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Armonia or Meraviglia?


ms sjsky
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Have never cruised with MSC before but looking to book something in the future out of Miami.  I've mostly sailed NCL and prefer their smaller ships over the megaships.  I don't need all the bells and whistles but love ships that have plenty of open deck space (especially in this post-covid sailing time) and a promenade deck that encircles the ship (for long scenic walks).  We would be booking a balcony cabin.  While Armonia looks like the size of the ship I prefer, I worry that I may not have enough open deck space to enjoy.  Looking for peoples suggestions and experiences on these two ships.  Thanks in advance. 

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Hard to compare the two ships, very different experiences, both great, we have sailed on Mera once and have another two more booked in 2021 and on Armonia two times and have another booked in 2021.

Differences: size and age and decor are big ones. Mera is very glamorous as are most of the MSC ships whereas Armonia is an old-time ship and very comfortable. If you look at the deck plan of the Armonia you will see that she does not have a lot of Balcony Cabins whereas the Mera has many  balconies in both Bella and Fantastica categories. On the deck plan you will see how much outdoor space the Armonia has, we love the deck on the Armonia and spend a lot of time on it, do not find it limited. The Mera has a lot of gorgeous interior space for walking. If you try one or the other do not expect it to be an experience similar to NCL although I would suggest that perhaps the Armonia is a more similar cruise to NCL. We sail between Carnival and MSC, both very different, enjoy both.

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I haven't sailed Mera, but sailed Armonia twice in 2019 after sailing Divina in Dec 2018 (my first on MSC).  Divina was beautiful, but larger than I like.

 

Yes, Armonia is old.  The buffet is fairly small, but I don't eat in the buffet for dinner and typically don't even for lunch.  I love the pizza and burger areas.  My favorite place is Il Girasole, the outside bar area between the pools and the buffet.  There is semi-covered seating.  I can sit there all day and read.  But there is not a wrap-around promenade deck.

 

I cancelled a TA on NCL Escape for April 2021 and replaced it with a 4+7 B2B on Armonia.  I've had an inside and an OV but because the prices were so low, and to be sure that (assuming we sail) I would have somewhere to retreat should I feel that people weren't keeping their distance, I opted for a balcony (an end cabin on Ametista so there would be no neighboring balcony).

 

I'm just not interested in all the bells and whistles of the new, big ships.  Decor doesn't matter to me.  I personally have always felt that I get better service on the smaller ships partly because with fewer public areas, you see the same crew over and over.  When I boarded Armonia for my 2nd sailing 5 months after the first, I went to the Rum Bar for a pre-dinner drink.  The server immediately came over and wanted to know if my daughter was with me this time!  It amazes me that the crew recognize you!

 

 

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We have sailed Armonia, and would do so again.  I discovered that the balcony, OV, and inside cabins are exactly the same size and configuration.  Armonia was lengthened, and when they did that, they tacked balconies on the outside of OV cabins, just as was done with some of Carnival's Fantasy class.  The cabins are much smaller than those on the newer ships which I have sailed - Divina and Seaside.  Although there are some very small inside cabins on Divina...

 

As far as bells and whistles go, there are people who will sail those ships particularly because those things are there.  And that is fine, because those things will keep them occupied and out of the quieter areas where I can be found.  EM

Edited by Essiesmom
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Both ships are an excellent choice, been on the Meraviglia from Barcelona and was a fantastic experience and stunning ship.

Maybe a good option should be an in between the Armonia and Meraviglia, how about the Divina, been twice on her and is gorgeous!!!

 

Regards

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The first time I remember seeing an MSC ship was in St. Thomas. Our HAL ship was parked behind it and I thought the MSC ship was just beautiful. Started looking at MSC and booked for January 2020. Thought I was getting a very good price for such a beautiful ship. Turns out I booked the Armonia which was their older ship. A little disappointed at first, but went with the flow. We have sailed for many years on many lines and have always enjoyed the older, smaller ships.

 

Put a minimum bid on a "suite/mini suite?" and won. The room was one of the stretch cabins which is basically an OV with a balcony tacked on. There were a couple of things that were great about this cabin. Good storage, nice location and access to the suite dining room - which was great.

 

The ship itself was clean and charming. The buffet area was a disappointment - very small and felt enclosed. There was a great area between the buffet area and the pool area with tables and umbrellas. On most ships it takes a day or two to figure out where things are and how to navigate from one spot to the next. On the Armonia I never did actually figure it out. If you took the wrong elevator it took forever to figure out how to get where you wanted to be. Seemed like things were choppy and confusing. Having said that, I actually really enjoyed it. Liked the smaller, more intimate feel of this ship. And, am really glad that I got a cruise in before all of the covid stuff hit.

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9 hours ago, vswan said:

If you took the wrong elevator it took forever to figure out how to get where you wanted to be. 

 

This was my experience on Queen Mary 2.  Since Armonia was stretched since she was first built, that may have been the reason for your experience.  Cruisers aboard Westerdam, aka Homeric, had similar frustrations after she had been stretched when HAL acquired Homeric.  

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Have to laugh about the elevators.  On my first Armonia sailing, DD was with me and we never did figure out which elevators went where.  I'm used to ships that have 3 banks of elevators, so if I took the midship elevator, I know where to turn to go forward or aft.  On Armonia, there's that weird elevator between the pools and Il Girasole but no stairs. We always seemed to end up NOT where we thought we were going.  I take the stairs, but where there are elevators, there are "usually" stairwells.  Except there were stairs that didn't go all the way up to the deck I wanted!  We'd head down for dinner, thinking we were midship and find ourselves in the middle of the dining room and not know which way to turn to find our table.

 

When I sailed 5 months later (solo) I wasn't quite as turned around but still found myself heading the wrong direction multiple times even after checking the signs!

 

Another thing - I think every other line I've ever sailed (close to 40 cruises since 2001 on Carnival, RCI, NCL, HAL) has odd numbered cabins starboard and even port.  You know, left, port, even (4 letters)?  That contributed to my heading the wrong direction multiple times. 

 

For anyone who books Armonia, I highly recommend having a look at the deck plans before you sail.  Even the longer cruises are too short to spend your time on board being lost! 😄

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51 minutes ago, ms sjsky said:

Thanks for all the responses.  We did decide on the Armonia and hopefully can cruise in 2021!

Yeah, we hope to be on the Armonia in February but realize it is still wait and see. We have met many of the Officers on the ship, very visible and friendly. We have been to Ocean Cay and our February cruise does an overnight there so looking forward to that. One thing to note, according to an Officer, Ocean Cay has a very narrow inlet that the ships back into and the Armonia has never missed a scheduled day at Ocean Cay as it is a smaller ship and easier to manipulate whereas some of the bigger ships have had to go onto a Day at Sea or another Port if the weather is inclement when they try to dock.

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24 minutes ago, cellfree said:

Yeah, we hope to be on the Armonia in February but realize it is still wait and see. We have met many of the Officers on the ship, very visible and friendly. We have been to Ocean Cay and our February cruise does an overnight there so looking forward to that. One thing to note, according to an Officer, Ocean Cay has a very narrow inlet that the ships back into and the Armonia has never missed a scheduled day at Ocean Cay as it is a smaller ship and easier to manipulate whereas some of the bigger ships have had to go onto a Day at Sea or another Port if the weather is inclement when they try to dock.

I had the pleasure of Ocean Cay in January. Have heard that larger ships have a hit and miss experience with docking there. I really enjoyed this stop. For me, getting out of the cold MN weather to the beach is what I'm looking to do at almost every stop. This one was great. Although it's not "authentic" it provides a great day at the beach which is what I look forward to.

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We loved Ocean Cay!  We were fortunate to have been there twice last January.  I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the place.  And no Diamonds International, no taxis, no questionable "deals".  Just an unspoiled paradise.

We were to have been on Armonia in April and May.  We will definitely try again.

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2 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

We loved Ocean Cay! 

 

I did as well during my one visit in January on Meraviglia.  Since there have been no guests with which to contend, I wonder what MSC has been doing during this pandemic to continue to build-out that island.  Certainly has much potential!

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53 minutes ago, shipgeeks said:

I just hope they don't add rides/wave pools/bungee jumps/zip lines.  I loved it just the way it was, even the young palm trees.  It would be interesting to fly over it right now and see, wouldn't it?

 

Yes, it would be interesting to see what has taken place, if anything.

 

Being a YC guest, we had golf cart transfer from the pier to the YC facility where I had lunch.  Returning to the ship, our driver gave us a thorough tour of the island with great commentary as to what he thought he knew about MSC's plans for Ocean Cay.  I did not get the feeling that it was going to become an "amusement park type" experience, but some features would be added to appeal to guests who would prefer such.  With the amount of undeveloped land that existed in January, one has to know that "something" has to happen there.

 

If the island does become an "amusement-park type", the YC section is sufficiently small and remote enough from the rest of Ocean Cay, that I don't think it will be badly impacted.  One thing that I believe MSC ought to do is to increase the size of the YC facility that is located there.  The building is too small to comfortably supply a YC experience to its guests.  

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  • 4 weeks later...
12 hours ago, gkbiiii said:

What were the meals like, at the YC place like?

 

I assume you are referring to the Ocean Cay YC facility.  Lunch was the meal available.  The selections were limited, but included an excellent Lobster Roll.  Burger/fries were available and, I recall, there was a salad and a pasta dish as well.  A food truck was parked near the facility and I did observe stewards going there to obtain some items.  I do not know what the truck was serving.  Beverages were included just as they would be on the ship.  I doubt there would have been as wide of a selection of alcoholic beverages as in the Top Sail Lounge.

 

The Head Butler was in charge of the service and the facility, it appeared to me.  Good service, but, as I have indicated, the facility is too small to properly serve YC guests and needs to be expanded.   

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