We chose this cruise for the ports and to try a new line. MSC has the status match program which also helped. This cruise was from Genoa, Italy to Kiel, Germany with stops at Marseille, Barcelona, Cadiz, Lisbon, Vigo, and Southampton.
Embarkation: This was a disaster. I am not sure if Genoa was not equipped to handle this many passengers, or if they were just not prepared to turn over the whole ship as MSC frequently interports in Europe. Whatever the reason, we arrived at the port at noon and eventually made it onboard around 4pm.
Ship: The Meraviglia is a beautiful ship. Every area has something unique and stylish about it. That being said, many areas seemed choppy and without a good flow to them which created bottlenecks at certain areas.
Cabin: We had a Fantastica Ocean View (O2) and while the cabin was spacious enough and well appointed, the storage space was nearly non-existent. Especially for a twelve day cruise. We were on Deck 5, just down from guest services and the Atrium bar and I thought the location was good. easy to get everywhere.
Dining: This started out poorly, but eventually ended up fine. We had no dining time assigned, we just kept being told that we would get our time once on board…that never really worked out, mainly because we boarded so late, the dining table had closed. Finally we were assigned a table/time and that is where we sat the rest of the cruise. Food in the MDR was fair to good; In the buffet was mostly fair with some good, and at our one specialty dining experience, The Chef’s Table, was spectacular. That meal will be its own post!
Entertainment: MSC really shines in this area. Shows were good to great and Cirque at Sea was amazing. We saw One Day More (a Broadway tribute, La Boheme (condensed), and both Cirque shows (Viaggio and Sonor). We had the “Dinner and a Show” package for the Cirque shows, I will comment on that in the Specialty dining post. The amount of talent on this ship was amazing! The only problem is that if the seas are too rough, the Cirque at Sea gets cancelled as it could be dangerous for the performers. We were lucky and both of our shows went off without a hitch and were absolutely amazing!
Service: Across the board service was friendly and professional. Never had an issue there. My only tiny (kinda funny too) issue was in the Sky Lounge. This is a gorgeous bar on Deck 18 reported to serve “molecular” cocktails. As a huge fan of Carnival’s Alchemy bar, I had to give this one a shot as well. I ordered the Turquoise Blue. It was supposed to look like this:
Here is what I actually got:
I made a comment to the waiter who agreed that it was not very Instagram worthy but that the pictures were styled just for photos, not what was actually served. He was pretty self-depreciating and we were laughing about it all night, no matter what I ordered. In truth, if it tastes good, I’m happy. This one I ordered solely for the looks, so from there on out, I ordered a drink I knew I would like, the Molecular Spritz.
The bar was beautiful and the views from the 18th deck were spectacular. In addition, almost all of the bars serve little snacky things and this one served some pretty yummy chips so all in all, I liked the bar, just don’t expect the drinks to look like the pictures!
Ports & Shore Excursions: All were booked through MSC and all were either good or great. Arles and Vigo were the standouts. We did not do an excursion in Barcelona but I will cover all of the other ports in my next post.
Disembarkation: Another disaster. I had priority debarkation and while I was off the ship in a reasonable amount of time, I then stood around for over an hour waiting for my luggage to make it off.
Overall, the ship was beautiful, but I don’t think I would use MSC in Europe again. I haven’t written them off completely so I may sail them again in the US, but I will choose other lines when sailing in Europe.