We have cruised the Caribbean several times in the last 10 or so years mainly with P and O, but also with NCL and Thomsons. We were attracted to this cruise as it offered a slightly different itinerary which included Martinique, Guadeloupe and Trinidad. The overall package which include drinks, tips and Virgin flights seemed attractive.
This is what we found:
Virgin - twilight check-in at Gatwick painfully slow, took 80 mins to process a short queue by surly staff who laid the blame at MSCs door, not a great start. Flight and return check-in fine.
Embarkation - ran smoothly, only negative was running the gauntlet of staff imploring us to upgrade drinks package.
Cabin - generous size, clean and comfortable. Only disappointment was the lower half of the balcony was not glass making it feel a little enclosed. Worth avoiding theses which are at each end of the ship.
The Ship - very well presented, nice public rooms, plenty of stairs and lifts made moving around this large ship quick and easy (are you listening P and O ?). Theatre very large, but never full. Disappointed that the front of the ship was out-of -bounds, reserved for Yacht Club members, this rankled somewhat.
Lobster dining room pleasant but we were tucked away in a dark corner. Self service restaurant a little congested at times, inevitable. Slightly disappointed we couldn't eat outside at the rear of the ship. service in the Lobster dining room excellent. Service for breakfast was not so good. MSC need to decide if this is self service or not, combination caused chaos, avoided after one try.
Generally ok, but fell short of our expectations and experience. Good variety in the self service restaurant, but need to hunt around to appreciate all that is on offer.
Basic drinks package somewhat minimal, no discount if you wanted to select drinks over 6 euros, we made do. Could order non-alcohol cocktail and separate spirit, water bottles from the bar free, but not from mini bar. Service always very good.
Seemed good on paper, but would have preferred a couple of sea days to chill out. we now realise that MSC operates 7 day cruises out of Martinique and Guadeloupe. This meant calling at these ports twice on saturday and sunday. Nothing much to do on a sunday in Guadeloupe, maybe these were our sea days. Time in port quite adequate.
MSC excursions very expensive.
A lot of French speakers on the cruise, most seemed to be on for 7 days. This did not make for such a sociable cruise due to the language barrier. Lifeboat drills in several languages on several days a pain, you only need to attend once, but they are an unwelcome intrusion, made worse by the 7 day itinerary and multiple boarding ports.
Enjoyed one of best shows we had ever seen on a cruise when the team of entertainers threw everything at it. Range of shows limited by language issues, one show way to loud and we did something we had never done before and walked out of it. Ridiculous.
Music in other public rooms to a good standard and refreshingly different, we liked the Spanish couple. Enjoyed this aspect.
Attempts by UK cruise director to customise entertainment with a short daily quiz a little limited.
TV a waste of time. Only English channel was CNN International, drove us crazy with endless talk of US primaries. Spent most of the time off. Poor effort by MSC.
Not a bad cruise, but others are significantly better, especially for English speakers. Need a good reason to return.
Good size, bathroom good. Could do with a better arrangement for wardrobe doors. Metal balcony screen unwelcome.