MSC from Durban to Cape Town for 3 nights and two full sea days with no port days.
First impressions became lasting ones. Confusion at embarkation and this remained the theme.
Having said that embarkation in Durban was smooth enough in the rustic environment of the port. Cannot say the staff of MSC were very welcoming or hospitable. They either could not speak English or did not want to. Misunderstanding seemed a popular game to avoid actually interacting.
A few gripes.
NO kettle or coffee making tools in cabins. Even balcony cabins.
NO glasses to drink water from in the buffet area. Mugs were thrust at you when you asked about this peculiarity.
Hand sanitation stations abounded but were treated like wicked step children and ignored by all. Can someone on this ship spell NoroVirus? Having experienced it once I was perpetually neurotic watching guests groping food with their hands.
The beds and bedding deserve a notorious mention. Shame they do try but one sheet and ONE blanket? Really? Welcome to 2013! Ever heard of a duvet? When I enquired I was told their superior class ships (Fantasia class) have these. OK that settles that then I guess.
The food! It was dire and worthy of a school boarding house. And it mattered not if you were in the restaurant or buffet. It was the same - literally the same. And the staff were so sulky you wanted out of there asap. Dinner was usually flung at you within 45 minutes - all four courses. No coffee in the restaurant after dinner either.
On the plus side
The cruise director (Stephen) was very good and did entertain, as did his staff. We got to deal with Rebecca and she is a great hostess. The entertainment was not great but they kept it afloat (pun intended) at most times. You get what you pay for I guess.
I liked the theatre where you could be served drinks on a table - novel idea. Made the time spent there more enjoyable.
The cabins and passages were roomy and always spotlessly clean. I do not think I ever saw anything out of place in any of the public areas.
Packing space in the cabin - Glorious packing space. More than you will ever need and then some. Great thumbs up for that! Design of cabin also ingenious and clever.
If this was my first cruise I am not sure I would return to this vacation option. I was however told by some cruisers they loved the food, the ship and thought the staff were great. So each to their own and opinions will differ.
For me personally it was a diluted version of what I have experienced elsewhere. I sympathise with the first timers because they deserved more and were entitled to more.
Shame on you MSC. Italy deserves better as a representative, and we in southern waters deserve more respect and service than was shown on this attempt at a cruise.