What a disappointment.
I had been looking forward to this cruise for over 10 months and I cannot tell you how many times I visited the MSC USA web site to view all of the amenities of their Yacht Club. It’s mostly all lies.
First, you are not shown your cabin by your white gloved butler but by someone who has no stake in the game and pretty much opens the door to your suite for you and then leaves. It took us five minutes to figure out the lighting and power scheme on our own. This is service? Turns out our butler was on break for the first two hours that we were on board.
On the MSC website they tell you that your butler will arrange for front row seats for the evening’s show in the theater. I made my way to our “exclusive” MSC Yacht Club concierge’s desk and inquired how one goes about asking for those front row seats. The brusque reply was “Ask your butler”. I then asked, not having yet met our butler, “And how does one do that”. This time, with a bit of annoyance in his voice the concierge lifted his head and said to me in the most demeaning manner “YOU ASK YOUR BUTLER”. When I finally did meet our butler he told me that they no longer seat guests in the front row. He would find us seats elsewhere if we wished. No thanks, I am quite capable of doing that myself.
The inclusive drinks were extremely limited and the only American brand was Budweiser beer. You could order Absolut vodka, Johnny Walker Red, a cognac or Beefeater’s gin. If you wanted a whisky drink or bourbon you had to pay for it; 6 Euros plus a 15% gratuity. No auto gratuities on included drinks but somehow MSC can justify charging you a 15% surcharge for a bourbon drink.
The MSC web site also tells you of the exclusive area in the Main Dining Room for Yacht Club guests. This is simply not true. We could only have dinner in the L’Etoile restaurant 330 meters from our cabin – one way. You will walk the length of over 6 football fields – there and back - for dinner.
The food in the Top Sail lounge was uninspired and boring. The same little bites day after day – the selection never varied.
You will also read on the MSC web site about the private shopping opportunities that Yacht Club guest receive. My wife saw a blouse in the Yacht Club reception area and asked the concierge about buying it. He sent her down to deck 7 to find the 1 of 7 shops that carried that particular item. My wife asked for help in the shops and was told by the clerks to ask our concierge. At one point, my wife was in the shop on deck 7 and I was standing in the Yacht Club reception area on deck 15 both of us desperate to get someone – anyone – to help us.
One nice touch – if it worked – was the elevators had a card reader and Yacht Club members were to get exclusive and direct service to Yacht Club floors. Even our butler could not get the thing to work. Just one of many head shaking experiences awaiting Yacht Club guests.
And then there are the famous MSC Ice Queens at the main reception. Seven or eight smartly dressed gals that could not care less about anybody but themselves. They stand about chatting with one another or staring at a computer screen. They will not look up. They will ignore you. When you dare approach the counter – their Ice Palace – un-invited they scatter like rats. Their main job seems to be to say “NO”. Their secondary job seems to be to send you over to the accounting desk where the two people working it will again repeat the rude treatment of ignoring you. EVERYTHING THAT YOU READ ON THESE BOARDS ABOUT THE RUDE – CARE-LESS – TREATMENT ON MSC IS TRUE.
Now a word about a strange man, who liked to spend time in the YC’s Top Sail lounge talking loudly on his mobile phone. He made sure that everyone knew that he worked for MSC but when you talked to him he loved to say that he was only the “Director of Sanitation”. Anyway, I tried to tell him about the rude and disinterested service on board. He told me he would handle it and then he proceeded to ignore me for the rest of the cruise. You’ll recognize him as the wall eyed red head wearing an MSC fleece vest. Curious.
MSC Fantasia has 99 suites in Yacht Club. We were told that there were only 40 passengers in YC on our cruise, that there would be 50 the next week and then 20 the week after that. MSC is trying to mix mass market cruising with luxury cruising and it simply is not working.
If you are looking for luxury cruising I urge you to look elsewhere. We paid $10,000 for lousy, un-caring treatment in their top of the line suite. The crew simply does not like Americans and they show it at every turn. No wonder we were the only Americans on this ship.
I will never cruise with MSC again which is a shame because I was one of their biggest fans in America. We sailed MSC Poesia from Venice to Ft Lauderdale only a year ago. You will find my glowing review of that cruise and of MSC elsewhere on this site. But I’m sure that I could get a lot more bang for my $10,000 on Cunard, NCL, Seaborne, etc.
One last thought; somewhere in the Med sea we passed a giant MSC container ship and it dawned on me that MSC is a shipping company first and foremost. I believe they treat passengers as cargo and that job one for MSC is to get cargo from one point to another in the most efficient, money making manner. Your comfort is not of their concern. Like so many containers stacked on top of each other, MSC passengers are no different than the boxes of stuff inside those containers. As far as MSC is concerned you are nothing more than a box of bananas.