Ship was clean. Pools were fine. Hot tubs were almost always full with a life guard enforcing a time limit and line policy for hot tubs. We upgraded to the fantastica service because we wanted free room service. After we got on board, we found out that is not how it works. Normally, they charge for both food and service as separate line items on your bill. If you pay the up front cost, they don't charge for service but they still charge for food. The one upside of upgrading to fantastica service is that they normally charge 2 euro per liter of water in the restaurants. With the upgraded service at least you get free water. All in all, we felt like we were getting nickle and dimed at every turn.
We were also frustrated with the culture of line cutting on board. It didn't matter what line we were in, we were constantly frustrated with people pushing ahead of us to get in front of us. We've only been on US ships in the past so perhaps this is common in European (Italian) culture. For us American's, it was maddening. I'm not saying American's never cut but this ship was an all new level. The cutting was constant and aggressive. Often times they would physically push us aside to get in front. One time, we stood side by side, arm to arm, between the stanchions. They kept weaving and pushing trying to sneak past us. After a few minutes of failure, the the failed line cutters finally let loose in a verbal outburst on how entitled Americans are.
When we returned to Venice, the MSC ship in front of us collided with a docked boat. Apparently, this type of thing happens much more frequently than one would expect. Regardless, there are no contingency plans. We ended up hovering in the Venice harbor for more than five hours waiting for our ship to move to the dock. The one nice thing about this was that they did let us return to our rooms and they did give away free drinks and ice cream. Still, we ended up missing an activity in Venice that we had prepaid.
Most of the employees are not service oriented. For example, when eating breakfast in a sit down restaurant, the server would come to our table to take an order. If we ordered an omelette they would take our order but if we asked for french toast they would tell us to go get it ourselves. Very strange. There were one or two exceptions. Many of the staff were very poorly trained and appeared to neither understand nor speak any English.
The food was terrible. It wasn't just the choices on the menu (although, they weren't great) it was also the quality of the cooking. The one bright light was that the pizza was edible. The selection of fruit was pathetic.
Embarkation was long and slow. Once we got inside the building, we had to wait in a large uncomfortable room for our number to be called. After waiting for a couple hours our number was called. We passed through one last security screen, got our photos taken and walked onto the ship. I could not understand how it could possibly take two hours to get us through this last step. None of the staff seemed to be in any hurry at any time.
There were more smokers on board than I am used to having previously sailed only on ships leaving and returning to the U.S. I did not like this given that I don't like second hand smoke.
The evening entertainment was hit and miss (of the five I saw, two were good and three were not good).
There was an inside pool and an outside pool. I'm not a big fan of blaring music at the pool and unfortunately, there was almost always blaring music at the outside pool. They would do some sort of activity with "D.J.'s", music and some interaction. I found this to be very annoying and made sitting in a lawn chair on deck miserable.
All and all I will say that I will never go on an MSC cruise again.
Cabin was very standard compared to previous ships I've been on. The location was central and the view from the balcony was unobstructed.
The embarkation and disembarkation was poorly organized and poorly implemented. It was very slow.
We were delayed arriving in port and leaving port. The city was beautiful. We rode bikes from the cruise ship to the city. That was great. After that we tried to walk to a beach but quickly realized we were way to far from the beach to easily walk so we just returned to the ship.
The ship docks very far from Olympia. We made private arrangements for a bus ride to Olympia and a private tour. This worked fantastic. We had a great time.
The ship tenders here and once on shore you must either take a funicular, mule or walk to the top. We took the funicular without too much delay. We then made our own arrangements for a catamaran ride. We then saw the beautiful white buildings and then took a cab back to the port. The line to go down on the funicular was very long but moved pretty quickly.
There are no sites near the dock. We made private arrangements for a tour of Athens. It worked out great.
Immediately upon getting off the boat there are several speed boats waiting to take passengers. We did that and had a great time.
When we got off the ship we had to walk a very long pier and then went into a building. Inside the building there was a very nice Irish woman working at a car rental agency. We rented a car and drove across the Island to an amazingly beautiful beach. We spent the day and drove back to the ship in the afternoon. This turned out to be cheaper and more flexible than hiring a driver. Driving on the island was pretty tame. We did not arrange this in advance but it all worked out perfectly.