We just got back from a 4-night mini cruise and decided that unless MSC will remain the only cruising company, there is no way we are cruising with them again.
Embarkation process was not that bad, a little too long and unorganised, I was mad because the online check in did not work, however since everyone ended up standing in the same lane (no matter if you checked in or not), it did not matter. Overall I can not say anything bad about embarkation, also, there is nothing positive I would point out.
As we got on board (4.55 pm) we headed to get some food and drink since our rooms were not ready. Well, since there was only one place where they served some sandwiches at this time and it was closing (5.00 pm), we had to sit in a lounge and wait for emergency drill.
The room (9216) was OK, close to stairs, nice, quite spacious. That was until the next morning we realised that the thermostat is not working and the room is hot. They never managed to make it work. Our cabin stewardess seemed to be nice, however only up to the point when we needed something (such as that all the documents and papers she gives us need to be in English not German, she did not get this right until the very last day). Also, for some strange reason she did not make our beds twice, however she decided to take my shirt from wardrobe, re-fold it and put it on the chair. The same with my shoes, which I had to look for every day.
The food in dining room was less than average and the waiter was grumpy so we decided to eat in buffet. BIG MISTAKE. The food was horrible, during lunch and even worse during dinner. Cold, everywhere too much salt and spices. The upper eating space is catastrophic, the tables are round and since there was so little to do, everyone just decided to have a tea and block table for 8 people. Breakfast was poor, but edible and there was some orange and pineapple juice (only time during the whole day that beverage was provided).
Please, do not comment " it is Italian ship, therefore food is Italian".. it is not. This was no style. Italian food is awesome, here even pasta tasted like mud. We ate salads (self made from vegetables and condiments), french fries and pizza as these were the only edible.
The entertainment.. was there any? OK, the theatre was quite good, especially the artists, the singers were poor and the choreography's and stages amateur-like. Besides that, there was like 2-3 activities during a day, pretty much noting to do. Shame.
Staff in general (few exceptions) was rude, grumpy, groaning and unhelpful. It NEVER happened to me that I finally opened the door (strong wind) and staff member almost knocked me over as he hurried out. Are you kidding me? I am the guest here!!!
I do not blame MSC for not stopping in Helgoland, that was a matter of safety (as they said and ok, I believe), but WHY cant they come up with some alternative programme?
Just a short note, that having 1 700 Germans on board also did not make my day, since the world "gentleman" probably has no equivalent in German.
Last, but not least.. the disembarkation. We had to leave cabins at 8.30 am and we waited 5!!! hours in lounges with no music, no entertainment, NO INFORMATION about when we will be able to get of the ship. After we finally made it out, there was total chaos by the taxis which no one from staff cared about. We were not going to pay them anything anymore so why would they care?
Overall, horrible experience. We cruised with MSC before and we were expecting lower standard than we are used to (RCI), but this was like a 2 star Egyptian hotel.