I am a seasoned cruiser and along with the 2 people that accompanied me, we have collectively cruised over 20 times. I recently took a cruise with MSC, Magnifica to celebrate my birthday. My sister was also celebrating her birthday during the cruise so I informed the Florida, MSC personnel of our special days and they said that they would inform the appropriate people. Before sailing, I reminded them about 2 times, about our birthdays yet, they either forgot or did not intend to do anything special like other cruise lines do. On other cruise lines, we were given a free bottle of wine and were serenaded at our tables. Talking about free, MSC, has no concept of that terminology. We had to pay for water, coffee or any drinks we wanted to consume during dining times. Food was not provided on a 24 hour basis.
I think I can best give my synopsis of my MSC cruise like this:
- Glamorous, beautiful ship
- There was a song that came on whenever we docked into a port and a song every time we left
- The ports of call were wonderful
- As a result of the unrest in Egypt, they rerouted us to Turkey then they went further by subtracting a day at sea and allowed us to go to Athens... wise decision!
- The head Maitre D was not friendly. We were never greeted by him although we saw him often. On more than one occasion, he came to a table close to us and talked. He walked by us and did not even nod his head. The assistants were more pleasant
- The servers, although mostly pleasant, look tired and over-worked
- Free room service was only from 7-10 am and around 3:45-8:30 pm
- We were asked to surrender our passports for 3 days. We were not told about this in advance and not given enough information why our passports had to be held that long.
- The embarkation process was unorganized and slow. It did not matter if you pre-checked in - you were still required to wait. We arrived around 11:00 because we were told that we could start embarking at 10:30. We did not board until after 1 pm. We just sat and were totally uncomfortable after flying more than 9 hours to get to Venice.
- The disembarkation was worse than the embarkation. We were supposed to be out of our cabin at 7:30 am and at a certain location so that we could leave the ship. We did not leave until after 9:30. There were not enough seats and it was extremely uncomfortable.
- There were (2) 1 hour coffee/tea times - one in the afternoon and one in the evening. You had to give your mug to a server who poured your coffee and milk (if you so desired). This caused for long lines to back-up. I felt like I was in a food ration line.
- There was a large contingency of Indonesian workers who only got the subservient jobs. For example. I didn't see an Indonesian working as an assistant Maitre D or in accounting or the reception area. However, they inundated the serving and cleaning positions.
- There were no clocks in the rooms. During the cruise we had a time change so it was difficult to keep up with the time. It would have been helpful to have a small radio with the time.
- Once we disembarked and walked to the place where our luggage was being kept, there was not enough help if a problem arose. We were an obvious group and one person in our group was stopped by security. We spent 15 minutes looking for her when the people who stopped her would not give us any information about her whereabouts.
- Once you got your luggage, there was not enough information concerning public transportation.
- Once we initially checked in, before embarkation, we were not told that if we chose the cash option instead of credit that there would be a deposit of $150. A note was sent to our cabin to go to accounting. Once there, we were literally bullied into paying a deposit. We told the personnel assisting us that we would go off the ship and use an ATM to get some money to them. Once off the ship we decided that they could shut our cards down as they threatened, and we were going to use our money how we saw fit and pay our servers directly.
- The food, although fresh was not tasty. The deserts although pretty was horrible.
- The ship management should be aware that the taxi company in Ismir, Turkey who are allowed to meet people once they get off the ship are hustlers. We asked to be taken to a certain area and the taxi driver took us to a place where there appeared to be mob bosses who had a system of pressuring their customers to buy. Our driver asked if we wanted to buy leather and we told him no. We asked to stop at a certain location and he said on the way back. He took us to a place were a lot of other people on our cruise were taken to as well. He never took us where we asked to go. Once we got back on the ship, we heard other cruise participants complaining of the same thing.
I can go on and on but I will say this: I understand that MSC is not a old, seasoned company. Therefore, I suggest that they do their research with other cruise lines. I have never been on a cruise were so many customers had the same complaints. I met about 7 families we had the same complains as I did above.