Cruise Review 11/2/2014
Just the Facts:
Ship: MSC Fantasia
Captain: Mattia Manzi
Cruise Director: Maddy Buccino
Ports: Venice, Italy - Bari, Italy - Dubrovnik, Croatia - Pireus, Greece - Heraklion, Crete - Marmaris, Turkey - Valletta, Malta - Messina, Italy - Civitavecchia, Italy - Genoa, Italy
This is my 3rd MSC cruise and 97th cruise overall. I am cruising with my dear wife (DW) and two other couples who are regular cruise friends (Friends). Although all seasoned cruisers this will be a very different set of cruise experiences sailing from Europe on an Italian cruise line. DW and I will have some experience having sailed last week on the Preziosa and the Fantasia is very similar being the same class of ship.
Sunday November 2 / Venice / Embarkation / Day 1
|Meeting the FRIENDS in Venice|
Monday November 3 / Bari, Italy / Day 2
|Sassi in Matera|
Tuesday November 4 / Dubrovnik Croatia / Day 3
|From the Old City Walls in Dubrovnik|
Wednesday November 5 / Day at Sea / Day 4
|Itinerary Map of Cruise|
Thursday November 6 / Pireus for Athens, Greece / Day 5
Smoother seas overnight and a beautiful day all day. We were docked early, but they didn’t allow people off until a bit after 8:00 am. We were among the first off about 8:20 am. We arranged a private tour for just our group with a guide, Dimitri, at the dock (€300+) in a Mercedes van for 5+ hours. He drove us into Athens and first stop was the ruins of the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch (Roman), our guide’s thinking was that here we could also purchase our Pantheon tickets avoiding long lines later. Because of a student demonstration scheduled in the afternoon we did the sites opposite normal order. Next stop was the Olympic Stadium built of white marble for the first modern olympics in 1896. Then it was to the Presidential Palace (former Royal Palace) where we had photos taken with the Greek Guards. Next stop was just in time for the Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the National Parliament House and Monument to the Unknown Soldier. This is one of the more famous guard ceremonies in the world due to the colorful uniforms and unique steps of the Greek Guard. We then drove by the National Library, The University Library, and stopped at the beautiful Academy of Athens all located next to each other in central Athens. We then drove to the top of Mount Lycabettus for a wonderful view and photo opportunity of the city of Athens and the Acropolis below us. This was a bonus of using a private driver as buses are not allowed. Driving down the mountain we passed by the American Embassy and Greek Opera House before taking a rest room/shopping break at a nice shoppe before heading to the busy Acropolis. We arrived and parked as close as was allowed then began our walk up the Acropolis. Of course the Parthenon is the highlight, but we also saw the Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheum, and Propylaea. We walked all around taking in the views of the city and archeological sites below such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and Theater of Dionysus. After our visit we walked back down to met Dimitri who then took us to his neighborhood taverna for lunch. He guaranteed that if there were any tourists there he would buy lunch. There were not, it was a genuine Greek taverna were we had a huge Greek luncheon. We pretty much had it served family style or shared what we ordered. We ordered or were served: Pita Bread, Greek Salad, Stuffed Green Peppers, Large Stuffed Tomato, Tomato Vegetarian Croquette, Okra with Tomatoes & Onion, Fried Cheese, Pork Gyros, and a mixed platter of barbecue meats including pork, beef, and lamb. They served dessert including a small panna cotta and Raki liquor. We ordered too much and it was a banquet, but very very good. After this great meal it was the drive back to Pireus. I must comment on our guide Dimitrios Routsos. He was a character himself, his signature phrase was “Do you understand?” that he used emphatically quite often and you must answer. He drove where he wished that many times meant down the middle of the road taking two lanes, he parked where he wished including sidewalks, and basically did as he pleased on the road. Everyone must have known him as many many drivers would honk at him and make gestures…LOL. He seems to have been chauffeur or driver to many important guests to Greece including: several Kennedy’s including Jacki, Hillary Clinton, and the Geo.W Bush’s daughters. He showed us photos with many celebrities and has appeared in movies (The Greek Tycoon) as a driver. Quite a character. We settled up with Dimitri and boarded the Fantasia before our 4:00 on board time. It was R&R for us in the cabin. We met the group in the Manhattan Bar for cocktails, but we were too spent for the show or dinner in the MDR. We did take a late dinner in the Zanzabar Buffet before settling into the cabin for much needed rest.
Friday November 7 / Heraklion, Crete / Day 6
|Minoan Palace at Knossos|
Saturday November 8 / Marmaris Turkey / Day 7
|Lycian Tombs taken from our boat on Dalyan River|
Sunday November 9 / Day at Sea / Day 8
|Lobby area and Fantasia Bar|
Monday November 10 / Valletta Malta / Day 9
Tuesday November 11 / Messina Italy / Day 10
|Taormina's Greek Theater and Mt. Etna (Italian photo-too overcast for me)|
Wednesday November 12 / Civitavecchia, Italy / Day 11
|One of the thousands of Etruscan Necropolis|
Thursday November 13 / Genoa, Italy / Debarkation
A little bit of choppy seas overnight. We were up early to finish packing and watched us arrive in Genoa. I had a nice breakfast in the MDR this morning and stalled in the cabin up until our 9:50 am designated meet time in the theater. Soon our color was called and we were off the ship. We were able to get a taxi van for all six of us and we went to the Genoa train station. Great statue of Christopher Columbus there. Two were off to Rome and four of us to Milan to continue the European adventure.
Maiden Voyage: December 2008 I Gross Tonnage: 137,986 tons
Passenger Capacity: 3900 | Crew: 1313 I Length: 333.33 meters
Max Cruising Speed: 22.7 knots I Avg Speed 21 knots
Power: Diesel-Electric (2@20,200kW) I Propulsion: Fixed pitch propellers
We have cabin 12238 an aft facing balcony located on deck 12 and there are aft elevators located nearby. It is a well decorated and spacious cabin. The cabin has a push button safe, twin/queen beds, large padded headboard, two night stands with lights, a large decorative mirror, a small refrigerator, small table, couch, seat at dresser, and TV with interactive features.
Our MDR waiters, especially Rene from Honduras, were very efficient as was our cabin steward Lala, and they were much more friendly than on the MSC Preziosa last week. The other crew, bar servers, bartenders, etc. were also friendlier than last week. Laundry service is absolutely first class on this ship.
Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
Entertainment is the strong suit of MSC with very elaborate production shows and live music in most all venues. In addition to the production shows they have a ‘fun’ event scheduled every night night at 11:00 pm in the L’insolito Lounge (large venue located far aft). I was a bit disappointed with the MDR dinners, they were not as good as when we sailed on the MSC Poesia. The Zanzibar and L’Africana Buffets were adequate, the deserts were best. They had some very nice lounges and bars, we tried to visit most. We did get the Allegrissimo package (~$30 per person per day) for unlimited liquor, cokes, water, etc. and it was very worthwhile.
This was a much better cruise than the week before on the MSC Prezioza. There were few children compared to previous. Also having friends on board made it much more fun. We had a party every day. Crew was much better than the week before as well. As mentioned I knew it will be very different than the usual American cruise lines and if your looking for the same experience you won't get it here. You may like the differences or you may be very unhappy with the differences. If you don’t like change or are not flexible you will probably NOT like sailing a European cruise line. All that being said...This was a great cruise experience for us.
Highlights of the Cruise
Sailing with Friends
Dalyan and Kaunos
Lunch in Athens
Malta especially Mdina and St. John's Co-Cathedral
MSC Production Shows
Aft facing Balcony Cabin