Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. Families. Value for Money.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
In short if you are used to North American Cruise Lines, like Hollond America, Royal Carribean etc then you will be as disappointed as we were on a recent 18 day cruise on MSC Lirica.
All Food was poor, tasteless, over cooked and often cold or just warm.
Language barrier existed -- 5 languages used with Italian as the first. All announcements including the nightly entertainment announced in 5 langages.
When dining for lunch and breakfast often the other people at the table could not speak English.
If you didn't want to attend the formal dining night the only food available after 5 PM was room service which was very limited. The buffet dining room closed at 5 pm. The only place to get a coffee or tea in the evening was at the bar for $2.50.
For me the most important part of a cruise is the elegant dining for great food and it was not even close on the Lirica.
The best meal that I had was the morning that we returned to L.A. at Denny's which tasted soooo good compared with the previous 18 days.
We are a Brazilian couple, mid 50's, restaurant ownwers in Rio who love to work and sail.
This sail was with MSC Musica, a Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro) that began on November 8. It was our 26th cruise, and the first and the last with that company.
Since Rio is a bit far from Europe we normally travel for some days before to have a car looking for scenic drives to the ports we will sail. So this time we came from Munich and drove to Sirmione, Italy and then to San Casciano in Tuscany, for a 6 day trip through these beautifull parts of Italy. On the last day we drove from San Casciano to Venice, a 2.5 hour drive. We arrived on the day before the cruise in Mestre (beside Venice) at Novotel (EU$95). Mestre is less than 7 miles from Venice. We returned the car easily near the port at Piazza Roma.
Embarkation I never forgot a maxim I've heard -- "You never have a second chance to make a good first impression" and embarkation was CHAOS. We arrived 11:30hs and there were thousands of people waiting on hugeunorganized lines. Check-in was supposed to start at 13,00hs. Then we decided to leave our hand luggage in a locker at the pier and return to Venice to enjoy more of this marvelous city. We returned at 16:00hs and waited for another half hour in line, and we heard the stories of people fainting, fights, etc. This was the worst check-in we have ever seen. Every guest we've met was horrified with the poor service.
Ship and Cabin No one took us to our cabin. Our cabin was on the very last of the stern. It had a small and dirt balcony, average bathroom size, small and few wardrobes, outworn carpets and chairs, shampoo and soap -- but no conditioner or moisture cream. The robes available were good ones, a 20'LCD TV, and a mini bar. The decor was not bad.
The ship does not have a nice atrium. It is only 3 floors high, with a piano in the middle. The stores were little and unfriendly (no refunds, no exchanges). There were 2 pools (salt water) which were ok, and 4 dirty jacuzzis. There was a small area for mini-golf, a sports area, and excellent chairs with shades for your face, but again you had to wake up early in order to reserve your chair, especially when you travel with German people. There was a ridiculous gym academy, 6 treadmills for a 3600 passenger ship! There were 2 bicycles, but a big salon for paid activities, with a small audience for that. There was no sauna available unless you paid US$30 a day for use of the spa facility, sauna, turquish bath, and 2 small private jacuzzis.
The theater was ok, but not the shows! The restaurants were nice, with 2 differents decors. There were 2 specialty restuarants at US$30 cover charge pp. The one Chinese restaurant was always empty, and the other "Italian" restaurant is in the same area where the buffet is served at lunch! It too was always empty. Then there were some "nothing special lounges," and that's it. Not too many places to go or stay -- just a minimal library, minimal cigar room, 12 computers for internet, a small casino, and a very classic decoration, which you will forget on the day you disembark. The common areas were well maintained, though.
Service As I said, no one took us to our cabin on embarkation day. Then on the very first day, in the dining room, the waiter and his helper did not greet us, nor even a good evening! Then we decided to change tables, and a better waiter served us for the rest of the cruise. We've heard that more than 50 new waiters embarked with us in Venice, and the cruise director and other managers embarked the next day since the old ones had quit! The day we ate at the specialty restaurant we waited 3 hours to be served, and there were only 2 tables to be waited on! Our room steward needed 4 days to understand that we wanted ice in the room, more hangers, and more blankets. After that, though, she only forgot small details such as soaps, towels, etc. We had to call reception twice for help with her. The reception desk was ok depending upon who attended to you, ditto for a nice person to help you. I wrote a letter to Mr. Franco, a food and beverage manager, but got no answer, although the Maitre'd assured me he received the letter. So, this was the nature of the service.
Food and Beverage Would you believe they prohibited waiters to serve water at the tables in order to sell mineral water? I've never seen a petty attitude like that on any ship we've sailed. People were offended with this.
Breakfast was the same everyday -- bread, eggs, omelettes, cold cuts, fresh fruit (good), but no salmon. Milk and coffee needed to be served by waiters, and I heard people complaining about the milk quality.
Lunch in the main restaurant was better than in the buffet, with 3 salads plus tomatoes, lettuce and carrots. That's it, with sometimes some cucumber. Hamburgers and hot dogs, fries, and some hot stews. Everything was second class quality.
Dinner was better, although rarely beef or a steak. Everyday they said you can have salmon, chicken or beef. It made me laugh when we ordered beef, it was like a "carpaccio," it was so thin. No comment. The bread and butter was the best part of the meal. And, the desserts and ice creams were surprisingly good.
There was also a midnight buffet. We only attended the chocolate one. It was good. They also served tea with 2 kinds of sandwiches, and some sweets. There was no tea available during the day. Also, there was a charge for room service, and with only a small selection available too.
Ports These were okay. Bari, Tenerife, Malta, Funchal, Malaga, Recife, and Salvador. We did not take any excursions since we've been to these places before. The excursions were an average of US$130!
Shows and Entertainment There was no live orchestra, only recorded music! The same show was always playing, with 6 female dancers and 4 men for 45 minutes shows. The second sitting shows were at 23:30hs. There was no live band on the pool deck, although the weather was fine. There was plenty of live music onboard in the inside areas of the ship, including some good Brazilian musicians playing.
The entertainment was led by a transvestite looking boy, would you belive it?
Kids games were held in the pool! Some stretching classes and dancing lessons took place there too. There was also a huge screen showing only MSC ads, instead of films and shows. Also, you have to pay to watch movies on your cabin TV. During the 5 day transatlantic crossing we had nothing to watch on TV except MSC ads -- not even a music channel!
Disembarkation It was surprisingly good with no queues. We easily found our luggage. Disembarkation was on time too.
Conclusion If you have ever sailed with Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America or Princess, or even Carnival, you will be extremely disappointed with MSC, although their prices are almost the same. Don't sail MSC. But, if you are a first timer and have no point of comparison, then you will probably not notice the points I've mentioned and could enjoy more of the MSC cruise experience than we did. For us, we'll never sail MSC again.
The review which was entered by the person in 2005 hit the nail on the head.
The only improvement has been in the entertainment. In fact, many things may have even gotten worse in other aspects of the ship.
Table water is no longer available when dining. Water must be purchased by the bottle. No tea or coffee is available after the evening meals unless purchased. The tea and coffee in the self-service buffet restaurant is served from huge urns. All food areas are closed after meal service. The only drinks or ice creams, etc., available after this time must be purchased.
Unlike many other ships, this ship docked too far away from anything interesting. We would have to walk miles or use the transport laid on by MSC, which was also charged for.
We had visited most of the ports on previous occasions and never experienced this situation.
We have also experienced quite a few cruises, and I am pleased that this was not our first. We would have missed out on many of the other delightful cruises we have experienced before this one, because I would have been hesitant to try furthercruising had this been our first cruise. Indeed this was our 4th cruise with MSC, and we have not had this experience on their other vessels.
We booked a cruise on MSC because we thought they would be like Costa. We are ballroom dancers and thought they might be close to Costa in that area.
The musical groups were even better than Costa, but the dance floors were not as nice as Costa. The Costa Fortuna/Magica had wood floors, while the Orchestra had tile floors that were a bit sticky. They did have a lot of dance space in 3 locations and provided a lot of opportunities to dance.
The food varied from okay to excellent. Service was excellent in the lounges, dining room and cabins. Their cafeteria food was as good as we ever had on a cruise. The key seems to be in ordering food you expect Europeans to be good at preparing.
Our room was right over a bandstand, but we did not hear the noise below us, nor any other noise.
The seas were pretty choppy the whole cruise, but the ship handled them very well.
MSC had excellent entertainers, but unfortunately the producers for their shows were not of the same caliber. They totally messed up the last show with horrid sound tracks. Ifelt sorry for the two singers, trying to sing with such terrible background music/noise.
One negative was the "excellent" entertainment team. We found them annoying, arrogant and vulgar.
Embarkation and disembarkation were the fastest we have had in eight cruises. Ten minutes after walking into the terminal, we were on the ship. Luggage also got to our room the fastest of any cruise we have been on.
We would cruise MSC again, but Costa is still our first choice.
MSC had a lot of Indonesian employees on their wait staff. They were very efficient and courteous, but not as outgoing as the Filipinos on Costa and NCL -- but they were very efficient.
This cruise was a mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime. First, the sublime: the balcony cabin (category 10) was beautiful, comfortable and roomy. The balcony was big enough to sit and enjoy the views, and the shower was big enough for my 6'2" 250 lb. husband (something rare on cruise ships). Beware, however, of the 'obstructed view' cabins. The obstruction is a lifeboat occupying the entire balcony, blocking not only the view, but the light, too. You're better off going down a category, and saving the money.
The ship is wonderfully decorated in an elegant art deco style and has several areas for activities -- including a lounge dedicated to smokers. There is an adequately equipped gym and a large theater which provides excellent entertainment.
That was the good stuff. Everything else ranged from merely annoying to outright awful.
The food -- of which there is plenty (there are 5 different times one can 'dine) is laden with MSG. If one is allergic to MSG (as I am), one is limited to a nightly dinner of pasta pomodoro (even the salads and the pizza are off limits). The daily programs state thatpassengers should notify the Maitre d'Hotel about dietary limitations, but their solution is to tell you what you cannot eat (which is most of what is on offer in my case). The menus are wonderfully diverse, but the execution is hit or miss: mostly miss. The poultry and the fish were always dry and stringy, the meat (beef, lamb, pork, etc.) is like shoe leather, and the vegetables were sometimes mush and sometimes very good. The desserts were mostly very good.
The staff (when they can be located) are dictatorial, argumentative, and rude, except for the few servers from Thailand and Cambodia. The posted schedules are rarely accurate (except for meal times and the entertainment), and passengers are frequently huddled in masses awaiting their quide/leader/whatever to appear.
The internet café is extremely expensive, and the computers are almost always down (yet that's the only way to confirm flights, for example). The beauty shop offerings are about twice as expensive as the same services on land. I also learned -- to my horror -- that the beauty shop staff aren't even well trained. My once shoulder length hair is now 2" all over my head. When they did a touch-up, they used extremely strong peroxide and overlapped -- once I got home, my hair started coming out in handfuls right at the overlap. I now get frequent concerned questions about how my chemo is coming.
The excursions are highly overpriced and always late. The staff also lies about the rules of the various countries. For example, they told us that the only way to see St. Petersburg was to go on their planned excursions because Russia would not let us off the ship. This is a complete lie: the Russian government allows all passengers to visit Russia for the day as long as they a) spend the night on the ship and b) have a copy of the front page of their passport -- no visa required (in fact, you can't get a visa for one day -- I tried).
MSC offers a 'children cruise for free' gimmick, but even that is not worth this cruise from Hell!
My husband and I have been to Italy several times, and love it -- we were hoping that 'cruising Italian style' would be an extension of the pleasure we had on land. We couldn't be more disappointed.
Italian cuisine is no guarantee of good food. MSC Poesia was a disappointment.
The Italian cruise ship company MSC hosts a Mediterranean gastronomic dining cruise featuring fine food and wine. Unfortunately the culinary experience will be less than expected, since the food comprises three-course cafeteria fare served as six dishes and costing twice as much. I will actually contend that I have eaten better dinners at roadside inns than the food turned out by the Italian cruise kitchen.
Tough meat, tasteless fish and unsavoury side dishes characterised my dining experience. We felt cheated. The cruise company has apparently put their "bean counters" to work applying the modern economic principle known as "profit maximization." Basically this means using the cheapest ingredients available and charging the highest possible price. The dessert was good, I admit. Italian ice cream is not easy to ruin, but this one treat was not enough to compensate for poor dinners throughout the entire week.
Breakfast and lunch were good, but strangely enough, the fare was identical day after day. The advantage of this, of course, is that the meals are predictable -- you know in advance what you are getting -- and thedishes are placed in exactly the same place each day. The disadvantage is that the food becomes increasingly boring. Fortunately the cruise lasted only one week. If MSC Cruises had sent us on a two-week trip with second-rate food like this, I would have abandoned ship at the first available port of call.
Not one ill word about the service personnel on board. They were always smiling, helpful and service-minded. Frustration increased, of course, with each passing day and the guests' realization that the quality of the food very simply would never improve. Naturally one cannot expect the gastronomic quality of French cuisine on board an Italian boat, but again, this was really the bottom of the barrel. If you are tempted by a cruise in the Mediterranean, be my guest, but if you want to enjoy fine cuisine on the high seas -- forget it.
We have made 46 cruises, and this cruise, by far, was the worst cruise we have ever taken.
1. The suite was very nice, plenty of closets and nice decoration. Balcony had RATTAN chairs. Every night water came all the way up to our suite, leaving nice pieces of salt between the rattan to be used for breakfast, I guess.
2. A lot of brass all over the ship, shining at all times.
3. To the contrast of the above, were the scoffed officers' shoes or sneakers.
4. No matter who you wanted to talk to -- housekeeping, room service, photo or any other shop etc., etc. -- you could only call 99, front desk, and they wanted to know at all times who you wanted and what you wanted to talk about. Every crew member was scared. During dinner, supervisors were making notes as to what the pax. wanted and what the waiter ordered, so that he could not order something more for himself. They were watching their supervisors at all times over their shoulder. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. I did know what the waiters talked about to each other. Nearly all ofthem Indonesian, 350 of them from Bali and Jakarta alone. I have lived in Indonesia for 19 years, during that time having 6 servants and a factory with 600 employees. I speak their language fluently, could understand it, and all I picked up was that they only get 2 meals a day. No wonder they tried to get some extra. No wonder that one day a servant from Madagascar jumped overboard, that the next day a servant from India jumped overboard and then a servant from China wanted to jump, but they were able to get to him at the last minute and locked him up. The ship went in circles for over 5 hours, so we missed Cayo Levantado, Samana, Dominican Republic, and went to Nassau instead. There were no announcements regarding the 2 dead people, etc., etc., and no apologies either.
5. I requested 99 during the night some orange juice (book says room service 24 hours round the clock). 99 got me a room service guy on the phone, who told me that he could not bring orange juice, but he could come to our cabin to explain it all to me, absurd. A CONFERENCE WITH A BELL BOY AT NIGHT RE: ORANGE JUICE?
6. One night I was very sick. The doctor visited me in my cabin, gave antibiotics and told me to eat something. I asked my wife to bring me some desert. NOT ALLOWED. She had to take the desert in her evening handbag so that nobody saw it, otherwise the waiter would get into trouble.
7. 30% or so of the pax. were deaf mutes. They all went as a pack to whatever public room they were headed, leaving no room for others. To make it worse, any announcement or speech or instruction was said in Italian, Spanish, French, German and last, but not least, even English for the 15% or so American and English-speaking guests.
8. In regards to point number 5, I did visit the Head of Hotel and his assistant. They told me that this would NEVER happen again. I told them that in my opinion they had no authority whatsoever. Needless to say that never DID get the orange juice. However, the next day I got a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Ra Ra.
9. The food was terrible, hardly any choices. They did not know what a soufflee was, and thought a ceasar salad was iceberg salad with slices of cheese on top. I guess I'd better stop. One thing was funny, they report to US Customs all purchases made. So they called me and wanted to see my Custom declaration, because I bought more than the exempt $800 -- all of it was on my declaration.
10. Suggestion: MCR CRUISE COMP stay in Europe. You people have NO idea what brings Americans on board. I could not find ONE American couple who would sail with you again. Formal night 3, nearly all Americans in Tux, maybe 70% of the Europeans did not know what a Tux meant, I guess, but they all know slippers and shorts, and Italian woman all like movie stars. HOWEVER NOTHING STOPPED US AND THE OTHER PAX WE TRAVELLED TOGETHER WITH FROM HAVING A GOOD TIME. After all, there was at most times plenty of food and the shore excursions were very nice and well organized.
From the time we started the cruise at Venice and finished up at Genoa, we had a brilliant time. MSC Sinfonia is a fabulous ship, very clean and the staff are helpful and obliging, although sometimes under pressure from their clients.
The food was excellent in quality, quantity and presentation, but we found it "warm" rather than hot. The same for tea and coffee. Luke warm tea is not nice!!
However, the evening entertainment more than made up for any other failures. Professional shows, very entertaining and not too long. There was lots to do and see for those that wanted to, and quiet lounges and decks for chilling out. We would definitely cruise with MSC again and are already looking at cruises for next year.
The majority of people complaining about the cruise ship were those who could not get food 24 hrs round the clock, which is available on North American cruise lines. It IS aimed at Europeans we felt, and they tend to eat light and less often. It was normal to see Italians and Germans just having fruit and cereal for breakfast rather than the huge platter of friesreadily available.
We were happy with MSC Sinfonia and rate it 8/10.
Well I wanted to take the time to write a review because I did have a GOOD experience on the Lirica. I have cruised 8 times and although it was the most unbearable lengthiest embarkation proceedure EVER, we did receive a HUGE apology 3 days later, saying it was due to lack of qualified personnel at Ft Lauderdale (There were (5) 80 year olds). The MSC crew were desperately trying to assist them verbally (not allowed to do more than that) and were just as frustrated. We waited from 11:30 until 3:30 to get on board! The crew was Italian and philippine and balinese and charming and nice, yet very unaware that "the customer is always right" policy we Americans serve with. You get more bees (if any) with honey on this ship. No one knows or cares if you have a problem, unless you take the attitude of 100% calm and friendly.
The dining room was fantastic. We ate at the Bussala restaurant and every night had two or three entrees each with our 6 course meals. We were given as much of anything we wanted and since there was sucha variety of food that tempted our taste buds, we tried every entree, whether on our own or our kids. Paulo the maitre 'd, I love YOU!, Bruno the asst. maitre 'd, you get kisses and hugs! You run your dining room with excellence and Rudy was the most pleasant happiest waiter ever and always smiled. Place your silverware on your plate and they replace at every course. They know how to serve and attend to you first class. I am a critic, so I was on the watch and found that I have never had better service elsewhere, restaurant in NYC or on vacations. On the 2nd formal night we had a succulent gorgeous huge lobster tail better than I have had in bar harbour. I must say many people did not have the same experience I had, but I am an Italian food critic raised on fine dinning and I beleive their opinion is that of the average American who doesn't know real Italian food, but that only of the local pizzeria.
Captain Giacomo was charming and drove the ship with precision. It was smooth sailing even when we were in 12 foot seas one night. I actually prefer a little movement, and was disappointed that when I disembarked (easy process) I did not have the rock n roll feeling I love that helps me sleep better in my own bed.
I boarded with 7 suitcases and when we entered our tiny cabin I had an anxiety attack! I am 350 and found the space tight for anyone, especially with 4 in a cabin. We couldn't get a balcony because only 3 are allowed, yet it is twice as big! Dumb! Well I unpacked everything and successfully put away all things! I fit 4 pieces under the two twin beds! I needed the cabin to look spotless and ship-shape so I could appreciate the small scale furniture design and feel the least cramped as possible. The bathroom was a joke! As you sat on the throne your left foot rested in the shower pan and right arm in the sink. Luckily there was a shower curtain and drain on the main floor so when you showered with the hand held you could step half outside the shower without the curtain (which would stick to you like a rain coat unless you were twiggy). Clean up was a breeze and I soon relaxed and found the cabin quite well designed and efficient and even comfortable!
I saw one or two shows which were great, but since I don't like watching shows unless I know what I am seeing first, I avoided them. I go to Bway in NYC enough and although this was the only entertainment, I preferred to be free spirited and engage in conversation with the very friendly passengers of all ages. The ship's designer was stellar and I found it the easiest ship to get around yet, and not over bling-y. Classy and well designed and super clean! Super duper perfect.
Drinks on board are crazy expensive 6-8$ and soda is 2.50 a can. The soda cards and drink cards don't save you much at all and are limited, so I drank their delicious brewed free iced tea at dinner and at room service all day! Room service menu only had cheese plate, fruit plate, continental breakfast, chicken ceasar, chicken club, tuna sandwich with potato chips, and soup. That's it 24/7! We ordered it every night! I had fresh fruit (fabulous) at 7 am everyday and only went to b'kfast 2x's in the dining room. Delicious corned beef hash and lox and bagels, and every breakfast you could want, but service confusing because open seating and not our waiters always.
We laundered a formal gown and it came back in 24 hours perfect for only 4.50! There is no self laundry on the ship, so bring a laundry hamper bag (we used a huge duffel bag and kept it under the desk area as a hamper!).
The stops were good, except when we had to tender to cayman Island and Mexico. It takes 2 hours getting off the ship! The ocean was rough due to the passing storm, and they take all the tours first. Don't pay for the tours on board if you have a large group because you can get them 1/2 price in Cayman. We had a great time swimming with the stingrays, except my 8 year old who felt afraid and the 3-4 foot waves were drowning her. Go if the water is not rough because you are in the middle of the ocean on a sandbar. The 2nd stop was snorkeling in 9 ft. I had to get help as the current was pulling me away and a surfer passenger threw me life ring. I had trouble kicking with fins on and got cramps in both my legs as I tried to swim against the current. My husband and 8 year old had trouble too and went right back on the boat, but my 12 year old daughter had no problem. The 3 people on the ship were in awesome shape and to them it was like a baby pool and they made us feel so safe. It was $40 pp and they let my 8yr old go free.
In Jamaica we went to the Sunset Beach Hotel right by dock. Gorgeous beaches and spectacular kid's clubs pool, slides, and adult pool, and all you can eat and drink for $140 the whole family! What a find! Screw climbing up the water falls 2 hours away. Relax 'mon! I did this time instead. Look up Sunset Beach on internet and see how gorgeous it is!
In mexico we took a cab for 4 to Playancar Beach and snorkeled and ate on the beach. Glorious! It costs $70 for the cab all day until 7pm. They waited for us! We saw a quaint church 150 years old and ruins buildings nearby quickly and we gathered so much coral and conch shells! We bought necklaces for $1 and recommend carved wood here and also at pier in Jamaica where everything was so cheap and art work beautiful.
Well, that's my crusise review. I paid $1200 plus air fare for a family of 4 and although accommodations were tight and no babysitting after semi-lame kids club at 9:30, the cruise was a hit and I recommend going if you have class and want to be cheap! Contact me if you have questions!
This ship is designed for German speaking passengers only. We only speak English and felt like we were second rate. Half of what was being said was never translated for us. So we were told by duel speaking friends. The prices they charge for everything is stupid. In the ports we were never told anything about what was there if you wanted to sightsee on your own and not pay the large sums for the bus tours.
We did the same things as the bus tours and only paid a quarter of the price and it was for two people.
We could not do the activities as they could not speak English so we read a book and went to the gym since this was free -- the only thing that was.
Water was charged at four times the price you could get it on shore.
Their Italian food was awful.
We will never sail on an MSC ship again. We hated it.