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Last summer we were planning spring break 2019 and found a great deal on AA Rewards tickets to Barcelona. We'd been to Spain, but not Barcelona. During our research, we came upon MSC and their 7 night Med cruises. We've sailed with RCCL, HAL, Celebrity and our beloved DCL many times, but had barely even heard of MSC. The price, timing and itinerary were right, but boy oh boy, the reviews were shaky at best. Still, after checking out the forums and youtube videos, and discovering we could status match to Black with MSC based on our DCL Platinum status, we decided to give them a try. We booked our Aurea Duplex Suite and set our countdown clocks for March, 2019. Our sailing party: Myself and my husband, 50-somethings, married 30 years with two kids. Our daughter is an adult and didn't travel with us this trip. Our son, who sailed with us, is 16. We've done over 25 cruises. This was our sixth European cruise (third Med) and, as noted above, first on MSC. We're American. Embarkation: Took a taxi from our hotel (RoomMate Carla) to the Port and arrived just before noon. First impression of the ship as we drove up "wow...looks more like an apartment building than a ship." Immediately saw the line for "Black Card" luggage drop. Had our bags tagged and our paperwork in hand, so we were processed quickly. Noticed many fellow passengers without tags, but staff was prepared and helpful. We were directed inside to the Aurea line (there separate lines...Yacht Club, Aurea and everyone else. All lines appeared to be moving...the Port was well staffed. We soon had our cards, were directed to the embarkation photo and then headed on board. From taxi drop to stepping on board took about 15 minutes. Painless. First hours onboard: Entering the Meraviglia is a bit like walking the gauntlet. In Barcelona, you enter into the Gallery where you are greeted by many smiling crew members selling drink packages, dining packages, spa packages, etc. If you've done your research, you'll be prepared and can politely decline or make someone's day by actually purchasing their wares! For convenience, we upgraded our Easy Drinks Package to Premium Plus. We're not heavy drinkers, but we like what we like and we didn't want to hassle all week with limiting ourselves to the $6 and under menu. And, yes, we should have upgraded before leaving home, but we were MSC rookies and have learned our lesson. Carefully consider you drinks package before leaving home! Anyway, after walking the gauntlet, we headed up to Deck 15 to the Market Place for lunch. It's a large area with several food and beverage stations. The stations repeat and we found that, in general, if you head to the back of the space, there are fewer crowds. The food was fine and plentiful and the drinks service (push a button at your table) was efficient and friendly. We explored the ship a bit using the MSC and Me app for a map (there are also paper ship maps located at Guest Services...we found both helpful) checking out the work out facility, basketball gym, walking track, etc. The ship is clean and bright and mostly well-laid out. It's obviously very large, but didn't feel too large and rarely felt crowded. We encountered many smiling faces from crew and guests and found the same throughout the week. We headed to our room around 1:30pm. Aurea Duplex Suite 12001: When we first looked at sailing MSC, we were shocked at the relatively low prices for staterooms, even those labeled suites and yacht club. We considered yacht club, but were intrigued by the Duplex Suite. Two stories! Two closets! Two bathrooms! And a HOT TUB ON OUR VERANDAH! For what price???? Less than an inside cabin on DCL? We decided that "we had to go for it" and pushed the book button. We also decided to surprise our son, so when he opened the door, it was the first time he had any idea what category stateroom he was spending the week in. Priceless! I had read every review and watched every video posted on the suite. The pictures and descriptions are all accurate. The room is truly special. All seasoned cruisers know that space on cruise ship is at a premium, and any parent of a teen knows that an extra bathroom on vacation is a miracle. This stateroom gave us both, as well as two walk in closets, two tvs, a dining table (which we used to plan our days and play games, as well as for breakfast most mornings,) and the fabulous verandah with private hot tub. We used it almost every evening for enjoy sailaway and sunset and it was a true luxury. The stateroom also had a minibar (which our premium plus drinks package allowed us to use, including the snacks) and a nespresso maker, which we used every morning. We found our excursion tickets, navigator, invitations to onboard events and black card gifts in the room everyday, including the first day. And shortly after entering the cabin, our room host knocked to introduce himself and see whether we needed anything. He was super friendly and nonintrusive and we appreciated him all week long. He delivered our luggage before 3 and we unpacked ready to truly begin vacation! Safety Drill: Because people embark everyday, the mandatory safety drill is different everyday. Ours was in the Deck 6 Theater and last about thirty minutes. This was our first introduction to just how many nationalities were sailing...the presentation was in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese. We were impressed by how many crew members spoke three or more languages and enjoyed listening to them throughout the week. Dining: Because we were Aurea, we had "My Choice" dining. Our dining room was the Panorama and the process was very easy. Simply decide what we want to do and show up at the dining room when we want to eat. We never waited for a table and had great waiters 5 of our 6 meals in Panorama. And the one miss wasn't anything terrible, just an okay server who maybe was having a bad night. The dinner menus change nightly and we never had a problem finding meals that appealed to us. The food was mostly very good with a few excellent items and a few less tasty items. Generally, we enjoyed the appetizers and entrees more than dessert. And with the premium plus package, although it's wine by the glass, not bottle, if my husband and I ordered the same wine, they automatically brought the whole bottle. Lounges: I'm a champagne drinker and enjoyed the champagne bar for a predinner drink most evenings. They offer a selection of cocktails and champagne and sparkling water...my favorite was the Veuve Clicquot Rich. They bring snacks like chips and nuts to the table (which our son enjoyed) and have a menu for charge available, too. The service was very friendly and professional. We used a few other bars for cocktails during the week with varying levels of service and atmosphere. There's a fabulous looking top deck 18+ lounge that we didn't use because we were sailing with our son, but definitely would have used if we were alone. Gym, game room and basketball court, etc.: So cool that they offer an indoor basketball court. Our son used it almost every evening for an hour. He met several other kids, enjoyed the view and got some exercise. My son and hubby also used the gym and found it adequate. We checked out games for free a few times from the activities desk, as well. We didn't bowl or do the ropes course. Next time! Entertainment: We enjoyed a few show onboard...the Opera, the Broadway medley and the flamenco dance performance. We booked our seats using our app. The theater was full, but not overcrowded and the performances were good. We enjoyed all three. The cruise director, who introduces the shows, is fabulous...great energy and personality. We also played bingo a few times (and yes, the numbers are announced in at least 7 languages!) It's only coverall, so one prize of at least !000 euro each game. We also went to one Cirque du Soleil show. That's not really our cup of tea, but we enjoyed the show and were glad that we gave it a try. Specialty Restaurants: Only tried one, Butcher's Cut, using our free Black Card dinner. All three of us matched Black, so there was no charge. The service was very good, as was the meal. The dessert here was excellent...a "cut" above the dining room, for sure! The atmosphere was okay, but I actually preferred the Panorama dining room in that regard. Spa: Although Aurea provided us with a week long pass to the thermal area, we never made it! We did, however, enjoy our complimentary 50 minute massages and I got a blow out three times during the trip. Again, friendly staff. Nice atmosphere. No complaints. Itinerary and Shore Excursions: This is really what the trip was all about....traveling comfortably through one of our favorite parts of the world. As noted, we embarked in Barcelona and sailed to Marseille, Genoa, Rome, Palermo and Malta, with one day at sea. We did a mix of MSC prebooked excursions and independent excursions. Our day in Rome on our own was probably my favorite, but we also really enjoyed our walking street food tour in Palermo (by Streaty) and our day in Marseille when we went to Ax en Provence with a ship’s excursion we spent two nights in Barcelona pre and post cruise. I highly recommend Sagrada Família and also very much enjoyed a day trip to Andorra. Final impressions: We were on a much needed break sailing the Mediterranean on a relatively new ship staffed with friendly people and in a fantastic stateroom. The weather was picture postcard perfect...upper 60’s and sunshine and the sea was calm. The champagne flowed and the onshore experiences were varied and plentiful. We enjoyed sail away from our private hot tub and were entertained by earnest performers in the evenings. The food was varied and tasty and the price was right. We’re not giving up n DCL, but we’re booked on another MSC itinerary. So glad we tried them and already looking forward to going back! Happy Sailing!

WOWed by our first MSC experience!

MSC Meraviglia Cruise Review by CelebrationFamily

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Aurea Duplex Suite
Last summer we were planning spring break 2019 and found a great deal on AA Rewards tickets to Barcelona. We'd been to Spain, but not Barcelona. During our research, we came upon MSC and their 7 night Med cruises. We've sailed with RCCL, HAL, Celebrity and our beloved DCL many times, but had barely even heard of MSC. The price, timing and itinerary were right, but boy oh boy, the reviews were shaky at best. Still, after checking out the forums and youtube videos, and discovering we could status match to Black with MSC based on our DCL Platinum status, we decided to give them a try. We booked our Aurea Duplex Suite and set our countdown clocks for March, 2019.

Our sailing party: Myself and my husband, 50-somethings, married 30 years with two kids. Our daughter is an adult and didn't travel with us this trip. Our son, who sailed with us, is 16. We've done over 25 cruises. This was our sixth European cruise (third Med) and, as noted above, first on MSC. We're American.

Embarkation: Took a taxi from our hotel (RoomMate Carla) to the Port and arrived just before noon. First impression of the ship as we drove up "wow...looks more like an apartment building than a ship." Immediately saw the line for "Black Card" luggage drop. Had our bags tagged and our paperwork in hand, so we were processed quickly. Noticed many fellow passengers without tags, but staff was prepared and helpful. We were directed inside to the Aurea line (there separate lines...Yacht Club, Aurea and everyone else. All lines appeared to be moving...the Port was well staffed. We soon had our cards, were directed to the embarkation photo and then headed on board. From taxi drop to stepping on board took about 15 minutes. Painless.

First hours onboard: Entering the Meraviglia is a bit like walking the gauntlet. In Barcelona, you enter into the Gallery where you are greeted by many smiling crew members selling drink packages, dining packages, spa packages, etc. If you've done your research, you'll be prepared and can politely decline or make someone's day by actually purchasing their wares! For convenience, we upgraded our Easy Drinks Package to Premium Plus. We're not heavy drinkers, but we like what we like and we didn't want to hassle all week with limiting ourselves to the $6 and under menu. And, yes, we should have upgraded before leaving home, but we were MSC rookies and have learned our lesson. Carefully consider you drinks package before leaving home! Anyway, after walking the gauntlet, we headed up to Deck 15 to the Market Place for lunch. It's a large area with several food and beverage stations. The stations repeat and we found that, in general, if you head to the back of the space, there are fewer crowds. The food was fine and plentiful and the drinks service (push a button at your table) was efficient and friendly. We explored the ship a bit using the MSC and Me app for a map (there are also paper ship maps located at Guest Services...we found both helpful) checking out the work out facility, basketball gym, walking track, etc. The ship is clean and bright and mostly well-laid out. It's obviously very large, but didn't feel too large and rarely felt crowded. We encountered many smiling faces from crew and guests and found the same throughout the week. We headed to our room around 1:30pm.

Aurea Duplex Suite 12001: When we first looked at sailing MSC, we were shocked at the relatively low prices for staterooms, even those labeled suites and yacht club. We considered yacht club, but were intrigued by the Duplex Suite. Two stories! Two closets! Two bathrooms! And a HOT TUB ON OUR VERANDAH! For what price???? Less than an inside cabin on DCL? We decided that "we had to go for it" and pushed the book button. We also decided to surprise our son, so when he opened the door, it was the first time he had any idea what category stateroom he was spending the week in. Priceless! I had read every review and watched every video posted on the suite. The pictures and descriptions are all accurate. The room is truly special. All seasoned cruisers know that space on cruise ship is at a premium, and any parent of a teen knows that an extra bathroom on vacation is a miracle. This stateroom gave us both, as well as two walk in closets, two tvs, a dining table (which we used to plan our days and play games, as well as for breakfast most mornings,) and the fabulous verandah with private hot tub. We used it almost every evening for enjoy sailaway and sunset and it was a true luxury. The stateroom also had a minibar (which our premium plus drinks package allowed us to use, including the snacks) and a nespresso maker, which we used every morning. We found our excursion tickets, navigator, invitations to onboard events and black card gifts in the room everyday, including the first day. And shortly after entering the cabin, our room host knocked to introduce himself and see whether we needed anything. He was super friendly and nonintrusive and we appreciated him all week long. He delivered our luggage before 3 and we unpacked ready to truly begin vacation!

Safety Drill: Because people embark everyday, the mandatory safety drill is different everyday. Ours was in the Deck 6 Theater and last about thirty minutes. This was our first introduction to just how many nationalities were sailing...the presentation was in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese. We were impressed by how many crew members spoke three or more languages and enjoyed listening to them throughout the week.

Dining: Because we were Aurea, we had "My Choice" dining. Our dining room was the Panorama and the process was very easy. Simply decide what we want to do and show up at the dining room when we want to eat. We never waited for a table and had great waiters 5 of our 6 meals in Panorama. And the one miss wasn't anything terrible, just an okay server who maybe was having a bad night. The dinner menus change nightly and we never had a problem finding meals that appealed to us. The food was mostly very good with a few excellent items and a few less tasty items. Generally, we enjoyed the appetizers and entrees more than dessert. And with the premium plus package, although it's wine by the glass, not bottle, if my husband and I ordered the same wine, they automatically brought the whole bottle.

Lounges: I'm a champagne drinker and enjoyed the champagne bar for a predinner drink most evenings. They offer a selection of cocktails and champagne and sparkling water...my favorite was the Veuve Clicquot Rich. They bring snacks like chips and nuts to the table (which our son enjoyed) and have a menu for charge available, too. The service was very friendly and professional. We used a few other bars for cocktails during the week with varying levels of service and atmosphere. There's a fabulous looking top deck 18+ lounge that we didn't use because we were sailing with our son, but definitely would have used if we were alone.

Gym, game room and basketball court, etc.: So cool that they offer an indoor basketball court. Our son used it almost every evening for an hour. He met several other kids, enjoyed the view and got some exercise. My son and hubby also used the gym and found it adequate. We checked out games for free a few times from the activities desk, as well. We didn't bowl or do the ropes course. Next time!

Entertainment: We enjoyed a few show onboard...the Opera, the Broadway medley and the flamenco dance performance. We booked our seats using our app. The theater was full, but not overcrowded and the performances were good. We enjoyed all three. The cruise director, who introduces the shows, is fabulous...great energy and personality. We also played bingo a few times (and yes, the numbers are announced in at least 7 languages!) It's only coverall, so one prize of at least !000 euro each game. We also went to one Cirque du Soleil show. That's not really our cup of tea, but we enjoyed the show and were glad that we gave it a try.

Specialty Restaurants: Only tried one, Butcher's Cut, using our free Black Card dinner. All three of us matched Black, so there was no charge. The service was very good, as was the meal. The dessert here was excellent...a "cut" above the dining room, for sure! The atmosphere was okay, but I actually preferred the Panorama dining room in that regard.

Spa: Although Aurea provided us with a week long pass to the thermal area, we never made it! We did, however, enjoy our complimentary 50 minute massages and I got a blow out three times during the trip. Again, friendly staff. Nice atmosphere. No complaints.

Itinerary and Shore Excursions: This is really what the trip was all about....traveling comfortably through one of our favorite parts of the world. As noted, we embarked in Barcelona and sailed to Marseille, Genoa, Rome, Palermo and Malta, with one day at sea. We did a mix of MSC prebooked excursions and independent excursions. Our day in Rome on our own was probably my favorite, but we also really enjoyed our walking street food tour in Palermo (by Streaty) and our day in Marseille when we went to Ax en Provence with a ship’s excursion we spent two nights in Barcelona pre and post cruise. I highly recommend Sagrada Família and also very much enjoyed a day trip to Andorra.

Final impressions: We were on a much needed break sailing the Mediterranean on a relatively new ship staffed with friendly people and in a fantastic stateroom. The weather was picture postcard perfect...upper 60’s and sunshine and the sea was calm. The champagne flowed and the onshore experiences were varied and plentiful. We enjoyed sail away from our private hot tub and were entertained by earnest performers in the evenings. The food was varied and tasty and the price was right. We’re not giving up n DCL, but we’re booked on another MSC itinerary. So glad we tried them and already looking forward to going back! Happy Sailing!
CelebrationFamily’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Shore Excursions
Ages 16+
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Aurea Duplex Suite
Cabin D3 12001
What an amazing stateroom...lots of WOW factor, great value. When we first looked at sailing MSC, we were shocked at the relatively low prices for staterooms, even those labeled suites and yacht club. We considered yacht club, but were intrigued by the Duplex Suite. Two stories! Two closets! Two bathrooms! And a HOT TUB ON OUR VERANDAH! For what price???? Less than an inside cabin on DCL? We decided that "we had to go for it" and pushed the book button. We also decided to surprise our son, so when he opened the door, it was the first time he had any idea what category stateroom he was spending the week in. Priceless! I had read every review and watched every video posted on the suite. The pictures and descriptions are all accurate. The room is truly special. All seasoned cruisers know that space on cruise ship is at a premium, and any parent of a teen knows that an extra bathroom on vacation is a miracle. This stateroom gave us both, as well as two walk in closets, two tvs, a dining table (which we used to plan our days and play games, as well as for breakfast most mornings,) and the fabulous verandah with private hot tub. We used it almost every evening for enjoy sailaway and sunset and it was a true luxury. The stateroom also had a minibar (which our premium plus drinks package allowed us to use, including the snacks) and a nespresso maker, which we used every morning. We found our excursion tickets, navigator, invitations to onboard events and black card gifts in the room everyday, including the first day. And shortly after entering the cabin, our room host knocked to introduce himself and see whether we needed anything. He was super friendly and nonintrusive and we appreciated him all week long. He delivered our luggage before 3 and we unpacked ready to truly begin vacation!
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