometimes it may be two languages.

Meals: The waiters bend over backwards to make you happy. Get to know them. We had breakfast and lunch ( when on board) in the dining rooms. The Zanzabar Cafeteria on deck 14 is a bit of a mad house. But, the view is wonderful. There are hundreds of choices and a super place for kids with huge appetites. All you can eat.) The dining rooms have a more limited menu , but much quieter . Breakfast and lunch are casual attire, but no short shorts , swim wear etc. Some reviews complain about not having twenty four hour food etc. Well breakfast starts in the cafeteria at 6:30 am and is open until 10. The lunch opens at 12 and closes at 4. Tea is at 4 to 5 at the Zanzabar , first dinner starts at 6:45 , there is a midnight buffet . So there is ample time to eat. PLUS you can buy gelato, pastries, etc. through the day. No one starves. Actually some passengers seemed downright gluttonous.( A reason we chose to skip the cafeteria.)

Dress: Again posted in the daily news letter . Sadly, there were some who chose to ignore the dress code and came across as crass . Tuxedos are too formal , but a dark jacket, slacks, shirt and tie for the men works for Formal and Informal evenings. The Causal night is shirt with no tie and jacket. Ladies usually wore cocktail dresses, but basically a snazzy black, wrinkle free dress with a couple of dressy jackets or wraps and you are set. I did see a few people turned away from dinner because of their extremely casual attire. ( flip flops and bermuda shorts ). I felt people were allowed to flaunt the dress code because the crew were too polite to embarrass them.

On Deck: Upper deck in the BACK is the ZEN area , no children allowed. There are deck chairs all over the ship, no need to worry about getting one. The pools were a bit chilly , they are emptied each night and didn't seem to warm up much. The main pool areas were busy with families , games, dance classes, and a giant screen showing a variety of things going on . The exercise area is in the front of the ship , you have to go through the spa. A wonderful panoramic view, lots of equipment .

The Room:Shampoo and soap are included, some reviews have said they aren't. Plug ins are various types . Blow dryer is in the drawer. Towels are changed almost every time you step out of the room by the wonderful room elves. Pool towels are provided by the pools and hot tubs. Beds are turned down each night , and the steward ( Patricia) made us feel spoiled.

We would recommend this line , the price was about $3500 less than friends who are going on a similar cruise on another line with a balcony room. That's another two trips! There were few children , but this time of year that was to be expected. We were in minority as Americans, but we weren't going on the trip to be with Americans. The service was excellent, the ship is amazing,we didn't feel like we were being hustled at all. We spent a total of 129 Euros on board for a tour and pop. Plus our tipping fee at the end. So we felt we certainly got our money's worth and had no surprise charges. Bon Voyage. Arivederrci .. Ciao...

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: September 6, 2009

Clean smart ship but all rather impersonal. Anything purchased on board was very expensive, whether it be a drink, a shore excursion or a photo ! "Posh" restaurants were too posh and slow, buffet was too crowded and chaotic ! Not enough time in port, shore excursions all left far too early in the morning. We always seemed to be leaving port during dinner or lunch or breakfast, rarely had an opportunity to witness arriving or leaving port from the decks.

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Baltic Sea
Publication Date: June 2, 2009

We just completed a 12-day Baltic Sea cruise on the MSC Opera. In a word: GRAND.

Check-In (in Copenhagen) was a breeze. MSC was very well prepared and remarkably efficient. We heard there had been a line-up when embarkation began at noon, but we arrived about 1:30 pm and had no line-up whatsoever. Note, however, that many passengers had embarked the previous day in Kiel -- the Opera lets you embark at either Kiel or Copenhagen. We had no problem bringing on board a few bottles of our favorite wine.

Cabin We were very pleased with our cabin. We had a 12th deck "suite." The Opera has no real suites -- ours was a slightly larger room, with a bathtub. We had ample storage space and a reasonably large closet with plenty of room for 10 dresses, 4 suits, 10 or so shirts, -- we did not pack lightly. The regular rooms have less closet space, and no tub, only a shower. NOTE -- the two forward facing suites face into the wind, and on a Baltic cruise you will be typically cool if not freezing. The port and starboard suites are

much better protected from the wind. In fact, we hardly ever sat on the balcony -- it was too cold (~9-14 C / 48-57° F) most of our trip.

Food The food was excellent. Not everything was sublimely superb -- but could your favorite restaurant give you 36 consecutive sublimely superb meals? When cooking for 1,000 diners twice a night? Let's be reasonable. The pasta was consistently sublimely superb. I recommend a pasta course with every meal; you can diet later. Some main course meat dishes were very good, some were ok. Based on our traveling companions' reviews, I never ordered beef. Instead I had chicken cacciatore, guinea fowl, duck, fish, etc. Remember that this is an Italian cruise line, and the menu reflects this. I was pleased; I'll order steak some other time.

LUNCH we usually ate ashore. For the few lunches we had on board, we always had pizza (& beer). The pizza was superb. But remember that it's ITALIAN style pizza -- not Domino's or Little Caesar's.

BREAKFASTS were great -- either in the self-serve cafeteria or in the table service sit-down dining room. Lots of choices, and excellent waffles.

We found only two disappointing things about food: we ate far too much and we had to leave after only 2 1/2 hours (we had the first sitting). We could have quite happily lingered longer over our dessert and cheese. Overall, I enjoyed the food far too much -- it's not good for your waist line.

Service The service was excellent throughout the ship. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and eager to please. We travel a LOT, and we have never come across a more friendly, accommodating, eager-to-please staff. Language was not an issue. Some staff have better English than others, but (a) it's better than my Italian or Indonesian; and (b) if foreign accents annoy you then why travel?

Activities I can't really comment because we do not gamble, did not partake in any organized activities, and only rarely watched the entertainment. We went with 2 other couples so we amused ourselves with conversation when not ashore sightseeing. The bars & lounges, etc. were all very nice, in a Holiday Inn lounge sort of way; but I reckon that this is par for the course on any cruise ship. We spent most of our lounge time in the 12th deck disco at the stern. Its ceiling-to-floor windows (on 3 sides) gave a panoramic view, and it was quiet, since the disco music doesn't start til 11 or 12. Some entertainment struck us as a bit hokey (again reminiscent of a Holiday Inn lounge) but others (such as the "special guest" Swiss Dixieland jazz band) were entertaining. But we spent almost no time in show bars. We preferred to visit & chat in quieter bars, catching up with old friends.

Facilities It was too cold to swim, so no one used the pools. Early June in the Baltic is too cold for pools unless you're very, very hearty. I tried the "hot" tub once, but at its advertised 22° C / 72° F, it was a tad too tepid for my liking.

Drinks We bought the buy-ahead beer package (14 bottles for US $38 or so), and it's worth it. Otherwise bottled beer is 4 or 5 Euros, depending upon the brand. We bought a wine package at embarkation -- saves you 20 Euro, but I didn't find it to be any big deal. The house wine at 8 Euro per 1/2 litre was cheaper than the package and quite drinkable. We also pre-purchased an embarrassingly large number of bottles of wine for our cabin, at about US $19 each -- this I recommend if you enjoy a glass of wine on your balcony. But you CAN take unfinished wine from the restaurant to your cabin or a lounge.

Ports of Call Great! The ports were the primary reason for us taking this cruise, and we were not disappointed. I like medieval old-town centers, and we saw a few of them.

Gdansk: Dluga Targ (pretty much the medieval main street) was gorgeous. But my camera broke so I was able to take only a few pictures on my PDA. A great place for lunch in Gdansk is "Salonik" on Deluga. It's a wonderfully decorated room, featuring traditional Polish food. At about 4pm it started to pour and got quite cool, so being creatures of comfort we took a taxi back to the ship, thus cutting a bit short our sightseeing. Note that it's about a 45 minute taxi ride from the cruise port (in Gdynia) to the Gdansk Stare Misto. Six of us shared a min-van taxi, and he charged us 200 zloty. We suspect this is about half the meter rate, but Poland's hurting, and split 6 ways it's not a bad fare. Anything to help a suffering economy, I say.

Riga: Riga was very nice, but has not yet completed its post-Soviet makeover. Once their EEC economy kicks in and they complete their medieval old-town center renovation, Riga will be as strikingly beautiful as Prague or Tallinn. Depending upon your ship's berth and your walking pace, it's a 20-40 minute walk to the medieval old-town center. It is NOT a scenic walk (from ship to old town), but we welcomed the exercise so we enjoyed it. It poured (again), so we spent more time than we would have planned having a thoroughly enjoyable lunch. Our friends reported a superb lunch at a different restaurant. I'll try to track down restaurant names if anyone is interested. The Latvian Museum of Occupation (soviet & nazi) is an educational MUST-SEE. Missus bought a very nice amber bracelet in Riga for what seemed to us to be a better price-to-quality ratio than other Baltic ports. But we are in no way gemological experts, so buyer beware. Riga also featured the cheapest beer -- CAD $2 / pint at an otherwise expensive, trendy, fashionable & good-food restaurant. The primary reason we chose MSC was the inclusion of Riga (and Visby) and we were NOT disappointed. If you're only going to take one Baltic cruise -- capitalize on the opportunity and sample as much as possible. GO to Riga.

Tallinn: Tallinn was the gem of the trip -- an absolutely gorgeous medieval old-town center. There is too much to see and enjoy during a 1-day port call. Tallinn is the only port-of-call to which I would gladly make a special trip to re-visit.

St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg is ... St. Petersburg. You've already read all about it. Glorious churches, near-decadent architecture, Romanov legacy, and the Hermitage. But it's also bureaucratically tourist-unfriendly, and most of the city is 200-year old run-down and seedy following years of neglect. Call me a Philistine (I shan't protest it), but a 2-day cruise call is sufficient.

Helsinki: Helsinki. Sigh. More rain, more chill. This is the only cruise ship excursion we took -- to Porvoo -- and I cannot recommend it. On the other hand, Missus highly recommends the fresh-fried smelt (?) at the dockside market. At the risk of once again revealing my Philistinity, I declined the opportunity to eat entire fishes -- heads, tails, bones, GI tracts and anuses.

Stockholm: Stockholm was fun, architecturally interesting, wet, cold, rainy, and expensive. A gorgeous (big) city, with lovely looking cafés galore, but with $20 soups and $15 beer (or glass of table wine), it's not high on my list of must-go-back-to places.

Visby: Visby was picturesque. Unique in its small-town densely packed old-town "cottages" combined with long-lost Hanseatic glory. MSC may be the only cruise line stopping in Visby, and it's well worth it.

Kiel: Good shopping, just past the block or so of sex-trade merchants. But (at the risk of being racist), with typical German gemütlichkeit, it's a tasteful, well-scrubbed, tidy and not in the slightest bit seedy sex-trade block.

Copenhagen: Copenhagen -- the start & finish. We spent 2 nights prior and one night after the cruise. One of the most vibrant cities we have visited. Cafes everywhere, generally busy with people enjoying themselves, evidently immensely. The old-town core is full of people enjoying themselves. It's catching.

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