We sailed from Genoa to Cape Town departing 25 October. Embarkation was chaotic and despite being a member of the MSC club we were denied priority boarding and it took over 2 hours. Upon arrival aboard at 17h50 we found that the Lifeboat drill had already taken place at 17h30 even though over 200 passengers had still not embarked. We received a letter in our cabin mildly rebuking us for not attending the drill and advising we were expected to attend a further drill next day at 12h30 in Villefranche. We arrived back at the port in good time for the last tender at 12 noon. Embarkation then took an hour and in consequence missed the second boat drill held at 12h30 whilst many passengers were still ashore.
This is what is known as a re-positioning voyage because MSC has to move the vessel from Europe to S. Africa for the summer season in the southern hemisphere. Consequently they price the cruise at what appears to be good value but this is where the value ends. In order to recoup the money they then rip off passengers at every opportunity. In Valencia they announced that the city centre was a 15 minute bus ride away and that they had therefore organised a shuttle bus at a price of 15.50 euros per person. Upon disembarkation we found that the city of Valencia runs a similar public service for 3.00 euros return. We arrived in Valencia at 13h00 on a Sunday. Spain is a very religious country and therefore everything is closed. What idiot at MSC scheduled this call on such a day? No such shuttle bus was offered at any of the other ports of call despite the fact that most are located a considerable distance from where the ship docks and in some cases taxis are not allowed to enter the docks so passengers must walk to the dock gates, sometimes as much as 1 km. Any request to the reception staff for details of the next port are met with an aggressive reply and no information. Either they are not worthy of the job or are instructed by MSC not to answer such question unless the passenger has purchased an MSC Shore Excursion at exorbitant prices.
A "service charge" is added to your account each but this will be deleted if you insist but for passengers booking in S. Africa this charge is collected before travel and therefore cannot be deleted. In addition 15% is added to the cost of anything purchased on board including purchases made from the mini bar, on board shops, ice cream parlour etc. It is not possible to purchase over-the-counter medicines like aspirin without first consulting the doctor at a cost of 600 euros.I made a similar trip on the Sinfonia last year in the opposite direction when all prices were in US$s but now they simply change the dollar price to euros at par making all costs about 40% dearer. I could go on and on but think this report is now long enough. My only advise is not to take an MSC cruise but especially one designated as a "Grand Cruise"