Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

Everything posted by papadave

  1. Thanks for posting a current menu. It is not obvious, but the "featured selection" items are available for a surcharge. I have around four weeks of prior cruising on MSC, so I have eaten quite a bit of their food, which is pretty good for a mass market line. If you are trying to avoid bread, the problem is that they often have very nice bread available and it is hard to pass up. Unless things have changed, the classic favorites are available nightly. I'm always happy with the salmon, but surprised that a European cruise line does not have exceptional pasta. Sailing out of Barcelona a couple of years ago, the Spanish delights on this menu (and photographed) were disappointing. However, the soups, which may not sound very interesting, can be special. If you like mozzarella and you find the freshly made type on board, that is a real treat. Leave time for breakfast and lunch if you decide to go to the main dining room, as service time can vary, but it is a way to avoid the buffet, which can be great one day and feel like a hospital emergency room another, depending on how many people show up at the same time, what your fellow passengers are like, and how their days have been going. I hope you can add a bit more about your trip for those of us about to embark.
  2. The photo is the original post is not a pair of spiny lobster tails, but a pair of North Atlantic (Canada, Maine) lobster tails. I'm not sure who had the "bad" warm water lobster, but it was not the person who took the picture in the original post. Blu does, overall, have a somewhat lighter menu, if only from an environmental standpoint. Less red meat, a greater variety of vegetables, less deep-fried food. Maybe lower sodium, but I'm really not sure about that. If they went much further, people would be complaining about food quality, as it is harder to make a flavorful meal using little to no fat. For some people, every cruise starts with a big, juicy piece of prime rib. I think that's the type of thing Blu plays down. I've had some really good meals in the MDR and some really good meals in Blu. I, generally, prefer the smaller dining room with a better staff to customer ratio, but find both venues to have some better points. Happy cruising everyone.
  3. Good luck. We have been in Aqua class without any noise problems from the pool deck above, but have met some people who had issues and moved cabins because of the noise. If you are getting the benefits of Aqua class -- the steam room, Blu restaurant -- and want those benefits, it is a nice trade off. Some of us really like Blu, but it is not for everyone, especially those who like a lot of meat and rich desserts, as the menus are meant to offer a meal that is a bit lighter, if only when compared to meals in the main dining room.
  4. Blu, which I like, is probably not for everyone. One of their aims is to provide lighter food which, as with most restaurant experiences, is not exactly health food, just not as indulgent as much of the MDR menu when it comes to calories, fat and the like. As such, you will see more fish, less heavy sauces, that kind of thing. If I were taking a very short cruise, something like 5 days, I would probably want to eat prime rib and over-indulge like there is no tomorrow. However, if you are on a ship for a week or two, you might feel better without rich desserts. If you meet others and want to dine with them, you cannot invite them to join you in Blu unless they are already permitted to eat there. I find that a good idea for planning, as we tend to meet people during the course of a cruise and can enjoy extra company and fresh conversation at dinner. For me, the best parts about Blu are that it is less hectic and, as I recall, there is a higher ratio of staff to guests than you would find in the main dining room. In the end, it is your vacation, your cruise, and the best way to enjoy things is to make choices that are right for you, not for someone else. Have a great trip!
  5. If you really want to be sure, call MSC. I understand they are experiencing longer than normal hold times. While you are on hold, you can read the novel you've always put off reading.
  6. Your advice is solid. I wound up playing telephone tag with my TA for a few days, then let things sit for too long. Last week I spoke with my TA and they contacted MSC, but it was too late to give the booking to the TA. Life, unfortunately, got in the way. It will be okay, I hope, but I certainly would prefer to have a TA involved in case I have an issue going forward.
  7. Based on a grand total of one cruise taken and a second booked, I can say that the on board experience is really great, but there are real issues with IT and customer service which MSC doesn't seem to be taking as seriously as they should. I booked my upcoming cruise directly with MSC because they were running an excellent promotion and my travel agent and I could not connect. Because of the promotion being offered, I knew the price was never going to go down significantly, but risked losing out on the deal -- $500 shipboard credit when booking a balcony, which ran around $750 (plus port charges and taxes) for a 17 day cruise as a solo, essentially $250 for 17 days, and that promotion was not showing up on my TA's website. Perhaps I should have tried to reach a different agency, rather than booking on my own. So far, only some technical issues where I haven't been able to complete on line forms because of their IT which still doesn't function correctly. I have 8 weeks to take care of this, so I'm not in a panic, plus MSC just sent an email with my cabin assignment. Back to the original problem posted on this thread -- this stinks. MSC, as any company in this type of business, could make reasonable accomodations. Maybe they can't give you the same cabin, but if you know approximately where you and your friends wish to be located, maybe they can find cabins near each other and make that work. Get to the essence of what you really want in order to have the best cruise possible and communicate that. And good luck.
  8. I just received an email from MSC requesting a copy of a physical card, which I do not have, and requiring that my name be on my proof of existing membership in a loyalty program. My name was there, under the heading "Legal Name" in all caps. So, I replied to their email, but it does not make sense for me to submit the same thing already submitted to meet the requirement that my name is on it, when my name already is there. It is very hard to believe that they missed my name on what I sent them.
  9. My understanding and recollection of the set dining time is that there is a time when the service starts and a time when the service ends so they can clear people out and set up for the later dinner service. Last summer, 5:30 meant you could get there between 5:30 and 6, but they stopped letting people in around 6 and told latercomers to enjoy their dinner in the buffet. More than a year later than my cruise, it is possible they are more flexible, but that is what this meant when I was on an MSC ship in the summer of 2021.
  10. Another option is to put this question to your local newspaper or TV station. If they have interest, not only is there a chance you will get a firm answer, but if the answer is that you are being denied the right to vote because you are taking a cruise, that may be newsworthy.
  11. I would recommend HAL without much hestitation, but not Alaska so late in the season. We were on the newest ship, the Rotterdam, this summer and the newer ship had its good points and bad points. My preference with HAL would be to find the oldest vessel still in service, as the size of the ship can make it feel more luxurious. My best guess is that any 30 day cruise on any line is going to skew towards retirees and people taking what may be their last voyage in life. We have been on a number of HAL cruises, back when they used to port in NYC, one from Florida and 5 in Alaska. If you are on a ship for 7 or 14 days in Alaska in the summer, the passengers aren't going to be much different on HAL than on other lines. If you are taking a world voyage that few working people or families can fit into their lives, you are going to have a bunch of old folks and a ship that gets pretty quite after dinner. A strong plus for HAL over some other cruise lines is that there is very little pushing of product whlie on board. That is, you are less likely to be bombarded with advertising in the form of announcements. You can still opt for a set dining time and have the same dinner table nightly. They still offer more cruise ship food than "comfort" food, if that is your thing. Right now, because of COVID, they seem to have scaled back on some things. Maybe they don't have enough trained staff on board, maybe some folks were sick, or perhaps they won't be doing as many communal activities until COVID is no more than another background thing, like the common cold. It was hard to tell. Bottom line, I recommend HAL but don't think that taking a cruise to Alaska in October will do what you want in the way of introducing you to the line to see if you like it.
  12. You can also take the blue bus, which does little more than take you from the port to the closest edge of the city (Columbus statue near Ramblas and Gothic Quarter), which might be more economical if it is only one or two of you and your hotel is close to the drop off point.
  13. There is a combination store and tourist information center at the pier. They were able to give out a phone number to call for a taxi, allowing us to get to Sky Lagoon easily, however we already made an online reservation. They appear to have a lot of tourist information, but I would not rely on having anything like you want available on the spot. You don't have to book through the cruise line. As Cruise Critic frowns on any direct mention of a specific company (makes sense, otherwise you don't know if someone is using the site for advertising and only posing as a neutral advisor) I suggest a web search for Reykjavik tours from pier or port.
  14. I found an older Butcher's cut menu, which shows the dining "experience" BUTCHERS_CUT_FOOD_ENG.PDF (msccruises.com) The experience includes an appetizer, a starter or a soup, a main course (either an entree or a steak) and a dessert. You can order all but two of the appetizers (you can't order crab cakes or oysters), you can order the tomato soup, but not the lobster chowder, two of the four entrees, three of the eight steaks (they consider rack of lamb a steak and you can order that, a small filet mignon or a flat iron steak), and three of the five deserts. So, there are choices, but at the same time it would not be shocking if you added a bit to the bill on top of the "experience" meal if you just order what you feel like eating and not the other half of the menu.
  15. I also don't see anything for Seascape yet, but that does not mean they are not planning to offer dining packages 11 weeks from now on the first voyage, let alone by February of next year. Before you buy a package, however, look at what it actually includes. We decided not to both last year because the dining "experience" as MSC terms it, is a very limited menu which did not contain the dishes we were interested in ordering. The dining room was hit or miss, especially when it came to the preparation of red meat (beef and pork), but also, surprisingly, pasta was seriously overcooked, served lukewarm, or both. More than once. Overall, I thought the food was good. Some of the starters were significantly better than the main courses.
  16. These bells and whistles can pull the kids away from the adult areas, which I have seen happen. It works for me.
  17. You'll be fine. In Europe, MSC embarks and disembarks at nearly every port, maybe at every port along the way. For us, last summer, it meant that there was no single day where everyone on the ship was crowding around and waiting to get off the ship, nor was there a single day where the entire staff was exhausted from turning over the entire ship to a completely new set of passengers. As for this, or any other, cruise line not showing a sailing as available to book, that seems to happen a lot. For a minute. Sometimes they are reallocating cabins and need to freeze things, like when they offer upgrades. I don't know how long this lasts, but I have seen a number of cruise which are temporarily unavailable for booking, then become available again. Of course, during the COVID pandemic, I also was checking to see if the price changed on the cruise I booked, couldn't make a booking, and then found out a particular cruise was cancelled. Still, right now, not too much of that is happening, so I would not worry. Enjoy your cruise.
  18. Go to the beach. Even if you are not going to the sand, you can sit in a restaurant, eat well and relax. Taking kids to a big, interesting to you church, may not be the best thing if that's not their interest. I find the markets very interesting. By design, there is always one in each neighborhood in the city.
  19. If you are spending a couple of days in Barcelona, I recommend the Gothic quarter. We stayed at the Gran Barcino Hotel, which was convenient to everything, but otherwise unremarkable. I did not like the vibe on the Ramblas and would not choose to stay there. If you are coming into the city for one day primarily to make sure you don't have to hurry to the cruise (as flying in on the day of embarkation can be risky), I'd suggest staying at a hotel at the main train station, which is easy to get to from other cities or from the airport and is an easy taxi ride to the port the next day. We stayed at Hotel Barcelo Sants, which is at the train station (you need to go out one door and back in another, but otherwise is really is right there) and was clean and well-priced. It was also walking distance from one of our favorite restaurants of all time, Petit Pau.
  20. I've seen people who arrive after their assigned boarding time go right on the ship, others being asked to wait, but I've never seen anyone denied boarding as long as they make the posted cut off. Assigned times are common now, because of Covid, there is a real need to make it so not everyone shows up in the same waiting space at the same time.
  21. If I had to guess, some of the bad reviews come from people who can't or don't want to say that they are uncomfortable being around lots of people who are different from them. If you are traveling on MSC, Aida or Costa, you are going to encounter people who don't speak English and people with different customs. Personally, when the language barrier is too high, I find it difficult for everyone. It can be real work to have a conversation when you don't speak the same language. Other things with MSC are largely based on the way they segregate the first class passengers (Yacht Club) from the second class passengers (the rest of us). They offer better food, better service and all of that for a steep price. I've been on MSC before and will cruise with them again, but I can say I have been disappointed by some things. Sometimes the food misses the mark, but other times it can be very good. Sometimes the entertainment isn't so great, but that seems to be the case for many cruise line right now. The ships are gorgeous. Wine is priced fairly. They serve top notch espresso. There's more that is good than what is bad. If you haven't tried cruising on an MSC ship, my recommendation is to try one cruise and see if you like it.
  22. At the moment, the cheapest solo cruise I have found is MSC, Seascape from Rome to NY. If you include airfare it does up the price a bit, but I'm lucky enough to have accrued enough miles points for a free one-way ticket to Rome. I started taking solo cruises at around age 40 and enjoy doing so. MSC may be a little bit tricky, if there is a language barrier. I'll find out for myself soon.
  23. Strong agreement with the original post. I'm currently sailing on the Rotterdam. All precruise email from HAL still listed Amsterdam as the embarkation port in more places than it mentioned the Rotterdam port. Why it was so difficult to change such information is beyond me. Subject lines were vague and could have stayed change of embarkation port instead of the extremely vague important update phrase which was also used when they pushed our boarding time slot off by 20 minutes. They could also have explained which trains go to Rotterdam as it is not as inconvenient as a change of ports in the US would have been. A little clarity would have been nice.
  24. Maybe they should encourage us all to go to a maritime museum or a science museum to learn more about the chalenges of maintaining water appropriate for agriculture in the Netherlands. I'm fascinated by all that I am learning and did not realize how much they have to do just to have fresh water that is not contanimated by sea water. At the least, it is crucial to farming, but it sounds like it is important in other areas as well. The train ride is not terribly long and I normally don't do anything on embarkation day other than get to the port and get on the ship. I feel bad for anyone who had to cancel other plans to fit in an additional hour of travel or those folks who booked the hotel right next to the cruise port in Amsterdam just so they did not need to consider anything beyond getting to their hotel. Patience and understanding, in this case, is a virtue and it would be wrong to blame any cruise line for a drought that is harming a large portion of a continent. Having not been contacted by the cruise line yet, I am disappointed in the slowness of communication. I hope that others in my shoes, embarking on the 31st, get more advanced notice than the people leaving tomorrow, the 24th.
  • Create New...