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.
There's so much to say, and since we just got back this afternoon from the cruise, I wanted to write this review as quickly as possible so we do not leave anything out.
First of all, the embarkation was a complete disaster. Now, before I go farther, it deserves to be said that there was a gas leak in the terminal the morning we were to board, and as a result, the ship and the terminal had to be evacuated. That meant the still-remaining passengers from the week before had to leave the ship, then return, and then leave again. So, those individuals did not get completely disembarked until mid-afternoon (around 3:00 p.m.). The ship had to be turned around for the new passengers, so we didn't get on board (and we were towards the "front" of the line) until close to 4:30 p.m. For the record, we looked out at the line several times throughout the day, and there were still passengers coming aboard close to 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. I cannot imagine how horrible that would have been. Our main complaint, since MSC Cruises could not control a gasleak, was that they didn't give any information at all to those waiting in line. We heard NOTHING about what was happening, other than from other customers who were also waiting in line. We heard absolutely nothing from MSC during that time in line about what the process was which was unfolding in front of our eyes. Needless to say, it was a nightmare.
Note: A part of the embarkation process most definitely involves the delivery of the luggage to our rooms. By 1:00 a.m. the night of the sailing, our luggage still had not been delivered to our room. After calling twice and getting nowhere, my son and I went to the lost and found. Sitting there, with the MSC TAGS IN FULL VIEW was our luggage. I asked the customer service personnel why the luggage was just sitting there, and they had NO explanation. Again, the tags were in perfect view, right where they were supposed to be. It's as if someone was just lazy and didn't take the time to deliver the bags to our room. The customer service person said she would find out why this had happened, and that she'd call me back. I never heard another word from them again. Not. One. Word!
Our cabin (11247), and our sons' cabin (11241) were both fantastic. Ours was a balcony and theirs was a few doors down, and was an inside berth. The rooms were SPOTLESS, and our room steward was the best we've experienced in 13 cruises. He really did an awesome job, and was one of the few highlights (from MSC) of this cruise for us. He really, truly took good care of our rooms each day. The rooms are beautiful, and they're very nicely appointed. Without a doubt, they are the nicest rooms we've ever had on any cruise ship. Our balcony wasn't huge, but it was big enough certainly for my wife and I to enjoy (and typically our two sons would stand out there with us a while each day).
There is most certainly a language barrier, which is pretty difficult to get past, on this ship. I mean, it is a TRUE challenge to overcome. It was quite difficult for our dining staff to complete our order properly because they simply didn't understand English very well at all. Most evenings our meals were incorrect. It wasn't that they didn't try (because they did); but rather, it was because they just didn't know. Honestly, I blame the company for this, not the workers. They've obviously not been trained well. Anyhow, the food was decently good, and we really don't have any complaints about the quality or taste of the food in the Black Crab or in the 14th floor buffets. The pizza was really delicious in the buffet area, and we enjoyed the great selection of breads and cheeses. I'll rate the food quality pretty high, because again, it wasn't bad.
The excursion experiences we had are OUTRAGEOUSLY BAD! In fact, we're going to be trying our best to get our money refunded (which they will not do on board - even though they booked us on an excursion for which we DID NOT SIGN UP. Now, we have to use more time to try to get this resolved because to the staff on board, we're outta sight, and outta mind). It was virtually impossible to get someone to return our MANY messages seeking assistance. My wife stopped by the desk 4 times, and she called 3 additional times, before finally getting a return call with the news that they would not be able to help us on board -- even though it was their mistake. We viewed a video at the Excursion Desk, along with their staff member, and told him that was the excursion we wished to take. The following day, our tickets arrived and 3 were of one excursion, and one was for another. We arrived the next morning to the meeting point, and brought to the attention of those there that the excursions were not the same. They told us which group to get into, and the excursion we went on was a complete and total JOKE! We paid $72 for a ferry ride, shopping, a dirty public beach, and lunch in a cave. We were supposed to go on an excursion which including snorkeling in a cavern, not a Mexican buffet in a cave restaurant. Again, the language barrier reveals its ugly head!!! There's NO WAY IN THE WORLD we would have taken our 17 and 20 year old on an excursion like that!!! They were HUGELY disappointed, because we really had hyped up the trip to the cavern. Honestly, I'm still incredibly upset about this mistake on their part -- which they wouldn't even rectify. Stay tuned. I'll come back on here and update this if they actually own up to their mistake. We'll see!
The evening shows on board is the best we've ever experienced on any ship. Period! They are absolutely magnificent. Honestly, there are not enough ways for me to express how good those shows are. Our favorites were "Alice in Wonderland" and "Michael Jackson." We would have watched them over and over. Again, hands down, the best we've seen. Now, other parts of the entertainment need to be improved. For instance, many nights, we felt as though there was not really anything to do. We found ourselves missing the karaoke and the comedy shows which Carnival do so well. They had karaoke one evening, but since everyone else apparently felt the same way we did, the very large room was so full that there was no place to sit. Scores of individuals were just standing. It's our feeling that this is an area which definitely needs to be improved upon, if they are going to successfully attract Americans. We were glad we had the late dinner seating, because at least that gave us something to do until about 10:00. We hope they'll make some improvements in this area. We also missed afternoon gigs like the "Love and Marriage" show, etc. Those are lots of fun on Carnival.
I give them pretty high marks for their stores and snack venues. Prices are reasonable, and the quality is quite good. There's not a lot to be said here.
The Western Caribbean has its pros and cons, for sure. Grand Cayman is an absolutely beautiful place. We feel very safe there, and the beaches are awesome and very clean. The entire 7 Mile Beach area is great. The tender service from the ship (using their own lifeboats) was quite smooth. Cozumel was where the entire excursion fiasco took place, so there's not much to say here. We've never really found anything worthwhile to do there. Perhaps we will the next time. We had to go to Ocho Rios (rather than Falmouth) due to the storm (Bertha). In fact, our itinerary was changed around (days in 2 of the ports) because of the storm. Since we've been there before, we decided not to go back to Dunns River Falls. We do highly recommend it at some point, if you haven't been there. Anyhow, there's not much else to do in Ocho Rios, although the Margaritaville there is pretty nice. In fact, they found out it was my wife's birthday the day we were there, so they brought her a piece of the BEST key lime pie we've ever had. Great place. Stop in! Great Stirrup Key is beautiful! They have lots to offer families of all types, ages, etc. Our sons went on the wave runner tour, which they loved. My wife and I rented a very large raft. That didn't turn out that well, but that was our fault...haha. I'll save that story for another venue. Beware of the HUGE rocks in the beach area. It's very difficult to walk around in the shallow water on the beach because of the rocks. Water shoes would definitely be good to bring to this port. Lunch was great! They definitely need to improve one thing: Several people were passing out in line to return to the tenders because of the extraordinary heat. They need to provide water points along the way like some of the other lines do on their private islands. Even on the tenders there were people passing out. I highly recommend the water spots.
The disembarkation process was the fastest and best organized we've ever experienced. We would recommend the other lines observe the way MSC does this process, because it's almost flawless. We were off the ship in virtually no time at all. We grabbed a shared ride and headed to the airport (for $30 flat). We were at the airport in very quick fashion.
Again, our biggest complaints revolve around the excursion process; the language barrier; the "lost" luggage; and most certainly the lack of communication from the staff members when we needed help. MSC needs to improve on these areas. That's a fact! Like I said - this review is a mixed bag. There were some definite high points of this cruise vacation, and there were some areas they need to work very hard to improve. We hope they will! If they don't, they may not be successful marketing to those living in the US.
We had a terrible experience on the Divina, made much worse by the horrible attitude
We got an amazing value on Groupon. 10 days for less that $900/per person for a balcony room. This was THE only value. We had a horrible time just registering online and never got anything from MSC prior to the sailing. We had to have the luggage handler look us up on their manifest to tell us what room we were in.
We only ate in the buffett(14th deck) which was roomy but the food was the same, every night. Italian!! 14 kinds of pizza every day! The ship was loaded with Italians, French,
In a few quick words.....if you expect any level of customer service on a cruise, DO NOT waist your money on MSC.
Cruised on November 30th...
I traveled with a large group on what was suppose to be an awesome cruise. When I heard it was MSC, I did some research and by all accounts, everything looked awesome. Now I am not a first time cruiser, having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity a number of times. On each of those cruises, the level of service that you receive is second to none.
Well, I am getting ahead of myself so lets go slower.
Embarkation was short and simple with few lines at all. Once on the ship I saw that the staff was very well dressed and was excited to move forward.
I liked the fact that my cabin was already available at 3:30pm and made my way there. The ship is kind of a strange design with silly turns and all. They seemed to have wasted a lot of valuable room space that could have been great balconies. The room was standard and my cabin steward saw us andintroduced himself. During the cruise he kept everything up to my liking.
Dinner that night (we asked for late seating but got stuck on early) was interesting. The wait staff seemed far to understaffed to wait on us fully. We had to ask for water to be refilled all the time and virtually every night in the dinning room. Special requests were not really possible as the staff spoke very little English. One of my cruise mates asked for a chocolate chip cooked for dessert one night and the wait person offered him drizzled chocolate on a plate..he never got the cookie! The food wasn't bad but on the surf and turn night, the "filet" was either pot roast or prim rib (which was an entree a few nights earlier) and it was covered in gravy. While food came out about the same time for all of our party, the service was slow. During lunch in the dining room, service was even slower! Bar service in the dinning room was virtually non-existent so we ended up getting our drinks before dinner and bringing them in with us. While at the table, we would get up and go elsewhere to get them.
The buffet on the 14th deck had its own challenges. While there was a variety of foods, it was the same thing every day. During transitions from different dinning times, i.e. breakfast, lunch or dinner, all of the food would be removed for up to a half hour. So during those times, if you came up, there would be no food...anywhere!!! They served pizza till midnight and then after that, only one station of cold bread with egg salad, tuna salad for chicken salad. There were free juices but after lunch, they machines were changed to just water or tea. The staff did keep the area clean pretty well but there was the general language barrier if you needed something.
Specialty dinning. Two restaurants, one steak place and one Italian place. Not what you would expect from a multi-million dollar cruise ship. In the steak house you sat at metal tables with plastic chairs. There was zero ambiance...just cold surfaces. Then the food was all ala-cart. The Italian restaurant seemed just a little bit nicer but while there was an entrance in the hallway, you were forced to walk through the back door of the steak restaurant to get into it. We didn't eat at either.
Surprisingly we found that there were very few bars and those were understaffed. We would wait 20-25 minutes for waitstaff and then they were rude. The bar staff themselves seemed completely uninterested in us as guests. They also spoke very little English so special requests were out of the question. Also the drink consistency was laughable. Each day the ship had a "drink of the day" similar to what all the other cruise lines have, however, the drink was never the same. I and two friends got on on one day at various bars and none of them looked or tasted alike. Alcohol is bread and butter for cruise ships. As such, they "push" drinks on you all them time. On MSC, that never happened. The servers never asked you if you wanted anything. They would walk around with empty trays and wait for you to approach them, and when you did ask for a drink, they seemed uninterested in helping you. We also found that throughout the ship, there were several times when bars ran out of certain types of liquor.
Entertainment. The main shows were OK but other than the Michael Jackson and ABBA show, it was the same cast doing the same thing with a different background. There were very few bands on board, mostly one or two people singing tunes and those were pretty poor.
Disembarking...we took our own luggage off and didn't have any issues.
Divina Transatlantic cruise Venice to Miami November 2nd 2013
This was our third cruise with MSC in Twelve months and our second transatlantic, despite all the issues with MSC since booking way back in early January we had high expectations of the Divina which is basically a stretched Musica class ship.
We arrived at the port of Venice at around 11-45am handed over our cases and went upstairs to find one area to our right very crowded and one to our left where people were in queues waiting for the check in desks.
MSC club said that there was preferential check in at Venice for Silver, Gold and Black card members (this has now been removed from the current club member benefits) so we went over and asked one of the staff who told us it was for Gold and Black card members only, we took ourselves over to one of the information desks and asked the same question and were then lead to a separate area and were on the ship within twenty minutes. For some reason it had been decided that Credit card details would be obtained on the shiprather than at check in and it was left to passengers to go to customer service to register their card. Once again we were never required to fill in a health questionnaire.
We headed up to our room which was a Balcony on the back of the ship on Deck 10, the cabin was similar to the one we had on Poesia the year before but slightly larger with a Balcony of some Fourteen feet in length that contained two chairs and a table as well as two sun loungers, the bathroom has two opening doors to the shower rather than a curtain which was great. Wardrobe space again was similar to Poesia with a three-door robe one containing the safe and draw storage space; there is also a 2 drawer bedside cabinet on each side of the bed and two on the vanity unit. The Fridge is also housed in this unit with the TV and a shelf above.
The furniture is a dark walnut colour whereas the Poesia had been a much lighter material, we found the bedside lamps were a little to dull for reading with the main lights switched off. Red carpet and Bed headboard covering and two large mirrors, table and two seat settee completed the room.
Our cabin was looked after by Nengah, who did a great job and left a note for me on my Birthday this was unexpected, and a really nice gesture.
We headed up to the buffet for lunch having left our carry on cases in the cabin, after around twenty minutes there was a total loss of power for around five minutes, we have no idea as to why or if it was only the buffet that was affected.
A problem with Deck 12,11 and 10 balconies is that when they wash the large panoramic windows of the back of the buffet on deck 14 these balconies get the water from it so every morning the balcony was wet and stayed that way until the room was cleaned, a further problem is that if they overfill the aft Infinity pool and forget to drain it back before leaving port these three decks get soaked as the ship makes its turns which is due to the water escaping from the contained area.
One of the White shirted crew/officers came to check out the problem and confirmed the water was from the pool but it was never cleared away, a possible design flaw, others on these decks also had to ring customer service about the water issue.
The sliding doors to the balcony cannot be latched while out on the balcony which means that if the ship is rolling from side to side the door slides open and closed with quite a thud, dangerous if you happen to be going in or out and are caught unawares.
For a somewhat new ship this area suffers from a lot of vibration during ship maneuvers being above the propellers and even small sea swells made the rolling of the ship worse, Divina rolls around quite a lot more than a big ship should do and this was noticeable in other parts of the ship.
The sign that tells you that you cannot smoke in the cabin was hidden behind the curtain on the fixed pain of glass, about halfway through the cruise it was moved to the sliding panel after complaints about people smoking on their balconies.
The meet and greets for the roll call were arranged by Ken who worked hard on arranging them and were somewhat interesting and a disappointment, the first one for thirty minutes was attended by Andre who was the new cruise director who was shadowing Maddie who was to leave the cruise once in Miami, I think Andre was taken by surprise at the comments being made. Only water was provided at the meeting.
A second meeting was arranged so that people on the roll call could meet and talk to each other due to the short time of the first one, sadly this clashed with the re arranged time of the world quiz for us, and again I believe no refreshments were provided.
Andre once again attended a third meeting and gave us an insight into how MSC intended to move forward in the Caribbean, the disappointment comes in because there were a host of senior MSC management people on the ship by this time and not one of them could be bothered to grace us with their presence nor any of the ships officers! Once again only water was provided.
We have heard it said before that MSC need to stop thinking of their passengers as Cargo.
Our thoughts on the Divina â€¦
The Divina is a nice very clean big ship but with small areas and what seems to be less space than on the Poesia and it does have some annoying design traits, the Villa Rossa dining room is located on Deck Six at the back of the ship and can only be accessed by Lift or by stairs from Deck Seven, to go from Villa Rossa to say Deck Five you have to go up and across Deck Seven and then down again.
The Atrium of Divina is possibly the best part of the ship in our opinion and looks great and it also looks like where most of the money was spent, especially the staircases.
Public toilets have no Hot water! And most have just two toilets in them, there also appeared to be a lack of them around or close to the Aqua Park.
Pools are Salt water as is the water slide, the Spa area is nice and the staff always greeted you with a smile, you need to watch you do not walk into the tall mirrored glass that are next to the walkway to the sauna, changing rooms and steam rooms which were free to use on this cruise unlike on Poesia last year.
At the bars we had no problem getting drinks although on busy nights in some it can get a little slow with not enough servers. The Jazz bar colour looks as though it has been imported from Costa and is not the usual MSC style, this bar is the only way to go forward to the theatre on this deck even if you come through the sports bar and many times people were walking past right in front of the singers despite the main route being to the left.
There are two rows of three glass mirrors on each side prior to the buffet entry when coming from the lifts on Deck 14, no idea what the reason is for this although the theme of mirrors was replicated all over the ship especially on the staircases.
The Buffet design although light and airy also suffers from lack of walking space between the tables and the food areas, with two of the beverage areas in the worst place possible next to a door leading to and from the kitchen. If you want salad be prepared to walk from one side to the other to get all you need unless you get the prepared stuff in a bowl from near the bar at the main entrance. At the back of the buffet opposite the bar are some bench seats that are not fixed down, be prepared to get stuck in there as we saw one guy did and could only get out when one waiter forcefully pushed the bench away after the people on the other side refused to moved despite being asked by the waiter his wife and four of us sat close by.
Also be aware of the small kids food area with its little plastic railing and entrance frame which one man walked into and knocked over! Not quite sure why he was in the kids food area.
Despite information to the contrary there were some people who still went into the buffet in swimwear and bathrobes!
Hot water for Tea and Coffee is stored in containers and ran out on numerous occasions so you had to wait for a member of staff to change them over or go elsewhere, not sure why they do not have them plumbed in as some other ships are.
The only passageway between the Black and White lounge on Deck Seven to the Theatre without going outside onto the Deck 7 boat deck has the photo shop and cruise pictures which means there is always a bottleneck of people coming from First dinner seating and the Black and White lounge to the theatre going against those heading to Second sitting dinner or coming from the theatre or other bars.
The boat deck may well be a spoiler for some people because apart from a few small areas forward and aft of the lifeboats you cannot stand at the side rail and gaze out to sea due to the design of the lifeboat stowage.
There is very little deck space between the pool and the small stage used by the Animation team and for those doing the dance exercises which means you have people dancing in between the sun beds around you. On Deck 15 there is very little room between the two rows of sun beds in many areas and people are constantly falling over them or kicking them as they go by, this area is also used by those jogging or walking.
We did not have any problems finding a sun bed during the whole cruise.
The Black and White lounge is the biggest lounge on the ship but is way too small for the number of people who wanted to use it and also had a lack of seating, it also possibly has the most uncomfortable and worst seats of the whole ship.
The theatre is a mix of Red seating and Silver paneling and poor lighting on the stage that made it difficult at times to see what was going on during the shows some of which were the same ones from the year previous on Poesia. On the nights we visited the theatre it was never full.
Anyone hoping to get to the front of the Divina for a view will be disappointed as this space is taken up by the Yacht club which houses around 4% of guests on the whole ship.
The ship has the usual range of shops like the Logo shop, wristwatches and sunglasses, jewelry and handbags and duty free.
The Disco appeared to be very under utilized in the evenings on this crossing, maybe it will get more use in the Caribbean.
This is always a difficult one because what one person likes another one may hate, the buffet food was the same as the previous years repo cruise on Poesia and at times lacked taste and was quite bland, the new size burgers were just meat and no flavour. Offerings for sweets at lunch and dinner were the same for the whole 18 days of the cruise and very unimaginative. The breakfast smoothies were one of the things to look forward to with Mango and Strawberry being our two favorites. Look out for Jennifer at breakfast who will have you one there in no time and they are best mixed by Kevin behind the bar.
The Dining room on the first night was late for second sitting with people going in at 9-30 instead of 9 pm and at 9 pm the next night instead of 8-30 but the following nights seemed to sort themselves out at 8-30. Food in the evening also suffered from up and down syndrome, one-day good the next poor with the odd really good one thrown in, there appeared to be a problem of consistency from night to night. Of the Four Gala nights again it was a case of 1 really good, 1 not bad and 2 poor. Towards the last five nights the Dining room was maybe only half full. Tables in the Villa Rossa dining room were mainly for between 6 and 8 people and it seemed that there were not enough tables for two people. The Majority of people seemed to observe the dress code in the Dining room especially on Gala nights.
The Cold fruit soups were once again one of the best foods served.
Lamb shank one night was a big order by many in both the Black Crab and Villa Rossa; it was also possibly the most returned or left meal due to the meat being tough. The Duck that night also suffered the same fate although later in the cruise the Duck a`lorange was possibly one of the best meals of the cruise.
The steaks went from wafer thin to be replaced mid cruise by decent thick tasty ones although we are still baffled as to how one arrived part well done and part pink inside!
The after dinner sweets were again somewhat lackluster and on a few occasions we headed to the CafÃ© Del Doge for the better tasting offerings though there is a charge.
Iced water was served from jugs without being asked for and coffee was available after dinner for those who wanted it.
There were complaints of slow service in some areas of the dining rooms which may have been down to the fact that one kitchen serves one deck of the Black Crab dining room while the other one served the Villa Rossa and the other floor of the Black Crab, it may also be because the assistant waiters are away getting drinks while the waiters are busy doing everything else.
Smoking is allowed on Deck 14 on the port side where you come out of the buffet and the bar with the Gelato is also on this side! A bad move in our opinion by MSC, they should have moved the smokers over to the other side.
Many of the staff are from Poesia and have worked the Caribbean before, the Animation team lead by Claudio (ex Poesia) with Brendan, Zac, Yves, Sean, Adam, Julio and the others work their backsides off to get people involved in the games but were it seems handicapped by management on this cruise for some reason in the Black and White lounge in the evenings.
The main band (ex Poesia) also seemed to have their hands tied singing the same set in the same order almost every night in the Black and White lounge where 95% of entertainment was dancing.
It would be helpful if before they cruised MSC advised guests that there are to be theme nights on their cruise, Divina had a White party but had to be cancelled on the outside deck due to rain, a smaller version took place inside. Then there was a /60`s/ 70`s/80`s night which was the actual dress code for that night along with a Carnival and Red White and Green night.
There were Four Gala nights onboard, Two casual, a 60/70/80`s, Green White and Red, Carnival, Casual or White and Eight Informal.
The water slide was available for anyone to use despite a sign saying teens only and we made full use of it on a few days, the 4D cinema was good though a cost is incurred of $7 per film, the F1 racing simulator costs $9 a go, the Shuffleboard court yes just the one is virtually unusable when there are sun beds on either side and also the entry canopy to the Top18 solarium ($10 a day for a sun bed) at one end. Surely someone must have noticed the issue of putting the court there?
During the Five day sea crossing with no satellite signal MSC announced that the pay films would be available for Free, what they failed to say was the system was only able to accommodate 500 TVâ€™s and each day the system crashed. They were upgrading the system with the new TV programmes as we sailed to Miami from San Juan that meant a visit to every TV on the ship to re programme them all.
Cruise cards seemed to be a problem this year for some reason and between us we had them replaced 11 times for various reasons including bar machines not reading them and failing to open the cabin door, plus the original ones not having the drink package code on them. Other people we knew onboard had similar issues with their cards.
Customer Service Desk â€¦
Very helpful staff although it did take Four visits over Six days to get the first days bar charges taken off our account due to not having the drink package code on our original sea pass cards.
Ports Visited â€¦
Malta way too short only around Five hours, Malaga 5 1/2 hours, Madeira Full day, St Maarten Full day, St Thomas Full day for some due to US immigration, San Juan Full day.
Getting off the ship at a few of the ports was a scrum at times because only one exit was used which was off the Atrium and having so many people in such a small space looked like disorganised chaos.
Cruise highlights â€¦
The Ports visited, the best theatre show that we saw was Wonderland.
Meeting many of the crew from the Poesia again especially Wayan our waiter from last year, Claudio from the Animation team, Sylvia in the Bacco bar and all the others. Meeting those roll call members we had chance to along with many others, taking part in the various quiz rounds and games. Visiting the two remaining ports on the itinerary that we had not been to, a visit to the everglades and our two days/nights in Miami despite the storm on the last night, meeting Police Officer Sergeant Bello of the Miami Beach police department who was one of the officers keeping an eye on the two buildings being built on South beach for an Art exhibition.
Cruise Lows â€¦
The big one of losing a port day and arriving a day early in Miami for an advertising day by MSC just so the Divina could be the only ship in port on the 19th of November! Not what we paid for and being fed a constant stream of excuses as to why it was being done, the worst of all making out that it was so passengers could enjoy an â€œExcitingâ€ day in Miami! Many of who had already made plans to stay for 2 or more days already. Plus there were people on the ship who live in Miami and Florida.
Some Theatre shows were the same as the Poesia repo cruise last year but with different singers and dancers who were not as good, very much the same menu and food as last year with a few changes. The Captain and Hotel Manager were also from the Poesia along with Cruise Director Maddie.
We were told by staff that around 1500 passengers got off the ship on the 19th rather than stay on an extra night. You have to vacate the cabin by 7am.
We will never understand the Italian way of organization of sending people to the farthest point when there is a shorter route, being on the back of the ship our allocated lounge was the theatre!
We queued at the gangway exit for around Thirty minutes during which point people were told that there was an issue with the elevated walkway! The very same one that had been used all the previous day and night and was being used by the people in front of us who had already left the ship.
The real reason was the slow baggage handling that was going on down below us, have these people learned nothing ? Tell people the Truth of what is happening and stop making up stories in order to cover up the problems.
Having left the ship with other people we had sailed with last year we headed to the baggage claim area which was three halls with a conveyor belt unlike most other places we had been to where cases are stored in their respective colours tag wise and you go and collect them.
The bags came through very slow and we waited around sixty minutes for ours, one German man had been waiting over two hours! Others waited longer.
We would count ourselves as liking big ships over small ones having sailed the Oasis, Mariner of the seas and Ruby Princess and while many people will like Divina for various reasons we cannot see ourselves traveling on any of the other three Fantasia class ships of MSC. One reason being that there is no access to the front of the ship other than for those staying in the Yacht club.
The Musica class of which Poesia belongs in our opinion has more wow factor than the Divina and has better-allocated space; any future cruises with MSC will likely be on this class of ship.
To quote one lady who has been on all the MSC class of ships including twice on Divina, â€œDivina is all show and no substanceâ€ her preferred ship is the Sinfonia.
Any cruise day at sea is always better than a day at work and some cruises are more memorable than others, sadly this cruise will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
After three cruises we are able to say that MSC although only being Twelve years old and young in terms of cruising compared to the likes of Carnival etc have a good product but it is let down by inconsistency in food in various areas and poor management especially those of the land based operations.
We are experienced cruisers over the last 20 years, having had an enjoyable cruise with MSC in the past we decided to sample MSC Splendida. We booked a Yacht Club suite and looked forward to being pampered,unfortunately this was not the case!
Service was poor from our steward, sorry our Butler who failed to introduce himself and was only seen when the cabin sorry again suite was cleaned. Service and the cabin 5/10.
Food was very average,drinks poorly mixed that's when you can find somebody to serve you 5/10
We did have a unfortunate experience when on a excursion resulting in 21 people submitting complaints....no response from the guest relations manager on board not interested, we all submitted written complaints to HO no response since June.
Overall the bottom line is would we cruise with MSC again? No the line is not for us.
The ship was spotless, and fellow passengers great.So we made the best of a bad lot and enjoyed the company of fellow cruisers.
This was our ninth cruise overall, our first time with MSC. We cruised previously with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, and Holland America. After reading the reviews, we embarked with low expectations.
Since we live in South Florida, getting to Fort Lauderdale was no big deal. We arrived at the Port Everglades around 11:00 AM. Embarkation was slow, but painless. MSC says they are in the process of rebuilding terminal 4, but we hear the MSC Divina is taking the Poesiaâ€™s place and is sailing from Miami.
Once on board, we were greeted and provided with a small life jacket for our 16 month old daughter. We went our room which was very clean, and well maintained. Our room was a superior balcony room on deck 12. While in our room, we met our room steward, Juliette. While many aspects of this cruise did not live up to our expectations, Juliette was well above our expectations and continued to impress us throughout our vacation.
The ship itself was very well maintained and absolutely beautiful. Crew was observed throughout the ship relentlessly cleaning the brass, glass, floors etc.
Service - Service was VERY slow inthe IL Palladio dining room. Water was only filled once a night and you would have to ask the waiter several times in order to get more water. It was faster for me to walk up to the buffet and get my own water. My daughter has a dairy allergen which we notified our waiter. Every night we reminded him of the allergen yet he continued to bring dishes with cheese. One night our waiter argued with my wife after we asked for pasta but instead received rice. The waiter insisted the rice was pasta but then admitted they did not have pasta.
My mother in law has mobility issues and needed a wheelchair to navigate the ship. With a baby and wheelchair, my wife was pushing her mother back to the room. Three crew members watched as my wife attempted to move the room steward clean supplies from the hallway that blocked their path. One crew member walked by and did not stop until my wife asked if he could help. His response â€œAm I supposed to help you?â€ The staff members for the most part were very unwelcoming. The only exception was the treatment provided to my daughter. All staff members went out of their way to help my little one in any way. I think the dining room staff was trying to do their best but it was evident they were understaffed and overworked. One word to describe the service on MSC is disorganized.
MDR â€“ Food was mediocre at best and service as stated earlier was horrible. Desserts were by the far the worst Iâ€™ve experienced on a cruise line. The pasta with meat sauce would have been better done by Chef Boyardee. The steak on the first night was the only good steak on the entire cruise. We showed up late one night for dinner as my daughter was having a tough day. The maÃ®tre D approached us and said that if we are not there on time that we would not be served. My wife tried to explain the him that we did not want our toddler to disturb others and his response was â€œ I donâ€™t need an excuse.â€
Room Service â€“ Did not use.
Buffet â€“ The selection was great but again most food was mediocre at best. The exception was the chicken wings, pizza, and hamburgers were really good.
Pools - The pools were nice and the hot tubs were very relaxing. The pool decks were busy on sea days but we always managed to find a place to settle down.
Entertainment - The entertainment range really never changed. The themes changed but the acts remained the same; Dancers, and singers in a different costumes. The acrobats were outstanding and talented. On this cruise, we found ourselves very bored. There was a lack of activities during the day and very few venues for entertainment. Sure there they hard their bars, but they had the same singers every night. One of the singers who played the guitar sang the same songs every night. Cobus was a good cruise director and should go places with MSC.
Announcements - The only announcements were the imperative ones and yes in many languages. The shows always started with an explanation from Cobus who speaks English and a translation from Anna Warner in multiple languages. It never bothered us but many people became annoyed with the multi-lingual announcements.
There was an older crowd but all were very respectful. Most passengers adhered to the dress code of the gala night.
Nassau â€“ Not a big fan but it was a relaxing day.
Bermuda - Self-tour. In Bermuda, we bought the ferry/bus passes, and they were the best way to get around. We hired a taxi driver in Hamilton who took us the aquarium for my daughter. The aquarium was beautiful as was the entire Island.
Embarkation: This was the slowest and worst Iâ€™ve seen in nine cruises. Again, MSC was very disorganized. We were supposed to be off the ship at 930 AM but did not get off the ship until 1100 AM.
Caution: The elevators did not give much time for ingress and egress. There were multiple passengers on board who received injuries from the doors closing on them. My daughterâ€™s hand was one of them when her hand got stuck in the door. Thankfully the extent of injury was minor but some passengers were not as lucky.
While the experience was not as bad as some of the reviews we read, it was clearly not up to the level of any of our pervious cruises. This was a destination cruise as we always wanted to see Bermuda. The cruise was adequate but I do not see us using MSC for our future cruises.
I found an itinerary for our annual anniversary cruise that we really liked. It was a 10 day sailing from Fort Lauderdale on MSC Poesia to Bonaire, Aruba, Cartegena, Cristobal, and Falmouth. Out of 72 cruises, we had never been to Bonaire, Cartegena, or Cristobal/Panama Canal.
We had sailed on MSC Orchestra several years ago with a group of agents, and while many did not, my wife and I really enjoyed MSC. Yes, it is focused on an international crowd, not particularly North Americans, but we found many dance venues each evening on the Orchestra and wanted to try it again. Besides, as past passenger (although it took a long time to get MSC Club numbers) we got a 5% past pax discount.
We were midships on deck 11 in a balcony, and it was convenient, as the nearby midships elevator went down to the areas where the lounges were, and the aft elevator to the buffet area. More than enough storage for two people, and the beds were great. No thick duvets, but I don't like duvets as they are too warm for me.
Each evening the shows were at 6:30for those with 8pm dining. Shows were about 35 minutes on average, and they were absolutely great. We went to every one except one night when it was just classical music. The dancers were terrific and the singers, soloist, superb. They mixed in some acrobats and aerial performances during the shows. Every show was different and unlike the typical cruise ship showtimes. Outstanding.
We found two lounges with 2 or 3 musicians each, and a solo acoustic guitarist in the wine bar. They played very danceable music, from the 40's to 90's in one, a duet, and the other tended to involve the ship entertainment staff, but did have samba, salsa and more. The bartenders recognized us by the second night when we'd arrive for cocktails and dancing before dinner, and had my martini and my wife's prosecco a glass of ice water ready promptly. After dinner we often returned to dance some more.
I've heard people in the past complain that it is all Italian food, but while Italian is always available on this Italian owned line, it is just an option. We had leg of lamb, osso bucco, chicken marsala, prawns, lobster, salmon, tilapia, dorado, and more. Chicken or cornish hens were available. Steaks were always available, but I was NOT impressed with the steaks. It was the same cut served under a variety of aliases and not great, but cooked right. The appetizers were varied and very good, as were the salads. Soups were so, so. Every night they had a sugar free desert option, but the baked alaska was one of the best we have had. Missed creme brulee, but wasn't disappointed in the choices. Breakfast buffet had freshly fried eggs, but no omelettes to order, but they did have omelettes on the buffet line. Great pastry choices. I never had trouble finding seating in the buffet. We ate breakfast in the dining room twice, as that was the only place to find lox and bagels. As I did last time, I enjoyed the pizza available on the buffet 12 hour a day.
They don't offer beverages in the theater. Service was very good in the buffet, and the lounges. Numerous staff from Bali, and far less East European or the Philippines than other lines. The dining room service was slow, and they never asked if we wanted more bread, or coffee, etc. Considering we were near the Captain's table, I would have expected better waitstaff. The Asst maitre de' or head waiter visited our table every night.
When I wanted a bottle of prosecco for the room, we just purchased it at the bar and took it to the room. They offered a wine package that provided 10 bottles of wine to choose from a list for onlye $183.99 if booked online before the cruise, or $199 if purchased onboard. We enjoyed several excellent Italian wines, some Australian, and a few American ones. Cocktails were moderately priced, $7.25 for a cocktail....much less than other cruise lines.
Yes, announcements were in English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian, but they were infrequent....and none were promoting bingo, fortunately. Even the intro to the shows was multilingual, with the Cruise Director doing all but the English (which she could speak fluently), and the Asst Cruise Director (from South Africa) doing the English. TV had CNN International and Headline News Network, and movies in several languages. TV also had for fee movies available.
All ports were pierside, so no tendering issues. In Bonaire I had booked a private snorkeling tour and in shallow water saw tarpon, bonefish, and many others.
In Aruba we booked a terrific snorkeling excursion through Shore Excursion Group: The Antillia Shipwreck Sail and Snorkel Trip Taxi to the Hyatt Hotel at Palm Beach and a dingy out to the catamaran. Water was really clear over the wreck, with lots of fish, and a reef stop later was not as good. They even provided everyone with a I love Aruba T-shirt.
In Cartagena we exited the terminal and found vendors who were offering a 2 1/2 hour van tour of old and new Cartagena for $20 per person. The new city looks like Miami, and the older city like Old San Juan. They even took us to an emerald museum, and some walking in the old city.
In Cristobal we had booked an MSC tour, about 10 hours, a transit of the canal by ferry. We were bused to a landing in Gatun Lake, and then sailed through the San Miguela and Miraflores locks into the Pacific. We bused back to the ship. Great trip, but HOT. Some of the ferry was airconditioned, and they included a Panamanian Lunch. A great tour guide, who has lived her life in Panama, but is from Pennsylvania.
In Falmouth we just did the MSC excursion, Chukka Beach Break: a van ride to a nearby beach and chair.
Weather was great the whole time. Wifi aboard was faster than any other ship I've been on, and a package of 300 minutes was only $83.99.
We really enjoyed ourselves, and wouldn't hesitate to book MSC in the Western Hemisphere again. We met a number of other North Americans who have booked MSC several times. Kids under 12 sail for just taxes, and kids 12-17 sail for $99 plus taxes. Deposits are just $200 a couple all the time.
Abbolutely fantastic! We have had many pleasant experiences with MSC in the past. They offer great values in the off season. This was first time in there "Yacht Club" this is well worth the cost. If you can afford to, you really shoulde experience the Yacht Club for that ship within a ship.
Well, where do I begin? Having previously sailed on the Windsurf in the caribbean we were a bit apprehensive about sailing on such a large ship. Having read the reviews of the Fantasia we started to worry - but hey don't believe the rubbish reviews it's had! We booked 3 weeks before the cruise and only paid £431 each (cruise only) to sail the Western Med. my only prerequisite was that we didn't have an inside cabin. We were sailing from Barcelona then onwards to Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Tunis then back to Barcelona.
Check in/cabins/public areas/food/atmosphere etc:
We did the web check-in prior to arriving (recommended - you get to check in first!). it took us less than 20 mins to check in and were straight on board by 12.00 noon. Our cabin ended up on deck 12 with an unrestricted balcony view - Fab!! Deck 13 being the only accom deck above us. We couldn't believe it for the price! the cabin was really nice, plenty of room for all our stuff. Lots of wardrobes, drawers, safe, dressing table, sofa etc and chairs and table on the balcony. The bathroomhad lots of towels (changed twice daily), dispensers containing shampoo and body wash. There was a good hairdryer in the drawer also so no need to take one. Bed was very comfy and all the linen lovely crisp and clean. the cabin was spotless and kept that way by our steward. So, no need to bring towels (including pool towels - you check these out each day) shampoo, bodywash or hairdryer (unless you are very particular). There was also complementary toothpaste tubes. We had purchased the Allegrissimo drinks package 166 euros each (both of us had to purchase it) but it ended up well worth it. we kept all our chits for the drinks we bought (cocktails, beers, spirits, soft drinks, water, coffee etc) and we 'spent' 533 euros, so well over what we had paid. You also didn't have to pay the 15% gratuity if you purchased this package. It could end up quite costly if you have to purchase water, cokes etc (all branded) during the day and then a bottle of wine etc and drinks in the evening. the minibar or water in your room is not included in this package, but to be honest we didn't need it and it wasn't worth it. you could get water/drinks with your card and take it wherever you want. so we got bottles for when we went ashore. Prices (if you pay as you go are in the region of (all in euros) : glass of wine 4.50, cappuccino 2.00, large beer 4.90, cocktails 6.25, small bottle water 1.45, bottle wine 20, coke 2.70, fresh juices 3.50 then 15% on top for gratuity). so, it could all add up quickly.
The public areas of the ship are beautiful and this ship is SO clean. there is not a speck of dust or dirt anywhere. they are always cleaning. The clientele was predominantly Italian, French, Russian, Spanish, South American, English and American. It was all very noisy but great with lots of atmosphere. Don't choose this ship if you want a quiet time. There was always things going on, plenty of activities all day and night. there was a show nearly every night in the huge theatre which included a Michael Jackson tribute night which was great. There was bingo before the show if you wanted your chance to win 25,000 euros. the casino was quite big with a nice bar. Now, for all you smokers out there there are plenty of places to smoke. You can smoke anywhere in the casino, parts of the coffee lounge and various other music lounges together with all along the port side of the ship. You are not allowed to smoke on balconies though which was fine. there was always somewhere to go for a smoke! There were 2 gala evenings whilst we were there so if you wanted to dress up you wanted to though it wasn't compulsory. You just couldn't wear shorts in the evenings in the 2 main dining rooms. (it was ok in the buffet). So, basically you could dress up or down and didn't feel out of place either way. There was no need to take a dinner jacket or tie (which some people did) but it wasn't THAT formal if you get my meaning. There were plenty of places to sunbathe (best part was up on deck 15 at the rear (Zen space). This had lots of sunbathing area with plenty of loungers, near the bar, swimming pool, jacuzzis etc. No real need to move - the waiters come to you! and it was only 1 deck down for lunch/afternoon tea etc. I must say that we had one day at sea therefore the whole ship was sunbathing and there were plenty of loungers for everyone.
now the food - you could eat pretty much 24 hours a day. YOu were allocated a restaurant to eat at for breakfast lunch and dinner but it wasn't compulsory to go there all the time. You could go to the buffet instead. Most people ate breakfast and lunch in the buffet then went to their designated restaurant in the evening. There was plenty of choice of food and anyone who says they couldn't find anything to eat or it was bland must be mad. There was always lots of salads, pasta, pizzas, grill meat, ethnic counter (curries etc), chefs specials, bakery everything you could possibly think of. the evening meals in the restaurants were 6 courses long with plenty of choice in each section. If youwere on the drinks package you could also get your drinks in there with no problem. They gave us bottles of wine rather than by the glass when we asked for it. they were also very flexible if we wanted to swap a starter and have it as a main course etc. Also, I asked for cheese and biscuits instead of a dessert and it was no problem. a couple of nights they had displays in there and had us all singing 'Volare' and waving our napkins around - it was really funny. so, not stuffy at all. With the drinks package you could also get ice creams (loads to choose from). the coffee (cappuccinos) were great. Best of all they make fab cocktails (everything you can imagine) even if its not on the list they will make it for you.
I forgot to mention the speciality restaurant - a tex mex. If you wait they put a sign up saying 50% discount if you book for the next evening, as it is a pay as you go restaurant. It isn't expensive anyway, and the drinks are included half price. so starters end up at about 2 euros and a big rib eye steak for 7 euros.
There are lots of pools (indoor and out), jacuzzis etc, water slide etc for the kids so plenty going on, particularly around the main pool area. It's a bit like being at a water park.
there are also a few shops onboard, clothes, duty free (cigarettes are really cheap 59.95 euros for 4 cartons L&M's). perfume (they also sell a small selection of emergency toiletries, sanitary products etc).
Nearly all the staff who served us anywhere on the ship spoke some English (enough to be understood to ask for things or where things were). They all have name badges which also says where they are from which was useful. There was a mixture from Idonesia, Brazil, eastern europe, Italian and most anywhere else you could think of. They were all very polite and efficient -so the standard of service was great. we didn't have to wait long for anything.
There is a daily service charge of 7 euros per person per night which goes towards the tips for staff and appears on your bill at the end. I believe that you can have this taken off if you really thought it was rubbish but I can't see how anyone would do so as the service is excellent and remember there are hundreds 'down below' who you never get to see but make sure everything runs smoothly.
Our ports of call:
Here I am not going to give you our impressions as I think you can make your own mind up about that, but more about where the ship docks, how you get to the places etc. This is what I was trying to find out before I went with difficulty. Because the ship is so big it docks in commercial ports which means you can, in some places, be quite a way from the town/sights and it's too far to walk, so here you go...
We embarked in Barcelona and got straight on the ship so more about there later....
We set sail and woke up in Marseille. At the port we were off quickly and there was tour buses (City sightseeing tours - hop on/off type). Though where the ship docks it was close enough to walk into the main part (marina and streets surrounding the harbour).
Next stop was Genoa. There were City sightseeing tour buses right outside where you walked out of the terminal building so you don't really need to get a taxi to get into the town. It is within walking distance.
Naples - it is quite a bit away from the town, but like us, most people wanted to go to Pompeii. We booked the tour on the ship which was 51 euros each. this included the bus to pompeii (about 25 mins away), our entrance fee in and a tour guide. We didn't bother going into Naples or to Sorrento as to us many of these towns are very similar. Indeed some people we met did the Pompeii and Sorrento trip and wished they had just done Pompeii because they could have had longer there. When you get to the Pompeii site there are a few stalls, a museum and some cafes etc - though they are expensive (they have a captive audience!). Though there is a shop at the museum and that was quite reasonable for gifts. I think it was worth the ships excursion in this case.
Palermo - we got a sightseeing bus right outside the terminal. YOu got 10% off the price of your ticket if you had already done a trip with them in another place - you just show them your ticket. Palermo has some nice buildings and architecture, but it is dirty, noisy and to be honest I wouldn't go there again.
La Goulette (Tunis):
Now believe it or not this was probably the most structured in terms of transport away from the port. The ship moors right up to the purpose built small terminal building. Awaiting you are some camels that you can pay to have your photo on walking beside the ship. There are 3 main areas to visit - Carthage, Medina (shopping - souks) and Sidi Al Bouid. There is a taxi rank where the prices are shown and are set. So for two trips (we went to Carthage and Sidi village) it was 40 euros for the taxi not per person and you could have the driver up to 5 hours (he waits for you wherever you go). It can be economical to share if you can with other people). Our driver took us to Carthage and paid for us to go in the museum (we gave him the money 10 euros as he paid in Tunisian money. It was probably a lot more than what he paid but it saved us the hassle of changing our money then changing it back again as you can't take their currency out of the country. In any case you can use euros in most places. Our driver took us all over the place where there were other ruins so we could get out have a look and take photos etc. He brought us back to ship with plenty of time to spare.
Finally... Barcelona. We were off the ship by 0930. You have to be out of your cabin by 8.00am. Our flight wasn't until 9.00pm so we had all day to kill with our luggage. As you come through the terminal building there is a kiosk next to the baggage carousel called DW. you can leave your luggage with them (9euros per bag) and they will deliver it wherever you want (airport etc). they tag up your bag, give you a receipt and instructions where to collect and a phone number. they arrange a time with you, then you can go off. we opted to have our bags delivered to the airport. YOu have to meet them outside arrivals at terminal 1 at the specified time in the parking across the road. they have a distinctive van (though they turned up in a UPS van for us). all our luggage was there on a trolley with the chap from the kiosk ready for us to go. it was WELL worth it.
anyhow.. Barcelona. The terminal is quite a way from the centre itself but as you come out there is a shuttle bus (on the left hand side when you come out the door where the coaches are). It is the port bus. It was 3.50 euros one way and it drops you off by the big statue at the bottom of La Rambla (by the marina). it is easy then to walk up into where everything is going on. Be prepared to have your walking shoes on! or you can take the easy option and get the tour bus (hop on/off) though there is still lots where you will want to get off and walk. We went all around the Plaza Catalunya, gothic quarter, Port Vell etc.
well, I think that is about all I can tell you about our trip on the MSC Fantasia. Would I travel with MSC again - definitely. and, for those of you who have kids they go free (think it's under 14). For the price we paid even with our flights and drinks package I though it was a bargain particularly with the upgrade of cabin for free.
We are off on a Carnival cruise over Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean - so fingers crossed!