Sorry for the delay in posting this. DH and I have both been sick since we got home with some nasty respiratory infection.
I’ll start by saying this was our 25th cruise (including 3 river cruises) on 11 different cruise lines. We have enjoyed all of them, of course some more than others. This was our second MSC Cruise, we were on the Seaside last summer, and have another on the Divina scheduled for January.
Always good to start on a positive note.
The Crew - Outstanding. I was a little concerned because I had read many reviews on the Meraviglia in Europe and the crew was described as tired, unhelpful and unfriendly. That was the exact opposite of our experience. The crew was the best part of the cruise. Without exception, they were friendly and very anxious to make sure we were having a good time. Guest services especially so considering they usually were dealing with unhappy (and sometimes rude) people.
The Ship – Absolutely beautiful. We were most impressed with the constant cleaning. With so many people on a cruise with very little outside activity due to the weather, the inside was really busy. It is amazing that they were able to keep it so clean.
The Shows - Yes, they were hokey. All cruise ship shows are hokey. The talent was excellent and so many dancers! I don’t think we have ever seen so many dancers on a ship before. We especially liked the opera and the flamenco/salsa production. The rock show was fun. Didn’t go the first night because we were so exhausted from the insane embarkation. Also did not go to see the magician, he was there two nights. I think the last night’s show was cancelled because it was so rough, it was supposed to be Italian music. We were a little surprised at how different the shows were from the Seaside last year. We went to both Cirque shows and enjoyed them both. I liked Viaggio better and my DH liked Sonar better. I would strongly advise the show and drink as opposed to the dinner and show. The stage is round and surrounded by chairs for the show and drink package. The tables for the dining are further back. We did not have any problem getting the days and times we wanted onboard. I also advise purchasing your tickets in advance. They told us that they assign seats first to Yacht club and second to those who purchased online. Our tickets to both shows were outstanding. I really liked that there were assigned seats so there is no reason to get there early and stand in line. The tickets are delivered to your stateroom early in the morning on the day of the show.
The Not So Good
Food – Probably the worst of our 25 cruises. Overcooking was the biggest problem. I really wanted to like the pizza, but it was just meh. Crust was good but really skimpy on the toppings. It was fun to watch them make their own mozzarella in the buffet and it was really good. There was a big selection of food in the buffet, but not many entrees. Other than the daily carving, the few entrees they had were over cooked and mushy. Most items were lacking in seasoning.
Organization – It was better than many reviews have stated, but still needs work. Sometimes the right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is doing. Lots of confusion about our minibar and it’s inclusion in our drink package. We never got our robes and slippers (Aurea), even after requesting them. I was not overly happy with the cabin steward because I felt like he didn’t do much. We asked for ice daily and that seemed to really confuse him. Sometimes we got it, sometimes not. Usually if we specifically asked for it that day. I think some it was him just not understanding. I decided to cut him some slack after he told us he had 21 cabins to service. That is a ridiculous number, especially considering how many languages he was probably dealing with. He certainly seemed eager to please. We also never really got an explanation as to why they cut short our Quebec visit.
The Truly Horrendous
Embarkation – Not going to go into all the gory details as I think this has been documented well on CC. Looking back on it what is truly upsetting is the danger of it. There were huge numbers of older people on this cruise and to be jammed up in one line after another for 3 ½ hours is unforgivable. When someone fainted, they finally let one of the lines into the UNUSED waiting room with chairs inside the building. Everyone was having to wait outside, standing. If the fire marshal had shown up, he would have shut the whole thing down. I don’t know who was at fault – MSC or the port. I suspect both. They obviously did learn something, because disembarkation was a breeze, a very pleasant surprise.