My wife and I have just finished the cruise from Rio to Genoa. Have cruised with MSC before so knew what to expect. If you expect English or Australian standards you will be disappointed as the passengers come from a wide mix of countries all with different cultures and standards. Be aware that in the dining rooms you have to pay for water and tea or coffee, even though they are free in the buffet area.
The female staff directing passengers at the embarkation point in Rio were rude, arrogant and ignorant and definitely not a nice introduction to a cruise. They definitely need to attend a course in good manners and to learn the meaning of customer service. Whoever is in charge of them needs to be either retrained or sacked.
Once on board the service greatly improved. Note that whilst a lot of staff speak English they actually do not understand English so you need to have patience and good humour. I ended up with some strange meals in the dining room but it was fun.
Their is a lack of activities for English speaking people but this is understandable as you are a minority. Still some activity specific to nationality would have been nice. The activities crew spent nearly all of their time either in dancing lessons or activities around the pool.
Eating in the dining room at breakfast or lunch is an adventure in itself. You ask to be seated at a table with other English speaking people and you end up sitting with diverse nationalities with no common language. It would be so easy to section of parts of the dining room to various languages and seat people according to language preference. However you do become good at charades whilst trying to be polite to the other diners.
Eating in the buffet is an exercise in pushing and shoving. Not because the people are rude but because that is their culture. With a smile and a bit of civility you overcome and become used to it. Food in the buffet is good but after a while becomes repetitious and monotonous.
Public areas around the ship are good and there are some nice places where you can sit and have some peace and quiet.
Thought that the tours were overpriced for what you got. Heard many complaints from other passengers about this. We only went on one tour at the first port and that was enough. My wife has mobility problems and they do not reserve the front seats of the buses for people with special needs, also the step from the ground to the bus is very high. There were other passengers who had special needs that complained bitterly about the lack of understanding amongst the cruise staff and the tour operators.
It was more convenient, and not much dearer, to hire a taxi and do our own touring.
Disembarking at Genoa was good and the MSC staff in the terminal were great. However, the return of passports to passengers on the morning of disembarkation was a fiasco. This definitely needs to be improved.
On the bright side, we met a lot of nice people and had a good time. Would we sail with MSC again?
Yes we would as sailing with MSC is an adventure in itself and I look forward to our cruise with them in January next year.