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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I looked forward to the maiden voyage on a new ship and we love the transatlantic itinerary, MSC handled the change in starting point from Venice to Trieste very well. The crew did not seem adequately familiar with the ship and we went ... Read More
I looked forward to the maiden voyage on a new ship and we love the transatlantic itinerary, MSC handled the change in starting point from Venice to Trieste very well. The crew did not seem adequately familiar with the ship and we went thru 4 different waiters in four days in the dining room. The cabin was tiny for a "mini suite" and there was very limited storage space. The pool and water slide and zip line will be great for families with young kids but there was almost no shaded outdoor seating available nor was there anywhere that a continuous loop could be walked without passing into and out of the ship several times. The dining preparation was disappointing (fish not tasting fresh, beef being tough, etc) and took a long time to be served. The pizza in the buffet was a highlight. Tried two of the specialty restaurants found one decent, the other not so much. Made a reservation for 8 only to be told, on arrival, that they only had seating for 6!! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Have been on 17 cruises with 7 different cruise lines Embarkation: Spouse required wheelchair assistance. Had to wait for a long time before we received the assistance, then only taken to ramp to get on ship. We embarked after the ... Read More
Have been on 17 cruises with 7 different cruise lines Embarkation: Spouse required wheelchair assistance. Had to wait for a long time before we received the assistance, then only taken to ramp to get on ship. We embarked after the mandatory safety drill. After we took showers & dressed the next morning I opened the door at 9:45, to find a note that the safety drill for those who missed would be at 9:30 – too late. We never received a notice for any other safety drill. Dis-embarkation - Ship docked at 1:00 AM. Left ship at 9:30 AM but had to STAND in warehouse for an hour waiting for luggage to be made available. Dining: Main Dining room - Fixed dinner time was inconvenient. Food in restaurant was limited and mediocre. First time in 17 cruises that I saw extra cost items on dining room menu (which would have normally been served on the other lines without cost). Beef and lamb was frequently tough and had much gristle. Food was often cold. Shrimp was served uncleaned as main course. It would have been difficult to find smaller shrimp for shrimp cocktail. Waiters were poorly trained and could not describe menu items. Did not offer tea or coffee. When requested and received, refills were not offered – had to constantly ask. Saw no attempt at training or mentoring waiters. Buffet - limited selection, hot food mostly cold, Main buffet closed for dinner after third day leaving smaller buffet with even more limited selection. Condiments not available or hard to find. Buffet was closing down long before end of dining time. Dining hours shortened as cruise progressed. Ice and beverage machines frequently broken or empty. Juice mostly watered down. Public Rooms – Ship was very glitzy. Lighted stair treads in atrium were distracting and dangerous. Many mirrors a problem with some really easy to walk into (People did). Most seating in public areas was uncomfortable. Elevators were frequently broken. Major plumbing problems – Public rest room toilets were frequently clogged and dirty water on floor. Ship does not have space suitable for lectures or meetings for moderate or large groups. Covered pool was nice. Dance floors small and limited. Billiard table in very small library area-Really? Entertainment – Production shows were large and good. They ran 4 production shows during 21 day trip, repeating several of them. Guests were discouraged from seeing them twice. Other shows were OK, but there was no show at all on one night. Not enough variety, mostly opera. Entertainers in other venues were pretty good. Fitness & Recreation – Lots of recreation possibilites for children and young adults – not for us. Service – Had a billing error which took two tries to get corrected. Called desk to report toilet not flushing – line was busy and got a message that they would call back. Call never returned. Almost always a long line at reception. Personnel at desk not knowledgable. Received wrong information to questions. Onboard Experience – TV stations offered were limited, with no real time TV during atlantic crossing. Port talks generally not re-broadcast. Promised live TV upon entering Caribbean, did not return for 3 more days. No ships camera. Information was very limited. Dining room menus were not posted. Newspapers were available in one lounge only. English language papers were limited to two British tabloids and sometimes the NY times. Only one copy was available. Disembarkation and embarkation at ports was very slow. Long lines developed frequently even in the middle of the day. Ramps were frequently VERY steep, a real problem for people with limited mobility. Line is trying to bring back classes which were eliminated by all the cruise lines long ago with "Yacht Club". When a person holding a “Yacht Club” sign leads people past the line of people who have been waiting a half hour (line barely moving) to get back on board, it breeds resentment. In general, the management attitude seemed to be that the passengers were a necessary evil for the re-positioning cruise. Only one enrichment program. For a ship this large and a cruise this long there should have been several more. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
Restaurant food very mediocre - poor quality and presentation. Vegetarian option attrocious. Not good to have to sit with the same people for dinner for 23 nights. Need dine around option. Far too much queuing for everything. ... Read More
Restaurant food very mediocre - poor quality and presentation. Vegetarian option attrocious. Not good to have to sit with the same people for dinner for 23 nights. Need dine around option. Far too much queuing for everything. Drinks packages very questionable. Speaker - Hugh Mitford possibly the worst speaker I have ever heard - not surprisingly his lecture series was cancelled. Generally would only rate MSC as a 3 star cruise. Cabin - balcony suite good. Would not recommend MSC. Boarding at Venice was dreadful - MSC need to do a time and motion study - we had to queue three times to in fact do the same thing. You then have to queue to have your card endorsed for drinks package - why cann't this be done when you purchase the package? We had to wait for 2 days to get the light changed in the bathroom, which did not work. Disembarkation process good. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
Convenient travelling back home to South Africa from Europe. We have cruised with MSC on a few occasions and have always had first class service. The Service and quality of food on this particular Cruise was dumbed down for some ... Read More
Convenient travelling back home to South Africa from Europe. We have cruised with MSC on a few occasions and have always had first class service. The Service and quality of food on this particular Cruise was dumbed down for some reason. We want to Cruise with MSC again and will do so if MSC can ensure that this will be the last time they dumb down the Service and Quality of food and all other Cruises will be at the Standard we have come to expect. Please find here a list of comments – there are a few more but these did concern us more than others and probably contributed to some of the sickness on Board. Buffet Bar: The Restaurants didn’t appear to be bacteria-free and sadly this didn’t seem to concern MSC Personnel. Hygiene: MSC staff continually handling food with bare hands. MSC Staff using only one glove and handling food with bare hand – fingers sticking into food etc. MSC Staff dropping cutlery on the floor and replacing it in the serving trays and tables etc. without cleaning the cutlery or having it washed MSC Staff picking their noses while serving food. Carvery, Ill Galleon: Pork underdone – blood oozing out when MSC personnel attempted to carve the joint on Hot Plate. Pork was sent back to be cooked correctly – hot plate was turned off and Gravy was left at side of Hot Plate. Blood and congealed fat and pork debris was left to go cold on Hot Plate. After one hour Pork was returned to contaminated Hot Plate which was switched on when Pork arrived. Just prior to Pork being returned to be carved, MSC personnel scooped up blood and congealed fat and debris with hands and dumped it in a container at the side of the Hot Plate. Pork was ordered to be carved and served by slicing along the sides as it still wasn’t cooked properly. Gravy was cold and brought to the attention of the Ship’s Doctor who was in the queue – she informed MSC personnel that the Gravy was stone cold; - MSC Personnel placed it on the Hot Plate – the Ships Doctor said, "it was a disgrace" and she was "fortunate that she ate most of her meals in the Crews quarters". Passengers handling food with bare hands and returning uneaten food to be served again – MSC personnel did take away the complete tray of food on a few occasions but the practice of handling food by the Passengers was never addressed. Passengers refusing to disinfect hands prior to entering Restaurants. Service in ILL Galleon Restaurants at Breakfast and Lunch was poor: Had to take cutlery, cups and saucers etc. from other tables to prepare the table we were sitting on. Unnecessary Queuing up was a problem caused entirely by MSC personnel resulting in Passengers getting frustrated. MSC Personnel can tell us how warm the Sea Temperature and Ambient Temperature was, they could tell us the Sea Depth, Wind Speed and the Precise position of Ship in four or five different languages etc. etc. but NOT one of them could tell us why the food was continually served cold and what the temperature of the Soup and Gravy was. According to research carried out by other Shipping lines; 90% of all food poisonings happen when correct temperatures are not kept. There was NO food thermometer visible in ANY of the eating places - In 24 days at Sea I never once saw a food thermometer - all other Passengers I spoke to also commented on this. Maybe contributing and instigating the poor hygiene on Board was a money making scheme by MSC - MSC will be able to give us the precise reason of the poor hygiene. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I am a travel agent and frequent traveler. We have cruised Oceana many times but now it appears the ”bean-counters” are in control. There were noticeable differences in overall food and services from previous cruises. This was a ... Read More
I am a travel agent and frequent traveler. We have cruised Oceana many times but now it appears the ”bean-counters” are in control. There were noticeable differences in overall food and services from previous cruises. This was a 27 day cruise and offered $1600 in shipboard credit for our basic balcony cabin. It’s easy to offer lots of OBC when everything is already overpriced to start with. (Nickels and Dimes) For the food service, there was little change in selections, but the food quality was noticeably reduced, especially in the Specialty Restaurants where the service was still great, but the food was not nearly as good. On arrival home, we had a steak that was far superior in taste and tenderness than any we had in 4 visits to the Tuscan Grill. Oceana is no longer the leader in shipboard Cuisine. Meals are now average at best. The cost of the land tours is outrageous. In Corfu we docked next to a Holland America Ship, and much to my surprise I was logged on to their shipboard WIFI. I found the Holland America tours almost identical to Oceana in description, hours, and group size, except every Oceana tour was a minimum of 45% and up to 55% (actually $55 to $180) more expensive per person. That’s about $225 more per port for a couple. (Nickels and Dimes). Martini's Bar had excellent service, but drinks were short, and expensive. Standard pre-dinner drinks for two were about $25, not appropriate for captive customers on a ship. (Nickels and Dimes) I’ll probably start suggesting Azamara or Viking Sea to my customers. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We had booked a classic without view and were amazed when 3 weeks before sailing we got our cabin assignment - upgrade to a mini suite. The cabin was comfortable and clean and was our oasis of calm helped by a very efficient stewardess. ... Read More
We had booked a classic without view and were amazed when 3 weeks before sailing we got our cabin assignment - upgrade to a mini suite. The cabin was comfortable and clean and was our oasis of calm helped by a very efficient stewardess. This was the best thing about the entire cruise. I have had 11 cruises on Costa over the years but this cruise will be the last. In Europe the ship turned into a ferry with passengers who appeared to be starving pushing and shoving and trying to knock you out of the way at the buffet. After Savona it settled down but it was not helped by the number of beverage stations being out of order in the buffet. So we ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room which was acceptable. Dinners soon went downhill with what appeared to be a menu of leftovers. Halfway through the voyage they opened the buffet in the evening for 1 1/2 hours and remarkably it was quiet so at least you could get a salad/veggies etc instead of sitting for 2+ hours in dining room for a 2" piece of salt cod and cabbage! Entertainment was geared towards Italians/Germans/French and I have never felt on a cruise before that Brits/US were not invited or not expected to participate. Shouting/screaming through the night was the norm in europe. There was really no activites - even the ping pong balls were for 2 for a euro and it was a hassle to get paddles from a bartender in exchange for your sea pass. TV was replays of pavarotti - when the ship neared the caribbean we looked forward to seeing the news - nothing in english - only european channels! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
My husband and I are avid cruisers, having cruised on NCL, Princess, Holland America, Carnival, MSC, Celebrity and even a Costa Caribbean cruise. We booked a back-to-back leaving Venice, going to Italy, Greece and Turkey and the 2nd leg ... Read More
My husband and I are avid cruisers, having cruised on NCL, Princess, Holland America, Carnival, MSC, Celebrity and even a Costa Caribbean cruise. We booked a back-to-back leaving Venice, going to Italy, Greece and Turkey and the 2nd leg back to Florida (36 days total). The first problem was the itinerary change AFTER we paid our final deposit and had already booked our airfare. We really wanted to see Turkey (2 stops) but they changed the itinerary and substituted Croatia and Montenegro. So, this wasn't a deal-breaker but we were disappointed as there were other ships that were going to Turkey. Then, the 2nd problem - we were to embark in Venice but when we arrived at the port, the ship was not there due to weather. They ported the ship in Trieste and we had to be transported for a 2 hour coach ride to Trieste. The whole process was a nightmare (totally disorganized and a complete disregard for passenger comfort). We had to sit in the Venice terminal for 2 hours before our bus got there, with not even water being offered. Third problem, once we got on the ship in Trieste, they closed the buffet line 10 minutes after we got there so food was limited and we had not eaten since breakfast. There were hundreds of passengers still being transported so I'm sure they were not happy when they got there with no food until dinner at 7:30. Fourth problem, our cabin was fine for the first leg but we had to change for the transatlantic portion. This cabin (6234) was the cabin from hell...next to the steward station, crew stairway and below the room service prep area. Banging, clanging and slamming all day and all night. We complained and requested a cabin change but were told nothing was available. After 3 nights, we were so fed up we were ready to disembark the ship and fly home at the next port. I told the Cruise Director and, somehow, they miraculously found us another cabin (which actually was a good one). Fifth problem - my husband and I eat 2 meals a day (late breakfast and late lunch) at the buffet as eating late meals just do not work for us. This was not a problem on all the American-style ships we have cruised on. The Deliziosa meal schedule was quite different. Breakfast in the buffet was predominately pastries, breads, a few cold cereal choices, yogurt and fruit. There was no skim milk for our cereal so we basically diluted it with water. On the transatlantic portion of the cruise they did add eggs and bacon to the buffet. Hot drinks (coffee and tea) were only provided at breakfast and during "snack hour" which was 4:00 -5:00 p.m.- there were none at lunch or dinner. If you wanted them, they had to be ordered from the bar staff and charged to the cabin. The only cold drink you could get without being charged was water (no iced tea or flavored beverages at all). They actually turned off the water and ice machines after lunch. Snack time was a zoo - they only opened one station (food and beverage) so the lines were horrific to get finger sandwiches and hot coffee/tea. Pizza was available free for about 3 hours each day (plain - tomato sauce with cheese). If you wanted a different kind of pizza, you had to pay for it at night. There was a charge for room service (I think 5 euro per person) but we never used it. The buffet usually closed by 3:00 p.m. and did not re-open until 7. Even then, the choices were pretty limited. LOTS of pasta available, though, at lunch. We enjoy other ships because they provide popcorn, ice cream, etc. but Costa did not provide anything at all except what was available at meal time. We found the entertainment to be mediocre. I realize it's hard to schedule entertainment for people who speak so many languages so I hate to bash them for this. I was disappointed, however, at how obnoxious and rude many of the passengers were. During the shows, they would talk loudly and leave once the announcements had been made in their particular language. Meal time was especially exasperating as they would basically run you over, push you out of the way, talk and even SING loudly and generally make meal time an annoying affair. We enjoy using the dry sauna for relaxation but again found the people to be loud and annoying while we tried to relax...I realize the ship cannot do anything about this but it is something you may to consider when taking this ship or this cruise line. All the English-speaking people we talked to on the ship seemed to have the same opinion of this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
We have been traveling since 2000 when we visited Australia and the South Pacific. We have been on over ten cruises from many cruise lines since then, but this is the first time we have felt the strong desire to post a comment on the web. ... Read More
We have been traveling since 2000 when we visited Australia and the South Pacific. We have been on over ten cruises from many cruise lines since then, but this is the first time we have felt the strong desire to post a comment on the web. Our cruise this year was the HAL 25 Day Mediterranean Passage to America – 2014 from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We like transatlantic cruises because my wife has mobility issues and prolonged air travel in a cramped airline seat is very difficult for her. I think our expectations were set by our recent similar cruise, the Norwegian Cruise Line Transfer to Copenhagen followed by a tour of the Baltic Capitols. It was a beautiful and enjoyable trip in all respects. Before I get to my main comment, I will give you my first I impression of our ship, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. It carries more passengers than the ms Noordam and the ms Maasdam which we have enjoyed on previous cruises. I will get to this later, but the sheer number of passengers was a negative. As soon we as boarded in Venice and got settled in our cabin, I did my quick survey, which for me, includes going to the highest point on the ship. I was a bit frustrated this time because the space on the forward top deck had been sold off for cabanas and access to the area was roped off. To me this smacks of the class system on the Cunard Line – without the additional amenities. Except for the full size basketball court (and the roped off cabanas) there was no useful top deck space. Now to the main reason for this comment: The day we arrived we started hearing the noise. On day 1, it was the loud banging on our pipes. We called the desk, but they could not explain the origin of the noise which continued intermittently all night. The next day was quieter until about 4:00 PM. We were trying to rest when the noise started again in full volume. It sounded like we were living over an auto body shop. A mixture of mechanical sounds: Sharp banging on pipes, grinding sounds, hammering and more banging. Of course I immediately went to the desk to report the problem, but had to wait in line for 15 minutes while the staff dealt with fallout from an Internet outage. Meantime my tired wife could not rest. Finally, a staff member agreed to send someone to investigate the problem. While we were waiting for help, I recorded the sounds on my cell phone, made a second trip to the desk, and demonstrated it to the same staff member. She came with me to our cabin to hear for herself. This pretty much ended the investigation, but we did receive an apology and an invitation to a dinner at the Tamarind restaurant. The sad ending of the story is that the noisy activity must have served some vital role in the operation of the ship because it never totally stopped. It is interesting that no one followed up to see if the issue was resolved. I believe they already knew the answer. We like cruising because your ship is your mobile luxury hotel. I have stayed in some pretty cheap hotels and motels in my lifetime, but I have never stayed in one that sounded like there was a machine shop next door. Any fine hotel would have dealt with our noise problem immediately and effectively. Unfortunately this never happened on the Nieuw Amsterdam. Now we get to lessons learned. We chose not to get a veranda cabin on this trip because we very seldom use the veranda and on a transatlantic crossing the view is not that spectacular. For this trip we just wanted a nice clean, comfortable, quiet cabin. If that is your requirement, location is important. At least it is on the Niew Amsterdam. Our cabin was 1092 on aft port side of the Main Deck. You might be lucky, but I would never accept any cabin on the Main Deck. The decks above and below are used for ship’s operations and could be noisy as we found out. Another thing I would do in the future is insist on getting an early cabin assignment. Even though we booked way in advance, our cabin assignment was kept open until the last minute. Our travel agent tried to get a fixed cabin assignment, but we should have tried harder. I need to mention some very positive experiences. My wife has mobility issues and needs a wheelchair. Before the trip, we worked very well with HAL excursion specialists to locate and evaluate accessible tours. On board, the Excursion Team gave us wonderful personal support. We did not have to worry about the wheelchair or not having a seat near the front of the bus and we were sure that the excursions were suitable for us. They all deserve six stars out of five. Also, the entire crew was willing to stop what they were doing to help us get around the ship. If you have mobility issues, don’t let that stop you. Go! The Indonesian cabin and table stewards are treasures. They maintain a tradition of great service which we remember from previous cruises. We have always enjoyed the crew show. We wonder why it scheduled late at night (11:00 PM) this time. Also, what happened to the Baked Alaska parade? These are little things that added to our enjoyment of past cruises. While I am at it, here are a few comments about entertainment. The content was good, but a bit skimpy. One night was it was a movie on the big screen. The productions were well done and the players all very talented. A problem was that the smaller entertainment venues such as Adagio (classical piano and violin) were overcrowded. All the extra passengers on this ship need to go somewhere and the entertainment space was not increased accordingly. On sea days, it t was difficult to get a table for lunch, particularly near the pool. The available poolside space was squeezed by the increased number of passengers and the fact that a quarter of the pool deck space had been sold off for more cabanas. We have reserved a HAL cruise for next year, but see increasing reasons for not going. We can make smarter choices in cabin assignment and have no concerns about accessible excursions, but we see a trend of increasing number of passengers without a corresponding increase in services and amenities. At what point will it be better to make other choices? That remains a question. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
Much misinformation about what was to take place in this maiden transatlantic crossing of MSC's Divina. I must say that the ship is gorgeous. Good looks are, however, deceiving. The disorganization starts at the top and filters down ... Read More
Much misinformation about what was to take place in this maiden transatlantic crossing of MSC's Divina. I must say that the ship is gorgeous. Good looks are, however, deceiving. The disorganization starts at the top and filters down to all aspects of the cruise. As cruising is relative, the relationship is based on what you have experienced before and the anticipation that you are embarking on something similar or perhaps even better than you did before. I must admit, I made the mistake of ignoring the reviews I read as the ramblings of disgruntled previous passengers (they are the most likely to write where passengers that appreciated their trip tend to dismiss it as having gotten what was expected). Unfortunately those who complained in this case understated the reality. It took me 15 of the 19 days of this cruise to even find out the basis upon which the voyage was initiated. "We are going to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to the Caribbean to allow those in that area to experience it w/o the extra travel." Okay, fair enough but the taste left from this cruise would tell me that I would not want to experience more which is simply not true. If one loves travel, Italy and the Greek Isles should be high on the priority list, especially their culinary offerings. MSC Divina did not come close to the mark there. They awarded their own Pizza chef as the best in Italy. I think their pizza was adequate but noting to write home about. Unfortunately it appears that their head chef was promoted from the Pizzeria and should be put to whence he came. Overcooking and over salting foods was the norm. And heavy gravy for Au Jus - it is supposed to be a sauce, not a gravy. No problem, the English cut prime rib that was smothered by this foul presentation could not have hurt or helped it anyway. Lest you think that this is an example, it was carried on throughout the dining experience. Lobster butterflied and left in the shell (not even removed and then replaced - still attached). It tasted more like lobster flavored rubber. Two of my favorite dishes ruined, uneatable! I do know good food. Being a former restaurant owner and qualified chef give me a right to critique foods with some authority. And, comparison to other cruise lines culinary gives me another rating system to use in case I was to consider my own skills to be more than what they are. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, and Princess all offer way better culinary skills. OK, Costa fell below MSC but I will not cruise with them again either. It was so bad that I felt sorry for the dining room staff that was a go between having to deal with the abuse that so often is misdirected toward them because of lack of quality that they are required to present. The bright spot in the dining room was the fine effort made by the staff there and their efforts to do well despite the insurmountable odds against them. This, I might say, was also true of our cabin steward. Meeting all our expectation and providing little extras was his mission. He too did a spectacular job. It is a shame that those were the high lights of this cruise experience. I did have a meeting with the guest relations manager wishing to see this beautiful ship be successful in its transitional efforts. I fear, however, that little of what I had to say was even a consideration. MSC will not make it in the Caribbean!!! Especially if they continue with a line of arrogant stupidity and misinformation. And speaking of misinformation, we received information almost continuously via loud speakers on all the sales, and offerings that should have been handled on a want to know basis. And in five languages no less. In preparation for their entering the U.S./Caribbean market (they will be home based in Miami for the next two years) they were required to meet U.S. coastguard standards. They drilled their crew daily, especially when we were in ports of call. If anyone stayed aboard or came aboard after being out and about, they were blasted with crew drills over the loud speakers (at least they too were not in five languages). I have had and expect preparatory pre sailing drills for the passengers before but this is required and appreciated for all who want to wonder the deep blue seas. The incessant crew training drill needs to be done elsewhere or quietly so as not to disrupt the peaceful respite that one has paid for. And, it overflowed into almost every other aspect of their disorganized presentation. I am guessing that 30% of the crew came newly aboard in Malaga. Needless to say, they required the training that was given to them as we sailed away. Yes, some of it got better as the time passed but I will have a hard time forgetting the cappuccino served to me in a demi-tasse or the 1/2 filled demi of espresso. One bartender training five newbies while customers waited an hour for their miss-made drinks. I was told by another English speaking French Canadian that I spoke with that he had over heard a cruiser from Belgium speaking about the "stupid Americans that got what they paid for and considered fine dining to be hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza". Well this "stupid American" had fine dining tastes that were not met in any way, shape or form. Even the sommelier who visited us during our evening meal was frustrated when he spoke about the ship running out of wines that were offered. Apparently, they did not anticipate that so much wine would have been consumed (an Italian ship with a 4200 passenger capacity that had 3300 aboard for 19 nights wouldn't expect large consumption of a product in which they take so much pride - yes it is good and does rival the best of the French but???) Just another glitch in their organized chaos. Oh, and paying for what you get. I have paid less for far more with others that did not try to nickle/dime me for the "not included" Unless you were U.S or Canadian, you even paid for your bottled water - poor Australians and Brits. Oh heck, we even were required to pay for coffee with our evening meals, Never mind any on board. They too were pay as you go and pricey at that. 6 Euros each for a game of mini bowling. Mom was charged $15 per book for their used (left behind) book from their library - okay, they returned the funds when the books were returned but what an ultimate insult to one's integrity. Might have been more acceptable had they advised that they would assess a charge if they were still on your ship's card and not returned prior to disembarking but... The list is far more extensive but I am as tired of writing this as you are of reading it if you have gotten this far and I think if you have, you get the picture. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
The Royal Princess was a fairly new ship on its first transatlantic crossing in October, 2013. So, why did we have towels and wash cloths that were frayed? Why is there rust everywhere you look? Ours was an obstructed-view balcony with up ... Read More
The Royal Princess was a fairly new ship on its first transatlantic crossing in October, 2013. So, why did we have towels and wash cloths that were frayed? Why is there rust everywhere you look? Ours was an obstructed-view balcony with up close views of the life boats and their hoists which had lots of rust showing – already, even the stainless steel posts on the balcony were spotted with rust! Plus, the wood railings were pitted with white flaky stuff in its surface. And, they'd used duct tape to secure some of the thick metal winch cables?!?! The nicest thing I can say about the cabin is there was a nice long, open-closet with plenty of hangers provided; however, the bathroom and balcony were very tiny. Then, and it wasn't too long into the cruise, we started noticing the coughing and hacking by fellow passengers – then it hit us. We had to get antibiotics and had several days of unrest and sickness. Overall our first impressions weren't so good, yet, our room stewardess, as it turned out, was very attentive and always referred to us by name when we saw her. The entertainment, including the lecturers, were top notch - certainly a highlight of our onboard activities. The Piazza is beautiful and a great place to hang out and people-watch and it seemed that they always had something going on in that area. Of the ports, Messina and Naples were the let downs – no need to re-visit either of those two cities, whereas Madeira island is, and has been, one of our favorite places – we definitely recommend touring the western side of the island – just fantastic – and beautiful – well worth the 6 ½ hours we spent with 10 others in a Mercedes van with guide/driver at only 22 euros per person!!! The food on this cruise was OK – nothing to rave about and the wait-staff service was mediocre, often very slow in bringing meals to the table, but not when trying to sell you bottled water! I think they finally got the message that most of us were not falling for that expensive ploy early into the cruise. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give a solid rating of a 5 – it just wasn't that special – even with it being a new ship on its less than stellar inaugural transatlantic cruise. Sorry, Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
The Royal was launched 6-12 months before it was ready for passengers. It was understaffed with a large number of new hires who did not have the customer service skills that I have experienced on my 19 cruises with Princess. An example ... Read More
The Royal was launched 6-12 months before it was ready for passengers. It was understaffed with a large number of new hires who did not have the customer service skills that I have experienced on my 19 cruises with Princess. An example would be a clerk in the wrist watch boutiques, who when asked by a customer about a particular watch in the window, the clerk told her it cost $2,000 followed by, "can you afford it"!!! The free laundry service for Elite passengers took 4-6 or more days to be returned to passengers instead of next service which is what is an advertised perk for their top cruises. In many cases clothing items were lost and never found. Some laundry was not finished and returned to passengers the day of disembarkation. There are design flaws such as no staircase for the center of the ship. The elevators could not handle the numbers of passengers needing to use them because of lack of stairs to ease the load on the elevators. The frustration of the center of the ship cabin passengers was palpable and expressed with anger at the crowding as people stuffed and pushed into the elevator having missed full elevators for an extended period. There are other design flaws. Electronics in every area from daily non-working computers in the Internet area room, to cabin TV's, to the Princess Theater during presentation, and behind the scenes electronic issues that made the job of the Customer Service almost impossible for them to help passengers in a timely and effective way. My service in the dining room was so not up to my experience of first waiter and junior waiter that the frustration drove me to the Horizon Court and other venues. I must say, I have always enjoyed the food on Princess Cruise, but it was so bad in the dining room along with the bad service, that I never returned to the dining room once I left. I wish I could say something nice about this sailing for me, but chasing laundry, to find out where it was, the bad service in the areas that I functioned just made an unpleasant ordeal for me. I could never find my cabin stewardess when I needed her, needed my cabin make up, or trusting her to search out where my laundry when it went missing for 5-6 days. She liked to chit chat with her fellow stewards and stewardess on the floor near her. She just wasn't focused in the way the others in her area. They were working and she was no where to be found. The Royal was a big disappointment with the under-staffing in important areas, the design issues, the poor quality of items that passengers use daily, the automatic door to one of the small cutout decks on Deck 7 which fell off at the top where its swings open and fell on the door across from it. It was framed in wood with glass in the rest of the door. Fortunately, the glass didn't shatter. I came upon it just after it happened and before the proper engineers arrived. The Regal, the sister ship of Royal, is due to be launched in 2014. Think twice before signing up for a cruise early on and see if some of the Royal's problems have been ironed out.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
First let me say that I have been on five other transatlantic cruises, two of which were on the Ruby and Emerald Princess (nice ships). This ship just does not measure up to the hype and is not designed for the passenger. The bean counters ... Read More
First let me say that I have been on five other transatlantic cruises, two of which were on the Ruby and Emerald Princess (nice ships). This ship just does not measure up to the hype and is not designed for the passenger. The bean counters got hold of what could have been a really great ship and really messed it up. Complaints on this ship were the primary source of conversation during my recent voyage. I was able to break the ice with anyone just by mentioning our mutual disdain for this ship. Things like: (1) Mid-ship stairwell does not go up to the Lido deck and is not useable by passengers. (2) Cannot walk around the outside of the ship on the Promenade Deck. (3) The gym is not where it belongs, forward on the bow of the ship. As an after-thought they stuck it mid-ship with a passageway running through it. (4) The ships theater somehow seems claustrophobic and the chairs do not have a place to put your drink. (5) The balcony's are very small. (6) The indoor electronic shooting range is usually closed. On the odd occasion , that it was open there is a large crowd wanting to use it. (7) The sauna and steam room are not located with the gym and are extra charge items. (8) The Princess Live Theater was cramped and uses fold-out chairs that have been known to collapse with people in them. (9) I had a cabin below the Lido deck and the noise of the deck chairs being slid around was really annoying. To be fair, on the plus side: (1) The Piazza was very large and well laid out. (2) The food was very good and of excellent quality. (3) The entertainment was OK and wasn't in bad taste. (4) I'm sure there are other good things about this ship, but considering all the negatives, it is hard to remember them. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We were on the Royal Princess for the maiden transatlantic voyage, from Venice. The ship looks nice from the outside, but when you come in, you see there a lot of bling-bling to show off. The bigger atrium is nice, more space for the ... Read More
We were on the Royal Princess for the maiden transatlantic voyage, from Venice. The ship looks nice from the outside, but when you come in, you see there a lot of bling-bling to show off. The bigger atrium is nice, more space for the senoir to play card or sleep, during the day and during the performance from the entertainers....... That right, the stateroom are smaller, balcony are tiny. The most inconvenient is there is no mid-ship staircase, so, from the pool or the buffet, you have to wait for the elevator that are crowded. The configuration of the Vista lounge need to be rethink. What is a lounge without a bar????? We really missed the Explorer lounge, in mid-ship on the other ship. The Princess Live studio is OK, but really to small for trivia, zumba. And then, there is NO Promenade around the ship on Promenade deck!!!! Princess begin to charge more for the extras: Chef's tables, fondues night, Crab shack dinner, Wine list. Finally, I can't imagine that ship in the Caribbean, for the Thanksgiving or Christmas weeks, with 1000 kids onboard. There's only 2 pools +1 baby pool on lido deck. For me, the name Carnival start to melted down on the name Princess. Food quality, service and production shows( 35 minutes) are getting worst than ever. I've seen the Royal, but, no more for me. And the way Princess are heading ( cutting corner to save money ), I have different vacation option. Celebrity cruises or all inclusives resort are some of them!   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2013
We sailed on the Royal Princess in October on its first transatlantic cruise from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We are experienced cruisers and our 30th cruise on Princess and probably the worst. First of all, when we walked into our balcony ... Read More
We sailed on the Royal Princess in October on its first transatlantic cruise from Venice to Ft. Lauderdale. We are experienced cruisers and our 30th cruise on Princess and probably the worst. First of all, when we walked into our balcony cabin (deluxe) off the back of the ship the carpet was filthy, and the drapes torn and dirty.. Mind you the ship was only not even 6 months old! We asked our cabin steward what was going on here-he shrugged his shoulders and told us that our balcony was virtually unusable because the smokestacks blow ash on our balcony and when you walk out, and then back in you bring the ash on your feet onto the carpet. (this is on all balcony back off the ship cabins) The carpet was shampooed before we got there, but it still was so dirty. So we couldn't use our balcony at all. Next we sent our laundry to be cleaned the minute we got on. After 7 days I was begging our steward to find our underwear and clothes!!! This was due they said to so many elite passengers being onboard. Well, they should know in advance how many elite passengers they have and plan for that!! 19 nights is a long cruise and the cruise line should be prepared. Then for 7 days-I said 7 days we had no HOT WATER!!! They would come and fix it and then it would break etc. Not acceptable!! Can you imagine showering for 7 days in cold water? Then three days the T. V.'s were not working, just another technical problem. Also beware of where your cabin is-We were below the Vista lounge and could hear the music late into the night in our cabin-very disturbing!!! Sometimes they have very late shows and its hard to sleep when you have boom,boom going on in your cabin. Last three days no internet because it was down. Dining room service was disappointing also-ate first seating because we like to have the same waiter, so they get to know your likes and dislikes-but food was sometimes cold. The headwaiter was excellent and did the best he could to please us, but our waiter-not so good. On the plus side the Atrium was nice although they did away with the center stairs so this makes the elevators a nightmare! The Horizon grill is great-we love the way it is set up and the food and service was terrific. The pool area is too small and the fake trees a joke and a waste of good space. So is the fountain waters-stupid, and again a waste of space. The cruise director Sam is not great either-for a 19 night cruise she never had enough going on, so we spent a lot of time at the pool. Luckily for us the sailing was smooth and warm for a transatlantic sailing. I read a ton of books. Princess has a lot of work to do to catch up with RCCL especially when it comes to entertainment-It was just O.K. some nights we skipped it altogether. The T.V. system is good and is on demand and there are plenty of movies to watch-but that's not what your on a cruise to do. All in all- lets just say it was disappointing, but we still like Princess (believe it or not) and will sail with them again just not on this ship!!!. Princess really spent a lot of money on a less then perfect ship-it has so many flaws-its know wonder the prices are falling for this ship-word of mouth travels fast. Don't waste your money-go on another Princess ship. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was the "Cruise from Hell". My husband and one of our traveling companions were infected with the Norovirus on the ship. They sent medicine which they charges us for! The newspaper article I read said that the rooms were ... Read More
This was the "Cruise from Hell". My husband and one of our traveling companions were infected with the Norovirus on the ship. They sent medicine which they charges us for! The newspaper article I read said that the rooms were disinfected 3 times a day. NOT TRUE. Our room was "passed through" one time only. We heard many different stories about prior infected guests on many other Crown Princess Cruises. Most of the guests are elderly people and cannot handle the stress from sicknesses. We were given many different stories on what was really going on on board this cruise. No one was honest with us. We were also evacuated from our room because Life Flight had to remove a guest and were treated horribly. We were shuffled all over the ship. Told to go to the Princess Theater. We couldn't get in there because they were shootinga commercial. One gentleman was removed from his room while doing a breathing treatment and was left in the hall outside of the Princess Theater and was in need of medical help. Upon disembakation we were literally dumped in the terminal by the staff. We are both handicapped and were left in the galveston terminal by ourselves to retrieve our own luggage and get to a bus. Once we were off the ship no one cared. We have thoroughly enjoyed sailing with Princess in the past, but will have to seriously reconcider future cruises. We will NOT, however, EVER cruise on the Crown Princees again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I booked this cruise as a follow-up to a 35 day South Pacific Cruise on the Westerdam which was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Nieuw Amsterdam had a lot more negatives than positives. I was traveling with a friend and we left ... Read More
I booked this cruise as a follow-up to a 35 day South Pacific Cruise on the Westerdam which was very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the Nieuw Amsterdam had a lot more negatives than positives. I was traveling with a friend and we left Ft.Meyers,FL on October 2nd on AirBerlin. The flight was uneventful with a connection in Dusseldorff and arrival in Venice was on-time. I had booked a private transfer with Sun Transfers and was met promptly and taken to Plaza Station Hotel in Mestre. The hotel was adequate and very convenient being directly across the street from the train station. I had visited Venice before but thoroughly enjoyed the extra two days prior to boarding on October 5th. I purchased the 24hr. pass on the Vaporettas and spent an enjoyable time just riding around the city. Embarkation was efficient and we were on-board in less than thirty minutes after arriving. The cabins were also ready which enabled you to stow your hand luggage prior to having lunch. The cabin was roomy and the balcony adequate, nothing special but acceptable. Harry and Ricky (stewards) were at the door as we entered, introduced themselves, and made sure we didn't need anything. After this pleasant start I was looking forward to a great cruise, little did I know that it was downhill from this point. Lunch in the Lido could best be described as chaotic. The layout is very inefficient with tables along the walkway where you line up for service. This added to the fact that people wanted to see what was available and stopped in this narrow pathway. This made moving about difficult along with getting bumped into while trying to make your way to a table. HAL had their mandatory health rules in effect so there was no self service, including beverages. This created another backup and by the time you had a beverage and found a table the barely warm food you had been served was now cold. This was a big complaint I heard from many people over the entire cruise, the food just wasn't kept hot and I finally started asking for my food to be heated again. With a couple of exceptions when I asked for the food to be heated I was told it was already warm...sorry this wasn't the answer you give a customer. The dining room was very slow and again the food was at best lukewarm and when you asked for it to be reheated you could expect another long delay, very poor and one of the reasons I say this is not a five star ship. It seemed that we were constantly under some type of health alert with very few days when we could actually have any self-service in the Lido. This severely limited your enjoyment of the buffets. During the transatlantic portion I had purchased the Thermal Suite for the thirteen days. On more than one occasion individuals had reported to the Spa desk that the Thalossotherapy Pool was dirty but nothing was done. Then without any notice we were told four days before arriving in Ft. Lauderdale that the Thermal Pool was closing at 5PM and wouldn't be available for the rest of the cruise. I asked at the spa desk if there would be a price adjustment given and was answered very curtly that there would be no refunds. Since I had paid for the entire time I went to customer service and was told that they would talk to the Spa Manager. Later that evening I was called and told that I would be given a small credit. I responded that I wasn't satisfied and that since I had paid for full access for the entire time a full prorated refund should be given. It took a lot of effort but I persisted and was given what should have been offered at the start. Again, proof that the Nieuw Amsterdam is not a five star ship. It seemed on several occasions that there was not good management in place as a lot of these situations could have been avoided. A good manager would have immediately sent out a notice of the closing and stated upfront that a refund was being given. As it was the guests had to take the lead and spend an hour more of their time trying to get answers. One other thing that really bothered me was after buying the Admiral's Wine Package based on the list of wines that were available in that offering. After puschasing I learned that two of the wines I especially wanted on the list were not available. Instead I was told they were out of stock but more would be loaded at the next port. It never happened and instead we were given substitutes they were inferior wines and certainly weren't what had been advertised or for which I had paid. I could continue on for several more paragraphs about instances where Holland America failed to live up to their reputation as a luxury line, for me I just did not experience the service or quality I have had on other true five star ships. It would be unfair not to say there were some examples of people really trying to do a good job. I'll list some of them: 1. The Pinnacle Grill is excellent and worth every cent of the surcharge. The food is outstanding and the service was impeccable. 2. The room stewards did an excellent job of keeping things in order and fulfilled any requests that were made in a friendly manner. 3. A couple of the ladies on the serving line in the Lido did a good job and were glad to reheat your entree. Thanks to them as this attitude was not reflected by the others. This was a difficult review to write as I don't like to be negative but there were just so many things that could have been improved with very little effort but instead were allowed to become issues that really took away from the whole experience. I hope Holland America and the Nieuw Amsterdam can get their act together and get the health situation on board corrected along with getting some good managers. If not, things will just continue to deteriorate.   Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
We found the Ruby Princess to be absolutely gorgeous! The Public areas particularly are fabulous. The Itinerary for this trip was great in that the ports visited with one exception were excellent, and since we love sea days, the TA and ... Read More
We found the Ruby Princess to be absolutely gorgeous! The Public areas particularly are fabulous. The Itinerary for this trip was great in that the ports visited with one exception were excellent, and since we love sea days, the TA and the days at sea were perfect. The Port we did not care for was Casablanca. We did the ship excursion to Rabat and found that city very nice, but Casablanca was like an open sewer. We realize the movie was shot in LA, but we still had expectations that were not met. We were glad we stopped there and had the experience, but we do not care to go back. This is a great cruise for those who love to do TA's. As for experiences on board ship, we found the food in the main dining room with traditional seating to be very good as was the service. We did not care for the food in the horizons buffet, and found the set up for the food line to be cramped and cumbersome. We ate there only two or three times and very much enjoyed our lunches in the dining room. The menu was varied and the service was very good. When sailing Princess, please do not miss the Pizza. They have absolutely the best Pizza in the Cruise Industry. A disappointment for us on the trip was the Theater. It is small compared to experiences we have had with Celebrity. Also, we found that apparently, the any time diners arrange dinner timing to better coordinate with show times so that when we finished our late seating and attempted to make the late show, the Theater was standing room only. The ship simply does not have the capacity to handle the number of passenger's in this venue. We also found that the entertainment was not up to the standard we experienced on Celebrity. We experienced some management level staff problems on this cruise. On multiple nights, we met friends for drinks before dinner and found bars staffed with only one bartender and one waiter. Although the staff worked very hard to overcome this, it was impossible and poor service resulted. One evening our friends waited an hour for a drink. You would think the management on this ship would realize what a profit center the bar is and properly schedule staff to maximize profits while providing excellent service. Another management level staff problem that had a dramatic negative effect on our trip dealt with the handling of our toilet that often failed to flush. For about the first three days we were told that the problem was a result or our putting tissues or foreign objects in it. We explained that because we had cruised previously, we understood not to do that, and after three days, five phone calls for help, and a demand to speak to the Hotel Manager that contact was made with the Manager of Guest Relations. Although expectations were raised that this might help expedite the solution to the problem, just the opposite happened. We found the Manager of Guest relations to be a person quick to make alibis and attempt to pass off problems as being just ordinary. After about a week of problems, and another repair that did not work, extremely loud plumbing rumblings were reported to the Guest Relations Manager. Without any investigation she responded that I should not worry, and these sounds were normal. My continued pleading for help resulted in a complete toilet replacement according to our cabin steward. If the sounds were normal, then why the replacement? So that this review does not go on forever, please know that our toilet failing to flush or delayed in flushing was experienced up to the last day on board, nineteen days. I also learned that other guests on my deck, as well as the crew also experienced this problem. In short this is a problem on this ship, and one that is not healthy. When this was pointed out to the Guest Relations Manager, she denied such. When the crew tells me that they have to wait to use the toilet because they do not flush without a delay, and I experienced this as well, this is not an isolated problem. IF YOU ARE IN CABIN A642, be prepared for a toilet that at best delays flushing. This delay may be 30 minutes or more. The way the management level staff on the Ruby Princess handled our stateroom problem will cause me not to sail Princess again. Denial and inappropriate excuses is not the way to handle a problem so basic to a positive cruise experience. Although I asked that my concerns be sent to Land Headquarters, I have had no contact from Princess since the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and ... Read More
The embarkation went smooth; we waited only a couple of hours. When we entered the boat, I was really surprised how strange it was, almost to say ugly. The interior is colorful, with so many different designs, a lot of plastic and lights. We did not even bother to go to the front office as it was crowded. The staff spoke very poor English so we managed to get around due to our previous cruise experience. The entertainment was cheap and too fussy, only the light show in the main theatre was great. The SAMSARA SPA was nice (the interior), a bit crowded, but really liked it. But the pools were just awful. It was cold so they were all closed on the ceiling. The entire interior was yellow and green, full of plastic and linoleum and awfully plastic flowers. Even I am a smoker, I found it really strange you could smoke in a closed pool area. Also there was food served in the area (as well as prepared somewhere close by) so the smell of chloral, grilled food and smoking was not a great pool experience. The outside area of the top decks was as if you were on a ferry - empty blue steel all around and some chairs bucked up. Nothing special and really not appealing to spend your time there. The rooms were great, we had a balcony one and was really happy with it. The food in the main dining room was mediocre, the service was good. I really like trying out new food but there were often moments when I just did not even want to taste what was given on the plate. Not to mention the food in the self service restaurant -- was just like a company cafeteria. As I cruised the Royal Caribbean before, I expected to have a variety of food throughout the day but this was not the case -- you had it at specific hours and if you could not make it, you were to order room service or wait for the next meal. Also, there were no free soft drinks on the boat -- except water, and you could not find it in a lot of places -- guess they are trying to increase the beverage consumption on board. We spoke to some of the bar staff -- they were not happy campers, all coming from third world countries and some of them earning less than 1000 USD per month including tips for all the hard work they do! The ports we visited were ok -- our choice, but would definitely move Bari out of the list. The place we liked the most, in Greece, we stayed really short, only for a couple of hours. All in all, a pretty average cruise experience and if I have not cruised on other companies before, I would be pretty disappointed with cruising and would probably not do it so soon again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
This was my first and last Transatlantic cruise and my last cruise with Princess... While the ship is beautiful and the crew is the best I have ever seen the overall experience was a nightmare, because... 1) There weren't old ... Read More
This was my first and last Transatlantic cruise and my last cruise with Princess... While the ship is beautiful and the crew is the best I have ever seen the overall experience was a nightmare, because... 1) There weren't old people on this cruise, there were old people's parents. While many were nice there were an equal amount that were rude, demanding and obnoxious and it affected my experience. 2) The food was disappointing, a lackluster performance at best. Bland, boring, and obviously geared to the senior sect. 3) Six sea days trapped on a ship with old people sucking any youth I have left. 4) The entertainment on board was plain horrible. We saw two comedians one who clearly got all his jokes off the Internet. The production shows were mediocre at best The one high point was Gareth Oliver from Britain's Got Talent, he was a Ventriloquist a magician a comedian and an overall great entertainer. He was the only one I saw that I would pay to see again. 5) Princess has their own shore excursions, they were all over priced for what you got. Changes to itinerary were made with no notice or offer of compensation. 6) Our cabin was very, very noisy. (R701)Located directly below the Horizon buffet while trying to sleep we could hear the restaurant staff moving carts around as though they were in our room. 7) And the unforgivable sin was they allowed people to smoke cigarettes in the Cigar bar. Cigarettes give off a foul odor due to the chemicals and paper. I'm in there trying to enjoy a $30 Gurkha and the experience was totally ruined, thanks for having your head up your butt Princess! Now if you're 80, you've found a home on the Ruby Princess... Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We have sailed several times - most on NCL. We always select interior cabins because our goal is to spend as little time there as possible. We have been pleased with NCL in the past. In fact, our favorite cruise was a full transit Panama ... Read More
We have sailed several times - most on NCL. We always select interior cabins because our goal is to spend as little time there as possible. We have been pleased with NCL in the past. In fact, our favorite cruise was a full transit Panama Canal cruise in 2009. However, this was our worst cruise ever and fr at least two reasons: Embarkation, ports of call and debarkation were all "okay". Nothing to be blown away by but certainly adequate. Embarked from Venice, visited Malaga, Lisbon and Puerto del Gado. Even the very rough seas during the crossing was acceptable because the captain worked hard to avoid rough seas - unsuccessfully. What disturbed us was that entertainment was very minimal and the quality was very poor. We have never been bored on a ship before this trip and we can no longer say that. I have never played so many games of cards with my wife as we did on this trip! Crew seemed to have too much to do to be bothered with keeping the passengers busy. WAAAAY boring! The other problem was NOTHING was free! Bingo? Costs money. Gambling? Costs money. Ship tour? Costs money. Watch a movie on your stateroom TV? Costs money. Eating? Except for the buffet, main dining rooms and one quick restaurant, most venues cost money. I have a personal aversion to being offered food already paid fr in the tip cost, but having it implied that if I want GOOD food, I need to pay even more. Paying the trip cost is not really the total cost of this cruise. You will be given many more opportunities to pay . . . and pay . . . and pay. Maybe some people welcome that, but we didn't. We made a mistake of purchasing $250 toward a future cruise too early in this cruise. Now I need to decide whether to blow that off or cruise just one more time in Norwegian - then, never again! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
This was purchased this as a 21 day, our 30th cruise-3rd with NCL. We're retired-60 and 61. I'll try to point out the positive and negative to reflect my ratings. Embarkation went smoothly and the ship definitely ... Read More
This was purchased this as a 21 day, our 30th cruise-3rd with NCL. We're retired-60 and 61. I'll try to point out the positive and negative to reflect my ratings. Embarkation went smoothly and the ship definitely has that WOW factor. It is a beautiful, stately vessel but the public rooms were all too small and too crowded. The cabin was tight but the bed was very comfortable and the sheets were crisp and ironed. Fitted sheets would have worked better, the bed was a mess each morning and at times the staff pulled up the comforter, straightened it out and left the disaster underneath. There was ample storage but the closest had those horrible hangers, not the traditional. The two person, very hard sofa, was by the balcony. When it's placed closer to the bath/closet it works far better for nightly dressing. It also presented problems when having cabin service breakfast delivered as the staff had to navigate around the bed carrying a tray in the dark. One of us was always still sleeping. The coffee maker in the cabin ++++, it was used daily. Our cabin steward and his assistant were at the end of their contracts and did as little as possible. I'm sure they were burned out. Only the top sheet got changed once without asking, the place desperately needed a good dusting and we left notes daily for what we needed, ....tissues, coffee, cabin service breakfast menus, ice, clean glasses, change sheets (after 8 days) etc. We finally just stopped by guest services to pick up things and helped ourselves to supplies off the carts in the hall. What ever happened to the days when the cabin steward anticipated your every need? Is this what happens when the tips are automatically added? They never started cleaning the rooms until after 9 and were long gone by 11. You saw them again about 6 and we usually headed out about 7 so I don't know what time they wrapped things up. The room with storage and supplies was just across from our cabin and it was crazy noisy each morning that the crew met up and socialized before staring their day. The gym was nice, great equipment and all in working order but way too small. Even with the huge senior population on board, it was a score to get any machine on sea days and no one paid attention to the 30 minute max if you saw people waiting. The majority of the programs were just a prelude to get you to spend. There was very little offered in the way of free entertainment. Cruise critics people set up a lot of activities but if you didn't participate in these, there was not a great deal to do. We went through 8 books in 21 days and that was with excursions in every port and we sailed with another couple. We paid a boatload of money for this vacation. It wasn't only the cruise, it was airfare, excursions, gratuities, hotel up front, etc. It was the most we've ever paid for one vacation and it was booked as a 21 day. Shame on NCL for all the repeat shows and menus. With almost 800 people staying on board (1/3 of the passengers) to do the crossing, NCL should have been more innovative with the food and entertainment. We were shocked when we saw a repeat performance from a comedienne who delivered the exact same show only the week before. It was not surprising he received some heckling from the audience. We already knew every line and joke. Entertainment doesn't have to be costly, offer some of the movies that you charge for in the staterooms or change up the show. There were 5 duplications and that's unacceptable when it's sold as it was. While we felt the majority of the entertainment was poor, they did have a few outstanding shows over the 21 days, a group of male singers (3X), a Celine Dion tribute singer and a pianist. They also offered on 2 different sea days, a mid-day show performed by the NCL singers. The food was pretty good and always served hot. We only wished they changed up the menu selections more often. The pay restaurants must have been slow because they offered all the people staying on for the crossing along with all Latitude members BOGO except for the Japanese. For the most part, the food in the dining rooms was just as good if not better. The Chinese was good and the French was very good. The meat in the steakhouse was not only not cooked to specifications, it was poor quality and a huge disappointment to everyone at the table. With the exception of Dennis in Magenta, the waitstaff was a bit surly, rarely engaging and more often than not - forgetful. We're just not impressed by those that take your order without writing it down. We never sent anything back nor re-ordered what they forgot, they had attitude enough. The freestyle dining does not work here or or any ship we've tried it on so far. Unless you make a reservation, be prepared to wait from minutes - up to an hour on some nights. The bonus was if you did have to wait, the bar offered 2 for 1 drinks but it did not include wine. We loved our shore excursions to Delos/Mykonos and Fatima/Lisbon. The rest were a costly disappointment but we chose them. Probably the most exciting part of the vacation was the crazy nor'easter we encountered and sailed through for nearly 2 days. While it was AMAZING, I heard quite a few people got hurt. We're in good shape and we knew enough NOT to venture out of the cabin at the peak of the storm by just looking out the window. The huge waves slammed the ship as it listed deeply from side to side. Thankfully, we do not get seasick...ever. At one point our bed slipped, the nightstand tipped and everything that wasn't secured went flying. We could hear the carts in the hall crashing over and later saw slot machines in Bliss that toppled. The captain came on regularly updating conditions and the cruise director kept in touch as well. They upped staff for cabin service delivery having to close the buffet and let everyone know that it was safest not to wander about. Suffice to say, I don't think we'll be sailing with NCL again any time soon. We're booked on the Oasis in 3 weeks and a back-to-back on the Nieuw Amsterdam in January so we are not loyal to any line. We live by the code...the more you offer us, the more often you'll get our money. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2009
We were the last to arrive on the ship as our flight which was inclusive did not get into Verona until late. Checking in was chaotic. The cabin we were given was very clean and a nice size. We found the food lacking in imagination and ... Read More
We were the last to arrive on the ship as our flight which was inclusive did not get into Verona until late. Checking in was chaotic. The cabin we were given was very clean and a nice size. We found the food lacking in imagination and were given very small portions. If we wanted water we had to pay for it. Tea and coffee was not offered. Only time we could get these was during the day at the restaurant by the pool. The shore excursions were planned for the majority of the passengers who were Germans. After much complaints we finally got an English speaker on the excursions. The shows were OK. The shops on board were expensive and service was hard to get. Internet was not working during the voyage and calling out was extremely expensive. If you bought alcohol from the shop it was put away until you were ready to leave. The crew was upset when we wanted to give the tips ourselves as they wanted to deduct it from the bill. Again it was messy business. Checking out was chaotic in the extreme and we were dropped off at the airport eight hours before our flight was due to leave. With hardly any seats and two cafes it became an exercise in patience and endurance. Will never use them again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
We are a Brazilian couple ,mid 50', restaurant owners in Rio who loved to work and sail. This sail with MSC Musica ,Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro november 08) was ours 26th cruise , the first and the last with that company . ... Read More
We are a Brazilian couple ,mid 50', restaurant owners in Rio who loved to work and sail. This sail with MSC Musica ,Transatlantic (Venice-Rio de Janeiro november 08) was ours 26th cruise , the first and the last with that company . Since Rio is a bit far from Europe we normally traveled some days before to have a car looking for scenic drive to the ports we will sail , so this time we came from Munich and drove to Sirmione ,Italy and then San Casciano in Tuscany for 6 days trip trough these beautiful parts of Italy. On the last day we drove from San Casciano to Venice ,2,5 hours drive , We arrived on the day before in Mestre (beside Venice) at Novotel(EU$95) Mestre is less than 7 miles from Venice, returned the car easily near the port at Piazza Roma . Embarkation- i never forgot a maxim I've heard " you never had a second chance to cause a first impression " and embarkation was CHAOS . We arrived 11,30hs and there was thousands of people waiting on huge unorganized lines , checking was suppose to start at 13,00hs,then we decided to leave ours hand luggage on a locker at the pier and return to Venice to enjoy of this marvelous city ,Venice. We return at 16,00hs and waited another half hour on line, and we heard the history of people fainting , carnal foughts, the worst checking we ve ever seen ,every guest we`ve met was horrified with that poor service. Ship and cabin- No one took us to our cabin , our cabin was on the very best of the stern ,small and dirt balcony ,average bathroom size , small and few wardrobes, outworn carpets, and chairs , shampoo and soap , no conditioner , no moisture cream. robes were available good ones, 20`LCD Tv, and a mini bar, decor was not bad . The ship does not have a nice atrium , only 3 floors high ,with a piano on the middle , stores were little and unfriendly (no refunds , no exchanges). 2 pools (salt water) was ok ,with 4 dirty jacuzzis , small area for mini golf ,sports, excellent chairs with shades for faces, but again you had to wake up early in order to reserve your chair ,specially when you travelled with German people . Ridiculous Gym academy , 6 trades mills for a 3600 passenger ship !2 bicycles , but a big saloon for paying activities , small audience for that, no sauna unless you pay a us$ 30 a day for use the spa facility , sauna , Turkish bath , and 2 small private jacuzzis . Theater was ok , not the shows ! restaurants was nice , 2 different decors , there were 2 specials restaurants us$ 30 cover charge pp, one Chinese always empty , and another "Italian" on the same place of the buffet is served on lunch !always empty too. some "nothing specials lounges" and thats it , not too many places to go or stay , minimum library, minimum cigar room ,12 computers for internet , small casino and a very classic decoration , which you will forget on the next day you will disembark, the common areas were well maintained . Service- As i said no one took us to cabin on embarkation, than on the very first day in the dining room the waiter and his helper did not salute us , not even a good evening ! then we decided to change table , a better waiter helped us during the cruise , we ve heard that more than 50 waiters embarked with us in Venice , and the cruise director and others managers embarked in the next day ,since the old ones quit ! The day we ate at the special restaurant we ve waited 3 hours to be served , there was only 2 tables to be served ! ours room steward need 4 days to understand that we wanted ice in the room ,more hangers , and more blankets , after that she only forgot small details as soaps, towels etc. we had to call twice reception for help with her . Reception desk was ok depending who attends you , lotto for a nice person to help you. I wrote a letter for Mr Franco a food and beverage manager and got no answer, although the Maitre D´assure he received the letter , so this was service. Food and Beverage- Would you believe they prohibited waiters to serve water on the tables!!!! in order to sell mineral water , I've never saw a small attitude like that in any ship we've sailed , people were offended with this. Breakfast was the same , bread , eggs, omelettes ,cold cuts, fresh fruit (good), but no salmon , milk and coffee needed to be served by waiters, I've heard people complaining about the milk quality . lunch in the main restaurant was less worst than in buffet , 3 salads plus tomatoes , lettuce and carrots thats it, sometime some cucumber. hanburgers and hot dog fries,and some hot stews, everything second class quality . dinner was better although rarely beef or a steak , everyday they said you can have salmon , chicken or beef , made me laugh when we ordered beef , it was like a"carpaccio" so thin it was , no comments. bread and butter was the best part , desserts and ice creams were surprisingly good . There was also a midnight buffet , we only attended the chocolate one , it was good , also they served tea , with 2 kinds of sandwiches ,and some sweets, no tea available during the day . also room service was charged and with small selection too. Ports- Were ok , Bari, Tenerife, Malta, Funchal, Malaga, Recife, Salvador we did not took any excursions since we ve been before to those places , excursion were an average of us$ 130 ! Shows and entertainment- No live orchestra , only play back ! , same show always ,6 females dancers and 4 mens , 45´minutes shows, second sitting shows at 23,30hs . No live band on pool although weather was fine, plenty of live music on board in internal areas , good brazilians musicians playing. Entertainment were led by a transvestite looking boy would you belive it ? Kids games on pool ! some stretching classes and dancing lessons too. There was a huge Screen showing only MSC ads ! instead of films and shows . Also you have too pay to watch movies on your cabin , during the 5 days transatlantic crossing we had nothing to watch on tv except companies ads, not even music ! Disembarkation- It was surprisingly good , no cues ,we easy found ours luggage, on time too . Conclusion- If you have ever sailed with Celebrity,Royal Caribbean, holland or Princess and also Carnival you will be extremely disappointed with MSC , although theirs prices are almost the same , don't go , but if you are a first timer and had no point of comparison ,than you will not probably notice those points I've mentioned and could enjoy more than we did. For us never more MSC. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
The ship is absolutely beautiful. The public rooms are simply and tastefully furnished, sleek and very stylish. There are a number of delightful bars and lounges throughout the ship, some bars have music; others offer peace and quiet. ... Read More
The ship is absolutely beautiful. The public rooms are simply and tastefully furnished, sleek and very stylish. There are a number of delightful bars and lounges throughout the ship, some bars have music; others offer peace and quiet. There are a few shops, but the choice of the merchandise is poor and expensive. There are two main restaurants and two á-la-carte restaurants. There is a large theatre on two levels. The seats are spacious and comfortable and wherever you choose to sit the view is good. The Musica is a dream to travel in - there is hardly any motion as she glides effortlessly through the ocean. Health/Safety/Hygiene - this area concerned me greatly - the safety drill was a nonsense and did not appear to me to be taken seriously. The event was planned half an hour before the first sitting dinner on the second day. Several guests left before the drill was finished, no doubt to get ready for dinner. Others appeared to be falling asleep whilst the drill was conducted in 6 languages and others just chattered amongst themselves. I dread to think of what chaos and mayhem there would have been in the eventuality of a real emergency. There was a big outbreak of a chesty type flu on board, passengers were going down with it from quite early in the cruise. This was a particularly nasty bug, both myself and my husband were affected by it in the last few days if the cruise and two weeks on we still both have it. The speed this virus went around really opened my eyes to the importance of hygiene standards. To help reduce the spread of viruses and infection I think that there could have been better use of hand sanitizers. The ship was equipped with hand sanitizers, but not enough of them. For instance they were not located at every entrance to the restaurants. We have been on other ships where it has been obligatory to use the hand sanitizers on entering the ship from port and entering any eating area. It is my feeling that MSC were only paying lip service to any ruling that states that they must provide hand sanitizing units. Dining - this was without doubt my biggest disappointment. The food was the worst I had encountered on any cruise ship. I was not looking for haute cuisine or fine dining just good Italian tucker, similar to what we had previously experienced on the Opera and Lirica. The food style on the Musica is not Italian; it was a multi cultural mish-mash - one night Oriental, another Spanish, another Mexican and so on all intermixed in a European fusion, for instance one night a choice was sweet and sour pork served with mashed potato. Meat was generally tough, on one occasion the waiter asked why I had not eaten the pork,I told him it was too tough and he said that I should have killed the pig first! Another time the waiter agreed with us that the steak was only fit for shoe leather. Generally speaking the food was not cooked well, it was always served tepid and with a total lack of presentation. The only thing that made going to dinner worth while was our delightful table companions who always seemed to make us laugh, usually about the food. I still have the picture in my mind of an escargot starter, it was unimaginatively called escargot in pastry and when it arrived at looked like a Cornish Pasty, only instead of the meat filling it had two lonely snails tucked in the pastry. The service in the restaurant was also poor, although there were a few waiters who were worth their weight in gold. We found one Romanian waiter who was great and we aimed to get a table in his area for lunch and breakfast when ever we could. A vast number of the waiting staff were new with little or no silver service experience. We were also told that some of the chefs were new - this may explain the poor food but does not excuse it. The food in the buffet was just ok in as much that you could help yourself to exactly what you wanted, but it was always cold by the time you got it back to your table. The buffet was always busy and generally a complete bun-fight. We did not try any of the á-la-carte dining options, feeling that if the food was in general poor was it going to be any better if we paid $30 a head extra for it? Activities & Entertainment - The entertainment team worked very hard organizing stretching exercises, aerobics and various games and demonstrations throughout the day. In the evenings there was plenty going on to cater for all musical tastes ranging from classical to rock. There were also a number of fun events, Miss Musica, a Grease evening, tropical parties on deck, etc. The shows in the theatre were not to my personal taste but a lot of people that I spoke to really enjoyed them. Excursions - There is an excursions office on board where you can book tours. The staff have very little knowledge about the tours or the destinations that you are about to visit. On the whole the excursions were very expensive, especially in the Europe. We were familiar with most of the European ports and were happy to do our own thing. Some destinations had a hop-on hop-off bus: we always find that these tourist buses are a good way of familiarizing yourself with a new area. They often go to the same places as the excursion bus and are a fraction of the price. The South American ports were new territory to us and we felt that we would be safer to go on the organized tour. We booked half days trips for Recife, Salvador and full day trips for Rio and Sao Paulo. The only tour worth doing was the full day in Rio which took in all the main sights (albeit in the pouring rain) - The half day tours in Recife and Salvador were poor value for money. Disembarkation at Santos was embarkation in reverse - complete mayhem. We had to vacate our cabins at 7am. At 11am we were still waiting in one of the ships lounges to be allowed off the ship. By 11.30am we were pushing and shoving with everyone else to find our luggage, there were people trying to get from one end of the baggage hall to the other, all going in different directions struggling with cases (no trolleys). As our flight to London was not until 18.15 we had decided that it would be a good idea to book a full day Sao Paulo City tour with lunch which would terminate at Sao Paulo airport in time for us to check in for our flight home. The excursion bus did not leave the cruise terminal until almost midday, the guide told us that there would not be enough time for the tour, she would take us to a restaurant for lunch and then straight to the airport. Having paid $75 each for this excursion we will be expecting a refund from MSC. In summary this was a 19 day repositioning cruise starting in Venice and calling in to Bari, Malta, Malaga, Funchal and Tenerife, Recife, Salvador, Rio and finishing in Santos. We were attracted by the interesting itinerary and the 6 day Atlantic crossing. Being a repositioning cruise at a good price we expected there would be some new staff joining the ship but we had no idea that it would be so many (rumor has it that it was 400+) and we did expect them to have had some basic training. It seems that the 19 day cruise was their training. The ship although too big for my own personal taste, is elegant and beautiful and extremely comfortable. The big let down for me was the food and service, which was just not good enough and therefore although the actual cruise was good value for money the food and service spoiled the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Background We are British - husband & wife in our early 60s and quite widely travelled. This was our seventh cruise (previously Nile; Eastern Med; Western Med*; Caribbean/TransAtlantic/Western Med*; Norwegian Fjords*; Australia/New ... Read More
Background We are British - husband & wife in our early 60s and quite widely travelled. This was our seventh cruise (previously Nile; Eastern Med; Western Med*; Caribbean/TransAtlantic/Western Med*; Norwegian Fjords*; Australia/New Zealand). This was our fourth cruise with MSC - the previous ones marked with *. We are members of the MSC Club and the HAL Mariners Club. We have been keen advocates of MSC, particularly liking the beautiful gleaming ships, excellent cabin accommodation and good, honest Italian cuisine with friendly waiters boasting bags of personality. MSC also offer very interesting itineraries and provided you avoid high season - excellent value for money. This was the first time we had tried one of the new mega-sized ships - the Opera & Lirica are both 56K tonnes, carrying up to 1500 guests, whilst the Musica at 89K tonnes carries over 3000 passengers. Prior to our cruise we were a little concerned to read some rather negative reports of this flagship of the MSC fleet, but we had found similar earlier reports of the Opera & Lirica unfounded in our opinion, so we looked forward to the Musica with much optimism. We had booked this November departure in the previous February, so the looking-forward gave much excitement over quite a lengthy period. This was a repositioning cruise, with Musica leaving her familiar Eastern Med surroundings to cross the Atlantic to fulfill a season of Mini-Cruises out of Brazil. Travel to Port & Embarkation The Musica sailed from Venice and MSC arranged flights for many passengers from around the world as part of a package. We flew by British Airways from London Gatwick - a little inconvenient as the return flight would take us back to London Heathrow, so we couldn't leave our car at the airport. However, the flight was on time, reasonably comfortable and there was a prompt and efficient coach transfer to Venice Port, arriving there at noon. This is where the shenanigans started. First Impressions Count: Everyone fully expected their baggage to be transferred directly from the bus to our cabins. Sadly not so - we all had to join a long line to carry our cases to a baggage reception area. Some of us were quite accustomed to queuing in an orderly manner, but not so many of the passengers arriving from countries where 'queue' does not seem to be in the vocabulary. This pushing and shoving and provocation were demeaning and not designed to get our cruise off to a harmonious start. But this 30 minute experience was nothing compared to what was to follow. Embarkation commenced at noon, and when we got to the embarkation hall it was utter chaos. There was no attempt at crowd control or line-ups to the check-in desks - it seemed that 3000 people had all turned up at the same time to enter into a massive rugby scrum! We had done a prior on-line express check-in, as seemingly had 2000 other people, who all massed in an undignified surge to three desks marked Express Check-In/MSC Club/MSC Yacht Club. Disabled Passengers were also directed here. We plan to take my elderly disabled sister on a cruise next year and watching people in wheelchairs get shoved and left in this free-for-all determined me not to risk her with MSC. Apparently, this is not an unusual experience for people joining MSC in Venice. If so, why on earth do MSC not do anything about it? Surely, it would be in their interests to get everybody installed in a happy frame of mind. We have previously embarked with MSC in Genoa, Fort Lauderdale and Copenhagen. Genoa was not great, but Florida and Denmark were fine. One could make derisory remarks about Italian organizational skills - however, MSC clearly has a management problem in its home ports. Eventually, by 4.00 pm we were on-board - battered, bruised and exhausted and the last of our 4 cases arrived by 8 pm; but now we wished to put these bad first impressions behind us, as we were all set for a wonderful 19 days of relaxed cruising, sailing through the Western Med and across the Atlantic to Brazil. Accommodation & Public Areas State Room: We had an outside cabin with balcony on Deck 12, a little aft of mid-ships. It was roomy, reasonably clean (although after a few days we could spot the room boy's short cuts!) and brightly and stylishly decorated. The bathroom was somewhat bijoux, but clean and perfectly adequate for our needs. We were a little surprised to find a threadbare and torn bath towel on arrival and this happened once more on the trip. We were provided with amply-sized bath robes, which were very useful, but never changed. Storage in the cabin was just about adequate for a three-week trip. Similar to previous MSC cruises, we were pleased to have a bowl of fresh fruit in our cabin. This was topped up each day. We felt very little ship-movement throughout the cruise. Sun Deck Public Areas: The Musica is less than two years old and is clearly designed with the same modern, bright image as her smaller forerunners - you can tell at once that they are peas out of the same stylish Italian pod. The pool deck area (Deck 13) is expansive with two pools, 4 Jacuzzis, a stage and two bars. Forward there is a large and attractive spa, whilst aft there is a large self service restaurant / buffet - better described as a cafeteria, and the premium restaurant, which also doubles as an overflow to the cafeteria. There is supposed to be a pizza bar up here as well, but for the three weeks of our trip they must have hidden it! Deck 14 has a walking/running track, children's play area and deck games; whilst Deck 15 comprises a solarium forward, and mini-golf and tennis courts aft. The Entertainment Team take over the stage and part of the sun deck for activities each day. There is a huge video screen forward of the pools, but it never seemed to feature anything but MSC adverts day & night. After 15 minutes you would be able to memorize it all by heart! There are ample sun beds, but with over 3000 passengers on board, the decks were very crowded and noisy. The daily ship-board routine seemed to be that every available bed and table was 'reserved' with towels and various miscellanies by persons unknown before 7.00 a.m. We find such behavior rather tedious and we were pleased to have our own balcony, where we were able to enjoy peace and quiet and privacy in our own space and good time! Interior Public Areas: Decks 5, 6 & 7 house the Reception, Accounting Office, various poorly stocked, unwelcoming and overpriced shops, two formal restaurants, a very large and impressive theatre, a large and moderately used pokey room (casino) and a number of bars and lounges of various sizes and degrees of intimacy. There is a large photo shop and team of photographers. However, we did not always find their hours of business convenient and the quality of work was rather poor, whilst prices were excessive. There is also a large sushi bar, in which we never saw a single customer throughout the cruise. Apart from the theatre and the 3-level reception well, we found the acoustics rather uncomfortable as the various bands, duos, etc did battle with the low ceilings and noisy crowds in an effort to be heard - never mind the quality, hear the cacophony! Attractive design features on Opera & Lirica are the mirrors and bright brass banisters, handrails etc in stairwells, lifts and so-on - always gleaming. Musica boasts these too, but they require constant polishing and it took the best part of a week before there was a consistent shine. Overall though, I found the design features a little on the plastic side and given the large number of passengers, it sometimes felt a little claustrophobic. Communication & On-Board Information Language Skills: MSC's market is very international and from prior experience we know they are quite capable of making themselves understood in a polyglot of languages - Italian, English, German, French and Spanish. On this cruise over half the passengers seemed to be Brazilian, so Portuguese was added to the list of languages. A novelty for us was that we did not come across one American or Canadian throughout the cruise. We established, as the cruise progressed, that some 40% of the 900 crew were, at the insistence of the Brazilian authorities, also Brazilian. Sadly, they all seemed to board Musica for the first time, on the same day that we did. Worse, they were mainly without experience, and very few had any foreign language skills. For instance, the only words of English that the Entertainment director seemed capable of were 'Its show time!' and 'Applowse, Applowse!' Our Cabin Boy was Madagascan and had adequate English skills. Our waiter for dinner was Romanian and made out he understood more than he did. His bus-boy was Indonesian and spoke no English at all. We found another Romanian waiter for breakfast & lunch and he was the one redeeming light in the restaurant. However, his bus-boy was Brazilian and had no language skills and absolutely no prior experience in a restaurant - bless him! As already indicated, the Entertainment director's lack of English made it very difficult to know what to expect in the theatre, or anywhere else where he officiated. Television: Each cabin had a TV, and an information card in our cabin informed us that of about 20 channels, four would be in English. In reality, we had only CNN whilst in Europe and only Fox News in South America. Whilst crossing the Atlantic there was no transmission receivable. We were not tempted to pay US$10.90 to watch a movie, probably with sub-titles! Now, whilst we have the utmost respect for our American cousins, to be served up an exclusive offering of American news was culturally exhausting. To begin with we were pleased to learn that Barack Obama had won the US Presidential Election, but the news covered nothing else - we began to scream! You see, our world view is different to an American world view, and what's more, after the 38th repeat we believe we have got the message! And for three weeks we just had to wonder how the English football teams were doing (note, like the rest of the world, we do not call it soccer!). The TV also had a channel featuring the ship's position and wind speed - but nothing else. Previous MSC equipment on Opera & Lirica also gave sea conditions and weather forecast - very useful, but on Musica we did not know what to expect from one day or one hour to the next. There was a map, but it was very indistinct. Excursion information on TV was limited to a slide presentation with two or three shots of each excursion on offer. There was nothing for people who wished to explore ports of call independently. The Excursions Office (describing itself rather unrealistically as the Travel Agency) put on a slide show in one of the lounges too, but they were unable to impart any valuable Travellers' Information. They also issued a printed summary of excursions and prices. Daily Programme: Each evening a 'Daily Program' was distributed to every cabin outlining the on-board activities for the next day, restaurant times, etc. There were editions in all the main languages. This has exactly the same format as when we first sailed with MSC in 2004. The ship was scheduled to dock at Malaga at 09.00 hrs, so we had made prior arrangements for an important business appointment there for 11.00 hrs. When we returned to our cabin at around midnight before arriving in Malaga, we discovered from the waiting Daily Program that we would be docking at 11.00 hrs! Next morning, once the port authorities had cleared the ship we were first down the gang-plank and raced to the terminal building, eventually finding a cab that would do a local fare and eventually we reached our appointment at midday. This was very embarrassing and somewhat stressful for us. So thank you MSC for giving us no prior warning, thank you for providing no explanation, and thank you for not offering any apology to your passengers. But then we are only the ones who keep you in business, so who are we to think we are entitled to a little respect? Port Information: Also in identical format to previous years is the 'Port Information' hand-out - the content is probably unchanged too. However, whilst previously this was delivered to the cabin, on Musica one has to go to the 'Travel Agency' to pick up a copy. The information varies in quality and quantity, but at least it is better than nothing. We struck a new level of expectation in this respect last year, when cruising with HAL - their Cruise Director gave prior slideshow presentations on each port of call, totally unrelated to excursions; and you could also watch these on TV. So there was no excuse for landing in a port in ignorance. Sadly one cannot say the same on Musica - whilst appreciating of course that it might be difficult to provide this level of service in 6 languages, they could at least provide port maps - we found they did this on Opera & Lirica, but not so on Musica - no doubt they are cost-cutting and forgetting that their guests have joined this cruise to discover these ports and would appreciate any guidance available! What the hell - they've got us on their wretched ship, so why help us enjoy our experience! Promotional Flyers: But they did not cost-cut in promoting the on-board shops and spa facilities - there was a daily wodge of photo-copied sheets promoting 'bargain prices' - these went straight in the bin, because everything was overpriced and we found the 'no returns / no refunds' policy somewhat insulting. We have to say that once upon a time we found MSC shop prices reasonable, but now they promote silly prices - so we were not interested to even have a look - except on one occasion. They advertised duty-free prices 20% below land prices. We are not sure which land this is, but think it must be Lalaland! The prices of goods in Musica's perfumery proved to be 20% more expensive than for identical items in downtown Malaga, and 50% costlier than in tax-free Tenerife! Team Spirit: In the past we have found the problems of multilingual communication admirably managed by MSC, but on this occasion we were very disappointed. We suspect the large number of rookie Brazilians meant that the storehouse of language skills was less, but what we discovered from the very moment of stepping aboard the Musica is that it seems to be a rather unhappy ship. With such a lot of new crew members you can understand that it will take a time for team-spirit to develop, but quite why MSC should take on such a large contingent of new people, without prior training, and just throw them in the deep end is mystifying. It seems that management places little value on their people, nor their customers. Certainly it was evidenced that wherever staff were trying to deal with a problem, senior and middle managers were conspicuous by their absence. Dining & Service Now for most cruisers this is one of the most vital aspects in ensuring a happy time. With Opera & Lirica it had been one of the most enjoyable aspects for us - good fellowship, good food & wine, and good service. On Musica it proved to be difficult to find any good at all. One can perhaps forgive other areas of failure, but when one cannot escape from a crap restaurant for three weeks it does impact on one's overall enjoyment. There are two formal restaurants - Le Maxim on Deck 6 and L'Oleandro on Deck 5. Le Maxim was only open for dinner, so as we were in the L'Oleandro for dinner, we were not able to experience the other one. However, quite a few passengers to whom we spoke said they had transferred from Le Maxim as it was so bad! Prior Request: On our booking form, completed 9 months prior to departure, we specifically requested an English speaking window table for 6 or 8. This was reinforced by our travel agent. In the past, MSC have fulfilled such requests - not so this time! We were on a table for 4 and nowhere near any window. However, the English couple sharing our table were very good company, so we let this go without issue. Consistently the Poorest Cuisine we have ever Encountered: We keep a daily diary when we cruise and reading back, we smile as it repeatedly says - 'Dinner - the worst yet!' For some ridiculous reason, this Italian line, with a tradition of good, honest Italian food, decided it would be a novel idea to have theme nights for the menu. There was French, Moroccan, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Greek, Oriental (offering curry!), Asian (offering oriental!), Mexican, Brazilian and so on. And not one of these selections was in any way authentic and in every case, we agreed that you could get a better meal from the cheapest and nastiest ethnic take-away on land. Sadly, we were not given this choice. But what MSC has always done well in the past is ITALIAN! So what the hell was going on, other than cost-cutting! This was evidenced by the poor quality of food. MSC has never been renowned for its meat, but its fish has always been superb. This time both meat and fish were of very poor quality. Food was, more often than not, served tepid. Ice cream or sorbet, was usually put in front of us in the format of soup! There were never enough vegetables and generally these were over-cooked. Presentation was invariably devoid of any sense of flair or pride. On one memorable occasion, the only time on which steak was on the menu, we all ordered the entrecote. When it came, we each tried a portion from each end of the steak and pushed it away. Our waiter came over and pointed to the sole of his shoe - precisely! We knew we were in trouble when the only thing our waiter could recommend for us for dessert was ice cream. Service: Our waiter did not help matters - to begin with he would simply drop each course in front of us - in the order that it came from the kitchen. The outcome was that one person was eating antipasto, whilst the next was on soup, another was on salad, and another was on pasta - clueless! The only things that came in coordinated order were the main course and the dessert. We would frequently order one serving of cheese between two. Apart from the meagre portions and the sad lack of variety, we would get two small crackers between us. After repeatedly asking for more biscuits we would get a whole pack! Clearly there was little engagement with the brain! Several times we sent food back due to its very poor quality. Our waiter did not seem to care. On a couple of occasions we really told him off, but it was only if we complained to the Maitre D or his Assistant that we saw positive action (until the next day, or latterly, when it got close to tipping time!). On one occasion at breakfast, I ordered 3 courses - cold then hot. The whole lot was served in one go covering half the table. The Brazilian rookie seemed un-phased by my objections. Gladly this did not happen again. At the end of the day, we and our table partners survived the culinary travesty of this cruise by laughing about it - there was nothing else we could do. But like all other passengers, we had not paid to be demeaned in this way. The Silly Saga of Coffee & Water: It was anathema to many of the British & Australian passengers to pay for mineral water at meals, rather than being able to order a jug of water. Having cruised with MSC before, we were aware of this particular penny-pinching and short-sighted approach. Not an issue on this occasion, but on previous MSC cruises with significant contingents of Americans, the failure to provide ice cream free-of-charge was an issue. It seems from observation that MSC are inclined to concede to free offerings in the Caribbean, but in Europe they charge for everything. European rules seem to apply on this Transatlantic crossing. As pensioners we are used to operating to a budget and if MSC want to charge us for water, we simply buy large bottles from a supermarket on land, and decant it to small bottles, which we take to the table. Our countrymen were also up in arms that MSC would charge for coffee to be brought to the table after dinner. We cannot recall this on previous MSC Cruises, but we are uncertain as to what the fuss is all about. It never ceases to amaze us that any MSC ship, with its Italian heritage, fails to produce anything but the finest coffee. But they fail abysmally - they produce a grim concoction in an urn. We call it River Pau Sludge. For the uninitiated, the River Pau rises in the Alps and descends through Turin and collects all the effluent from the industrial cities of Northern Italy, disgorging itself into the sea near Venice. Consequently, the whole of the Northern half of the Adriatic Sea is poisoned and devoid of any marine life. So we would not drink River Pau Sludge if it were offered free, let alone at an additional cost. Rather, we take a travel kettle and small cafetiere with us, along with a packet of freshly ground coffee. We take milk from the cafeteria and buy cream at ports of call and enjoy good coffee (and tea) on our balcony as often as we like! Buffet: We seldom used the buffet/cafeteria on Deck 13, unless we were in a hurry. First, the food soon gets tepid in the serveries, and the options did not appear to change much throughout the cruise. We were not impressed at melamine crockery and wooden straws for stirring coffee/tea. But our main objection was the bun-fight! There was no obvious starting point for joining a queue, no clear directional flow and no attempt at crowd management. Therefore it was a bit like Venice embarkation revisited! We prefer to eat without such chaos. We also like to approach a meal one course at a time - not have to put the whole lot on one plate. But we were amazed at what pigs some people are. It was hard to conceive as to how much food some folk managed to pile onto a single plate, in itself designed for a giant! Service Charges: MSC has a policy of adding a fixed amount per passenger per day, which is added to the bill at the end of the cruise. They then share this among all crew members, both the seen and unseen. The amount in question varies according to the area of operation. The charge is higher in Europe and the Caribbean than elsewhere. This cruise had a South American scale of charge. However, many passengers had an objection based on the fact that as they were not given free coffee and water they would not pay the service charge (or they would deduct the cost of coffee and water from the service charge). We have a somewhat different take on this. We believe that we have already paid the wages of all crew members in the cruise price we have been charged. Therefore a tip or a service charge is for those who have provided exemplary service, above the basics expected for people simply doing their jobs. On this cruise, many staff, due to inexperience or incompetence, failed to get even the basics right. Accordingly, we instructed the Accounting Office not to apply the service charge to our account, as we would tip those, whom we felt merited it, on a personal and individual basis. This was accepted without question. Activities, Hospitality & Entertainment Activities: Weather permitting, various games and activities were organized by the Entertainment Team on Deck. We had both lost a considerable amount of weight through dietary control in the 10 months preceding this cruise. This meant we were much lighter and fitter than we had been for at least a decade. So for the first time ever, we joined the stretching and aerobic sessions each morning and we thoroughly enjoyed them. The youngsters leading this were good and enthusiastic and geared it well for mixed fitness groups ranging from 20 to 70. There was only one criticism - the sessions were so popular that there was inadequate space. We also did a good deal of deck-walking each day. Two complete circuits of Decks 14/15 equates to 1 km. But we had to do this at dawn or dusk, because at any other time there were too many sun beds acting as obstacles. During the day we tended to do our pounding around Deck 7 - the boat deck. Deck Parties: The Entertainment Team also led various games and quizzes - we tended to avoid these as they were generally rather puerile to our preferences. As we left Tenerife the Entertainment Team put on a Ciao, Ciao Europa party on deck - it was reasonably presented and supported, but lacked the color, excitement and vibrancy of other similar events we have enjoyed on MSC. They seemed to lack the props. On our penultimate evening at sea, we crossed the Equator and the Entertainment Team pulled out the stops to hold a King Neptune's Party - the Brazilian passengers in particular supported this well, but so too did a good many others, and we had a wonderful boogie! The next morning King Neptune held his 'Baptism' ceremony - there must have been 500 of us who allowed ourselves to be sequentially dunked in Champagne (very cheap plonk), milk, tomato puree, eggs, whipped cream and flour. We were then exalted to jump in the pool - the biggest bowl of soup you ever saw. Good fun, but it took me three showers to get rid of the entire gunk, and health-wise I never recovered! Spa: We had a couple of experiences in the beautiful Spa. On the first occasion we were offered a Metabolic Analysis - two for the price of one. Given our aforementioned renaissance in health & fitness, we were interested to learn how we could build on the weight loss and fitness gain we have achieved in recent months. In selling us the session the young Czech man said he could give us such guidance. As it turned out he told us that what we needed was detoxification and he tried to sell us all sorts of herbal pills and potions that would help us excrete through the eye of needle. And this would only cost US$581.00 after discount! Well, the dear boy had clearly failed to realize that we had not just got off of the last banana boat! Our other experience in the Spa was in response to the offer of a free Step Aerobic Lesson. Up we trotted and joined a group of about 15 deadly serious women aged from 25 to 45 - and us, husband and wife in our 60s! My wife had not done this for 20 years and I had never attempted step aerobics - we were looking for something fairly gentle. The session was lead by a young ebony Adonis, who would not have looked out of place in the Brazil national football team! Well my wife lasted 10 minutes, whilst I persevered for 35 - not bad I thought in the circumstances. I understand that it was high-impact step aerobics! Theatre Shows: There was a show in the theatre most evenings - two performances, one for each dinner sitting. As the cruise progressed, so the attendance seemed to diminish. Sadly the quality of performance was rather poor - much the feeblest of any cruise we have been on. In fact the best show was the Talent Show - with fellow passengers providing the entertainment. Other Entertainment: In one of the big lounges there were the normal MSC favorites of Mr Musica and Miss Musica - okay if you like that sort of thing, but events that we try and avoid like the plague. There were plenty of bars and lounges with music, but as already stated the acoustics did not enhance enjoyment. By far and away the best show on board was a classical quartet of young ladies under the name of Delicia - and they were! Cocktail Parties: It was rather incongruous that the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party did not take place until the fifth evening of the cruise. But given the huge new staff intake, it probably took all of that time for Capt. Raffaele Pontecorvo to discover who his officers were! Even more bizarre was that he hosted 3000 people in just two events. We were ushered into one of two lounges and were randomly sat among people we didn't know and whose language we did not speak - so social intercourse was somewhat limited. If anyone wanted a photo with the good captain they could queue for their turn to be snapped with him on an attractive staircase. After about an hour of our sipping cocktails, the captain came to the front and uttered a few indecipherable words in various languages, during which about a half-dozen men tripped onto the dance floor, wishing they were somewhere else. These, we took, to be a representative selection of his officers. And by the time he raised a toast, my glass had long since been cleared away by a waiter! And that was it, but then half of the guests in the adjoining lounge would not have seen or heard anything at all. The captain had a good opportunity to reduce the negative feelings caused by the embarkation and the poor service levels, but he failed to say sorry or explain anything. Could it be that he couldn't care a damned? But what depressed us most was that while the captain spoke, few were listening and most seemed to be chatting in the background. This, we felt, was extremely rude and unfair on the captain and his staff. No matter how inept the organizational arrangements and event management, we all have it within our gift to show some politeness and respect. There was a second Captain's Cocktail Party towards the end of the cruise, but we missed this due to sickness. However, from chatting to others it did not seem to be any better than the first event. Did we really spend out all that money for formal attire, only to be treated as cannon fodder? Failure to Value Repeat Customers: Prior to this, chatting to some other passengers, we were told that they had been invited to a Repeaters' Cocktail Party, which they thought strange, as they had never sailed with MSC before. As MSC Club Members, and having been to such events on Lirica, we were fully expecting to be invited to such an event, so we were less than pleased to hear what these passengers had told us. We enquired at Reception and were informed that they did not have a Repeaters' Party at all. Whether or not true, we are very offended that, as such loyal customers of MSC, there was no recognition whatsoever of our patronage - not in the cabin, nor the restaurant or in any other way. Yet on HAL, for instance, we had gifts and flowers and a Repeaters event - they know how important it is to show appreciation - sadly MSC has a very long way to go in understanding good customer relations. Health & Safety Lifeboat Drill: It seemed a little strange that this important procedure was not carried out until late afternoon on the day following departure. Presumably ships don't sink on the first day at sea! It was also surprising that, with over 3,000 passengers and 900 crew members, there were only 5 or 6 muster stations. In the past we have found that mustering is adjacent to your allotted lifeboat and that the formalities are held with a strict concern for attendance and adherence. This was different. Our muster point, along with about 500 other people, was in one of the lounges. Passengers were allowed to saunter in, take a seat of their choosing, and use their own initiative in putting on lifejackets. They then engaged in their own conversations with little regard for what was meant to be happening. The crew members responsible for the drill seemed to be in their own little world - focussed on themselves and looking to each other to see what should be done next. Whilst there were undoubted individuals experienced in these drills, as a team it was clear they had not worked together before and their appeared to be a total lack of leadership. There was an attempt to demonstrate the correct way of putting on a lifejacket, but there was no individual inspection of passengers. Neither was there any role call, so to this day the ship would not know for certain who attended and who did not. There was no guidance given as to how or where to proceed to lifeboats in the event of a real evacuation of the ship. Passengers started to leave the muster station long before any formal instruction was given to do so. Heaven forbid that there was a real emergency - we're most doubtful that it would have been 'women and children first!' Maintaining a Healthy Environment: We were taken aback by the way a nasty wave of a flu-like bug swept through the ship. We contracted this illness ourselves before the cruise had ended. It therefore illustrated to us how exposed people are to sickness in a confined environment such as a cruise ship, and therefore how vital it is take every precaution to prevent infection. Thankfully we were only dealing with the flu, and not something serious and life-threatening such as novo-virus. Whilst a certain number of hand-sanitizers were to be found, these were not situated at every door to every restaurant as one would expect. Nor were they present on boarding the ship at all. Where hand-sanitizers were present the use of them was not mandatory, so people who did not realize the significance could well have been helping to spread the contagion. We do not feel there is any room for a relaxed approach on a ship carrying as many passengers as the Musica. Ship's Doctor: Having eventually caught this bug myself, I was persuaded to go to the ship's doctor, who was doing a roaring trade! In my three-minute consultation with him the only personal question asked of me was my age. He did not ask if I had any allergies, blood pressure or other conditions that might have affected any prescription. I was eventually issued with a cough-linctose and some sachets of a fruit-flavoured analgesic/antipyretic. It was not until I returned to my cabin that I realized that the main constituent was paracetamol, to which I am allergic! It was not until I got home and saw my general practitioner that I was prescribed with an appropriate antibiotic, which has now dealt with the infection. Clearly, I am unhappy with the level of professionalism experienced in using the ship's doctor. Shore Excursions & Disembarkation In Europe we did our own thing, and it is perfectly safe to do so, provided you do not take stupid risks. However, never having been to Brazil before, and having heard too many scare-stories, we erred on the safe side and took ship's excursions there. Recife was filthy, apart from Olinda (the original Portuguese capital up on a hill, with lovely views). We don't know why our tour guide didn't just take us there, rather than trawl through the stinking city from one side to the other to reveal a beach heaving with 70,000 people, and churches and government buildings of no particular remark! In Salvador we also had a tedious tour of slow moving dirty suburbs, when all we needed to do was walk 800 meters to a funicular to take us up the cliff to the charming old city - nothing else worth seeing there. Admittedly, we also passed some nice beaches, but we were not given the opportunity to alight and take a stroll. Rio should have been the highlight of the trip, but it rained all day (our only day of rain in three weeks). At the summits of Sugar Loaf and Corcovado we were in cloud and could see nothing. We drove along Copacabana and Ipanema - world famous beaches with not a soul on them. And two blocks back from the beaches, you would not want to risk walking alone. Weather not with-standing - the tour seemed comprehensive and value-for-money. Our disembarkation was at Santos and as we had all day prior to our flight home we booked the ship's excursion transfer to see something of Sao Paulo en-route. However, whilst we had to clear our cabins by 7.00 a.m. and mustered for the transfer excursion as instructed at 08.45, the port authorities would not allow disembarkation for 3 hours. Then we found we were in a scrum with 3000 other angry, panicking and frustrated passengers to claim our baggage and get through customs, etc. Our coach did not get under way until 12.30 and we only had time for lunch en-route before going to the airport. This is the subject of a claim for refund We flew home on BA - like most airlines they are better on short-haul services than on long. This flight was over 11 hours non-stop and we were in cattle class at the back - awful, awful, awful in every way - this once excellent airline has descended to the depths of 'could not care a damned!' There policy seems to be: treat the punters like dirt, if it's the only way to survive! Summary Embarkation/Disembarkation: Do not join or leave a ship at Venice or Santos - particularly if it is an MSC ship!  Nice Cabin: A balcony is essential on a ship of this size.  Big is not Beautiful: The Musica looks lovely, but you can easily feel lost in the crowd.  Problems of Scale: A ship with over 3000 passengers and 900 crew members needs to be well managed - the captain of the Musica and his senior officers clearly have a lot to do.  Communication: If you are running a business targeted at an international clientele then you need to make sure your media and language skills are up to the job - MSC have proven they can do it on smaller ships - with the Musica they need to up-skill to do so on a big ship.  Dining and Food & Beverage: Is the decline to do with a policy by MSC to go down-market, or is it another example of Musica's management problems? Whatever, a main constituent of a good cruise is to have a great dining experience. We can no longer recommend MSC for this reason alone.  Service: Similarly, this has to be right. With nearly half the crew possibly rookies, Musica has asked for trouble on this cruise.  Activities Team: They did an enthusiastic and entertaining job, although we felt they could do with more support (moral and resources).  Formal Entertainment: A lot of improvement required.  Health & Safety: Musica needs to up its game.  Shops, Photography, Excursions: Generally poor range or quality and over-priced. The 'buy-me' factor was definitely missing.  Valuing Customers: On our fourth MSC cruise we certainly did not feel at all special - we were just two more punters - there is no inducement to want to sail with MSC again. In fact the overall experience was so disappointing that it makes us circumspect about cruising with anyone for such a long period again. Read Less

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