This was a full week chartered cruise for our group. We numbered close to 3,000 and this was our first time on MSC. My partner and I have been on over twenty cruises, on many different cruise lines, and MSC is the worse we have ever experienced. The ship itself is beautiful and very clean. But glitz, glamour and Swarovski crystals do not compensate for incredibly poor service from the staff. It was quite evident that they are understaffed, overworked and have very low moral.
Our chartered cruise had books of drink coupons that you could purchase which eliminated ringing up your card each time and probably saved MSC a lot of paperwork and time. BUT trying to get served a drink was a nightmare. There are virtually few bar servers walking around to wait on you. In the casino they never came around and you had to leave the gaming table and go to the bar to order a drink. When you do stand at a bar to order, they could care less if you are waited on or not. At one particular bar on the ship there were four employees behind the bar and four customers in front. NONE of us were greeted or waited on until after maybe five minutes we complained in a loud voice about the poor service. That got a reaction. Did they think we were sitting on the stools to rest?
Food was AVERAGE at best. The main restaurant menu was nearly identical each night and the desserts were as well. One staff member confided in us that there were lots of complaints about the food in the past and MSC improved it. Now I wonder just how bad was it before? The buffet was the same every morning and afternoon. Everything is sitting under heat lamps. Hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries premade and stale. Our charter prefers open seating for dinners and they were so overwhelmed by that concept that nearly everything ground to a halt. They had to close several restaurants and only begin seating everyone in the Black Crab first (so they could assign enough staff), then when full they directed people to La Rossa and so on. Most nights we never knew where to go for dinner! You would hike up and down stairs to reach a restaurant only to be sent off to another one. We chatted with people who went to the specialty restaurants and were completely underwhelmed and said not to waste our money. The Yacht Club restaurant was shut down (at least one night that we know of) and those guests were sent to La Rossa because they needed the staff to deal with open seating. They were rightfully ticked off. They paid a premium for that section of the ship and didn't receive the service.
Now here's our thought on this. If the ship is designed for 3,500 passengers then they should be staffed to handle that many people. What if there was a maritime disaster and we had to evacuate? Would they be staffed enough to save everyone and get us safely off the ship???
We only had one cabin attendant and there use to be two. Several other passengers said they only had one steward also. A staff member that confided in us also said they have cut staff tremendously and next was their wages. They didn't say it, but I could tell that moral was very low among the workers and it showed. Rarely did anyone smile. They acted very indifferent and only went through the motions to do their job. Most staff was Indonesian, on most cruise lines they are exceptional, BUT on MSC they were more interested in chatting among themselves while ignoring the passengers and their English skills were very poor. If you asked them something, even a simple question, they would look at you dumbstruck.
We will compliment them on the MSC productions. They were very good. Embarkation process was fast and efficient. The casino also has a good layout and a good selection of games (except for bar service). I compliment them on cleanliness also. Our cabin was very clean but the bathrooms are incredibly tiny compared to other cruise lines.
Our chartered group was set to book the entire ship for next February but that was put on hold. We were all sent a survey after the cruise and asked specific questions about using MSC in the future. That's sad when you fail to impress nearly 3,000 people. You only have ONE chance to make a good first impression! Personally, we don't care to step foot on MSC again. We never felt "welcomed" or appreciated and that translates to a week long poor experience.