Nothing Magnificent about Magnifica
This was our third cruise, after one on Royal Caribbean (Explorer of the Seas) and one on Carnival (Vista). I accept that MSC is a cheaper line, so this review is to hopefully help others decide whether they wish to pay less and manage their expectations or just decide it's better to pay more, even if it means waiting a bit longer for their your next cruise and get the holiday you want. So, firstly, we went over Christmas, the weather was pleasant for some of the trip and the pools were in use, which the kids loved. However, don't expect many festive extras in terms of food or entertainment for kids. There are two dining rooms and I didn't realise that while we had an outside cabin, because we hadn't paid for the upgraded 'experience' we got the (much) less pleasant and (much) busier dining room. I knew there would be no anytime dining, but was not told, either by Scotland's Cruise Centre or MSC, that you got a downgraded dining venue. So you are warned! The MDR was manic, tables were packed together, it was incredibly noisy (to the extent that I had to shout, no exaggeration, across the round table in order for my mum to hear me). The waiters did their best, but there was absolutely no comparison to the cruises we had been on previously. Nor relaxing, food took forever to arrive, was tiny in terms of portion size (and I mean the mains looked like starters) and was variable in terms of quality and choice. The buffet was fine, again not just as good as those on RCI or Carnival, but enjoyable and the pizza was nice. The kids loved the gelato which we got with our package, which was better than the whippy machine type. Other than that the kids facilities were poor. There was very little for older kids, and the younger ones were packed in a small room. For such a supposedly family orientated ship I was surprised at this. The kids were supposed to get a present from Santa, this was arranged in the theatre and involved a Christmas show from the in house entertainers, followed by Santa's arrival. The show was fine, the kids enjoyed it. Santa duly appeared - and proceeded to allow every child to come on stage, individually, to get a photo taken and their present. Given there were about 250 kids present, you can imagine how long that was going to take! Totally ridiculous and all a revenue making exercise. I was disgusted and as we weren't willing to sit and wait for what would have been at least an hour, we left without the Santa present. The cabin was clean and we had no issue, my mother had an inside cabin and I thought it was fairly spacious in comparison to the one we had on RCI. The pools were small and there are no slides for kids, so in summer I would imagine they would be very crowded. Entertainment - the theatre shows are fine for one or two nights then you will be bored by the same old stuff. The piano played in the atrium most nights and this was nice before dinner. Casino we found small and lacking in atmosphere, like most of the bars. There is plenty of ball room dancing lessons and these were very popular. Some bingo, but generally a lot less going on than our previous cruises. So there you go - it's cheaper for sure, but to be honest, I should have paid more and waited to book the ship we want.
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