We chose this cruise because of the great ports and we were not disappointed! We loved every place we went and had beautiful weather. We got to Venice several days in advance and took a Viator tour to the Dolmites the day before the cruise. It was incredible and I'd recommend it to anyone who has extra time in Venice and has been to Venice before. We stayed at the Hotel Papadopoli, which was very close to Piazalle Roma and easy to get to with suitcases from the airport bus. It was also very easy to get to the port using the People Mover from that hotel. The hotel is very nice. The room was a good size for Europe and the service was excellent. We never ate at the hotel because their restaurant is very expensive, but there are cheaper restaurants right across the canal from the hotel.
The embarkation was OK. We waited in line for about 40 minutes, which wasn't bad. Our balcony room was nice-small, but you don't notice it with the balcony. The ship is very clean, but it was extremely crowded. The food in the buffet and dining room is not great, but the pizza by the pool was outstanding. The shows were fine-average for this kind of cruise.
It was very difficult to get off the ship on the two days we had to tender-Kotor and Santorini. We had to stand in a line half-way around the ship to get off when we went to Kotor (and also Corfu, even though we didn't tender), and we got to our excursion (which we organized through Kotor Tours) half an hour late.
We took a tour from Koper to Lake Bled and Lbujina (sp.). This was organized through the roll call. Lake Bled was beautiful. We paid to go up to the castle, with beautiful views over the lake. Then we went to Lbujina, the capital city. It's absolutely beautiful and has a castle above it. There is a large pedestrian area and open markets. We enjoyed it even more than Lake Bled.
We hadn't organized a tour in Split. When we got off the ship we negotiated a deal with a taxi driver to go to Trogir, which is a beautiful walled town. We were lucky to be there on Easter Sunday. We were in the square in front of the cathedral with all the people with their Easter baskets. It was so beautiful. After Trogir, the driver took us to some Roman ruins outside of Split and then back to the ship. After lunch we walked to the Diocelian Palace and took a walking tour, which was fascinating.
The next place was Kotor, Montenegro. Since we'd been there before and had walked through the city and gone to Perast (beautiful), we had organized a private taxi tour to the Ostrog Monastery, which is built in the side of a clifff. Since we couldn't get off the ship on time, this tour was rather rushed due to long distances. It took us almost 2 and a half hours to get to the monastery. The monastery is different from any place we'd ever been. The black-robed monks were guarding the remains of a saint. The Montenegran people are Orthodox and very religious. Then we drove for over an hour to a huge lake where we had a great lunch (included in tour) and then a quick boat trip on the lake before returning to the ship. Contact Kotour Tours for this and other tours. I can highly recommend them.
The next day was on the ship. We needed this day because we'd exhausted ourselves with all the touring the previous days. The following day we got to Mykonos. There we just got off the ship and walked, which you can easily do. It's a very pretty island but very crowded and commercial. We walked to the windmills and did a lot of shopping.
The following day was Santorini. After our bad experience tendering to Kotor, we decided to take the ship excursion so we could get off as early as possible and see as much as possible. We were only in port from 8 to 2, which isn't long enough for Santorini.
We got to Oia and had about an hour and a half there on our own before being taken to a winery for wine tasting and a great view. Then we were return to Fia and had an hour there to shop before returning to the ship on the cable car.. We had to stand in line at the cable car for almost an hour!) Santorini is beautiful and worthwhile, even though we had been before.
The following day was Corfu. We hoped to find a tour when we got off the ship, but it was Good Friday in the Orthodox Church, and tours had been suspended. We took a taxi into town and walked into the old town where we saw a very interesting Good Friday procession with a marching band and singers. The old town is pretty, but the fortresses were closed and it was very crowded!
The next day was Bari and we had only 5 hours in port, so we took the MSC exucursion to Alberobello. This is a very pretty town and we found it very interesing with the trullo, ,which you won't find other places. The tour guide was not very good and didn't take us inside one, but we saw the inside of several while shopping.
Disembarkation in Venice took forever. We had a transfer to the Venice airport for a late flight. We were supposed to meet at 10::30 to get off the ship, but we didn't get off the ship until 12:30. We got to the airport at around 1, had lunch there and then were able to check into our flight.
MSC has its faults. They messed up by cruise card twice and I had to keep replacing it because their printer didn't work well, which held me up when I tried to get off and on the ship. Their food is not the best either. However, we are repeat customers because their ships go to great ports and the price is right. Beware of their shuttle fees. They charge more than they need to to get you from the ship to the city. In Corfu they charged 9 euros a piece when we later found there was a free bus!
As I said before, the food was just OK. The service in the dining room was usally good. We were signed up for one table, but when we got to the table the couple there refused to sit with anyone else (they were Chinese), so we ended up getting moved to another table by ourselves that had better service. The buffet was always very crowded and the choice at breakfast was very poor, so we tried to eat breakfasts in the dining room, where it was partially a buffet, but we could get omelets.
Most of the people working on MSC were very nice. We just had problems with the administration, as we were supposed to receive some free drinks with the package we booked, and we had to spend the first 2 days going to the reception and proving that we were sent a confirming e mail about the drinks before we finally got the drink vouchers. If I hadn't printed up the confirmation, we wouldn't have gotten anything. Then they made a mistake on my cruise card because their printer wasn't working and I had to go back to the reception 3 times before getting a cruise card that worked. The faulty cruise card delayed my getting on and off the ship.
I received 2 massages at the spa which were fine. The spa on Opera doesn't have a nice thermal area (no jacuzzi), so I didn't sign up for that.
The shows were OK. There was one comedian who performed twice who was good the first time and OK the second. Most of the shows were the same singers and acrobats. The acrobats were excellent, the female singer was good, but the male singer was just OK, so we skipped several of those shows.
We didn't participate in any of the other activities on board because we were very busy at the ports.
We will probably go on MSC again because we like their routes. Just don't expect luxury or pampering.
Small but nice. It seems bigger with the balcony. The TV was not interactive and just had news channels in English. There was a wider variety of programs in Italian. The beds were Ok but a little too hard for my taste. the pillows were fine, and there was enough room to put our suitcases under the beds.
This is one of the most beautiful areas in the world! Go if you can. You go to the gorgeous mountains, to Cortina D'Ampezzo, to two beautiful lakes, to an area where you see major peaks and to a little Italian town for lunch that seems like you are in Austria. Highly recommended.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We went to the Ostrog Monastery and to a lake where we had an excellent lunch and took a boat ride. Very interesting and excellent agency but it was too much driving.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We got off the ship and walked. You can see Mykonos on your own. It's a picturesque town but is very crowded and full of shops. We did our souvenir shopping there.
We took the excursion with MSC in order to be able to have time to see Oia since the tender service without an excursion on MSC wastes hours. Oia is beautiful and we also went to a winery with a beautiful view. The exursion left us in Fia, where we had to walk a long distance to get the cable car and waited for almost an hour in line for the cable car down the mountain.View All 255 Oia Village Reviews
We got off the ship and took a taxi to the old town, not knowing there was a free bus since MSC tries to charge you 9 Euros a piece for their transportation to town. The town was very crowded since it was Good Friday in the Orthodox church and the hop on hop off bus was not running. We were lucky to see two Good Friday processions with bands.
We really enjoyed Alberobello. We took the MSC tour because we only had a few hours in port. The guide herself wasn't very helpful and just got us into town after a 15 minute walk from where they parked the bus, but the trulli in Alberobello were very interesting and the town is beautiful.View All 12 Alberobello Walking Tour Reviews
See above review.View All 14 Ljubljana Reviews
You can get off the ship and find a taxi driver to take you wherever you want to go . We went to Trogir, which is a beautiful walled city, to some Roman ruins and then went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch we went to the Diocelin Palace, which is in walking distance ot the ship. We took a walking tour there which we got when we arrived. We found the palace very interesting, with parts from different eras. If you go, take a tour because, if you don't, you won't know what you are seeing.