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I have no personal experience, but my uncle-in-law and his wife have sailed on Armonia three times, so they must like it. I gather there was karaoke, so you have been warned!
Think i'll give the karaoke a miss! H.
Very sensible! My brother-in-law set us up to ‘duet’ a lively number from Grease, and although we had great fun doing it, I am quite sure we were dreadful! However, all the Continental guests were busy doing huge miserable slow numbers in French or Spanish, boring the pants off every one else, so they were speechless by our ‘over the top’ dance moves!!!
We had a ball for a week on MSC Poesia in September 2008. Between us, we had four cabins all on deck 5 with sea views, but no balcony. I would go for a balcony next time, mostly because it would give us a bit more space, as the cabins were on the small side, but we have no experience of other ships so don't know if this is normal.
We had done some research and found the information on this site invaluable in preparation for the cruise. There were conflicting ideas on things like bringing your own wine on board, but we worked our way around it and negotiated corkage with our head waiter once we got past the first night. I had mailed head office to ask what the charges were, to be told bringing your own wine was NOT ALLOWED, which made me hesitate to take my own. Once on board though, we found corkage mentioned in the ships information pack, and also a note on the daily ships paper left every evening in our cabin. Obviously they would prefer you NOT to take your own, as they don’t make money out of you! But just so you know, they do not set a fixed price – it is variable, and depends on the quality of what you bring. It is usually set at the cost of a glass of wine from the menu – we think it depends on how nice you are to your waiter, how much of the listed wines and water you bought, and if you make the effort to remember his name and try and speak his language if you can – even if you mess up – they like the effort and we didn’t always get charged for every bottle!
My advice would be – do lots of research, be prepared for all the niggles that other people have mentioned and you won’t be surprised by things. I would not recommend the excursions unless you have not had time to organise your own – if you like being herded around wearing a huge sticker with your number on it, wasting time sitting on a coach waiting for people half the time, then by all means, give it a go! But forward planning is really helpful, and the internet would allow you to book your own taxi ahead of your arrival, and the local people are usually fantastically welcoming and helpful.
We all LOVED the food – the evening menus were varied and extensive, and every night you could opt for an alternative from the grill, so if you just want cheese burger or steak and chips, ask for it! (These are listed on the left hand side of the menus, in smaller print underneath the regional specialities, so perhaps some people didn’t notice them?) After the first night, we usually ordered every item on the menu between the table, so that we got to taste something from every region – and if you didn’t like it, they would bring something else if you were still hungry. The service was sometimes a little slow, but with 14 people all trying to make up their minds, I think they did very well. We also had two Gluten Free people on our table, and once this was established, they were served first with individually baked special bread before we had all taken our seats – service well and beyond most restaurants capabilities!
We did find it annoying that we were denied jugs of ordinary water on the tables, forcing us to buy bottled water at every turn, but we persisted in ordering ‘a glass of water’ here and there, which they usually brought eventually.
The buffet lunches were often a bit of a scrum, but once we got the hang of it, and also found the extended dining rooms at the far end which were less busy, we settled into the routine of relaxed dining – anyone going hungry obviously didn’t try hard enough! You could always eat in the restaurant, which was table service and very pleasant – far less of a rugby match, but you couldn’t pick and choose what you wanted to put on your plate.
We always had continental breakfast delivered to our cabins first thing, which got around the lack of tea making facilities in the cabin, (although we had brought our own kettle, thanks to the information supplied here in advance!) After this, if we still wanted a ‘proper breakfast’ we would head to the buffet or the restaurant.
The youngsters in our group seemed very happy with the children’s club, even to the extent of being able to leave one of them there whilst going ashore for a morning excursion.
There were few places to be able to lie in the sun and ‘get away from it all’, so I would advise a balcony if that is your ideal day, as it was always a little noisy and hectic on deck. Otherwise, I would say it was a great cruise. I would love to do another, and am busy looking at all the different forums to see what I might prefer, or just stick to MSC as they were great.
Sorry – a bit of a long one, but been meaning to send our comments in since we got back!
I hope this helps!
We've had some great times on MSC ships because we always make sure we do, enjoyment is what you make of it, surely. My criteria is about value for money on this kind of line, if I don't pay the earth I don't expect the earth & I certainly avoid making comparisons to higher grade lines as this is where a lot of the negativity comes from. There are people on this site who are totally satisfied with MSC, so hopefully they will also respond & give you their positive views ...Regards Wilba.
Thanks that all i wanted to know.
Three of our first four cruises were on MSC, (we've now done over 30) they certainly gave us the bug for it!
We had a wonderful caribbean cruise on the Lirica. The shows were first class but the only downside was that everything has to be said in 5 languages. The cabins were small but spotless and the food excellent.
We had a wonderful Christmas Cruise in the Med two years ago on Musica - our first cruise - would definately cruise with MSC again - BG North Wales.
What was the weather like in the med. at christmas.
Love MSC, we always lose weight!