I say surprise surprise for two reasons, this was our first cruise with MSC and my husband had been very reluctant to sail with this Italian company but we were very surprised at the high standard of hygiene, food, waiters etc. We don't usually bother with the shows but thoroughly enjoyed the classical evenings on board the Musica and applauded loudly to Strauss marches and Puccini arias.
The second surprise is because of such poor reviews, I feel like I was on a different ship. Our first cruise was with Airtours about 15 years ago and this gave us the cruise bug. We have since sailed with Celebrity(still our favourite) Princess and Royal Caribbean and a few other smaller cruise lines.
We met lots of lovely people including a big group of Cubans from Miami, a lovely couple from London and two very lively female paramedics from Ireland all of whom we are still in touch with.
The waiters in both the restaurants and bars were all really friendly, quick to serve, remembered what drinks we liked and were interested in where we were from, at the same time sharing their backgrounds with us.
We had a balcony cabin and it was just perfect.
Trips were well organised and no different to any other companies in the somewhat long and drawn out pre-trip procedures.
I have to agree that in general, the French are quite rude, very serious, bad mannered and very, very loud but I try to ignore them and focus on the lovely Hispanic people who love their music and dance and always seem happy. There are so many interesting nationalities on cruises be they crew or guests and I just love chatting to as many different people as possible.
However, one big issue did sour a very good cruise and it was all due to the reception staff. Part way through the cruise we had an interim statement which included around $560 for a drinks package. We were sure this was just a simple error as we had already paid for this package with Thomas Cook so we spoke with one of the reception staff who was rather unhelpful, she referred us to her superior who was even more unhelpful. We gave them a copy of Cook's invoice clearly stating the payment for the drinks package but they refused to accept this and referred our case to their head office in Naples. The last few days were very upsetting and we had no choice but to pay MSC the $560.
As soon as we returned home we informed Cooks about the issue and after about two weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, it turned out that Cooks HADN'T paid MSC in the first place. Even though it wasn't MSC's fault, they definitely could and should have handled it better, never the less, we will definitely be going on another MSC cruise.