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Belliniginfizz

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  1. We went on the Meraviglia a few months ago so can answer some of your questions. My children had no interest in the kids club, so I can’t help with those questions (although I know they don’t ask for immunisation records). For the other questions I can answer: 3. There are kids menus on the dining room - they change daily, although they tend to rotate the same options. Usual things like burger, pizza, pasta etc. There were a couple of options always available such as minute steak and chicken breast. 4. The buffet and main restaurants are the only free venues - there is a snack bar near the pool which has some breakfast options and burgers etc at lunch. 6. There are no age restrictions on the slides/ high ropes, it is all done by height. From memory most of the slides were about 106cm, apart from the bowl slide which was 122cm. The high ropes was also 122cm. 7. If the drink is not included in the drinks package you pay the full price, not the difference. You can however buy a mocktail (for example mojito zero/ zero daiquiri) and shot of rum which are both in the easy package to make your frozen drinks. We upgraded to premium drinks for more choice, but we saw people do this. Hope this helps - we loved our time on the Meraviglia!
  2. So, I’m not going into much detail about ports as there is a separate forum, but there is some info which is relevant to MSC! All ports except Tallinn are docked too far to walk into from where the ship docks. At Tallinn, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Kiel MSC put on shuttles for a cost. Personally I think they over estimated (exaggerated?) travel times in their literature, which the cynic in me thought this was to encourage people to use their shuttles! Copenhagen is not 30 mins from the port, nor is Tallinn 20 mins (we walked it in that). Thanks to Cruise Critic I researched extensively and saved well over £100 by not using their shuttles - for 5 of us, Copenhagen alone would’ve cost over €60 return. I’d like to say we saved that money, but it didn’t last long in Tivoli with 3 children! In both Copenhagen and Helsinki we walked the short distance to the bus stop, bought all day travel cards which covered buses/metro/ some boats for €8 an adult. Both cities have an app for tickets or machines/ pay on board. As mentioned we walked into Tallinn and back. At St Petersburg we had booked a fab small group tour with SPB tours at less than an MSC one. I was expecting we would be held on the ship until the MSC tours had gone but this wasn’t the case. We walked off the ship at 7.45 and through immigration by 8am.
  3. Ok, so next instalment! ”Give us your money” (or not as it appears: Once again negative reviews made me think I wouldn’t be able to walk between bars without being hassled to spend money on drinks/ dining packages and photos etc. We were asked about drinks packages within minutes of boarding and that was it. My plan was to leave with no expenses apart from gratuities, but failed a little - but only because we went to the teppanyaki which was definitely worth it, had one ice cream each and let the kids spend some of their money in the MSC shop . Note to self - in future pay tips in advance it’s cheaper. That was my plan but when the pound tanked against the Euro a week or so before boarding (stupid British politics!), I optimistically hoped the exchange rate would recover. Customer service - again, don’t believe everything you read! There was not a 3 mile queue at customer service 24 hours a day! It was manic the first evening (I popped down to chase up my sons bag with all his favourite toys in which hadn’t arrived 5 hours after the rest), but other than that there were only ever a handful of people there. Even when we had to sort out our bill on the last night as it had Cirque tickets on we didn’t order, it was quick and painless. Ok, one more instalment I think with a whistle stop tour of Baltic ports and the most depressing of all.... disembarkation (which is only depressing because I didn’t want to leave!)
  4. Thanks for mentioning that @Beamafar - I don’t think I could justify premium if the cost was the sake as in the US. Having said that, from what I’ve read on here, the Easy package is slightly more comprehensive in the US than Europe, so it’s more attractive - it actually includes I think one or two cocktails including Long Island Iced Teas which I love (and no, MSC I do not class a G&T or Rum and coke as cocktails, they are spirits with mixers!). Why MSC don’t offer the same drinks included in packages at the same cost in different areas is beyond me. However, we would then have less to talk about on this forum!
  5. Drinks packages - I must’ve spent weeks researching and deciding about whether to have the Easy or Premium drinks package. I’m a cocktail and Prosecco drinker and my husband beer and wine, so we eventually opted for Premium. The difference in price was about a cocktail a day, so worth it to get a more extensive selection of drinks. Plus, we spent a lot of evenings in the relaxed Champagne bar, which had Prosecco cocktails included in the Premium package and no drinks at all included in Easy. So I was perfectly happy working my way through the cocktail menu with Prosecco at dinner, however my husband was less than happy with the wines. Compared to our Magnifica trip (where we had Allegrissimo package) he said the quality of wines was pretty poor - even those towards €10. Plus, there was a bit of an issue on availability - by the second half of the week the dining room had run out of the Chablis and by day 7, my husband was on his third choice of wine. However, this does link into my story of excellent MSC customer service! On about day 3(may have even been day 2) they had ‘run out’ of the 4 sparkling wines included in premium at the champagne bar. Talking to the lovely servers there, we got the impression that this wasn’t unusual. So whilst I enjoyed a Prosecco cocktail, my husband decided to head to customer services for a moan. I think my words were “Ive read enough on forums about MSC customer service to know there is no point”. And how wrong I was.... Next morning chocolate strawberries and a bottle of fizz arrived in our room with a note thanking us for feedback. On ordering our drinks at the Champagne bar later that day, there were still none of the sparkling wines under €10 available, but a note on our account saying if this is the case, to serve us any glass on the menu. So my husband enjoyed a glass of expensive champagne whilst I annoyingly had already ordered a cocktail so missed out. They then asked which of the sparkling wines we would prefer so the server could phone their manager to find some on the ship - by the time we left for dinner, we passed someone delivering it! Now you can’t beat that for customer service!!
  6. Cabins - again they were beautiful. We had interconnecting balcony cabins which was sold as a family cabin which meant we had no choice on location. Beforehand I was really concerned as we were on deck 14, directly below the first section of buffet seating from the lifts. I did a lot of unnecessary worrying - every now and then we would hear the odd scrape of a chair on the floor above and that was it - certainly not enough to lose sleep over. If I had a choice I would be a deck below, but would certainly have the same cabins again. Location was fab - just one deck below the buffet and close to the pools, and the nearby lift popped us out directly by the Champagne bar. Food: We had breakfast and lunch in the buffet and dinner in the MDT - last cruise we developed at bit of a routine to miss the buffet crowds. Have a late breakfast around 9-.30 - 10ish (order room service for croissants if the kids didn’t think they would last), then explore port for a number of hours and come back for a late 3.30ish lunch. This worked brilliantly last time, but not so well on the Meraviglia. There’s no getting away from the fact there just aren’t enough tables in the buffet - even going at 10am, twice we couldn’t get a table and ate on a lounger by the pool. The crew worked exceptionally hard to clear and turn around tables, but it’s just a numbers game - lots of people, not enough tables. Once seats were actually located, food was good and a number of stations such as ethnic and rotisserie varied daily. The pizza was very good and the onboard made mozzarella probably the best I’ve eaten. Again I can’t understand the complaints about the MDR. The choice was great, food served quickly and the quality impressive considering the numbers being served. I had one dish I probably wouldn’t order again, the rest were very good. A common theme on reviews seems to be a lack of lobster/ shrimp - and yes, you won’t get the former but the seafood choices (according to my husband and kids) were excellent whether it was seafood pasta, risotto, calamari or muscles. We treated ourselves to an evening in the Teppanyaki restaurant and it was one of the highlights of our week - our chef was so much fun and so skilled. Our children in particular were just enthralled the whole time. The children’s menu was €12 which I thought was very good value considering that included sushi, soup, chicken, egg rice and dessert. Next up (but there will be a break) - the drinks package and some impressive MSC service. Yes, you read that right - I included the words MSC, service and impressive in one sentence! Something lots of people might not believe!
  7. As there are often lots of questions about the Meraviglia, I thought I would post my review of our recent cruise on the ship in the Baltic’s and hopefully it will be useful to those looking at the ship. It might take me a while between instalments, but I’ll see how I go! Bit of background - this was our 5th cruise over about 20 years and our second on MSC. As a family of 5, cruising is considerably more expensive than for 4, otherwise we would cruise much more often (I keep threatening to have a rota of which child stays with the grandparents whilst the rest of us go cruising, but the kids aren’t quite so keen!.). Two years ago we stumbled on a family cabin on the Magnifica sailing the Norwegian fjords and had a fantastic time. MSC was therefore my line of choice when looking for a Baltic Cruise - that and yes, for two cabins it is significantly cheaper than any other option I found. Before going into detail - we had another fantastic cruise. I’m starting to think that all the negative reviews are actually a good thing, in putting people off and keeping prices affordable! I appreciate we all enjoy different things on a cruise, but I don’t personally expect towel animals, the crew to be my best friends for the week or bar service at my chair or lounger (hey I’m British, we queue at the bar). I also don’t expect the entertainment staff to keep me occupied all day - give me a book, a Bellini/ gin/ mojito and my kids and that’s me happy. In fact, a ship with constant entertainment around the pool, would have me running away. So, here goes with my review.... Embarkation: we arrived in Kiel the day before (flight to Hamburg, bus to Kiel). An afternoon wandering around was more than enough to see the town, so we headed to the port by taxi about 10.45. No queue to check in, luggage sorted and on a shuttle bus to the terminal. The terminal was already fairly busy but we had been really lucky and had been given priority boarding (due to having a ‘large young family apparently’). We were told boarding would be at 11.45 - we had literally just sat down when they started boarding at 11.08. We were on the ship, photos taken, bracelets on the kids (no kids club signing up as the 11 year old thinks she is too cool, and the 7 year old twins happily amuse each other). walked through the atrium area, took in the sights and were in the outdoor pool by 11.30. Pretty impressive I thought! The Ship - yes, the Meraviglia is large and beautiful. There was something I didn’t like about Navigator of the Seas compared to the smaller RCI ship we went on 10 years ago, and expected the same when comparing Magnifica and Meraviglia. I was happy to be proved wrong and the boat seemed very spacious. Being an August cruise, I’m assuming the ship was at capacity- yet, despite all the negative reviews on crowds we didn’t find that (apart from the buffet, but more on that later). There were always sun loungers to be found, space in a pool or hot tub (sometimes after a short wait) barely any queues on the high ropes/ slides until later on on the last sea day, and a seat in a bar. We found the Champagne bar day 1 which it was always quiet and our bar of choice.
  8. There a several options to get from Oceankaj to Copenhagen Centre. There are the Hop on Hop off buses already mentioned, plus MSC run shuttle buses which from memory were about €16 per adult. Alternatively you can do what we did earlier this week and walk the 100m or so to the bus stop opposite terminal 1. There’s a ticket machine there which takes cards - a day pass for all buses and metro is €8 for an adult. If you take the 25 bus to Nørreport you can get to lots of places from there.
  9. Thanks - we’ll give it a go! We found that with the water bowl slide as it turns out that one is 122cm. Yesterday they measured those clearly under height, but neither of mine were measured!
  10. Just on board and can confirm that the slide height is 107, so I have two happy boys! Not quite so good, is that the rope course is 122cm, so I have one twin tall enough, and one about 1.5cm too short!
  11. I also suspect this will be the case. I was very much for checking with MSC as it would be cheaper to pay in advance, but my husbands view is “if it’s in writing, they must be included”. He clearly has less of an idea of the inconsistencies of MSC than the rest of us! I’ll hopefully report back on Sunday/ Monday when we are on board!
  12. The current prices in pounds on the Baltic cruise we are going on at the weekend are £189 per week for Easy and £252 for premium. The kids non alcoholic package is £91 per week.
  13. I booked in January for this Saturday, so before gratuities were added in the UK. I’m expecting to pay gratuities, but noticed that according to my e-tickets they are included. I checked through my original booking info and can’t find any reference to tips, and on a previous MSC cruise they were included at booking but itemised separately. So I’m not sure if it is a mistake on my e-ticket or not! Like you with the sudden drop in the pound I would rather pay in advance than on board.
  14. Thanks for the review - we are on the Meraviglia out of Kiel next Saturday, so I’ve been on the look out for reviews! It’s good to read a positive review, when there are so many negative ones. Out of interest, were there any specific areas of the ship which you found were frequently quiet? The crowds are the one thing which concern me - last time we cruised with MSC we were Aurea so had access to the quiet sun deck, but to get a family cabin on Meraviglia, we are Fantastica.
  15. I’ve also taken photos which have then disappeared and we’re on the Meraviglia out of Kiel next week. Although that’s the least of my issues with the online check in. I’ve had a nightmare and spent hours trying to check the 5 of us in. My daughter checked in easily using the app, but I was unable to to check in on the app, so used the website, then after using about 3 computers and numerous browsers my husband was able to check in. However, I’ve not been able to check in my twin boys at all, despite trying repeatedly. This afternoon, I spent 30minutes on the phone to MSC who also couldn’t do it and promised to get back to me when it was done. 4 hours later and no word and they are still showing as not checked in. How can it be that difficult!!
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