Author: Mrs Marina Edwards
Transfer from Dubai airport was well organised and speedy even at the port prior to embarkation. There were unique entertainers in the terminal building on penny farthing bikes etc while we were waiting, very impressive. Once we had our boarding/cabin cards we then had full use of the ship until our cabin was ready at 12 noon although our cases didn't arrive until after 3pm. MSC did advise pack a day bag with swimwear etc which was a great piece of advice so our holiday did begin the minute we boarded the ship. One negative (but understandable) is the safety drill before we sailed wasn't until 11.15pm after all passengers were on board. The problem for us is we had an overnight flight which got us into Dubai at around 7 am so didn't get to bed until after the safety drill. It could have been done much quicker if everyone attended (we had to wait until all passengers were there and they swipe your cabin card to know who isn't!!) Next time we would definitely either change the flight time out to Dubai or stay in a hotel overnight the day before the cruise commenced and possibly do the same on the return. Emirates had our seats booked together fine on the outbound journey but they tried to seat me and my husband on separate rows about 3 apart on the inbound flight. I was told we should have checked in online to secure seats together. I reminded them that Iglu cruises had told me they 'block book' seats so we always sit together. She then found us seats ok. (I did try to choose our seats before we flew out but if you book through an agent apparently you can't, the agent has seats already secured for you). The ship itself had everything we needed, maybe not as 'boutique' as some but it has a 'glitzy' charm all of its own and run by very friendly, accommodating staff. The Animation Team were great, worked so hard and the daily programme was fun and entertaining. The show at night time was very professional in a beautiful theatre, the sound, lighting, singing, dancing and acrobatics (very Cirque du Solei) was amazing, they did a great job, very professional! Nearly all the bars had live entertainment each night with themed party nights on top deck/savannah bar each night. Standard of drinks was excellent. Definitely take out the drinks package for all Inclusive drinks 24 hrs a day, cost us £24 a day, well worth it, even taking into account all the soft drinks and coffee/ice cream of a day, it also included the Cichetta (Italian tapas) in the wine Bar, Prosecco was a good one too! Cocktails very good too! Restaurant food and service again, brilliant, our waiter Widi in Ibiscus restaurant was exceptional. Food choice and standard again really good. Buffet had all you could want and the choice was very good. Pizzeria was open 24 hrs. It could get very busy especially at breakfast prior to tours commencing. We had to upgrade to use the Ibiscus Restaurant and beware about sittings. Iglu staff told us if we were on the 6.30 sitting it would be ok to go in at around 7.30 ( as long as we were there before 8.30).NOT SO - they close the doors 15 mins after 6.30. We changed to the 9pm sitting which really is too late for us but MSC does not do Freedom Dining which we prefer. The initial price of our outside cabin was £699 but with the restaurant upgrade we paid around £845 so make sure you upgrade otherwise you will have to eat all your meals in the buffet restaurant. We went into the Ibiscus one morning for breakfast, very civilised and served quickly too (depends on how many people are in I guess) All public areas were kept clean and today, the brass was polished daily and the toilets very clean. Cabin was clean, beds comfy with nice pillows, bathroom quite spacious although shower a bit small but we were ok, lots of wardrobe/drawer space, nice and bright. We were on deck 5 (Reception Deck where the atrium bar is with pianist/violinist) but you could not hear any noise at night, cabin was quiet. Tours were well organised and guides informative. We loved the 'family' approach to the ship, the Captain met us all on the first gala night and his staff were introduced to us. The captain even presented Employee of the Month on stage, he seemed genuinely concerned that we were enjoying our cruise and had all we needed and appreciated our custom. He was there again to say goodbye on the last gala night and to thank us for cruising with MSC, a lovely personal touch we thought. Most people did dress up and we did see a few tuxedos so I would wear whatever you want, I think the destination of the United Arab Emirates has a different appeal to perhaps the Mediterranean cruises, so be a smart as you wish! However, some passengers didn't make much effort at all! Lots of sunbeds on deck but very close together. They have attached sun shades which can get in the way of 'your sun' when people have them 'up' but not using them. Maybe lower them when you don't need shade, so you don't 'shade' the person next to you! The people we met also made our cruise a great experience so thanks to Linda and Tony! Linda and George! Kieron and John, we've never laughed so much, it was great to meet you all! Fancy another MSC cruise?