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Jerusalem/bethlehem. by Blenkinsop, Plymouth

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MSC Magnifica

OVERVIEW: This large resort ship is designed to accommodate families with children, who have their own play center, video games room, youth counselors, and activity programs. The interior layout and passenger flow are quite good, and decks are named after Mediterranean destinations like Capri, Posit


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Jerusalem/bethlehem.

Overall Rating: 3
2821 views

22 out of 22 people found this useful
Cruise Line:
MSC Cruises
Cruise Ship:
MSC Magnifica
Destination:
Mediterranean

Reviewed By: on
We sailed out of Venice on January 5th, I have to say the embarkation procedures were chaotic at the cruise terminal, we met lines of disembarking guests trying to negoiate their way through embarking passengers who were all trying to check in cases, and you had to get to the correct entrance specified for your deck to hand over luggage to the porters.
We set sail for Bari our first stop the next day. During the night the weather conditions deteriorated and we were advised early the next morning we could not dock in Bari, we were informed that the ship would make for Brindisi to load & unload passengers and that this would be a technical stop and no passengers would be able to go ashore. As the weather worsened we could not dock in Brindisi and had to return back up the coast to Ravenna. We were allowed off the ship in Ravenna where shuttle buses were supplied for the 20 minute trip into town. The return trip back on the shuttle buses was chaotic with no kind of queuing system just every one for themselves so the fittest and rudest got themselves on board ahead of any one with any kind of mobility problem, the MSC crew member did nothing to assist, till taken to task over the fact several people with limited mobility, including a lady in a wheelchair had spent over an hour waiting to board a bus. Shame on MSC, you let these passengers down badly.
Due to the adverse weather problems, the stop in Ravenna was less than half a day, we then set sail for Haifa. This should have been an overnight stop with a day and a half to explore Haifa & Jerusulem/Bethlehem. We were told we would only be allowed 1 days stop and would be sailing for Rhodes that evening. The trip to Jerusalem/Bethlehem was well worth the 2 hour journey time. Our guide Bati was very informative and humorous, and she decided she would do the walk back to front which meant a walk down the hill as opposed to up it, this was appreciated by those amongst us that had mobility issues. She had observed at the first stop on the Mount of Olives some of the group were struggling with walking, a very observant and caring lady. The cost of the excursion including a very nice lunch was around £92 a bit steep, but I had researched making our own way around as there was a group of 8 of us, and though I think it would be feasible, I was not convinced I would have been able to get the group from the Egg bus station on the edge of town into the old town and navigate our way around all the narrow streets, so i was glad we did the ships excursion!
Next we docked in Rhodes, we arrived late around 5.00pm so by this time it was dark and turning cold. We had a good time having a drink in a bar in one of the squares, the owner had around 20 parrots which all seemed to screech at the same time so you had to shout to make yourself heard. The parrots were amazing and he had them doing all sorts of tricks, we all got lots of great photo's and had a good laugh. To my surprise quite number of shops were open even though it was completely out of season, I imagine they thought it was worthwhile to open up for the amount of passengers visiting.
We asked for a 3 large beers and a carafe of wine, something to note the large beer turned out to be a large glass boot which held 2 litres and the carafe of wine was very large more like a pitcher! Consequently the bill for one round of drinks was nearly 80 Euro's, moral of this story make sure you know what you are getting before ordering.!
We then set sail for Piraeus, we docked early next morning and were given till 3.00pm to be back on ship, we made our way to Athens from the port on their version of the Metro, 6 stops got us to the centre of Athens for less than 2 Euro's each way. After making our way to see the Parthenon/Accropilis we retraced our steps and we wandered round the Fleamarket before stopping in a bar for a drink & light lunch, the beer in Athens was around 3-4 Euro's and a glass of wine less than 2.
We then set sail around 4pm for the return trip to Venice.
There were lots of things that were not to my taste of the Magnifica, which we did not find when we sailed on MSC Poesia from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton. The Poesia trip was mainly made up of British, Canadian and Americans with a few other nationalities. The food was geared to British/American tastes with far more substantial meat dishes. There was very little smoking on board and only in designated areas. The drinks were more reasonably priced and there was free ice cream during the day, tea & coffee were freely provided at all meals.
I think that MSC are being greedy in their pricing of drinks on Magnifica, when you add up cl's to oz's to make a pint of lager from the sizes offered the lager was around 8-9 Euros befor 15% tax, this is way overpriced for unexceptional beer/lager. Bottles of wine in the restaurant started at 16 Euro's + 15% tax and were not particularly wonderful, a half carafe of house Red or White was 7 Euro's + 15% tax. We also found that the bar waiters in the L'Olimipiad Sport Bar to be quite surly and very slow to serve.
The food on board was quite good, although geared towards a Mediterranean diet, plenty of salads, fish/seafood, pasta dishes, pork/veal & chicken. The ship has 2 restaurants, on deck 5 & 6 there is no difference in what they serve I think you are allocated according to decks/cabins. there are also alternative dining options restaurants which a charge is payable, some of our group ate in one but were not too impressed with the meal.
The cabins were pretty much standard to most cruise ships, we had basic, outside and balcony within the group. If all you want is to go to sleep and shower the next day a basic cabin is pretty good but they a bit small, if you get chlaustrophobic an outside with porthole is probably better, and if you like to retreat away from people a balcony cabin offers a lot more sitting space and is bigger. No tea/coffee facilities provided and apart from breakfast, you have to purchase beverages or drink the tea/coffee from the 24hr beverage station on deck 13 buffet restaurant, out of what look like childrens large polythene mugs. This does not improve the taste.
The entertainment I thought was quite poor, as we had a lot of time on our hands due to missing port time and enforced time at sea during the day there was little to occupy you. If you like bingo there a 2 sessions daily am/pm, there are a few quizzes, there was something called the coffee game, when I realised what the prize was it became clear why it was called the coffee game (you won a cup of coffee) this game involved a lot of audience participation and was really designed to give the other passengers looking on a laugh. A session of exercise daily, some sort of dance class which didn't seem to vary much although it was supposed to be different dances again no professional teaching just the entertainment team. If you wished to watch a movie you had to do this in your cabin as you had to pay 6 Euro's to purchase it. The evening show in the theatre was advertised in the ships daily paper, however no info or explanation of what it was about was given, so you had to turn up and wait till it started to see if you were going to enjoy it. The lounges and bar area's had resident bands, the L'Ametista lounge was where we headed most evenings if we wanted to talk as this was probably the quietest till 10pm. After several days we realised we knew all the songs and the order of play as the Piky Wiky band and Sergio played the same set each night in the same order, rarely did it change. The bar stewardess who sang and danced as she served us confirmed this for us.
For the price we paid for the cruise I have no real complaints, other than for our party who were non smokers, we were not keen that smoking is allowed in the lounges. The price of the drink on board compared to the other cruise lines such as Celebrity, RCI & P &am.

22 out of 22 people found this useful

Times cruised before: 10+
Sailed: January, 2012
Age: 56-65
Cabin: Inside
Occasion: Annual/regular holiday

Quality of Food
L'Edera restaurant deck 5. Lots of salads, soups and main courses. ate few pasta dishes or desserts. Husband & his sister would reccomend sorbets & ice-creams.
3

Entertainment
We personally found the entertainment very poor, but I accept each of us has different tastes.
1

Shore Excursions
Only did one ships excursion to Jerusalem/Bethlehem well worth the visit, price of £92 a bit steep, but didn't think we could have done it on our own. Price included a very acceptable meal in a caffeteria style eating venue.
4

Staff
Our table waiter Ery, he did everything he could to make sure our evening meal was enjoyable, nothing was too much trouble. Always tried to join in our teasing and had a great sense of humour.
5

Children's Facilities
No children in our party
0

Onboard Activities
No this was a disappointment to us.
1

Cabins
Cabin was pretty standard like most other ships, was clean and the soft furnishings were in a good state of repair. Bed linen was good quality and we had large thick fluffy towels.
3

Overall Rating
3
Review useful?
Comment
Berkin -
, london - Commented about this Review
You obviously paid very little for the cruise in January. MSC are an Italian ship and the staff are very laid back. I have taken groups of up to 50 people on 8 cruises with MSC and them value for money - cabins standard so no problems with people having different size accommodation for the same price. In the mediterran the food is Europea/Italian based (to account for the tastes of most of their clients) In the States they provide american/British food in order to accommodate the requirements of the passengers. Water and coffee is now provided FREE 24 hrs a day in the buffet area on MSC Magnifica - unfortunately the early sitting is now at 5.45pm and late sitting at 8.15pm but the Buffet and pizzaria (both free of charge are open from 1 hr after first sitting commences) Passengers on board MSC are naturally enough mainly Italians and qeuiing is not in their culture - I've travelled on British ships (with cheap booze) where there were groups of beer-swilling loud-mouthed English and I found this not to my taste. I've travelled on most cruiselines and even 5* ships get complaints (some people are never satisfied) It's a pity the reviewer had such bad weather. I've found their shore excursions to be cheaper than most other cruises (i.e. £39 for a 1/2 day trip with guide to Accre and the B'hai gardens on the Haifa stop The entertainment I've always found superb and nowdays they don't have so many announcements in a multi-tuide of languages, but with internation clients you must expect this (be glad they announce in English not just Italian) I'd highly recommend MSC but remember in school holidays they are full of childre as kids go FREE (only payig port taxes) .
22 Jan 12 13:15 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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Comment
Moore-Gautrey -
, Northampton - Commented about this Review
We sailed on MSC Magnifica from Venice to Istanbul in glorious weather... after several P&O Cruises, we were entranced by the lovelly family atmosphere (so well behaved and so happy) and mostly Italians. The food was very much to our taste unlike P&O and the Ship was generally less regimented but more "dressy", but then they are anyway. Safety...who knows? Until it happens! Seemed like the usual Cruise procedure. The previous writer seems a bit obsessed by "pennies" ...why do a Cruise: they always fleece you over drinks...but I will say that the Cocktails were very good. We had been very let down by our appalling, overland Coach trip with Leger Holidays and were so pleased to be in the very caring hands of MSC. I am so sad about their fellow Mariner's Costa Ship, which will do nobody any good in the Cruise world I guess. I hope the Captain isn't too much of a Fall Guy.... much too early to reach any conclusions I say and he must be pretty shaken-up anyway. I suppose I might do another Cruise someday, but do feel a bit anxious now although the film (Titanic) didn't exactly inspire confidence in the first place, did it? Finally: the Theatre was, we thought, splendid and much more sophisticated than most Ships... in fact taste-wise, we thought MSC were a bit special....we never met the plastic mugs! The Buffet experience for us was much nicer than P&O, but then we like Italians: that's why we chose an Italian Ship leaving from Venice. It's a shame the Reviewer above had such awful weather as it colours ones thinking a bit doesn't it? Better luck next time and try not to worry about the water!!!
22 Jan 12 10:45 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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youde -
, Looe - Commented about this Review
Went on the splendida in december on med, stunning ship, buffet meals a bit boring tho, Was pleased that there were places on board were smoking was allowed made for a relaxed cruise, Staff were very good, all in all well worth the money, Cabin was superb ,drinks could have been cheaper......Would do again.....john jen.
21 Jan 12 18:41 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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Lichtenstein -
, Walnut Creek - Commented about this Review
We are doing this cruise in March, Can I ask you if once you boarded were there shore excursions avaliable to book for all ports? We are finding a hard time booking for Haifa and want to make sure there will be options for us on the cruise.. thanks so much.
19 Jan 12 20:55 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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Blenkinsop -
, PLYMOUTH - Commented about a Comment by Lichtenstein (19 Jan 12 20:55)
We had a hard time trying to book anything online before we sailed - we were directed to book via our agents which we did as the sole purpose of our trip was to see Jerusalem/Bethlehem, but in answer to your question - yes there were a number of trips advertised for the Haifa area as well as Jerusalem and if you are visiting Bari/Rhodes/Athens there are excursions offered in all these ports. If like our cruise you arrive in Rhodes late afternoon not sure what tours they did as they would all have been in the dark, however there may well be increased daylight hours by March. Hope the weather conditions are kinder to you, and have a good cruise if you have not been to any of these ports before I hope you enjoy them, we love Greece and have been to may of the islands as well as mainland Greece, the Greeks are very friendly people and don't be afraid to venture about on your own, apart from the general rule of being careful of pickpockets there is little to be afraid of in Rhodes/Athens. Hope this helps you.
21 Jan 12 21:44 - Reply - Was this comment useful?
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