We had a great time on our Greek Island Cruise with kids on MSC. I would definitely recommend it for families who want an easy way to see several Greek Islands and cities. Visiting Olympia, Greece was our favorite stop and we likely wouldn’t have visited on a land-based tour. The cruise itinerary was perfect because day was in a different port, allowing us to visit several destinations in Greece and plenty of time to enjoy traditional Greek food you must try in Greece.
This Cruise was an add-on ours to our trip to the Amalfi Coast for my sister’s wedding. We fly to Venice for 1 night before the cruise and 2 nights in Rome after the cruise.
Our Trip Costs: Greek Island Cruise
- Flights Naples to Venice $189.84 Easy Jet
- Flights Venice to Rome $361 Alitalia
- Hotel: 1Nt Venice $202 2nts Rome $410
- Cruise: $2450 7night Cruise on the MSC Musica w/ 6 ports Entertainment: included Food: Mostly Included
- Taxi Service: $200
- Airport Parking: $55 (based on 11 days economy parking)
We were able to book round trip flights to Naples and back from Rome for about $2050 for the 4 of us. This included departing on Easter Sunday so that we were away during the kid’s spring break. Flights Cost the same to Italy during Easter Week than flights to Florida from NYS! April is wonderful to Visit Southern Italy and Greece while finding affordable rates.
Greek Island Cruise Tips:
- · Bring markers or paint for the kids. Purchase blank souvenirs that can be painted like clay magnets or white venetian masks. We realized this was a great way to have a personalized souvenir.
- Olympia and Magna Grecia Estates was the Highlight of our trip. The ruins are so beautiful with the trees that have grown up around it. Magna Grecia was a fun way to experience Greek Meze Wine and Dancing
- Risotto on MSC is wonderful and their pizza and pasta is handmade and very good.
- Viator has a great guarantee and customer service. We often book our tours through them. We have always been refunded if the tour was not how it was described.
Overview of our Greek Island Cruise
This trip was an extension of a Trip we took to the Amalfi coast for my sister’s wedding. We decided to add on a Greek Cruise and being early April, our options were limited . We were pleased with MSC’s itinerary. The schedule allowed us only 1 Night in Venice and we added 2 nights in Rome after our cruise.
1 day in Venice was enough for us as we had been previously. We just wanted the kids to experience the canals and run around St Mark’s square chasing pigeons. We Stayed at Venice Mestre directly across from the Train station which we had stayed previously. It Comfortably accommodate families- the rooms are huge for European standards.
We headed into Venice the first night, and my husband was excited to take me to the restaurant where we ate at on our first trip right on the canal. It was a memorable dinner there. While it was 13 yrs ago I still remembered how good the calamari was.
Things Aren’t Always What you Remember
We found the place for sure sat down and ordered. The service tried to convince me to get the seafood pasta vs seafood risotto. I made it clear I wanted the risotto- thankfully there were photos I could point to, to make it clear. When my meal arrived it was seafood pasta, I told him no I didn’t want it I didn’t order that I wanted the risotto. I was annoyed but became very upset when the bill came, and the seafood pasta was on the check.
I got into an argument with the server who insisted I ordered it. We even watched as he pulled a page (with the risotto on it) out of the menu. Then brought the menu to me to ask me where it was. It wasn’t until I threaten to get a police officer over if he didn’t remove it from the check that he finally agreed to remove the charge. Sadly, this created a negative memory to our stop in Italy. My son even wrote about his mom having to yell at the man who overcharged us in his daily journal. I really enjoy Venice so I hope to go back to create a good memory with my family.
Morning of the Cruise
The next day we checked out and had our bags held. We went into Venice and enjoyed a gondola ride. I absolutely love cruising the canals that do not have walkways. We headed to St Mark’s square which was completely with a bunch of vendors selling things unlike what we had remembered. There was almost no place for the kids to run and chase pigeons- which they did anyway. It was a reminder that often things aren’t what you remember.
MSC Musica Greek Cruise
We didn’t’ love MSC but we would cruise them again. Our family was not on the ship much so we the entertainment wasn’t very important. We did not see one single evening show. By the time dinner was over we were exhausted.
Dinner on MSC Musica Cruise
Dinner was one thing we did not enjoy. It took over 2 hours for dinner mainly because the server served everyone every course at the same time. We always waited for every table to order, to finish their apps to finish their entree and to be served desert. The worst part is we were always served class even with being the only group that had young kids (only one family had 2 teenage kids rest of the tables were adult only).
We arrived early and they took our order last. The next visit we insisted we order right away, our food was served last. We explained we have kids they need to eat right away, the kids meals came out with our apps which were served after every other table got their apps. on the last night we finally said listen if we order first our food should be brought out first. The server clearly had his order and was going to stick with it. it was the most frustrating part of the cruise.
Food on MSC Musica Cruise
The food was ok on the cruise. Breakfast seemed to be too much of the exact same thing they didn’t change it up enough. Lunch was a madhouse very unorganized hard to find a table (breakfast was often like this too). I felt there had to be some way to make it a little less chaotic- other ships do it. The risotto at dinner was so good we started order it every night for our table. the pizza at lunch was very good but everything else was just ok. the pasta is made fresh on the ship as well as the pizza. It was also the first time we have had cuttlefish and we really enjoyed it.
MSC Musica Cruise Review
MSC has Great Itineraries
We really liked the itinerary because we were in port every day. The ports required very little travel so while the excursions were 4-6 hours long. Time was mostly spent doing something and not on a bus. It even allowed time in port usually after an excursion. We also didn’t feel exhausted because we weren’t going straight for 12 hours.
Entertainment on MSC Musica
The entertainment on the ship was a bit lacking. The kids club was a tiny room the kids didn’t really want to go and I’m not sure I would let them. One day we went to do a flower craft and the staff setting up told another family it was for adults only and the kids could go to the kids club. There was no one else doing the crafts and the program didn’t post it as adult only. Was there really no family activities/crafts to do together?
Foam Party on MSC Musica Cruise
There was a foam party on the pool deck that was a lot of fun and the kids loved it. It was their first time experiencing one. They also had hot tubs and a kid wading pools. Both seemed to have room when we wanted to which is unusual for cruising. The pools were freezing-wish they had been heated because it was very warm out but the kids would have to jump in the hot tub to warm up before wading in the kiddie pool again.
The ship had a small play ground area. There were broken pieces and it was not well maintained. The kids enjoyed it and it gave them a feeling of normalcy. A chance to just play which was great after 4-6 hours of site-seeing. The bedrooms have 2 bunk beds which the kids loved because they didn’t have to take turns.
While it wasn’t great it wasn’t horrible, We would cruise MSC again if the itinerary can’t be beaten. In this case, it couldn’t and the port excursions were very reasonable. For 4 of us 6 different ports, we average $66 per person per day for tours which is extremely reasonable given today’s cruise ship tour prices.
Greek Cruise Port 1:Brindisi, Italy 1:30 pm-7:30 pm
This was a great port for our family. The zoo safari was very cool. We had never seen tigers so active. Be aware tickets for the amusement rides are not included. The baboon train was an experience not to miss and we almost did until a worker pointed over toward it. You sit in a train that is basically a cage and drive through an area where the baboons are. They climb on the sides and top of the train cars that people are in. One peed on a car near us and it was dripping down the kids still talk about it.
Greek Cruise Tour-Zoosafari Fasanolandia Excursion code: BDS07
Tour description From MSC
Situated a mere 40-minute coach ride from the port lies a very special destination that’s perfect for the entire family: the Zoosafari Fasanolandia safari and amusement park. Spread over a vast area on a hillside overlooking the sea, the park is home to around 3,000 animals of 200 different species.
During your visit, you’ll be able to view and capture snapshots of such creatures as lions, giraffes, tigers, polar bears and even Italy’s only African elephant! And you’ll be able to roam the park both from the comfort of your coach and on foot in certain animal areas.
The park’s attractions also include a tropical aquarium, a dinosaur museum and a troop of baboons, so there is no shortage of exciting things to do and discover. After approx. 2.5 hours at the park, your return to the ship brings this safari-centric tour to a close. Please note: as this tour includes walking on uneven ground, it is considered to be unsuitable for guests of limited mobility or using a wheelchair.
Greek Cruise Port 2: Katakolon, Greece 12:00 pm– 6:00 pm
This was our favorite shore excursion. The description below is slightly different because we were unable to do the 3D part but did still go to Olympia and Magna Grecia Estates. Olympia is beautiful. There are flowing trees among the ruins.
The tour guide did well explaining a lot of information with photos to help. My son loves learning and gets very into the presentations. After Olympia we made a quick stop at some shops, they had very inexpensive gryos and they were good size and very tasty.
They also sold local honey and other things. After the stop we headed to Magna Grecia Estates. They did a presentation on how the olive oil is made and you are taken in side where some Mezes and wine is available. We lucked out because we sat at a 4 top table so my husband and I got to share 1 bottle for just the 2 of us! I enjoyed the meze and ate a little off the picky eaters plates (my own family only), and then the fun began. Staff came out doing traditional Greek Dancing and it ended with them asking us to join in, my daughter refused but my son reluctantly went up with me to dance around the restaurant and outside.
Greek Cruise Tour-Magna Grecia Estate & Olympia 3D Excursion code: KAT16
Tour Description From MSC
The flavors of Greece and a digitally enhanced look at the birthplace of the world’s most prestigious sporting event – the Olympic Games – await you on an outing that begins with a scenic coach ride to the rural Magna Grecia Estate. You’ll be taken around the farm to see the olive grove and learn about its history, view the vineyards, and say hello to the resident farm animals.
Then you can relax to Greek mezes – tasty appetizers – and a glass of local wine before moving on to Olympia, the place where the ancient Olympic Games were held from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. and athletes would enter the stadium through a covered passageway.
Today, no more than a few parts of the temple have survived at the museum and only ruins remain at the site itself. Among others, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, the Prytaneion, and the Philippeion have all disappeared. But thanks to a mobile 3D reconstruction device, you’ll be able to get a very clear idea of what Olympia would have looked like in its heyday. Your return to the ship then brings the outing to a close. Please note: this tour is considered to be unsuitable for guests of limited mobility or using a wheelchair
Greek Cruise Port 3: Santorini, Greece 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Oia Greece Excursions
OIA is beautiful and we enjoyed stopping in the port in general. We enjoyed a quick breakfast stop in OIA when our son decided he was starving. It was relaxing to look out at the white buildings and beautiful blue ocean. We tried Greek coffee for the first time which was unexpectedly good. It was a tiny cup and very dark so we were expecting it to be strong tasting (like Italian coffee or expresso) but it wasn’t.
I also enjoyed spanakopita from a bakery and we found a small grocery store where I purchased sesame nuts for much less than the tourist tables were selling them for. We enjoyed the shop very much but with children, I cannot imagine spending more than a day here.
Santorini Greece Winery Stop
Also the winery we stopped by was incredibly disappointing especially after Magna Grecia. It was very commercial with many buses stopping by. Sample local delicacies were nuts and cheese that everyone had their hands in. The wine was ok and they did let us walk up for more but a very different experience.
We enjoyed Fira. We shopped around and had a great experience with a local vendor. The kids were eating ice cream and we saw white rocks that would be great for them to paint. The older man asked each child if they would like a bag to hold each themselves and they said yes he told us to come on in and we had to stop our kids because everything was white and they had ice cream. The man can back and was happy to give them individual bags to carry their rocks. Simple experience but one we will remember as he really seemed to enjoy seeing our kids.
I also was able to order moussakas from a restaurant in town to go. It wasn’t on their board outside but my husband insisted he go in and ask (I was skeptical) but sure enough they had it.
Greek Cruise Tour: Santorini OIA Village Excursion code: JTR01 Tour Description From MSC
A short tender ride from the ship will take you to Athinios port where we will board a bus to Oia, a typical Greek village characterized by narrow streets, traditional white churches with blue domes – a picture-postcard vision of the Mediterranean! This village is famous for its hill-top location which offers a breathtaking view over the Gulf of Santorini.
Delights of a different kind are in-store at a nearby winery; we will sample local delicacies and enjoy a fun wine tasting session. We will end our trip to the village of Fira, near the Metropolis Church, from where our tour guides will instruct passengers on how to take the cable car down the port.
Please note: there may be long queues at the cable car station or to pick up the tender boat. This tour includes tender embarkation/disembarkation and walking on cobblestone streets with steps so is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
Greek Cruise Port 4: Thursday, April 12th, 2018 Piraeus, Greece 7:30 am-4:30 pm
This was one of the longer days but it was worth the visit the acropolis was packed but we still found moments to enjoy what we were seeing. and our kids made it up all the steps just fine (4/5 and 6 at the time)
Athens Acropolis augmented reality experience & new acropolis museum code: PIR23 Tour Description From MSC
This interactive excursion promises you a real journey back to ancient Greece while visiting one of the iconic monuments in the Greek capital city: The Acropolis. Your tour begins with a drive to the Acropolis: prepare yourself to climb to the top of the Acropolis Hill (150 steps) and explore Athens’ best-known landmark.
With the aid of a smart device, your visit will be enhanced, and you could view and feel how the Parthenon or other symbols such as the Temple of Athena Nike or the Erechtheion were in ancient times. After this sensorial visit, you will continue through the Acropolis pedestrian zone to the new Acropolis Museum.
Here we will enjoy plenty of time exploring the museum, where you can admire the statues, sculptures, and marbles of the Parthenon with time for souvenir shopping before returning to the ship. Please note: the tour includes a long walk on uneven ground and is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
Greek Cruise Port 5: Corfù, Greece 12:30-6:30
Kum Quat Factory was a bit of a sales pitch but we did get to taste Kum Quat which is like an orange. at Colombo Taverna the meze was ok it was more like trying a sample and I was glad to have some ouzo and the wine. The tour was nice but over all I wouldn’t’ recommend this tour as nothing was too exciting.
Paleokastritza moastery & kum quat tasting Excursion code: COR07 Tour Description From MSC
Your Greek island excursion begins with a scenic coach ride of about 30 minutes through the lush olive groves, pine trees and cypresses of the Corfu landscape to reach the Kum Quat Factory, your first stop. The informative visit will give you a chance to learn all about how kumquats are harvested and then turned into delicious liqueurs and other fruity treats.
Then it is on to the beautiful bay of Palaiokastritsa for some free time to explore the area surrounded by woods and olive trees. The tour then continues up to the mountainside location of Lakones, with more breathtaking views of Palaiokastritsa to enjoy.
After a short stop to soak up the atmosphere and perhaps take some photos, it is on to the traditional village of Makrades and the charming “Colombos” taverna where traditional Greek appetizers – so-called meze – will be served along with some local wine or ouzo, the famous Greek aniseed-flavoured aperitif. The taverna’s interior is decorated with traditional 18th- and 19th-century agricultural tools and an intriguing old olive press, which offer a glimpse into a bygone age.
This scenic island tour ends with your return to the port and your ship. Please note: comfortable walking shoes recommended. This tour includes long periods of walking (1.5 km) on uneven ground with some steps so it is not suitable for guests using a wheelchair.
Greek Cruise Port 6: Kotor, Montenegro 7:00 am-1:00 pm
We enjoyed the tour of medieval Kotor and the maritime museum the rest of the tour was really unnecessary. I think I would have stayed in the medieval part.
Tour Description From MSCMontenegro Kator and Maratime tradition of Perast code: KTR01 59/42
The excursion begins with a walking tour through the old town of Kotor, one of the best preserved medieval towns in this part of the Mediterranean. The asymmetric structure of the narrow streets and squares, combined with the many important medieval monuments helped secure Kotor’s position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We will visit the Maritime Museum before continuing to the elegant town of Perast that built its wealth on maritime trade; the city is the most significant example of Baroque architecture on the Montenegrin coast and has numerous examples of lavish palaces and houses.
A short boat ride will take you to a man-made island in the middle of the beautiful Boka Bay where you will visit the church of Our Lady of Rock. Then, back to Perast you will enjoy a walking tour of the city and a visit to St. Nicholas Church. Please note: conservative attire recommended for visiting sites of religious importance. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair. In Perast, guests not interested in visiting the church of Our Lady of Rock may remain in the city to explore on their own until the guide returns from the island Rome
2 Nights in Rome with Kids
After our Greek cruise, we disembarked and took a cab to the airport. The lounge in Venice was really nice and I enjoyed some eggplant and lasagna. We stayed at the Dreaming Navona Rooms hotel. The location was very good. It has a feeling of an Airbnb where there was no one overnight . The rooms had these large keys but very pleased with the price, especially for the location. The kids had a separate area (without a door) were 2 singles beds were for them to sleep which they liked.
You can easily spend 5- 7 days in Rome is your schedule allows for it. If you plan to stay longer I recommend checking out a pizza making class. Also, there’s many options for day trips from Rome so head out on a day trip or too if you are staying a week in Rome.
First Day In Rome with Kids
We walked to the Colosseum and to Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain. We enjoyed being near Piazza Novana as both nights we went to it. The first night there were no living statues but the second night there was. During the day there was a man blowing large bubbles and a group of kids chasing them the kids loved it. Our kids also loved chasing the pigeons during the day when there were much fewer people around. There’s a McDonalds right nearby. One day we picked up happy meals for the kids to eat before we sat down for a relaxing meal ourselves.
Dining in Rome with Kids
We ate 3 meals while in Rome for dinner the first night we had the Bistecca alla Fiorentina at Mexela. After almost 2 weeks of mostly all seafood (or thin sliced beef on the cruise), I was craving steak. This place and steak didn’t disappoint. we only ordered an appetizer of eggplant to go with the large steak we shared. the eggplant was amazing. So much so that I have tried to recreate it at home (its was like a caponata) . We ordered a pizza for the kids which they enjoyed.
The next day we had lunch by the coliseum. The food was ok but I bit into a piece of the clamshell. Then realized my entire pasta was full of small pieces of the clamshell. The man had mentioned there weren’t enough clams for a full clam appetizer but there was for the pasta so we ordered the pasta but they must have dumped the bag off shells including loss of fragments into the sauce/pasta. I was not happy and a bit worried about my tooth . It ended up being ok but glad they didn’t charge me for the pasta dish that I didn’t end up eating.
After the eventful lunch I had, I wanted a nice place for Dinner. We were walking and not finding anything. Suddenly it was as if we both noticed this alley that cut up and we could see this restaurant in this quiet dim lit area. We walked over and after seeing the menu, we decided to sit. The restaurant Osteria del Gallo, was wonderful.
We ordered pasta carbonara and gnocchi the carbonara pasta was wonderful but the gnocchi was just ok (each one wasn’t hands made it was more like a roll that was sliced). I ordered Osso Bucco and my hsuband ordered grilled calamari. The calamari was ok but the Osso Bucco was amazing. It came in a balsamic gravy that I wasn’t sure about when ordering but it was perfect.
Coliseum with Kids
We booked one group tour through Viator. It was the coliseum underground tour. We toured the Roman forum and the coliseum including the stage and the underground portion. It was very interesting. Unfortunately, we had a lot of changes to the tour. we were notified while already on our way that our tour was delayed. Because we had a long walk we had left early to give us time to walk slowly to the Colosseum.
The Tour Didn’t go as Planned at ALL
The tour company tried to change our tour for 2 hours later. we explained we were already there. We ended up having to wait 1 hour to catch the roman forum tour for the group that had seen the Colosseum before us. We had to cut our tour of the forum short to head back to the Colosseum for our tour. The tour that was supposed to be 12 people and limited to 6 during the underground part had 22 people!
Because of this, we didn’t feel we got the intimate tour we had expected and definitely didn’t get to ask the questions we usually like to ask especially my son. Thankful Viator has wonderful customer service and guarantees you get what the tour describes. We did find the underground very interesting and our kids loved “fighting” Dad on the stage like gladiators.
*Update: Viator appropriately compensated us for our tour issues. They have great customer service and is why we usually book our tours through them.
We really enjoyed seeing Greece on our Greek Cruise. We visited islands/stops we were happy to have a day visit to but don’t need to visit again. I would like to visit Greece again and stay on a few islands when its warm enough to swim. We really enjoyed Rome this trip and not so much Venice. Interestingly enough our first time we visited Italy we loved Venice and didn’t love Rome.
You can also check out our Mediterranean Cruise here.
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