Grandiosa is Grand, But MSC is Not For Me

MSC Grandiosa Cruise Review

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 23

Overall rating:

3.8 out of 5
MSC Grandiosa

7 Night Western Mediterranean (Rome Roundtrip)

Sail date: December 15, 2019

Ship: MSC Grandiosa

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

This cruise taught me lots about what's important to me when cruising, and what behaviours are deal breakers. On board sales are always the biggest revenue generators for cruises, but the bold faced constant selling mentality of MSC as a company really doesn't do it for me. It is incessant and after a while feels like you're dodging pushy shopping mall kiosk workers or charity donation canvassers on your own holiday. That's a big deal breaker for me. Despite the overall crew providing great service, and the Grandiosa being a sterling ship, I wasn't impressed with the company's overall attitude to its passengers as, frankly, cash cows. There are a lot of things they do right, but the things done wrong sour the rest too much for me.

Embarkation

2 out of 5
Embarkation itself was fairly quick and straightforward, particularly because of our later arrival in the afternoon. Loading a payment card remotely when on the ship was fine as well. But the reason I rate this so poorly is one thing: sales. Heavy, invasive, in your face sales as soon as you've stepped on the ship into the Galleria Grandiosa. Sales for drinks packages, for Cirque du Soleil, for premium dining packages. There were no less than 6 people blocking and barring the way within a 5 meter distance, in your face and actively trying to sell. The wonder of actually looking around the ship and basking in your new holiday was really soured by this, and I didn't experience this on P&O at all. Not a great way to start, especially when MSC push all of these same packages and promotions by email multiple times before you sail.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Overall, I found the food to be decent. There were hits and misses along the way. Main dining room food at dinner was always fine, and on some nights it delighted me how good it was. Buffet breakfast was varied but not always consistent in quality of hot breakfast. Sit down breakfast in the Purple Crab was much the same. Lunch and dinner offerings had so much variety that it was easy to find something new and unusual, with some hidden gems. I ate at Kaito and at Butcher's Cut, and had wildly different experiences at them (great, and disappointing, respectively).

Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant and Sushi Bar

5 out of 5

This was the experience I wish I'd had at Butcher's Cut. We went for Teppenyaki and a Sushi lunch, and honestly, the value for money is great. The Geisha €29 cost Teppenyaki meal comes with 5 courses, including a chef's selection of sushi and sashimi, a fish appetizer and main, great chicken teriyaki with vegetables, fried rice, salad, and grilled pineapple and ice cream for dessert. The chef was also excellent and highly skilled and entertaining! Sushi lunch was also a win. Good quality sushi for some reasonable prices, and some well reviewed tempura udon soup at a great price. Most of the specials I felt were on par or priced cheaper than on land with great quality to match! I'd highly recommend at least the Teppenyaki as a treat to friends.

Butcher's Cut

2 out of 5

The service was wonderful and beyond reproach, but I had a really unfortunate experience with the steak I ordered here, and an equally lacklustre dessert. For some reason, the chef's really couldn't nail how to cook a medium rare steak: befuddling, considering this is definitely the most expensive premium restaurant on board. First, cooked to medium -- then, done to "so rare that it might as well be not seared at all", by the second time sending back and getting it right, I'd lost my taste for it. I would've been more willing to even put up with the overcooking of the first, if it weren't for the €33 price tag. The molten cake for dessert was also so cool and definitely not molten that it might as well have been pudding with lukewarm sponge cake. I absolutely had better desserts in the main dining room and the buffet, which was befuddling. At the time of the bill, it was presented in full, which didn't leave me very happy, and after protesting they gave a 15% discount on the food. With gratuity still in, though, it only resulted in about €10 off the bill. I still wasn't happy with this result, but it was the most they'd offer. I would have been delighted to pay the full gratuity of what we actually offered, but I don't feel the quality of the food is reflected in the steep price point of Butcher's Cut. Unfortunately I can't recommend based off my experience, especially with better and less expensive premium options on board.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
The indoor pools and hot tubs, as well as outdoor wide and long hot tubs on deck 16 were a treat. Gym was fresh and new but generally very busy. Looks a bit small for the passenger size of the Grandiosa, though.

Entertainment

4 out of 5
The entertainment was a surprise highlight for me! The stage shows every night are a bit madcap and sometimes have plots that are incomprehensible, BUT the music, live bands, and dancers & singers are all very talented and honestly make whatever they're doing fun. The show rotation is also very diverse: a new show every night, though brief. The cast is crazy talented and switch genres and styles every night, and still shine. On board vocalists were pretty good, and there was an amazing trio of men who played variants of jazz, swing, and ragtime as two guitars and a clarinet. Really enjoyed them.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
One of the most stand out positives of the Grandiosa is the service itself. It's tough in a sea of international passengers and communication to stay upbeat & helpful, but this crew does. Despite the downsides and overall impression I have of MSC now, and a couple knocks on the trip, this crew works hard. Giving courtesy and politeness has it returned in tenfold, and I really was impressed with the service on board.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
It has to be said that the Grandiosa is a grand ship. Despite being enormous, she's designed really well and it's very easy to find your way anywhere. Common areas are glittering and gorgeous, and the LED dome is even more impressive in person. The new technology behind the scenes on Grandiosa deserves special mention, because it's really impressive. With your cruise card you can book any shows, speciality dining, spa reservations, etc on the touch screens all over the ship. The MSC for Me app is also a really great tool for checking your own schedule, itinerary, billing totals, etc. It also updates live with any reservations for food or entertainment you make, as well as shore excursions, so you have your entire daily schedule at your fingertips. It's designed to work with the onboard WiFi without having to buy an internet package. The app isn't perfect -- it's a bit buggy on picking up WiFi if you're also connected to cellular in port, and sometimes doesn't deliver chat messages to other passengers quickly or reliably. But if those issues can be ironed out, it'll be a technology I'd adore seeing on other lines.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Interior cabin, Fantastica, mid ship. Very clean and fresh with an excellent bed and good floor space. The bathroom was a surprise highlight, particularly the shower. Glass door enclosures keep all the steam from showers contained in a space that stops the rest of the bathroom from being drenched in steam. Having only showers with curtains before, this was a great touch and I really liked this. Cabin storage was a little on the light side but we managed to make it work for 7 nights.

Ship tip

Additional costs are much more expensive than you think, especially for things like the bowling alley, VR maze, and speciality dining. This is definitely a cruise that pushes sales on you, hard, no matter where you are and how far you are in to your cruise. If that's ba big put off, this might not be the line for you.

Ports of call

Genoa, Italy

4 out of 5

Marseille (Provence), France

4 out of 5
You need to take a bus to get out of port and see anything. Actually recommend going to Aix en Provence if you can: a beautiful and charming smaller town with lovely architecture and quaint shops all around.

Barcelona, Spain

4 out of 5

Valletta, Malta

4 out of 5

Palermo, Sicily

2 out of 5
I went on a private excursion that I loved, but this city is the most invasive and aggressive in pushing cruisers into your busses, taxis, carriages, bicycles buggies, that I've ever seen in my life. It was awful. If not for the private excursion I would've turned around and gone back on board.

Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy

3 out of 5
Not much to do in Civitavecchia -- take an excursion to Rome instead.

Disembarkation

3 out of 5
Disembarkation was fine -- beware if you end up with any credit on your account though by the end: you won't be permitted to disembark if that's the case! A passenger in my group settled with €3.67 in credit and we had to wait for him to get guest services to physically refund him before he could leave!
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