As far as joining MSC Magnifica goes, we’re going to talk about embarking in Genoa first, then the process, in which MSC look to have made an attempt at reinventing the wheel.
We spent Easter on Lake Como before this cruise, and reaching Genoa from there was an easy train journey, connecting in Milan. The train station in Genoa is actually very close to the port, but walking there would seem to require that you cross a highway. Initially, there was some guilt about requesting such a short journey, when the taxi driver had clearly been waiting a while for a fare in the long line of cars outside the station. However, the guilt soon dissipated when we were informed of the 17 Euro fixed fare for journeys between the station and the port.
Porters at the cruise terminal did ask outright for a tip, but it was done in a fairly friendly manner and felt less obnoxious than the implied threat of baggage damage we experienced in New Orleans.
The historic terminal at Genoa is a fine place to board a ship - attractive and efficient. Despite arrive an hour earlier that our designated check-in slot, we, essentially, walked straight onto the ship, with no wait at security.
Cabins were ready at 1430, minutes after we were aboard.
Before talking about the MSC boarding system, let’s say outright that we are mystified as to why all lines don’t allow you to complete most of registration online - Carnival allow you to specify a credit card in advance, why is it so hard for others?
With MSC, you don’t even receive your cruise card at check-in - they are waiting for you in your cabin. Then, once you’ve retrieved it from the cabin, you head back out and find one of two or three self-service terminals on the ship that let you associate a credit card with your account. Lord alone knows what sort of management workshop came up with this system and thought it made sense. Of course, if you are aboard before the cabins are ready, staff have to complete manual bills for any drinks you might order - it’s a nonsense.
And while we’re moaning, it would also be nice if MSC bothered to place a deck plan and daily activity plan in the cabin, rather than leaving you search the ship for them.
Unlike other ships we’ve been on, Magnifica did not have that manic embarkation atmosphere, with hoards of marauding children determined to explore every nook and cranny at breakneck speed. This may be because the ship picks up and drops off passengers at multiple points on it’s itinerary.