It was with some intrepidation that we finally decided to cruise with MSC. Several telephone calls were made to the MSC office in England in January & February but each time we were put on hold and could never get through to the reservations department. In desperation we went to our local travel agent to see if they could do any better. Unfortunately they could not. They eventually made contact the day following our booking enquiry only to find that flights from Gatwick in June were not available. We did not wish to travel to Heathrow. On checking the BA website ourselves we were able to select morning flights to Venice from Gatwick for the date required and for the return. Rather than book this ourselves we went back to the Agent who booked return flights for us. Eventually cruise was booked with separate BA flights. On checking out our cruise details some two weeks later we found that Gatwick flights were then available and the timing of these were identical to those booked with the Agent. We then requested bus transfer between airport and the Seaport but were advised by MSC that all seats were already booked. We then arranged a private taxi transfer for the return journeys. The e-mail and telephone service between customer & MSC office is very poor and urgently needs to be updated to cope with enquiries. Our travel agent agrees with this.
On arrival in Venice everything went smoothly although we could not check in to the ship until 2.00 p.m. We were able to put our luggage into a secure area and we set off to see some of Venice. The People Mover Monorail is about a 15 minute walk from the MSC check-in and well worth using for just a 1 Euro fare. There is a free bus from ship to Monorail but we were not advised of this.
Five minutes on the Monorail and you are not far from the Grand Canal. Well worth using this mode of transport.
Check in went smoothly and when we got to our cabin our luggage was there for us.
All the crew were extremely polite and helpful. Having cruised on this ship about 10 years ago when it belonged to Festival Cruises and was called "European Vision" it didn't take us very long to find our way around the decks. Late lunch was available followed by afternoon tea.
The drinks package at 20 Euros per day per person was well worth it and we were surprised to have a choice of wine by the bottle at dinner. The package covered most drinks as well as ice creams, tea, coffee and cocktails.
The only downside of the cruise was the crowded swimming pool area, very noisy and music blaring out most of the time. About 4.00 p.m. there is one game of Bingo which takes a long time as numbers have to be called in 8-9 languages. We tried to give this a miss and take tea & scones in the buffet area.
Our ports of call were varied but interesting. Kotor was the highlight of the cruise. (A jump-on jump-off bus is available at Kotor port, or taxi drivers try to grab you with high price fares, however when you walk away from these guys the price is usually halved. Another fun way to see the old city is to tske a ride in a buggy.
Dubrovnik port to Dubrovnik City walls by transfer bus is not a free journey. It is now about 5 miles from the new port to the city. The return fare is 12 euros.
Likewise in Corfu a transfer bus is available again for about 12 Euros.
These fares are charged to your cabin account.
Overall the cruise was good value for money, we have no complaints. The choice of food was excellent at all mealtimes, although breakfast can be a bit of a crush as everyone seems to arrive together.
Our balcony cabin on Deck 10 was very clean & comfortable. Announcements over the tannoy were not intrusive.
We will certainly consider travelling with MSC again and just hope that their communication service improves as poor communication makes for poor service.