My wife just read Sportinglife's review of our most recent trip. She yelled to me and asked if I had a different screen name as it could have been written by us. MSC Opera...Jan 14-25, 2007. We selected this cruise (our 10th) as we were intrigued by the itinerary and it was a Big Bands cruise with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. We were a group of 8, all family members. We knew it would not be the same as we were used to due to the European culture and an Italian line so we entered into this with a very open mind.
EMBARKATION: We had no problem with this as we played it smart and didn't even try to get there much before 3:00 pm. We were in line probably only 15 minutes.
CABIN: Small but comfortable. Plenty of storage space in closet and drawers. They supply plenty of hangers. The bathroom was a little tight but the shower....now that's a whole new thing. Tiny doesn't begin to describe it. If you are an obese person, parts of you will be out of the shower. And for your own sake, never drop the soap. The bath towels were absolutely super. I'd love to have a bunch of them at home.
SHIP: The ship is beautiful in some ways but very poorly designed. Some elevators wouldn't even take us to our deck (10). There was no promenade deck to walk around the ship. You can't walk from one end of the ship to the other on the 7th deck. The coffee/tea area in the buffet area is a total bottleneck but not near as bad as trying to get from the dining room to the theatre. That was always a zoo due to attempting to get thru some of the clubs. The theatre is small (no balcony) and you had to get there an hour before showtime if you wanted a seat which wouldn't have been bad if you could have a cocktail or two. No drinks allowed.
FOOD: I'll just echo Sportinglife...."THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE ENTIRE CRUISE". Go to a truck stop for better cuisine. Not only was it bad but it was tasteless. Beef?? Always good, right? Terrible. One night I just called it the "mystery meat". Fish?? Overcooked and tasteless. The lobster was probably the worst. I never realized lobster could be that bad. The pasta was the opposite. Pasta was generally very good. The menu was limited. A choice of 3 entrees usually include a fish, a beef and "something else". The menus are not posted in advance so it was always a surprise when you got there. Our waiter was extremely slow and NEVER introduced himself. There was no chatting or getting to know him or him getting to know us. We were usually getting our entree as the table next to us (different waiter) had already finished dessert and were leaving. The buffet was worse. Morning and noon (I never saw it at night) absolutely NEVER changed. That wouldn't have been bad enough but the hot items were never hot. Pancakes, french toast, bacon, extremely undercooked scrambled eggs...cold. At times, ice cold. Which takes us back to dinner with the chilled soups. I think I got one that was chilled. Generally the others were room temperature. Pizza was very good but available from noon-5:00pm and then again from 6:00-9:30pm. Iced tea apparently kept under lock and key. It is out for a couple hours during lunch, then returned to the "vault" or wherever it is they keep it. The cups for juice and tea are tiny, tiny cups...3 or possibly 4 ozs. That's without ice. Ice cream is for sale. And not worth buying.
CREW: I wouldn't use the word rude. I'd probably describe it as "disinterested". The cabin person never introduced herself to us. Dirty glasses left in room. No patter between crew and cruisers. And it's $12.00 per day per person added to bill, not $10.00 as some folks have stated. The waiter is responsible for drinks and wine. There is no wine steward and the waiter has very limited knowledge of wines. The crew talked openly about how the passengers were a pain. I had to go to the "hospital" and the doctor and nurse were straight out of some terrible B movie. Once again the word I would use is disinterested.
CULTURAL EXPERIENCE: There were far more Europeans on this cruise than Americans. Announcements were all made in 5 languages. Bingo takes a L-O-N-G time as even Bingo is called in 5 languages. Plus, it's played at the pool. If you are a prude or want to take your children along, keep it mind that there are a majority of Europeans. There were 5 or 6 ladies that went topless. Not on the top, secluded deck like some ships...right there poolside. I never complained but some did. Like Sportinglife, we witnessed fights. Our group had nobody under 50. One was 68, another 65, I'm 62 and everybody else is in their 50's but we saw folks older than us in actual fist fights. Poolside. And nobody (crewwise) came to break it up.
ITINERARY: Again, one of the reasons we choose this cruise. There were some issues. In Columbia there was a State Department warning. A couple of our group went on a bus tour. At every turn there were armed military to guard them and some were assigned to accompany them. At one point the bus took a wrong turn and went down an alley. People came out of nowhere and were clawing at the bus. The military, which was in a vehicle behind them, came onboard the bus to get them out of there. The Panama Canal trip was bad. They loaded a bunch (hundreds) onto a worn, tired ferry boat after a bus ride of over an hour. Guess what women (and men) have to do after a bus ride that long. Go to the restroom. NONE WORKED. Ever. We still used them but saying it was gross is an understatement. And we were on them for a good 3 hours. Then it was back on the bus for a good 1 1/2 hour bus trip back to the ship. At Curacao we were standing on our balcony watching folks getting off. My sister and friend were a couple steps off the gangway (I believe they were the last ones off) when the ship started drifting away from the pier. The gangway fell into the water. I kept watching for heads to bob up but apparently nobody fell in. We wound up drifting out probably over a mile. Nothing was ever said except "there would be delays" in debarking. The ship was never totally moored, a line snapped, a line got caught in the prop of the pilot boat putting it dead in the water. The pilot boat continued to beat against the bow of the ship. Lines were sucked into the ships thrusters. After about 2 hours some tugs got us back to the pier. Divers were used for about 7 hours clearing mooring rope from various parts under the ship. We left port at 2:00 am, long after the designated time.
ENTERTAINMENT: We went for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. They did not disappoint us. The other lounge acts were also fantastic. As to the shows in the theatre....we couldn't really get in. We saw one that was just O.K. and we had no desire to see ballet but the band, singers and others in the lounges were really good.
DEBARKATION: Again, a breeze for us. We were staying over in Ft. Lauderdale for the night so we were in no hurry. We just waited until a couple groups after our "color" was called and got off immediately, found our luggage as the pile was all gone and were at our hotel within 15 minutes. I will say, if anybody had an early flight they probably didn't make it as we were late....again.
OVERALL: With our group we always say there is no such thing as a BAD cruise. This one tested our belief in that but we refused to allow bad food, rude old people and uncaring crew members ruin it for us. We make out own fun. Would I ever cruise MSC again. In one word....NO. Not even a free one