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D Harrodine

Age: 62

Occupation:executive director

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Fantasia

Sailing Date: 2009-07-5

Itinerary: med

This was a last minute booking as I had a week to get ready which made it grab what we could. However after reading some not so good comments I almost cancelled.

I'm really glad we didn't! For what we paid it was a fantastic value for money. I got the last balcony which happened to be on the Stern looking backwards. A concern at the time but it turned out to be a fantastic spot. The first night out, the ship was vibrating a complaint I had read about, but strangely it didn't occur again. Overall the ship was clean, the staff excellent the entertainment was good.

What wasn't so good is the number of people! It's like a bus dropping off and picking up passengers at every port. Every announcement was in seven languages, the continental obsession with towels on sun beds. The lifeboat drill was a joke!

The cost of drinks was exorbitant and there was no water unless you paid for it. The deck plan was confusing and crowded. It was difficult to go from one place to another like the restaurants etc. were in the way. There is only one direct access deck from one end to the other. But with 6000 people all trying to get to lifeboats it became terribly crowded and an awful experience.

My wife has an allergy to wheat and dairy, first night out the headwater came to see her, organised a special diet menu for her every night and served her himself. Excellent service. We had a five courses with a choice of two or three different meals every night. Although, we never had lunch in the restaurant because we were always ashore but other people we spoke to said it was of the same good quality. We did have breakfast in the restaurant one morning which was great, but we preferred to go to the self service as it was quicker. Incidentally, the self service plates were massive and we were able to eat as much as we want and the choice was extensive. The waiters were always in attendance to clean the tables and get drinks etc.

Do take a dark suit for formal nights!

The balcony room was clean, the towels changed twice a day, no complains. It was large enough for the two of us, and sitting on the balcony at night before dinner drinking a nice white wine while watching the bay of Naples was amazing!!!

Tip: buy your own wine and water ashore put it in the mini bar to keep cool. Don't use the mini bar unless you really have to its just to expensive

The excursions were expensive. If you want to do Pompeii go to the railway station for $4 euros and get a return ticket. Entrance is about $11 euros a lot of fun. The train is a hoot and saves about $60 euros.

The MSC coaches into town from the various docks are from $6 to $10 per person. Check if there is bus which is only about $3 euros or join up and share a cab.

All in all the barwas good but don't pay to much for the privilege. If you are a keen drinker go for one of the packages they work out, it's less expensive. However, the wine is not that good for what they charge and beer and cocktails are at West End Hotel prices.

The ship is so large that you don't get to know anybody who is not next door or on your dinner table. But if you can get a deal i.e. about $650 for a balcony it's well worth the money. The people next to us paid double that! If you are going to spend that go that bit more and try P&O.

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