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SGCruiser2013

Live on Meraviglia - New Years Cruise! - with updated itinerary

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Hello everyone from the Meraviglia New Year’s Cruise! We are RT from Miami 12/29/19 through 1/5/20. Itinerary Miami-Ocho Rios-Georgetown-Costa Maya-Ocean Cay-Miami. The two sea days are between Miami and Ocho Rios, and Costa Maya and Ocean Cay. We are a large family of 20+ with 10+ cabins having a great holiday celebration. We are all doing Fantastica experience. Most in balconies on 11th floor, a few in oceanview on Deck 5.

 

This is currently the morning of Day 6 of 8, just finished night 4 of 7, so about two-thirds done on the cruise. I don’t write a lot of cruise reviews, but we’ve probably done a dozen or so cruises thus far and this is our first on MSC. It’s Day 2 in Costa Maya and I had some free time and thought I’d get started with a couple of posts. In case you haven’t otherwise heard – winds/weather prevented us from getting out of Costa Maya last night so we had itinerary change and will be spending another day in Costa Maya today, a sea day tomorrow, and skipping Ocean Cay (boo!).

 

POST #1 for this thread: Booking and Embarkation.

 

BOOKING: We booked through a high-volume travel agency. We requested early seating. Most of us bought on President’s Day sale and got Easy Package, 2GB internet, and Cirque Dinner/Viaggio included. Our cruise agency gave us just short of $300 OBC. None of us had traveled MSC before. After seeing status match discussions here on CC, some of us status matched so in our group there is Silver, Gold and Diamond via status match.

 

The one major hiccup in booking is a really odd one and is currently unresolved. I’ve not experienced it in my cruising over the past 20 years. For a reason that has yet to be provided, about six weeks ago MSC unilaterally moved the cabin of one of our group members. Without notification, without explanation. The cabin was moved from a mid-ship balcony next to certain other family members to a metal railing balcony effectively at the front of the ship (on the same deck). We noticed this about 2 weeks before the cruise, at check-in (when it showed online the other booking numbers and cabins that were linked together). We noticed one cabin was a number we weren’t familiar with. We immediately contacted MSC who indicated that we needed to communicate through the travel agency. We then contacted the travel agency who contacted MSC. Our agent was not given an explanation by MSC. After a week or so of stress, and some non-responsiveness, MSC offered to move the cabin back near our group (but not to the original cabin). They also indicated they would provide some VIP deliveries during the week. This was obviously disappointing as we had booked our cabins, fully paid for them, and received no communication whatsoever. I do not consider the matter resolved in the slightest, nevertheless, we didn’t want to spend our holidays fighting it and will take it back up with MSC after the cruise.

 

EMBARKATION: Embarkation went pretty smooth. We stayed the night near MIA and took Uber to the ship, arriving between 10:45am and 11am. Bags dropped off easy and then went through check-in. At this time, security check was about 15 minutes, the line for check in/registration was about 20 mins, and we were in the Boarding waiting area in Group 8 by about 11:30-11:40. They called us to the ship just after 12. Other than some pretty loud music/speakers in the waiting area, it was very smooth and no issues. When we boarded the ship, we went up to the Marketplace buffet and sat in the back. The food on the buffet that day was honestly the best it’s been all cruise and was a great start. Rooms were ready by 2pm and we were excited for the trip!! More to come…

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Post #2 for this thread: Ship and Days 1-3

 

SHIP: Thus far I have found previous reviews and descriptions to be very accurate. Will summarize my personal thoughts here although some of this may sound familiar. The ship itself is really beautiful. Appointments and décor feel new, the design and artistic layout is really pretty, and we’ve really enjoyed the aesthetics of the ship altogether. Our balcony rooms are nice though they feel smaller. The balconies themselves are skinny and I definitely prefer greater depth from cabin to rail. In the rooms, I would agree with some others that the storage is not as significant and many within our group have made due a little bit by living out of the suitcase a bit more, or utilizing the couch for some extra storage. I have found the bed comfortable. We each had one harder pillow and one softer pillow on arrival, with option to swap out, which we both opted for the firmer pillows which our attendant replaced very quickly upon request which was nice. I think the bathroom/shower have been great.

 

Things we love: the broadway theater is great, very good seating all around. @APDMOM has it correct that the caramel latte’s at Jean Phillipe are extraordinary. I’ve been every morning. Jean Phillipe is kind of interesting because it’s a ‘big’ location within the highest traffic area on Deck 6, however, the displays of chocolates for sale do take up a lot of space and I wonder if that is worth it as the shopping activity seems light. We love the ‘secret’ elevator banks in between the two main ones (it’s true – they become ‘less secret’ as the cruise rolls on). We love the Sky Lounge, the big seats in the Champagne bar, and the genuine wide variety of theater shows that we’ve seen. Finally, we love the friendliness of our cabin attendant and several other ship employees we’ve found along the way.

 

Things we like: We like the main dining. The service is a little slow for our taste but that was expected. The ship public areas are nice, although for this large a passenger group I think there should be more public area (or less passenger count). We like the ship layout. We are not pool people but those who are within our group like the pool areas. It’s a big ship, so I also like getting my steps in each day.

 

Things we think could improve: The lines at guest services are long. The MSC for Me app is buggy. I bought the tracking bracelet for my mom but it doesn’t work and two trips to GS haven’t helped as nobody seems to really know what was needed. On this cruise vs. the others I’ve taken, there does seem to be a “presence of selling” that is a put-off. Particularly in the first few days, there was a LOT of people selling things around the ship. On Day 1, I saw some people selling champagne delivery to staterooms on NYE. I filed that away in my mind and returned an hour later to purchase a bottle for my family member with the stateroom mix-up. First, two people fought over me as to who would ‘get the sale’ (until a manager stepped in to take over) and second, they didn’t follow what I thought were straightforward instructions to bill me and deliver to him. Rather, they billed him & that caused some time to fix at GS.

 

DAYS 1-3: Like I said in my first post, Day 1 was pretty much a breeze getting on. It is a sour taste for sure that one of our group had their stateroom moved without notification, without explanation. Trying not to dwell on that, but when you are a party/family traveling together, that’s a big put out. Our first night in main dining and the first broadway show were great. Since we are a large party, we were pleased that they seated us in main dining together (across three tables, near to each other).

 

Day 2 was a day at sea. Not too much to say here, mostly was ship exploring for everyone. Marketplace buffet for breakfast serves great food, however, super crowded at busy times and like other crowded buffet situations there seems to be an ‘edge’ to people vs. warmer tendencies. Had lunch at the Sushi place, was kind of expensive for the amount of food/quality. For dinner, we went to the Cirque-Viaggio show which was a freebie when we booked. On this – interesting – we had linked booking numbers well in advance of the ship sailing for our group, but some were booked in Cirque-Viaggio for dinner on different nights. They ‘book you’ in a particular date/evening for the show in advance, but if you wait in line at the cirque-area, they will also change it for you. We did that on Day 1, and when our party wasn’t together, they combined it for Night 2 showing. We thought the Cirque show was excellent. Food was pretty good and the views from seats were great.

 

Day 3 was NYE. We were at Ocho Rios and we did the Chukka River tubing excursion. We enjoyed it a lot. Peaceful, relaxing, fun. Excursions were run pretty efficiently, e.g., meet here at this time, register and call your number, off the ship pretty quickly, on to excursion. That’s been the case for all our excursions thus far. For NYE, we ate main dining, saw the nightly show, and then hung out for the evening at Sky Lounge and had an awesome time. Happy New Year everyone!! I'm off to Jean Phillipe for a caramel latte...back later.

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Don`t worry too much about missing O.C.

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Post #3 for this Thread: Tips and Other Observations

 

Hello again, it’s Saturday morning and we have a sea day now based on our itinerary change and skipping Ocean Cay after holding for a second day at Costa Maya. It’s interesting being in a large family group – lots of opinions and observations – but the hot topic yesterday was whether or not our staying in Costa Maya an extra day was fully “on the level”. There were other ships in port with us, the Rhapsody of the Seas and a large TUI ship, both of whom left and didn’t stay an extra day. Additionally, we couldn’t leave because of high winds, however, the Norwegian Getaway was able to arrive, dock, have a day, and leave before us. Perhaps we were more encumbered by dock positioning. But conspiracy theories re: Ocean Cay abound and we can leave it at that.

 

Before updating on middle part of our itinerary, thought I would give a few tips and observations from our larger group’s experience. I’m not sure any of these are new – they may be out there in other threads – but nonetheless wanted to pass along.

 

a)       You can ask your cabin attendant for hand towels.

b)      For older parties, find a way to “mark” or otherwise recognize if they are on the odd vs. even side of the ship. We have found the hallways very difficult to navigate/very easy to get lost on the even side (of Deck 11 at least).

c)       Cirque reservations sold out about mid-week so get your dates reserved early. This was one of the ‘initial’ things we did when we arrived on ship and was a good one.

d)      You can only reserve bowling same day, or for the next day. So figure out their opening times, and usually not a lot open.

e)      I purchased two massages from the Aurea Spa, and with that came a discount on both massages as well as 2 daily uses of the thermal suite (that they let me give to other family members).

f)        If you are at all an early bird, the ship is yours in the mornings, except in the Marketplace.

g)       There is generally a long line at the egg station for made to order. At the end of the egg station, there are pans of sunny/over-easy eggs being cooked up, as well as eggs benedict. The yolks on eggs benedict are hard but if you like soft yolks, you can request them and they will go get you fresh made eggs benedict with soft yolks.

h)      There is a strict adherence to the “two-device” policy if you get free internet package. Meaning, it’s not two devices “at one time” but two devices “period” that can log into the single set of user credentials you are given. Example – I logged in on my phone to start/kick things off. I also logged into my computer to send last round of emails before leaving on Sunday. I then logged off computer, but my wife couldn’t “log on” anymore because two devices had already accessed the internet on the credential. Thus, we had to extend our internet package to 4 devices.

i)        Since the service is slower, early dining at 5:30pm is really more likely dining at 6pm-7pm. Similarly in Butcher’s Cut our large group choices were 5:30pm or 8pm and we chose 8pm (which was more like 9-10pm after they took the orders, got drinks etc.). We probably should have chose 5:30pm, which then we would have eaten 6:30pm-8-ish.

 

Regarding the APP: It’s worth some time to familiarize with the app and unfortunately you can’t really do it until you board. Once we got familiar, it has been very useful (other than the wristbands). Things we do with the app: We book all of our shows, which one person can do for both people in your cabin (but which you cannot do for ‘other cabins’ even if in your group); We used the chat feature a lot, basically free messaging/texting within the app, but you have to connect/scan other people’s phones or know their exact name/cabin number within the system to add them as a contact; You can add any activities to your ‘personal agenda’ which is an easy way to see what’s on tap for each day without having to keep track in your mind or find your printed program; We didn’t use it to book shore excursions, but we did monitor the app for spots opening up in excursions that had previously closed/become full.

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It does sound somewhat odd regarding the Costa Maya stay especially when other ships came and went under the same weather conditions, however there was a post here on CC last week that mentioned that sharks has got past the nets and into the lagoon which may or may not be the reason behind it.

We managed to go last Saturday but most excursions were cancelled citing the wind, they also cancelled the live music and parade.

We were off the ship during the day and in the evening, the wind wasn't that strong. Methinks MSC are being economical with the truth.

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Post #4 for this thread: Days 4-6 (Cayman, Costa Maya, Costa Maya again)

 

New Years Day we were in Grand Cayman. We’ve been to Grand Cayman a bunch, so took this as a day on ship. If we had known no Ocean Cay, we might have tried to do something. Some family members did the Best of Cayman tour for about 2.5 hours and thought was relaxing and enjoyable. Others did the Dolphin Encounter & Stingray City and had a great time, though they thought generally the tour was a bit disorganized. On the ship, I bought the two massage package with the two days of thermal suite (that could be used separately on different days, by different people) included. The massage was hot stone and it was excellent. There was no attempt at ‘selling’ any products afterwards.

 

Night of Jan 1 we had large group reservation at Butcher’s Cut at 8pm. The service lasted a long time, we weren’t finished until almost 11pm. The meal was good. We had not bought “dining experiences” beforehand and this was the only specialty restaurant most went to. The dining package (3 courses) was $47. They had a strict rule about substitutions. If you substitute an entrée choice, or an appetizer choice, the substitution fee is 50% of the a la carte price of the entrée/appetizer. Not 50% of the “difference” in price. So that makes substitutions possible but pretty costly as the a la carte pricing can be steep. Overall the meal was pretty well prepared. Only one or two had their steaks cooked incorrectly enough to be sent/requested back.

 

The past two days have been Costa Maya. The first planned, the second unplanned but ascribed to heavy winds (which is certainly factual that the winds were strong). The first/original Costa Maya day, most of our group did the Chacchoben ruins tour, some in the regular bus and some on the ‘exclusive’ which was like $30 extra per person and got you in a private van vs. bus, and a smaller group with your tour guide. Everyone who went seemed to enjoy. Others in our group did dune buggy and a catamaran sail. All seemed to enjoy the excursions. On the second day in Costa Maya, nobody was feeling need to plan another big/ship excursion so separate groups went into a) the small Costa Maya port village (brought to you by...large corporations with a profit motive) and b) the town of Mahahual, where they rented a "golf cart" at the port, and rode it into town for real Mexican food. Lunch and large margarita's for 4 at the Costa Maya village: $175, and free views of Mexican professional wrestling. Golf cart and lunch in real town for 5, was about $100 (golf cart $60, lunch and drinks $40). One of the golf carts rented broke immediately after leaving the port so YMMV on this more adventurous option. 

 

For whatever reason, our group has felt that after New Year’s the main dining has fallen off. The first couple of days the consensus was that the meals were cooked pretty well, the variety was nice, the nightly options were pretty good. But in the last couple of nights, the food has been really bland or overcooked or just not great. Similarly, the Marketplace Buffet options, other than rotating what is being carved, have not had much in terms of new options. While the food on the ship started as average/good, our group is now more in the not-that-good category. Exception – Jean Phillipe caramel lattes which are consistently great.

 

A few nights ago and then last night, there were improv/adult comedians on the ship and they were a lot of fun. Also, I think the entertainment has generally been very good though one show had a lot of lip synching which was strange and sounded terrible.

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9 minutes ago, sidari said:

It does sound somewhat odd regarding the Costa Maya stay especially when other ships came and went under the same weather conditions, however there was a post here on CC last week that mentioned that sharks has got past the nets and into the lagoon which may or may not be the reason behind it.

We managed to go last Saturday but most excursions were cancelled citing the wind, they also cancelled the live music and parade.

We were off the ship during the day and in the evening, the wind wasn't that strong. Methinks MSC are being economical with the truth.

 

Yeah it feels a little odd, but I've not been able to look at some of the other posts (e.g., heard Allure was supposed to come to Costa Maya but didn't (maybe b/c we didn't leave?) and also see what happened to the Rhapsody, that TUI ship, and how did Getaway get in/out with no problems. In any event, they have been very clear in their repeated messaging on the bad weather in Costa Maya, wanting everyone to hear it very clearly that it was the reason we were staying. 

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Did you get off the ship at all over those two days ? Our Xmas cruise had the itinerary changed so that we went to Roatan first and Costa Maya last did not hear what the reason was for it.

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1 hour ago, sidari said:

 however there was a post here on CC last week that mentioned that sharks has got past the nets and into the lagoon which may or may not be the reason behind it.

 

 

I did not see that post.  😱

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I’m on this cruise also. Not my favorite of my 20 or so. Pretty much a bottom feeder. 
 

We also something didn’t add up with the extra day in Costa Maya since all the other cruise ships were able to come and go. 
 

MSC intentionally changed my Butchers Cut reservation for a port day when we had a long excursion thru them. Finally got them to change for next day and the restaurant was empty.

 

Service in MDR was horrible. Cold food inferior grade of meats long 2 hour dinners with no service.

 

Rethinking my 21 day b2b in June 2021 for Baltic and Fjords.

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On 1/4/2020 at 9:35 AM, SGCruiser2013 said:

 

Yeah it feels a little odd, but I've not been able to look at some of the other posts (e.g., heard Allure was supposed to come to Costa Maya but didn't (maybe b/c we didn't leave?) and also see what happened to the Rhapsody, that TUI ship, and how did Getaway get in/out with no problems. In any event, they have been very clear in their repeated messaging on the bad weather in Costa Maya, wanting everyone to hear it very clearly that it was the reason we were staying. 

We were on  the Armonia last month and had a switch.  They changed up our schedule so that OC was on day 1 instead of day 7 and they cited weather.  I dont know about their weather forecasters but ours can rarely get tomorrow right, let alone almost a week away.  This coupled with the information that the Armonia had engine issues the sailing prior to our cruise leads me to think MSC wasnt completely honest about why our schedule changed.  Now it did end up being cooler the day we were supposed to be on OC than the day we ended up on OC, and they made sure we heard about it a couple of times.  LOL

 

 

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OK - sorry everyone, needed a few days to recover on return. Quick final post for our trip review. 

 

After the extra day in Costa Maya we had our newly created Sea Day and all Ocean Cay port excursions were refunded as well as a $40 credit was posted (this seemed to be a refund of taxes). The final sea day a lot of us spent bowling and using the electronic activities - Formula 1, and Flight Simulator (expensive, but fun!) - and I visited the Spa again. Two massages I had on the cruise were both really excellent, and neither had any 'upsale' activity (buy this cream, buy this oil, etc.). I had the Bali massage with hot stones, and then the Bali massage with Himalayan salts. I'd say they were both awesome but the second one was slightly better. Food on this day was very mediocre. I'd say for the ship we started pretty good but then the food became somewhat average to below average generally IMO. Unfortunately, the last 48 hours or so of our trip was tainted a bit by about one-third of our large group becoming sick (ultimately, this was flu for some, bad coughs for others, varying symptoms and severity). One of our group had made really good friends with our bartender on New Years Eve and they exchanged cell numbers and he indicated that in the current week a lot of crew has been sick as well. I'm sure this happens sometimes and this flu season is still heating up in pockets. 

 

Disembarkation was easy and straightforward. We left our bags out, we left our rooms at 8am and headed to the Marketplace (which was crazy, but we finally found a place to sit) and at 9:30am we went to the designated location, and at 10am we walked off the ship, and about 40 minutes later we were in an Uber headed to the airport. Very smooth. 

 

An interesting event occurred right before docking in Miami. As we were entering/approaching the port, about 4:45am, we were awakened by a big jolt, the ship either banking steeply or stopping abruptly, or both. We continued forward (didn't actually stop at any point) but there was a flurry of activity on our side of the deck and then about 5 minutes after the speakers in all cabins heard the command "Delta-Echo, Delta-Echo, Delta-Echo". Naturally, at breakfast, we tried to sleuth what the mysterious Delta Echo call sign was, and it seemed like every crew member had been sworn to secrecy. Some played it off - "I think it has something to do with the laundry" and some said clearly "I'm not allowed to say, I'll lose my job". One person said they couldn't say something, and then 10 minutes later came by and whispered it meant potential ship damage, we're lucky we were so close to port, but then again Meraviglia went out on time that evening so must not have been something serious. If any of you maritime or MSC experts know what a Delta-Echo means, we're curious! 

 

Anyways, 1) really appreciate this board for all the tips about MSC and Meraviglia, they were helpful for our first time aboard, 2) the ship truly is a nice ship, though the rooms felt smaller/less appointed on comparable basis, and 3) not really sure MSC is for me, I tend to like better food, options, service and spaciousness. Unfortunately, we are still dealing with no luck in getting MSC further response on unilateral, without notification, without explanation, moving of one of our group members from the specific cabin they reserved & paid for adjacent to our group. Will update this post if that ever happens and otherwise just make a point that this was a good example of very poor service in a specific situation. 

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It seems on the day you were in Costa Maya the flagship Grandiosa hit the pier in Palermo due to wind gusts, It seems that the ship may had been told to stay put to avoid any damage due to the berth position and the wind!

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My family and I were on the Norwegian Getaway that docked in Costa Maya on Friday,  January 3. The word on our ship was that your ship could not leave because of the position of your pier...parallel to the island, while we were more perpendicular. We were told that the direction of the very strong winds was forcing your ship to jam up to the pier so tightly that the ship could not move without causing damage to the ship. This seemed like a reasonable explanation to us, as the winds were, indeed, extremely strong. This was info we got from crew members who had friends who were crew members on your ship....but who knows if it is fact. 

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On 1/11/2020 at 11:46 AM, SGCruiser2013 said:

about 40 minutes later we were in an Uber headed to the airport. Very smooth. 

it took 40 minutes for an uber?????

 

Thanks for the review! Loved it!

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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