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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We really enjoyed the Pacific Princess, it is definitely our favorite Princess ship. The ship size is perfect. It's small and intimate and there was never a wait for anything. Embarking was easy, disembarking was easy, tendering was ... Read More
We really enjoyed the Pacific Princess, it is definitely our favorite Princess ship. The ship size is perfect. It's small and intimate and there was never a wait for anything. Embarking was easy, disembarking was easy, tendering was easy. It never takes long to get anywhere. The ship has recently been refurbished and it feels new. Service onboard was fantastic, as well as the food. The only down side to a small ship is less onboard activities. However, that does not matter to us since we tend to choose port-intensive itineraries and spend all of our time on the ship just relaxing. For those not familiar with Princess, be aware that it is a slow and calm atmosphere. We were the youngest people on the ship at 32 and 45 years of age. We have no problem with this and made plenty of new friends with different generations. I almost did not want to write this review because I'd love to keep the ship all to myself and not let everyone else know what they're missing. We can't wait for our next Pacific Princess cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We just completed our third voyage on the Pacific Princess. Almost three months total sailing on this vessel. But this one was different, in that we booked our first full suite after over 600 days of sailing and had Club Class Dining. By ... Read More
We just completed our third voyage on the Pacific Princess. Almost three months total sailing on this vessel. But this one was different, in that we booked our first full suite after over 600 days of sailing and had Club Class Dining. By far our greatest cruise ever from a cabin and dining standpoint. Other aspects of the cruise were good to very good but the cabin and dining made this an excellent cruise experience overall. As before, we really liked the ship and the crew, from the Captain on down. The main dining room (MDR) folks are exceptional. The high point for us on our two previous cruises on the Pacific Princess is that the main dining room service and cuisine had restored our faith in the MDRs. However, this time the Club Class dining at dinner and lunch as well as the suite breakfasts every morning we received in the Sabatini's restaurant on deck 10, elevated this experience to an entirely new high for us. Between receiving this quality meal service and having an "Owners Suite" the voyage resembled a fantasy of high seas travel in the days of yore, which many can only dream of nowadays. Going up to the quiet Sabatini's restaurant in the morning and sitting at a table for two next to floor to ceiling windows providing a panoramic view of the sea was something we didn't expect. The cabin was much larger than I had imagined it would be as well as the huge balcony in the stern, which overlooked the ship's wake. Not only that, a portion of the balcony was on the port corner so one could see forward on the port side as well as everything off the stern on the starboard side. We had booked this cabin due to my wife's sister being with us on the first segment, we wanted her to have her own toilet. This is the only Princess ship which has a half bathroom as well as a full sized one in the suites; we discovered too, that very few other cruise line's ships offer this option. Pictures on the walls in the suite even had individual lighting over the frames. Room service personnel and our steward, Teddy, were the best we have had throughout our cruising days. We certainly appreciate the loyalty perk(s) for free internet and laundry. The internet speed for me is satisfactory and reliable and wife loves the care, reliability and quality of the laundry and cleaning service. The two main hot tubes on the pool deck were great and I used them a lot, sometimes twice a day. Due to our suite status the huge forward hot tub as well as the steam room and sauna in the Lotus Spa area were also available to us for no extra charge. The pool deck on this ship doesn't have chair hogs and I never ran into a time when there wasn't ample fresh towels awaiting at numerous locations. The vessel is very well maintained and the crew is constantly scraping, painting and keeping the ship in tip-top condition. Often I'm not certain what the pre and post cruise hotels cost as we like to use the cruise line transfers and hotel package(s) which are lumped together price wise. Normally I believe the entire package is reasonable----this time it was no different. Having cruise line folk meeting us has really come in handy in the past when things got confused the day before embarkation due lost airline luggage or other problems. Nothing more comforting than to have an agent at a strange airport with a sign and your name. The ship's library is the best and largest there is. Truly a library designed for exploration cruises. The buffet is very good, food wise, service wise and table wise. They even change things around in a portion of it late in the afternoon, making for a more formal section with table cloths, flowers and wine glasses. This buffet has ample seating which gets constrained only when inclement weather forces everybody off the outdoor seating areas, which has even a larger number of tables than inside. There has been some discussion over the quality of Princess Pizzas recently. Not true, on the Pacific Princess anyway. However, due to our suite status we didn't visit the buffet as much as usual this voyage. Cabin T.V.s work great and programming good. Certainly appreciate my favorite news channel MSNBC being available with a good signal all the time. I recall the days when we had no other choice for news but-----LOL. Sure did like the large flat screen TV in a cabinet in the main living room of the suite. No complaints over embarkations and disembarkations. All handled well and luggage arrived in the cabins timely. We took a lot of shore excursions this time. We had 16 ports to do that in. Typically we never go the independent route on shore excursions but use those provided by the cruise line. All were very good. The only exception was on the disembarkation excursion at Port Everglades where the weather was beautiful and warm. Our flight for Alaska didn't leave until 6:30 PM so once again we took an inland coastal waterway and city tour to kill time. Guide on the coach was real knowledgeable about the area but too poor a speaker, or the PA system was not good, for most of us to hear him. Folks were really complaining about this, which he acknowledged and would talk louder for about 30 seconds then go back to endless mumbling. Guide on the boat though, showing us the haunts of the rich and famous in the area, was really good. We certainly appreciate the loyalty perk(s) for free internet and laundry. The internet speed for me is satisfactory and reliable and wife loves the care, reliability and quality of the laundry and cleaning service. I do like the enrichment lecturers that Princess provides, like naturalists, biologists, area historians and geography experts. One of my favorite features of a cruise. On our last cruise though, L.A. to Sydney, in January, this aspect was bad, i.e. to Hawaii--none, after which I thought they would bring someone on board at Honolulu but didn't. However, at Pago Pago they did bring on two New Zealanders who were pretty good, too bad for us though, as this occurred two thirds of the way through that cruise. However, on this cruise they had two excellent lecturers. I really enjoyed their presentations. One was David Sisler who began after Rome and prior to that, from Venice to Rome, was a fellow who did mostly upcoming port history lecturers but unfortunately I can't remember his name, however he was good. Platinum & Elite Lounge----Princess has changed their format here from what they used to provide. Now they offer a selection of eight different alcohol drinks which they apparently came up with as substitutes for the more traditional drinks they used to offer for $5.00 per. They now charge $6.50 for these new concoctions. On our last cruise in January we gave them a chance. Went three times and tried three different drinks each, most of the time we didn't finish the drinks due to not liking them. Their hors d'oeuvre offerings were still pretty good but the only way we would want to take time to attend is by purchasing their old traditional drinks for the full price. I wanted to try this out again, this cruise, to see if there was any improvement, but from the looks of their menu selections I wasn't optimistic, to be fair though, due to the free canapes we received in the suite every evening before dinner, we simply didn't make it to the lounge. The gym is in an excellent location. I use it every sea day. I previously thought it was too small for the number of guests wanting to use it. But this time that wasn't the case, plenty of ellipticals and treadmills to go around. The gym doors open at 7:00 PM. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise just 2 weeks after returning from a land trip to France. We went online and instead of choosing a cruise for 2019, we chose this 29 Night Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Ft Lauderdale because our Princess agent ... Read More
We chose this cruise just 2 weeks after returning from a land trip to France. We went online and instead of choosing a cruise for 2019, we chose this 29 Night Mediterranean cruise from Venice to Ft Lauderdale because our Princess agent found us a great, super low one-way air fare to take us from Orlando nonstop to Frankfurt then nonstop to Venice with only a 3 hour layover. After being booked for one month, Princess offered us an upscale to a mini suite from a balcony on this sold-out cruise, and we accepted. Embarkation - We were the only ship for the cruise terminal, as November is low season in Venice. Very easy. Cabin- 8009 was just gorgeous. We used both US and European outlets as we brought our adapters, there are 4 outlets at the huge desk/dresser. The lamps each have USB ports at the bedside. We took an 18 foot regular extension cord and definitely used it as we settled in to 4 weeks at sea. Our cabin was the most spacious, and is comparable to HAL's Oosterdam signature suite we stayed in Nov 2016. The cabins had been totally refurbished in 2017 and looked like new to us. The room was at least 15 feet wide at the balcony, so we had lots of room and seating to invite other guests to visit with us after dinner etc. Dining was the greatest as far as food is concerned comparing it to the Veendam (which is 2nd place, and other yearly cruises since 2013 on HAL, Princess, and Scylla River cruises. Our 2 servers were excellent, and I enjoyed the 2 wine tastings that were offered by our waiters for afternoon diversion on sea days. The other cool thing, unknown if serendipitous or planning on their part, but we were assigned to a table of 8, and 3 of us women were raised in California, 3 of us were born within 12 months of each other, and our men were all within 10 years of each other. We got along great for 29 nights! Excursions - Our private train ticket plan from Civitavecchia to Rome was cancelled due to some problem, so our excursion lady suggested Orvieto as I didn't want to go on a long bus ride to Rome. Orvieto is a place NOT TO MISS! That tour was fantastic! We also bought wine and olive oil and its great too. The other wonderful excursion was to Seville and we were on our own there but it is an easy, beautiful city that has all the initial great cathedrals and palaces located within 0.25 mile and very near our departure point. On our own, as we met nice people at lunch, and at dinner, we did venture out and rented taxis (negotiated first and split the fare) in Naples, Catania, Athens, Santa Cruz de Tenerife instead of relying on Hop On/Hop Off bus lines. In ports of Athens and Naples, the Archaeological Museums tours were not offered as excursions by Princess and we thought these 2 were among the best in world (including the Louvre and British Museums). The taxi driver in Athens made a new negotiation when we arrived at the Athens Museum and proposed we keep him for other sites and he would drop us off at a wonderful open air restaurant in the Plaka, and we accepted. He waited from us the whole time - with driving about 30+ miles roundtrip in traffic - about 5 hours total (4 of us split the fare plus tips totally about 75 Euros per couple). Wonderful day in Athens! The taxi driver in Naples took us to the Via Duomo (avenue) and dropped us off at the Naples Cathedral/Basilica. It was breathtaking, and we decided to use our feet to take us the 3/4 mile to Archeological Museum (with all the riches and treasures from Herculeneum and Pompeii that was turned over to the Duke of Naples when found over 200 years ago). We then walked downhill on the Via Toledo from the museum, and its an easy walk to the ship but about an hour if you don't stop to shop and eat. I think the itinerary was great, especially for first time travelers, and we were 2nd time travelers except to 6 new ports. We stayed 3 nights in Venice before the cruise. Stayed at Allogia Barbaria which is only 200 feet from the vaporetto stop on the Alilaguna blue line from Marco Polo airport. Then when we left the B&B for the ship, we took the Alilaguna direct to the ship. We didn't have to go through the People Mover or Piazzale Roma, etc. It was easy as we didn't have to lug suitcases over bridges and lots of cobblestones, but was able to visit Venice easily us - an older couple. We want to go again to Venice, and stay a whole week before leaving. Venice in November is quiet. Never colder at night than 50 F. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
Viking has the reputation of providing one of the best values in Ocean Cruising and on a recommendation from a friend I took the plunge. My wife and I have cruised a number of times and usual use Celebrity and enjoyed our cruises with ... Read More
Viking has the reputation of providing one of the best values in Ocean Cruising and on a recommendation from a friend I took the plunge. My wife and I have cruised a number of times and usual use Celebrity and enjoyed our cruises with them. The one downside to the major cruise lines is that you get nickel and dimed to death. Alternative restaurants are are not included in the listed prices and you get assaulted by photographer who want to take your photograph. With Viking Cruises the alternative restaurants are no charge. There are no photographers. No seating assignments in the regular restaurants. No children under 18 years of age. Also, there is no charge for beer and wine at any lunch or dinner. They do offer a drink package with upgraded drinks if you choose the option. My wife and I found that we could do without the package and were quite satisfied with the standard offerings. The staff of Viking is their best asset and they provide service with a smile and we found that they would go out of their way to learn your likes and dislikes in providing service. Another additional benefit was the laundry machines located on each deck of the ship. They are free and save you a lot of money in cleaning fees. We did spend 8 days at sea and we wondered going into the cruise if we would have enough to do during sea days. It turned out that we did with the educational lectures provided by Viking. The Fitness rooms are a bit smaller than we're used to but very adequate. The entertainment is a scaled back due to the size of the ship and the entertainment venues. However, we enjoyed the entertainment on the smaller scale and it was offset by the lower number of passengers. The ports of call on the cruise were limited due to the Atlantic Crossing but we found them to be quite good and the shore excisions were well planned and organized. All and all I would recommend a Viking Ocean Cruise to anyone Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Comments also posted on TripAdvisor. This was the second transatlantic cruise for us. This time from Venice to Fort Lauderdale. Last year we crossed the Atlantic on the Costa Favolosa from Savona to Guadaloupe. Both crossings were, for ... Read More
Comments also posted on TripAdvisor. This was the second transatlantic cruise for us. This time from Venice to Fort Lauderdale. Last year we crossed the Atlantic on the Costa Favolosa from Savona to Guadaloupe. Both crossings were, for us, very good and fulfilled almost all our expectations. Embarked in Venice on a cold, rainy day. Took a water taxi from our hotel directly to the ship. Boarding took a bit over an hour, but when 2000 passenger need to get on board, quite normal. You proceed directly to your cabin where the Costa Card - your identity card for the trip and the Diario (newspaper outlining the activities) are waiting. The luggage arrived soon. Three cupboards, two hanging, one with shelves and under the desk five drawers are sufficient. We never used the mini-bar. The dining room is at the stern of the ship. The ship is 295 m (about 900 ft.) long . This meant each visit there at least half a kilometre walk! Great way to do some sport! We had a table for six in the "English" section of the dining room. Occasionally we enjoyed the company of a Scottish couple. They however seem to have preferred the buffet on the ninth deck. So, except two evenings when we were joined by families from Guadeloupe, we enjoyed a private table. Our waiter, Mat from the Philippines, was great. Friendly, curteous, helpful. Could not wish for a better one! Louis from Honduras assisted him. Always happy, always laughing and quick with serving. The menus are available in several languages. The English copy was excellent and the food we selected was usually to our tastes. Once or twice, the meat was not our taste, but this is minor. The other diner was on the 9th deck, the buffet. Breakfast and lunch were served there and people, often with youngsters or teens ate there. Here I want to comment on statements made often in previous comments that the food was terrible. First of all these commentators forgot that they were on an Italian ship serving Italian food for its majority of passengers, Italians. Yes, there were no toasters, just a few stone hard pre-toasted slices. There was no porridge, no waffles, etc. However consider, when you travelled in Italy, in mass tourism hotels, did you find waffles or porridge? Italian breakfast means usually an espresso with a couple of sweet buns and maybe a bit of fruit. And that is it! You go to Italy not to eat your home foods, go you to experience Italian food. Something worse than commenting on the food, were the overloaded plates in the buffet area. We have seen daily, for breakfast and lunch, passengers who selected so much food that they could not eat it all. For example, to just mention one of hundreds cases, a passenger took 6 slices of white bread, added six croissants, butter, cheeses, sausages and a few sweet rolls onto her plate. Started to eat. Soon left the plate and departed. The leftovers? Four slices of bread, five croissants, and most of the trimmings. And this in an age where there a millions starving. Costa tries to stem this waste. This year (not last year in the Costa Favolosa) the breakfast and lunch tables all had five three-sided displays with the heading “Taste do not Waste” and text in various languages urging the passengers to show restraint. In our opinion, the texts were to “nice” to carry fruit and should really be of the smoking category, showing examples of overloaded plates. Interestingly Costa removed those displays during the second part of the voyage. Once a woman passenger came to our breakfast table with such an overloaded plate. My wife asked politely if she would eat all that. She got up and left. In many previous comments, complaints were uttered regarding the waiters and often in general about the crew. Let me state that we almost never had an unfriendly or not helpful waiter or other crewmembers. They all responded gladly when you asked them politely for something or other. Most were happy to speak with you. Consider, they are working on a seven to nine months contract. Mostly work eleven hours a day with no day off. In general, the old saying “Just as one calls into the forest, so it echoes back.” applies Only a couple of staff members did not fit the above-mentioned attitude. In the dining room, neither the first nor the second maître d’hôtel ever came to our table to welcome us or inquire if we are satisfied. Never. In 31 days! And our table was not in a dark corner. What a difference to the maître d’hôtel on the Favolosa last year. There a smiling and friendly maître d’hôtel came by almost every evening to inquire, to tell of specials. Simply “normal” of what his job demands. Many complaints in the blogs are about the speed of service. There again you have to consider that the Costa ships are Italian ships. Moreover, Italians take their time to eat! One evening the service was quite slow, however on the Lido deck a huge buffet was served, with a meter high shank and square meter sized cakes. That took many cooks and they were missing for the normal dinner service. A prior mention in the daily Diario would have been appropriate. A previous comment on this same voyage stated that the dining room doors were not opened at the scheduled time. Let me state that for a specific reason I was at the door openings all except two nights, and the doors were always opened within a minute or two from the stated times of 6:15 or 6:30. One last item re food and this item is truly a shameful item for Costa. As a Perla member (travelled enough with Costa), you are invited for one evening to eat in the Samsara restaurant without a normally applying surcharge. When you make the reservation, you are shown an exclusive menu. When you sit down you are shown a small narrow menu with only two choices of main dishes. Definitively a cheat in my opinion and we hope Costa will soon remove this falsification. Sanitation: Norovirus on a ship is definitively bad. There have been cases and we were happy that we did not have an outbreak on the ship. To fight this there are many disinfectant dispensers at the entrances to the dining rooms and all around the buffets plus at many other places on the ship. Much to our annoyance, hardly anyone made use of these. Quite a difference to the German cruise ship we once travelled. There two men stood at the entrance to the dining room and made sure that everyone disinfected their hands. Well… that’s a bit if Germany vs. Italy. The other health problem was coughing. Typically, the infamous air conditioning coughs. Ice cold dining rooms against warm outside. I did catch it this time and brutally with high fever. A few visit to the ship’s hospital ensued. Great praise for the two doctors and the nurses. I was treated perfectly. The downside of those passengers, as necessary as those visits are, are the costs if you do not have a proper travel insurance, which also covers shipboard hospital visits. There is more that could be mentioned, maybe another time. To end my comments: During the crossing of the Atlantic Costa arranged (naturally a small charge applied – Costa has to be profitable) to tour the insides of the ship. Many places we saw. Not the engine room. We also had a visit to the bridge which was immensely interesting. Chatting with Captain Varese I asked if anyone on the bridge still uses the sextant, the clock and the admirality tables to fix the ships position. He said yes, the cadets still have to do this procedure same as I used before GPS became standard. I also told him that I always hope to once see a submarine surfacing alongside or at least see the snorkel. He, who has sailed a lifelong said “never saw one”. Summary: We again enjoyed the trip and, yes, we will again choose Costa. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
This is our favorite ship... we have sailed the small ships now for 5 times. These ships are small and intimate. You get to know most everyone when you sail. Cabins are very nice, in fact the square shape of the mini suites is ... Read More
This is our favorite ship... we have sailed the small ships now for 5 times. These ships are small and intimate. You get to know most everyone when you sail. Cabins are very nice, in fact the square shape of the mini suites is different and leaves you with a spacious feeling. All the cabins feel upscale and different from most cabins. The appointments are nice and all leave you with the feeling of old school luxury. The library is truly special. it is all mahogany and comfort with wing chairs and "real" books on the shelves. There is a pretend fireplace and brings much warmth to the room. It is a great place to work a jigsaw puzzle or read a book. All the staff are nice and because of the small number of passengers, they all seem to know you. We hope that Princess keeps this last small ship and will continue to sail on her. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
We chose this cruise primarily because of the destinations, but also because the Pacific Princess is a "Small Ship". This cruise had a total passenger load of 700 which meant that you could actually meet other passengers. ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily because of the destinations, but also because the Pacific Princess is a "Small Ship". This cruise had a total passenger load of 700 which meant that you could actually meet other passengers. Entertainment was quite good with some diversity. We always had the feeling that the crew acted as a team and enjoyed their work. We did miss two ports due to weather, but the bridge crew were honest and up front as to the reasons and different entertainment options were made available. Embarcation and dis embarcation were very efficient. We were on board the ship less than 30 minutes after we arrived at the terminal. The busses were available on our arrival in Rome port and in less than two hours we were at the airport. They even had staff at the airport to meet our bus and lend assistance if needed. All in all a great cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We cruised on the Ocean Princess before it was sold, and we loved it. Although we enjoy the larger Princess ships, the Ocean Princess was far more intimate. When we saw this cruise itinerary, with Pacific Princess (it's sister ship) ... Read More
We cruised on the Ocean Princess before it was sold, and we loved it. Although we enjoy the larger Princess ships, the Ocean Princess was far more intimate. When we saw this cruise itinerary, with Pacific Princess (it's sister ship) we were excited. The itinerary was port intensive, with most ports new to us. The cruise turned out to be all we hoped for and more. Pacific Princess had come out of dry dock this year, and the mattress and bedding were all new. We may buy one of the mattresses for our home; our sleep was so good. We can only rave about this cruise. All was very good to exceptional. Our captain determined that the seas were going to be too rough for us to get to Kotor, and he managed to get us an extra day in Dubrovnik. Instead of spending a day at sea, we had another day in port, and a gorgeous one at that. We did need to skip Khios due to the rough sea, but since the trip was so port intensive, it was not that great a loss. We have another cruise booked on one of the larger Princess ships for next summer, but we'd rather be on the Pacific Princess and we may make a switch. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
This was our eighth cruise with Holland America and our second on a Vista Class ship. By far, the Westerdam is at the top of our list and we would sail on this ship again. The ship recently came out of dry dock and all the common areas ... Read More
This was our eighth cruise with Holland America and our second on a Vista Class ship. By far, the Westerdam is at the top of our list and we would sail on this ship again. The ship recently came out of dry dock and all the common areas have been nicely refurbished. We do, however, miss the library and hope that Holland will find a way to incorporate that feature in the future. Our shipboard experience was very good. We had a wonderful captain, Mark Rowden, who consistently kept us updated and informed. He would also break in with announcements at various times to let us know if there were particular things that might be of interest, such as a wonderful sunset off the port side or the time we would be cruising the Gibraltar straights. The cruise director, Nathan Hinojosa, was one of the best we have ever sailed with. He took it to heart that it was his job to ensure that everyone was having a good cruise. The food generally on the ship was very good. Our waiter and wine stewards in the main dining room did an excellent job for us. The buffet at breakfast and the few times ate dinner there was very good, though lunch options were merely okay. We varied the routine by eating at the burger bar by the pool several times and occasionally in the main dining room. Dinner twice at the Pinnacle Grill was worth the upcharge. The first portion of the cruise – Venice to Cadiz – was very port intensive (thirteen ports in seventeen days). And while the second part of the cruise – eight days at sea – might seem excessive, we were in need of rest and found ourselves packing up for Fort Lauderdale before we knew it. We were blessed with wonderful weather. While we sailed from Venice in a dense fog, we had sunshine and blue skies in every port. Temperatures ranged from the low 60s to mid-80s, so never too hot or too cold. There was one very rough day at sea between Santorini and Naples; the captain gave plenty of warning so we could prepare. There was also one day of rain on the Atlantic crossing, but that was it. We had never cruised the Mediterranean before, so all the ports were new to us. In general, we enjoyed the ports in Spain (Cartagena, Malaga, and Cadiz) a bit better than the ports in Italy (Rome, Naples) and in Italy a bit better than the ports in Greece. That said, we did wonderful activities through the EXC shore excursions in all ports. We did only some of the activities on the ship. We enjoyed "Sip and Savor" with Alvin, one of the most personable cellar masters we have ever sailed with, as well as several of the wine events, such as "Wines of the World." We liked the general trivia games (though found the BBC Earth trivia boring in the extreme). Several guest lecturers were worthwhile, and the highlight of the trip was hearing Captain Albert speak about the history of Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
The ports were of interest, lots of historical interest. 10 out of the 12 days were port days, I could have stood another day or two at sea as we were very busy. We loved the Lincoln Center and BB Kings, the main stage shows were OK ... Read More
The ports were of interest, lots of historical interest. 10 out of the 12 days were port days, I could have stood another day or two at sea as we were very busy. We loved the Lincoln Center and BB Kings, the main stage shows were OK but really not our thing. We ate every night in the dining room and they allowed me to order my meal the night before as I am celiac which was a huge bonus. They had great gluten free bread every night which was a nice touch. The staff were fantastic and very attentive. We loved the salad bar and the omlete bar and there is even a gluten free station with gluten free pasta and at breakfast they can make GF waffles etc! They even can make GF pizza. All I would say is that they don't advertise it enough as we didn't know about it until half way through the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
In October 2016 my daughter and son-in-law told us about their intended cruise in October 2017 - they investigated the different options, but soon found that the southbound cruise (Venice to Durban, South Africa) offers the best value for ... Read More
In October 2016 my daughter and son-in-law told us about their intended cruise in October 2017 - they investigated the different options, but soon found that the southbound cruise (Venice to Durban, South Africa) offers the best value for money. We were intrigued and immediately started planning towards our once-in-a-lifetime cruise vacation! Being practically virgin travelers (we only did a few 3 and 4 night cruises from Durban previously and were never overseas as a family) we made a few mistakes in planning our trip. The major mistake was making use of a South African travel agency. Although we received excellent service, they could not assist us - as Namibians - in specific visa queries. We decided - as embarkation would be on a Saturday - that we would take an extra week's vacation to visit Italy. This was our second 'mistake' - as Italy has no embassy in Namibia and we would have had to travel to Pretoria to obtain our Schengen Visa, had it not been that the Italian Embassy in Pretoria visited their Consulate at the beginning of August. Although we saved a lot on airplane tickets, by waiting for the embassy to come to Windhoek we were stretched for time to obtain our Israel and Jordan visas. In the end we received our passports (without success with the Jordan visas) less than 24 hours prior to our flight - an unnecessary stressful situation! However, we had a wonderful six days in Italy prior to our cruise. We spent two nights each in Rome, Florence and Venice and thanks to extensive planning we had the most wonderful time and memories to last a lifetime. We managed to visit the highlights in each city and even paid a visit to Pisa and Volterra. Embarkation in Venice was somewhat confusing at first. In hindsight I am convinced that it was due to the many different nationalities and as soon as everyone understood the numbers in which embarkation took place, everything went smoothly. Because it was such a long cruise we did not experience the usual congestion at the guest relations desk because there was ample time to register your credit card later. We were able to visit our cabins immediately to collect our cruise cards and make use of the bar facilities while the remaining guests were still embarking. We planned our cruise in great detail. We made use of various packages: the all-inclusive drinks package proved to be our best decision as we have enjoyed a large variety of cocktails, wines, beers, specialty coffees and ice cream. We purchased a spa package which included a Bali massage that we all enjoyed but in the end we made very little use of the spa facilities. The laundry packages worked out well and the internet package enabled us to make contact with our family and friends at home - we could send pictures of our ongoing trip and could join in the celebrations on the day my son got engaged back home while we were in Jordan. Although MSC warned us that we could be without internet connection for a few days while at sea, it was kept to a minimum and we could connect whenever it was necessary. My children also purchased a photo package but have no idea what to do with their 100 enlargements now! (Only joking!) From the start we decided to do a shore excursion in every port because we were going to visit countries where we never were before and very likely will never visit again. We planned to accommodate most of our different needs into one shared excursion per port and everyone of them was very well organized. The excursions which included lunch were of a very high standard and we really enjoyed the different cultures portrayed through their meals. Due to engine problems we lost a few hours at sea and our Mauritius excursion was two hours shorter than planned. Although we were refunded a percentage of the excursion, we were very disappointed because the one facet of the tour we looked forward to the most, could not occur. Although we went on the cruise without our Jordan visa, the excursion desk was extremely helpful. They were able to establish that we really did apply and pay for the visa and therefore Jordan granted us a visa and we could visit Petra - an absolute highlight of the cruise! (Thanks again, Joline!) Both couples decided on the Fantastica experience - we booked a seaside cabin and our children an inside cabin and we were equally satisfied. We were also extremely satisfied with the outstanding service rendered by our cabin stewards. We experienced overall friendly and efficient service. All employees seemed satisfied - some of them were nearing the end of their contracts and were looking forward to visit their families and homes, but most of them already planned to return for their next contracts. With the wonderful weather we have experienced, sunbeds were often not enough - at least not in the shade. However we realized that we should get up earlier in the mornings or otherwise just be happy to sit at the various tables - no problem there! We tried a variety of meal options: once we had breakfast delivered to our cabin, a few times we opted for the breakfast in the bistro. Dinner was a variety of carefully prepared restaurant meals (fine dining) and the buffet restaurant. Sometimes we even had hamburgers, pasta and pizzas - and we were very seldom unsatisfied! Shopping on board was probably too inviting - the shops and displays were a feast for the eyes and with regular special offers also a huge temptation! The average age of the travelers was 70 - which made us (in our fifties, and my children in their early thirties) the youngsters! It was a very relaxing trip but still with so many opportunities to participate in activities, which we never even did. We spent hours in the swimming pool and had numerous conversations with mostly fellow Afrikaans-speaking guests. The various theater shows were of outstanding quality. We enjoyed the company dancers and performers and were especially impressed with the opera group. Disembarkation in Durban was smooth and efficient and we made use of the MSC shuttle service to the airport. I can recommend the southbound cruise without any reservations! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
My husband and I were on the MSC Sinfonia in October 2013 from Genoa to Cape Town (West Coast of Africa) and decided it would be fun to go from Venice to Durban through the Suez Canal (East Coast of Africa) in October 2017. We booked ... Read More
My husband and I were on the MSC Sinfonia in October 2013 from Genoa to Cape Town (West Coast of Africa) and decided it would be fun to go from Venice to Durban through the Suez Canal (East Coast of Africa) in October 2017. We booked through the Johannesburg MSC office in July 2016 for October 2017 and got an excellent price. We loved our previous cruise. We have only ever cruised with MSC and being South African with our weaker currency, we don't have the luxury of doing regular cruises through the Mediterranean or Caribbean. As a result we can't compare ships. Our only comparison would be between the Sinfonia Oct 2013 and this one. Due to some of the less favourable reviews, we went arrived in Venice with low expectations. Boarding was a bit of a fiasco, but not due to the fault of MSC. The Italian port authority's system went down and there was a lengthy delay. That over, we got on board and quickly found our spotless, spacious cabin on 10th deck. We were very happy with it and quickly settled in. Knowing the ship, we were easily able to find all our old favourite haunts. From then on, our cruise was absolutely stunning. The weather was great. Of the 23 nights, one was rough. The entertainment was much better than 2103. The service at dinner was so much slicker and quicker than 2013. It was pleasure to have Umah and Matthew as our waiters. Our cabin steward Iriki was perfect - unobtrusive, polite and always there. Every single day of our 23 nights on board, Iriki sorted our cabin twice a day. MSC, he's a keeper. The food was fantastic. Some of the highlights included the Hungarian Goulash which was delicious; the pasta cooked by the Italian chef was really good. The lamb stew, curries, roast pork and beef were all good. The variety of vegetables, vegetarian options, loads of fruit, bread and desserts all added to the 2-3kg weight gain I came home with. One of my absolute favourites were the muffins at breakfast. They tasted exactly as my late Mom-in-law used to make. I had one almost every morning for the entire cruise! The activities were varied and fun. You could get involved or not - it was your choice. We went to one of the dancing lessons (the jive) and still try and do it from time to time, laughing our heads off as we go! We went to most of the evening performances and some of the day lectures. We went on three excursions which were busy but served their purpose. If you don't like crowds, then it may be better to arrange your own excursion, but we pretty much knew what we were in for, so were ready for the whole experience. The route through the Suez Canal was fascinating. It was such a look into a different world. Coming down through the tropics and over the equator was such a treat. The days at sea were restful and invigorating. We slept, we read, we just relaxed and because we ate more than usual, we went to the gym for an hour every day. The gym is fantastic. I loved it. After gym we would swim and then shower and relax. After a hectic year of work, this holiday ensured we were completely rested. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
This was actually a Mediterranean and a Trans Atlantic. We spent a month on the Pacific Princess, a TA---started in Venice, did the Balkans, Greece, Italy, Spain Gibraltar, Madeira, Bermuda and then Florida. For us we passed the 600 total ... Read More
This was actually a Mediterranean and a Trans Atlantic. We spent a month on the Pacific Princess, a TA---started in Venice, did the Balkans, Greece, Italy, Spain Gibraltar, Madeira, Bermuda and then Florida. For us we passed the 600 total days of sailing landmark on this cruise. Excellent ship, confirms my preference for the smaller vessels. We both agree we like ships this size best, doubtful if we do much cruising in the future if all we have are the gigantic's to choose from. Princess may sell this one as it is much smaller than anything else in their fleet. They are really keeping it up nicely though, don't know if that is because they want to sell or what, they are still booking it through 2018 however. A most enjoyable cruise over all. Good going Princess. Although this cruise occurred very late in the season, basically a repositioning 29 day cruise from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, it was jazzed up with extra ports and a romantic name attached "Mediterranean Grand Adventure". Some though, booked it as two "Back to Backs" or only took one segment. EXCELLENT-- ---The ship--The smallest in the Princess fleet, a little over 30,000 gross tons with approximately 650 guests. In my opinion, more staff per guest, more space per guest and much less pushing and shoving than we have seen in quite some time on the high seas, plus much more quality and personal service. The ship is well taken care of, in fact I thought our cabin, 8000, must have recently been refurbished as it was in perfect condition and the heating-A/C system worked like it should. Crew members are constantly chipping away old paint and renewing woodwork everywhere. I saw no patches of rust anywhere. This "Pacific Princess" was one of the three, out of eight, relatively new "R" ships Princess acquired after the Renaissance Line went under around 2000 (R-3). These vessels are still all in service but Princess has only this one left now. It is too bad that Renaissance didn't have stern thrusters installed when these were manufactured as those would eliminate a few difficulties and need for tugs, even though they do have "Becker Rudders", when getting into tight ports under severe wind conditions. ---Our stateroom was a mini-suite and one of the finest if not the finest we have had. A five by fifteen foot balcony with drapes that, when pulled back, presented the spacious living area with a huge picture window. Very quiet location forward on Deck 8. The bathroom was not large but average by today's standard dimensions, the shower was in the tub, however, the vanity cabinets were more than ample and each had cupboard doors with mirrors on them which we haven't seen for a while, so all one's cosmetics, etc. aren't sitting out in the open ready to fall off the trays. The closets, at first, appeared to be a little short on space, however that wasn't the case, true, they aren't walk in, but they handled all our stuff easily and I had two tuxes and wife had the equivalent fine dress for our five formal nights. Nice refrigerator and an excellent room steward who had the fridge constantly full of fresh ice, perhaps one of the best if not the best room Stewart (Ginno) we have had in over 600 days of sailing. Balcony---In addition to being quite large the balcony has a teak top rail and three bars below it instead of plexiglas or some other barrier. Plexiglas often is clouded due to scratching, UVs, or covered with salt crust and or water spray, so you actually have to stand at the railing in order to get a decent, not distorted, view of the ocean below. Not with these railings though, as you can sit in your deck chair or your cabin and enjoy a clear view, this is the same type of railings the ships of yore had. ---The library on this vessel is outstanding. The largest and quietest we have ever seen on any ship. Truly a library for a vessel engaging in lengthy exploratory voyages. ---Thank you Princess for the free laundry and free dry cleaning. We used it all the time, very good, prompt and no rationing. First time I have ever had creases in my cargo pocket Wranglers. VERY GOOD--- ---The main dining room "Club Restaurant" was very good, the first time I've been able to give a MDR an "A" rating in a long time. Didn't start out that way though. When we first booked we were # 24 on the wait list for a table for two at 6:00 PM. About 4.5 months before sailing we reached "confirmed" status in that category, however, there was caveat small print language that indicated the table for two wasn't a certainty. When we boarded we discovered instead, our seating was at 5:30 PM and we were at a table for eight. This ship only offers traditional dinner seating, we always use anytime dining as traditional times are way too late or too early, but anytime dining on other ships is usually a mess as well, since the waiter and kitchen staffs aren't adequate and the lines for anytime dining are usually over 30 minutes long as everybody wants to eat around 6:00 PM, it seems, and guests in those lines are usually not of good temperament. On recent cruises we have began taking dinner in the extra charge Specialties or other venues rather than the MDR. If we go early we miss one of the best aspects of cruising, the "Sail Away" times. It also pinches us time wise on long shore excursion days and also limits our time to enjoy our Elite lounge special price cocktail and free Ore' hors d'oeuvres time, beginning at 5:00 PM. So this time, at the start, we made due without going to the MDR the first 13 days of the voyage. Dinner during that period was at--Ultimate balcony dining (1), (Thanksgiving), Sabatini's, extra charge (1), Sterling Steakhouse, extra charge (1), Buffet-(Panorama Buffet) (10). Hey, we were still happy, sort of, as the buffet on the Pacific Princess is much better than that on the larger ships and not near as crowded. Plus, we weren't rushed and were enjoying the rest of the voyage. But after our visit to Rome and thanks to Maitre d', Oscar Perego he got us set up at a table for two in the MDR, with seating anytime between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM. From that point on eating in the MDR was like the days of yore. Good wine service, good meals, great waiters and atmosphere in a not over crowded dining room. We then ate dinner in the MDR most of the rest of the cruise (15), Sabatini's, extra charge (1). ---The Internet worked pretty good everywhere we voyaged. It slowed a bit in the afternoons sometimes as more logged on, but I had no trouble loading and sending 7 or 8 Face Book pictures with each of my posts outlining our journey for family and friends back home. Fortunately, due Elite status, we received 1000 free Internet minutes (between the two of us) and 800 more at a very low rate, for the entire cruise. The internet cafe is quite large for the size of this vessel and the manager is congenial, knowledgeable and usually available. Right next door is the card room with 4 large tables, (The card room is right above our cabin, how's that for quiet?) where one with a laptop can get better and faster signals than in many cabins. ---Captain Domenico Lubrano was a real great and safe seafarer. In addition, he has excellent demeanor and went out of his way to keep us informed as to what was going on. He even speculated far in advance as to changes that might have to take place due weather, etc. We had a few pretty rough days, one day and two nights in the eastern Mediterranean and at least two real choppy days in the Atlantic. Some long time cruising guests were displeased, even got sea sick, but we've seen worse seas, after all, a TA on winter solistice? ---Princess still has formal nights, we had five this cruise, we love them. I understand a lot of the other lines are doing away with formal to satisfy the preference of the average cruiser today, consequently confusion and anarchy in dress practices is causing degradation in the quality of the cruise experience for many. ---Ample deck chairs available all the time. No battles over "chair hoggers" on this ship. ---Two of my best liked experiences on board are watching the "Sail Away's" and the Enrichment lectures. Both have been good this voyage. Of course, during the first two week segment it was almost impossible to have viable enrichment lectures since we were ashore about every day. There was some decent destination lectures squeezed in though. It is well worth one's while to take in a destination lecture before arriving at the port. However, during the second segment the enrichment lectures were excellent and on point with respect to our sailing across the Atlantic. Provided by an historian, David Sisler, who got into the theme of the voyage with lectures dealing with the spice trade, world navigators, points of ocean geography and pirates. I understand some of the majors are doing away with enrichment lectures. That would be terrible, when we sail to the remote areas of the globe there is nothing like having somebody knowledgeable about history, geography, naturalism, provide a series of lectures pertinent to the part of the world in which the voyage takes place. GOOD--- ---I like the theatre on this vessel (Cabaret Lounge). We had previously quit attending showband dance productions and other individual entertainment shows, since the theatres in the newer vessels are a nightmare due the long rows located too close to each other where early arrivals take the closest seats to the too few isles, leaving other guests to try and squeeze by as many as a dozen who fail to stand up and let you by. So, this was the first cruise out of the past five cruises where we attended such events and really liked it. On the first segment a singer named Philip Brown from Britain had a three octave voice and could really sing, he did a stint one time there with the theatre in the "Lion King". I watched both his performances and loved them. The Pacific Princess Dancers deserve extra credit. I have heard some of the mega-ships on other lines even give tickets out for extra charge productions, ugh, I don't know if they assign seats or not. ---There are three hot tubs on this ship. Two of normal size and design on the pool deck on each side of the main swimming pool. One very large excellent one just below the bridge and available for extra charge. To gain access to the big tub one must go through the "Lotus Spa" area. Along side this hot tub are Lotus Spa provided extra comfort reclining deck chairs and lemon water refreshments. My wife negotiated some sort of deal for a 29 day Lotus Spa package wherein we got access to this hot tub and the two steam rooms in the men's and women's dressing areas. When the large tub was down for maintenance I used the smaller public ones which were never over crowded and most of the time I was by myself in them. My wife used the steam room all the time and I love the hot tub. Plenty of towels available at every location. ---The television was adequate but it sure would be nice to have a larger one like the new ships have with a large selection of on demand movies to chose from. Comprehensive TV news programing was very good, especially MSNBC and BBC---reception was available for each channel 99% of the time near the Continent but sporadic at best in mid-Atlantic and even non-existent for more than three days there. ---Buffet-(Panorama Buffet) was a lot more enjoyable on this ship than on the larger ones. Not near as crowded, hardly ever had a difficult time finding a table at lunch and at dinner there was always many empty tables. On warmer days there was a lot of outdoor seating, particularly on the fantail immediately aft of the buffet. In addition, the food and service was a lot better, there were more staff per guest and the quality of meals superior. Fresh squeezed orange juice every morning, all you want. ---In general, the average passenger on this vessel was much more congenial than those we run into on larger vessels, in particular those involving short cruise segments. Courteous conversations all the time, no arrogant political mouthing off anywhere that I witnessed. During meals when sitting with others we always found good and interesting companions to talk with. However, we still had our share of the pushing and shoving type that gives cruising a bad name. For instance, those with no mobility issues who sneak ahead before excursions are called in order to get on the coaches first and gobble up the front row seats. If and when we somehow end up in a front row seat I can't live with myself as I watch others with canes and crutches limp their way to the far back seats. ---First time in quite a few cruises there was plenty of staircases and the elevators not jammed packed all the time ---Shore excursions. We took only ship sponsored shore excursions. We purchased 18 of them this voyage, but one port was canceled, so 17. The shore excursion office did an excellent job of keeping track of individual excursions, for instance, in addition to the one canceled there was a substitution for it which also had to be canceled due wind, there was also another port substituted for another which did take place, so, changes had to be made which must have been difficult and confusing for the staff to do. All of our knowledgeable guides spoke English well, I could understand everyone of them. Some excursions were better than others and some were somewhat repetitive for us as we had taken similar excursions years ago when on other cruises, but all in all they were very good, not one bad in the lot. Buses were well maintained and modern, some were even brand new. Since we had never been in the Balkan states before excursions there probably stood out more than others. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the Balkans and the quality of excursions. They have a lot to offer and I expect that the cruise industry well take advantage of this in the future. One very good one was where the Postojna Caves were included in Slovenia (Koper). Even though we had taken gondola rides before in Venice, this time we took a night ride and it was memorable. ---For the first time in many cruises the Captain and staff kept us well apprised of what the ship was doing, where we were and what was ahead. They did this by having a marine navigation chart (This is the first marine navigation chart we have seen posted in our last 6 cruises) posted on the pool deck along with weather forecasts, etc. Also the ships TV had three channels devoted to weather, sea conditions, current location of the vessel, speed and heading. All this in addition to the Captain's frequent announcements and updates. ---We booked our Venice hotel with Princess, for two nights before getting on board our ship, once on board we had a third night in Venice before sailing late the next afternoon. We also booked transfers from the airport to the hotel and hotel to ship (Sure is nice to have a Princess representative waiting for you with a sign when you get off the aircraft, additionally, on our recent Princess cruises we have immediately been provided transport to our hotel, sometimes by limo, no more waiting in a bus with a crowd of others for a few stragglers on late arriving flights). On disembarkation day we also had ship to airport via a Princess shore excursion. The Cron Plaza Quarto D'altino hotel has to be about the cleanest if not the cleanest hotel we have ever stayed in. Our room was fairly large and immaculate, we liked it a lot. It is on the outskirts of Venice on the mainland, about 7 miles from the cruise ship pier. I'm not certain how much we paid but it was a lot, since our transfers to and from the ship are cranked into that charge. We had to be wait listed by Princess before they could get the hotel to guarantee our second night. This was off season too, and it certainly did not appear to be near full during our stay. One guy told me he made reservations directly with the hotel for $126.00 per night which is probably half what we paid per night. If one is planning to go into Venice during the day this hotel location is ideal since it is a 3 minute walk to the train pickup. The hotel is located in a residential area so the only places to eat are at the hotel. The dining room is good, the cuisine mediocre. The bar is pretty reasonable and offers a variety of dining choices. The bar will also sell you canned sodas you can take to your room. There is one ice machine on the 3rd floor just down the hall from our room (the hotel has only three floors). The liquor in the hotel refrigerator set up is very limited so bring your own liquor and mix. We ate dinner at both. Part of the Princess hotel package included two full buffet style breakfasts at the hotel in the dining room, which were pretty good. The hotel doesn't exchange currencies and tell you that you have to go into downtown Venice to do that. So, my two mistakes were not bringing some Euros and not bringing an adopter for our US 120 volt AC laptop battery charger from European 220 volt. Wi-fi in the room is free and very good. The TV is also excellent with hundreds of different channels, but we could find only two in English, CNN International and CNBC International. In summary, we would book the hotel again but would prefer a better rate. The hotel did serve our purpose in that we were relaxed and anxious to board our ship beginning a month long cruise. NEEDS IMPROVEMENT--- ---Specialty Restaurants.---Actually, good in most respects, however, definite slippage in meal quality there over the last couple of years or so, on the larger vessels they do a better job. Plenty of good waiter staff as service is very prompt and kitchen staff not understaffed either, so that isn't the problem. However, overall quality not up to what it has been. Not really worth the $29.00 per person extra charge anymore. MDR has the Specialties beat on this ship, that is if you can get into the MDR at a decent time. There are two main Specialties, "Sabatini's" and the "Sterling Steakhouse". The kitchen and wait staff for both are the same but the dining areas are in different locations, albeit close together. Both have excellent ocean views from most tables. Don't be misled though, they are never both open at the same time. The Steakhouse is apparently more popular than Sabatini's so they open the Steakhouse for three consecutive days then two days for Sabatini's. We like Sabatini's best. ---Fitness Center---Excellent location for workouts, Deck 9, with wonderful vistas. Downer is that it is in need of more equipment. In particular, at least two more elliptical's and one or more treadmills. Treadmills and elliptical's have notices on them requesting guests to limit their workouts on each to 20 minutes during busy periods. Doesn't work, many guests are not disciplined enough to honor this requirement. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2016
This is definitely our favorite Princess Ship because of it's size and the small number of passengers. Embarkation in Venice was extremely quick and easy. We were staying at a small hotel for a couple days before the cruise ... Read More
This is definitely our favorite Princess Ship because of it's size and the small number of passengers. Embarkation in Venice was extremely quick and easy. We were staying at a small hotel for a couple days before the cruise began. We took the Valporetta to Santa Lucia station, walked over the bridge, took the people mover to the port and basically walked right on the ship about noon. Originally the itinerary had an overnight in Istanbul. However due to all the recent issues, Montenegro and Rhodes were substituted. We could not have been happier with the new ports as we had not been to either. I was a little concerned traveling this late in the season, but we generally had beautiful weather. We did encounter some rough weather and had 1 port first rerouted and then cancelled. We took a few shore excursions and especially enjoyed a day tours of Corfu and Taormina in Sicily. The food and entertainment were very good and consistent with all the Princess Cruises we have taken. We had a fantastic time and look forward to our next Princess Cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We took (and reviewed) a similar repositioning cruise from Genoa to Brazil aboard the MSC Orchestra 2 years ago. At a cost of just £50 per person per day we think MSC offer exceptional value for money. The balcony cabin was just great. ... Read More
We took (and reviewed) a similar repositioning cruise from Genoa to Brazil aboard the MSC Orchestra 2 years ago. At a cost of just £50 per person per day we think MSC offer exceptional value for money. The balcony cabin was just great. We provided our own kettle to brew a cuppa whenever we felt like one. The €287.50 that we paid to access the spa was money well spent. The saunas were even better than in 2014, heated to 80°C rather than just 70°C, and the steam rooms were also hotter and not draughty. The payment also included access to 3 indoor Jacuzzis that were rarely crowded. We thoroughly enjoyed the 5 classical concerts by the 6 talented members of Musica in Maschera in the ship’s main theatre. The in-house entertainment team were good too, although their talents were repackaged again and again, as the same jugglers, acrobats, dancers and strongmen performed in Batman outfits for Gothem, in Asterix & Cleopatra outfits and finally for one last ‘Best Of’ show. High-margin items like perfumes, beauty products and handbags were always for sale from stalls set up in public areas around meal times. I was concerned by the very high suggested manufacturer’s retail prices quoted for a brand of watches, Invicta that are sold exclusively on TV shopping channels, cruise ships and over the internet. They claimed a €1499 price tag for the Invictca 2928B, and left leaflets in our cabin announcing discounts of up to 75%. MSC’s selling price of this watch is €549. I bought one over the internet after the cruise for £70. Beware of inflated sea prices as you have limited consumer protection! MSC Shore excursions were popular but we plumed for our own independent activities except in Rio. We paid $70 for a full day tour in a minivan, for a similar tour priced €140 on board (which included a light lunch delivered to your cabin beforehand). It’s worth noting that MSC provide no maps or practical information about shore stop destinations so do your homework beforehand. (Exceptionally, at Mindelo the local Cape Verde authorities had no information booth nor were there exchange facilities. Banks need to see your passport or a copy of it, but you can pay in most places using euros (preferred) or US dollars). We ate mostly at the buffet, enjoying real mozzarella cheese, fresh fruits & salads penne with tomato sauce, baked whole fish with tomato sauce and jellies amongst the culinary highlights. Dining in the restaurants is the only area I would rate as fair to poor. Breakfast and lunch are now both semi-self-service/semi-served, which is awkward if you have circular bench seats on a table for 8. Dinner is fully waiter served by friendly Indonesians, but the food was served lukewarm rather than piping hot, and most main course choices were either over- or undercooked. Soups were poor, desserts including a sugar-free version, quite good. Overall I stress that MSC offer tremendous value for money. The main reasons we go are to relax, read, sunbathe, enjoy undemanding entertainment. We ate perfectly adequately in the buffet and even managed not to gain weight. However I think next time we shall try another (more expensive!) repositioning cruise… Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We did back to back cruises and did Greece and Montenegro the week before on the same ship. Awesome itineraries, we were scheduled to stop at Malta but due to rough seas detoured to Majorca which was amazing beautiful place to visit, no ... Read More
We did back to back cruises and did Greece and Montenegro the week before on the same ship. Awesome itineraries, we were scheduled to stop at Malta but due to rough seas detoured to Majorca which was amazing beautiful place to visit, no biggy cause I already been to Malta before, some passengers were upset about not getting to Malta, but good that we had another port to visit as plan B as I believe some cruise lines don't always do this if a port is cancelled. The ship was nice cabins big enough and very quiet. We requested and paid for and upgrade from inside to balcony, but they refunded the money and said it was a free upgrade, WOW!!!... Food was OK in buffet, they do delicious curries and pizzas but don't serve enough curries in the buffet or restaurants. An indian couple on the table behind us asked if they would prepare their table a special Indian meal, request granted, not many aussies on ship (about 40) and we asked if they could organise a quiz for us,,, request granted, also excellent service with captain and ambassador frequently walking round ship asking if everyone happy and anything extra they could do, we asked for a table change and well no request seemed to be to difficult. Probs nearly 3000 passengers on this ship but staff so nice and professional they make you feel your the only one... Didn't like disembarking at Buenos Aries, small terminal busy and hot, took 2 hours to get out, but I think that's the ports problem, not MSC. Most ports easy to get on/off ship. The tours were reasonably priced, same price as private tours. I booked and paid for the thermal spa but didn't use it, only went to gym to weigh myself but then they said scales broke (I'm not that big) so upset that all I wanted to use in the thermal spa area were scales and same not available. I have booked again to go on another cruise with MSC next year. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Wow fantastic, Fabulous food, brilliant entertainment, stunning dancers, well looked after ship and great service who could ask for more! We embarked from Venice, all the staff were friendly and efficient. When we entered, wow it ... Read More
Wow fantastic, Fabulous food, brilliant entertainment, stunning dancers, well looked after ship and great service who could ask for more! We embarked from Venice, all the staff were friendly and efficient. When we entered, wow it looked amazing and it was, the decor is very Italian and very flamboient but stunning. There was entertainment all day from the animation staff and the dancers but also quiet parts if you want to relax, the animation staff are crazy and lots of fun to watch or if you want join it they make all nationalities welcome and speak all languages. The evening entrainment was first class, professional and left us wanting more. I do not speak Italian but everything was in English, even the announcements for guests were in English, Italian and German plus a couple more languages but the were not many announcements. The only all Italian announcements were for staff only. All the staff speak English, menus are in English, entertainment is in English. The food was beautiful, lots of choice and variety, cooked perfectly every time, being a fussy eater I even got to try some food I would not try at home and I'm glad I did it was amazing. The desserts would melt in your mouth all cooked fresh on board daily with fresh bread, doughnuts, pastrys, cakes and lots more. If you want full English they have it all the and will cook your eggs in front of you exactly how you want them. Every country we visited we would have food from that area as well as all the other choices We enjoyed our time on Costa so much we will book again and again. After our cruise on Costa we went on a second cruise with another cruise line which was more expensive but what a difference like night and day. Costa being luxury and the other company being budget at designer prices. Would recommend to anyone. We are 40/50's English Wonderful first time cruise for myself and a one of many for my partner. We would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff, entertainers and for the whole experience it was true perfection from start to finish. THANK YOU COSTA Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2015
After spending a few pre-cruise days in Venice, we boarded the Island Princess, our first time with them so we were naturally wondering what we would find! The boarding was quite good, everything ran smoothly; the cabin was ready and ... Read More
After spending a few pre-cruise days in Venice, we boarded the Island Princess, our first time with them so we were naturally wondering what we would find! The boarding was quite good, everything ran smoothly; the cabin was ready and our luggage was placed inside shortly after. Cabin E710 is located at the back of the ship so it was quiet as there were not many passengers moving around in the corridors, but when the seas were rough there was a lot of movement and strong vibrations from both the propulsion and waves hitting the vessel. Room size was good, excellent balcony with an open view, very good storage and a small bathroom with a “very small shower” stall. The bathroom was the only drawback for this cabin, not at all suited for heavy set people; TV programming (movies, news, etc.) was first rate. We chose the “any time dining” option in the Bordeaux. To avoid delays or misunderstandings about table preferences we always reserved our table one day in advance but that didn’t always work out; so be prepared to assert yourself in order to sit where you want! The staff in general are super-duper; attentive, fast, cordial and very professional and there are so many that it is difficult to name one and not mention the others, so I will give the name of only one, that in a way, represents all of them. Gianni (Italy), the Food & Beverage Supervisor is a real professional, as well as being a very caring and honest person. But I can’t stop there without mentioning two fantastic Bordeaux waitresses; the first is Olena (Ukraine) she is one-of-a-kind, also the hostess at breakfast and lunch in the Provence; the second one is Lupita, a full-of-life Mexican who picks up the spirits of everyone. The food in the Bordeaux was excellent, with different offerings every night and many interesting choices. All dishes sampled were very tasteful - large portions, served good and hot. The specialty restaurant, Sabattini’s was also excellent, especially their steaks (!!!) as much as their pizza’s at lunch time when it becomes Alfredo’s pizza; as it’s complementary (don’t bother trying them at the Pool Pizza!) The other specialty restaurants (charges apply) are the Bayou and the Crab Shack; both menus are inclined towards the Cajun (New Orleans) food and were not of our liking. It seems that was the case for many others too, because we noted it was practically empty every night when we passed it on our way to dinner. The only time that we saw the place full was when they offered a complimentary ‘English Pub Menu’ lunch. It was really good, especially the fish and chips - so it’s not to be missed! However we were disappointed at not having other types of cuisine, such as a French Bistro or a Steakhouse. Another excellent place to have dinner is in the Horizon Buffet Restaurant (deck 14), the choices are tremendous, it’s up to you how much you eat (danger!) and the waiters are on the ready to serve you and bring you whatever you’d like to drink. Because many passengers are at the theater or in the other restaurants, the place is very tranquil at night, so you can sit where ever you wish. But another “danger” are all those pastries!!! Tremendous selection!! Lunch time there, could be easy, as long as you don’t go when tour buses are returning to the ship! Then it is, real chaos!! The other alternative for lunch is at the Provence (quite enjoyable) as much as their breakfast. Of course you have the Grill at the Pool (burgers, hotdogs. etc.), the Pizza counter, etc. Some of the conferences given such as, on WW2 naval battles were very interesting as were the three Culinary Classes given by Master Chef Alfredo Marzi!! The musical shows at the Theater were unimpressive; the bars we frequented were the Crooners (pianist/singer Oliver, great!) and the Wheelhouse were you were able to dance to live music, however many of the musicians were second rate with dubious vocal skills. The ship has a very good feature (as I believe all the Princess ships have), that is a pay Laundry room on each deck; the cost was $3 for washing and same for drying and if you didn’t need either you could use the steam iron for free. Sometimes boarding the tour busses was tranquil but more often than not it was quite upsetting and stressful. This happened mostly because many passengers were impolite and on many occasions quite rude, pushing their way to get first to the bus so they could get the seats they wanted (usually the front ones) and the same happened when leaving the bus. What was hard to believe was that most of these people were seniors who one would expect would be an example of civility and good manners; it is not the first time that happened to us and that’s why we have finally decided to do the tours on our own, to avoid extra stress. Unfortunately, what was, and will be, unavoidable are encounters with them at the Horizon Buffet. Hard to believe and harder to accept those daily occurrences at the Horizon Buffet! Fortunately, there are many other seniors that behave in a respectful, considerate, friendly and positive manner. It was quite shocking to see so many people in wheel chairs, walkers or canes! We’ve seen this on other cruises but never so many as on this one. And for that reason we got quite concerned when all of a sudden a larger and larger number of them were coughing and sneezing and looking under the weather; a few days later a Medical Alert was sent to each cabin advising on the steps to take to avoid its spread throughout the ship. They even offered Tamiflu injections! The Island Princess had been refurbished earlier in the year to mixed Cruise Critic reviews. But, from our point of view, the Exercise Room, though very well equipped is located inside without sea views, so it seems a crowded and unwelcoming place. The same goes for the Mini golf course, too enclosed and not designed for beginners. The library needs to be updated and is poorly located as many passengers walk through it as a link between forward and aft corridors. The other no-no was the $10 sale event! Wasn’t up to the standards that Princess wants to be or would like to be considered for. The overall experience with Island Princess was highly positive, thanks to the many excellent experiences we had that put aside the few negative ones. The restaurants are excellent, the food superb, very good maintenance of the ship, etc. and the BIG stars were their staff! We never ever, experienced so much attention and care, done always with an honest smile full of energy and good will. It is really a pity that it took us so long to discover Princess Cruise Lines!! But for certain, we will be back!! TOURS!!!! Here are the comments of the ones we’ve been on. 1st stop – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Tour taken: “Dubrovnik & Konavle Home Visit” Too long a ride (1+ Hr.) for a very unsavory tour with not much to see during the ride. Once there, we all got together on a big outdoor terrace where some grappa (hard stuff) was offered, some music played by a group of waiters and then off to a basement were long wooden tables were ready for us. In general the food was from good (prosciutto & cheeses) to very bad (pasta) and really bad (red wine); the same musicians were playing some music while eating. After that, back to the bus, another 1+ Hr ride and boarding the ship. Tour guide (a blond girl) was good but unapproachable. Wasn’t worth the price paid. 2nd stop – Salerno, Italy– Tour taken: “Sorrento on your own” 4Hrs 45’ Not having been there before, we chose Sorrento. Happy we did because it is a very enjoyable town with many outdoor cafes, restaurants, great shops, etc. It was a beautiful day so we had lunch on an outdoor patio facing the main Piazza (Square), food (pizza) was excellent and the wine divine!!! Restaurant’s name: Syrenuse Bar Ristorante in Via Sant’Antonino; food, wine, service and atmosphere were all excellent! Highly recommended! 3rd stop – Civitavecchia, Italy – No tours taken. This time we had the chance to know better the city that used to be a stopover before joining previous cruises, so we decided to go to shore on our own. Map in hand we started to walk around, discovering the place at our own pace. Surprisingly, we enjoyed it very much! 4th stop – Livorno, Italy – Tour taken: “Lucca” - 4 Hrs. We’ve never been into Lucca. Another great choice! Regardless there is no time for lunch at the end, being a sunny and warm day, we were able to sit in an outdoor café facing Saint Michele Square (bus drop-off/pick up point), where we enjoyed tremendously, a great Cappuccino and a fantastic ice cream cone. Needless to say, we are planning to go back and spend more relaxing time there. To make all this more perfect was the Tour guide, Isabella! Completely fluent in English, very knowledgeable who gave so many tips to all of us in case we would like to return! Isabella was the best Tour guide of all this cruise, no doubt about it. Do not miss Lucca!! And hope you meet her! 5th stop - Toulon, France – Tour taken: “Scenic drive to Bandol & Sanary-sur-mer 4.5 Hrs. After quite a very nice interior scenic drive we hit Bandol on the coast; sorry to say but it didn’t say much to us, so no comments. From there back along the coast, we reached Sanary-sur-mer around noon and are gladly able to tell you that it was a very nice town! Has all the attributes that so many of the Mediterranean fishing towns have. That is, all the flavours, sounds and smells of those places; we were lucky enough that we got there just when the fishing boats had arrived, so they were busy selling their catch of the day to the Sanary locals! We saw some people sitting around, eating freshly caught sea urchins the fishermen were selling – they eat them raw! There was an open market facing the esplanade selling a lot of food specialties, the harbor is beautiful with any type and size of boats; very nice restaurants and coffee shops with their patios open to the sea! Great town and great experience. Tour guide, double zero. 6th stop – Barcelona, Spain – No tour taken. Very well-known city for us, so we tried one thing that we hadn’t done before and that was the cable car (Telesferic) that goes from San Sebastian Tower (bus #64 in downtown takes you there- ticket $ 3 euros) all the way to Mount Montjuic; you will have the chance to take very good aerial pictures of Barcelona from up there. It is a bit pricy ($11 euros cash only, one way). Once on Mt. Montjuic, to get back to town you had to walk all the way down a very twisting and steep road till you reached a big avenue; doing this is not recommended, so we suggest the reverse trip, that is take a taxi from down town Barcelona, up to the entrance of the cable car at the top of Montjuic and once you arrive at the other end, you take bus #64 back to down town. Tired and hungry we got to the Ramblas, were we enjoyed a terrific, people-watching outdoor lunch!!! 7th stop – Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal – Tour taken: “Crater lakes, Sete cidades & wine tasting” 3Hrs 45’ Unfortunately, the weather didn’t help at all!! Cold, very windy and foggy! So there wasn’t much that we were able to see of the lakes, (formerly craters). The island’s vegetation was outstanding and we were sure that with the right weather would’ve been superb, as much as would’ve been the green and blue lakes. Fortunately, the tour ended on a very high note which was a wine tasting event twined with locally produced young cheese varieties and crackers. Really fantastic! But, the weather spoiled it! Otherwise this tour would’ve gotten really high marks! The tour guide was inconsequential. From there, we started our very, too long, crossing of the Atlantic (a general consensus). Anyway, we docked at Fort Lauderdale, very happy that we took this beautiful voyage with the fantastic Princess Cruise Line!!! See you soon!!!! Thank you so much for your patience! Have a great and happy trip!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
My husband and I have more than 30 cruises under our belt, however, we usually do not use one cruise line. We select our cruises based on itineraries. The selection of this cruise was based on the ports and because my sister and her ... Read More
My husband and I have more than 30 cruises under our belt, however, we usually do not use one cruise line. We select our cruises based on itineraries. The selection of this cruise was based on the ports and because my sister and her husband were traveling with us and they wanted a long cruise. This was our third transatlantic, the first two on Celebrity Cruises, but this one on the Island Princess was the best. Looking at some of the other reviews people seemed to be preoccupied with the look of the ship but to us the most important concern is service and WOW!...they delivered. The service was phenomenal, from the cabin stewards, to the service staff, to the bar staff, excursion staff, sales personnel at the shops and best of all the waiters, asst. waiters and supervisors. If we were going to complain about anything, it might be that they catered somewhat to ballroom dancers and forgot that others like to dance at what we like to call "a la natural", which means, what ever floats your boat. They had very good movies on sea days which we enjoyed. We enjoyed the shows and the singers, nevertheless, we would of wanted some more comedians. In conclusion, based on what we experience on this ship we have booked two more cruises on Princess. Another transatlantic on April 2016 and a South American on January 2017. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We booked the Regal Princess Transatlantic cruise over a year ago. We love sailing from Venice and could not wait to see the new ship. We arrived in Venice two days before the cruise and met the four other people who would be sailing with ... Read More
We booked the Regal Princess Transatlantic cruise over a year ago. We love sailing from Venice and could not wait to see the new ship. We arrived in Venice two days before the cruise and met the four other people who would be sailing with us. I would strongly suggest arriving at least a day early for any cruise from Venice. It is such a magical place that you be missing so much to just fly in and get on the ship. We stayed at the Hotel Paganelli. It is right on the Grand Canal and you can't get lost finding it. The rates are reasonable for Venice, but be advised that the rooms are really small. Clean and modern, but small. Embarkation: This was the fourth time we have sailed from Venice. Princess is to be given major kudoos for having people at the water taxi stop to load your baggage and take it to the ship. In the past we had to drag our luggage a great distance to the loading point. This time we just got out of the water taxi and our luggage was taken only to appear later in our room. Very nice. The embarkation went very smoothly for us, since we arrived about 3:00 pm. I understand it was crowded and slow at 1:00pm. Since we did not sail until 10 pm we saw no reason to rush over to the ship and it seems that was the right thing to do. Ship: It is big and beautiful. The piazza is truly a wonder. Three stories high and ringed by shops, bars, and restaurants. Plenty of room for sitting and dancing and eating. It was very popular all during the cruise. The major complaint I heard about the ship was the lack of center stairs, but I am not sure how many of the people complaining would have used the stairs if they were there. If you think you might be bothered by the lack of stairs, I would suggest you book your room toward the front or rear of the ship. Our rooms was E 604 and we used the rear elevators and stairs almost all of the time. Had short wait time for the elevators and often walked down to the dining room. One of the best things about the ship is that there are lots of nooks all over the ship for sitting and reading or people watching. Unlike some of the big ships we have sailed on, the ship never felt crowded and you could always get a deck chair. There are also lots of nice places to sit along the Promenade Deck. It does allow you to walk around the ship so it is really a nice place to sit and watch the ocean go by. The show rooms are well designed as are the dining rooms. But special mention has to be made of the fantastic way Princess redid the Horizon Cafe. It has exceptional flow and the lines were never very long. It also helps that there are so many places to eat on this ship. I counted at least 7 places you could have lunch at no extra fee. Our room was an obstructed view balcony and it was very nice. The obstruction was the top of a life boat and did not totally block the view of the water. The balcony was not large, but had to chairs and a small table. It was fine for having coffee and reading. Food: Lots of places to eat. The dining room food was very good and lots of variety. The food in the Horizon Court was always hot and there was a great variety. Some was on the bland side, but always something good to eat. The Pizza is still the best at sea, though we thought the pizza on deck was better that at Alfredos. The Crown Grill is the best for fee restaurant I have eaten experienced. Well worth the $25.00. Entertainment: Princess has upped its game. The shows were fresh and the singers and dancers could do both very well. The specialty acts were all very good. Music in all venues was really good. Very enjoyable. Special mention should be made of the CD, Ron Goodman. The best I have had the pleasure of sailing with. On a long cruise, a CD can make or beak it. I have had one who was pitiful and now had one hat was really good. Always out and about and listening to the passengers. Great job. Service: was competent. Our room steward was fine. Dining room very good. Front desk needs work. Princess needs to realize that this ship has 3500 people. You can not staff it the same as a ship with 2500 people. This was especially true at the Future Cruise Desk and Captain's Circle desk. One person with short hours can not serve the passengers. Long lines and angry passengers is not what you want. Internet was the worst I have seen. Just upset lots of people. Either do it right or don't do it. Ports: Were fine. I will let others comment. I had been to them all before. The only new one for me was going to be Toulan and we could not get into port. Winds just too high. The ship rides very smoothly and even with 10 foot seas the motion was not too bad. The nailed it design wise. Disembarkation: The worst job of getting people off the ship I have ever seen. I do not know if the fault was with Princess of Customs, but we were two hours late getting off, only to face long lines to get bags and get through customs. Hopefully, it was because it was the first time Regal Princess was in port in the US, but it was a disgrace. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
This was the maiden voyage of the Divina from Venice to Miami, 18 days aboard luxury. Well this was our third Cruise with MSC,and upon walking aboard at Venice, we were pleasantly amazed. We check internet rates,Repositioning cruises ... Read More
This was the maiden voyage of the Divina from Venice to Miami, 18 days aboard luxury. Well this was our third Cruise with MSC,and upon walking aboard at Venice, we were pleasantly amazed. We check internet rates,Repositioning cruises and do a lot of trolling cruise lines before deciding,but have found MSC have certainly upped their game since our first cruise on the Armonia. The Divina is in a class of it's own. We were originally a bit hesitant about being so low down on deck 5, but this turned out to be one of the best decks to be on. Ok if you have plenty of money and are wanting a balcony or suite,but we just like an outside room so we can see arrivals in ports, and apart from that,who wants to spend all their days cooped up in their cabin anyway We arrived at the port at about 2pm and were straight on Board and enjoying our first drinks within the hour. The terminal at Venice is very comfortable, and the processing speedy. Train takes you from the bus terminal to the berth. The Divina is a fantastic ship,as soon as you step aboard she has you memorised.and although we were a little concerned about being on a ship with over 4,000 passengers,we did not feel crowded at all.You were meeting new people each day that were elsewhere on the ship that you had not disovered. With the Divina, what we had an exceptional crew.A lot of the staff are from Bali and have the spirit and friendlyness of Indonesia,but they are worked hard for the money they get and are treated poorly by those in authoritve roles.This is why I asked to have my gratuities rescinded so I could pay those who made my trip worthwhile rather than the money go into the big pot and those at the top taking the cream. We had exceptional service from the bar persons and waitresses,always smiling, and as I have certain alergies to certain foods,the The assistant Maitre D’ checked my choices every night, and bought a menu for the following night so I could choose. The helpfulness and personal touch certainly made our trip a memorable one. Food in the dining rooms was a let down,maybe because we had had such good meals on the last cruises made us more critical,but one night we had lamb,which was sent back by the majority of those who were served it. the meals lacked variety.Chef needs a wake up call. But saying that, the buffet meals were varied and plentyful,although we only discovered the different selections on going to other parts of the massive self serve areas there was Chinese,Italian,Indian,Greek,vegetarian etc. We booked the Allegrissimo drinks package at $44 per person per day,and although expensive due to the fact my wife did not drink that much,and you had to have two per cabin. But, it was nice not to have to worry about how much it was going to cost for every drink, and there were nice wines for the evening meals as well. One did not have to worry about the 15% surcharge per drink,and speciality coffees were included. Being in the center of the ship has it's advantages,less rocking,and when we boarded it was only a short walk to our cabin. The Autrium rose up 9 floors and along with piano playing and the bars dotted around, this became quite a focal point for people to meet. tt was nice after an evening meal to congregate and indulge in a cocktail or two before retiring. There were several bars and entertainment areas around the ship to suit all tastes. We agree that the entertainment was absolutely first rate! The shows that they put on were well done, but they had a fasination with violin players,and going by the lack of patronage,it should have signalled that the customers wanted more shows and variety. A bit more of the singers and a Italian opera would have gone down better. Those that they did,were well attended. The one annoying aspect we found on the poolside,was the continued showing of MSC propoganda on the big screen,day in day out.It would have been nice to maybe have scenes from the previous days entertainment on board or movies at night . One let down was lack of buses when the ships hit a port,one would think that the companies plying the tourists would be well prepared and lay on extra services to accommodate the crowds. We really felt we were treated to a holiday and despite our misgivings of last cruises would happily sail with MSC again. One good thing is they look after repeat customers,with discounts for future travel. In fact we are booked to go on our next cruise in November on the Orchestra Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
I cannot believe the moans I have encountered during this cruise and some of the ridiculously negative reviews I have read upon returning . Facts the ship is beautiful the staff that I encountered were all very nice people yes some of the ... Read More
I cannot believe the moans I have encountered during this cruise and some of the ridiculously negative reviews I have read upon returning . Facts the ship is beautiful the staff that I encountered were all very nice people yes some of the food could have been better, particularly in the main restaurant and if i put my mind to it I could find little things to nit-pick on about. it seemed to me that throughout this cruise many people spent the holiday in some sort of weird competition to see who could gather the most negative notes instead of actually enjoying their surroundings and their holiday. I believe ,though I may be wrong, that most of the passengers on this ship got a very good deal on the price of the cruise in fact i doubt if they could have stayed in a travelodge for the price per night equivalent. However despite that I heard complaints about the staff not being able to speak "proper english", "too many foreingers on board" and many more unbelievable statements. The ship is international I am ashamed that I have never bothered to learn another language and certainly do not expect my waiter and cabin steward to speak half a dozen languages fluently In fact if they could I think they would be looking for a better job! I met some lovely people from all corners of the world on this cruise and enjoyed every minute of their company. A smile speaks a thousand words. I have cruised with most of the major lines RCCL, HAL,Celebrity ,NCL etc and I could have pointed out faults with them all if scrutinised enough. I have had great food with RCCL on some of their ships and mediocre food on some of their ships ...it depends entirely on the guy who is running the kitchen. I never felt under pressure to purchase anything on this ship whereas on my last few cruises with the other lines I was sick of the hard sell mentality on-board. I would personally like to thank MSC for a lovely holiday. I was travelling solo and am grateful that MSC offer such great deals on solo occupancy of cabins I would have no hesitation on cruising with them again . Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
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 ... Read More
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. Embarkation. We arrived at the port of Venice at around 11-45 am 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 ship rather 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 … 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. Shops … The ship has the usual range of shops like the Logo shop, wristwatches and sunglasses, jewelery, 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. Food … 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 favourites. 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 Café 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. Entertainment... 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 Top 18 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 TV’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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 “Exciting” 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. Disembarkation … 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. Conclusions … 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, “Divina is all show and no substance” 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.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
My parents and i were on a 9 week holiday from Australia and we were traveling with 5 other people. We had already done a 14 night Adriatic/ Greek island cruise on ncl Jade a week earlier. I was really looking forward to sailing on MSC as ... Read More
My parents and i were on a 9 week holiday from Australia and we were traveling with 5 other people. We had already done a 14 night Adriatic/ Greek island cruise on ncl Jade a week earlier. I was really looking forward to sailing on MSC as i had already seen footage on you tube of how beautiful it was. We organized a private taxi to drop us at the terminal and we when we arrived the staff were at the waters edge ready to take all bags off us which was awesome as with ncl we had to take them ourselves. Check in was fairly smooth and fast. My first impression when boarding the was OMG! This ship is absolutely beautiful and anybody who says otherwise is kidding themselves. The bars are all beautiful as are the eating areas. I really enjoyed the pools and the gym as well. I had my own cabin on board and it was an outside cabin on the 5 level. It was beautiful and massive. I have never seen a cabin this big and i had it all to myself. My parents had a balcony cabin although it wasn't as big as mine it was still very nice. My cabin steward was very friendly and always made the effort help anyway he could. My parents girl was also lovely. We ate in the Villa Rosa every night except for 1 when we went to Eataly. We had the late seating which we find a lot better than the early. The first night was a schmozzle. Instead of eating at 830 we didn't get in till 930. There was a lot of new staff that started that day as it was embarking on the transatlantic cruise to America. We understood that there was going to be a few hiccups so that didn't really bother us. What did bother us was the attitude of the 1st seating, some of them just blatantly refused to hurry and leave even when it was 930. We had excellent waiters on our trip. Their names were Frankie and Kurniwan. They always had our drinks waiting and always had a joke with us even if they didn't quite get the Australian sense of humor. I found the food every night beautiful. My parents and their friends often sat at the bar on the 7th floor near the atrium. The drinks waiter Darwin and Sevastina were great. Always having a joke and being funny. i found all the staff on Divina although run off the feet with obvious cut backs on staff to be very friendly and attentive. I enjoyed the food in the buffet, however made to order omlettes should be a must on cruise ships so i was definitely disappointed with that. the dessert in the buffet were awesome. Now for some negatives. My two main complaints were HANDWASHING and entertainment in the bars. In regards to these i did make complaints while i was on board and did have a meeting with the pursers about this. In all restaurants and bars there are the dispensers for people to wash their hands however people would just walked past them and not use them which really pissed me off. As much as i don't want to say it, it was mostly Europeans that didn't use them and as you can imagine it was a majority of Europeans on board. How there wasn't an outbreak of gastro ill never know. All i ask is for someone to be stationed at least at the main dining rooms and buffet and spray peoples hands as the go in. Ncl do this on all their ships so i know it can be done. Entertainment was very boring. The stage shows were great but in the bars not so much. A lady and her husband in the back bar were quite good but opera and violins every night is really annoying. Don't get me wrong they are good at what they do but when you are in the Caribbean its not something you want to hear every night. Music around the pool was non existent and there were no sail away parties. It was quite sad when you were in the Caribbean and you could hear the music on the other ships and nothing on ours. I saw the cruise directors and asked them one night why there was nothing on and happening and they said the get too manly complaints from the Europeans about loud music. I told them you do realize that you are going to the Caribbean and going to be going out of Miami all the time which means Americans, Canadians, Australians and British to name a few will not stand for boring cruises in the Caribbean They want Fun, upbeat cruises. As this cruise was about 6 months ago i understand that things may have gotten better which i really hope they have as it is a beautiful ship and the staff were amazing. The staff and the ship are why i will cruise Msc cruise Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Pre cruise we stayed on the Grand Canal at the Hotel Santa Chiaria in Venice right off of Piazza Roma. This hotel is convenient to the airport bus drop off location (6 Euros per person for the airport bus) and also to the People Mover that ... Read More
Pre cruise we stayed on the Grand Canal at the Hotel Santa Chiaria in Venice right off of Piazza Roma. This hotel is convenient to the airport bus drop off location (6 Euros per person for the airport bus) and also to the People Mover that you can take to the port for embarkation (1 Euro per person). The ship was a delight. It is quite spacious with many public areas to lounge/linger in. There are activities that would please a variety of tastes. We enjoy the bingo (yes we were winners several times!), the dance classes, just wandering around the ship "people watching" and the shows in the theater. We thought the shows were great and there was a nice variety between production shows, comedians and musicians. We found all to be very entertaining. To us, the most important Princess employees on the ship are our cabin steward and our main dining room waiters. These people were superb. We find the ship board employees of Princess to be one of their biggest assets. Everyone is so very helpful and will go out of their way to assist you. We enjoyed dining in the main dining room and the sharing of our daily activities with our table mates. There were always food selections that pleased us and the food was prepared to perfection. We did participate in the Chefs Table experience one evening and that was a total delight. The meal was one of the top five meals I have ever eaten. This is an experience that I would suggest in a heart beat. It is not offered on all cruises and is just by luck of the draw as far as participation. Check with dining via ships phone as soon as you get on board on the day of embarkation to put your name on the list. Our disembarkation in Ft Lauderdale was a tad late but overall very unremarkable. U S Customs did not have enough personnel to handle the size of the ship and things got a little backed up on board. Overall, this was another GREAT trip with Princess and the Ruby was a delight to call home for our 27 days! Read Less

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