May 2014 - MSC Musica to Europe - Western Mediterranean
I took this trip with my mother, who is older and my son who is 9. This was a once in a lifetime trip for my mother. She really wanted to see Genoa, and Rome (the Vatican in particular). We wanted a more family experience, so I cannot speak on the night life of the ship. We were more interested in the excursions, and the family activities. While on the ship, I made occasional notes about our experience. So, here goes:
*Excursions The tour guides are awesome and very informative. The busses are comfortable. The excursions are definitely the way to go but a bit overpriced. example: almost 300 euro (99 a person - children almost as much) to bus us into Rome and explore on your own. We initially wanted the Vatican excursion, but since the payment is non-refundable we waited till we were on the boat to buy - and they sold out! They actually sold out of ALL the Rome excursions. The only reason we were able to get the "on your own" excursion is because while we were talking with the excursion desk, someone came up and cancelled their "on your own" excursion due to illness. Came all this way and didn't get the excursion that we wanted. We weren't told that we needed to book early, or that selling out was possible. They don't give you info on how to get around on your own - this makes you feel like you need an excursion to actually see stuff. We really wanted to see the Chateau de If in France, but they never advertised it till the day of - then when I called to ask about purchasing this trip, they cancelled it due to lack of interest (possibly due to no information given out about it?) Anyway, we ended up getting off the boat and going to see the Chateau on our own. It was FAR less expensive than the excursion prices.
You pay for "all day excursions" but you spend about 2-4 hours out and about - the rest of the time your driving to the place.
MAPS. Would be nice to get maps of destinations before you arrive at the destination (I guess you could get them from the excursion desk, but they should give them to you with your daily itenerary. We felt pretty lost) Just another thing that seems geared toward making you take the expensive excursions.
*You feel like you're being nickel and dimed the whole time Internet prices are WAY overpriced - check it out. Your head will spin. WiFi should be free. Just my opinion.
Water and soda are not included in cost of cruise - Water and coffee are offered in cafeteria only. On top of high priced drinks (2,80 euro for Sprite - 2,60 for water) you also pay service charges. Doing the math, this costs over $5 for a drink. A bit steep considering you NEED water, and you end up having to pay for it.
*Food: Not that great. Service was bad. Cafeteria was a nightmare of rude and pushy people. This was difficult for us, with a child and my older mother. There were handicapped people on the trip too - I have no idea how they managed. Coming in off late excursion, after missing the dinner - not enough food at cafeteria! Also, NOT ONCE did a server offer to bring us a drink (alcohol or otherwise). Not. Once. This cruise seems to cater to people who are drinking = spending a lot of money.
*other things: Ship was full of pushy people. It felt over crowded and people thought nothing of elbowing right in front of you. Ridiculous when you are trying to make sure your family stays together so that you can board busses together, eat together in the cafeteria, etc. I found that my polite ways wore thin by the end, and I just had to be as rude as everyone else to actually not be pushed around. Not pleasant.
*Steward He was so pleasant. I really liked him. I must say though, that like another reviewer I called the front desk to request hangers on day 3 - they never arrived and I think she didn't understand what I wanted.
*Other things that are not the ship's fault but would be nice to be informed beforehand: Being ripped off while traveling in foreign countries. Genoa - once the boat drops you off at port they tell you to take a taxi. Then the taxi drivers never start the meter and they give you arbitrary prices that are twice as much as they should be (I know this because the first taxi we took from the airport upon arrival did run his meter and we were able to use a credit card. VERY IMPORTANT - if they say they don't take credit cards, it means they don't intent to use the meter and you will be ripped off royally. It happened to us twice before I wised up). The ONLY place we stopped to eat at in Genoa was the PIZZERIA DA PASQUALE. They charged us 75 Euro (over $100) for 2 personal sized pizzas, 2 sodas, 1 water, and dessert. When I went to the counter to pay (totaling no more than 40 Euro), I handed the woman my credit card, and she just went ahead and charged 75 Euro to it! I had no recourse since they made no effort to breach the language barrier. My Italian is very poor but I was able to get around. This happened on our first day abroad. Genoa was such a disappointment. I guess this is another good reason to stay with an excursion unless you are familiar with the language and customs.
*On the positive: Malorca- best excursion. When we got back, we had the option to stay in town and get a shuttle (included in package) or come back on bus. Beautiful town - guide was great. Very pleasant. But it took another passenger asking the guide for us to know that. People in the excursion office never Informed us that we could actually stay in town and shuttle back.
IN CONCLUSION: I know this review sounds exceedingly negative, but I really wanted to be honest about our experience. We just expected more, considering my family will never be able to afford to do this again. My mother spend over $3000 in air fare to get us to the ship (then cost of cruise, and all the little extras you get charged for), and then the main excursion she wanted was sold out. It was just disappointing for the amount of money this trip costs.