We were all excited to return on a MSC cruise ship since our first with MSC Splendida last year in Europe was spectacular. The food, the service, the destinations, the cabins, everything was close to perfection. When we saw this cruise going to the Caribbeans, we jumped on it since we were exhausted from a long stretch of hard work. We were mistaken by the fact that we thought that this ship was the sister of the Splendida, which is rather the Fantasia, not the Poesia, so we learned on board. You are right, we did not do our homework on this one. Expecting to travel on the Fantasia, we had to face a short period of disappointment. Nobody's fault! So we decided to enjoy this trip to its maximum. The cabin was comfortable and the service was perfect troughout the entire trip. The food was good although not always at the same level. Some dinner were great, some almost ordinary. We tried the french " la carte" restaurant one night, and it was worth every dollar of the 20$ per person extra. We also went to the japanese " la carte" restaurant one night and it was a good experience although not as exciting as the other one.
So, why were we so frustrated? The excusions! We reserved 5 excursions for our 6 land stops. Two of them were disastrous. The first was a day at the beach in Antigua. We got up and realized it was pouring rain. We presented aouselves at the meeting point and asked if we could cancel the excursions. we were told it was impossible and in order to obtain any reimbursement, we had to go. So we went. Took a bus under the rain and went to a cheap hotel/motel by a beach. We waited there an hour and since the rain was still heavy, we asked to be returned at the hotel. The excursion guide was very rude and said that it was not raining hard enough to cancel the excursion and if we wanted to go back to the ship, we had to pay for the taxi. We asked to be offered something else, like a tour of the island but we were told to go the beach and that was it! Finally, after fighting this with 6 other persons, we finally took a prepaid cab to the ship. We tried to get our money back from the excursions desk and they simply refused to hear anything we had to say. We were so frustrated that we asked to cancel all the remaining excursions we had reserved, and this also was "impossible". They were taking new registrations while the assistant manager at the desk was telling us they could not cancel. They could have easily replaced us with other new inscriptions. They clearly did not care about us and just wanted to keep our money. The second problem with the excursion group was at St-Martin. We were anticipating this stop for a long time since we absolutely wanted to shop a nice watch for my husband and myself. So we reserved a tour called "panoramic tour and shopping". After having waited a few minutes before our group was called to disembark, we waited in line on the dock for avec 30 minutes before our bus finally arrived. We were last to leave the dock. We left and drove for a few minutes when one passenger asked to be commented on the places we were passing by. The bus driver just shouted that the microphone was not working. Not another word. It was a french tour and he did not speak a word in french. There was no guide either. Our frustration came back rapidly! Our first stop was in a flea market in Marigot, in other words, a tourist trap. This was not the king of shopping we wanted. We had to spend one hour there. We then decided to take a walk and wait for the next shopping stop.
After one hour, the bus continued around the island. After 15 minutes, the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere. The driver said he had to wait for a mechanic since he had a problem with the acceleration. The mechanic arrived, the bus was checked and we left after 30 minutes. The driver mentioned that the mechanic would follow us in case there was any pore problems. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, we had to stop again, this time at a service station and a repair job was necessary. Another 30-minutes waiting there. Frustrated? Yes, we were! We then proceeded and drove back to the ship, a "scenic" tour of 60-minutes. On arrival, we had only a little more than 60 minutes to to the shopping we wanted for so long. We managed to buy a watch for myself, but did not feel we had the time to do it properly. My husband did not have the time to find what he was looking for. Having known that the shopping we were looking forward to was right by the ship (I am sure there are many other places that would have been great, but did not get to see them), we would have never done this excursion knowing that the shopping content was so poor (what percentage of the regular excursion was done? Why do they bring us at a flea market at St-Martin, the kingdom of the high-end shops?). You can imagine we went to get a refund on this one: no guide, partial panoramic tour (views were more than ordinary), mechanical problems, no french content, no worthwhile shopping. Believe it or not, we were told that the tour company considered that the tour was completed and that we would not get partial and even less total refund. We were totally shocked and told them that we are frequent travellers, and that we would never set a foot on a MSC ship again, and from their reaction, they did not care about it. MSC, never again!