This was our honeymoon and picked for the destinations, what appeared to be quality for money, Italian owned ship MSC Sinfonia(hoping for great food) and minimal flight times to embarkation. Above all sound good, thats where it ends. Sorry BA flights were bang on time and no worries. Arrival at Livorno was a bit of a hit or miss. No one outside to greet you from the coach a sign stuck to a fence with an arrow directing you into a huge warehouse. Wander about and soon you will find the check-in desk. First meeting with MSC staff. First words from there mouths were "CREDIT CARD" not good morning/afternoon how was your trip or how are you today, oh and no smile. Not a good start.I also noted that we had been allocated the wrong dinner seating. Asked for 2nd at a large table always look forward to meeting new people but were allocated 1st at what transpired to be a table for 4. I asked if it could be altered only to be waved away and told "ON BOARD" Then the walk to the ship through the warehouse outside and again wander about and you'll eventually find the correct route to the ship, providing you don't get mown down by the delivery HGV's flying about.
On board and met by elegantly dressed cabin staff in their white gloves Ah yes you guessed it no smile, no greeting just a hand held out for what I assume is my card with our stateroom number there-on. Off we go a full speed having been on the go since three that morning not really in the mood for rushing about after this individual. To the cabin pointed in and left, no explanation of anything and still no smile. Ah well lets discover the ship and the sail off party. Ah there is none. MSC pick up and drop off passengers like a bus at every port. So unless you board in Naples which so happens to be their base/HQ nothing seems to happen. We'll enjoy our own sail away with a cocktail bargain price of E13.80. After a rest in our very well appointed and well maintained cabin(there are a couple of + points) we went a wandering a lovely ship tastefully decorated through out, clean, tidy and welcoming. Pity the crew couldn't be described likewise.
Dinner, as I previously mentioned one of the reasons for picking an Italian ship was indeed the fine Italian fare. Sorry best described at best as mediocre. Presentation Nil. As a previous cruiser part of the joy is dressing up for the formal nights and even on casual dinning nights still dressing in a smart and appropriate manner. Not on this ship. Second night was the Captains dinner. Standing in the cocktail bar in our full finery we felt like the fairies of the cake. Jeans would appear to be the order of the day down to one particularly offensive red shell suit, worn by not a youngster but a gentleman in his late fifties. What is going on here it quite clearly states in the daily news letter delivered to your cabin the dress code that is appropriate for the evening. No one seemed to bother. Don't even think to ask for a jug of water on the table or after dinner coffee. They don't exist unless you fork out another E2 for a bottle of water. Buffet Eating. Breakfast and lunch could both be eaten from the buffet restaurant. Feeding time at the zoo comes to mind. Maybe we are too reserved but queuing seems to be a concept yet to reach our European counterparts. An absolute nightmare. The food again very poor and very often cold by the time you actually find somewhere to sit. Breakfast and lunch taken in the dining room were an improvement especially the chefs special pasta of the day (well it should be they are Italian after all). Room Service. Other than a continental breakfast room service is not 24hrs, chargeable and only sandwiches available.
On deck early morning or when everyone is off ship the deck area is very nice however once all on board it very quickly becomes very over crowded and whirlpools will have to be shared with at least another 10 Italians who cram themselves into a pool which I am sure is only made for a max of 5/6 people. Numerous bars some with smoking areas all very nice, however I felt that they would appear to be charging in euros what other ships are charging in US Dollars. Can be quite pricey there are packages available one in particular which they don't seem to advertise on board but have done in there latest magazine is an unlimited drinks package but on reading is only available whilst you are seated at breakfast, lunch and dinner !!
Excursions, went on two which were quite pricey when on arriving at the sites Pompeii could have been done for a fraction of the price that said at least on the organised excursion you are not left at the port when the public transport goes into melt down. Shuttle buses were ridiculous E8 each to get to the main part of town from the dock in Ibiza it is only a ten minute drive easily walked in twenty minutes. Not much to see or do when you get there. Entertainment, was again mediocre. If I as an adult want to be treated like a 5 year old I'll go to the mini disco this is what seems to pass as evening entertainment for the adults on board. We saw three shows whilst on board. Once the compare speaks for 5 mins in Italian, German, Dutch then 10 seconds in English then is downright rude and insulting towards the Japanese off which there were a few on board we get on with the show, In Italian !!! and before I get the usual "well it is an Italian Ship" I appreciate that if only they would appreciate that they are taking our well earned £ and should be offering an equal service. To some up We have been made to feel like second class travellers with this cruise line, unless you are Italian or from mainland Europe they are not interested, the crew are undoubtedly the most miserable shower I have ever met. The Captain don't get me started. The food poor. I have spoken with Barrhead travels cruise specialist who during the conversation did make the point that MSC as compared to other cruise lines are a 3/4 star rating as opposed to the 5 star rating most others have, that said we still paid 5 star costs for a 2 star cruise. MSC NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
I know I may have gone on a bit but this is the only way for other travellers to make an informed decision on where they spend their hard earned cash.