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sds

New to MSC

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Hello fellow cruise critics I am looking to you for some guidance and insight about MSC cruises I just booked a last minute cruise on the Mervaglia for April 5th 2020. I have been on about 6 or so cruises mostly on Royal and Carnival just looking for some cruisers who have experienced both Royal and Carnival and who can share some comparisons, issues or surprises that MSC does differently than the typical cruise any information would be greatly appreciated. 

Edited by sds

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We have not personally tried out MSC...yet. We are booked on MSC Seaview for July, 2021 on a Med. We have sailed NCL, Carnival & Royal. Those lines all great in their own ways regarding service, food in MDR and entertainment. We are excited to give MSC a try. I think you will be pleased. There are certain things that will be new (e.g. the announcements in multiple languages, maybe diversity of foods, being it is an Italian line), however, we have done extensive research on this, as well have spoken to many extended family, friends and neighbors who have given MSC a shot...they are a very good value, and our aunt/uncle with 4 kids, as well as our neighbors who have also sailed Carnival have told us MSC food was exceptional in MDR and beautiful ships (they have sailed Divina, Seaside and Seaview to name a few). So although I cannot personally give my opinion, what I've heard firsthand from people close to us, and what I've read on CC prompted us to book for 2021. You should enjoy your trip....one thing I also noticed is that each line upcharges for their own fair share of "extras" including MSC.... doesn't bother us as we are still getting a much better value for our family over a land based all inclusive... and entertainment on MSC may not seem as "up to par" with what we've sailed thus far, but again, I have read it is because they have more diverse passengers....so operas, illusionists as opposed to Punchliner or broadway musicals...hope this helps 

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This is a broad topic, but I'll try to provide a few comparisons.

 

MSC servers tend to wait for you to call them over. My husband likes this kind of service better than RCCL or Carnival where we were often approached multiple times an hour when on the pool deck.

 

The passengers tend to be more diverse with many from Europe. My son liked meeting kids from other countries at the kids club. Even with a language barrier, they figured out how to play together.

 

I find that they offer a good value for our cruise dollar. We can cruise in a balcony for the price of an ocean view on other lines.

 

Hope this helps.

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We will be taking our first MSC cruise in a few days.  For the past year, I've been reading CC posts on this MSC board, and I think we are comfortable in what to expect.  I recommend doing so, whenever you get a chance.  (Personally, however, I hardly ever read reviews.)  I've learned about the different "experiences" (we chose Bella because we want a set dining time, and don't use room service); why the service is more discreet and less "buddy"; why the shows are more musical and less language-dependent.

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I took my first MSC cruise in September. It was a European cruise and I was travelling solo. I did a lot of research here and I would say that most of the reviews were spot on. I think that the fact that you're here on Cruise Critic will give you a realistic expectation of what to expect and I would also say to go with an open mind. There are probably going to be things that are different than what you're used to but different doesn't mean bad. I liked MSC enough to book another one for 2021 and this time it will be a Caribbean itinerary so I'm looking forward to seeing how a Caribbean cruise is vs Europe (food, passenger mix, etc).

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30 minutes ago, cruiser82 said:

I took my first MSC cruise in September. It was a European cruise and I was travelling solo. I did a lot of research here and I would say that most of the reviews were spot on. I think that the fact that you're here on Cruise Critic will give you a realistic expectation of what to expect and I would also say to go with an open mind. There are probably going to be things that are different than what you're used to but different doesn't mean bad. I liked MSC enough to book another one for 2021 and this time it will be a Caribbean itinerary so I'm looking forward to seeing how a Caribbean cruise is vs Europe (food, passenger mix, etc).

We have cruised MSC in the Med and Caribbean. The MDR menu in the Caribbean is a little bit Americanized. For example, you will find New York cheesecake. Chocolate chip cookies were not to be found in the Med, but they are plentiful in the Caribbean.

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12 minutes ago, Match Game 72 said:

We have cruised MSC in the Med and Caribbean. The MDR menu in the Caribbean is a little bit Americanized. For example, you will find New York cheesecake. Chocolate chip cookies were not to be found in the Med, but they are plentiful in the Caribbean.

Good to know, thanks!

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We have cruised both Royal and Carnival as well as MSC Seaside 2x.  From my perspective, if you have young kids cruising, I'd personally pick Royal for the vast array of onboard activities to keep the kids entertained.  We are not fans of Carnival, just not our taste anymore, but I've not had a "I'm never sailing X again!" moment, just shifting tastes.

 

In fact, we are doing an all-family cruise next summer with our grown boys (men?), daughter, and 6 immediate family members going on their 1st cruise (hmm, my nephew is in the Navy on a sub...does that count as a "cruise?" LOL).  For this cruise, I'm booking Royal due to all the things to do, Coco Cay and the fun experiences.

 

Having said that, we are now MSC converts! we've done 35+ cruises at this point and we look for service, attention to detail, good/great food and a place to relax.  Yes, there are water slides and a water park, a ropes course and activities all day on the Seaside, but we usually skip those.  For the price point, we find MSC checks all our boxes at a great value which actually allows us to upgrade to the Yacht Club while staying in our vacay budget.  Luv me some YC!!

 

We take an open mind on all our cruises, and you'd be hard pressed to find little things annoying us.  We just let stuff roll off our backs (like getting caught in a torrential downpour because the port terminal was logged jammed with only 2 people checking ship IDs to get through the port area and back onto the ship.  We now refer to that cruise as the "Rain Cruise") and enjoy our vacation!

 

I wrote an extensive cruise review on the Seaside, Rattanchair has several MSC reviews, and APDMOM has 2 very excellent recent reviews.  Definite must-reads to learn more about MSC's offerings.

 

Hope these opinions help out!

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40 minutes ago, psmarkle said:

We have cruised both Royal and Carnival as well as MSC Seaside 2x.  From my perspective, if you have young kids cruising, I'd personally pick Royal for the vast array of onboard activities to keep the kids entertained.  We are not fans of Carnival, just not our taste anymore, but I've not had a "I'm never sailing X again!" moment, just shifting tastes.

 

In fact, we are doing an all-family cruise next summer with our grown boys (men?), daughter, and 6 immediate family members going on their 1st cruise (hmm, my nephew is in the Navy on a sub...does that count as a "cruise?" LOL).  For this cruise, I'm booking Royal due to all the things to do, Coco Cay and the fun experiences.

 

Having said that, we are now MSC converts! we've done 35+ cruises at this point and we look for service, attention to detail, good/great food and a place to relax.  Yes, there are water slides and a water park, a ropes course and activities all day on the Seaside, but we usually skip those.  For the price point, we find MSC checks all our boxes at a great value which actually allows us to upgrade to the Yacht Club while staying in our vacay budget.  Luv me some YC!!

 

We take an open mind on all our cruises, and you'd be hard pressed to find little things annoying us.  We just let stuff roll off our backs (like getting caught in a torrential downpour because the port terminal was logged jammed with only 2 people checking ship IDs to get through the port area and back onto the ship.  We now refer to that cruise as the "Rain Cruise") and enjoy our vacation!

 

I wrote an extensive cruise review on the Seaside, Rattanchair has several MSC reviews, and APDMOM has 2 very excellent recent reviews.  Definite must-reads to learn more about MSC's offerings.

 

Hope these opinions help out!

We have cruised with MSC twice and are ready to book another cruise,  I am considering booking the Yacht Club but I looked at some of the menus and I don't like a lot of the choices.   I think I would like the other dining rooms or buffet more because there is more choice.    Is it worth paying the extra for YC when I might not eat in the special dining room very much?

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IMO, yes!  Enjoying the quiet YC pool deck and poolside buffet are worth it.  Having cocktails delivered to your room as the fam gets ready for dinner is worth it! The priority elevators, reserved show seating, butler escort during disembarkation, the YC Topsail Lounge, etc...to us, it's soooo worth it!  We previously sailed in the Haven on NCL and the YC is literally about 1/2 of the price. As for the YC menu, I ordered the available-everyday Filet Mignon 3x this past cruise...I'm a carnivore and that steak did not disappoint each time!

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15 hours ago, psmarkle said:

IMO, yes!  Enjoying the quiet YC pool deck and poolside buffet are worth it.  Having cocktails delivered to your room as the fam gets ready for dinner is worth it! The priority elevators, reserved show seating, butler escort during disembarkation, the YC Topsail Lounge, etc...to us, it's soooo worth it!  We previously sailed in the Haven on NCL and the YC is literally about 1/2 of the price. As for the YC menu, I ordered the available-everyday Filet Mignon 3x this past cruise...I'm a carnivore and that steak did not disappoint each time!

Thank you.

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We have sailed MSC four times. Three trips in Europe and one in the Caribbean. Three cruises were in the Yacht Club and one was an Aurea Suite. Some observations:

 

1. We sailed the Meraviglia four months after launch. We were in the Yacht Club and that made all the difference. The ship holds close to 6,000 passengers and the number of passengers is very noticeable in public areas. Shows were packed, and folks were sitting on the stairs every show we attended. 

 

2. We were in an Aurea Suite on the Preziosa in Northern Europe. Definitely a different dining experience than the Yacht Club. Food was often cold and really not that appetizing overall.

 

3. Our favorite ship was the Divina which we cruised shortly after it launched. It is a smaller ship than the Meraviglia, and we liked that size more than the mega ships. 

 

My advice regarding the Meraviglia is to reserve all your shows asap. If you have my choice dining that will be useful. Unfortunately, on Caribbean cruises, deck chairs are reserved early via towels, books, shoes, etc. Like most cruise lines, there is not much enforcement of informal deck chair reservation. MSC now has auction upgrades. If you get an invite and the price is reasonable for the Yacht Club, it is a completely different and better cruise in the YC. We typically get balconies, but we stayed in an inside YC on the Meraviglia. The room is small, but with the Top Sail Lounge and spacious sun deck, we were not in our room much the entire trip. 

 

Have a great cruise. Hopefully they have worked the bugs out of the Meraviglia. It is a beautiful ship, and the LCD ceiling is spectacular. With a little planing, you can overcome the size/congestion issues on a ship of this size.  

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Thanks to everyone who responded you guys are the best!!  Since I first posted I have upgraded from a Bella balcony ( with a life boat view Whew! Dodged that bullet)  To finally finding a non obstructed view fantastica balcony on the 9th floor so I went from room 8100 to 9192 midship on the bump out ( yes I know it cost more but I couldn't deal with looking out to my balcony and seeing an orange boat). My cruise is booked solid for April 4th 2020 sailing so I consider myself lucky. There is a lot of information to go through on MSC. There is the YC crew who say cruise only this way along with the die hard cruise line loyalist that take shots at almost everything out there. The good thing is I have an open mind and have been on multiple ships recently including Carnival Vista, RCL Freedom of the seas, Anthem and the Harmony  so I can appreciate the larger ships with crowds. Does anyone find that the service and the ship itself pales in comparison to the ships and lines I have named? Is the European methodology of cruising and service that much different? Its really all over the place when I try to get a read on it. I know most will say I have to experience it first hand, which I will but knowledge is king when going into the unknown. Any other insight would be greatly appreciated going forward. 

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My take on the European style of service is that it is more discreet.  Dining room servers are not providing jokes along with dinner; they are virtually invisible but the food appears when it should.  Many have said that going to the bar to order a drink is better than sitting around and assuming someone will approach you.

Personally, I like this, but it was a surprise when I first encountered it.

 

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17 hours ago, sds said:

Thanks to everyone who responded you guys are the best!!  Since I first posted I have upgraded from a Bella balcony ( with a life boat view Whew! Dodged that bullet)  To finally finding a non obstructed view fantastica balcony on the 9th floor so I went from room 8100 to 9192 midship on the bump out ( yes I know it cost more but I couldn't deal with looking out to my balcony and seeing an orange boat). My cruise is booked solid for April 4th 2020 sailing so I consider myself lucky. There is a lot of information to go through on MSC. There is the YC crew who say cruise only this way along with the die hard cruise line loyalist that take shots at almost everything out there. The good thing is I have an open mind and have been on multiple ships recently including Carnival Vista, RCL Freedom of the seas, Anthem and the Harmony  so I can appreciate the larger ships with crowds. Does anyone find that the service and the ship itself pales in comparison to the ships and lines I have named? Is the European methodology of cruising and service that much different? Its really all over the place when I try to get a read on it. I know most will say I have to experience it first hand, which I will but knowledge is king when going into the unknown. Any other insight would be greatly appreciated going forward. 

How did you find out that that Bella balcony has a lifeboat in front?  When I asked that question about what obstruction the Bella balconies on deck 8 had the only answer I got was the shaded areas were cove balconies with metal instead of glass.  I see many other Bella balconies on both sides on deck 8.  Do they all have lifeboats in front?

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Posted (edited)

Research research research this was the hardest information to obtain from the customer service reps. So what I did was implement my own methodology first I used every search engine imaginable  with my room number in it along with using Youtube for some visual cues. I took my deck plan counted out the rooms from a static point (e.g panoramic elevator) then used a side shot of the ship and counted from there. Once I had a general idea I began the search for room surrounding mine on you tube so that I could get a topographical view, this helped me isolate my location and prospective view. This wasn't easy but I was able to gleen a tremendous amount of information using this method. It ultimately helped me decide to move the first chance I could hence my wife and I both booked Fantastic balconies yesterday when they emerged on the site. I cancelled my bella and another fantastica last night both were gone in an hours time. As for knowing if all of the bella are obstructed I cant speak to that but from all of my research I would say a lot are hence they are bella from what I can gather.  Hope this helps it did for me.

Edited by sds

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On 12/30/2019 at 8:43 AM, cruiselover19811981 said:

We have not personally tried out MSC...yet. We are booked on MSC Seaview for July, 2021 on a Med. We have sailed NCL, Carnival & Royal. Those lines all great in their own ways regarding service, food in MDR and entertainment. We are excited to give MSC a try. I think you will be pleased. There are certain things that will be new (e.g. the announcements in multiple languages, maybe diversity of foods, being it is an Italian line), however, we have done extensive research on this, as well have spoken to many extended family, friends and neighbors who have given MSC a shot...they are a very good value, and our aunt/uncle with 4 kids, as well as our neighbors who have also sailed Carnival have told us MSC food was exceptional in MDR and beautiful ships (they have sailed Divina, Seaside and Seaview to name a few). So although I cannot personally give my opinion, what I've heard firsthand from people close to us, and what I've read on CC prompted us to book for 2021. You should enjoy your trip....one thing I also noticed is that each line upcharges for their own fair share of "extras" including MSC.... doesn't bother us as we are still getting a much better value for our family over a land based all inclusive... and entertainment on MSC may not seem as "up to par" with what we've sailed thus far, but again, I have read it is because they have more diverse passengers....so operas, illusionists as opposed to Punchliner or broadway musicals...hope this helps 

The ships look nice. The cabin staff attentive. The line charges for tips, and the cabin and bar staff told me the line keeps the "charge". Ask for a glass of water in the restaurant: get only water via San Pellegrino bottle at 8 Euros per bottle. Food mediocre, pizza OK. May be if you want to eat pizza as your daily diet, the line will be ok for you.

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4 minutes ago, liceista said:

The ships look nice. The cabin staff attentive. The line charges for tips, and the cabin and bar staff told me the line keeps the "charge". Ask for a glass of water in the restaurant: get only water via San Pellegrino bottle at 8 Euros per bottle. Food mediocre, pizza OK. May be if you want to eat pizza as your daily diet, the line will be ok for you.

 

It's really interesting to read the other posts made by this member. . .   🙊

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We 've sailed MSC twice, and booked the Meraviglia for November. Love the value of the line, and haven't had a bad cruise with them. Food is subjective, but I never went hungry.I found the service on board was much better than the land CS.

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