In a few quick words.....if you expect any level of customer service on a cruise, DO NOT waist your money on MSC.
Cruised on November 30th...
I traveled with a large group on what was suppose to be an awesome cruise. When I heard it was MSC, I did some research and by all accounts, everything looked awesome. Now I am not a first time cruiser, having sailed on both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity a number of times. On each of those cruises, the level of service that you receive is second to none.
Well, I am getting ahead of myself so lets go slower.
Embarkation was short and simple with few lines at all. Once on the ship I saw that the staff was very well dressed and was excited to move forward.
I liked the fact that my cabin was already available at 3:30pm and made my way there. The ship is kind of a strange design with silly turns and all. They seemed to have wasted a lot of valuable room space that could have been great balconies. The room was standard and my cabin steward saw us and introduced himself. During the cruise he kept everything up to my liking.
Dinner that night (we asked for late seating but got stuck on early) was interesting. The wait staff seemed far to understaffed to wait on us fully. We had to ask for water to be refilled all the time and virtually every night in the dinning room. Special requests were not really possible as the staff spoke very little English. One of my cruise mates asked for a chocolate chip cooked for dessert one night and the wait person offered him drizzled chocolate on a plate..he never got the cookie! The food wasn't bad but on the surf and turn night, the "filet" was either pot roast or prim rib (which was an entree a few nights earlier) and it was covered in gravy. While food came out about the same time for all of our party, the service was slow. During lunch in the dining room, service was even slower! Bar service in the dinning room was virtually non-existent so we ended up getting our drinks before dinner and bringing them in with us. While at the table, we would get up and go elsewhere to get them.
The buffet on the 14th deck had its own challenges. While there was a variety of foods, it was the same thing every day. During transitions from different dinning times, i.e. breakfast, lunch or dinner, all of the food would be removed for up to a half hour. So during those times, if you came up, there would be no food...anywhere!!! They served pizza till midnight and then after that, only one station of cold bread with egg salad, tuna salad for chicken salad. There were free juices but after lunch, they machines were changed to just water or tea. The staff did keep the area clean pretty well but there was the general language barrier if you needed something.
Specialty dinning. Two restaurants, one steak place and one Italian place. Not what you would expect from a multi-million dollar cruise ship. In the steak house you sat at metal tables with plastic chairs. There was zero ambiance...just cold surfaces. Then the food was all ala-cart. The Italian restaurant seemed just a little bit nicer but while there was an entrance in the hallway, you were forced to walk through the back door of the steak restaurant to get into it. We didn't eat at either.
Surprisingly we found that there were very few bars and those were understaffed. We would wait 20-25 minutes for waitstaff and then they were rude. The bar staff themselves seemed completely uninterested in us as guests. They also spoke very little English so special requests were out of the question. Also the drink consistency was laughable. Each day the ship had a "drink of the day" similar to what all the other cruise lines have, however, the drink was never the same. I and two friends got on on one day at various bars and none of them looked or tasted alike. Alcohol is bread and butter for cruise ships. As such, they "push" drinks on you all them time. On MSC, that never happened. The servers never asked you if you wanted anything. They would walk around with empty trays and wait for you to approach them, and when you did ask for a drink, they seemed uninterested in helping you. We also found that throughout the ship, there were several times when bars ran out of certain types of liquor.
Entertainment. The main shows were OK but other than the Michael Jackson and ABBA show, it was the same cast doing the same thing with a different background. There were very few bands on board, mostly one or two people singing tunes and those were pretty poor.
Disembarking...we took our own luggage off and didn't have any issues.
This was the third cruise ever for MSC out of the United States. I've never been on a European cruise but I cannot imagine that they don't want service. Did anyone at MSC actually do any research on what an American cruiser would want? If MSC wants to survive in the American market, they have a LOT of work to do