29 July 2006 – 05 August 2006
Venice – Bari – Katakolon – Izmir – Istanbul – Seaday – Dubrovnik – Venice
We are a couple of 46 and 44 years old with our daughter 13 years old. Please excuse me if there are some mistakes in the text but Belgian Dutch is my normal language.
We arrived in Venice with our car around noon and were directed by the guards to a stand of MSC where we could leave our bags (very easy). We then drove our car to the other side of the port where a parking had been reserved through MSC. We paid 60 EUR for leaving our car in this parking place which is guarded 24 hours by camera. After paying you can leave your car at any place which is free and then walk back to the ship (about ten minutes walk).
We then were directed to a big building where there were a lot of people but they were all waiting in chairs and we showed our documents to the stewards of MSC. They sticked a number on our documents and were then directed straight to a counter where we were checked in by a very friendly German MSC representative. This went very smoothly; they take your picture already at this counter. Everyone receives a card that is used for all payments and for entering the ship and your cabin – as I presume most ships now use. Then, unfortunately, you are not able to enter immediately the ship but you have to wait in this building (looks like a hall at an airfield) untill MSC calls the numbers (sticked on your docuemnts) that can enter the ship. The first people to enter the ship were allowed at 1.30 pm so no use to come around 11 am or sooner for those who want to be early on the ship. We were allowed around 2.30 pm to get on board. The inspection of the handluggage and your person is quite thorough there. They take the usual boarding picture of the family and then on the gangway to enter the ship.
MSC Musica. The ship.
The ship is really beautiful. It was built by the same French shipyard that has already built Celebrity’s Millennium class ships and that was a good reference for us as we really liked the 3 Millennium class ships we were on. The only thing that astonished me somewhat is the low ceiling in some areas (especially the corridors). I sometimes had the feeling I had to bend down a little bit. Also in the l’Oleandro restaurant (where we were seated) the ceiling is too low what has an impact on the noise (more later).
We were accompanied by a steward to our cabin 5024 (outside cabin cat. 4 – deck 5). We hoped to receive something to drink but no, no welcoming drink (like Celebrity and probably others do). Our cabin was a nice surprise. The blankets, pillows have really nice colours and really match. The room is spacious and the third bed (for our daughter) was against the side wall. Our beds were put together with the window over it. In the evening the bed is prepared and our daughter’s bed is lowered. My wife mentioned it’s a good way to put her away when she did not behave (lol) . We noticed that the floor (carpet) was not very well cleaned but after a few days (and some extra vacuuming) it looked better but you know first impression…
We then went out to inspect the ship and found it strange that when we were at the restaurant we noticed that we were not allowed to enter (we did not want to eat only to look what it was like). We were informed that the restaurant was only open for those guests who were already on the ship. Venice is the city where most people embark and disembark but also in Bari there is quite a big group that comes onto the ship and also in Istanbul.
We were directed to the buffet restaurant on deck 13 where we could have our lunch. The restaurant is normally open untill 4 pm but we saw several days that it is sometimes open half an hour longer (they only close some counters but others stay open).
The other public rooms are very nice indeed. Compared to Celebrity’s Millennium ships and the Galaxy this Musica can really stand (float) besides them. Pictures say so much more so if you go to the following website you can see and admire all spaces
(Swedish cruiser; thanks for the link)
We really liked the position of our cabin (midship and low). Always a good way to have a stable sleep as the ship has the least movement around these areas. But we had very calm sea all the week so all other cabins will have been OK.
The ship sails quite smoothly. There is only a regular humming and trembling that returns every two seconds which is little bit annoying at the beginning but you get used to it. You feel it the most on the upper decks.
Also the big black smoke from the engines is somewhat strange. Celebrity (with its GTS engines) is much cleaner (but the colour of smoke does not always says what it is of course).
The Casino is a casino as is a normal casino. I must say that there were always very few people hanging out there. We were not allowed in anyway with our daughter (law).
One of the most important items as I understand. Generally speaking I found the food quite good.
Its has not the finesse of Celebrity and also the presentation could be a lot better. Sometimes it looks like the food is smashed on your plate and actually the eye should also have something. Most of the risottos were very good and the pasta was OK. The polenta was bad (we tried it 2 times but it was not acceptable). The soups were very good. The french fries were not good (we are from the country where they have the best french fries – who started calling them French anyway ? ) – our daughter is an expert and she was right. The desserts were OK but again sometimes a lack of presentation. Ice cream very good; What other would you expect from the Italians ?
What a pity that during the day the only ice cream you can get is at the Pool bar and you have to pay for it.
Originally we asked for second seating when we booked this holiday. When we received our card at the check-in counter I noticed that we were put on first seating (7 pm). As I then noticed that the second seating only starts at 9.30 pm I didn’t mind anymore as 9.30 pm would have been too late for our daughter. Also the shows for second seating start at 11.45 pm (only first night at 11.30 pm).
Buffet restaurant Gli Archi:
We were nicely surprised by the quality of this restaurant. OK, the same food comes back every day but the choice is OK (no special baked omelets – only the traditional omelet and baked eggs). The coffee is OK and you can also have chocolate milk or tea. The fruit is very good and fresh and many choices of youghurt and cereals.
The croissants are outstanding.
Fruit juice is the “normal” syrup with water in three tastes.
We found it unacceptable that these machines only work in the morning during breakfast (untill ± 10 am). During the day, if you like to drink something, you can only go to the water/ice machine. These machines are sooooo slowly, so most of the time this means standing in line for several minutes. Coffee/tea is also possible. All other drinks have to be paid for supplementary.
For lunch you can have the usual hamburgers, pizza and several other dishes. Good quality. Not wooow but OK.
Kaito Sushi bar:
We did not use this restaurant but our tablefriends tried it one day with lunch and said it was very good. You have to pay extra for this.
Same food as the l’Oleandra restaurant.
We did not use this restaurant in the evening.
This is the most aft part of the buffet restaurant on deck 13. I suppose it also has the same food as the other two.
The theatre is astonishing. What a beautiful big space on a ship. Place enough for everyone. Unfortunately no tables so you cannot have a drink at the theatre. We really liked the shows and also our daughter. The shows look alike like those we had on Celebrity but then without a real music band. Professional dancers, a magician who had much success because he failed in some tricks, an opera singer (if you like it), three chinese acrobates (outstanding). The cruise director is Ketty Tacerbi. She speaks 5 languages so all Italian information is all the time translated into English, German, Spanish and French.
The shows are:
Day 1: Fantasy – Wellcome show
Day 2: Just magic Jorgos – Magician
Day 3: Bizarre – French dance show
Day 4: Le cirque imaginaire – Circus show
Day 5: Enrico Scotto and friends – Opera and songs
Day 6: Celtic Spirit – Dance and acrobates
Day 7: Farewell variety – General show
As mentioned before:
First seating shows start at 9.30 pm
Second seating shows start at 11.45 pm
We liked the most the four singers of Los Paraguayos. Very good performances of these 4 singers/musicians from Paraguay who will remain on the ship untill November.
Guests on board
This is the most important issue what you should know. As MSC is an Italian cruise company and Musica starts in Italy (Venice and Bari) you can imagine that I think about 80% of the people on board are Italians. You also should know that our cruise was in mid holiday season and that children up to 17 years old can cruise for free with their parents in the same cabin. Can you imagine what this was like on board ! The ship normally has 3000 people on board and about 1000 crew members. I think we were nearly 4000 guests on board. So many children. Also the Italians seem to cruise with their whole family (groups of 20 – 30 people). As they sometimes sit on different tables, with other tables (like ours) in between, they have no problem in “shouting” to each other. The noise in the restaurant is really disturbing (also because of the low ceiling). If you expect to have a nice (romantic) quiet dinner … forget it. It sometimes looks like a theatre on its own when you see some of the mamas shouting at their children; one slapping against his ears when they are not listening, and so on. If you would like to have a calm swim at the pool you can expect one of the children to plunge right next to your ear. The water of the pool, that is renewed every day, looks clear in the morning but at the end of the day you can not see your legs anymore .
Now I must say that we really expected this kind of noise and quantity of people but nevertheless we were sometimes very surprised. One day I even started to shout just as loud as them to my wife (who was sitting only 3 feet away from me) and suddenly all Italian people around us looked very strange asking themselves why I was talking so loud (we are still joking about it now lol).
Probably once when school starts again it will be much calmer on this ship but there will always be more Italians on board so you are warned.
Some more things about the Italians later (Dubrovnik).
What a big difference with Celebrity. Although many of the nationalities of the servants on board are of the same countries as Celebrity (Indonesia, India, Eastern Europe…) these people are absolutely not as open as on the Celebrity ships. They are working under much more stress. It is difficult to get a laugh or to have a talk with them. We found out that this is absolutely because there are so many Italians on board who hardly speak English. When you start yourself a conversation and they find out that you speak English they suddenly change and become much more friendly. Nevertheless they can hardly follow cleaning all the mess that the guests make (sometimes we ate at a table that was only cleaned after we were sitting there for 5 minutes – other times they take away the plate under your nose even when you have not yet finished).
Every day the daily program is brought into your room and at the reception you find a special paper about the port what there is to see (is very nice but a small map with it, would be great).
The ship leaves at 4 pm.
What to say about Venice. I think it was the fifth time that we were in Venice. You must have seen it. A beautiful city and even more beautiful when the ship leaves port and you can watch it from as high as deck 15.
I think we had all pigeons from this city already sitting on our hands and head.
Dress code: Casual
We arrived around 10 am. Poor town.
We got off the ship, walked out of the port and then turned left. Walked for about ten minutes along the shore (see the local people beating the octopusses ?). Then crossed the street and walk into the old town. We visited the Basilika San Nicola and another old building a little bit further into town (I forgot the name). We then walked back to the ship and saw some local people making small noodles – This was really old Italy. Shops are closed because it is Sunday.
Departure at 2 pm.
We then had the drill at 4 pm (first time I had the drill the second day on board but this is because of the many people embarking at Bari).
Dress code: Informal
Arrived at 8 am (I did not feel the ship arriving into port; it went very smoothly).
We had lovely breakfast at the rear of the ship (there are only about 6 tables available, so you should be lucky).
Many people took the excursion (or a taxi) to Olympia. We choose to visit the small Katakolon town (1 long street with nice shops at both sides) – it is very close to the ship; only 5 minutes walk. I would have liked to go to Olympia but my female companions preferred to stay close to the ship (we have seen stones enough they always say ).
Departure at 1 pm.
In the evening we had the Wellcome Gala Cocktail. Captain Ferdinando Ponti invites everyone for some drinks in one of the bars. If you like you can have a picture taken of yourself with the captain or you can pass the queueing line. The bar was really overcrowded and when the captain said some words (we could barely understand what he was saying) there was as always too much noise.
Dress code: Formal
Arrived at 9 am. Beautiful big town. Shopping day !
As we had already visited Ephese before (if you haven’t yet you really should visit this) we decided to stay in the town and do some shopping. There are more than 6000 shops at the bazaar. We took a taxi from the port to the bazaar (10 EUR). Takes about 10 minutes. We saw some people walk to the bazaar but that is really far and too hot. After the shopping we had a drink at the bazaar and returned by taxi (again 10 EUR).
Departure at 3 pm.
Dress code: Casual
After dinner (around 10.30 pm) go to the upper decks. The ship then enters the Dardanel street (narrow – very nice to see all the lights so close to the ship).
Arrived at 7.30 am. One of the most beautiful cities I ever saw.
The ship is docked in the middle of this huge city with over 15 million people living there.
The taxis are waiting just at the port but when they hear that you are not interested in a tour they send you a little bit further to some other taxis that are willing to take you into town. Price is 10 EUR.
Our table friends took the tram that is driving right out of the port (only a few minutes walk) and found it very easy to use and cheap. Also the Turkish people are really very friendly and always willing to help you. The shopowners are not aggressive in any way.
We asked the taxi driver to bring us to the Blue Mosque. We first visited the Mosque (long pants required and you have to take off your shoes). Free entrance.
The Aya Sophia (now a museum) is only across the park. 10 EUR entrance. The mosaics are nice to see (you have to take the steps up).
When you leave the Aya Sophia turn to the left around the corner and then about 5 minutes walking you have the entrance of the Topkapi palace. 10 EUR entrance. A beautiful place loaded with tourists.
Many people (as we) were queuing to see the biggest diamond of the world and the dagger of the Topkapi movie.
Time flies in these beautiful buildings.
We wanted to have a look at the big bazaar (about 20 minutes walking distance from Topkapi) but we only got to the first shop where we found what we were looking for.
We asked the shopowner to arrange a taxi for us. He said we should pay about 5 EUR with the taxi meter on. Indeed, when we were back in port (and we had to wait in some streets for a few minutes) we had to pay around 6 EUR (instead of the 10 in the morning). So ask the driver also in the morning to use the meter (it’s the law – as I read in another CC review of Istanbul).
Departure at 4 pm.
The departure is lovely with a beatiful view on the bridge over the Bosphorus (the “connection” between Europe and Asia).
Dress code: Casual
At 00.30 am there was some animation by Silio’s Junior Band “Music under the stars” at the pool. This was the worst band I’ve ever heard. They plaid loud and out of key.
As there were so many people on board you can imagine what it was like to get a chair. Already quite early in the morning you saw the orange towels hanging everywhere on the chairs. It is the policy of MSC that you can not reserve a deck chair but who cares and what does MSC do about it… nothing. We found some empty chairs (very good quality with a nice shade for the head) and put them under the stairs from deck 14 to 15 and were nice in the shade.
The pool was all the time completely full (swimming in a row … lol) and the 4 small jacuzzis, where normally maximum 5 people can fit in, were all the time full with sometimes 10 people in it. Hardly any pool attendant did something.
Dress code: Formal
At 0.30 am big buffet on the pool deck with music. Nice to see but we had no more appetite.
Arrived at 9 am. Who was also in port ? Celebrity with Millennium.
As we had visited Dubrovnik before (when we were there with Millennium) we decided the most wise suggestion. Stay on the ship. And afterwards, this was our best idea of the whole cruise.
As Musica could not dock the people had to tender to visit Dubrovnik. Those who wanted to get off with the tender boats had to stand in line the day before (on the sea day) to get a ticket for the tender boat at the pool. (it was a long line !).
Then everybody with a ticket had to wait at the theatre from 9 am and wait for the announcer to call their number to go to the tender boats. I am not sure how many tender boats they lowered (I think it was 3 or 4). Can you imagine about 3000 people want to get off the ship with 3/4 tender boats ? Some people had to wait at the theatre from 9 am till 11 am before they could join a tender.
We also thought it was not correct of MSC to ask 6 EUR per person and 3 EUR for a child for a bus ride from the Gruz port to Dubrovnik. Celebrity did this for free.
The buses were the next problem (as we have been told later by our table friends). There were absolutely not enough buses for all these people. Our table friends arrived in Dubrovnik at 12.45 am and as they saw the long line already waiting to go back, they decided to stay for only half an hour and started their return for the ship at 1.15 pm.
This is where the Italians showed themselves as being the best in rudeness. As there were too few buses , temperatures were high and a lot of children crying, everybody was pushing and nearly fighting to get on a bus. At a moment one Italian man at the door of a bus very loudly said in English “This bus is only for Italians, no one else can get on it”. Can you imagine what this meant for all the other people waiting for the buses . It really came very close to a big fight. MSC should absolutely do something about this bus problem (they simply should book more buses). Later we heard that Celebrity had several buses driving all the time and most of the time the buses were even half full. They simply left because in the meantime another bus arrived. Organisation, that’s it.
Can you imagine how happy we were at the ship. We had the pool all for ourselves (well we were with 8 or 10 people all together at the pool (s). The jacuzzi was all for us. Heaven.
I decided to walk around the ship and made some nice pictures of all the spaces that were as good as empty.
Later on we heard several people complaining about what happened at Dubrovnik and several people decided to write complaint letters and asking for a refund of the Dubrovnik costs.
Departure at 3.30 pm (last tender left at 3 pm).
Dress code for the last meal: Casual.
Suitcases in front of the door before midnight.
The ship entered Venice around 8 am and docked in port at 8.30 am. In the daily newspaper it is asked to leave the cabin at 7.30 am. We found this very early to walk around with hand luggage so we asked our cabin steward (Dennis, great guy) if we could use our stateroom a little longer. Of course he answered with a smile. So we left our things in the cabin and went for breakfast at 8.30. Disembarkation started at 9 am and after breakfast and picking up our things in our room we headed for the theatre where lots of people were already waiting more than an hour for the cruise director to announce which colour (you are assigned with a colourtag for your luggage – depending on when you have your flight, train, …) could disembark. At 10 am our colour was announced, we walked over the gangway to the big hall, found immediately our luggage, no customs control, out of the hall after 5 minutes, picked up our car and at 10.15 we were on our way back home.
Some things to know:
You can buy a wine package (at the restaurant or wherever).
You have the possibility to buy a wine package which is quite interesting.
Prestige is 119 EUR (instead of 148,8 EUR). 5 selected wines and 7 bottles of mineral water at the table.
Superior is 109 EUR (instead of 136,80 EUR). 7 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of mineral water.
Classic is 69 EUR (instead of 85,80 EUR). 4 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of mineral water.
If you can't finish your wine, no problem, just leave it standing, it will be on your table the next day.
A Junior card (for the children) 25 EUR (instead of 33,50 EUR): 5 soft drinks and 5 cocktails without alcohol
A honeymooners card 48 EUR instead of 63 EUR: 2 cocktails in souvenir glass, 6 virgin delights and a bottle of sparkling wine Asti.
Hot Coffee delights (Italian Coffee, French Coffee, Mexican Coffee…) 5,20 EUR. Every day there is a "coffee of the day" for 4 EUR. They were great !
Cold Coffee refreshers 2,70 EUR
Shaken Iced Tea, 1,60 EUR
Total length of corridors: ca. 8 km.
Children clubs: 3 – 9 years ; 10 – 13 years ; 14 – 17 years.
Jogging track: Forget it or you should be great in the hurdle.
Animation team: great bunch of guys. Especially the jokes in the theatre were a good laugh. Just beware.
Towels: No towels around the pool. The orange towels are in the stateroom.
Television in the stateroom: A nice flatscreen of 17” with BBC World, CNN, several Italian, German, French programs and some movies. I missed the possibility of checking your bill on this screen and the room service possibilities as Celebrity had.
Midnight snacks: Around 00.30 am waiters walk around with snacks in all lounges.
Beauty farm: Only visited the rooms and spaces. Very nice but as mostly on all ships way too expensive compared with land prices.
L’Oleandro restaurant: 7.30 – 9.30
Gli Archi (buffet): 6.30 – 10.00
Le Maxim: 12.00 – 1.30
L’Oleandro: 1.30 – 2.30
Gli Archi: 0.30 – 4.00
With Grill and Pizzeria
L’Oleandro, Le Maxim and Il Giardino
1 seating: 7.00 - 9.00
2 seating: 9.30 – 11.30
Clock is changed 2 times: 1 hour ahead when you arrive in Katakolon. 1 hour back after leaving Istanbul.
Tips: MSC charges automatically 6 EUR/person/day and 3 EUR for a child on your on board account. However if you like you can ask specifically at the accountancy desk to change this system and pay directly to the people you know without charging your account or not to pay anything if you were not well served.
Big screen at the pool: I had hoped they would play a movie “under the stars” or during the day show some clips or whatever about the ship. No way, you only see images, there is no sound connected (video clips without music, no thanks). The only time the screen is used is when there are some games around the pools and they show details of some building/person pictures and you have to guess what or who it is. So much for this investment. I heard that it has been used during the soccer world cup to show the games of the Italian team. Now that’s a good purpose, but we could easily have missed it. It looks more like a prestige thing.
Dress code: Is not strictly followed at all. It is asked in the daily papers what to wear but many of the people don't even bother and come to dinner in jeans all days, open shirts...
The first day we asked if the bed light of our daughter (against the ceiling) could be repaired. As we left the ship still nothing had happened about this.
Musica is a beautiful big ship, in general well thought of and beautifully decorated. I think that when you can travel on this ship out of the holiday season (not so many children on board) and the people on board are not so stressed you will have a lovely holiday. We wanted to try something else then Celebrity and we had a good price deal (because of the children for free) but our favourite remains undoubtfully Celebrity (even when the price is higher).
Hope you liked the info. If you have any questions and I am able to answer, let me hear it.