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You will certainly find MSC very different to P&O. Points to be aware of if you are travelling with children. There is no alternative dining in the evening. If you prefer second sitting your children will have no option but to dine with you late. Fine if you opt for first sitting. The buffett area becomes a chargeable Bistro in the evening. They provide the usual 'kids menu' in the Dining Room ie Fishy Shapes, Chicken Nuggetts, Pizza Chips etc. There is also always on the main menu - spag bol, chicken breast and thin steak. Tea/Coffee/Water/Juice is not available 24/7 in the buffett area. The buffett opens and closes throughout the day and you cannot go up to the dispensers to get your own tea/coffee/water. This has to be served to you by the waiters. At other times Tea/coffee is available in bars at a charge. Also they will try to sell you bottled water with meals. Do not be afraid to ask for a jug of iced water at no charge. Kids club - my son was 11 when we were on board - he took one look at the kids club and decided it looked 'too babyish'. On other Cruise lines he is always keen to go. Reports from other parents were - they had taken their kids out of the kids club as other kids were unruly and not well supervised. Be prepared for a lot of pushing and shoving. European culture does not know what an orderly queue is and can, do and will be very rude at jumping in front of you for buses, shuttles and at pursers desk etc. Their transfers and flights which often have late departures can be chaotic and disorganised with lots of waiting around. Ships are spotlessly clean. Shows are mime/circus type to appeal to all. Announcements are made in multitude of languages. If the itinery is right and more importantly the price then give it a go. I dont want to put you off but I like to tell it as it is. If you go prepared for what to expect you wont end up being dissapointed.
I have seen the animation teams on board MSC ships with the children and they certainly seemed to be enjoying it, the children I mean! My own experience in speaking to members of the children's club team is that they do all speak English but do not lose sight of the fact that this is an Italian cruise line! I personally love it and find it hard to accept when people trash the 'foreign' food and announcements in foreign languages! What on earth did they expect? I agree with Bradbury, the Italians can be very pushy as can the Germans who usally make up the next highest proportion of passengers and certainly in my experience transfers and flights can be horrendous in their timings! This may have improved now that flights are going in to Genoa as opposed to Milan like they did previously! Sitting in Milan Malpensa airport for 6 or 8 hours after a 2/3 hour coach journey from Genoa was no fun at all! On cruises leaving from Venice I did not experience the same kind of problem because you can leave your luggage at the Port for around 3 euros and go off exploring Venice. I would definitely pay particular attention to flight times for the return journey - the last thing you need is trying to keep children amused for 6 to 8 hours in an airport.
We are travelling with MSC next month to South Africa and are well aware this is an Italian line. We enjoy different food and cultures but wonder if we will have few people to chat and craic with. We also fear four days at sea may prove boring. Any comments please? Sandy - Mountains of Mourne.
The S.African bound cruises are on MSC's smaller & older ships (I only know Melody which I like very much) and judging from the marketing I have seen there will be quite a strong British contingent (I know 2 couples who are going!) so I don't think you will be lost for pleasant company.I suspect there will be a fairly strong northern European presence too and in general they speak excellent English and are generally good company. Personally, I would choose a large table for dinner. That's a good way to start getting to know people and I have always found MSC group British people together for dinner. If you find yourself in the company of horrors, just ask to be moved!!! I have never done an MSC cruise with more than one day at sea but I am sure they will have plenty of entertainment lined up to keep you amused and of course you will be in warmer climes which should make life pleasant! Four days in the Indian Ocean can't be that bad!. Personally I found the animation team on Melody worked their socks off to ensure that everyone had a good time so I am pretty sure your sea days will be as hectic or as relaxing as you choose! I feel sure that if you go with an open mind, you will find lots of like minded people and the craic will be great! I wish I was going! Have a great time!
I have recently returned from a MSC cruise.My son aged 11 didnt enjoy the kids clubs as most of the children were either Italian or German. As he was on his own he felt slightly isolated.Also he went to the kids club to find it was often shut I have also been on a P&O cruise. I felt the kids club was much better organised.
The childrens facilities on aboard MSC cruises are excellent. We travelled with the MSC Lirica in 2007. The entertainers make the children laugh, each ship has a bright colourful and EXTREMELY Safe childrens room. The walls are spongy and they keep the children happy.