We travelled to Abu Dhabi in January and joined the MSC Fantasia for a 7 night cruise.
On arriving at Abu Dhabi airport we were greeted by MSC employees showing us where to go to pick up the coach for transferring to the port. This was very well organised and on arriving at the port, we were advised that our suitcases would be taken from the coach to our cabin. We checked in immediately and were on the ship within 30 minutes which we thought was brilliant as on previous cruises we had queued for a couple of hours or more to get on board.
Once on board we were advised that our cabin would be ready by 12.30 so we made ourselves comfortable up on deck until it was ready. It was ready on time and our suitcases were already there.
The ship is large, but we found our way around easily after the first day or so. Our cabin was on the 13th deck and it was comfortable but we thought having the wardrobes right by the bathroom door was inconvenient as you could not leave the bathroom if the wardrobe doors were open and vice versa!
It was unusual to us to not be able to collect a towel from the pool deck. Two orange towels were left in your room and you had to use these all day. They were changed each evening if you left the dirty ones in your bathroom. Unfortunately our cabin steward forgot to do this on a couple of occasions and it involved a trip down to customer services to get them replaced. If you lost a towel they would charge you 20 Euros which I thought was a bit steep. However, we managed to hold on to ours!
We did not go on any of the tours, but left the ship and made our own way around the ports. In Dubai we found it easy to get around on the Metro and Trams but were overcharged by a Taxi Driver from the port to the nearest Metro as although it was about a 20 minute drive, it was obviously not far enough for him. On the return journey we paid about 10 less.
The food was very good in the Restaurant, the pasta especially was fantastic. MSC make their own pasta on board. We had a brilliant waiter who kept the wine flowing and was friendly and efficient.
We only visited the buffet deck a couple of times. It was always busy and noisy so we tended to eat in the Restaurant. We were pleased that the Restaurant was open at lunch time whilst in port because on other cruises they tended to close them.
One major problem was a lack of sun beds. People tended to put their orange towels and a book or similar on the beds and they were then empty most of the day. We could not get a sun bed on one day anywhere until early afternoon.
Some of the bars were more friendly than others. We visited one regularly and the staff got to know us, but in another on one evening we waited over 20 minutes for someone to take our order (even though it was nearly empty) and even then my husband had to go to the bar to ask for service.
The evening entertainment in the Theatre was excellent. We only saw three shows, but the costumes, singing, dancing and sets were amazing. As good as a West End Show. The ones we saw were Wonderland, a Tribute to Michael Jackson and Tin Tin.
On the whole the trip was very enjoyable, we booked a last minute break, the weather was very nice and the ship was what we would have expected.
On disembarking we were surprised to find that we could check in at the port for our airline tickets and the bags were once again whisked away and we did not see them again until we arrived back in Heathrow.