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MSC Cruises: MSC Armonia

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MSC Armonia Review

Insider Take

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

All American cuisine for every meal; alternative restaurants; large cabins; all English speaking fellow passengers.

Decor

Each of Armonia's public room has its own distinctive color scheme, all more subdued than Opera's, and each room blends well with the next, giving a sense of unity. Cabin decks are similarly color-coordinated, each with a different hue. Abundant polished brass, mirrors, glass, and marble make the insides of these immaculate ships resplendent. The interior lighting is kept low, but during the day the sun streams through the many windows brightening the rooms and offering generous views of the sea.

Public Rooms

The Armonia offers eight different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most of them situated on Decks 5 and 6 connected by a grand marble staircase. Lord Nelson Pub, in the traditional English style, is a favorite for pre-dinner drinks. With no live music, it is a great place for conversation. Smoking is allowed in this lounge so it is fully occupied by the smokers on board, as is the casino bar, the pool bar, and the starboard side of the disco. Smoking is not permitted on any passenger cabin balconies. The majority of the public areas are smoke free.

There is another large lounge on deck 7, and a huge disco surrounded by glass walls on deck 12. The Beverly Hills Bar and Rodeo Drive shops near the dining room entrance on deck 5 are all duty-free shops. There is a little bit of everything, from jewelry to souvenirs. A die-hard shopper might find the shops small however, and the merchandise selection somewhat limited.

Located at the stern on Deck 12 is the Disco, the Blue Club. By day, this generously sized lounge with expansive windows is popular with the book readers, card players, and those just looking for quiet solitude while enjoying a great view. There's even access to a small outside deck overlooking the wake of the ship when underway. At night, the lights go down, and the action heats up. The bar goes into operation and so does the entertainment staff to get the passengers onto the dance floor.

Adjacent to the disco is a space called Virtual Reality Games. This video arcade is rather large for a ship this size, a bonus for families with children.

The Cyber Café, located on deck 6, has 10 computer stations. The first 10 minutes of internet is $5.00, and 50 cents per minute after that. If you bring your wireless equipped laptop, you can prepay blocks of internet time ranging from $15 for 30 minutes to $100 for 250 minutes. The photo shop and gallery are also located on deck 6.

The "I Pirati" Mini-Club is a delightful haven for younger children. Resembling a tropical "Little Gym" the kid's club is staffed by energetic, experienced staff. Children under three are welcomed to use the space when accompanied by an adult. The facility is open for 3 hours in the morning and afternoon, and 2 hours in the evening. Babysitting for children under three or for extended hours on port days is available for a charge. And while on the topic of children, expect extra friendly, helpful service when cruising with young ones. From the dining room and housekeeping staff the crew at the gangway, all are ready to lend a hand with a genuine smile.

Restaurants

There are two dinner seatings in each of the two dining rooms at 6:00 and 8:15 p.m. La Bussola (618-seat) and L'lppocampo (380-seat) dining rooms are situated on Decks 5 and 6 respectively. Both dining rooms are single decks, crowded with seating options ranging from tables and chairs or bench seats, to booths.

La Bussola (618-seat) and L'lppocampo (380-seat) dining rooms are situated on Decks 5 and 6 respectively. Those prone to seasickness may prefer the mid-ship location of The Caravella. Breakfast and lunch are both open seating, while dinner is assigned.

Entertainment

The Entertainers, called Animators or Palace, create a lot of lighthearted fun and mischief. You will find them throughout the ship, surprising you with their antics. Every evening, musicians perform in the various lounges, and there's jollity in profusion in the Lyric Lounge. It's here in the Lyric Lounge where you can laugh at, or be laughed at, during the passenger participation "shows".

The main show lounge, the Broadway Theater, offers two shows every evening, one at 8:15 and one at 10:15. The DGM Dancers along with other featured entertainers, offer after dinner entertainment ranging from Las Vegas type song and dance productions to magicians and comic routines. Show up early for a good seat; the early show especially fills up fast.

Italian cooking and language lessons; trivia, mini-golf, ping-pong, shuffleboard tournaments; a new type of dance lesson and arts and crafts everyday; leave barely enough time to lounge in the sun, or sneak away for an afternoon nap. Bingo is offered on board, but pay attention or you might miss it.

The two large swimming pools are separated by a duo of whirlpools with their own elevated lounge deck. There's plenty of deck space around the swimming pools, and the staff brings the fun outdoors for the pool crowd with games, dancing and parties. An expansive sun deck is located forward on deck 13, two decks up from pool deck. The pool and sun decks are furnished with adjustable loungers, each with their own attached sun shades. There's a table set up with a check in/check out for pools towels, but enforcement of the policy is rather lax, so no worries if you forgot to return your towel.

Baseball themed Caribbean cruises allow passengers to rub elbows with five All-Star and Hall-of-Fame baseball legends. Hitting, pitching and batting clinics, interviews, Q&A, storytelling, and autograph sessions are all popular. Golf fans will enjoy honing their skills under famous trainers and other professional of the game during selected Mediterranean cruises. MSC has additional themed cruises in the planning, including culture, hobbies, cuisine, music, well-being and more.

Cabins

Inside staterooms at 140 square feet, are on the small side, but well appointed, as are the rest of the cabin categories, with a mini-bar, safe, and closet and drawer space for a one-week cruise. A corner vanity below a mirrored corner cabinet (here's where the hairdryer is stowed), provides table top space, along with the usual two small nightstands. There's a chair tucked under the vanity and another by the bed. Ask your cabin steward to have one of the chairs removed if you prefer more floor space than sitting space. If you book an outside cabin with a window, the only thing you will gain is the ocean view, not more square footage. The inside and outside cabins designated for triple or quad occupancy are outfitted with upper bunks.

Suites, the only category with a private balcony, are a roomy 250 square feet. The additional space is furnished with a glass shelf serving as a convenient entry table, a larger closet, a full size bathtub, and a comfortable sitting area with a love seat. The love seat is a sofa bed, making all the suites suitable for triple occupancy. The remote controlled television is perched on top of a long cabinet opposite the love seat, with additional storage and the mini-bar. A coffee table and chair in the sitting area, along with another chair serving the vanity area, and two nightstands, complete the furniture inventory. The private balcony is a comfortable size, completely sheltered from above, and furnished with two chairs and a table.

There are two, two-room family suites measuring 237 square feet. The four handicapped cabins are all inside staterooms and are 226 square feet.

The bathrooms are small, but offer adequate storage space. The towels, although not overly luxurious in texture or weight, are huge. The bath towel, measuring 3 x 5 feet, is more of a bath sheet, with matching oversized hand towels. Shampoo and bath gel are provided in small bottles, along with a shower cap, shoe shine sponge, and a travel sized sewing kit.

Most of the mattresses on the Armonia have been replaced with extra firm new ones, without a cushy pillow top. Foam egg crates are not available, but an extra blanket folded up and placed under the mattress pad did the trick if you prefer a softer feel. Pillows are abundant, and you could bounce a dime off those expertly made crisp sheets.

The telephone did not have the capacity for voice mail, but you could program it for a wake up call. The remote controlled television offered several different news and movie channels, as well as programming for children. Some of the programs are in European languages, but there is always something for the English speaking passenger.

Fellow Passengers

This ship is marketed primarily to Europeans who are used to living with people who only speak their own native tongues. Onboard you will hear German, Italian, French, Spanish and anything else except for very little English.

Overview

A small but lively pan-European vessel with every activity presented in five languages. Not one of top MSC ships

Best For People Who Want

A true bargain on a very clean, classy ship that appeals to mostly European passengers

Onboard Experience

Passengers of MSC Cruises are greeted and escorted to their cabins by white gloved housekeeping staff upon boarding. This service is a surprise that typified the friendly, elegant atmosphere of the cruise. MSC's focus during the Caribbean season is trying to accommodate American tastes , but happily, the onboard still ambience remains charmingly European, with Italian officers and a mix of Italian, Balinese and international crew. Stellar entertainment by European performers, and the genuine Italian food and wine, set the MSC Armonia apart from her other ships in this price range populated solely with Americans. As in the Mediterranean, the announcements are still in five languages, but while the ship is in the Caribbean they make them in English first. The majority of the crew is comfortable conversing in English as well as their mother tongue.

Cuisine

Freshly made pasta and risotto dishes are available for lunch and dinner as well as a specialty dish from a different region of Italy each night. Grilled chicken, steak, and fish are always available as an option for more traditional fare. The menu lists appetizers, soup, salads, pasta, main courses and garnishes, as well as vegetarian and healthy choice selections. The dessert menu includes cakes, pastries, ice cream and sorbet, along with after-dinner drinks. Second helpings are yours for the asking, and portion sizes are above average.

Breakfast begins with the Early Birds' Coffee and Danish at 6:00 am, the full breakfast buffet runs from 6:30 to 9:30 am. Fresh eggs made to order and omelettes are offered at a station located in the grill area, just outside of the buffet restaurant. Piping hot coffee is served in cups and saucers by wait staff at the drink stations. No oversized mugs are available, or large sized drink glasses either for that matter. Juice is offered in the morning, replaced by tea during the day. The dining rooms served breakfast open seating style, from 7:00 to 9:30 am, and open seating lunch from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. A continental breakfast is available through room service from 7:30 to 11:00 am. The buffet is closed in the evening, so the dining room, grill and pizza stations, or room service are your choices for an evening meal.

Entrees in the Le Bistrot Cafeteria during the lunch time of 12:00 to 2:30 pm ranged from the unusual octopus stew towards more American meal staples such as broiled fish and chicken. A carving station serving of either beef or poultry is available here everyday, along with the ever tempting huge selection of rolls, breads, and crispy breadsticks.

Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts and pizza are available in the poolside grill areas from 12:00 to 3:30 pm and then again from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. The freshly made pizza is hot and delicious. The all-American favorite pepperoni is present, along with a few other not so ordinary varieties.

On "gala" nights in the buffet areas, passengers are treated to Crepes Flambé' and other delicious specialties artfully presented and served. On other nights, simpler snacks of sandwiches and sweets are served, usually by strolling waiters in the lounges and other public areas of the ship.

The Ice Cream and Vitamin bar, not complimentary, located on lido deck is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Afternoon tea from 4:00 to 5:00 pm consists of finger sandwiches, cakes, and cookies, and is usually served in the buffet area and out on the adjacent deck area.

A variety of club sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads, cheese and fruit platters, along with ice cream and dessert of the day is offered on the 24 hour room service menu. The food is good, and delivered within 20 minutes.

A coffee and tea station is available at the casual dining area after hours, but the best coffee onboard is at The Coffee Bar. Authentic Italian Espresso ($1.60) and cappuccino are available at most of the bars onboard.

A glass of house wine is available for just over $4.00, a draft beer for $3.00, and a soda for $2.20. Signature cocktails are $7.95 and mixed drinks $7.25. Reasonable wine, beer, and soda packages are available for purchase. A $28.00 MSC Junior Card would bring a grin to your little one as they ordered their own special 5 virgin drinks and 5 soft drinks. Bar wait staff did not hawk drinks in the public areas, but servers are never very far away to take your order.

Service

Dining room service by the waiter and assistant waiter is spotty, and is not yet as polished for Americans as it could be. However, the multitude of dining room section supervisors and assistant maitre-de's are very much out on the floor and more often than not, working right along side the waiters taking care of special requests or refilling your glass.

Cabin housekeeping services are topnotch, and requests are responded to in a timely manner. The Reception and Shore Excursion desks are adequately staffed, and there is rarely a line to ask a question or book a tour.

Tipping

In the Caribbean, a daily gratuity of $12 per passenger is automatically added to the onboard account. If you're under 18 and sharing with two adults, it's only $6.00 per day. The amount can be adjusted at the Reception desk.

A gratuity for bar staff is already included in the price of drinks. Spa and casino staff may be tipped in cash at the discretion of the passenger. In the Caribbean, they have come to expect a tip from the North American clientele. In Europe, tradition dictates that tips be presented to service personnel on the last night of the cruise. The cruise line suggests $3.50 to $5.00 per person per day for the Waiter and Stateroom attendant and $1.00 - $2.00 per day for the Maitre D'. Children under 12 pay half those amounts. Again, the gratuity for bar service personnel is included in the price of the drink.

Fitness/Spa

The gym, deck 11, offers aerobic equipment in a light-filled room with floor-to-ceiling windows. The spa offered the usual cruise ship fare of facials and massages, with different Bali massage specials just about everyday. Aerobics classes are free, with personal training sessions and Pilates classes for a fee. There is a jogging track on deck 12 above the pool.

Attire

The dress code is resort casual with two formal nights on ten-night, three on 11-night, and four on 17- and 18-night cruises. In the Caribbean, dress on formal nights is varied, with women wearing dressy pantsuits, cocktail dresses, or evening gowns, and men in either dark suits or tuxedo.




Ship Overview

Built in 2001 for Festival Cruises and christened European Vision, Armonia was purchased and rechristened by MSC Cruises when the original owner ceased operations in 2004. A sister ship to MSC Sinfonia, she was completely refurbished for family cruises.

Though these four sleek, medium-sized ships are almost exactly the same dimensions and differ only slightly in basic layout, Opera holds almost 200 more passengers typically and has almost 100 extra cabins. Light and bright by day, intimate and sophisticated by night, the contemporary design may not measure up to the sizzle expected by those North American passengers who don't appreciate more understated European tastes.

Public rooms are spacious and uniformly elegant, with grand touches of marble, brass accents, and lots of wood. The refreshing lack of glitz is more than compensated for by the sparkle of glass and a mixture of primary and neutral colors. With most public areas on the lower two passenger decks, getting acclimated is a breeze. Near the elevator and stairway, lobbies make even vertical movement less challenging.

Space around the Lido pools feels particularly lavish, with two swimming pools and hot tubs.

More widely known as one of the world's largest cargo shipping companies, MSC has operated cruises with an eclectic fleet since the late 1980s. When the line introduced two graceful, medium-size ships in 2003 and 2004, it ushered in an era of new shipbuilding that has seen the fleet grow faster than any other European cruise line. This line is growing into a major player in both Europe and the Caribbean.

MSC blankets the Mediterranean nearly year-round with a dizzying selection of cruise itineraries that allow a lot of time in ports of call and include few if any sea days. In summer months, several ships sail off to northern Europe to ply the Baltic. Itineraries planned for repositioning sailings visit some intriguing, off-the-beaten-track ports of call that other cruise lines bypass.

No glitz, no clutter—just elegant simplicity—is the standard of MSC's seaworthy interior decor. Extensive use of marble, brass, and wood reflects the best of Italian styling and design; clean lines and bold colors set their modern sophisticated tone.

MSC adopts some activities that appeal to American passengers without abandoning those preferred by Europeans; however, regardless of the itinerary, be prepared for an Italian-influenced experience. Also expect to hear announcements in several languages.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Specialty coffees and alcoholic beverages are reasonably priced
  • Extravagant midnight buffets are worth attending
  • High above the stern, the disco is a cozy place to sit until the volume and action crank up

Cons

  • Oddly, only the forward and aft elevators and stairwells reach all decks
  • There are no aft-facing cabins with balconies
  • Meal times are designed according to European tastes and begin late when ships are in the Mediterranean
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 700
  • Entered Service 2004
  • Gross Tons 58,600
  • Length 824 feet
  • Number of Cabins 777
  • Passenger Capacity 1,554
  • Width 94 feet

By jane_CR

  • New

Jan 17, 2015

canaries and morrocco

We enjoyed our holiday as it is what you make it, however I had to complain to get basics such as bedding and soap. Overall if you haven't booked yet then I would advise you not to. Buffet not as good as other MSC cruises, less choice than others we have been on, however evening restaurant meals were a better standard. little activities for adults We didn't take excursions as we like the freedom to arrange our own in

our own time. We rang MSC prior to sail concerned about reviews about the Armonia and were told tough!!!!, either go or loose 80% of your money, if you have problems go to guest services. Therefore we went daily about the following complaints. We were a party of 5 adults sharing 2 rooms, there were adequate beds but one of the beds was not made up. In short we complained about this every day and it was finally sorted on day 5. We managed to beg borrow bed linen on a daily basis from the cleaners but when I rooms were cleaned every morning the staff removed it again without replacing it so we were back at square one every day. We had no soap in one of the rooms which also took 5 days to be filled. As a party of 5 we could not find adequate seating at busy times eg between 7pm and 10pm and had to pull any spare chairs to the windows so a couple of us could sit on the window sills. On an overnight stay in Casablanca the staff had a party in the nightclub so it was closed down. On this evening there were very little seats as guests were confined to fewer bars. There are still inadequate staff numbers as per previous reviews, getting a drink takes a very long time which is frustrating as we paid 1,000 euros on the drinks package. Even when you make a order staff take your card and do not return with your drinks for up to 45 minutes, so you can't move on to another bar as you have no card to order an other bars. If you go to the bar yourself the waitress comes to you to take your order anyway and you are back at square one. There is only one bar man on each bar so waitresses have been increased but they are just leaving a backlog of orders. On the positive side the Armonia is a very clean boat, (room toilets a little tired and smelly). Buffet not as good as other MSC cruises, less choice than others we have been on, however evening restaurant meals were a better standard. We had a good time as a holiday is what you make it. I wouldn't go on the Armonia again and may think twice about MSC. We never got an apology and I was made to feel uncomfortable by guest services as I felt bad going everyday asking for bed linen as if I was being unreasonable. On the 5th day I advised that I would put a review on and my issues were sorted. If you are going then I would advise you to say the same. I hope Management read this and do something about it. Overall if you haven't booked yet then I would advise you not to.

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  • New

Apr 22, 2013

Red Sea Cruise

This was our first cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it on MSC Armonia. A little doubtful at first because we appeared to be outnumbered by other foreign guests (mainly German) who could not speak English and are rather rude, but we soon met with some wonderful couples to enjoy meeting up with. The staff could not do enough for you. When we dined staff were on hand without any delay and the same when we went in the bars. We had an indoor cabin

which was smallish but very clean and had everything in we needed with cabin staff attending to the cabin at least twice a day. The ship itself was very clean with lovely decor throughout, plenty of amenities with a gym, sauna, steam rooms and therapy rooms. The only downside was the evening entertainment was mostly performed for the German guests who only know how to line dance to everything. But once we found the piano bar to relax in which we really enjoyed they performed plenty of entertainment for ourselves. Food was fine with plenty to eat throughout the day. Some of the evening meals were a bit bland but 98% were fine. If you did not like something you could opt for another choice. Excursions seemed a little pricey so we opted to do our own. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. At one port there was a Thompsons cruise ship docked which I commented looked a bit drap compared to the MSC Armonia. Were told later by guests on the Thompsons ship that the ship itself was a bit basic but they were having a good time. We had the luxury of both on the Armonia.

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  • New

Jun 30, 2011

Medeteranian

The only good thing about this cruise was the ports. Very few employees of the ship spoke english. We had a hard time communicating and when some of the cruise members found that you spoke english they were very rude. The lady at the excursion desk threw my excursion tickets at me and said "ariva derche" almost like get out of here and goodbye. The food was awful and they charge you for every little thing. The internet connection is ridiculously

expensive and very very slow. I think they keep it slow so they can continue to charge you fees for usage. I will never take a cruise with MSC again and if you can deal with rude service then the beautiful ports are worth it. I will say the ship was very clean and that the ONLY good thing about it. Customer service is clearly not a high point. I would suggest sailing with another cruise line.....its not worth the bad customer service experience. When I say bad, it was REALLY bad. Nasty food with no great variety. Dont pay for the expensive excursions. You can get off at a port and get a land based excursion by the locals for a way better price. You can even venture out by yourself and see everything the cruise excursions offer for a fraction of the price.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Buenos Aires - Angras dos Reis -Rio

Our overall experience was bad. The only good thing of this cruise is the itinerary and the cabins (we took balcony cabins on the uppermost floor). Service was VERY poor, particularly from the European crew members. Latin Americans were much more friendly. The food and table service was the worst of all the cruises I have ever taken. This was the poorest point of this cruise. Eating times were very short and food quality was very low. Dinner times

extended over periods of 1.5 hrs (late seating) due to poor service-logistics. At some points (specially tea-time) lines were so long, the buffet closed before your turn, and the crew simply removed the platters in front of your face. This was the best part of this cruise. My stateroom (1212 and 1214) were quite large, LCD TV, couch, queen size bed and balcony with chairs and a table (we used to play cards). Room service has charge and not even the water is free. In fact, they only allow you to get free drinking water at meal time. Did not take part of any, but people seemed to enjoy them much. My first and last cruise with MSC

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