This was our second voyage using MSC. Last year we sailed on the Magnifica out of Venice and this year the Orchestra out of Genoa. We are currently planning a trip next year using MSC again.
We were concerned when we read the reviews for MSC last year. There were complaints about the food, as well as the service. However, we did not experience this on the Magnifica or the Orchestra. MSC employees went out of their way to make our stay aboard a wonderful experience. Both ships were very clean and well maintained throughout the voyages.
The servers in the lounges were friendly and worked as quickly as humanly possible to get our drink ordered filled. With all the people aboard, several servers even remembered our group and the drinks we normally ordered each day.
Our cabin steward was amazing. One morning, I asked if I could have two of six clothing items pressed for that evening. (Normally there is a 24 hour turnaround) He had all items back in our cabin by 5:30 pm with no extra charge. I accidentally knocked over my breakfast tray spilling coffee on the floor and was embarrassed and nervous to tell our steward. But he told me not to worry that he had done the same thing the day before and he would take care of it. And he did, never once complaining.
We found no problem with the food or dining service. The few times we ate at the buffet, there was an abundance of food and variety. This year we had the late sitting for the dining room which was 9:30 p.m. We loved Edie our server. He provided excellent service. Yes, the food portions were small, but by the time you ate all the courses, you were full. You can always ask for more. One of the free perks I liked this year, was breakfast served in our cabin. It was a simple menu, but it was so nice to be able to sit in our quiet cabin and watch the scenery go by.
I was not impressed with the evening shows on the Magnifica, but thoroughly enjoyed the evening performances on the Orchestra. They were not the high quality of shows I have seen in Las Vegas, but came close.
Each cruise we used the excursions provided by MSC and was not disappointed. MSC even provides individual excursions for smaller parties should you not wish to partake in a large group.
Here are a few tips:
Spend a little more and book a cabin with a balcony - I loved opening the doors and enjoying the scenery from our cabin relaxing with a coffee or drink;
Research your port calls and plan your excursions ahead of time because if you wait until you are on the ship, the excursion you want might be full; also, trying to choose an excursion can be overwhelming with a long line of people behind you - we purchased our excursions online before the trip (Some ports you can walk into the town from the ship and do your own tour - hop on hop off buses are great to use and very inexpensive.) Buy a drink package!!! Find one that suits your needs and again research what is available before you go - each trip we purchased the Allegrissimo and I know we saved money!
You will need to link your ship card to a credit card or debit card - use the kiosks and avoid the long lines at the customer service desk. There usually are no lines at the kiosk and they are very easy to use.
Port of Cannes - Excursion to Monte Carlo and Eze - enjoyed the excursion but in lieu of the visit to the perfume factory in Eze, I would have like to have had a walking tour of the medieval village of Eze - it looked amazing.
Port of Palma de Mallarco - beautiful port and it is a short and easy walk from the ship to the Hop On Hop Off bus stop outside of the cruise terminal - very inexpensive way to see the city
Port of Barcelona - originally we chose the Highlight of Barcelona, Montserrat and Wine Tasting tour, but it was cancelled. We went on the Guadi tour instead and loved it. Park Quell was beautiful and Sagrada Familia was incredible. After the tour, we were given the option to stay in Barcelona on our own and use the MSC port transport to take us back to the ship. We had a lovely lunch in town and walked around before catching the bus back. (Make sure you have your excursion ticket because you will need it to use the MSC bus.) If you want to explore Barcelona on your own you will need to use MSC transport bus from the harbor or get a taxi -too far to walk on your own.
Port of Ajaccio - Easy and short walk from the ship into Ajaccio. There is a lovely market when you first enter the town selling anything from fruits, meats to souvenirs. You can take a leisure walk around the historic town and visit the museums and monuments or use the Hop On Hop Off bus. There is also a small train called the Petit Train which we used. For 15 euros the train takes passengers from the harbour and market area up to the monument of Napoleon at the top of the town where you are given time for photos and then on to Sanguinaires for a second stop. Unlike the HOHO bus, there is no narrative on the Petit Train.
Port of Civitavecchia - We booked the Gran Tour of Rome, the Eternal City excursion. It is a 9 hour tour with 3 of those hours travel time from the port to Rome. Our MSC tour guide was awesome and kept everyone on schedule and organized. When we got to Rome, we met another guide who took us on a tour through the Colosseum; a walking tour through the streets of Rome to the Trevi Fountain, the Parthenon and Piazza Navona. We were then taken to a restaurant for an excellent lunch with wine and then on to the Vatican City. You are on your own time at the Vatican. Due to the long lines, you are not able to visit the Vatican Museums or St Peters Basilica with this excursion, but it is still awe inspiring to be at St Peters Square. Be very aware of your surroundings and pick pockets!!! Especially near congested areas near the monuments and fountains.
Port of La Spezia - What a decision to make - the leaning tower of Pissa or Cinque Terre. We opted for the National Park of Cinque Terrer. We first took a bus to Portovenere, a small picturesque fishing village. You have a lot of time to spend shopping and walking through the medieval alleyways. Then you take a boat to the village of Monterosso - just a beautiful as Portovenere - where you have free time again. Your tour comes to an end with a very short train ride from Monterosso to Levanto where you will catch your tour bus back to the ship.
Enjoy cruising with MSC!!!
Our cabin was always kept clean and our wonderful steward made sure that it was always tidy. The cabin was small, but it was the size expected on a cruise ship. There was a lot of closet and drawer space to store clothes and luggage. Although, I could have used more coat hangers. We loved our balcony and used it daily.