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SoundmixerVO

Mera Review 2/23-3/1 Aurea Balcony. Yes, THAT cruise

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We booked Meraviglia at the future cruise desk on Seaside Jan 2019, which gave us $200 OBC. We booked our wedding a few months later and this cruise happened to be 2 days after our wedding, which worked out quite nicely!

 

Embarkation:

We flew into Fort Lauderdale the night before and stayed at Red Carpet Inn, the room was fine but check in and check out both took over 40 min. They advertise free shuttles from the airport and to the cruise terminals but no amount of free would be worth the crowds and wait times. The room itself was perfectly fine for our needs but didn’t have anywhere in walking distance to eat or shop besides a vending machine and their dirty looking restaurant. We used SAS to get to the Miami terminal and they were great. 

 

Rooms: 

We had an Aurea balcony on the 14th floor, directly under the pool and buffet area. I would  recommend the 13th or 12th floor if I could do it again. Our room was quieter than you would think, we only really heard kids running every now and then. 

 

The room was beautiful. The balcony was spacious and was a nice place to eat breakfast and lunch. We had a bathtub in our bathroom which was an unexpected treat! 

 

Housekeeping was great. We locked ourselves out of our safe and asked someone to reset it for us when they got to our room. The employee we spoke asked us if we could stay in our room while he reset it for our valuable’s safety and his which we didn’t think of and were really impressed with. We also needed housekeeping at 5 in the morning one night when our neighbor put their stroller out on the balcony and the stroller broke through our balcony’s barrier thing and was making the loudest banging sound. I called the front desk and they had someone up to our room to fix it in less than 5 minutes.

 

The bed was very comfortable, we don’t sleep with a top sheet at home so no complaints there. The tv had a nice selection of channels, which we ended up using more than we expected. We learned that Travel Channel is almost entirely ghost hunting shows.

 

Food & Drink:

The food was so much better than Jan 2019 Seaside’s.  Thank you to the poster who mentioned the sticky buns at breakfast, they’re outrageously good. They also had hash browns that were so good, our breakfasts were embarrassingly unhealthy thanks to the sticky buns and hash browns.

 

The pizza was thin and greasy and delicious. It was great brick oven pizza. 

 

There was a kids section closer to the pool that was almost always very quiet and had French fries and chicken nuggets and everything terrible for you. I got a kick out of seeing the kids in doremi walking like ducklings to the kids section and to their table. 

 

We didn’t eat in the restaurant very often because we realized that the buffet and restaurant usually had mostly the same food and we only went when I wanted shrimp cocktail. The service in the restaurant was unremarkable. 

 

We aren’t big drinkers and stuck with the Easy Package that was included with the Aurea package. The pub and casino had the best bartenders, the pub seemed to have the same 4 people working the entire time so we got to know them a little and since the pub was usually pretty quiet it was easier to chit chat and figure out what drinks were included and what wasn’t. 

 

The casino had an outrageous bartender who basically made what he wanted to make and charged our card for a dummy Easy drink. We tipped generously and enjoyed some really nice, really fancy drinks.

 

We had the displeasure of trying to order a drink at the bar near the soccer area, that bar had a pretty limited selection and there were some LOUD Americans who were very mad that they couldn’t get Bud Light at that bar, I told them that just meant it was time to switch to liquor and they weren’t amused.

 

CC Meet & Mingle:

The Meet & Mingle was held in the sky lounge, it’s a gorgeous adults only bar that overlooks the main pool area. Since we were honeymooning we weren’t interested in doing too much mingling but we loved the martinis and canapés. Cruise Director Gene Young really emphasized how important our reviews are to MSC, little did they know that we wouldn’t be able to get off the boat for another 4 days.

 

Ports:

You’ve read the headlines, you know what happened. We woke up in Jamaica, drank coffee on our balcony, looked at our watches...

 

My husband and I figured something was wrong pretty quickly since Seaside seemed to pull in and then make an announcement that we could get off 20 minutes later. We had an excursion booked through an outside company so it was pretty stressful watching the time tick away. We were supposed to leave for the excursion at 11:30 and we emailed the company around 10:30 to cancel. We’ll probably book with the Cruise company moving forward to avoid the stress. 

 

Gene Young finally got on the intercom and told everyone that there was a crew member who was sick with Influenza A and that Jamaica was concerned due to Corona Virus. After that announcement, my husband and I went to the Aurea private deck and hung out in the hot tub and avoided all of the ruckus. Thank goodness for that deck, we ended up splitting our time between the spa and deck 19. The Aurea package ended up being a godsend with all of unexpected elements to our cruise 

 

Next day we woke up to beautiful blue skies and beautiful blue...water? My husband jumped up and said where are the Cayman Islands? I told him that they’re small so maybe they were on the other side of the boat? We got up and found a letter near our door, turns out that Grand Cayman said heck no and the captain decided to head straight to Cozumel and avoid waiting all day at the port. That letter also said that we would be getting a 30% refund so we were happy as could be. We went down to deck 5 and it looked like an airport during a snow storm. We watched the insanity for a moment and then headed to the pub as we see enough angry Italians at home (in laws 😉).

 

At some point we also got a letter that said we would get free WiFi on Thursday, which is how I was able to sign into Cruise Critic and give updates. We also got to FaceTime with our families which was nice.

 

We arrived in Cozumel later that night but turned away due to weather. We finally pulled in Thursday morning but Cruise Director Gene Young announced that they were still waiting for the Mexican health officials to come aboard and examine the crew member. They also announced that we would be getting a full refund, what could be better? I think that they gave us the free WiFi to mitigate any potential issues in Cozumel.

 

It was pretty painful to be parked next to an empty Celebrity cruise ship while we were stuck on the boat. The customer service desk was bombarded with people, several of whom had their luggage with them. I think people were concerned that the boat would be quarantined and they were planning on getting off in Cozumel and salvaging their vacation from there. They announced that we would be staying in Cozumel for another day instead of Ocean Cay. 

 

They ended up making an announcement at 1 in the morning that we were finally cleared and could leave the ship. I leapt out of bed and my husband rolled over and told me I was crazy and to wait until morning. We heard some hedonists coming back around 4 AM and hey, good for them. We ended up getting up at 7 and leaving the boat by 7:30. We walked around a sleepy Cozumel and loved life. My husband had a bit of a cold going on so we walked to the Mega near the port and bought some pedialyte and NyQuil, the cashier must have been horrified. 

 

Cozumel was awesome. We rented a scooter and went around the entire island. I got a wicked sunburn on my back but it was so worth it. I’m sure Ocean Cay is nice but I was happy to have a full day on an established island with lots of food and shopping options. 

 

Shows:

So this is very close to our professions and I could write a novel on what I would want to do to fix the shows on MSC... but that’s for another time.

 

We booked Cirque du Soleil at Sea on our first day, which worked out since we could use our OBC to pay for it. We bought the cocktail seats, the free cocktail was fine, we had an option of Mojitos, Long Islands, and maybe a punch? The seats were great but we got up and moved closer to the stage as the show was starting. Viaggio is great, a little too short in my opinion but really lovely. 

 

Imagine my delight when I saw “An Evening with Gene Young” on the Saturday schedule. I could not imagine a more self indulgent experience and so I practically ran into the theater. 

 

The show was surprisingly lovely. It turns out that Gene is a powerhouse of a singer and has had quite the career. The captain forced him to throw the show together as a Hail Mary for the cruise and Gene made it very clear that he would have rather been doing anything else. Gene was much funnier on Mera than he was on Seaside, it felt like he had really hit his stride. If I figure out how to post video of Gene’s performance I will share it here.

 

 

Overall:

I think MSC did everything as well as they could given the circumstances. The buffet was fully operational and had much higher consumption than expected and we didn’t notice any issues. The OBC, WiFi, and refunds were very generous and we were able to gamble and bring some limoncello back to our parents which was nice, thanks MSC! 

 

The captain and Gene Young made several announcements and kept us in the loop the entire time. 

 

The demographics were very different from our last cruise with MSC. There were a lot more Americans and Canadians and the staff had lots of people from Peru and Caribbean Islands. 

 

The Aurea package totally spoiled us, we used the spa and private deck a ton and we loved having a balcony to escape to. If we had had an interior room through all of this it probably wouldn’t have been as pleasant. Unfortunately for me, my husband wasn’t thrilled with cruises before this and this cruise galvanized his feelings. We left the ship with him saying never again. Until our parents plan a family cruise and we simply have to go 🤓. 

 

 

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I wanted to add one more thing! We were really impressed with how good the MSC staff was with children. We frequently saw little kids walk up to the buffet with a plate and staff members would practically fall over themselves to help the kids pick out their food. There was a little Italian boy who seemed to spend his entire day walking around the buffet with a plate full of lettuce, raw onions, and breadsticks. He would ask any adult near him to help him get things that were out of his reach. My husband was one of the chosen ones and he couldn’t believe that this kid really just wanted onions. 

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Thanks for the balanced review. We were on the Meriviglia cruise one week earlier.  Sounds like you handled all the last minutes changes with grace and good humor.

 

And congratulations on your wedding! I hope you have many happy years together.

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Nice review.  Congratulations on your marriage.  You certainly,made lemonade from the lemons. Aurea helps though, doesn't it?

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Thank you for your review. We have been on both Seaside and Mera with Gene Young - would love to hear him sing. Totally agree with you about the Pub, servers were great, a wonderful place for quiet time during the day, evenings equally enjoyable, Fish n Chips very good for $5.00. Also appreciated Meet n Mingle, very well done, beautiful spot on the ship. Had Mera booked for May 29 but that did not happen, will try again for November - ish. Husband loved gym and track on the Mera. We too did Easy Package and found it quite adequate. 

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On 4/10/2020 at 4:16 PM, SoundmixerVO said:

I wanted to add one more thing! We were really impressed with how good the MSC staff was with children. We frequently saw little kids walk up to the buffet with a plate and staff members would practically fall over themselves to help the kids pick out their food. There was a little Italian boy who seemed to spend his entire day walking around the buffet with a plate full of lettuce, raw onions, and breadsticks. He would ask any adult near him to help him get things that were out of his reach. My husband was one of the chosen ones and he couldn’t believe that this kid really just wanted onions. 

Thanks for the review on this unique cruise.  Glad you had a good time.

 

I loved onions as kid.  I'd eat them like apples (well, Id peel them first).  And, yeah, that sounds like what I might walk around with on my plate (then and now).  🤣

 

 

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We were on the cruise as well. We had hoped to show my sister in law and her husband Dunn's River Falls and Stingray City as they had never been to either. It was a bit of a bummer not being able to get off the boat and when we weren't able to get off at the 3rd port, I was starting to get worried. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck on the boat for a couple of weeks like some other boats had experienced. 

With that said, in true Canadian style, we just rolled with the punches as they say. If you are going to be held hostage somewhere, being held hostage on a luxury cruise ship with a drink package isn't a bad thing. 

We, like yourself, were given a letter that stated that we would be getting a full refund of the cruise fare only. It said that it could take up to 30 days. As of Mon. Apr. 13 (42 days) we have seen nothing yet for a refund. To make matters worse, we booked through a Canadian tour operator called Sunwing. It was an all inclusive package that included flights on a Sunwing plane, transfers to/from the airport, Fantastica package with a balcony stateroom and the Easy drink package. MSC has said that they will refund Sunwing who will then refund us. Somehow I don't think that I will be getting MSC advertised room price back from Sunwing. 

Take care and stay safe

Caledonia boy

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11 hours ago, Caledonia Boy said:

We were on the cruise as well. We had hoped to show my sister in law and her husband Dunn's River Falls and Stingray City as they had never been to either. It was a bit of a bummer not being able to get off the boat and when we weren't able to get off at the 3rd port, I was starting to get worried. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck on the boat for a couple of weeks like some other boats had experienced. 

With that said, in true Canadian style, we just rolled with the punches as they say. If you are going to be held hostage somewhere, being held hostage on a luxury cruise ship with a drink package isn't a bad thing. 

We, like yourself, were given a letter that stated that we would be getting a full refund of the cruise fare only. It said that it could take up to 30 days. As of Mon. Apr. 13 (42 days) we have seen nothing yet for a refund. To make matters worse, we booked through a Canadian tour operator called Sunwing. It was an all inclusive package that included flights on a Sunwing plane, transfers to/from the airport, Fantastica package with a balcony stateroom and the Easy drink package. MSC has said that they will refund Sunwing who will then refund us. Somehow I don't think that I will be getting MSC advertised room price back from Sunwing. 

Take care and stay safe

Caledonia boy


We called MSC to check up on the refund and they said that it may take up to 60 days, the representative said that the refund are being processed through their office in Naples and that she could see that our refund was “being processed.”  I’m assuming we’ll see our refund around the same time that we receive our stimulus checks 😉😉
 

 

 

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On 4/14/2020 at 3:45 PM, SoundmixerVO said:


We called MSC to check up on the refund and they said that it may take up to 60 days, the representative said that the refund are being processed through their office in Naples and that she could see that our refund was “being processed.”  I’m assuming we’ll see our refund around the same time that we receive our stimulus checks 😉😉
 

 

 


Still nothing for us, either. The letter says 30 days...

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1 hour ago, allyfrizzle said:


Still nothing for us, either. The letter says 30 days...


Oh boy, we just got off the phone with customer service. The first person we spoke with asked for a refund reference or case number and said she didn’t see that we were getting a refund since our ship actually sailed and told us to email the existing reservations department. She then transferred us to customer service who said that they haven’t heard anything from upper management and that they figure it will be another 30-40 days. 
 

I know that this is a difficult time but this is disappointing.

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Congratulations on your wedding!!!  Thank you for the great review! We were also on this cruise.  The ship is beautiful and we enjoyed the food, my favorite from the main dining room were the lamb chops and the Brass Anchor fish and chips and beer selection were very good.  We loved the pizza, and the fresh mozzarella was great and there was a Moscato wine jelly that was addictive.   We had a balcony room that was good and always kept clean and stock with all necessities.  The crew we interacted with was very nice and helpful especially the dance instructors.  We had a fabulous time in spite of all the special circumstances.  

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Thank you for a nice review.  We, too, sailed on Seaside in January; maybe we were in the same place at the same time!  (You were that nice, good-looking young couple, right?)

When I first read on CC about the missed ports, I was pretty shocked at how extreme the anger was among some of the reporting passengers.  We've been on 40+ cruises, and have missed ports, for various reasons, more times than I can count. On our Seaside cruise, we chose to stay onboard during three ports; we just weren't interested.  Then, I was really shocked to read that the passengers would be getting a 100% refund!  That is very unusual.  So now I'm finding it a bit disheartening to read posts about suing MSC because the refund hasn't shown up yet.  Your more positive post gives me hope that the world is not entirely filled with complainers.  Thank you for that.

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I enjoyed reading your comments, OP.  I sailed on Meraviglia's January 5th cruise and did not have the negative experiences that you did.  During my cruise, we met all of the ports on our itinerary.  MSC could not have had a more experienced and guest oriented CD aboard than Gene Young.  What you experienced on your cruise that was due to his work benefited you.  His show in the Main Showroom was very enjoyable.  

 

I attended Viaggio, enjoyed the show, and drank a rum punch type of drink (whatever it's name was).  Rather light on the rum, I thought.

 

I'd be interested in how you would "fix" their the production shows.  Compared to what I have most recently seen, the shows that I attended where very well done.  Did you attend the abbreviated opera performance?  Most unique for a cruise line; the performers voices suited the performance, I thought.  

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On 5/1/2020 at 10:17 AM, SoundmixerVO said:


Oh boy, we just got off the phone with customer service. The first person we spoke with asked for a refund reference or case number and said she didn’t see that we were getting a refund since our ship actually sailed and told us to email the existing reservations department. She then transferred us to customer service who said that they haven’t heard anything from upper management and that they figure it will be another 30-40 days. 
 

I know that this is a difficult time but this is disappointing.

I initiated a chargeback with my credit card company yesterday, citing "service not as promised". I'm faxing them a copy of the letter we got in our stateroom, promising a refund, tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

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