Updated May 2019
After arriving in Nice we had a three hour transfer to Genoa. This would not usually be the airport to use for such a cruise, but the flight had been cancelled to Genoa on this date - so instead we enjoyed a very scenic drive along the coastline.
On arrival to the port, the check in process was very quick and swift as this is one of MSC Cruises' home ports, so they have their own check in terminal. Once boarding the ship we were able to grab a drink before freshening up for a meet and greet in one of the many bars on board.
The ship is very opulent, and has a high standard of interior furnishings. It was immaculately clean throughout, and has a contemporary yet stylish feel. It's easy to recognise that this is not an American cruise line, and instead Italian design and hospitality shines through at every turn.
The cabin was very spacious in size and even had a nice lounge area. The shower space was good and the shower had glass doors that could be folded back to allow more changing space if preferred.
We saw one show in the Main Theatre. This area is very modern, and the focus of the entertainment is more on visual and sound effects so that everyone can enjoy the entertainment, regardless of their language. In particular there were lots of acrobatic performances which were very impressive. The only downside was that there was no bar service in the theatre.
We were lucky enough during this cruise to have a behind the scenes tour; this was very useful as we met some of the crew during their working hours. The tour gave us a great insight into their lives onboard, and completely justified the gratuities policy. The crew areas were immaculate and it was great to see the galleys (kitchen). The ship is very economical and any food waste is burnt into ashes and used as fuel; a great step toward greener cruising.
Note: gratuities can be removed or adjusted with MSC Cruises. I was more than happy to keep mine in place due to the fantastic service we received.
The Infinity Pool at the aft of the ship is very impressive. The middle of the ship features a heated pool area where competitions are held, some of us ended up joining in and it was a great experience. The Vertigo Slide is great fun and the clear section even extends off the side of the ship. Kids can enjoy the Doremi Castle Area.
The gym was very well stocked with all the latest equipment, and had great views looking out over the front of the ship. The spa is one of the biggest we'd seen on a cruise ship, and I treated myself to two massages! Both of these were very well priced. There is a Day Pass system for access to the Sauna and Spa - when we were onboard this was €16 for 1 hour or €29 for the day, but there were special offers available on various days throughout the itinerary. The spa area boasts fabulous choices of sauna and steam rooms - there is even a Coconut Steam Room and a Fridgenium (crushed Ice room to put on your body before the sauna).
The Spa Café is a quiet spot to enjoy one of many teas or smoothies (some were included in the package and some come at a supplement price). There are many other bars and lounges onboard which offer entertainment in the form of live music of varying styles, some with audience participation and some more relaxed with fine wine to accompany the music.The Piazza was especially classy and impressive with its Swarovski Crystal staircase - in the MSC Yacht Club the staircase features Gold Swarovski Crystals.
As this ship is popular among Mediterranean nationalities, there is an Italian flair throughout the cuisine onboard. The chef explained to us that us Brits typically love our food hot, but generally in the Med the food is warm - something that can seem strange at first if you like your food hot! At breakfast we enjoyed a buffet option with a variety of hot and cold foods: croissants, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereals, sausages, hash browns, bacon, beans, and more. There is always self-service coffee, tea, and hot water available in the buffet 24-hours a day, and it is open for 20-hours a day for Food. Another option is to have breakfast in the restaurant with menus and waiter service. I preferred this as it was less busy and a more relaxing experience. Tables are allocated by the waiters.
For lunch and dinner guests can choose between the buffet or waiter service in the restaurants. One of my favourite venues was the Golden Lobster, an a la carte restaurants in which I experienced great service from the waiters and maître d. Each evening here there was a choice of something new or something from the staple menu.
Golden Lobster Example Menu
Shrimp Cocktail / Puff Pastry with Snails / Chickpea and Hummus and Aubergine Ghanoush Sweet and Sour Salad / Rock Lobster Bisque
Tortellini Mascarpone Cheese / Rissatto allo Spumante / Fish of the Day – Seabream / Leg of Lamb / Fillet of Beef
There are two Specialty Restaurants onboard, Eataly and Galaxy. I chose to eat in Eataly which had laid back décor which made it seem more like a café than a restaurant. The best part of this experience was the chefs talking to us about the local produce, and the way in which the dishes are created.
Eataly Example Menu
Selection of Cold meats and Cheeses
Pasta with Seafood / Steak Medium Rare with salad and potatoes
There was plenty of choice for dessert, and wine at the table was included.
Dietary requests are very well looked after throughout all restaurants onboard, and guests with these needs are provided with an individual menu to suit if required.
The drinks available are all popular brands, and you can enjoy cocktails, coffees, and ice cream (Ferrero Roche being the best one!).
This cruise line are known for being very competitive on price, and are great value for money. The best way to describe MSC Cruises in order to set them aside from other cruise lines would be that that they are ideal for anyone who enjoys being among other nationalities, sipping on fine wine, dining on Italian flair food and relaxing in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.