I don't normally post reviews but in the case of MSC I found other people's opinions useful so thought I'd add my brief thoughts on MSC Fantasia.
We booked mainly because of an attractive itinerary that included a land tour to Machu Picchu with a price that was too good to miss. We joined at Barcelona with the itinerary including Malaga, Madeira, Tenerife, San Salvador de Bahia, Ilehus, Ilha Grande and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Many of the reviews on this site for any MSC ship were alarming so I was worried the cruise might be a disaster. First impressions weren't good with a very slow embarkation prolonged by the fact that shore staff were more intested in chatting than giving me a boarding number.
On the plus side our inside, Bella, cabin was bigger than we expected with ample storage space. The buffet was enormous (about 1/3 deck) but very badly designed and organised making it time consuming to put together a meal. Drinks stations offered tea and basic coffee only - no free soft drinks - and were often out of either hot water, toffee, tea bags, sugar or cups. We adapted to it after a few days though.
We found it better to take breakfast in the dining room. At least tea and coffee was erred at the table - usually after a long wait - and you could more easily construct a meal from a breakfast buffet.
Dinner was a variable affair. early sitting as 7.30 which is relatively late. Late sitting was 9.30 which would be odd for American guests. I've never seen so many meals half eaten although some were excellent and the service at our table was also consistently good with waiters happy to find alternatives if diners were dissatisfied. For those on drink packages they were generous in topping up glasses. For those, like us, on pay as you go, drinks are modestly priced but there are no free options. You pay for mineral water. Fortunately our fellow table guests were great company which made the whole cruise a very sociable affair.
I enjoyed the evening entertainment although there was an element of repetition and a hint of amateurishness. They tried hard and some of the local flavour of operating singers and Brazilian salsa in bars and the atrium were good.
Managed to find sunbathing spots on the days the weather as good but be prepared that the rule is that you can reserve a lounger with a towel or a book and then disappear for the day! Just embrace it. Staff don't clear away possessions like other cruise lines.
Shore excursions were another matter. It was as if they were doing it for the first time. It was chaos. My tip is that if they say you should gather at 8am be there at 7.30 and be Cole to the front. It might help but be ready to get seriously annoyed.
The only unacceptable things I saw were the lack of attention to hand hygiene. They don't care if you sanitise your hands before meals. Also some of the deck maintenance included scraping paint which was then left on the deck overnight with quantities of the plasticised paint being blown overboard. Probably illegal. Finally there was a tender boat at Ilha Grande spilling fuel into the sea. They didn't seem too bothered.
Overall I'd say there are good things about MSC. price, room size, reasonable costs onboard and on shore excursions. The ships are reasonably comfortable. On the downside, food and buffet are below par. There's no deck or theatre cinema, in room TVs are from the Ark and there's very little English language programming. We had a few English language channels as we left Europe but when the TV signals ended they dint seem bothered with running English movie channels. A lot of the bad things would be easy to fix but it looks like there's an absence of any proper management of the hotel side.
In a nutshell, if you're looking for a cruise and need your experience to be just so, I don't think it's a good choice. If you're mainly travelling and are more interested in the itinerary and used to adapting it might be a good and cost effective choice. I've already booked MSC again next year for that reason. It's really not as bad as a lot of the hysterical reviews suggest.
Bigger than I expected. Adequately maintained but we hardly saw our steward over the two weeks. Bathroom OK. Storage good. TV from the 1970s, ancient, too small, not enough English language content.
Excellent place to visit. The local guide was good. It's probably a bit far from Malaga for comfort so it felt rushed but I really enjoyed the quirkiness of finding a bit of Britain in the Med. we were late back mainly because of the distance from Malaga.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Went to a turtle rescue project but it looked more like a mini turtle zoo and was mainly a visit to a shopping area with restaurants. Pleasant but probably not worth the drive.