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travelsmileandlearn

Food on MSC

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Hi all,  My husband and I are planning on booking a cruise in December (we always do it sort of last minute.)  He recently went on the Armonia with his family.  I declined to go because they picked the cheapest cruise they could find with the oldest/smallest ship in the fleet.  Part of the reason I didn't want to go was because of so many bad reviews.  Most of them said the food was pretty bad- paraphrasing.

I was all set on picking HAL's Koningsdam as we've been on one HAL cruise and loved the service and food.  And, we're not picky people and rarely complain if we don't like something.  But we did love the food.  So I'm wondering if I'll be disappointed on a MSC cruise.  He told me on the Armonia that the food was okay, and there were no beef choices for dinner besides the one steak on the menu each night.  I've also read that MSC pretty much has the same thing in buffet day after day.  

We also thought about NCL's Encore as it's brand new.  So anyway I've narrowed it down to Koningsdam, Encore or Seaside/Mera.

Now I'm looking at the Seaside and Meraviglia, and with the new Ocean Cay port starting early December, that has me interested.  People say both of these ships are stunning.  Can anyone compare either HAL to MSC's newer ships, or compare the Armonia (smallest oldest ship) with the Seaside or Meraviglia.

Thank you in advance!  We're not super picky about food, but do love variety and nice selections.  Late 40's without kids 🙂 

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I have sailed on the Seaside twice and the Meraviglia once.  First I would like to say that I agree that HAL’s food is very good.  My favorite food of all cruise lines and I cruise about 6 times a year.  But, I don’t cruise just for the food and I will sacrifice that for other things.  IMO the food on the Seaside and Meraviglia is in line with other cruiselines such as Carnival, RCCL and Celebrity.  Some things are quite good and others, meh!  I have always found a beef entree plus the everyday steak.  Their lamb entrees are especially good and they have the best Osso buco I’ve ever had.  You can always order something else if you’re not happy.  Re: MSC’s buffet, those that say it’s the same day after day are not walking the entire buffet line.  Unlike many ships where the buffet has 2 sides and each side has the same food,  MSC’s buffet areas are different.  If you walk the entire distance around you will see different things each day.  I always take the walk before I decide what I’ll put on my plate.  Both Seaside and Meraviglia are beautiful ships with amazing entertainment and a wonderful crew on each.  I’ve sailed MSC 6 times in the last 2 years with 3 more booked for Dec, Feb and May.  My favorite cruiseline!

Edited by 4104ever

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Thank you 4104.  By the way, I have no idea why but I guess I made a second account several years ago that I never used and therefore it shows one post by me!  And I have no idea why my computer logged me into that account now...lol, instead of the one I usually use.

 

Yes, food isn't the most important thing.  I was just surprised at all the bad reviews I read, mostly on the Armonia.  I just don't want to pick an MSC ship and regret not going on the newer HAL Ship, as we only cruise about once a year or two.  I can get a spa balcony package on the Koningsdam with alcohol package for a great price.  Then I debate if we should do the Encore and get the four perks they offer, but no spa balcony, or try the Seaside.  On the cruise booking website I use, it shows the 'free beverage package' as approximately $300-400 more per person, so I figured get the fare w/o it and just buy the package.

 

Anyway, any other comparisons anyone has thanks in advance.

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I have cruised NCL/RCL/Carnival/Celebrity but not HAL.  I just came off the Seaside a week ago and I was very pleased with their food. The only comment I'd make is that the evening buffet options were lacking when compared to the dining room, but I think their dining room food stands up well to Celebrity (which I'm guessing is comparable to HAL).  As was posted above, the entertainment was excellent - the ship beautiful.....and I experienced the easiest debarkation ever in my 20some cruises.

 

If I had a criticism it would be that I was traveling with a friend and we were given a table for two.  The cruisers around us were quite pleasant but not native English speakers so there wasn't a lot of conversation across tables.  But the bar staff was great, the cabin beautiful, the thermal suite amazing, and overall it was the best value for money I've encountered in a long time...so I would not hesitate to book MSC.

 

 

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Now I have my regular account logged into.  Okay, thank you Morrieb!   I've read a lot of reviews about the language differences, but maybe that was when I was reading the ones for the Armonia. On our first HAL cruise we met a nice German couple and lucklily I speak a little.  I speak a little Spanish as well.  Just hope that people are friendly.   I still can't decide which one to take.  I'm reading a lot of reviews and some say it's great, and some say it's awful.  So, I'll tell hubby and see what he says.  He usually lets me decide :).  

 

We could get a spa balcony on the Koningsdam with drink package for about the same price as the Aurea experience balcony on the Seaside.  I know the food should be great on HAL.  Some say the entertainment is lacking on that HAL ship, but I always find that cruises go by way too fast.  I just want to enjoy the ship, relax, go to spa, drink, eat some nice and varied meals, chat with others and see some sights in the ports, some of which I've been to.

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I have cruised on both Seaside and Armonia, as well as HAL Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam.  The two MSC ships are very different.  Armonia is a relaxed, slow paced ship, without any bells and whistles.  No great attractions for kids.  the decor is low key, muted, lots of lounges with comfy seating.  We were quite pleased.  Cabins are much smaller, though.  Regular balconies, OV and insides are all the same size - small.  The regular balconies were tacked on the outside of OV cabins, just as Carnival sis with the Fantasy class.  But we loved her.  A very comfortable ship, maybe not for an active family.  EM

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18 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

I have cruised on both Seaside and Armonia, as well as HAL Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam.  The two MSC ships are very different.  Armonia is a relaxed, slow paced ship, without any bells and whistles.  No great attractions for kids.  the decor is low key, muted, lots of lounges with comfy seating.  We were quite pleased.  Cabins are much smaller, though.  Regular balconies, OV and insides are all the same size - small.  The regular balconies were tacked on the outside of OV cabins, just as Carnival sis with the Fantasy class.  But we loved her.  A very comfortable ship, maybe not for an active family.  EM

 

This is good information for me from an experienced fellow cruiser.  Thank you.  If I find my first MSC cruise on Meraviglia to be as enjoyable as I anticipate, trying a second MSC cruise on Armonia would be tempting.  

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21 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

I have cruised on both Seaside and Armonia, as well as HAL Oosterdam, Westerdam, and Nieuw Amsterdam.  The two MSC ships are very different.  Armonia is a relaxed, slow paced ship, without any bells and whistles.  No great attractions for kids.  the decor is low key, muted, lots of lounges with comfy seating.  We were quite pleased.  Cabins are much smaller, though.  Regular balconies, OV and insides are all the same size - small.  The regular balconies were tacked on the outside of OV cabins, just as Carnival sis with the Fantasy class.  But we loved her.  A very comfortable ship, maybe not for an active family.  EM

 

Thank you Essiesmom.  I was looking for info on the Seaside.  Not interested in the Armonia.  I'm thinking we should stick with Hal, or even NCL to slowly inch towards increasing our status with either cruise line, instead of starting with a fourth cruiseline.  But that Ocean Cay MSC Reserve looks tempting!

 

Happy cruising everyone.  

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hi smilesntravels,

Just remember that Ocean Cay is now rescheduled to open for passengers December 5, 2019, (I think).  Date has been pushed back several times so far....  When are you travelling again?  Don't plan on Ocean Cay's opening as planned to weigh a decision.  Go with other factors.... and be sure to have a blast regardless!!

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I know food is very subjective,  but we were on Divinia last year and we found the food average at best... cannot say it was totally bad but just not equal to Celebrity or Royal Caribbean’s food. We are not fussy eaters so we always found something, but some nights it was not too easy.

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we found NCL's food alot better than MSC's, except for MSC's pizza. We also felt the buffet had better options on MSC. Otherwise the dining rooms ad speciality dining (in our opinion) was not as good on MSC. But with that said we booked another cruise with MSC - wasn't a deal breaker.

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On the Seaside last month, we really enjoyed the food and were pleasantly surprised.

 

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On 11/16/2019 at 7:36 AM, travelsmileandlearn said:

He told me on the Armonia that the food was okay, and there were no beef choices for dinner besides the one steak on the menu each night.  I've also read that MSC pretty much has the same thing in buffet day after day.  

Last thing absolutely is not true. It is very important if you like Italian food. Pizza, Pasta (or the mentioned Ossobuco) is much better at MSC than on other cruise lines. Steaks are not. 

 

If you sail the Armonia think about taking a cabin that allows you to dine in the La Pergola restaurant. There you not only have free time choice but also a better menu. 

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On 11/17/2019 at 2:23 PM, floridian1 said:

we found NCL's food alot better than MSC's, except for MSC's pizza. We also felt the buffet had better options on MSC. Otherwise the dining rooms ad speciality dining (in our opinion) was not as good on MSC. But with that said we booked another cruise with MSC - wasn't a deal breaker.

and we found NCL's food to be sub par (to RCL and even more so to Princess).

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I was on the Seaside last week. 
One of the things we were disappointed in was the food. It was ‘fine’. That’s honestly the best I can say. We actually stopped ordering dessert or just ordered fruit because they just weren’t worth it. 
In my opinion celebrity, NCL and carnival had better food. I can’t compare HAL as I’ve never sailed with them. 

The pizza was really good though. 

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The food on the Seaside was very good. This was our third MSC cruise. We enjoyed ourselves on the Seaside so much, we are booked on the Mera for Dec. 8. There were a couple of appetizers also in the main dining room that I am trying to recreate as well as some desserts. I plan to serve one from Butcher's Cut at Christmas.

Holland America - I find their food to be too salty.

Princess - The only time I have ever sent back a dish because it was just awful.

Carnival - overall lack of quality and choice on the buffets. Our last cruise  a few years ago), we ate at the steakhouse because dinner was bad.

RCCL - Hated the food ever since the introduction of that ranch steak years ago. Have to say that they have stepped up and our last cruise in May, the food was some of the best I have had.

NCL - I think the salads and soups are a little bland sometimes. Apps are OK. Main courses are very good with lots of choices. They are trying to offer lots to make everyone happy.

Celebrity - does most things very well.

Costa - Was pleasantly surprised. Pasta was fantastic.

Paul Gaugain - Very good and inventive.

Disney - Good.

 

 

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Food is so subjective it's hard to tell with just a few opinions. If you read the 1,000 plus reviews of MSC on cruise critic, you will notice the most common complaint of MSC is food quality and service standards. I've sailed all the mainstream lines (princess, rcl, ncl, hal, etc..) and would rank MSC food dead last of the main streams (including food served in the yc). HOWEVER; that has not stopped me from booking another cruise on MSC.

 

We don't cruise for food because it's pretty much impossible to serve outstanding food to 5,000 people a seating. We realize that MSC is a budget line (anyone in doubt of that, take a look at the current pricing where folks are sailing for 7 days in a fantastica cabin for $199). We accept the reality  that MSC must cut quality in places in order to provide such low fares. We don't expect champagne on a beer budget. 

 

With that said, MSC is the best value driven cruise line sailing today. We never went hungry. There is always something absolutely 'fine' to eat (and the pizza is fantatic imo). If you can overlook some of the shortcomings, go with the flow a bit, and keep expectations aligned with price paid, there is no reason you can't have a fantastic vacation on a MSC cruise ship!

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On 11/16/2019 at 7:22 PM, smilesntravels said:

I'm thinking we should stick with Hal, or even NCL to slowly inch towards increasing our status with either cruise line, instead of starting with a fourth cruiseline.   

I’m someone who stuck with a specific cruise line in an effort to attain their loyalty status. Interestingly, once I attained it, I didn’t care for it.  I learned that it wasn’t worth it limiting myself to one cruise line for the sake of perks, some which don’t really make or brake my vacation. So now I bounce around from cruise line to cruise line and don’t care about loyalty status. Life is truly much better this way. 
 

With all of that said, if you have already attained a loyalty status with a cruise line or hotel chain, MSC will match it to their equivalent level. We were considered Gold (their second highest level) when we sailed on them for the first time. 
 

About the food on MSC, we have sailed on them twice (once in the Mediterranean and once in the Caribbean) with a third one booked for 2020. In my personal opinion, the quality and selection is at par with the likes of Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian. It’s chain, mass market restaurant quality. Nothing memorable. But they do offer more international selections to appeal to their very diverse clientele, which many “meat and potatoes“ Americans translate into bad food. 
 

I’ve also sailed on Holland America and I do consider their cuisine (not only quality and preparation, but also the entire dining experience) to be a notch above the cruise lines mentioned before. 
 

As far as the MSC ships mentioned, we loved sailing aboard the Meraviglia in the Mediterranean last fall. Truly a stunning ship and a wonderful overall experience. After that cruise, I now rank MSC as one of my favorite cruise lines. 

Edited by Tapi

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1 hour ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

Food is so subjective it's hard to tell with just a few opinions. If you read the 1,000 plus reviews of MSC on cruise critic, you will notice the most common complaint of MSC is food quality and service standards. I've sailed all the mainstream lines (princess, rcl, ncl, hal, etc..) and would rank MSC food dead last of the main streams (including food served in the yc). HOWEVER; that has not stopped me from booking another cruise on MSC.

 

We don't cruise for food because it's pretty much impossible to serve outstanding food to 5,000 people a seating. We realize that MSC is a budget line (anyone in doubt of that, take a look at the current pricing where folks are sailing for 7 days in a fantastica cabin for $199). We accept the reality  that MSC must cut quality in places in order to provide such low fares. We don't expect champagne on a beer budget. 

 

With that said, MSC is the best value driven cruise line sailing today. We never went hungry. There is always something absolutely 'fine' to eat (and the pizza is fantatic imo). If you can overlook some of the shortcomings, go with the flow a bit, and keep expectations aligned with price paid, there is no reason you can't have a fantastic vacation on a MSC cruise ship!

Are you going to book another cruise on MSC???

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58 minutes ago, nikkiw60 said:

Are you going to book another cruise on MSC???

Already did, seaside in April :) That's early for me, but now I'm thinking of cancelling and chancing a great last minute rate. There are sailings into January coming in $350 for 7 days in fantastica balcony. Not to mention the $199 seven day balcony cabins available for most of December! It's possible MSC has over estimated their capacity in the US market and prices are a reflection.

 

Edited by BermudaBound2014

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31 minutes ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

Already did, seaside in April 🙂 That's early for me, but now I'm thinking of cancelling and chancing a great last minute rate. There are sailings into January coming in $350 for 7 days in fantastica balcony. Not to mention the $199 seven day balcony cabins available for most of December! It's possible MSC has over estimated their capacity in the US market and prices are a reflection.

 

Brilliant! Just to say we don’t get anything like those prices over here. Also think about the Aurea package the sun deck is lovely.

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8 hours ago, jdvmd said:

Princess - The only time I have ever sent back a dish because it was just awful.

 

Royal Princess this past New Year's cruise:  this was the first time that I have ever needed to do so.  Their celebrity chef's Braised Pork Belly that I ordered was the worst entree I have ever encountered.  After 3 bites, I knew that if I finished the dish, my digestive system would be in revolt for the rest of the night.  I ordered the usually reliable Fettuccine Alfredo and it was served under-cooked and an Alfredo sauce that had been poorly made.  

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Just off the Meraviglia.

 

The Marketplace Buffet was probably where we had our better meals. They had a fantastic breakfast. Lunch was usually very good, too. The pizza was great. The cheeses, especially the freshly made mozzarella was yummy. And the breads/pastries... OMG... so good. 

 

The main dining room for dinner. Yikes. We ate here three out of the four nights. The first night, both of our entrees were inedible. I forget what mine was supposed to be (some fancy pork dish), but it was 85% grissle/fat. My apple crumble ala mode came with the ice cream completely melted into soup. 

 

The next night, I ordered the salmon off the "Classics" menu (basic items that are available every night). It was decent, but nothing great. The last night, I ordered the French Onion soup (nasty, and very gravy like), and a Lasagna Bolognese. The lasagna was actually fairly tasty, although the presentation was a disaster.

 

However, where I really do need to fault MSC is two key areas:

1 - Presentation. Everything looked like it had been slopped onto the plate cafeteria style, with zero presentation or plating. I know they're feeding 5,000 people, but a little bit of effort can go a long way.

2 - Food temperature. Nothing was hot, and there were a few items that were borderline into food danger zone. Not something you want on a cruise ship.

 

My companion was "Diamond" status, so we received a complimentary dinner in one of the specialty restaurants. However, when we tried to book something once on board, we found that most everything was booked solid. Advice: Reserve early!! The only option we had was Keito Sushi. While the sushi was good, I would have preferred Butcher's Cut. We heard a lot of people raving about it. Did not run into anyone who had an opinion on Ocean Cay restaurant, or the tapas restaurant, so I cannot comment on those.

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Unpopular opinion:  The Seaside was not up to the standards of the Divina for food.  Felt like MSC purposely cut back offerings and consciously spent less per guest than prior.  Nothing concrete on that.  Quality is above Royal Caribbean, but lacking compared to Carnival, NCL, etc.  

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