The Zebra Lounge is much nicer and brighter. It has the Zebra theme going (hence the name Zebra Lounge of course). This is where most of the acoustic acts performed. There are booths in a horseshoe sharp around the stage and then seating at the bar in the back. Of all the places we saw shows, I liked this one the best. But we spent most of our time on the deck or at Pigalle in the dark! Monster Café is also pretty nice giving you standing room and then seats around the stage. But if you are at a metal concert, you will only see butts and backs if you are in the seated area. They also have the Sky Bar which is set up with a number of lounge areas. In the back there are clusters of small tables for more intimate conversations. They have a dance floor that can double as a stage. They also have access to the back of the ship. This is where they held meet and greets with the bands during the day and dance parties at night. We went to the VIP party the last night and I liked it much better when it was filled with band members that drunken bimbos!!! All of the clubs and bars with the exception of the Carlo Felice have bars.
The rest of the ship.
Even the older ships on the major cruise lines have cool waterslides. This ship has 2 pools and 2 hot tubes and no waterslides. When we docked in Nassau, Nick looked across at the Disney Dream and Carnival Fantasy with their fun and funky water slides beckoning and asked where our was. I replied on those ships! For our sailing we had one pool since the other was for an outdoor concert venue.
The required lifeboat drill was held at 4 pm despite the fact the ship did not leave until 7 pm and guests did not have to be on the ship until 5 pm. Good thing we didn’t hit an iceberg in the Caribbean (I am being funny of course) since those still in line at 4 pm or enjoying other parts of Florida wouldn’t know what to do.
Most of the employees were not very friendly and didn’t interact with guests. The employee in charge of our lifeboat drill was pretty funny and we loved our luggage porter. We never saw a cabin attendant. Some of them didn’t even speak English. When I went down to hand in our paperwork for the next cruise, the hospitality desk was closed. So I asked guests services if they were closed and was told yes. I asked if they could take my paperwork and had to ask twice before it was taken.
Because this was a ship full of metal fans who like to smoke the smoking policy was changed to where there was only no smoking in the cabins and at the Carlo Felice Theater. Smoking was allowed everywhere else. So if you are on a chartered sailing, smoking may be allowed.
I found every time I went to the ladies rooms, there was no toilet paper and I got used to bringing Kleenex with my when I ventured out of my room. The last night the door handle broke off the ladies room outside the Sky Bar and I had to go down a flight of stairs to go to the bathroom. The only pictures they took were when we boarded the ship. The do have kids programs and a teen club but the only thing I saw for kids was a small slide and again no waterslides!
Check ins and outs/excursions/etc.
It took us about 2 hours to get thought the check in process. Our roommates had stayed with us so we were all together when we checked in. Everyone in the cabin needs to check in together especially if you are using separate credit/debit cards. No matter what cruise line you go with, you can be prepared for a wait. And thankfully they are thorough. We saw one girl who was not allowed to wear her bullet belt (imagine that) and we saw one girl was not allowed to board because her travel visa was expired (and her stupid husband left her behind!!!).
Debarkation was not a pleasant process (not that embarkation was). The night before Nick and I received 2 NAVY BLUE tags for our luggage (we had 5 pieces and could not find anyone to get any additional ones). The next morning we started listening for them to call for blue tags. We got tired of waiting and went down and sat in one of the public areas. After waiting some more an employee came over and asked us what color our tags were. We told him navy blue and he told us to go on down. When we got to the luggage area we notice a luggage area right in front and notice one piece right in front which was ours. Then we were once again asked what color our tags were. Once again I said navy blue. The employee snapped that that was what color was used for embarkation and then starts to tell me the difference between embarkation and deembarkation. I snapped that I was a travel agent for 11 years and knew the difference and knew the difference between NAVY blue and LIGHT blue. We finally found 2 pieces with the tags on them in the light blue line and the others in the pink line. When I showed Miss, Snappy she told me I used the wrong tags. I used the ones I was given!!!
If you go to Carnival for example and look at the excursions in Nassau…you will find pages of them. Here they offered less than a dozen and most of them were connected to Atlantis. Nick and I just explored the islands on our own.
One of the reasons MSC cruises is not a preferred vendor is they do not allow passengers to set up an account. Now you can do on line check in up to 24 hours before sailing but you must have all the information on all the guests. Since I didn’t for my roommates, I skipped it. But we were told by the MOR people that we would receive our e-docs 3 weeks before sailing. The week of the cruise is when we finally received them. Now having been a travel professional I know it is not necessary and they can be printed at the dock, it just makes things easier than 2500 people trying to print boarding passes the same day. And it didn’t help that the MOR didn’t address anyone’s fears by explaining to them that you will not be denied boarding just because you don’t have a boarding pass in advanced. The other major cruise lines allow you to set up your own on line account and print your own boarding passes thusly eliminating panic when passes are not sent out when promised!!!
After talking to the many friends we made on this cruise it seemed to be those of us who had been on a cruise were not that impressed with the cruise ship while cruise virgins like Nick seemed to like it better. OK, it certainly wasn’t the worst travel experience I have ever had. The cruise was certainly fine especially given the fact I was surrounded by some of the finest men on the planet and it is hard to have a bad cruise experience unless maybe you’re on the Titanic. I made lots of new friends, seen some great concerts, got to hang out with some of my favorite band members, and was on a trip with the love of my life. Chances are that I wouldn’t be booking a cruise on this ship unless I was doing a charter. But I am already booked for Monsters of Rock 2013!