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MSC Cruises: MSC Fantasia

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MSC FANTASIA REVIEW

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

A true bargain on a very clean, classy ship with interesting food choices, and friendly service.

Decor

Fantasia is a large cruise ship, almost on par with the Voyager-class for Royal Caribbean and bigger than anything in the Carnival, Costa, Princess, Cunard or Celebrity fleets. However, considering her size she is not the most generous ship when it comes to public rooms. Her best asset is her abundant deck space which gets filled to capacity with excellent deck chairs that each have a built-in sun screen for the face. Internal public space is somewhat limited and can get crowded.

The pools are brimming with people, especially kids, on sunny days. The water slide will have a line snaking down two decks, and the water fountain effects in the L'Equitore indoor pool will keep children entertained for hours.

Indoors, Fantasia features a variety of public rooms, each with its own theme. There is no Royal Promenade or soaring atrium on the ship, surprising for a ship of this size, but rather each room transitions into the next and creates a constantly changing tableaux of options. Such a ship design, without a main thoroughfare, always creates bottlenecks, especially when the only way out of the dining room and is through the photographer's picture display area. Still, the ship has true class, there is nothing faux or Disney-like about her décor. There is beautiful artwork everywhere and rich warm colors in the fabrics and finishings.

Cuisine

In Europe these ships appeal to the European market so you get the best of cuisine from all over the continent; pasta from Italiy, French coque au vin, Spanish paella and German pork and potato salad. For breakfast you get beans with your bacon, as well as seveal cuts of sausage and cheese. 

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. But in Europe there will be a surcharge, even in the suites for certain items.

A coffee and tea station is available at the casual dining area after hours, but the best coffee onboard is at The Coffee Bar. 

Drink prices tend to be failrly reasonable.

Service

It is considered common knowledge that MSC Cruises experienced growing pains, especially in terms of onboard service, but if my recent cruise is any example we can say these rough spots have been completely eliminates. Especially impressive is the ability of the crewmembers to communicate with passengers in any given language. Operationally, the ship must provide service to every guest in his or her native language. Failing that, English is always the fallback language for every crewmember and passenger. This is quite an advantage for American passengers who will not have any difficulties communicating with most people on board. But do not expect to hear English spoken unless you happen to ask somebody a question.

Stateroom housekeeping services are always top-notch and problems are addressed 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.

Entertainment

Musicians perform in the various lounges every evening and all of the entertainers on board are from Europe. The idea of MSC Cruises is to always present a European culture onboard the ship no matter where it is sailing - even in the Caribbean. , cuisine and décor are the areas where the European identity which they consider to be their trademark remain consistent.

The main show lounge, the Strand Theater, offers two shows every evening for early and late dinner seatings. The times will vary depending on dining times. The production show cast on our cruise numbered 14, including two professional singer duos. This is an unusual configuration since on most cruise ships one of the duos of singers would have been substituted for an male/female adagio dance team. While the vocalists were excellent in both pop and operatic traditions, the costumes and choreography of the chorus were run-of-the-mill, at best, as well as the staging.

More pleasing were the special entertainers brought on board, such as the Italian hand puppet master who created shadow puppets using nothing but his hands and performed staged vignettes to well known popular recordings.

There are all kinds of sports activities on board. The Europeans apparently love to laze in the sun. Outdoor activities include deck tennis, basketball, water slides, hot tubs, an outdoor movie screen, daytime aerobics and entertainment by the pool. There were also virtual golf and raquetball. Demonstrations for Italian cooking and language lessons; trivia, mini-golf, ping-pong, shuffleboard tournaments; dance lessons and arts and crafts were offered on sea days.

MSC cruises offers a variety of theme cruises every year, ranging from doo-wop singing to sports (baseball or golf) and comedy. In general, these cruises feature entertainment, interactive get-togethers and shore excursions in keeping with the theme. American passengers should only book on theme cruises based in the Caribbean and specifically targeted to an English-speaking audience.

Cabins

Fantasia has a total of 1637 cabins, 82% of them are outside cabins and 1256 with private balconies. There are 107 suites on board and 99 of them are in the Yacht Club category. The Yacht Club is a very special "ship within a ship" concept only offered on the Fantasia and Fantasia cruise ships.

Yacht Club cabins come with access to a special concierge lounge, a private club located above the bridge and containing a bar and buffet area where food and drink are available on an unlimited, cost-free basis. The room has several waiters and private booths with tremendous views where guests can luxuriate in comfort and eat or drink to their heart's content. There is also a private sundeck with a pool and hot tubs just for Yacht Club, only accessible by private elevator.

A special concierge is on duty 24 hours a day in the Yacht Club. He is there to interface with your butler and to make sure all of your needs are met in a timely manner. Inside your state room, Yacht Club members receive unlimited room service with no service charges, access to a minibar containing beer, wine, spirits and snacks with no service charges, unlimited laundry service handled by your butler and room service delivery of Yacht Club menu items during meal times. In addition to free drinks in the Yacht Club , Yacht Club patrons are also is seated in a special area within the Villa Verde dining room where a special level of service is provided, including complimentary wine or any kind of beverage with dinner.

The Yacht Club suites are among the most beautiful at sea featuring separate living rooms from bedrooms with commanding views and a drop dead gorgeous color scheme.

Fitness/Spa

The gym, carefully hidden behind the MSC Aurea spa area, has a limited number of treadmills and Nordic machines as well as state-of-the-art progressive resistance apparatus. For a ship meant to accommodate 4000 passengers the number of individual aerobic machines is limited. One gets the impression that Europeans are not nearly as concerned with daily exercise as Americans.

The spa itself features 15 massage rooms and three thelassotherapy cabins. The massage team specializes in Balinese treatment options. Cruise charges in Europe are in Euro and will appear to be rather expensive for Americans. In the Caribbean, these prices will be translated to dollars and set at a more reasonable level.

Fellow Passengers

In Europe these ships appeal to the part of the European market that still does not speak English - so in Europe expect to hear a lot of Italian, French, Spanish, German and everything else

Overview

A large and diverse pan-European cruise ship catering to the local European population. A large exclusive suite area

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

All English speaking fellow passengers, no extra onboard charges, people who enjoy passenger interaction, a no-kids environment.

Onboard Experience

It is important to note that the experience on MSC Cruises varies a great deal between Europe, where the guest contingent is populated by Europeans, and in the Caribbean, where Americans make up the majority. See the MSC Cruises Overview for more details.

Interesting entertainment by European performers and genuine Italian food and wine set MSC ships apart from other ships in this price range. And while the announcements are always in five languages, when the ship is in the Caribbean they make English first. The majority of the crew is comfortable conversing in English as well as their mother tongue.

Passengers are greeted upon arrival and escorted to their cabins by white-gloved housekeeping staff. This service typifies the friendly but elegant atmosphere of the entire cruise. MSC's goal is to maintain a charmingly European atmosphere onboard the ship at all times regardless of whether they are sailing in Europe or the Caribbean. The focus during the Caribbean season is to incorporate American tastes into an onboard ambience that still remains charmingly European. Italian officers and a mix of Italian, Indian, Balinese and other international crew keep the European feel alive.

Fantasia is a large, mainstream cruise ship meant to cater to the middle-class pan-European market. The focus is on swimming pools and sun tanning, with excellent cuisine and entertainment options at night. There are tons of children's activities onboard and a wide variety of dining options. There is plenty of shopping, dancing, sports and music activities day and night.

In Europe, these ships are mostly populated by Europeans speaking their native tongues, so Americans are well advised that this is not necessarily a typical cruise experience. English-speaking (only) guests in Europe will be relegated to the role of people watchers, more so than participants, solely because of the language barrier. If that concept doesn't bother you, you will find Fantasia a beautiful, state-of-the-art cruise ship. But if you are looking for guest interaction like meeting new people you should probably seek out a ship marketed to the American audience or wait until she comes to the Caribbean.

Here is one important item we want to mention at the top of the review. In Europe, MSC Cruises ships are extremely casual. Despite the instructions in the daily program, where dress codes such as "formal" and "informal" are fully defined in the programs, the vast majority of passengers dress as casually as they want day and night. Even on the most formal nights only 30% of the men even bother to put on a suit and a necktie. More is described below under "attire."

Public Rooms

The Fantasia offers ten different bars and lounges, each of them unique, and most situated on decks five, six and seven. There is a small atrium only three decks tall with the reception desk, shore excursions and other passenger services on the ground floor.

Deck five foreword features the beautiful Strand Theater, one of the most functionally perfect production showrooms I have ever seen at sea. The floor is perfectly designed without a single pole to block the view and raked over two decks so viewing from every row is perfect. The sound is acoustically balanced with special design treatments. Avoid the balcony seats on deck seven if possible, however. Glass railings block the view and the sound system, vastly diminishing the experience.

Shows that stress nonverbal entertainment such as jugglers, acrobats or musical productions featuring classic pop songs combined with Italian opera make it possible to entertain passengers from up to five different native languages. Although the sets and costumes could be better, the vocal performances are outstanding. Also on deck five is the bottom floor of L'Reggia restaurant, one of the two main dining rooms onboard.

Deck six contains one of the most beautiful public rooms on any ship, La Piazzeta. This small courtyard resembles a village square in Tuscany. There are ceramic tile benches surrounding a beautiful flowing fountain. A person can sit here and relax with a café mocha and gelato. You will also find the cigar lounge and the main bar in the atrium called L'Aperitivo nearby. The Royal Palms casino offers blackjack, poker, plenty of slot machines and of course roulette. You will not find craps tables which are an American pastime.

On deck seven, you will find the wine bar L'Enoteca for tasting vino by the glass along with food pairings from Italy, Spain and Germany. Also on deck seven you will find live music in the La Prua piano bar and the Purple Jazz Bar, featuring a fine jazz quartet. The Aft Lounge is another showroom in the stern with seating for hundreds of people and a large stage facility. The Sports Bar has the two-lane miniature bowling alley. Five frames of 10-pin bowling cost three Euro, but the ball is bocce-sized, the lane is about 2/3 the regulation length and the pins are smaller.

There is a variety of restaurants, including two excellent alternative dining venues, and a number of smaller bars hidden in nooks. One nice option is that espresso coffee drinks can be ordered from any bar on the ship.

There is plenty of shopping onboard, including fashion boutiques for men and women, jewelry stores, a liquor and tobacco store and a beautiful candy store with hundreds of different European brands of chocolate. There is a perfume store and a swim shop near the swimming pool. Of course, MSC logo items are available from shirts to shorts, sweatshirts and sandals. The ship has Internet access in every state room by a wired ethernet and there is also stem to stern WiFi access.

Restaurants

and Cuisine: MSC Cruises brags about its Italian cuisine by saying they feature a different region of Italy in their dining room menus every single night. While the menus do feature articles on a different region of Italy nightly, the notion that the cuisine is actually different on a nightly basis is not quite so obvious. Still, the Italian cuisine onboard is good to excellent as predicted, especially the cuts of red meat, pasta and risotto dishes. A different risotto dish is offered every night infused with anything from mango to portobello mushrooms.

One thing we noticed that came to us as a very pleasant surprise is that the food in all of the dining areas was always served hot, even the buffet area. This i sespecially nice for breakfast where one can scoop up freshly fried aggs over easy, or omelets still piping hot.

In Europe no beverages except coffee and juice with breakfast are served free of charge. You will be charged for iced tea which comes in a can for lunch and dinner and water for every meal is served from a bottle, large 2.50 Euro or smal for .60 Euro. When the ship moves to the Caribbean, however, ice tea is offered with every meal free of charge, as well as ice water.

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 in the Bora Bora buffet is hot and delicious, but it is Napolitano style with a thick crust and just a touch of tomato sauce. There are generally at least five and as many as seven varieties of the pizza available at all times.

There are two gelato stations on the ship, one in the Piazzata and the other by the pool. A small cup is €1.5 and a large serving is €2.5. There are also delicious cakes, cheese cakes and special cookies available for a small price. You won't find mouthwatering desserts served in the buffet or after dinner in the dining room, except in the alternative restaurants, where there is a charge. In general, if you want to go to dessert heaven anywhere on the ship have an you will have to pay the price of admission.

A variety of club sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads, cheese and fruit platters, ice cream and dessert of the day are offered on the 24 hour room service menu. The food is good, and delivered within 20 minutes, however there is a fee charged for each of these items when the ship is in Europe. Room service becomes gratis once any MSC Cruises ship is in the Caribbean.

There are two dinner seatings in each of the two dining rooms, but the times vary depending on the ship's location. In the Caribbean, early seating begins at 6:00 and late seating is 8:15 p.m. In Europe, early seating begins at 7:30 p.m. and late seating begins at 10 o'clock. This is in keeping with the lifestyle of the Spanish, especially, and the Italians. Obviously, Americans will find this time to be far too late.

The two main seating restaurants are Villa Verde and La Reggia. Villa Verde is placed in the stern of the ship on decks five and six with commanding views through two-deck tall picture windows. Finding the restaurant entrance is a bit tricky, since it is at the bottom of a dead-end staircase, which means one must approach from deck six and walk down.

The alternative restaurants are where the cuisine really shines. L'Olivio is the Italian specialty restaurant where the entire menu is a la carte. Appetizers began at 3 to 7 Euro, including cioppino soup or tuna carpacchio. The lamb chops served on a bed of mango risotto are out of this world, and the Mediterranean lobster with a tail as long as the plate is wide is a joy to behold. The other alternative restaurant, Santa Fe Café, features food from the American southwest, including tacos, pork anchioto and fajitas. Once again, everything is à la carte. Expect to pay anywhere from five to €20 in these restaurants, depending on how many courses you order.

The Bora Bora buffet is surprisingly good. One reason for this is the vast selection of foods required to satisfy the palates of so many different European cultures. Breakfast is a perfect example, one will find flaky croissants, fresh omelettes, juicy German sausages and English bacon. I have never experienced a buffet area where they managed to keep the food so warm, which is a significant but often under-appreciated accomplishment on any cruise ship.

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.

Attire

Although this item is at the bottom of the page it is extremely important. Europeans cruisers are extremely casual in their dress. Even though the prescribed dress code on the ship for most nights on our seven night cruise was informal, which was defined as jacket and tie for a man, in fact, most people were wearing blue jeans and open toed shoes. There were T-shirts and untucked dress shirts with no necktie. Even on the most formal nights only 30% of men were even wearing suits and not a tuxedo was seen on the entire ship.

In fact, on almost any given night if one did not feel like changing out of their casual day clothes one could walk any place on the ship and not feel out of place. Of course, some of the ladies seemed to enjoy dressing up a little more than the men.

Bottom-line, if you enjoy extremely casual ships then you can't do any better than MSC cruises in Europe.




Ship Overview

The first ship in the MSC Cruises Fantasia-class, MSC Fantasia debuted in 2008. Not only is she greater in length than the height of the Eiffel Tower, she was the largest cruise ship ever built for a European ship owner at the time of her introduction.

MSC Cruises’ newest ships are also their largest and include the MSC Yachts Club—luxury suites with their own private library, lounge, swimming pool, restaurant, and sundeck. The spa’s well-being center has a thermal cave and therapy pool for relaxation. The children’s play area includes a swimming pool with waterslide. To test your driving skills, there are Formula 1 simulators. Unusual for a cruise ship, there is also a squash court. The extensive use of various colored marbles adds a luxurious quality to the traditionally styled public lounges and a hint of Italian style as well as art deco and art nouveau touches.

MSC Cruises has always been sensitive to environmental issues, and Fantasia-class ships are on the cutting edge ecologically. They are equipped with the most innovative technological systems to guarantee savings in energy and protection of the environment, such as the water-processing systems. MSC Divina has more cabins and a higher double-occupancy rate and a stunning infinity pool at the back of the ship.

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

  • The buffet is huge, with several serving areas and plenty of seating
  • Extra-charge ice-cream parlors serve excellent gelato
  • The ship’s atrium is designed as a gorgeous Italian piazza

Cons

  • The Yacht Club sundeck can sometimes be uncomfortably windy
  • Although there is an outdoor big-screen cinema, it’s most often used for cruise line–related messages
  • Currency on board is the euro
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,332
  • Entered Service 2008
  • Gross Tons 137,936
  • Length 1,093 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,637
  • Passenger Capacity 3,274
  • Width 124 feet

By Jeff_CR

  • New

Jun 24, 2014

Eastern Med

I was a first time cruiser from the USA that lives in Spain. I will start off by stating that overall, this cruise and MSC exceeded my expectations. However, I did a lot of research before I booked, as I do with anything. Now, it is importantly to realize that everyone is different, and with a ship this size that is catering to 3900+ passengers, you can't realistically expect that you won't find yourself in a situation where you get a little miffed

at something or someone. I read reviews about how the food was awful and cold, and that service was horrible, and that there are kids running amok everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that those people are blockheads. There are people who walk amongst others, that don't take the time beforehand to figure out what it is they are getting into, much less know how to work around an unpleasant situation to make the best of it. They are probably also people who don't like being out of their comfort zone or have never experienced different cultures. You need to know that many different cultures of people cruise this route. You will find very polite and queue (line) respecting Australians and British. And you will also find all for one, cut in front, didn't see you there or care much less Spanish and Italians. These are cultures and ways of life. So this is what you will run in to. I have lived in southern Spain for over a year now, after having been raised in the Midwest of the USA, where being helpful, polite and respectful is a way of life. I had already been conditioned to the stepping in front of you thing from Spain, and therefore it didn't bother me. However, if you find extremely large crowds, quarters full of people moving about, and line cutting or going in front of you to catch the elevator might ruin your day, then don't take this cruise. Just find something else with much less people that will agree with you. Restaurants. The food in the dining rooms (table service) for breakfast and lunch are very good. The speed of service is reasonably timed; however it's a little overkill on the offering of bread. Most people would prefer to be offered beverage service 5 times per meal instead of breads and croissants. But eventually you will be able to make your beverage order. Again, the food is very good, but the comfort of seating isn't very relaxing. The food in the dining room for dinner is fantastic. The service is very slow and it is very loud in the dining room. However, if you take a look at the number of people being served, and the number of service personnel that are using the system MSC wants them to use, it is quite acceptable. I read reviews that stated the food was horrible and cold. The food just isn't going to arrive piping hot when they are trying to serve a thousand. And I think people who haven't experienced many different cultures will be turned off by unfamiliar tastes. You get about 6 courses for dinner at the restaurant and the seating is comfortable. The buffet on deck 14 is a bit of a madhouse free-for-all. If you do go to the buffet, take the time to walk the entire oval shape of serving lines first. This will let you know where there are plenty of seats, and what you will find at the ethnic food corner. I read reviews where there wasn't a place to sit. Again, pure numbskulls who don't take the time to explore their options. They think they should be able to walk into very good quality for the masses cruise line, and have everything fall into their lap. Most of the time there are plenty of open seats at the back of the buffet restaurant, where it is much quieter. Cabins. I am very particular, so I knew that if I didn't have a room with plenty of space and a fantastic view, then I wouldn't have been comfortable. So I chose cabin 11010 (Aurea Balcony Suite) and would recommend if you are booking for that class of cabin, choose a cruise date where you will get either 11010 or 11009. I could literally lie on my bed, and look out 2 huge panoramic windows and see wherever we were. It was more relaxing to look at the views of a port with my head on my pillow, than from the pool deck. Also, the balcony for this cabin wraps around to the end of the first panoramic window to where there is an access door for the rest of the balcony. It was left open when I arrived and I didn't want to upset the folks with the panoramic view windows without balcony access, so I didn't walk in from of their windows. I would have guessed the cabin suite to be about 450 square feet with 100 square feet of accessible curved balcony. I could see from the back of my side of the ship to about the 10 o'clock position when walking the entire balcony, so about a 240 degree view. However, it is very windy when sailing above 10 or so knots. Plus the location of the cabin is far away from where you would find kids doing any nighttime tomfoolery, and there is no one above your bed. The bath room had a tub with a shower nozzle. I am 5'11" and I had to duck a good bit to wet my hair. Your cabin steward will visit you twice each day, and will restock all towels, clean the entire cabin, make up the bed, and restock the mini bar on each visit. Bars. When it's busy, the service is very slow, except in the cigar bar where most people won't go due to smokers. There just aren't enough service personnel to match the number of passengers in both the bars and the restaurants. However, if you do it right, then you can stay satisfied. You can order a drink and take it anywhere except to the theater. So, if you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, go get one at the bar and then take it back to your room while you are getting ready. That way when you show up to slow service, at least you've already started. Most of the cocktails I ordered were pretty good. Also, there are entertainers throughout the ship and in most large bars and lounges. Some are not very good, and some are okay. They do help a little with the ambiance, especially around the main lounge. Back to the cigar bar; they have some Domincan, some Cuban, and some Italian cigars to choose from. I was surprised that the Italian cigars were that good and they were the cheapest. Pools and hot tubs. There are plenty of children on this ship, and they are in full force at the pools. If you were a kid, isn't this where you'd be? So if you are thinking you are going to soak up the sun in peace and quite, take a dip in a hot tub solo, and have a drink delivered to your lounger, then this isn't the place. Find an all inclusive resort somewhere else that has a reputation for no children. There is an adults only deck, but it is located very close to the kids water slide. No Einstein award for that one. Evening shows. They are very good, but also a bit random. From acrobatic maneuvers, to singing to dancing all mixed into a show. My opinions consider the fact that it is part of the cruise package, and not a high priced ticket I paid for independently. So, the talent for this value was better than I expected. Although we only went to 4 of the 7 shows, I only felt that 1of them was not worth sitting through. The Pirate show was best, followed by the Michael Jackson tribute because I am an American. I noticed the older Europeans were none too impressed with that show. The Michael impersonator didn't have the flair that Michael did, but my wife explained to me that if he tried to do that with the wig he was wearing, it wouldn't stay on very long. Also, Michael grabs his crotch a lot, much like the original Michael, so if you don't want your kids to see that, then don't take them. Spa!!! If you pre-booked massages online, hopefully you can cancel before your cruise so you can save 30% on 6 massages plus cruise access to the spa or 20% on 4 massages with 4 spa visits. A spa visit could also be a visit to the adult only solarium on deck 18 rather than a visit to the saunas or steam rooms. That is the offer as you are checking in pier side at their building and the next day. And if you wait until the Athens port day, then the reflexology massage will be 50% off. On the last day, all massages are 50% off. And there are plenty of appointments available. Now, the massages themselves are not that great. I have enjoyed massages for over 20 years, and so I think I have had enough to provide an accurate rating. I give them a 5 out of a 10. Oh, and if you have seen a picture of a hot tub in the Spa, then that is on some other ship. The Spa manager confirmed this when I asked where it was. The FANTASIA only has 2 steam baths (Turkish baths), 5 or so saunas, a yoga room, and a relaxation room where you might get some sun through the glass windows if the ship is sailing in the right direction. The gym is really nice. The weights and equipment are Technogym. If I were to ever buy weight equipment again, it would be Technogym. And you can run or walk on the treadmills and have a fantastic view beyond the front of the ship. Ports and excursions. I didn't get off the ship for Bari or Dubrovnik. We were pier side for all ports except Santorini and Dubrovnik. I had excursions booked for English, which meant English along with another language such as Italian or Spanish, or both. Meaning the guide would talk in one language and then the other, much like the announcements on the ship. I like excursions because all I have to do is show up on time and they take me where I want to go on an air conditioned bus, and they get me back to ship. The ship won't leave while an excursion is still out. Yes, you might experience a crying and bored 3 year old on the coach. For the people that just want to set foot on the soil to say they have been there, then there are usually the little portside shops and restaurants. For me, that is no way to experience a city. You would only be experiencing a port. And when the ship is at anchor, rather than pier side, a tender boat fare to get you ashore will cost you around 10-12 euro roundtrip. If you take a cab then you won't have a great view as you are driven around, and there won't be any explanation of the history or culture. And then you'll also wind up paying close to what an excursion would have cost anyways. You are only in port for 4-7 hours depending on where you stop. Allegrissimo Premium Package. I saved about 60 euro ($82). Both my wife and I would have some of the 4 euro coffees a few times a day, and my daughter would have the milkshakes as well. I also enjoy Scottish Whisky, so at 7-10 euro per shot, that adds up considerably. Even the 21 year portwood Balvenie was included. When you add in the tropical drinks during the day if you're at the pools, the wine per glass for lunch or dinner, sodas and other beverages, then it starts to become of value. But that was buying for us only since we didn't go with any friends or buy any drinks for other people. If you feel the urge to buy other people drinks, then you will definitely save a lot of money with the premium package. Plus, I took advantage of room service, the coffee/cappuccino bar, the dessert bar, the spa bar, the mini bar, and beverages at meals. It's a pretty weak mini bar of about 6 different sodas, 3 cheap liquors, 2 fruit drinks, and some peanuts and Pringles for snacks. The room service food was pretty good, but the amount available on the menu was lacking. Also, the dessert station is very good. There are about 12-16 flavors of gelato and some very good cakes, pralines, macaroons, and other tiny sweets at the dessert bar. Just as advertised in the package, it included all items here, so I literally took home a bunch of pralines. The smoothie concoctions at the Spa bar are pretty good. They are available with or without the sugary syrup that enhances the flavor. Without it, the drinks literally taste like liquefied fruits and vegetables. The coffee bar has 4 interesting coffee concoctions (with or without liqueurs), along with regular coffee and cappuccino. And there is a gelato station on the pool deck with the 12 or so flavors. Problems and customer service. I experienced a carpet soaked cabin room upon my return from before dinner drinks on the second evening. This was due to driving the ship into a heavy storm and a balcony drain that was blocked from being painted over. The storm was severe enough that the water level rose so high so quickly, that it seeped in through the door jam at the bottom. The customer service I received to mitigate the problem was satisfactory. The Chief Housekeeper visited my room and asked me if I wanted a different room. I would have accepted, however they didn't have another cabin like 11010 that was available. Having personally dealt with situations like this, I mentioned it should be fine if they use a wetvac to suck up the water and then leave the doors open to help ventilate. So we left for dinner and didn't return for 6 hours or so. Unfortunately they didn't have a wetvac, but rather a carpet steam cleaner on wheels that couldn't suck up the water like a wetvac would have. Over the next few days the odor became close to unbearable. However, they were already booked full, so we had no choice but to stay in our room. By the last 2 days, the odor was gone, and the carpet was dry. Also, the reviews that mentioned trouble having charges removed at customer service are true. I spoke to someone about removing a few charges that shouldn't have been on my bill and they said they would speak to the person who can remove it and then it would be taken care of. But my last night's bill included those extra charges, so the next morning before leaving the ship I had to go down to customer service and speak to them again. They were eventually removed, but the conditioned attitude from the personnel at the customer service desk is to say why they can't until you keep pressing for your request. However, anywhere else you go on the ship, they do not like to say no to your requests and will do their best to accommodate you!! Photographers. There are several photographers trying to earn a living onboard, so they are a bit aggressive. I'm sure they have to be to make a decent living. They will be all over deck 7 around 6-10pm, and they will visit you at your dinner table for gala night. Also, it is quite entertaining to watch the photographer who cuckoos at people to get their attention so that they won't photo bomb his shots of other people. Then he will also do a hedgehog noise as he is shooting the photo. Just find a spot where the crystal staircases are and sit down to enjoy a few drinks and you might see him. Other. I didn't buy the wifi service, but my daughter used the internet cafe for 10 minutes of internet time for 26 euro. She was not impressed with the value. The whole thing where people put their bags in the passage way the last night did lead to seeing some people in their underwear. But if you are going to see people in their swimwear, what's the difference? Smoking is allowed in the Casino and the Cigar bar and you can smell it if you walk through the casino or get near the doors of the cigar bar. People will also smoke on their balcony on the last morning as they are less worried about being kicked off of the ship since it is arriving for their disembarkation. It was so strong it woke me up before my alarm did. Places I didn't visit: Sport's Bar, El sombrero TexMex Restaurant, Le Etoille French Restaurant, the 4D cinema, the Virtual World, the Cyber library, Toscana Wine Bar.

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By Mike_CR

  • New

Apr 15, 2013

East Mediterranean

Incredibly good value. Staff were almost all very friendly, food fabulous, entertainment very good, cabins more luxurious than I had anticipated. Overall a great experience for all four of us enjoying our first cruise Standard was higher than I had expected. Red Velvet Restaurant great service . Zanzibar buffet was also good quality food. Circle of Gold seemed to be more of a venue to train staff, but an easy response which was to eat elsewhere.

Larger than expected cabin and balcony was delightful . Just far to busy to just sit out there. Daughter liked the pool once it was heated from day3 . I used gym twice and it was very good, we attended most of shoes and thought they were of good standard and fun. Everything in five languages was tiresome and unnecessary. We went on shore each time and did our own thing which was easy enough to arrange. We did one organized tour in Athens and found that it wasn't good value and wished we had made our own arrangements there also. Santorini and Dubrovnik were fantastic. Overall we had a great time. We would recommend to all and would sail with this company again. Complaints , pretty minor. The MSC web site is very clunky and we had to keep calling up as it fell over on us several times. Boarding took about 100 minutes of queuing and was tiresome but hard for them to improve as 3600 people arrive at same time. Disembarking at end and for stops was very smooth even when tender boats used. The cruise was great value. We pre-booked the wine package and that did save us money.

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By Liza_CR

  • New

Feb 1, 2012

Western Mediterrean

Enjoyed the Christmas MSC cruise. I went with my friends family and my children. It was a birthday and Christmas present for all of us. I was impressed by the live entertainment on the ship. The US dollar is extremely weak against the Euro. I felt the meals on the ship were alot of time the same as what was service in the different countries. So, I told my children to 'wait' and eat it on the ship when we returned. For the money I felt it was well

worth the amount I paid. I will definitley book a cruise again on MSC or other cruise lines. I had a inside cabin without a window. But, it was clean and worth the price, because all I did in the room was sleep and shower. The food was excellent to me. I enjoyed the menu given in the fine dining. Also, how they had different items each night served with approximately 7 courses. After touring the different ports in the daytime it was a delight to have meals included in the price. The onboard activities had alot of different varieties. That was good because it appealed to the different age groups that were traveling with me. The teenage enjoyed the disco, karaoke and gym, while I went to the live show. The Moroccan excursion to Rabat and Casablanca is well worth the money. It encluded a buffet lunch that would have cost at least $50 alone. Also the places they take you are impressive. I made a shutterfly book with the 400 pictures I took.

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  • New

Jan 8, 2012

western med

Second year on the MSC Fantasia, returned with family, 4 children, under 18's travel free. Had another amazing holiday. Excellent again. Fussy vegetarian daughter, who was spoilt for choice. Balcony cabin. Situated at stern of the ship, It was a massive balcony, although lots of engine vibration when ship went manoevered into port. Not a problem because it was a good wake up call. Bed comfortable. Shows were excellent. didn't really

use much else Did the ship's tour of Rome, all 6 of us. Very expensive. Extremely hot and busy too. Did our own trip to Gozo on a sea plane from Malta which was great. Children aged 15, 17, 18 & 20 all thoroughly enjoyed it as we did. Have now booked to do our 3rd cruise with MSC to the Caribbean.

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  • New

Jan 8, 2012

western med

The MSC Fantasia was a beautiful ship, we were in awe of its size, facilities and beauty. Shows were excellent. Cocktails were beautiful. Did think the daily service charge was excessive though. Food was excellent, loved the choice of self service buffet and the waiter service restaurants. Balcony cabin was great, bed comfortable, loved having a balcony, sitting on it with a drink from the mini bar before dinner. Fantastic. Booked

to go back with MSC the following year.

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