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Sarcastic Mama

The Good, Bad, & Ugly, Tell Me

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Hello everyone!  My husband and I are getting ready to plan our next cruise adventure and we are thinking about MSC.  We have cruised before, 5 times on Carnival, but it's just going to be the two of us, no kids!!!  No major complaints about Carnival, we have never been on a different cruise line, I just want something new.  Fellow cruisers on CC have always been helpful and honest about how they feel.  So I ask, what is the good, the bad, and the ugly about MSC?  I'm looking at MSC Seaside.  Thank you and hopefully it's warm were you are at.  😊

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We made the leap to MSC last month, after a year or so of reading here.  We, too, really wanted a change.

We loved it, and will be booking two more MSC cruises very shortly.

However, while some of us love it, some don't.  Here are some thoughts:

MSC is NOT like Carnival/RC/NCL etc., except that they all provide a ship, a cabin, meals, entertainment.

American passengers are in the minority.  Many different languages are spoken onboard.  Some foods might be different.  The shows and music are different: few or no comedians, shows are more Cirque du Soleil and less Rock/Broadway.  You are unlikely to hear "Margaritaville" or "Sweet Caroline".  Passengers tend to dress up more than on the other mainstream lines.

We liked all of that; you might not.  I suggest you continue to read and ask here, and get some more thoughts.  I hope in the end you will make the leap and will love it too!

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Sarcastic Mama -- are you comfortable traveling in Italy? If your answer is 'Yes,' I believe you will be fine. If your answer is 'No' or 'We have never traveled to Europe,' you may want to do more research before you book a cruise on MSC.

 

An example of why I say this? Let's take the time and pacing of dinner to start. In our experience, dinner in Italy is vastly different from the US. Dinner in Italy starts later at night and is a leisurely affair. In our trips to Italy, we learned not to make reservations before 8pm and to expect to stay for 2 to 3 hours to enjoy all the courses of the meal. On an MSC sailing, you'll probably feel that dinner takes longer than expected on Carnival (this is a guess from me as I've never been on Carnival). To be clear, you shouldn't expect a 3 hour dinner on an MSC ship, but you should not expect 45 minutes for a 3-course meal either.

 

This is just a start of the differences. You need to decide if the differences are 'good, bad or ugly' to you personally. We love a leisurely dinner and we learned to love it when we traveled extensively in Italy in the 90s. To us, that is 'good.' But I know that to others, that is 'bad.' If you do some reading on these boards, you'll learn what to expect. Whether those are good/bad/ugly, will be up to your personal feelings on each situation.

 

[If you can't tell, we love MSC. I'm just trying to make sure you realize that why we love MSC may be exactly why you don't. 🙂 ]

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We loved an 11 night MSC cruise last year so we have booked a 31 night cruise on Bellissima starting next month - really looking forward to it - my previous cruising experience was with Royal Caribbean - loved that too - just don't expect everything to be the same as the American cruise lines 

 

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For the love of [insert deity name here] go Yacht Club experience. It's a huge bargain compared to other cruise lines.

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2 minutes ago, Bossa Nova said:

For the love of [insert deity name here] go Yacht Club experience. It's a huge bargain compared to other cruise lines.

Although I agree that the Yacht Club is indeed the best experience on MSC, we selected the Aurea experience for our last MSC Cruise and were very satisfied with our selection. Yes, we weren’t in a private section of the ship, but our stateroom (an Aurea Duplex Suite on the Meraviglia) was absolutely fantastic. Not as extensive as the list of perks in the Yacht Club, but we still enjoyed priority embarkation, complimentary drink package, unlimited access to the thermal suite in the Aurea Spa, complimentary massages, access to a private solarium deck, and open seating in a dedicated section of the MDR. It was a great value as well. 
 

To address the OP’s question, we are Platinum on Carnival, but we love MSC and consider it a step up. They do have a different vibe (more international in terms of entertainment, cuisine, clientele etc) and the ships are stunning. Easily some of the most attractive ships of the mass market cruise lines we’ve sailed on. If you’re someone who doesn’t need an “American-centric” experience, and If you appreciate mingling with other cultures and nationalities, then MSC may be for you. We consider this factor one of the reasons why we’ve enjoyed sailing on MSC so much. Most of the negatives  that I read are from cruisers who are used to the American cruise lines and get hung up on the fact that the MSC experience doesn’t revolve around them. 

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6 hours ago, shipgeeks said:

We made the leap to MSC last month, after a year or so of reading here.  We, too, really wanted a change.

We loved it, and will be booking two more MSC cruises very shortly.

However, while some of us love it, some don't.  Here are some thoughts:

MSC is NOT like Carnival/RC/NCL etc., except that they all provide a ship, a cabin, meals, entertainment.

American passengers are in the minority.  Many different languages are spoken onboard.  Some foods might be different.  The shows and music are different: few or no comedians, shows are more Cirque du Soleil and less Rock/Broadway.  You are unlikely to hear "Margaritaville" or "Sweet Caroline".  Passengers tend to dress up more than on the other mainstream lines.

We liked all of that; you might not.  I suggest you continue to read and ask here, and get some more thoughts.  I hope in the end you will make the leap and will love it too!

Great post -- Thanks.

 

gary

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We just completed our first MSC cruise. What we liked... Best shows we have ever seen on a cruise ship (and we have taken nearly 50), beautiful ship (Meraviglia), excellent service, good shore ex options, international passengers. What needs improvement... Food in MDR is hit and miss (all meat way overcooked, boring menus and presentation), buffet options for lunch and dinner are terrible and food is really nit good (avoid other than breakfast which was excellent, desserts were like those you would find in a Chinese restaurant), hated the tiered beverage packages (Easy Drink Package pretty much limited to bar rail drinks), fancy cocktails were excellent but you have to pay full price, not incremental, lounge acts very similar (mostly light jazz and Latin),  lots of nickel and diming (like Carnival and NCL), specialty dining packages have limited menu (need to upgrade for interesting menu items... Expensive and mediocre, tough to find a lounge chair on sea days. Bottom line... For its price MSC is an OK choice UNLESS food selection and quality is very important to you. If all the cruises we've done, only the Holland America Westerdam had worse food. 

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We have been on MSC in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. I agree that Americans are in the minority but the timing of pacing for eating isn't different than other lines. It is true that Europeans eat later and take longer, but Americans won't see that as the waiters understand that Americans don't want a three hour experience.

What you will see are more children during the school year. Also, the food was not a highlight. I thought their Italian food would be great. Sadly, only the pizza in the buffet was very good. Nothing was horrible, but no food item was outstanding. I will try to do a current compare and contrast after my MSC cruise next week.

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Another thing to know, which is different from other lines:  MSC can be booked with a choice of four different "experiences". Each has its own perks.  We chose Bella, which happens to be the cheapest, because we want a set dining time, we don't use room service, and we don't need a drink package.  Others want other Experiences for their own reasons.  There is an outline at the top of the MSC forum which lists the differences.

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I couldn't disagree more on the quality of the food. After 16 cruises spread over all the major lines I found MSC food to be of the best quality. It was by far the most enjoyable cruise line that we have been on. I really feel like you get value for your dollar.

15 hours ago, cynalan said:

We just completed our first MSC cruise. What we liked... Best shows we have ever seen on a cruise ship (and we have taken nearly 50), beautiful ship (Meraviglia), excellent service, good shore ex options, international passengers. What needs improvement... Food in MDR is hit and miss (all meat way overcooked, boring menus and presentation), buffet options for lunch and dinner are terrible and food is really nit good (avoid other than breakfast which was excellent, desserts were like those you would find in a Chinese restaurant), hated the tiered beverage packages (Easy Drink Package pretty much limited to bar rail drinks), fancy cocktails were excellent but you have to pay full price, not incremental, lounge acts very similar (mostly light jazz and Latin),  lots of nickel and diming (like Carnival and NCL), specialty dining packages have limited menu (need to upgrade for interesting menu items... Expensive and mediocre, tough to find a lounge chair on sea days. Bottom line... For its price MSC is an OK choice UNLESS food selection and quality is very important to you. If all the cruises we've done, only the Holland America Westerdam had worse food. 

 

Edited by Lee Thargic

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We sailed Divina after only sailing Carnival and I don’t think we will ever go back to Carnival. The beauty and attention to detail on Divina was amazing. MSC does small touches really well and I felt that enhanced our cruise experience. For example, room service trays on Carnival are like bulky, plastic, hospital trays and on Divina they were metal and very elegant. Is that important?...no but it was just nicer.  Also, I hate carnivals blue cabin bathrooms, MSC bathrooms feel higher end. 
 

We aren’t super fans of how Carnival crams the cruise director and activities in your face...you can’t go into a lounge area without getting interrupted by some event. MSC has tons of activities but they are not so in your face 24/7. 
 

The pools are much bigger on MSC. 
 

I thought the food was great. It’s not any more or less hit or miss than any other cruise I’ve been on. I can’t eat at the buffet on carnival because the food is SO SALTY. My ankles swell up like they are going to explode. I had zero problems on MSC, it’s much less fried food. 
 

On carnival you go up to the bar to get a drink, on Divina they wanted to serve you at a table near the bar (except buy the pools). It was such a nice touch and the staff were so friendly. Everyone we encountered went out of their way to make our experience special. ...except the customer service desk. The nightmares you read about them are true lol. 
 

Kids club on Divina was a dud for us. BUT, it was Christmas week and there were over 900 kids on board; the kid club staff was just overwhelmed and there were too many kids allowed in at a time. We are trying seaside over the summer to see if that’s a better fit. 
 

The Spa experience on MSC feels more like a high end resort than Carnival. Divina doesn’t have a huge thermal area but the whole experience was much more “spa” than I anticipated. The waiting room was elegant, there was a smoothie & juice bar. 

Edited by Becks28

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