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The itinerary for this cruise was the deciding factor for us, sailing from Southampton, England, to the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Paris, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. The overall cruise was decent. There were a number of things that could have been improved upon, and other things which were completely acceptable, though nothing outstanding. Food in the restaurant (dining room) was sometimes good, sometimes fair, and, on occasion, quite good. Never anything to write home about. The service on board was usually great. Most of the staff members were very pleasant and helpful. There were a couple of staff members in the baby area who sat in the corner and never really engaged with me or my infant son, however, there was also one staff member who was great and really friendly. We were generally satisfied with the level of service on board. Our cabin was spacious and (mostly) clean. The only thing that was not was the grout in the shower, which was quite grubby and in need of a good clean. A few things which we really disliked. Most notably, the cigarette smoke on the ship was terrible. Designated smoking areas did not help this. The smoke could be smelled in corridors in many areas of the ship. Fine if you smoke, however, we are very sensitive to this as non-smoking North Americans. The food in their buffet was often sub-standard; had they just tried a little harder, it would have been fine, or even good. For example, using 'whipped topping' for all their desserts. We were sailing to some of the best places to get patisseries (Paris, Hamburg), and the desserts from the buffet didn't even start to compare; they were often dry and unappetizing. They also pre-made and kept certain things warm, which should always be made fresh, to order. For example, their hamburgers, fries, toast, pancakes and waffles were made this way. The hamburgers sat on heating trays, drying out the bottom of the bun until it was very dry and crunchy, and basically inedible. The waffles and pancakes were rubbery and limp. We also noticed the selection of food became more limited as the days past. The first day or two there were different types of greens at the salad bar, but the rest of the cruise, the salad bar often only had one choice of lettuce - who wants an entire salad consisting of iceberg? There were some good aspects to the buffet, like the selection of cheese, the cooked vegetables (which were always delicious), and the ethnic corner, where they served various Asian and South American dishes. There were elements about the ship which were somewhat tired-looking. The carpeting in the ship looked very worn, and there were fresco-like designs in the hallways of the cabins which looked dated and tacky. The design of the atrium with the grand piano, and the theatre, however, were lovely. One of the biggest drawbacks for us was the constant nickel-and-diming MSC does. They charge for water in the restaurant - it really needs to be included. The same went for the lobster on formal night - every other cruise line includes this in the menu, rather than charging extra for it. A man walked around with a sign offering the lobster for an extra cost. It was also very disappointing that room service was not included. Every other cruise line we have sailed with has this included. They had delicious gelato near the pool, however, they charged extra for it. Lastly, the language barrier posed a problem on a number of occasions. We were misled into believing there were no baby care services, most likely because the staff member who welcomed us onto the ship did not speak English well. There were a few other instances where the staff member did not understand my request in English and it took more explaining than it should have for something simple. In general, the itinerary was wonderful, and the cruise was decent. I would hesitate to recommend this cruise line to friends for the above reasons. That being said, If it is the itinerary you are after, and can overlook the negatives, I would recommend it with caution.

A decent cruise with a great itinerary

MSC Magnifica Cruise Review by artsyyogamom

Trip Details
The itinerary for this cruise was the deciding factor for us, sailing from Southampton, England, to the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Paris, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. The overall cruise was decent. There were a number of things that could have been improved upon, and other things which were completely acceptable, though nothing outstanding.

Food in the restaurant (dining room) was sometimes good, sometimes fair, and, on occasion, quite good. Never anything to write home about.

The service on board was usually great. Most of the staff members were very pleasant and helpful. There were a couple of staff members in the baby area who sat in the corner and never really engaged with me or my infant son, however, there was also one staff member who was great and really friendly. We were generally satisfied with the level of service on board.

Our cabin was spacious and (mostly) clean. The only thing that was not was the grout in the shower, which was quite grubby and in need of a good clean.

A few things which we really disliked. Most notably, the cigarette smoke on the ship was terrible. Designated smoking areas did not help this. The smoke could be smelled in corridors in many areas of the ship. Fine if you smoke, however, we are very sensitive to this as non-smoking North Americans.

The food in their buffet was often sub-standard; had they just tried a little harder, it would have been fine, or even good. For example, using 'whipped topping' for all their desserts. We were sailing to some of the best places to get patisseries (Paris, Hamburg), and the desserts from the buffet didn't even start to compare; they were often dry and unappetizing. They also pre-made and kept certain things warm, which should always be made fresh, to order. For example, their hamburgers, fries, toast, pancakes and waffles were made this way. The hamburgers sat on heating trays, drying out the bottom of the bun until it was very dry and crunchy, and basically inedible. The waffles and pancakes were rubbery and limp. We also noticed the selection of food became more limited as the days past. The first day or two there were different types of greens at the salad bar, but the rest of the cruise, the salad bar often only had one choice of lettuce - who wants an entire salad consisting of iceberg? There were some good aspects to the buffet, like the selection of cheese, the cooked vegetables (which were always delicious), and the ethnic corner, where they served various Asian and South American dishes.

There were elements about the ship which were somewhat tired-looking. The carpeting in the ship looked very worn, and there were fresco-like designs in the hallways of the cabins which looked dated and tacky. The design of the atrium with the grand piano, and the theatre, however, were lovely.

One of the biggest drawbacks for us was the constant nickel-and-diming MSC does. They charge for water in the restaurant - it really needs to be included. The same went for the lobster on formal night - every other cruise line includes this in the menu, rather than charging extra for it. A man walked around with a sign offering the lobster for an extra cost. It was also very disappointing that room service was not included. Every other cruise line we have sailed with has this included. They had delicious gelato near the pool, however, they charged extra for it.

Lastly, the language barrier posed a problem on a number of occasions. We were misled into believing there were no baby care services, most likely because the staff member who welcomed us onto the ship did not speak English well. There were a few other instances where the staff member did not understand my request in English and it took more explaining than it should have for something simple. In general, the itinerary was wonderful, and the cruise was decent. I would hesitate to recommend this cruise line to friends for the above reasons. That being said, If it is the itinerary you are after, and can overlook the negatives, I would recommend it with caution.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Amsterdam
    We wandered around Amsterdam by ourselves. The ship docked close to the main city, so we walked right off the ship and bought day tickets for the tram, and then caught a tram to the museum district. We had booked online tickets in advance for the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum - both wonderful museums. We enjoyed meandering along the canals and took a sunset river cruise with Blue Boat cruises. This was such a lovely way to end the day.
    View All 780 Amsterdam Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Hamburg
    We explored Hamburg independently. We took the metro to the city, which has a nice Town Hall (Rathaus), and we went to the ruins of St. Nickolai, which was a very good visit. We took the metro out of town to Blanknese and wandered through the pretty little neighbourhood there, along the Elba. We did the tourist thing back in Hamburg and ate hamburgers at the most beautiful, charming burger restaurant (Hans Im Gluck). Also worth checking out one of the many impressive little bakeries (backerei) for a sweet treat.
    View All 127 Hamburg Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Highland Day Tour
    We had a nice day excursion bus tour to Urquhart Castle, Inverness and Cawdor Castle. I was disappointed that our guide was Brazilian, not Scottish, however, she was very knowledgeable and pleasant. We had an hour and a half to wander the ruins of Urquhart Castle, a little over an hour to wander through Inverness and also just over an hour to tour Cawdor Castle. The drive through the highlands from one stop to another was very interesting, too. We drove by Culloden Battlefield, too, which was a bonus. All in all, a very nice day.
    View All 57 Highland Day Tour Reviews
  • Le Havre
    Made it to Paris. It was tight, as the train ride is over 2 hours, but we managed to see Paris for five hours before heading back to the Gare St. Lazare and caught the train back to Le Havre, with 10 minutes before the 'all aboard' time. We left it all up in the air, not booking anything ahead of time since we weren't sure if we could make it. If you do choose to go to Paris on your own from Le Havre, be confident that you have all of the timing clear.
    View All 319 Le Havre Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Newcastle (England)
    We checked out Wallsend to see Hadrian's wall and South Shields where there is also the remains of a Roman fort. We had time to take the subway to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well. It was fine, but really nothing very exciting.
    View All 53 Newcastle (England) Cruise Port Reviews
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