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Bra_BE2014

Return to the MSC Fantasia: A 12-day winter cruise diary!

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Hello everyone!

 

I arrived home yesterday after 12- days on MSC Fantasia. As this was my second Cruise, I had some idea of what to expect although this cruise felt totally different from my first one, which was Summer of 2014.

 

I love reading reviews here on Cruise critic, so I will once again write a lengthy, diary style review with loads of details and information that might come in handy as you prepare for your own cruise. The good news is this time I learned how to use Photo host websites so you will get proper pictures instead of thumbnails, yay :D

 

Spoiler alert: I will name and describe the theatre shows and theme parties, so if you prefer to be surprised, then you might wanna stop reading now!

 

If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask while everything is fresh on my mind.

 

This lengthy disclaimer gives you already an idea of what to expect from me, so if you are still here, here we go:

 

 

Day 1 - Embarkation day in Genoa, Italy

 

We started the day bright and early by waking up at 5 AM to drive to the airport in Brussels - We are Brazilians but we live in Belgium. Unlike last time, we would be embarking on a Wednesday and Brussel's traffic sucks: so we left extra early to be sure to catch our 9 AM flight to Nice. No direct flight to Genoa were available so we had to go first to Nice, France and from there hop on an MSC Transfer bus to the port of Genoa.

 

I had booked a spot on a parking inside the Terminal for the 12 days, which came up to EUR 179, 00, not too bad. It seemed a good idea to walk as little as possible while dragging along heavy bags. After 1,5 h flight we arrived safe and sound in Nice - It was very, very windy so we got some turbulence and 30 minutes delay :(

 

At least the MSC Transfer was still there waiting for us, we were around 30 people from different flights. The drive to Genoa was very pretty, with blue skies all the way, contrasting heavily with the -3 grey weather we had the whole month in Belgium. So we were already getting into vacation mood by then!

 

We arrived at port at 14.30 PM, which unfortunately meant the MDR was already closed - I've been plotting different ways to sneak in to avoid the buffet on the first day.....but the buffet it would have to be. Oh well.

 

The port of Genoa is 1000 times nicer and better organised then the port of Venice, We were very impressed. There were more employees organising things and you could book and purchase several packages, specialty restaurants, SPA appointments and other things already right there.

 

We did no online check in at home and still we passed very quickly through the lines and got our cruise cards. The crowds on the line were very well behaved so i was getting happier and happier by the second - One of the reasons we decided to try a winter cruise was to have a few sea days for a change, with less children and less noisy people around the lounges. So far, it seemed that we would accomplish that.

 

There she was!!

 

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We boarded and went directly to check our cabin. We had a Bella balcony (8034) which was all the way forward with one of the infamous metal balconies:

 

 

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Maybe in the summer I wouldn't like it, but in the winter this is the way to go: we felt very protected from the wind, which meant we could still sit outside on sunny days. The room looked the same as last time, only we had a shower with curtain instead of a bathtub like last time. It was okay, it was big enough to move around without getting annoyed by the curtain.

 

Mu mom is camera-shy but I will share some of my super model pictures with you, hahahaha

 

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We unpacked and started to see what was going on that day:

 

 

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12699209_10208381609195255_503615351_o_zpsszsyp2hr.jpg

 

 

 

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I won't post the whole daily as it contains mostly port information, meeting points for excursions and very specific anecdotes but I will post all the Daily covers and the day's activities.

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What a great start and, wonderful pictures!!! I'm in for your review, thanks a lot!!! One question already: in the french forum they said, that it was very difficult to get on a shuttle bus, did you experience the same problems in nice? did you have to wait a long time?

 

thanks again for your review, looking forward to reading more!

kr sandra

Edited by plucasana

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I don't know why the pictures are showing so huge, something new to learn for my next review :D

 

Anyway, now that we were aboard, the first order of the day was to freshen up to start having some fun! That is, after the Muster drill..... I guess my fake smile shows how much fun the drill was, lol

 

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We were not very happy to discover that we were assigned to the second seating dinner, which was 20:45h. We would have preferred the first seating of 18:15h....We decided not to change it after considering that some port days would be extensive and tiring, like Madeira and Rome, so it was good to have a buffer to rest and change before dinner.

 

By the way, our itinerary was:

 

1- Genoa, Italy

2- Barcelona, Spain

3- Sea day

4- Casablanca, Marrocco

5- Sea day

6- Tenerife, Canary Islands

7 - Sea day

8 - Funchal, Madeira

9- Malaga, Spain

10 - Sea day

11 - Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome)

12 - Genoa, Italy (end)

 

Funnily enough, there was an option to do the round trip from Civitavechia to Civitavechia, which contributed for a more civilised embarkation and first meal on the buffet :D

 

We decided to skip the 19h show, which would be a piano concert, called 'Concerto'. It seemed a better idea to rest to be able to enjoy a nice dinner later on. Guess what happened? We laid down for a nap on 18h and woke up the next day at 6h!!!! :eek:

Edited by Bra_BE2014

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What a great start and, wonderful pictures!!! I'm in for your review, thanks a lot!!! One question already: in the french forum they said, that it was very difficult to get on a shuttle bus, did you experience the same problems in nice? did you have to wait a long time?

 

thanks again for your review, looking forward to reading more!

kr sandra

 

Hi! Did they mention which shuttle? Was it the transfer to the airport or to the ports? I have to say that we had a chronicle issue of people being late and not respecting the meeting times for excursions. An MSC employee would always be available on the exit of the ship for questions, so keep an eye out for them if you have any difficulties to find your bus. I didn't use any of the free shuttle buses to port so I can't comment on that. The transfers were always guided by an MSC person who only left when the group was complete. Hope this helps!

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they meant the shuttles from airport nice to the cruise terminal in genoa.

 

On Nice airport, there was a MSC lady with blue uniform, with a mid sized board written 'MSC Fantasia' right outside the arrivals gate. It is a small airport, so we found her pretty quick. At times, she was talking to people, so her board would then be less visible, maybe that's what caused some difficulties to some passengers. I think a good clue is to pay attention to people's bags: all ship passengers have the blue tag for embarkation attached so if you miss the MSC person, you can at least be together with your fellow passangers :)

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Yay! A Fantasia review! We leave in month for our first cruise with MSC and on the Fantasia. So excited to read more. Thank you!

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Bea,

First you get me the Internet prices and now you are writing a review. You are awesome! Jules and I are an the Fantasia together at the end of March. No pressure for you to finish it :D

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Thanks for the comments!!!! Typing is not my forte, so i'll cover a 'cruise day' per day, in case you're wondering. :-)

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Day 2: Barcelona, Spain

 

We woke up around 6h, slightly horrified that we passed out last night, missing dinner and everything. The positive aspect is that we were now fully energised, ready for our day in Barcelona! Except.....It was rainy and grey outside. Hmpf.

 

We went for breakfast and due to the early time, it was nice and peaceful in the buffet. With our bellied full, we decided to take care of some administrative issues! First stop: excursion desk! I pre booked a few excursions online, but since the website is not to be trusted, we went to double check. We were greeted in Portuguese by a fellow Brazilian with the most beautiful name in world: Priscila (Can you guess my name? hihihihi)

 

The excursion to Barcelona I had pre booked was cancelled due to lack of English speakers :eek: So we transformed it in an extra sea day. It was grey and rainy after all. Priscila told us that the majority of the guests were German and French, followed by a bunch of small numbers of loads of different other nationalities. Only 10 Brazilians in total, which I liked, Brazilians can be loud and obnoxious :D

Mercifully, We are not like that, 12 years in Belgium tamed us, to a degree, haha

 

We booked our excursions and went to our next stop: MSC Aurea SPA! I pre-booked Golden Jasmin SPA Package online, which consisted of free access to the Sauna, steam room, relax area and locker and changing room facilities. Also 4 different treatments per person were included, The treatment names were difficult to decipher, but at EUR 299 per person I wanted to give it a go. The SPA people were delightful! So polite and pleasant, even when it was chaos and mayhem of people asking questions. The package was worth every penny, we LOVED it!!!!

 

So that's how our arrangement looked like:

 

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Since we now had an impromptu sea day, we booked the first treatment for this same evening. Exciting!

 

Last administrative chore: to purchase wifi. As requested in another thread, I did a screen shot of the prices:

 

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I got the 5 hours package, it was more then enough. The wifi quality was excellent, very fast, even on sea days. I loved that it was per minute, not per size, which meant i could upload plenty of photos on facebook in seconds to make people jealous :D

 

So now we were all set up, wuhuuuu! Time to explore the ship!

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We went to get reacquainted with the ship, and it was nice to be able to walk around knowing where to go without feeling lost. Deck 7 is the best starting point to go anywhere: it is the only deck you can to use to walk through the whole ship from aft to forward with no blockages or interruptions. So we loved our balcony on Deck 8, it set us free from elevator queues.

 

We went to deck 5 to greet the Svarowsky stairs and take some silly pictures:

 

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At this point, breakfast traffic was increasing, so we sat down on Il capuccino to have our first celebratory treats of the trip! I had a Bellini cocktails, made with Prossecco, orange juice and vodka while mom chose a coffee drink.

 

The MSC bag you see in the background of the drinks comprise of gym clothes my guilty conscious made me purchase i the SPA: I forgot to bring fitness clothes :eek:

 

 

 

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We people watched for a while, and suddenly felt a urge to book a manicure :D

They were advertising EUR39 instead of EUR49 for the day so we were able to make an appointment for both of us before lunch. That's how it turned out:

 

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As you noticed by now, I'm a terrible photographer, snapping away with my Iphone. I like to take spontaneous pictures, so forgive me for the quality!!!!

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Around noon we got hungry again; After all, we had to compensate for the dinner we missed, right?

 

We went to try the MDR for lunch. You could chose an expresso lunch, which meant all your courses would need to be delivered in done with within 30 minutes. This was a good option if you had to hurry for an excursion.

 

We went for the regular menu, so lets commence with the food ****!

 

Potato soup with a glass of Prossecco Rose:

 

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Chicken legs with potato chips:

 

 

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Brownie with vanilla Ice cream:

 

IMG_2150_zpsjrtfifxc.jpg

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Bea,

First you get me the Internet prices and now you are writing a review. You are awesome! Jules and I are an the Fantasia together at the end of March. No pressure for you to finish it :D

 

We're not excited are we Robin? ;)

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Because we had our first SPA treatment at 19h, we needed to go to the theatre at 21h instead of 19h. That meant dinner at the buffet to be able to keep an eye at the time.

 

It was worthy though! The treatment consisted of getting a full body scrub then laying down on a high tech looking cocoon-like machine for a chromoteraphy exposure. Then the machine would wash you off with some pleasant hot water jets, so relaxing! To wrap up, a 30 minute Bali massage. Gosh, we went floating to the weather to watch wonderland, it was heaven!!

 

The show was the usual MSC Mixture of Acrobatics and singing, very enjoyable. It was loosely based on Alice in Wonderland, and I do mean loosely :D

 

After that we went to sleep to prep for our first shore excursion to Marrocco!

 

To be continued tomorrow :)

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Bea,

 

First you get me the Internet prices and now you are writing a review. You are awesome! Jules and I are an the Fantasia together at the end of March. No pressure for you to finish it :D

 

 

Wishing you and Jules a great cruise ;-)

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Day 3 - Sea day

 

Today was the first sea day of the trip and overall our first sea day ever. It felt very weird and I had no clue what to do with myself :eek:

 

We woke up around 8h and decided to give a try to the breakfast at the Restaurant Red Velvet. The first impression was very good, as soon as we were seated, someone came to immediately pour coffee or tea for us while another waiter came with a tray of different types of bread to choose from.

 

The table already had butter and a few sorts of jam. We were given the menu and from there it all went downhill: it took 30 min for someone to take our table's orders and another 30 minutes to be served. I ordered american style pancakes with red berries sauce and my mom got the french toast with raisins and cinnamon.

 

It was okay, but definitely not worth to wait one hour. We never showed up again, the buffet was more then appropriate and comfortable.

 

My mom started feeling a bit off, she wasn't totally recovered from a flue she had before embarking so she was still very tired. She preferred to spend the day in the cabin resting and watching TV.

 

We parted ways as I went to check out the Sauna. I didn't take any pictures over there, but you my favourite place on the ship was the relax room! Those lounges were super comfy and in front of a glass wall, which made for total bliss after the steam room.

 

Also worth noting that the SPA has awesome showers, very spacious, with shampoo and body wash available, along with fluffy bath robes and 2 towels per person. So if you are sharing a cabin this can be an option if more then one person need a shower at the same time :)

 

I spent a good 2 hours in the SPA, doing Sauna, Steam room and then relaxing on one of those chairs, right on front. I was very happy that there were no chair hogging going on :D

 

After that, I felt a bit lost - What to do next? I had a whole afternoon to kill before dinner......eventually, I went to the atrium to seat in one of the orange chairs and read a book on my Kindle for a few hours.

 

I ordered a Prossecco (EUR5,00) and got immersed in 'The Family', by Mario Puzo. It felt fitting to read about the Borgia family considering I was looking forward to the Sistin chapel. It might have been named after Pope Sixtus but it was actually ordered by Pope Alexander Borgia. Anyway, I digress, sorry :D

 

My mom didn't want to eat warm food for dinner, so I went to the buffet. Sooooo full! All those Germans, lol, they loved their food. As they should, it was delicious.

 

I went all the way aft to the ethnic corner and almost did a happy dance! They had Feijoada, a typical Brazilian black bean dish, yum!!

 

IMG_2292_zpslqqnazeo.jpg

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The other options that day were:

 

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As you can see, it was the first Gala night, but as my mom didn't want to go, I felt funny about going by myself. So I went to bed quite early looking forward to the first stop at Casablanca. So far, this Sea day thing is not really as nice as I though it would be. Oh well, still 3 more sea days to go, maybe I'll change my mind!

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