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Background Information We (wife and I in 50-60 age group) sailed on MSC Poesia a couple of years ago around the western med. (our 1st cruise), so this year we wanted a similar experience but eastern med. Booked through IGLU, and the package included 3 nights at Lake Garda, 2 nights in Venice and the eastern med cruise to follow. IGLU service great by the way. This seems a popular package style as many people we met were on similar schedules with MSC, Princess etc. I would highly recommend this schedule as you get to see many lovely sights but it is physically demanding. Maybe not for those that want a relaxing holiday, but you could just sit around if you wanted to! Booking in March got us Fantastica experince and drinks package included, plus flights transfers, and hotels. Travel Outwards All flights included from Gatwick (Easy Jet) and transfers. Only transfers not included were those from the Garda hotel to the train station (approx. 10 euro) and the Venice train station to the hotel (approx. 15 euro). Drove to Best Western Skylane Hotel the day before the flight. Very easy trip (2 hours) and easy to find. Used this hotel before, so knew what we were getting. One night accommodation plus parking for the duration for £134. Clean and just what is required. Transfer to the airport is 10mins using hotel shuttle. Very efficient and timely and only £3pp each way. Car brought to front on return. Would definitely use again as very good service. Didn’t use breakfast or dining facilities. Small supermarket over the road, so plenty of choice for snacks/drinks etc. Gatwick is a breeze. Easyjet auto bag drop simple. Security very quick and departure procedure easy. Booked priority with Easyjet for an extra £10 (gets more legroom too!) to guarantee overhead lockers. 23kg hold bag limit (46kg can be shared between couple) and no weight restriction on overhead locker bag plus small under seat bag allowed too. Good service all around from Gatwick and Easyjet. Included transfer from airport to Hotel Europa, Desenzano very good. Shared bus waiting and dropped others off in Sirmione on way. Took about 45mins all in. Very good. Lake Garda Stay Hotel Europa on shores of Lake Garda is in a very good location. 10mins walk from town centre (and ferries). 5mins from bus stop to station (€1). Nice family run hotel. Simple, clean and well served. Free Wi-Fi. Excellent breakfast with lovely lady running the show. Speaks every language like a native! Hotel just 10 mins (€10) in taxi from station. TIP: MAKE SURE YOU BOOK A LAKE VIEW ROOM. We went on the lake ferry to Sirmione which was excellent (€7 each return), and also to Padova for the day. Would love to go back and explore more of Lake Garda. Good restaurant 5 mins walk from hotel (left out of hotel). Ristorante Pizzeria Desenzanino has a good menu with excellent listings for ingredients and allergy info. Great for Veggies (me!!) and vegans. Padova Day trip to Padova from Desenzano, so booked the train tickets on www.lefrecce.it Super Padova Business Class return was €70 total for 2 adults on the Frecciarossa high speed service. Beautiful service. Fast, clean, efficient and on time. Allocated seating and free refreshments. TIP: BOOK BUSINESS CLASS WINDOW SEATS FOR THAT EXTRA BIT OF LUXURY. WORTH EVERY PENNY! NOTE: the high number carriages are closest to the engine (in Venice direction), so stand at the relevant place on the platform. In the Milan direction, the lowest number carriages are closest to the engine. Tram from outside Padova station (stops outside KFC) takes you straight to the churches. Get off at ‘Santo’. Time limited ticket is about €1.80 each. TIP: DON’T QUEUE FOR THE WINDOW TO GET TRAM TICKETS. AUTOMATED MACHINE HIDDEN AROUND THE SIDE. Ticket office/machine is in porta cabin style building on right as you exit the station. Padova is lovely. Check out the Church of St. Anthony, St. Luke/Matthew and the Scrovegni Chapel (book in advance). Great shopping too in the city centre. Walk back to the station through town. Venice/Mestre Transfer Used included train tickets for transfer to Mestre. Similar to Padova trip but ticket class was basic but OK. In hindsight I would pay for the upgrade to Business. Bit of a scrum for case space. Best to keep an eye on your cases as they are stored at the end of the carriage, so could easily be pinched or taken by mistake. See the note above about carriage numbering. You need to be at the right end of the platform if you are travelling with3-4 cases! Mestre Stay Easy taxi ride to Hilton Garden Inn, Mestre from station. Hotel is typical Hilton. Clean, well equipped, efficient and soulless. It’s just a room in a convenient location. Excellent breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi. Bus stop right outside hotel. Get any 5 or 19 bus into Venice bus station to catch water buses (vaporetto). For a short trip to visit the sights of Venice then it is ideal. Lidl just up the road if you need supplies. TIP: CO-OP located opposite vaporetto terminal C is the best choice for drinks, snacks, toiletries etc. and good prices. Lovely pool at Hilton if needed and very expensive restaurant and bar. Hotel can provide the ACTV (public transport) tickets for Venice. €30 for 48 hours included all buses and water buses. Must have. Venice I won’t review Venice, but needless to say it suffers badly from the amount of tourists. Lovely place and quite unique but very claustrophobic. Avoid the normal hotspots and you can see some wonderful sights. We went to the Church of St John and St Paul on a Saturday, and we were the only people there for 30 mins! The Basilica Santa Maria della Salute is great too. Walk to the left and look out across the Guidecca and Grand canals. Found a great veggie restaurant in Venice. La Tecia Vegana is worth checking out. Also went to Ital India in Mestre (ACTV tickets cover these buses). Good veggie selection. TIP: Don’t forget to validate bus and vaporetto tickets on EVERY journey. Ticket police are hot!! Venice/Mestre Transfer to Ship Hilton checkout straight forward and plenty of others in reception awaiting transfers to various cruise ships. Hilton has a stapler so when you forget to attach you cruise baggage labels they can assist. Used included transfer. Reminder letter posted in room the day before and taxi was about 30 mins early. 11am checkout for 12noon transfer. Again, very easy and well organised. Cruise terminal was very busy but reasonably well organised. You get a boarding group card on arrival. Check in your bags and wait until you are called. Security screening OK and straight onto boat after the obligatory boarding photos (more about photos later!!). Rooms ready about 2pm and you can use you all-inclusive from the moment you get on (just show your paper cruise ticket until you get your cruise card). Bars open and cafeteria too. Sail away from Venice is incredible! Down the Guidecca canal, past St Mark's. Has to be experienced to be believed. Big cruise ship demo on when we left. Stateroom Standard MSC Fantastica cabin. Deck 11 in middle of ship. Near lifts which was useful. Very clean. Well maintained by our excellent cabin steward. New towels every day and a cool towel elephant! Clean, efficient bathroom and shower. Clean, comfortable bed and good control of cabin temperature via simple switch. A few annoying cabin trim rattles, but nothing too much. Annoying neighbours with screaming kids on one side. Pot luck I guess. Don’t suppose you get this with Holland-America or Fred Olsen though!! Thin walls offer no protection, but I guess this is the same for most ships. Balcony good. 2 chairs and footrest. TV poor. Mainly German/Italian channels but didn't watch it as BBC World News is so depressing. If you are watching TV on a cruise then maybe you’ve picked the wrong holiday! Interactive TV system very clunky, but gives easy account info. Functional but old fashioned. Should be on an app. by now! Mini-bar OK to store own drinks. Safe OK and wardrobes/storage very good. Euro double socket on dressing table but not bedside. Annoying. Hairdryer in room and sofa and table too. Cases fit under bed which is useful. Overall a more than adequate cabin for 2. Ship Info Having been on the MSC Poesia we knew what to expect. The Musica is the same layout, so easy to navigate. Plenty of bars, large dining rooms and easy to escape the crowds. Very busy cafeteria but this is to be expected. Shops ok if that’s your thing. Casino is a selective smoking area, so lots of people will avoid. Silly decision by MSC. It’s about time all ships became non-smoking inside. Even walking past the cigar room is to be avoided if you don’t like the smell. Cleanliness was pretty good. The loos and communal areas were generally well kept, and the restaurant was always clean when we used it. Deck area 13 is OK. Lots of loungers and pools were good. Sail away party is a pain if you don’t want to listen to stupidly loud music. It basically puts the outside deck out of bounds once the sail away start. Shame for those that just want to relax. Deck 7 (the promenade deck) would be good but there are no loungers. This could provide a quiet area for those that just want to read/relax, but there is nowhere to sit. You can't walk around the entire deck either which is a shame. Dining We opted for the 9pm dining session. It’s a bit too late for our liking but OK. Would prefer 8pm so we will go for anytime dining on our next cruise. The MDR was very good. We are both veggies and always had a decent meal. Not always a choice, but the veggie meals were creative. No vegetable filo parcels!! Big issue is the MDR dress code. You have theme nights; Elegant, Gala, White Night, 60s/70s/80s Night and Mediterranean with the rest casual. So 25% of the MDR are dressed up, 25% have made a bit of an effort (shirt and jeans) and 50% don't give a monkeys. Shorts and t-shirts let in without any issue. If you have a dress policy then enforce it. Dress for MDR, wear what you like in the cafeteria. Simple. Cafeteria was OK. Always found something to eat but veggie labelling was hit and miss. Ham is not vegetarian even I know that! Given the recent tragedies with Pret food labelling, I think we will see much better food labelling in the future, and this is required. Not just MSC but for all food suppliers. We went for the all-inclusive drinks package (this was included FOC when we booked). Very good even for a non-drinker like me. Pepsi and water freely available as well as most coffees. Good choice of alcohol but some premium drinks you need to pay for. You’d have to be a picky drinker to not find something to drink from the included list. €26 per day to purchase on board so good if you can get it thrown in. Activities Didn’t use any of these, but they are a bit cheesy for me. I guess you can use or not use dependent on your taste. Photos – Bloody annoying. No means no!! Back off!! Enough said. Excursions Will feedback seperately. Service Good subject for MSC. On our 2 MSC cruises we have always received excellent service. I would say that the service on Musica was even better than Poesia. THE MDR staff were fantastic. They knew what drinks we liked and even knew that I always reverse my cutlery layout, so did it for me in advance. Cabin staff discreet and efficient. Bar staff 95% great. A couple of less cheerful ones, but we all have bad days. Given that politeness is a quality that a lot of cruisers forget, I couldn’t do it as a job. I think the waiting staff are excellent, it’s the cruisers who need to sharpen up. Please and thank-you exist in every language! Excursions Alberobello - Worth the 1hr journey. Beautiful little trulli houses. Lots of tat to buy too! Did the MSC excursion. Katakolo - Did our own thing. Took the little tourist train to Agois Andreas beach for the afternoon. Lovely beach and loungers at hotel for the price of a drink. Sea nice for swimming too. Lots of local tour buses to Olympia for €4. Town nice and beautiful seafront. Good stuff to buy. Santorini - Did our own thing. Santorini is a cross between paradise, a building site and a rubbish tip filled with tourists. I really liked it however!! Took the boat to Oia (€15). TIP: Get on back of boat so you can get on bus first as limited space. Beautiful Oia with spectacular views. Ticket includes bus back to Fira. TIP: Get to bus early as limited space. Bus times approximate. Fira OK. Some nice views from cafes. Full of tat shops. Queue for cable car a shambles. No idea of where queue ends. TIP: Get to the cable car early to avoid 1-2 hour queue. Walk down path treacherous so avoid unless a goat! Athens - Took the MSC trip. Tour around Athens. Ticket to Parthenon included. Walk up is ridiculosly crowded and walk down is worse! Only about 10mins at the top. Not a well planned tour, but mainly due to the stupid number of people allowed on the Acropolis. Numbers shuld be limited but they are not going to turn down the cash! Needs separate up and and down routes. Not difficult. Corfu - Organised our own taxi tour of the island. Really good. Saw all the major sites and got a good insight to the island. Well worth the money and cheaper than the MSC trip. Visit Palaiokastritsa, Achilleion Palace, St. Spyridon Church, Mouse Island etc. Kotor - Wanted to see Our Lady of the Rocks church but didn't have time. Walked around old city. Really liked Kotor. Like a mini Venice and nice shops, cafes etc. Not too pricey either. Nice 1/2 day visit. Entertainment Hit and miss as you would expect dependent upon taste. Il Tucano lounge was themed for Germans. Dreadful cheesy euro dance (formal – waltz, cha cha etc.) music. Not for me. Piano bar OK and South African band in the Crystal lounge very good. Pianist and guitarists in stairwell (not sure this is the formal name!!) were very talented. Didn’t try the disco or the theatre. Disembarkation Bags outside of room required by 12.30am previous night. Labels delivered by steward. Breakfast at 7am. Out of cabin by 8am and wait in lounge/theatre until called. Well organised. Usual group disembarkation by label colour (9.45am for us). Just wait until you are called then off you get. Bags waiting and transfer taxi (included) turned up about 10mins late (10.40am). Flight Homeward 15mins to Marco Polo airport for Easyjet flight to Gatwick at 4.15pm. Right. Marco Polo airport. What a complete shambles!! As easy as Gatwick was, Marco Polo was the complete opposite. Easyjet check in didn’t open until 1:45pm for a 4:15pm flight. As we were at the airport by 11.30am it was quite a wait to deposit luggage. Why can’t we just check them in at 11.30am? I don’t know but that’s how it works. We started to queue in the speedy boarding lane at about 1.40pm, only for the hopeless queueing system to get everyone in the wrong queues as its not clearly marshalled. 1 speedy boarding check-in (human), and about 6 normal boarding check-in desks (human and automated). Unsurprisingly the speedy boarding was slower. When asked the EasyJet lady said we could use the normal lanes if we wanted. I pointed out that we have been charged for the speedy boarding facility but it is anything but. A shoulder shrug followed! Marco Polo security. One uncontrolled line snakes around the terminal to the security gates operated by boarding card. This line should be controlled with barriers as per UK airports, but no, a mass shambles works better! Once through the security gates it’s a free for all around a post that is one person wide, leading to the numerous scanners. A mass scum and shoving match ensues. A few simple barriers would sort this out too. Awful system that works well at Stansted/Gatwick etc. when controlled. When boarding at the gate, again 2 queues. Speedy boarding and normal. As soon as the gate opens both queues are let onto the transfer bus, so again you get nothing for the extra money you pay for speedy boarding. Once off the transfer bus you all fight to get your bags into the overhead lockers. The idea of speedy boarding is to guarantee overhead locker space (they take money for this facility) which you can’t get. Another low cost con. Anyway, simple flight back and easy pick up of bags and security at efficient Gatwick. Simple collection by hotel transfer minibus outside airport and back to the hotel. Collect car keys and back home. 2 hours from hotel to Ipswich. Very easy as no Dartford tunnel holdup. Summary All in all, I think MSC have got most things right. Those who don’t like MSC have probably booked with the wrong line. It is a more family/fun atmosphere compared to Holland-America etc. I would guess (I can only speculate on this as I’ve not used the other lines). If you want peace and quiet and a more sedate experience, then maybe try elsewhere. I think maybe MSC are trying to appeal to everyone, and time will tell whether this is the right strategy or not. The excursions we tried were not great, but not really MSC’s fault. Weight of numbers due to increased tourism (cruise ships, low cost airlines etc.) exacerbate the issue. The dress code could and should be improved. I have commented to MSC about this. Dress for the MDR, and wear what you like in the cafeteria. Simple. Food is good in my opinion. Our friends have used P&O, Princess and Norwegian and preferred the MSC dining. Also they though the drinks package great value compare to Princess. They have already booked for MSC Meraviglia as the cost was very competitive. We have booked for Yacht Club for next year on MSC Seaside. We did this on-board and got Gold voyagers club membership, on-board credit and a really good price.

2nd MSC Cruise. Eastern Med on Musica. Positive but room for improvement.

MSC Musica Cruise Review by ZapCity

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2018
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
Background Information

We (wife and I in 50-60 age group) sailed on MSC Poesia a couple of years ago around the western med. (our 1st cruise), so this year we wanted a similar experience but eastern med. Booked through IGLU, and the package included 3 nights at Lake Garda, 2 nights in Venice and the eastern med cruise to follow. IGLU service great by the way.

This seems a popular package style as many people we met were on similar schedules with MSC, Princess etc. I would highly recommend this schedule as you get to see many lovely sights but it is physically demanding. Maybe not for those that want a relaxing holiday, but you could just sit around if you wanted to!

Booking in March got us Fantastica experince and drinks package included, plus flights transfers, and hotels.

Travel Outwards

All flights included from Gatwick (Easy Jet) and transfers. Only transfers not included were those from the Garda hotel to the train station (approx. 10 euro) and the Venice train station to the hotel (approx. 15 euro).

Drove to Best Western Skylane Hotel the day before the flight. Very easy trip (2 hours) and easy to find. Used this hotel before, so knew what we were getting. One night accommodation plus parking for the duration for £134. Clean and just what is required. Transfer to the airport is 10mins using hotel shuttle. Very efficient and timely and only £3pp each way. Car brought to front on return. Would definitely use again as very good service. Didn’t use breakfast or dining facilities. Small supermarket over the road, so plenty of choice for snacks/drinks etc.

Gatwick is a breeze. Easyjet auto bag drop simple. Security very quick and departure procedure easy. Booked priority with Easyjet for an extra £10 (gets more legroom too!) to guarantee overhead lockers. 23kg hold bag limit (46kg can be shared between couple) and no weight restriction on overhead locker bag plus small under seat bag allowed too. Good service all around from Gatwick and Easyjet.

Included transfer from airport to Hotel Europa, Desenzano very good. Shared bus waiting and dropped others off in Sirmione on way. Took about 45mins all in. Very good.

Lake Garda Stay

Hotel Europa on shores of Lake Garda is in a very good location. 10mins walk from town centre (and ferries). 5mins from bus stop to station (€1). Nice family run hotel. Simple, clean and well served. Free Wi-Fi. Excellent breakfast with lovely lady running the show. Speaks every language like a native! Hotel just 10 mins (€10) in taxi from station. TIP: MAKE SURE YOU BOOK A LAKE VIEW ROOM.

We went on the lake ferry to Sirmione which was excellent (€7 each return), and also to Padova for the day. Would love to go back and explore more of Lake Garda.

Good restaurant 5 mins walk from hotel (left out of hotel). Ristorante Pizzeria Desenzanino has a good menu with excellent listings for ingredients and allergy info. Great for Veggies (me!!) and vegans.

Padova

Day trip to Padova from Desenzano, so booked the train tickets on www.lefrecce.it

Super Padova Business Class return was €70 total for 2 adults on the Frecciarossa high speed service. Beautiful service. Fast, clean, efficient and on time. Allocated seating and free refreshments. TIP: BOOK BUSINESS CLASS WINDOW SEATS FOR THAT EXTRA BIT OF LUXURY. WORTH EVERY PENNY!

NOTE: the high number carriages are closest to the engine (in Venice direction), so stand at the relevant place on the platform. In the Milan direction, the lowest number carriages are closest to the engine.

Tram from outside Padova station (stops outside KFC) takes you straight to the churches. Get off at ‘Santo’. Time limited ticket is about €1.80 each. TIP: DON’T QUEUE FOR THE WINDOW TO GET TRAM TICKETS. AUTOMATED MACHINE HIDDEN AROUND THE SIDE.

Ticket office/machine is in porta cabin style building on right as you exit the station.

Padova is lovely. Check out the Church of St. Anthony, St. Luke/Matthew and the Scrovegni Chapel (book in advance). Great shopping too in the city centre. Walk back to the station through town.

Venice/Mestre Transfer

Used included train tickets for transfer to Mestre. Similar to Padova trip but ticket class was basic but OK. In hindsight I would pay for the upgrade to Business.

Bit of a scrum for case space. Best to keep an eye on your cases as they are stored at the end of the carriage, so could easily be pinched or taken by mistake.

See the note above about carriage numbering. You need to be at the right end of the platform if you are travelling with3-4 cases!

Mestre Stay

Easy taxi ride to Hilton Garden Inn, Mestre from station.

Hotel is typical Hilton. Clean, well equipped, efficient and soulless. It’s just a room in a convenient location. Excellent breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi. Bus stop right outside hotel. Get any 5 or 19 bus into Venice bus station to catch water buses (vaporetto). For a short trip to visit the sights of Venice then it is ideal. Lidl just up the road if you need supplies.

TIP: CO-OP located opposite vaporetto terminal C is the best choice for drinks, snacks, toiletries etc. and good prices.

Lovely pool at Hilton if needed and very expensive restaurant and bar.

Hotel can provide the ACTV (public transport) tickets for Venice. €30 for 48 hours included all buses and water buses. Must have.

Venice

I won’t review Venice, but needless to say it suffers badly from the amount of tourists. Lovely place and quite unique but very claustrophobic. Avoid the normal hotspots and you can see some wonderful sights. We went to the Church of St John and St Paul on a Saturday, and we were the only people there for 30 mins!

The Basilica Santa Maria della Salute is great too. Walk to the left and look out across the Guidecca and Grand canals.

Found a great veggie restaurant in Venice. La Tecia Vegana is worth checking out. Also went to Ital India in Mestre (ACTV tickets cover these buses). Good veggie selection.

TIP: Don’t forget to validate bus and vaporetto tickets on EVERY journey. Ticket police are hot!!

Venice/Mestre Transfer to Ship

Hilton checkout straight forward and plenty of others in reception awaiting transfers to various cruise ships. Hilton has a stapler so when you forget to attach you cruise baggage labels they can assist.

Used included transfer. Reminder letter posted in room the day before and taxi was about 30 mins early. 11am checkout for 12noon transfer. Again, very easy and well organised.

Cruise terminal was very busy but reasonably well organised. You get a boarding group card on arrival. Check in your bags and wait until you are called. Security screening OK and straight onto boat after the obligatory boarding photos (more about photos later!!). Rooms ready about 2pm and you can use you all-inclusive from the moment you get on (just show your paper cruise ticket until you get your cruise card). Bars open and cafeteria too.

Sail away from Venice is incredible! Down the Guidecca canal, past St Mark's. Has to be experienced to be believed. Big cruise ship demo on when we left.

Stateroom

Standard MSC Fantastica cabin. Deck 11 in middle of ship. Near lifts which was useful.

Very clean. Well maintained by our excellent cabin steward. New towels every day and a cool towel elephant! Clean, efficient bathroom and shower.

Clean, comfortable bed and good control of cabin temperature via simple switch.

A few annoying cabin trim rattles, but nothing too much.

Annoying neighbours with screaming kids on one side. Pot luck I guess. Don’t suppose you get this with Holland-America or Fred Olsen though!! Thin walls offer no protection, but I guess this is the same for most ships.

Balcony good. 2 chairs and footrest.

TV poor. Mainly German/Italian channels but didn't watch it as BBC World News is so depressing. If you are watching TV on a cruise then maybe you’ve picked the wrong holiday!

Interactive TV system very clunky, but gives easy account info. Functional but old fashioned. Should be on an app. by now!

Mini-bar OK to store own drinks.

Safe OK and wardrobes/storage very good. Euro double socket on dressing table but not bedside. Annoying. Hairdryer in room and sofa and table too. Cases fit under bed which is useful.

Overall a more than adequate cabin for 2.

Ship Info

Having been on the MSC Poesia we knew what to expect. The Musica is the same layout, so easy to navigate.

Plenty of bars, large dining rooms and easy to escape the crowds. Very busy cafeteria but this is to be expected.

Shops ok if that’s your thing. Casino is a selective smoking area, so lots of people will avoid. Silly decision by MSC. It’s about time all ships became non-smoking inside. Even walking past the cigar room is to be avoided if you don’t like the smell.

Cleanliness was pretty good. The loos and communal areas were generally well kept, and the restaurant was always clean when we used it.

Deck area 13 is OK. Lots of loungers and pools were good. Sail away party is a pain if you don’t want to listen to stupidly loud music. It basically puts the outside deck out of bounds once the sail away start. Shame for those that just want to relax.

Deck 7 (the promenade deck) would be good but there are no loungers. This could provide a quiet area for those that just want to read/relax, but there is nowhere to sit. You can't walk around the entire deck either which is a shame.

Dining

We opted for the 9pm dining session. It’s a bit too late for our liking but OK. Would prefer 8pm so we will go for anytime dining on our next cruise.

The MDR was very good. We are both veggies and always had a decent meal. Not always a choice, but the veggie meals were creative. No vegetable filo parcels!!

Big issue is the MDR dress code. You have theme nights; Elegant, Gala, White Night, 60s/70s/80s Night and Mediterranean with the rest casual. So 25% of the MDR are dressed up, 25% have made a bit of an effort (shirt and jeans) and 50% don't give a monkeys. Shorts and t-shirts let in without any issue. If you have a dress policy then enforce it. Dress for MDR, wear what you like in the cafeteria. Simple.

Cafeteria was OK. Always found something to eat but veggie labelling was hit and miss. Ham is not vegetarian even I know that!

Given the recent tragedies with Pret food labelling, I think we will see much better food labelling in the future, and this is required. Not just MSC but for all food suppliers.

We went for the all-inclusive drinks package (this was included FOC when we booked). Very good even for a non-drinker like me. Pepsi and water freely available as well as most coffees. Good choice of alcohol but some premium drinks you need to pay for. You’d have to be a picky drinker to not find something to drink from the included list. €26 per day to purchase on board so good if you can get it thrown in.

Activities

Didn’t use any of these, but they are a bit cheesy for me. I guess you can use or not use dependent on your taste.

Photos – Bloody annoying. No means no!! Back off!! Enough said.

Excursions

Will feedback seperately.

Service

Good subject for MSC. On our 2 MSC cruises we have always received excellent service. I would say that the service on Musica was even better than Poesia. THE MDR staff were fantastic. They knew what drinks we liked and even knew that I always reverse my cutlery layout, so did it for me in advance.

Cabin staff discreet and efficient. Bar staff 95% great. A couple of less cheerful ones, but we all have bad days. Given that politeness is a quality that a lot of cruisers forget, I couldn’t do it as a job. I think the waiting staff are excellent, it’s the cruisers who need to sharpen up. Please and thank-you exist in every language!

Excursions

Alberobello - Worth the 1hr journey. Beautiful little trulli houses. Lots of tat to buy too! Did the MSC excursion.

Katakolo - Did our own thing. Took the little tourist train to Agois Andreas beach for the afternoon. Lovely beach and loungers at hotel for the price of a drink. Sea nice for swimming too. Lots of local tour buses to Olympia for €4. Town nice and beautiful seafront. Good stuff to buy.

Santorini - Did our own thing. Santorini is a cross between paradise, a building site and a rubbish tip filled with tourists. I really liked it however!!

Took the boat to Oia (€15).

TIP: Get on back of boat so you can get on bus first as limited space.

Beautiful Oia with spectacular views. Ticket includes bus back to Fira.

TIP: Get to bus early as limited space. Bus times approximate.

Fira OK. Some nice views from cafes. Full of tat shops. Queue for cable car a shambles. No idea of where queue ends.

TIP: Get to the cable car early to avoid 1-2 hour queue. Walk down path treacherous so avoid unless a goat!

Athens - Took the MSC trip. Tour around Athens. Ticket to Parthenon included. Walk up is ridiculosly crowded and walk down is worse! Only about 10mins at the top. Not a well planned tour, but mainly due to the stupid number of people allowed on the Acropolis. Numbers shuld be limited but they are not going to turn down the cash!

Needs separate up and and down routes. Not difficult.

Corfu - Organised our own taxi tour of the island. Really good. Saw all the major sites and got a good insight to the island. Well worth the money and cheaper than the MSC trip. Visit Palaiokastritsa, Achilleion Palace, St. Spyridon Church, Mouse Island etc.

Kotor - Wanted to see Our Lady of the Rocks church but didn't have time. Walked around old city. Really liked Kotor. Like a mini Venice and nice shops, cafes etc. Not too pricey either. Nice 1/2 day visit.

Entertainment

Hit and miss as you would expect dependent upon taste.

Il Tucano lounge was themed for Germans. Dreadful cheesy euro dance (formal – waltz, cha cha etc.) music. Not for me.

Piano bar OK and South African band in the Crystal lounge very good.

Pianist and guitarists in stairwell (not sure this is the formal name!!) were very talented.

Didn’t try the disco or the theatre.

Disembarkation

Bags outside of room required by 12.30am previous night. Labels delivered by steward. Breakfast at 7am. Out of cabin by 8am and wait in lounge/theatre until called. Well organised. Usual group disembarkation by label colour (9.45am for us). Just wait until you are called then off you get. Bags waiting and transfer taxi (included) turned up about 10mins late (10.40am).

Flight Homeward

15mins to Marco Polo airport for Easyjet flight to Gatwick at 4.15pm.

Right. Marco Polo airport. What a complete shambles!! As easy as Gatwick was, Marco Polo was the complete opposite.

Easyjet check in didn’t open until 1:45pm for a 4:15pm flight. As we were at the airport by 11.30am it was quite a wait to deposit luggage. Why can’t we just check them in at 11.30am? I don’t know but that’s how it works. We started to queue in the speedy boarding lane at about 1.40pm, only for the hopeless queueing system to get everyone in the wrong queues as its not clearly marshalled. 1 speedy boarding check-in (human), and about 6 normal boarding check-in desks (human and automated). Unsurprisingly the speedy boarding was slower. When asked the EasyJet lady said we could use the normal lanes if we wanted. I pointed out that we have been charged for the speedy boarding facility but it is anything but. A shoulder shrug followed!

Marco Polo security. One uncontrolled line snakes around the terminal to the security gates operated by boarding card. This line should be controlled with barriers as per UK airports, but no, a mass shambles works better! Once through the security gates it’s a free for all around a post that is one person wide, leading to the numerous scanners. A mass scum and shoving match ensues. A few simple barriers would sort this out too. Awful system that works well at Stansted/Gatwick etc. when controlled.

When boarding at the gate, again 2 queues. Speedy boarding and normal. As soon as the gate opens both queues are let onto the transfer bus, so again you get nothing for the extra money you pay for speedy boarding.

Once off the transfer bus you all fight to get your bags into the overhead lockers. The idea of speedy boarding is to guarantee overhead locker space (they take money for this facility) which you can’t get. Another low cost con.

Anyway, simple flight back and easy pick up of bags and security at efficient Gatwick.

Simple collection by hotel transfer minibus outside airport and back to the hotel. Collect car keys and back home. 2 hours from hotel to Ipswich. Very easy as no Dartford tunnel holdup.

Summary

All in all, I think MSC have got most things right. Those who don’t like MSC have probably booked with the wrong line. It is a more family/fun atmosphere compared to Holland-America etc. I would guess (I can only speculate on this as I’ve not used the other lines). If you want peace and quiet and a more sedate experience, then maybe try elsewhere. I think maybe MSC are trying to appeal to everyone, and time will tell whether this is the right strategy or not.

The excursions we tried were not great, but not really MSC’s fault. Weight of numbers due to increased tourism (cruise ships, low cost airlines etc.) exacerbate the issue.

The dress code could and should be improved. I have commented to MSC about this. Dress for the MDR, and wear what you like in the cafeteria. Simple.

Food is good in my opinion. Our friends have used P&O, Princess and Norwegian and preferred the MSC dining. Also they though the drinks package great value compare to Princess. They have already booked for MSC Meraviglia as the cost was very competitive.

We have booked for Yacht Club for next year on MSC Seaside. We did this on-board and got Gold voyagers club membership, on-board credit and a really good price.
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin B2 11127
Standard MSC Fantastica cabin. Deck 11 in middle of ship. Near lifts which was useful.
Very clean. Well maintained by our excellent cabin steward. New towels every day and a cool towel elephant! Clean, efficient bathroom and shower.
Clean, comfortable bed and good control of cabin temperature via simple switch.
A few annoying cabin trim rattles, but nothing too much.
Annoying neighbours with screaming kids on one side. Pot luck I guess. Don’t suppose you get this with Holland-America or Fred Olsen though!! Thin walls offer no protection, but I guess this is the same for most ships.
Balcony good. 2 chairs and footrest.
TV poor. Mainly German/Italian channels but didn't watch it as BBC World News is so depressing. If you are watching TV on a cruise then maybe you’ve picked the wrong holiday!
Interactive TV system very clunky, but gives easy account info. Functional but old fashioned. Should be on an app. by now!
Mini-bar OK to store own drinks.
Safe OK and wardrobes/storage very good. Euro double socket on dressing table but not bedside. Annoying. Hairdryer in room and sofa and table too. Cases fit under bed which is useful.
Overall a more than adequate cabin for 2.
Virtuoso Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews