Travel Agent & Photojournalist
It was nice to get invited to view one of the newest mega cruise ships the MSC Meraviglia. My wife owns a travel agency and I am the president and founder of the International Press Assoc. that publishes IMPress its online Magazine.
As a photojournalist for over 40 years, I have written about, photographed, and produced many videos of the many countries and cruises we have taken.
Our careers, have afforded us many wonderful opportunities to travel worldwide and cruise on a number of ships. We also enjoyed the river cruises too. One of our best was a cruise down the Nile River in Egypt, so much history. Another exciting river cruise was down the Amazon River out of Iquitos Peru.
Our First MSC Cruise
We were excited when invited to view the new MSC Meraviglia (pronounced Meravilia). My wife had previously seen the ship in New York as an invited travel agent and raved about it. So when the offer came to take a 5-day cruise for travel agents out of Miami we grabbed it. The itinerary was a stop in the Bahamas and a stop at their new island Ocean Cay.
Unfortunately, poor weather in the Bahamas prevented us from going to the Bahamas and Ocean Cay was still not completed, so they decided to stop at Cozumel, a port we have visited many times before.
Because of this unforeseen problem, they did offer all guests a $100 onboard credit which was generous. However, many of us were looking forward to seeing Ocean Cay and of course the Bahamas. Maybe next time.
Unfortunately, with the limited time, we had for the unexpected visit to Cozumel, there was simply not enough time to visit beaches, snorkel or do anything other than buying some tee shirts for the grandchildren. We then returned to the ship to have lunch. Everyone was disappointed, hopefully, we will be invited again to cruise on MSC and visit Ocean Cay.
MSC OCEAN CAY MARINE RESERVE: A CARIBBEAN PARADISE – Click For More Info
Cruise Ships Continue to Innovate
Cruise ships including Royal Caribbean, have realized that Caribbean cruisers no longer want to visit the same ports year after year. RCL spent many millions of dollars creating their own island theme park Coco Cay.
MSC went in another direction and built their own private island Ocean Cay in the Bahamas. Visitors can enjoy pristine water, beach activities, perhaps a game of beach volleyball or shopping for souvenirs.
The Atrium & Promenade
Cruise lines have worked hard to add so many new and exciting decor on their ships too. MSC Meraviglia has a two-deck Mediterranean-style promenade. It features the longest LED Dome at sea. There are loads of shops. magnificent Atrium and LED-lit staircase that resembled sparkling diamonds on each step.
The promenade is also used for their fun events and one night it was wild with music and many hundreds of guests during a Carnival Night. You can see more in our photo gallery and video. Great night, fun time.
Deck 19 & Other Activites
Unlike some of the other ships, we have been on that had many on deck activities like miniature golf, zip lines, rock climbing, basketball and other activities this ship offered the pool, Aquapark, the Himalayan Bridge the Deck 19 Solarium.
They also had an indoor basketball court, amusement area for young and old with a two-lane bowling alley and some cool simulation games, but these were at extra cost.
The pool was spectacular, much larger than most ships we have been on.
The giant screen was used to project movies and at night, great for their wild “White Night” party.
MSC Yacht Club
If you are a MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club member, you had access to their club pool, grill, sundeck with bar.
“The MSC Yacht Club is an exclusive onboard sanctuary designed with the highest standard of elegance. This all-inclusive experience includes UNLIMITED DRINKS in all bars and restaurants of the ship.”
After interviewing so many officers on other ships, I have been told that two of the biggest costs were food and fuel.
New ships that can accommodate many thousands of passengers have a huge task to prepare the thousands of meals for their passengers and in many cases, they need to cut corners. Years ago cruise smaller cruise ships offered fantastic food options included in the cost of their cruises.
Premium Dining Packages
If you decide to cruise on the MSC Meraviglia, you might want to consider buying their premium dining packages. You would enjoy dinner in their three best restaurants. These pack
ages are usually offered at a more reasonable cost if added at the time you book your cruise. On our cruise, booking the Tryptic package was $77 per person for three restaurants.
The Plan Included: The Butcher’s Cut Steak House, Ocean Cay, and Kaito Sushi Bar.
This didn’t work for us since I don’t eat Sushi, not a big meat lover either. If you don’t book these dining packages in advance expect to pay $100 each for this package, once onboard the ship.
The Marketplace – Buffet
Many ships have their main buffet type restaurant. MSC Meraviglia has its “Marketplace” which I loved.
Unlike the RCL mega-ships, this one was sensational. Now I was born in Brooklyn, New York and live in New Jersey for years. So Pizza is a staple where I have lived.
I was pleased to discover that this Italian shipping company put in a real Pizza kitchen in the Marketplace where they created a number of fantastic and varied versions of, thin-crust pizza with freshly made mozzarella.
Of course, I had pizza in the morning and afternoon meals. Loads of fresh veggies and fruit, other wonderful choices too. Quality was excellent and I could have eaten all three meals here and would have been happy.
Main Dining Room
We went to their main dining room, L’Olive Dorée, for dinner. Unfortunately, our experience, as well as others at our table, and those we spoke to on the ship was not a good one.
The dining room was spectacular so we expected the food to match the decor. Unfortunately, and I hate to be negative…but, as you will hear in our video, the quality of the food was quite poor as confirmed by a number of guests we spoke to and interviewed on camera.
The food was way below our expectations, however, the staff was excellent and brought other choices. Unfortunately, they were not much better. Poor quality, very small portions.
MSC, take note, make changes here. Passengers we suggest you eat at Marketplace if you decide not to select their specialty restaurants.
Wow, the MSC Meraviglia knows entertainment. OK, so no broadway shows, but the best group of singers and dancers we have seen anywhere. Each night the show was better than the last. From a medley of many popular Broadway shows to simply wonderful production numbers. You will see an example of these shows in our video and all the photos in our Flickr Gallery.
We couldn’t get anyone on the MSC Meraviglia to approve us or offer any help in doing any interviews with the ship’s officers. Because, we didn’t have an opportunity to see the cabins, staterooms, and suites on the ship we can’t give you our opinions.
However from the stock shots, we have downloaded from their website, it would seem the other cabins and staterooms are superior.
Since MSC is new to us, I tried reaching out to their PR department prior to the cruise, but we couldn’t seem to get any help from them either.
In the past, as you can see in our other Cruise articles and videos, we always are afforded an opportunity to get permission to film their senior staff which helps us in producing a great and informative video. You can see one we did for Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas and Azamara Cruise Lines.
The only stateroom we were able to see was our own. From the photo, you can see it was quite small but appears larger because I shot this with a wide-angle lens.
The balcony was only large enough for two chairs and a small table and didn’t overhang the side of the ship, so it lost that additional space and sun that some other ships have.
Our bed was comfortable, full king and there was a pull-out sofa that we couldn’t understand. There was no room to open it in this small cabin as you can see in the photo.
The dresser was opposite the sofa and only a few feet between the two and the sofa hugged up against the sliding door closet which made access very difficult indeed and one of the doors came off the track and was impossible to put back on.
Frankly, I was surprised at this cabins layout and in my opinion, they should remove the large sofa and exchange it for a small love seat. They should also have maintenance replace, or fix these poor sliding doors.
Would We Cruise On MSC Again?
You bet we would. We understand that on new ships there are issues that need to be addressed. The dining room food is a must fix. I understand it is hard to feed so many guests, but with this limited menu, it shouldn’t be. Upgrade the quality and you won’t have all the waste from returned dishes, uneaten meals, and unhappy guests.
What Passengers Thought
You will see three of the passengers we met spoke who shared their thoughts about the cruise. Each one loved the ship, and each one complained about the dining room food. MSC, if you serve the same quality food you serve in the Marketplace in the dining room, I can assure you that you will not have as many complaints.
The Swimming Pool...I am not sure if their main swimming pool uses saltwater as other ships do or they over chlorinate the water.
I like to swim underwater and did in the pool and seconds underwater my eyes started to burn. It was so bad that I immediately got out of the pool and had to flush my eyes with a bottle of water.
It took some time for me to feel better. I understand child had a similar experience. This is a serious issue and anyone planning to go into the pool should take underwater goggles to prevent this problem.
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