We must start by saying that we only booked this cruise two days before sailing.
We have never sailed with MSC before and as we got such a bargain we went with a completely open mind.
When we arrived embarkation was very quick and the first impressions of the ship were very good.
The cabin was clean and perfectly adequate. The only downside was that the shower was very small (smaller than any we had come across on any other cruise). The beds were very uncomfortable. I was surprised to find a blanket rather than a duvet, but I suppose that's just personal choice.
There was plenty of deck space throughout the ship we were amazed how spacious it was. There were plenty of sun beds to go round none of the usual scrums to get a bed. There was also plenty of space at the back of the ship with four decks all with available sun beds (this was due to there being no cabins at the back). The lounges throughout the ship all had good seating. There was also a smokers lounge, although I do mot smoke my husband does. It was nice to be able to cater for both as he felt he did not have to sneak round the ship for a crafty cigarette and could relax.
We went to the buffet for lunch on the first day, which was nothing short of chaos. A little bit of organisation with the food station would have helped greatly. I could only describe it as like a motorway services. Breakfasts were no better we only went to the buffet twice for breakfast and then went to the resturant after that. At least you got a seat and relatively hot food.
We had 2nd seating for dinner, which was 9pm. 1st sitting was 6.30pm. 9pm was a little too late even for us. I understand that they were bringing it forward to 8.30pm for the nexr cruise.
The food was ok, the pasta and soup being the best dishes. Most of the main courses were a bit bland and hit and miss. If I was paying full price then I would have expected better. The service in the resturant was ok most of the time,but was very hit and miss at breakfast.
We did go to all the shows and I must say that they did try and cater for all the different nationalities onboard. The shows were very good on the whole, we have seen worse.The only thing that let them down was the cruise director, we thought he was the worst we had ever come across. It would have been nice if there were staff on the doors preventing late comers into the theatre. people were stil coming in half an hour after the shows had started,which spoilt it for others and obviously caused a distraction to the entertainers.
We had taken off our gratuities as we liked to tip our own cabin steward and waiters. Having spoken to numerous people it was quite obvious that the staff did not receive gratuities on MSC. As we have always suspected the staff wages were paid from the passengers gratuities. We worked out that if every passenger had paid the seven Euros per day per passenger then the ship would amass some 130,000 pounds just in gratuities, that shared out amoungst the staff would make them all the best paid staff at sea (I just wonder where all that money goes !!!).
The drinks on board were very expensive we were having to pay nearly £7 pounds for a large draught beer and that was not even a pint. I know they have to make a profit but nobody likes to get ripped off !!!
The ports of call would have been great if we were actually given enough time too explore them. Half a day was not enough, especially when the transfer to and from the port took away an hour of that time. You spent most of the time looking at your watch and not going anywhere for fear of missing the ship. We did not take any of the ships excursions,as always too expensive. Glad we didn't after some of the horror stories. I heard that one of the trips in amsterdam to see Ann Franks House was cut short because the coach driver could not park. People only got up to the first floor and were told they had to leave to get back to the ship. A number of people complained and wanted their money back only to be told hard luck. Not the best customer service we have come across.
Having cruised for the past twenty something years, all I can say is you get what you pay for. For what we paid for the cruise we certainly could have no real complaints. You can't compare MSC to P&O, Princess, Cunard etc...they are in a different league so all those that grumbled about how much better these cruise companies are, think on, you are paying twice as much money for a start.
MSC would not be our first choice for a cruise again but we did get a bargain !!!