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Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Shari K

Age: 63


Number of Cruises: 27

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Sinfonia

Sailing Date: 2010-09-11

Itinerary: Mediterranean western

MSC cruises offer great itineraries and nice newer ships. (monaco, tunisia, Ibiza, Valencia, Catania, Naples, Florence) The ship is gorgeous, clean and well kept. Food is just ok by American standards, guests are 95% Europeans. Our Balcony suite was the largest and nicest we have had in over 25 cruises. Large room, sofa, walk in closet, 2 chairs 2 desks and the balcony was a good size and private with walls on each side. The itinerary offers a port every day, though we were only in most ports for a half day. We thought that was very nice, no days at sea and plenty of time to relax. DO NOT take this cruise if you expect American cruising style. You will be disappointed. We took this cruise the 2nd week in Sept. Zillions of families. Expect that. If you do not want kids around, do not take their cruises. Kids in the whirlpools, in the bars til midnight and in the halls all day and night. Kids in the fitness room. This is not Sandals or Beaches! We only took one shore excursion and felt it was priced fairly and the guide was good. Other Americans we met on the ship were pleased with their Shore excursions. They did caution that some tours were given in English and one other language but not problematic. Meals were just ok. But at every dinner we had at least one thing that was supurb and one thing that was not good at all. Portions are modest which was fine with us. Someone at our table asked for a 2nd dessert and was denied. Coffee is not available with or after dessert. You must go to the Coffee bar. (Almost a dealbreaker for me!) Not a big deal, but uncommon on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean etc where I have seen people order 2 main courses and one of each dessert. Breakfast and Lunch buffets were a feeding frenzy. I do not want to hear that Eurpoeans eat reasonably and Americans all eat like football players. (cereal bowls full of bacon, 6 to 8 croissants....4 hamburgers. Also, it isn't a reflection on the ship, but Italians approach a line/queue like a rugby scrum. No neat single files like the Brits and most Americans. The style is to approach the line from all sides (like they drive) and lightly push or scrum till you get to or near the front. Some even "excuse me" all the way to the front. This is not a reflection on the cruise line, but a cultural one. Shows were average to below average, but not what WE went for. Bars and entertainment lounges were nice. Before we left, I read some reviews that people were furious that you had to pay for water. We received coupons at check in for a large bottle of mineral water each night at dinner. Water in the room was 1.80 euro for a big bottle. (yes you can brush your teeth with the water in the sink.) There were water dispensers in the breakfast and lunch buffets. But come on. If you are in European restaurants, you get used to purchasing a large or small bottle of water with your food. They do add 7 euro per person per day gratuity charge. We found the cabin staff to be above the ordinary. We found the waiters and dining staff to be overworked and not very friendly. Hey, they aren't working for tips. The cruise line says they discourage tipping over and above, but our cabin steewardesses were amazing...better than most. We did reward them. Desk staff was just ok.
Check in and check out were very easy. We filled out the forms on line before we left home and joined the "free" MSC club, which rocketed us through check in. Debarking was efficient. Lots of cabs available to the train station. Very nice and easy. Another aside. MSC allows people to check in at every port. Really a nice idea. That way you don't have 2000 people getting on the ship and off the ship at one time. That means the dining room, excursion desk, reception etc will always have new people and people who have been on board for a number of days. That changes the learning curve. We found that even though we spoke very little spanish, german, french or italian, our cruisemates were always eager to try their english and help us or talk to us and we tried to reciprocate. The shops on board were really nice and offered a huge selection onboard.
Bottom line is. If you want a European experience and are willing to "do as the Romans" you will learn a lot and have a great time. We did.

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