Well, MSC Armonia, what can I say that hasn’t already been said! Perhaps I should start with what happens before boarding! When getting to the port independently you can get an MSC shuttle bus from Piazzale Roma in Venice to Terminal 103 where you first hand over your luggage in a communal cruise line luggage building. MSC signs are there and you can’t miss the bright red MSC rep uniforms. You then proceed to Terminal 103 which is behind this building and go to the first floor using the exterior escalator. On arrival your passport and tickets are checked and you are given a numbered ticket which denotes when you ...
should board. You then go to a check in desk where your credit/debit card is swiped and they take your picture!. I believe this may also be the stage when you hand over your Euro deposit if you aren’t using a debit/credit card because at this time you receive your key card which acts as your cabin key and your onboard charge card – take good care of it! You are then asked to take a seat in the waiting area and you can get free fruit juice and tea (Cold perhaps) For the smokers among you, there is a large outside terrace! Also at this time you can book the wine deal, 7 bottles and 7 bottles of water, however forget the €99, it was €118.90 on Armonia! (still a good deal!)Read More
Numbers appear to be called in groups of 20 (I had number 39 so was in the second group) At this stage, you may need to push yourself to the top of the queue because when it was my turn, there were certainly at least 60 people ahead of me and I could see the chap in charge turning people away. That was when I realised I had to push ahead (not literally you understand!) You then proceed out of the building and bang! The first photograph posed against a backdrop! The first of dozens I might add! You then walk along the quay to the ship which is gleaming white and very impressive. I would estimate this walk to be around 300 yards. Up the gangplank and on to the ship where you are greeted and someone is allocated to take you to your cabin. At this stage I was just gazing around at the opulence before me, everything sparkling just as it remained for the duration of my cruise. You arrive at the cabin and your escort takes your keycard and opens the cabin and ushers you in, following with your luggage. One cannot help but be impressed by the cabin – almost as large as a standard hotel twin bedroom, all fitted out in very light wood. Tons of storage, a safe behind the dressing mirror, oodles of mirrors including one full length one, a TV sitting on a cupboard which contains the mini bar. I didn’t find any English channels except for one which gives information on excursions and ship safety and BBC News 24 (I didn’t look very hard!) Channel 1 is always the web cam on the prow of the ship so you can see what the weather is like before you dress! Now a little tip on using the key card! You put it in the slot (barcode facing you) and pull it straight out again (the light on the lock turns green when it works!)
The shower room is perfectly adequate for anyone’s needs. The clinging shower curtain is a slight pain but I managed to shower very comfortably and had tons of hot water no matter what time of the day I showered. Tons of space for all your toiletries both beside and under the sink and in the shower cubicle. Lots of toiletries provided, soap, shower cap, bath/shower gel and shampoo. There may have been a sewing kit but I never saw it! The hair drier is also in the bathroom, hotel type with the head attached by a vacuum style hose. I never used it so I can’t comment. Tissues are fitted to side of washbasin and a waste bin is fitted inside the cupboard under the basin. There is also an Ashtray! The noise of vacuum flushing is slightly alarming at first but you get used to it! Oh, there is also a waste bin beside the dressing table (Power points are under the dressing mirror and you will need a continental adaptor to plug appliances in) Towels are changed as soon as you use them and bedding is changed daily.
You will find a card with your dinner table number and sitting on your dressing table. Take this with you on the first night when you go to dinner. Should you find you wish to change it, you go to the Maitre D at the Bar del Duomo on Deck 5 as soon as you can. You will also find your Daily Program which gives you lots of information about what is happening where on the ship. (Each evening you will receive a program for the following day)
All of the public rooms are well furnished and lit with a lot of use of glass, crystal, chrome, steel and mirrors. I was lucky in that our dinner table in the Marco Polo restaurant was beside a giant porthole (Table 140) and there were invariably magnificent views, especially sailing from Dubrovnik, hundreds of tiny islands on a sea which was orange from the setting sun! (or was that Santorini! Or both!)
The restaurant is beautifully set up for meals, gleaming glass and tableware and crisp linens and dozens of nice young men in yellow jackets attending you. I found them to be very attentive and eager to please, without exception!
Personally I found the food exceptionally good, wherever I ate on board - a great choice and an incredible abundance! Something to suit every taste I am sure! I never had a problem with food temperature either.
Apart from the main restaurant where you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is a buffet restaurant on Deck 11 (at the stern) outside and inside! On the outside beside the food counters, you will find the Tea, Coffee and iced water. This is available free all day, on a self service basis (but mostly assisted!) I also saw someone drinking milk too. Lots of different teas, all Twinings! I only saw one source of coffee but I wasn’t looking for Decaff! The two outside taps on the hot dispenser are coffee and the middle one is hot water. Do not go to the Girasole or Lido Bars on deck for coffee or tea unless you want to pay! The same goes for all of the interior bars! Afternoon tea and Midnight buffets are at the Girasole/Brasserie, midnight snacks are served in the various lounges.
Most people gravitate to Deck 11 during the day (the main pool deck, two pools and a bar at each end, lots of sunloungers, shaded areas down each side, full sun areas closest to the pools. You get a towel at a table to the side of the Lido Bar and then select your lounger. Sometimes you might find it hard to find a lounger, lots of empty ones but all with towels on! Should this happen, go to the towel boy, he will sort everything out for you. There is also a gallery sun deck area above the pool deck for serious sun worshippers!
All of the daytime entertainment takes place beside the pool at the Lido Bar so if you want peace and quiet, don’t sit near here! I found it quite entertaining! Although there were lots of children on board, I didn’t find them a nuisance at all because most were busy in the children’s club! I never saw the pools overcrowded. The pools are saltwater but there are showers between the two pools for rinsing off. This is also where the Jacuzzis are – I never once saw them being used! There is another Jacuzzi at the prow on Deck 7. I also never saw the climbing wall in use!
Disembarkation!!! Before describing this in detail, just a little bit of advice! Do take a small holdall with you because you will need one, or at least a carrier bag! You have to have your case packed and placed outside the cabin by 2am of the morning of disembarkation so you will need it for your night clothes, toiletries or even what you were wearing the night before if you are a late owl!
Do go to the meeting with Nicky the English hostess at 5pm the evening before leaving. I know of some people who didn’t go and who were subsequently in a state of confusion! This is where I met two other DE couples (both of whom were on 2-4-1)
Anyone who has MSC transfers included is called a Priority passenger and they will find luggage labels in their cabin the day before leaving. Labels have different colours which have different significance. Mine were green and signified that I had a flight departing before 4pm. You will receive a detailed note in your cabin about what each colour means. All Green label passengers had to gather in the Moulin Rouge piano bar at 8am! They also had to report back to the Terminal for 12.30pm for 1pm coaches to the airport. Once formalities have been completed (in the background) you are then asked to leave the ship and proceed to the luggage carousels on the ground floor in the terminal building. Collect a luggage trolley (free here unlike the Airport where you need a €1 coin) for your cases and either make your way to the coach departure desk outside or deposit your luggage in the MSC left luggage office for a fee of €2.50 per case. This fee covers you until 2pm. I assume that you can pay more for later collection! You can then (assuming you have some free time!) either take the free shuttle bus to Piazzale Roma or you can catch a Vaporetto to St. Marks Square (€5 I believe!) The latter option may be quicker because I believe it goes directly to St. Marks Square without stopping. The Vaporetto back to Piazzale Roma (for getting back to the port) takes around 40 minutes! Then you either find a shuttle bus or take a taxi to the terminal (€10)
I haven’t covered any excursions because I didn’t take any, just did my own thing! I did play bingo about 5 times trying to win a cruise for two people if you call within 41 numbers! It costs €10 a time! I went to 2 shows and I can honestly say they were equal to or better than I have seen on other ships! I visited the casino but didn’t have a flutter, bingo was enough! They have blackjack, roulette and poker plus lots of slot machines. The English pub was the quietest place on the ship and that is where the cigar room is too. There is live music in all the other lounges. I didn’t visit the Disco so can’t comment but I did hear it was quite lively later on at night! They also have a talent contest for budding artists!
The rules must be different for US waters but you couldn’t buy a bottle for use in the cabin. It was retained until the end of the cruise. You can however take bottles on board and cigarettes. British cigarettes are around €19 for 200 in the on board shop but remember the shops are always closed when in port, as is the Casino. The shops are fairly standard for cruise ships, nothing ultra special except for some fairly expensive jewellery. They didn’t run an end of cruise sale like I have seen on other ships.
I did visit the Beauty Salon and had a pedicure. It cost €40 but was worth it! It lasted an hour and a half! They offered lots of massage therapy including Shiatsu, stones and Balinese, but it was quite expensive, however I am sure it would have been good – will budget for it next time! They offer all the usual Beauty Salon treatments including manicures, facials, make up and hairdressing.
In conclusion all I can say is that I can’t wait to sail with MSC again! The sooner the better! No complaints from this lady!
Feel free to PM me with any questions – I am sure I have forgotten lots of things! I have also scanned some menus, Daily Programs and Port Information sheets which I will happily email to anyone who would like to see them.
PS My 4* rating for entertainment isn\'t just for the shows which I would rate 3* but includes the Animation Team in general all of whom work incredibly hard at amusing everyone!
Tour Operator: Rise/Daily Express