Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 379 out of 500
Accommodation: 149 out of 200
Food: 233 out of 400
Service: 295 out of 400
Entertainment: 55 out of 100
Cruise: 271 out of 400
Overall Score: 1382 out of 2000
MSC Sinfonia Statistics
Size: Mid-size Ship
Cruise Line: MSC Cruises
Former Names: European Stars
IMO Number: 9210153
Builder: Chantiers de l’Atlantique (France)
Original Cost: $245 million
Entered Service: Apr 2002/Mar 2005
Length (ft/m): 823.4/251.0
Beam (ft/m): 94.4/28.8
Draft (ft/m): 22.4/6.8
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel (31,680kW)/2 azimuthing pods
Passenger Decks: 10
Total Crew: 710
Passengers (lower beds): 1,564
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.4
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2
Cabins (total): 777
Size Range (sq ft/m): 139.9-236.8/13-22
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 132
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 2
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 1
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: Euros
This is a large Euro-style, informal and family-friendly ship
Overview. MSC Sinfonia is best for adult couples and solo travelers, and families with children, who enjoy lots of activity, accompanied by lots of noise and late nights, in a setting that exudes Mediterranean family vacation values.
The Ship. MSC Sinfonia is a sister ship to MSC Armonia, with a decor that’s decidedly ‘European Moderne.’ The international mix of passengers adds to the overall ambience of the cruise experience.
The exterior deck space is barely adequate for the number of passengers carried. The Lido Deck surrounding the outdoor swimming pool also has whirlpool tubs and a large bandstand is set in raised canvas-covered pods. All sunloungers have cushioned pads.
The decor is ‘European Moderne’ - whatever that means - but it does include crisp, clean lines and minimalism in furniture designs - including some chairs that look interesting but are totally impractical. However, the interior colors are good; nothing jars the senses, but rather calms them, unlike the effect aboard many ships.
Standing in line for embarkation, disembarkation, shore tenders, and self-serve buffet meals is an inevitable aspect of cruising aboard large ships. Announcements are in several languages.
Wheelchair-bound passengers should note that there is no access to the uppermost forward and aft decks, although access throughout most of the interior is good. Also, passenger hallways are a little narrow on some accommodation decks to pass when housekeeping carts are in place.
The company keeps prices low by providing air transportation that may be at inconvenient times, or that involves long journeys by bus. In other words, be prepared for a little discomfort in getting to and from your cruise in exchange for low cruise rates. Note that 15 percent is added to all drinks and beverage orders.
In January 2015 the ship will undergo a ‘chop and stretch’ operation. This will add an 82ft (25m) mid-section, almost 200 additional cabins, more public rooms and entertainment facilities (but no additional elevators), new shops, and more exterior deck space which will include a large waterpark for children.
Accommodation. There are numerous categories, the price depending on the grade, size, and location you choose. These include 132 ‘suites’ with private balcony (whose partitions are only of the partial and not the full type), outside-view cabins and interior (no-view) cabins.
Suite-grade accommodation - they are not true suites, as there’s no separate bedroom and lounge - has more room, a larger lounge area, walk-in closet, wall-to-wall vanity counter, a bathroom with combination tub and shower, toilet, and private balcony with light. Bathrobes are provided. In general, the ‘suites’ are practical and nicely furnished. However, except for the highest category, the bathrooms are very plain, with white plastic washbasins and white walls, and mirrors that steam up.
Standard grade cabins, at a modest 140 sq ft (13 sq m), are quite small when compared to many other ships, but they are reasonably comfortable, with plenty of space between two lower beds. All grades of accommodation have a TV, minibar/refrigerator, personal safe cleverly positioned behind a vanity desk mirror, hairdryer, and bathroom with shower and toilet.
Dining. There are two main dining rooms, the 610-seat Il Galeone Restaurant and the Il Covo Restaurant; both have two seatings and share the same menu. The cuisine is reasonably sound, and, with varied menus and good presentation, should prove a highlight for most passengers. The wine list has a wide variety of wines at fairly reasonable prices, although almost all are very young.
Other dining options. La Terrazza is a casual, self-serve buffet eatery that is open 20 hours a day, including sit-down, waiter-served dinners in a very relaxed setting. The selections are very standardized and could be better. Café del Mare, adjacent to one of two swimming pools and to the ship’s funnel, is a grill area for burgers and other fast-food items.
Extra-cost coffee/tea and pastries are available in Le Baroque Café, set around the upper level of the two-deck-high atrium lobby. It’s a good location for people-watching, but annoying music videos are constantly played on TV monitors in the forward sections.
Entertainment. The two-deck-high Gondola Theater is the main showlounge; it is the venue for production shows, cabaret acts, plays, and other theatrical presentations. Entertainment consists mainly of visual shows, because of the mix of nationalities carried. Other shows consist of cabaret acts such as singers, magicians, mimes, and comedy jugglers.
The ship carries a number of bands and small musical units that provide live music for dancing or listening in various lounges and bars throughout the ship.
Spa/Fitness. The spa features a gymnasium with ocean views, and high-tech, muscle-toning and strengthening equipment. A thermal suite has different kinds of steam rooms combined with aromatherapy infusions such as chamomile and eucalyptus, and a Rasul chamber provides a combination of two or three kinds of application mud and a gentle steam shower. The spa, operated by the Italian concession OceanView, offers a wide range of body-pampering wellbeing treatments.
For active types there’s a simulated climbing wall outdoors aft of the ship’s funnel, as well as a volleyball/basketball court, and mini-golf.