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Initially chose the cruise after seeing it advertised. The itinerary as advertised suited us well as it included islands we had seen before and wanted to revisit as well as places we had yet to see. The cost of the cruise was attractive when the level of services was taken into account. Although we enjoyed most aspects of the cruise there were definite drawbacks mainly with the excursions department. Nowhere is there any information given regarding the actual time of any excursion. We are told how many hours the excursion will last but not the actual departure time. When we booked excursions from the MSC website online prior to the cruise it did not give departure times, nor was this information given on the excursion booking forms on board the ship and not even on the excursion tickets that are supplied to the cabin the day before the excursion. The only details regarding timing of the excursions appears on the Daily Program which is put into cabins the evening prior to the excursion departure. The Daily Program only gives the time and place of the meeting (usually the theatre on deck 6) from where the group will be led to the waiting buses etc. On every other cruise line we have travelled with it is normal for pre-booked excursion tickets to be printed for all excursions and left in your cabin on day 1 of the cruise. Our very first excursion (to Maracas Beach in Trinidad) we met in the Theatre and we waited and waited long after the allotted time for the meeting, with no information given out as to why we were not leaving the ship for the waiting buses. Eventually we set off but it was a long, long wait, with no information. Also when you enter the theatre there is a screen above the stage displaying the various excursions and arrows pointing to the left or the right. We saw many people enter the theatre and just sit down on the left or right as indicated by the arrows. They did not know that they were supposed to meet the MSC excursion people standing at foot of stage to register and receive their numbered bus stickers. It would have been helpful to have instructions to see the reps displayed on the screen, or to have announcements made to that effect. A second excursion (this time to the all inclusive beach break at Bayahibe Beach in Dominican Republic) was delayed when we got to the bus. There were three or four buses due to depart at the same time. The other three left but ours did not. The reason was that a group of 15 German speaking guests had not turned up. It seems that they didn’t get the instruction to follow the guide at the same time as we did. This caused at least a 15 minute delay. Those of us seated on the bus queried the reps and driver as to the cause of the delay but none could, or would, give us a reason. Again a lack of information causing stress and inconvenience. On the same excursion we had not been informed that the resort would supply us with beach towels and so we took our own – extra inconvenience. Also I found it strange that once on the beach I had to pay for two bottles of water from the bar on the jetty – not included in our package seemingly. It would have been better to be told this in advance. We did find a beachside bar later on that did supply free drinks. On the bus from the ship to the resort there was no air conditioning switched on. Many passengers were pleading with the driver to switch it on. He said it was on but it obviously was not as could be clearly seen by the slider temperature control which was at its lowest setting. Even when this was pointed out he still did not change it. On the return journey my wife pointed this out to an MSC rep and he managed to make sure the a/c worked on the way back to the ship.Another excursion had major problems too. This time it was the one to Gosier Island by catamaran. (Guadaloupe). The night before the excursion we returned to our cabin (13122) just before 9.00pm. We expected to find the letter in our cabin with details about the excursion. The evenings Daily Program had said that instead of the usual meeting in the theatre at a stated time that we would get a letter in our cabin. As there was no letter I telephoned the excursion desk to be told by a lady there that she had no record of our booking. I was shocked as we had pre-booked and prepaid and had written confirmation of this booking. She said to come down to the desk which we did. When we got there the desk was unmanned due to a lifeboat emergency drill just having started. We waited from 9pm until 9.45pm until the excursions team staff returned This time on checking the computer system we were told that our booking was there in the system. I was also told that I could not have been told by the lady who answered the telephone earlier that the booking could not be found. When I insisted that was what we had been told she again said that this could not have happened. The implication being that I had made this up I assume.I was not at all pleased to be accused in effect of lying. When I asked for a copy of the letter I was told it was already up in our cabin – the cabin attendant had, we were told, delivered it. On returning to the cabin there was no letter. My wife went out into the cabin to try to find our cabin attendant (who we have nothing but praise for) but could not see her. On returning to the cabin she found a member of the excursion team slipping a letter under our cabin door. When my wife queried what she was doing her first response was to walk away but then she thought better of it and came back to the cabin to say that this was the letter we were waiting on. The letter contained just the following information – time and meeting place. 1,00pm in the Theatre on deck six. Why this could not have been in the daily Program we do not know. However, next morning we discovered that there were two trips on the catamaran to Gosier Islet. One meeting was at 9.00am and the other at 1.00pm We had not been asked which excursion we would have preferred to go on. In fact the earlier one would have suited us better. The information we had about the excursion was that Gosier was an uninhabited islet with no facilities and no sun loungers, umbrellas etc. Given the lack of shade the earlier departure away from the heat of the afternoon would have suited us better, especially as we were early dining. But with MSC you take what you are given. We were never officially informed of the change in itinerary by MSC. We only learned of this while pre-booking excursions a few weeks before departure. It was then that we realised that the original itinerary including visits to St Maarten and Tortola had been replaced. At times the ship felt more like a ferry than a cruise liner. There were so many ports where passengers embarked and disembarked. We have never had to listen to so many emergency drill instructions in a two week cruise – and all given in 5 or even 6 languages. When we got our cruise ship cards in our cabin on day 1 of the cruise we noticed that we only had the code for the mealtime plan shown on the card (code 704). However we had bought the all inclusive plan and so we should have had code 431 on the card as well, and it was not shown. I went to reception to rectify the situation. The agent on reception confirmed that we should have had code 432 as well as 704 but he had to contact a member of the dining team to verify this and to authorise changing the card. This was eventually done but this was not the start to the cruise that we had expected. On the sea day when we were travelling to the Dominican Republic we went out onto deck 14 and got two sun loungers under cover near the Aqua Pool. Further down the deck an area had been cordoned off and there were a couple of empty tables behind the cordon. These tables we assumed were for the sale of goods that was to take place on the deck later in the morning. However, it soon became apparent that the area cordoned off was not big enough for all the table of goods and the cordon began approaching us. Then we were told we would ‘Have to Move’ as more tables were needed in the space we occupied. We pointed out that we had not placed our sun loungers in the cordoned off section when we arrived earlier and that they should have known the extent of the deck space required by the tables and cordoned off a suitable area from early morning. Advance planning is not a strong point of MSC. Eventually an officer came and we agreed to move if another shaded area could be found. Eventually it was and we along with others were moved.

Jewels of the Caribbean Cruise March 2018

MSC Fantasia Cruise Review by DoogieR

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
Initially chose the cruise after seeing it advertised. The itinerary as advertised suited us well as it included islands we had seen before and wanted to revisit as well as places we had yet to see. The cost of the cruise was attractive when the level of services was taken into account. Although we enjoyed most aspects of the cruise there were definite drawbacks mainly with the excursions department.

Nowhere is there any information given regarding the actual time of any excursion. We are told how many hours the excursion will last but not the actual departure time. When we booked excursions from the MSC website online prior to the cruise it did not give departure times, nor was this information given on the excursion booking forms on board the ship and not even on the excursion tickets that are supplied to the cabin the day before the excursion. The only details regarding timing of the excursions appears on the Daily Program which is put into cabins the evening prior to the excursion departure. The Daily Program only gives the time and place of the meeting (usually the theatre on deck 6) from where the group will be led to the waiting buses etc.

On every other cruise line we have travelled with it is normal for pre-booked excursion tickets to be printed for all excursions and left in your cabin on day 1 of the cruise.

Our very first excursion (to Maracas Beach in Trinidad) we met in the Theatre and we waited and waited long after the allotted time for the meeting, with no information given out as to why we were not leaving the ship for the waiting buses. Eventually we set off but it was a long, long wait, with no information. Also when you enter the theatre there is a screen above the stage displaying the various excursions and arrows pointing to the left or the right. We saw many people enter the theatre and just sit down on the left or right as indicated by the arrows. They did not know that they were supposed to meet the MSC excursion people standing at foot of stage to register and receive their numbered bus stickers. It would have been helpful to have instructions to see the reps displayed on the screen, or to have announcements made to that effect. A second excursion (this time to the all inclusive beach break at Bayahibe Beach in Dominican Republic) was delayed when we got to the bus. There were three or four buses due to depart at the same time. The other three left but ours did not. The reason was that a group of 15 German speaking guests had not turned up. It seems that they didn’t get the instruction to follow the guide at the same time as we did. This caused at least a 15 minute delay. Those of us seated on the bus queried the reps and driver as to the cause of the delay but none could, or would, give us a reason. Again a lack of information causing stress and inconvenience. On the same excursion we had not been informed that the resort would supply us with beach towels and so we took our own – extra inconvenience. Also I found it strange that once on the beach I had to pay for two bottles of water from the bar on the jetty – not included in our package seemingly. It would have been better to be told this in advance. We did find a beachside bar later on that did supply free drinks.

On the bus from the ship to the resort there was no air conditioning switched on. Many passengers were pleading with the driver to switch it on. He said it was on but it obviously was not as could be clearly seen by the slider temperature control which was at its lowest setting. Even when this was pointed out he still did not change it. On the return journey my wife pointed this out to an MSC rep and he managed to make sure the a/c worked on the way back to the ship.Another excursion had major problems too. This time it was the one to Gosier Island by catamaran. (Guadaloupe). The night before the excursion we returned to our cabin (13122) just before 9.00pm. We expected to find the letter in our cabin with details about the excursion. The evenings Daily Program had said that instead of the usual meeting in the theatre at a stated time that we would get a letter in our cabin. As there was no letter I telephoned the excursion desk to be told by a lady there that she had no record of our booking. I was shocked as we had pre-booked and prepaid and had written confirmation of this booking. She said to come down to the desk which we did. When we got there the desk was unmanned due to a lifeboat emergency drill just having started. We waited from 9pm until 9.45pm until the excursions team staff returned This time on checking the computer system we were told that our booking was there in the system. I was also told that I could not have been told by the lady who answered the telephone earlier that the booking could not be found. When I insisted that was what we had been told she again said that this could not have happened. The implication being that I had made this up I assume.I was not at all pleased to be accused in effect of lying. When I asked for a copy of the letter I was told it was already up in our cabin – the cabin attendant had, we were told, delivered it. On returning to the cabin there was no letter. My wife went out into the cabin to try to find our cabin attendant (who we have nothing but praise for) but could not see her. On returning to the cabin she found a member of the excursion team slipping a letter under our cabin door. When my wife queried what she was doing her first response was to walk away but then she thought better of it and came back to the cabin to say that this was the letter we were waiting on. The letter contained just the following information – time and meeting place. 1,00pm in the Theatre on deck six. Why this could not have been in the daily Program we do not know. However, next morning we discovered that there were two trips on the catamaran to Gosier Islet. One meeting was at 9.00am and the other at 1.00pm We had not been asked which excursion we would have preferred to go on. In fact the earlier one would have suited us better. The information we had about the excursion was that Gosier was an uninhabited islet with no facilities and no sun loungers, umbrellas etc. Given the lack of shade the earlier departure away from the heat of the afternoon would have suited us better, especially as we were early dining. But with MSC you take what you are given.

We were never officially informed of the change in itinerary by MSC.

We only learned of this while pre-booking excursions a few weeks before departure. It was then that we realised that the original itinerary including visits to St Maarten and Tortola had been replaced.

At times the ship felt more like a ferry than a cruise liner. There were so many ports where passengers embarked and disembarked. We have never had to listen to so many emergency drill instructions in a two week cruise – and all given in 5 or even 6 languages.

When we got our cruise ship cards in our cabin on day 1 of the cruise we noticed that we only had the code for the mealtime plan shown on the card (code 704). However we had bought the all inclusive plan and so we should have had code 431 on the card as well, and it was not shown. I went to reception to rectify the situation. The agent on reception confirmed that we should have had code 432 as well as 704 but he had to contact a member of the dining team to verify this and to authorise changing the card. This was eventually done but this was not the start to the cruise that we had expected.

On the sea day when we were travelling to the Dominican Republic we went out onto deck 14 and got two sun loungers under cover near the Aqua Pool. Further down the deck an area had been cordoned off and there were a couple of empty tables behind the cordon. These tables we assumed were for the sale of goods that was to take place on the deck later in the morning. However, it soon became apparent that the area cordoned off was not big enough for all the table of goods and the cordon began approaching us. Then we were told we would ‘Have to Move’ as more tables were needed in the space we occupied. We pointed out that we had not placed our sun loungers in the cordoned off section when we arrived earlier and that they should have known the extent of the deck space required by the tables and cordoned off a suitable area from early morning. Advance planning is not a strong point of MSC. Eventually an officer came and we agreed to move if another shaded area could be found. Eventually it was and we along with others were moved.
DoogieR’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience

Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom – Fantastica
Cabin B2 13122
The cabin itself was well laid out, relatively spacious and clean and tidy. The cabin attendant was very attentive and helpful. The only negative is that shower entrance was only a curtain rather the door. The shower itself was easy to operate and temperature control easy and efficient.
Arcobaleno Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews