It was with real surprise to have received a letter from the MSC Club asking if I would contribute 'a short, impartial review of your experience of your cruise with us' to this web site. Why you might ask, well simply put our cruise was the worst we have ever experienced. You might think that MSC would have done a little more background checking before mass mailing a letter to all its previous cruisers, especially when we spent 6 months trying to get some form of acceptable compensation from them.
Anyway some background. Having cruised before we thought we would try something different and so choose MSC's 'Italian' sophistication for my milestone 40th. We really wish we hadn't. We chose the inaugural sailing of the MSC Poesia taking in Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy with a two night stay in Venice at the end. Now with anything new I expect some issues it's only natural, however I didn't expect them to happen before we even boarded. The major problem was when MSC changed our specifically booked hotel accommodation without notice and instead gave us a room in business hotel situated by the junction of a motorway, which we got a nice view of from our window. After I didn't some comparisons I found that the hotel we got was over £200 cheaper for the two nights than the one we booked and paid extra for. I raised the issue with reservations in the UK before we boarded and then again when we got on board. All I got was assurances it would be sorted out before we departed the ship in Venice - in short it wasn't.
As for the ship well when we got on the ship things started ok but it didn't take long before a number of other things came up. For instance
- The gym did not have a supply of water, you were expected to pay for it at the bar just outside.
- Tap water was not freely available and took the restaurant staff 3 days to get to grips with the idea.
- Tea and coffee - not specialities, had to be bought everywhere except in the restaurants.
- Only one English speaking hostess available on the entire ship that was carrying over 1500 people who spoke English as their first language.
- The Italian crew members were at best unhelpful, probably due to their lack of understanding basic English, thank God for my Italian which was better than their English and that is saying something!
- Oh and of course being Italian they and were more concerned with their appearance and self importance to be of any use when you were able to communicate your needs.
- Cabin staff that needed to pay more attention to actually dusting and cleaning the glass and mirrors.
- The cinema mentioned in the literature that wasn't available/finished - we never did find out which.
I could go on with numerous other small points that when you put them altogether really puts a large black cloud over the whole experience.
At the end of the day my numerous letters of complaint did nothing to sway MSC and in general they just weren't interested in resolving anything once they had our money.
Would I cruise with MSC again? Well not at my expense. However, if anyone wants to send me on one to see if anything's changed and provide another impartial review on that feel free to get in touch.
In short, my opinion - 5 star hotel, 3 star food and 2 star service. If MSC are trying to develop their business in the UK market, they have a long, long way to go. I know of other lines that for less than the £3,000 we spent give better service, have friendlier staff and are more customer focus than this lot.