I'll be blunt, direct and the most honest I can on this review. Basicly, I'm not a complicated or demanding person.
This is my 3rd cruise this winter.
The MSC cruise was the worst cruise and overall the worst vacation in my life. I'm now 50.
Be aware that this cruise was during spring break and there were lots (realy a lot) of kids and teens. So read this critic acordingly.
I wanted to kiss the ground on disembarkment and actualy saw another cruiser do it.
Here and the facts :
-Embarkment procedure : You WILL wait in line, then hoarded to a room to fill out the health questionnaire, then hoarded onboard. Be ready to wait in line all through this cruise.
-Overall ship appreciation : Beatifull at first site. Lots of oversized decor, but again astonoshing.
-First impression of the stateroom : Smallest I've had, but nice. Pinkish mildew in the bottom of the shower. I bought Lysol on the first stop and cleaned it myself. Towels : Used and torn, but clean. We only had 1 towel for 3 of the middle cruise days. I think they were short on towels. The stateroom drinking glasses were never cleaned or chaged. Is this a cultural issue ? Don't know. The bed was comfy but the bedding is clearly not cleaned and weaved with previous guests hair. Nice closet and drawer space. Nice lighting. Ventilation works fine, but cigarette oder has taken over this ship.
-Public spaces as staircases, bar spaces, corridors : Way too cluttered with oversized but beatiful decors and chairs. As a result, there is no space for people. Be prepared to bump into everyone and hoards of kids.
-Food : The dining room food was OK to my taste. Some hits and misses. All the other guests at my table didn't seem to like it, though. Everything was luke warm as the kitchen seemed very far away. The buffet dining is horrible. Exacly the same every day and you wonder how come they cannot make it better day after day being the same. It actualy gets worst day after day. Don't expect anything fresh. The old scholl inline buffey style versus the station style plainly doesn't work here. You wait in line for ages. But don't worry about the food getting cold as you wait, as it is already cold when you pick it up. Thank heavens I'm mostly a plain salad eater at lunch. For beverages, you'll have to try and cross the angry people waiting at the beginning of the buffet line as they put the only 2 bev. stations at the beginning of the buffet. Same for the dessert station (very limited choices). If you're worried about gaining weight on a cruise don't, as I lost 3 pounds on this 1 week cuise. You might have to wait before you find a seat in the buffet dining room. If you get there later to avoid this, you will find a closed buffet. Just pizza.
-Wine and drinks : At the first dinner, I asked for a glass of wine that was on the wine list by glass. The Sommelier said NO , I will NOT serve you a glass of wine since you have no idea what you are getting (what,? are they pouring the leftovers from other bottles?). So we took a wine package of 7 bottles, which I recommend. The 7 wines were great. We never saw the sommelier again, and the other guests at our table we're never offered drinks or wine. Every time they asked, the waiters seemed so surprised. I never quite understood what the problem was. Bar-wise, I found the bars to be fine with good service and a great choice.
-Sun decks : They look very nice. Forget about a walk or jog on this ship as you can barely walk in the overcrowded decks. You MUST get on deck very early to reserve a chair. After ten-ish, forget about sunbathing as most people ended up inside the ship, mumbling. I actualy got a chair on the last day at sea when a nice pool attendant saw I was going to lose it. He kindly asked the whole lineup of people to squish together to put in a chair. How sweet is that ? ...
-Animation and Entertainment : I loved the theater shows, but a lot of people didn't. Guess it's a personnal thing. For the other animation (dances, poolside contests and so-on), they were not to my liking, being way outdated activities. Again, a personal thing.
-Children and teen animation : Although there are areas reserved for these, the kids quite frankly took over this ship and all the spaces. The disco was just a zoo of teens almost getting into fights and a bunch of kids jumping up and down on the chairs. Some parents were there, but few. I asked the staff present why it was like that and told us it was all the Canadians fault . I don't think it's diplomatic to say such things, coming from the ships staff. The next night, the ships staff tried to make the disco a 21 and over place, after many complaints. There was a teen and kid sit-in in front of the disco doors screaming for their rights. The kids won and barged in. I never went back. The zoo went on.
-Staff : They looked very sad and you can guess that they are not treated well. The whole ambiance of the ship made me want to weep.
-Other guests : It's was a very internationnal mixture of Europeens, Canadians and Americans which did lead to some tentions and arguements. Be ready to hear all announcements in 5 languages, which gets long sometimes. This didn't realy bother me. I must say the clientÃ¨le seemed a bit lower key. Piles of food on plates being thrown away. Dont forget, this was a springbreak clientele.
-Itinerary : It was perfect with me, as were the excursions and organazation for disembarkment and reimbarkment.
-Safety : Something realy bad is bound to happen on this ship. It did not feel safe at all. Had I been given a choice, I'd left this cruise and ship way before the end.
-Hygiene : Awfull or none. Many people got sick by the end of the cruise. Ramps, doors and tables were sticky and gooey. Staff with their fingers up their nose is a standard (maybe another cultural thing that we should respect ?). I was handed a so-called complimentary drink for nothing that I had just seen being returned by another guest after he tasted it. Yikes ! I smiled and said Oh, thank you soo much . No, I did not drink or give it to another cruiser.
-Other guests appraisal : Absolutly every person I talked to hated their cruise and will never cruise MSC again. But couriously, I also saw a whole lot of guests seeming to have a ball and enjoying themselves. Oh well, that is what critics are for. Let's see what others have to say. I just pitty the next groups that will get on this ship.
-I'm sure some of the appreciation questionnaires filled in at the end of the cuise were quite critical, but I'm also sure the management of this ship doesn't care.
-Disembarkment : You'll have to leave your stateroom at 7 AM at the latest and wait a few hours in the assigned overcrowded public spaces. You'll then have your last glare at all the dissapointed guests praying to get off (there was some that seemed even panicked. Then you will wait in lines forever. We finally got off and out of the terminal 11:30. That's 4 custom agents for +2000 people. Getting back home was the perk of my cruise...
-Overall : This MSC cruise line must close their operation or get it together soon, but I doubt the latter. They will be off to europe 'till next season, and everyone will forget.
I'm still anxious to try new cruises and will check out all the other cruise lines I haven't cruised with.