We drove to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, February 20 and stayed at the Rodeway Inn and Suites Airport/Cruise port. The hotel is currently doing some remodeling to become a Quality Inn soon. Overall the room was nice with a king size bed. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle services to the airport and cruise port. On Saturday we took the shuttle to the ship at about noon. When we arrived there were only a few people in line and we were soon onboard. We were told that our cabin would not be ready until 1 pm so we went up to the buffet on deck 13. The food was okay as far as buffet goes. Once we got into our cabin we unpacked and relaxed some. The room safe is very sensitive and will enter numbers more than once if you are not careful. I had to get a technician to come and get it open. We did not have any soap or shampoo in the room the first night. We were suppose to have first seating at dinner and found out that it was wrong even though we had confirmed it online weeks in advanced. We waited in line to correct this error. Our dinning room staff were excellent. I found that during our cruise, the buffet often closed before the posted times. On the Orchestra, the buffet closed at 9 pm. I am not accustom to a ship that does not have food available 24 hours a day. The food on the buffet was the same all week long. The fish was cold and chewy. In the main dining room, the portion size was very small compared to other cruises I have been on. Overall the food did not live up to what I was expecting from the Italians. Little or no garlic in the dishes.
In ports we had to tender into, it was total chaos. We were required to get a tender ticket and wait for the number to be called. In the Grand Caymans we had tender ticket number #1. When they called for tender numbers, they called numbers 1 thru 4. This put 500 people in the stairwell waiting to get on tenders. The tender staff were not very organized.
I attempted to get a hundred dollar bill changed at the accounting desk and could only get twenty dollar bills. Another cruiser said they had to go to the Casino to get smaller change. I ended up using the Casino for change. I also had problems with my shipboard account and tried to get it corrected at the accounting desk. I was sent from one place to another without it being corrected. I finally told them I would just file a complaint with my credit card company and they would not get paid for it. Hardly anyone spoke fluent English and most of the staff were just plain rude.
This was my sixth cruise and by far the worst I have ever been on. It is a shame that MSC has such a beautiful ship and thats about all they have to offer. Perhaps if they take a few lessons from other cruise lines they can compete in the American market. If they don't get their act together soon, they will not survive here.