The 158-passenger MS Michelangelo, run by France-based CroisiEurope, may have French roots but it also has plenty of Italian influences. The vessel sails Italy’s Po River and the Venetian lagoon with Murano-glass chandeliers and carnival mask decorations, Carnival-themed quizzes and trivia, and piccata and tiramisu on theme-night dinner menus. Still you won't forget that this is a French line: We especially love the French fare, which includes magret de canard, île flottante, and fois gras.
What We Love
Small Excursion Groups: On many sailings, English speakers are the minority, which means that when divided into language-based groups for the outings, you'll get treated to a smaller-group size.
A Gorgeous Gala Dinner: The foie gras with brioche, succulent rack of lamb, Taleggio puff pastry, and (for the grand finale) baked Alaska flambéed in Grand Marnier — are elegantly presented.
Soft Décor: Look for Impressionist-style paintings, striped curtains, and floral bedspreads.
The Mask Atelier: One of the tours in Venice takes you to an artisan’s studio, where you’ll do a deep dive into the mysteries of Venetian masks, and marvel at the craftsmanship involved in their creation, from hand-sculpting the mold to painting the finishing touches.
Best Known For
Venetian Lagoon Cruises: Few companies run Venetian lagoon itineraries, particularly in the off-season. If you want to book a cruise to Venice during Carnival, for example, CroisiEurope will be your only choice.
Value Fares: While not high end, MS Michelangelo offers a combo of comfort and convenience at a competitive price that includes shore excursions, meals, and beverages, including wine, beer, and alcohol.
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Who It's Best For
Europhiles: With French, Spanish, German, and English passengers, there’s a real sense of being on the Continent.
Lovers of Venice: Many of the passengers onboard are repeat visitors to Venice, who chose a cruise for its easy pace. Whether a first-timer or frequent traveler to La Serenissima, there are options for everyone. (You can upgrade from the “classic” excursions, such as a guided tour of Padua, to more off-the-beaten treks:, including a hike through the Euganean Hills wine country.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
One Seating, One Menu: There’s only one seating for lunch and dinner, during which the same dishes are served for the entire group. (You can, however, request alternative items when the menu is posted).
Dinner Times Vary Widely: The wait staff won’t ask for your drink order until everyone is seated at your table; and if enough passengers are late, it can hold up service for the rest of the dining room.
Italian Light: Though we appreciate the effort to incorporate an Italian theme onboard when you're cruising through Italy, it’s hard to compare onboard dining to what’s available onshore, where the pasta (for example) is more al dente.
Not Much Sailing on Lagoon Cruises: MS Michelangelo acts more like a floating hotel than a cruise ship that goes from port to port. However, on one afternoon — if it’s not too foggy — the vessel does a scenic sail around the lagoon.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.