The lush island of Madeira and its capital city of Funchal make for a beautiful excursion from the main land of Europe. Places I didn't visit: MSC Cruises combines a deep heritage at sea with an enthusiastic, young, motivated management team to present a company philosophy of innovation plus tradition. Fresh eggs made to order and omelettes are offered at a station located in the grill area, just outside of the buffet restaurant. Ask our Fodorite community. Initially her hull was all-white without decorations,  but on MSC made known their intention to paint their compass logo on the sides of all their ships during Sample Msc Cruises Itineraries.
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All English speaking fellow passengers, no extra onboard charges, people who enjoy passenger interaction, a no-kids environment. It is important to note that the experience on MSC Cruises varies a great deal between Europe, where the guest contingent is populated by Europeans, and in the Caribbean, where Americans make up the majority.
Interesting entertainment by European performers and genuine Italian food and wine set MSC ships apart from other ships in this price range. And while the announcements are always in five languages, when the ship is in the Caribbean they make English first.
The majority of the crew is comfortable conversing in English as well as their mother tongue. Passengers are greeted upon arrival and escorted to their cabins by white-gloved housekeeping staff.
This service typifies the friendly but elegant atmosphere of the entire cruise. MSC's goal is to maintain a charmingly European atmosphere onboard the ship at all times regardless of whether they are sailing in Europe or the Caribbean.
The focus during the Caribbean season is to incorporate American tastes into an onboard ambience that still remains charmingly European. Italian officers and a mix of Italian, Indian, Balinese and other international crew keep the European feel alive. Fantasia is a large, mainstream cruise ship meant to cater to the middle-class pan-European market. The focus is on swimming pools and sun tanning, with excellent cuisine and entertainment options at night.
There are tons of children's activities onboard and a wide variety of dining options. There is plenty of shopping, dancing, sports and music activities day and night. In Europe, these ships are mostly populated by Europeans speaking their native tongues, so Americans are well advised that this is not necessarily a typical cruise experience. English-speaking only guests in Europe will be relegated to the role of people watchers, more so than participants, solely because of the language barrier.
If that concept doesn't bother you, you will find Fantasia a beautiful, state-of-the-art cruise ship. But if you are looking for guest interaction like meeting new people you should probably seek out a ship marketed to the American audience or wait until she comes to the Caribbean. Here is one important item we want to mention at the top of the review. Despite the instructions in the daily program, where dress codes such as "formal" and "informal" are fully defined in the programs, the vast majority of passengers dress as casually as they want day and night.
More is described below under "attire. The Fantasia offers ten different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most situated on decks five, six and seven. There is a small atrium only three decks tall with the reception desk, shore excursions and other passenger services on the ground floor.
Deck five foreword features the beautiful Strand Theater, one of the most functionally perfect production showrooms I have ever seen at sea. The floor is perfectly designed without a single pole to block the view and raked over two decks so viewing from every row is perfect. The sound is acoustically balanced with special design treatments. Avoid the balcony seats on deck seven if possible, however. Glass railings block the view and the sound system, vastly diminishing the experience.
Shows that stress nonverbal entertainment such as jugglers, acrobats or musical productions featuring classic pop songs combined with Italian opera make it possible to entertain passengers from up to five different native languages. Although the sets and costumes could be better, the vocal performances are outstanding.
Also on deck five is the bottom floor of L'Reggia restaurant, one of the two main dining rooms onboard. Deck six contains one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship, La Piazzeta. This small courtyard resembles a village square in Tuscany. There are ceramic tile benches surrounding a beautiful flowing fountain. You will also find the cigar lounge and the main bar in the atrium called L'Aperitivo nearby.
The Royal Palms casino offers blackjack, poker, plenty of slot machines and of course roulette. You will not find craps tables which are an American pastime. On deck seven, you will find the wine bar L'Enoteca for tasting vino by the glass along with food pairings from Italy, Spain and Germany. Also on deck seven you will find live music in the La Prua piano bar and the Purple Jazz Bar, featuring a fine jazz quartet.
The Aft Lounge is another showroom in the stern with seating for hundreds of people and a large stage facility. The Sports Bar has the two-lane miniature bowling alley.
There is a variety of restaurants, including two excellent alternative dining venues, and a number of smaller bars hidden in nooks. One nice option is that espresso coffee drinks can be ordered from any bar on the ship. There is plenty of shopping onboard, including fashion boutiques for men and women, jewelry stores, a liquor and tobacco store and a beautiful candy store with hundreds of different European brands of chocolate. There is a perfume store and a swim shop near the swimming pool.
Of course, MSC logo items are available from shirts to shorts, sweatshirts and sandals. The ship has Internet access in every state room by a wired ethernet and there is also stem to stern WiFi access. MSC Cruises brags about its Italian cuisine by saying they feature a different region of Italy in their dining room menus every single night.
While the menus do feature articles on a different region of Italy nightly, the notion that the cuisine is actually different on a nightly basis is not quite so obvious. Still, the Italian cuisine onboard is good to excellent as predicted, especially the cuts of red meat, pasta and risotto dishes. A different risotto dish is offered every night infused with anything from mango to portobello mushrooms.
One thing we noticed that came to us as a very pleasant surprise is that the food in all of the dining areas was always served hot, even the buffet area. This i sespecially nice for breakfast where one can scoop up freshly fried aggs over easy, or omelets still piping hot. In Europe no beverages except coffee and juice with breakfast are served free of charge.
You will be charged for iced tea which comes in a can for lunch and dinner and water for every meal is served from a bottle, large 2.
When the ship moves to the Caribbean, however, ice tea is offered with every meal free of charge, as well as ice water. The freshly made pizza in the Bora Bora buffet is hot and delicious, but it is Napolitano style with a thick crust and just a touch of tomato sauce. There are generally at least five and as many as seven varieties of the pizza available at all times. There are two gelato stations on the ship, one in the Piazzata and the other by the pool.
There are also delicious cakes, cheese cakes and special cookies available for a small price. You won't find mouthwatering desserts served in the buffet or after dinner in the dining room, except in the alternative restaurants, where there is a charge.
In general, if you want to go to dessert heaven anywhere on the ship have an you will have to pay the price of admission. A variety of club sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads, cheese and fruit platters, ice cream and dessert of the day are offered on the 24 hour room service menu. The food is good, and delivered within 20 minutes, however there is a fee charged for each of these items when the ship is in Europe.
There are two dinner seatings in each of the two dining rooms, but the times vary depending on the ship's location. In the Caribbean, early seating begins at 6: In Europe, early seating begins at 7: This is in keeping with the lifestyle of the Spanish, especially, and the Italians. Obviously, Americans will find this time to be far too late. The two main seating restaurants are Villa Verde and La Reggia.
Villa Verde is placed in the stern of the ship on decks five and six with commanding views through two-deck tall picture windows. Finding the restaurant entrance is a bit tricky, since it is at the bottom of a dead-end staircase, which means one must approach from deck six and walk down. The alternative restaurants are where the cuisine really shines. L'Olivio is the Italian specialty restaurant where the entire menu is a la carte. Appetizers began at 3 to 7 Euro, including cioppino soup or tuna carpacchio.
The lamb chops served on a bed of mango risotto are out of this world, and the Mediterranean lobster with a tail as long as the plate is wide is a joy to behold. The Bora Bora buffet is surprisingly good. One reason for this is the vast selection of foods required to satisfy the palates of so many different European cultures. Breakfast is a perfect example, one will find flaky croissants, fresh omelettes, juicy German sausages and English bacon.
I have never experienced a buffet area where they managed to keep the food so warm, which is a significant but often under-appreciated accomplishment on any cruise ship. The amount can be adjusted at the Reception desk.
A gratuity for bar staff is already included in the price of drinks. Spa and casino staff may be tipped in cash at the discretion of the passenger. In the Caribbean, they have come to expect a tip from the North American clientele. In Europe, tradition dictates that tips be presented to service personnel on the last night of the cruise.
Children under 12 pay half those amounts. Again, the gratuity for bar service personnel is included in the price of the drink. Although this item is at the bottom of the page it is extremely important. Europeans cruisers are extremely casual in their dress. Even though the prescribed dress code on the ship for most nights on our seven night cruise was informal, which was defined as jacket and tie for a man, in fact, most people were wearing blue jeans and open toed shoes.
There were T-shirts and untucked dress shirts with no necktie. In fact, on almost any given night if one did not feel like changing out of their casual day clothes one could walk any place on the ship and not feel out of place.
Of course, some of the ladies seemed to enjoy dressing up a little more than the men. Bottom-line, if you enjoy extremely casual ships then you can't do any better than MSC cruises in Europe.
Not only is she greater in length than the height of the Eiffel Tower, she was the largest cruise ship ever built for a European ship owner at the time of her introduction. To test your driving skills, there are Formula 1 simulators.
Unusual for a cruise ship, there is also a squash court. The extensive use of various colored marbles adds a luxurious quality to the traditionally styled public lounges and a hint of Italian style as well as art deco and art nouveau touches. MSC Cruises has always been sensitive to environmental issues, and Fantasia-class ships are on the cutting edge ecologically. They are equipped with the most innovative technological systems to guarantee savings in energy and protection of the environment, such as the water-processing systems.
MSC Divina has more cabins and a higher double-occupancy rate and a stunning infinity pool at the back of the ship. More widely known as one of the world's largest cargo shipping companies, MSC has operated cruises with an eclectic fleet since the late s. When the line introduced two graceful, medium-size ships in and , it ushered in an era of new shipbuilding that has seen the fleet grow faster than any other European cruise line. This line is growing into a major player in both Europe and the Caribbean.
MSC blankets the Mediterranean nearly year-round with a dizzying selection of cruise itineraries that allow a lot of time in ports of call and include few if any sea days. In summer months, several ships sail off to northern Europe to ply the Baltic. Itineraries planned for repositioning sailings visit some intriguing, off-the-beaten-track ports of call that other cruise lines bypass.
No glitz, no clutter—just elegant simplicity—is the standard of MSC's seaworthy interior decor. Extensive use of marble, brass, and wood reflects the best of Italian styling and design; clean lines and bold colors set their modern sophisticated tone. MSC adopts some activities that appeal to American passengers without abandoning those preferred by Europeans; however, regardless of the itinerary, be prepared for an Italian-influenced experience.
Also expect to hear announcements in several languages. Read All User Reviews 9. I was a first time cruiser from the USA that lives in Spain. I will start off by stating that overall, this cruise and MSC exceeded my expectations. However, I did a lot of research before I booked, as I do with anything. I read reviews about how the food was awful and cold, and that service was horrible, and that there are kids running amok everywhere.
I have come to the conclusion that those people are blockheads. There are people who walk amongst others, that don't take the time beforehand to figure out what it is they are getting into, much less know how to work around an unpleasant situation to make the best of it.
They are probably also people who don't like being out of their comfort zone or have never experienced different cultures. You need to know that many different cultures of people cruise this route. You will find very polite and queue line respecting Australians and British. And you will also find all for one, cut in front, didn't see you there or care much less Spanish and Italians.
These are cultures and ways of life. So this is what you will run in to. I have lived in southern Spain for over a year now, after having been raised in the Midwest of the USA, where being helpful, polite and respectful is a way of life. I had already been conditioned to the stepping in front of you thing from Spain, and therefore it didn't bother me. However, if you find extremely large crowds, quarters full of people moving about, and line cutting or going in front of you to catch the elevator might ruin your day, then don't take this cruise.
Just find something else with much less people that will agree with you. The food in the dining rooms table service for breakfast and lunch are very good.
The speed of service is reasonably timed; however it's a little overkill on the offering of bread. Most people would prefer to be offered beverage service 5 times per meal instead of breads and croissants. But eventually you will be able to make your beverage order. Again, the food is very good, but the comfort of seating isn't very relaxing.
The food in the dining room for dinner is fantastic. The service is very slow and it is very loud in the dining room. However, if you take a look at the number of people being served, and the number of service personnel that are using the system MSC wants them to use, it is quite acceptable.
I read reviews that stated the food was horrible and cold. The food just isn't going to arrive piping hot when they are trying to serve a thousand. And I think people who haven't experienced many different cultures will be turned off by unfamiliar tastes.
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MSC has grown rapidly to become one of the leading global shipping lines of the world. During recent years MSC's maritime fleet has grown significantly to reach the rank of the 2nd largest carrier in in respect to the number of vessels operated , and the 4th largest carrier in terms of container slot capacity. Mediterranean Shipping Cruises has expanded its itineraries to the Caribbean, South America and South Africa, offering classic European cruises, Italian ambience, good food and service.
MSC Cruises uniquely blends maritime traditions, culture and famous Mediterranean cuisine to deliver the ultimate cruise experience while displaying a real commitment to the finest hospitality afloat. In essence, MSC Cruises has made true Italian service the heart of its business and its key point of differentiation in the cruise industry. MSC Cruises ships and itineraries: Panama registered, inauguration , , gross tons, 3, passengers, 1, crew members.