If you do not take any notice of any other review on this site, please, please take the time to read & absorb mine.
If you are like me you will summarise that with a ship of 3500 passengers you are going to get some unhappy people. Do not take the risk with this cruise.
Leaving from Venice & checking went very smoothly in Venice. Do not let this persuade you that things will be OK.
Within an hour of leaving Venice, with all our lovely photos of my 11month old son, my 10yr old son & wife with Venice as the backdrop, safely on my Camera. We decided to relax in the sunshine on Deck 15 by the hot-tub. We left our camera & iphone5 on the sunbed immediately adjacent to the hot-tub covered by a t-shirt.
When we got out the hot-tub 20mins later, needless to say the items had gone!
We immediately looked up the location of my phone(which is permanently switched on for business purposes) with the "find my iphone" app on my wife's phone. It had already been switched off & disconnected from the internet.
For those not IT savvy, this means, whoever picked it up, has already switched it off & in all likelihood, removed & disposed of the sim card so it cannot be traced.
We reported it to the pool attendant who shrugged his shoulders & suggested we go to Lost & found at reception. Noticing there was a CCTV camera pointing directly at the location of the area. I ran downstairs (getting a lift is a whole other adventure).
Reception said nothing had been handed in. They then wasted valuable time getting me to complete the obligatory "lost Property" form. When I asked for them to check the CCTV. The response was "This is not possible" - The staff's favourite response.
When I queried why, I was told the CCTV was only on 1/2 hour loop? We would have been well within the quota had we not wasted time filling out the stupid form!
I visited reception every day, but alas we never did see the the phone or camera again, however, the staff's non-caring attitude did not help.
Our cabin was adequate, apart from the cigarette burns on the blankets & by the bathroom sink...nice touch for non smokers. Occasionally you can also smell smoke from other non smoking balconies - it's obviously not monitored.
There was a nice line of brown down the outside of our toilet bowl. I took photo as evidence on the 1st day, by day 3 I felt I had to make our cabin boy aware to clean it...God only knows what it was or how long it had been there.
When visiting the lifts nearest to our cabin (we constantly needed a lift with an 11month old baby in a pushchair. Pressing the button to call the lift makes no difference. If you are prepared, you could be there watching the lift descend from higher decks, pass your deck & continue on it's journey without stopping & then have the joy of watching it come all the way back up & pass you again! When we brought this up with staff on Reception we were told that we were the 1st passengers to complain about this in the chap's 3yr history working with MSC. What can you say? other than, It shouldn't matter whether we were the 1st or the hundredth and 1st. We has the lifeboat drill on the 1st day and as we had the baby, we were told we could take the lift. After 15 minutes, we reached the muster station. Just as the excersise was finishing. We had our cards scanned to confirm our attendance and left which was a relief.....until....
Later that night we had a letter popped under the cabin door: We have been informed of your impossibility to take part in the Safety excercise that was held today".?!!?
The consequence of which was "to confirm with International Convention for the Safeguard of Human Life at Sea, Such excercise are obligatory" "We have therefore re-programmed another excercise in Theatre deck 6" at 10am the following day.
So...having rushed my family through breakfast, we collected our life jackets from our cabin & played the chase the lift game again, to get to the Theatre at 9.55am.
There was 1 member of MSC staff present. Dressed in a red jacket, deep in conversation (in French) with an elderly passenger. The conversation being about excursions from what I could gather. After waiting with approximately 30 other, life jacket holding, passengers, I tapped her politely on the shoulder and enquired about the drill. The lady scoffed at me “NO, NO DRILL TODAY…...TOMORROW!!”…..???
We are on holiday! I politely mentioned that we would not be attending another drill and began to make our way back to our cabin. Over my shoulder I could hear another angry English passenger claiming “I look like some kind of crazy lady, walking around the ship every day with a life jacket over each arm!”
By the time we had finally adorned our swimming gear and reached the main decks, there were no spaces at all. We had to walk around for 20mins before we could find a couple of sunbeds. Passengers do not leave enough space for parents with pushchairs to pass through so it’s quite a tedious drawn-out journey.
One saving grace, when you get to secure a sunbed, and you have collected some towels from the grumpiest of grumpy pool attendant. You’ll be able to relax with a drink…..You will have to go get it yourself though. There are too few waitressing staff to cope so you’ll have to venture to a bar and hope you don’t get there when every other passenger has had the same idea.
The policy on board is that sunbed reservation with towels is forbidden. If a passenger leaves a bed unattended for more than 30 minutes the towels will be removed. This is not policed, however if you locate “Falcao” (the best pool attendant – who looks freakishly like Ed Harris from the Apollo 13 movie) he will find some beds for you and remove towels on reserved beds if necessary.
On another occasion we were nicely relaxing on our sunbeds beside one of the hot-tubs, when I went to check on my son. In so doing, I passed a waitress and asked if we could order some drinks (and pointed to where we were sitting – not more the 30ft away). The waitress response was….”It’s not possible”. When I asked why? She proceeded to explain, that the area where we were sitting, was “not her responsibility”. She instructed me to visit the bar at the opposite end of the deck, order my drinks. Then tell them where you are sitting. When I said that this was not acceptable (as she wasn’t currently busy herself) she spotted another waitress and said “She is dealing with your area”.
Again, I am supposed to be on holiday. I am not running about after waitresses all week. I asked her to liaise with the waitress and to speak to my wife about what drinks we required. I then watched as the first waitress, approached her colleague and then proceeded to have a stand up row with her about who was responsible for our area. All within the earshot of myself and fellow passengers…..Nice.
We were supposed to visit Santorini in Greece during our cruise. In fact, this was the deciding factor in choosing this particular ship at this particular time. On the day of our arrival 29th June 2013, We entered the natural harbour of the island. We took a scenic sail around. And then left….
The communication over the speaker, said that we were unable to dock due to high winds and rough seas…..I have had choppier baths!
We circled the island to see if the weather would improve. During this time, the sun was out and people began helping themselves to sunbeds. They did this as the pool attendants were reluctant to put them out, reasoning that it was too dangerous. Removing the sunbeds from passengers and tying them back up. This ultimately led to pool attendants being overwhelmed by passengers which in turn led to a heated shouting match between pool attendants, telling their boss “there are too many of them!”. There were only two pool attendants to manage all the passengers on two deck and their boss who was located at the towel collection/return. As there was no wind, the sun was out and the sea became calmer and calmer. Passengers took advantage and continued to help themselves to beds. The result was another row between pool attendants as they clearly couldn’t cope. At approx 1.30pm, we were given the message that the decision had been made to “give up” on waiting for Santorini port to open and to travel on to Mykonos…….A very unpopular choice for all on board.
As far as I am aware, everybody on board, would have rather waited another day in Santorini and sacrifice a day in Athens (another destination on our itinerary) for the chance of a visit to this amazing place. I cannot understand why – passengers were not consulted on this as it ultimately destroyed what last bit of enjoyment we were going to salvage from this cruise.
**Another top tip is to visit the bar on the 6th floor by the reception atrium and commandeer a teaspoon. The staff, have no idea what a teaspoon is and they are notoriously difficult to track down**
The food on board is mediocre at best. The Zanzibar buffet restaurant (or the Bun-fight, as we renamed it) had the better variation of food. Arrive at the wrong time though and it seems like the whole ship will be joining you, in a weirdly hysterical rush to get to food. It feels almost as if these people have never been fed before? The air conditioning in here is also very poor.
The restaurant staff are very friendly, but again, their grasp of the English language is patchy at best. I also took great offence at being told that I should mark them as “Excellent” on the customer satisfaction forms circulated before departure. The whole point of the forms is to give honest opinions, not to be told how you have to respond. This makes the whole feedback process futile.
Our cabin porter visited us to lock the minibar at 6pm, the evening before departure in Venice. He pointed out that we needed to sign and pay for a bottle of still water we had used. I told him that we’d had to use the water for baby feeding bottles and that as we’d asked for a kettle 3 times, on our day of arrival (and we are still waiting) we’d had to resort to using one of the complimentary bottles.
Note: complimentary, as they are there to welcome you on board, but they will charge you for them.
There was then a brief exchange, when I tried in vain, to explain the above to him. Alas, he insisted I sign for the water. The solution: to purchase a bottle of water from a bar on board (included in our drinks package) and bring it back to the room to replace the one we’d used. He was OK with this. The point of the excercise being a bit of a waste of time, but hey’ ho’.
Other than the above, the weather was superb. MSC couldn’t balls that up, even with missing out Santorini!
I could also mention that a staff member tried to start a shouting match with me when we tried to purchase a bingo ticket 1 minute after the bingo had started, but before any balls had been drawn or that the restaurant waiters seem more interested in talking to each other, than to customers. Or that the captain was more interested in securing a catch in the nightclub (if you know what I mean)rather than steering the ship. But I just cannot be bothered.