I start by saying that the Cruise price for this time of year seemed to be great value when you consider the ports of call and food being paid for. Drinks had the 15% gratuity and that has been pretty standard on most cruises and the 6 euro per person per day seemed reasonable as it could be removed if you wished by the guest relations manager. Drink packages although still expensive were at least available and I am not a huge drinker so that didn't bother me too much. In other-words as far as possible I was travelling as a very experienced cruise passenger with my husband and hoped the weather held up. There was a problem causing a 4 hour delay at Venice to avoid bad weather later on but hey... we got off the ship having come direct from the airport and were able to see Venice so we were actually pleased at this development. As a result of the delay we were not able to get off the ship in Barri as the stop was for picking up passengers. I didn't know this was a taxi boat? Weather also prevented a stop in Rhodes however the Ship routed to Mamarous in Turkey and I have no complaints. I also say that this now 2 year old ship is in lovely visual condition with beautiful public rooms and my cabin was great and clean. The evening entertainment was OK. The lack of a live band in the shows and not the best dancing troupe I have ever seen was at times not so good and the Cruise Director after his welcome in 5 languages and his irritating ping word he said as he stood on one leg shouting Showtime...Ping....(obviously his trademark)made most of the performances feel like a school concert at best which is a shame considering there were some really good talents with the male singer, the balancing artistes, the visual comedy act and the technical sound and lighting facilities that were available it could and should have been much better. Another plus was the availability of photography and shops on board with duty free available and some of the pricing was competitive.
That was the good parts. For this review, which after 30 cruises is my first, I will only highlight the downside as I seen it then concentrate on my heading as clearly other cruisers may have a different experience and above all I wish this to be fair, honest and above all balanced and not some rant. I thought the food was mostly bland with little real variety of choice and quality. I note that in the dining room you were charged for still or sparkling water and I heard a lot of people unhappy with this and even in the gym there was no free drinking water and for the first time ever you were charged 16 euro per hour for a sauna. The daytime entertainment was very lacking with no imagination whatsoever from the entertainment staff. They should take a look at other cruise lines as there are many activities that can and should have been organised. The weather meant this was more noticeable as you were to cold to sit outside in a pool or hot tub or to read a book which meant that eating and drinking was the main distraction from an otherwise long day at sea. The lack of training of staff who served drinks and food meant that they were often rude and incompetent serving wrong meals, having no Parmesan with pasta and then having to wait until the pasta was cold before this arrived. Getting charged for items not ordered and not having a wine waiter really started to tick me off together with a lot of other passengers. Bad customer relations made any complaining feel a waste of time and made you more angry with their couldn't care less attitude. 'Do you know we are catering for 3000 passengers madam and cant please you all to I am sorry we charged you 30 euros for wine you never ordered and after we find who we should have charged we will refund you' This was my experience and although other passengers will have different facts the attitude was virtually the same. For the review completeness the tours were very expensive when you consider most places were free to visit and you were paying for a bus journey and a spokesperson. Cruisers would save a lot of money by looking at the alternative transport to any places they wished to visit and if they grouped into 4 or 5 persons taxi company's would give you a tour and commentary for a fraction of the cost. Now to my real reason for the review.
I am aware of a current cruise disaster and make no reference to that other than I thought that standards surely must have changed in any unlikely event scenario
given the ongoing legal process at the time of writing this.
When any unlikely event occurs you try and take some comfort from the training of staff and hope that this will be put to good use if and when a situation arises. We get it on airlines and on this Ship we certainly had a pre sailing mandatory drill where we went to our allocated muster station after hearing an announcement and 7 ship bells and were shown how to fit our life jackets. In a real emergency you require proper information to be given and quickly.
On this ship Embarkation was a complete disaster with what can only be described as a free for all given the lack of information. Organisation in public rooms or lack of it caused in one case I witnessed a physical punch up between a guest and staff due to lack of information and many guests were running about like headless chickens given the shambles in getting passengers and tour buses together. Disembarkation was another mess with angry passengers voicing concern at the chaos of getting us off the ship and on to our departure coaches.
All of the above were experienced by me and by a lot of other passengers. I see in reviews this is a typical event for this company and the one thing I say to future cruisers is this. The above events are happening daily on a line where NOTHING has been done about training to ensure these things don't reoccur and they have plenty of time to practice to get it right. God forbid there is ever a real disaster as it seems clear to me that there would be utter chaos and a free for all given what I have already observed on this ship. Needless to say I wont be travelling on any other MSC cruises and will stick to American or British ships where the standards are much higher.