August 2014 - MSC Fantasia to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Ports and excursions - Itinerary was good although most port calls were significantly too short. The MSC Olympia and Sh
opping excursion was pretty good although you weren't left to go shopping on your own. They took you to a souvenir mini-mall of sorts and then to a nice jewelry store. No time for anything else. We did not like the Best of Santorini or the Athens, Acropolis and Plaka tours. Neither one allowed enough free time. If you are English speaking and want to book a tour, make sure it will be an English only tour BEFORE you book it. One of our tours was English and French and not only did it take twice as long and eat away any free time we were to have, but it was difficult to hear the guide all the time because the "other half" of the group was talking to each other when the guide wasn't speaking in their language - and she did nothing to try to control that. No trouble booking the tours the day before. They run shuttle buses into Corfu and Dubrovnik, you have to book it at the excursions office. Favorite port was Dubrovnik.
Food and drinks - buffet was boring and the same every day but served a purpose nonetheless. We really enjoyed the dining room food. 5-6 courses on offer every night, we usually ate 4. Service in the dining room was good. We had the early sitting at 7:00 which we liked. We talked to a few people who had the late sitting at 9:30 and they said they didn't like eating that late. You can go to reception to get it changed but maybe not the first day. Service
at bars was slow. Buy the drinks pakage. We are not (usually) heavy drinkers but we "spent" almost double what the Allegrissimo (Classic) package cost us. Kids and parents alike enjoyed having the freedom to have a drink whenever we wanted.
Kids - supervised kids club for ages 3-11. Nothing is "organized" for older kids - our kids 11 and 12 too young to go to the disco by themselves at night. Pools were always super busy - tried to avoid them in the late afternoons. They have a waterslide that is open certain hours. Our kids said it was whimpy. Ping pong and foosball inside hot atrium and difficult to find them available. Had to collect the balls from somewhere else before playing. Other than that we didn't seek out onboard entertainment.
As you may have read on other reviews ship seems crowded at times particularly before early morning port calls when everybody is on the same schedule and then again just after all onboard when leaving ports. Hardly any English speakers onboard, a few Aussies and Brits. Continental Europeans can be very rude and pushy - quite literally!
Value for money. I did quite a lot of looking at other itineraries and costs before booking. I was booking 4 months prior to departure. A lot of the US cruise companies were already sold out of their kids go free deals so US carriers would have been too much more. We did not get kids free but MSC was still more affordable. Our only previous cruise was on Princess. I feel a bit that it's comparing apples to oranges.