We travelled by Taxi to the Port of Durban, and got there early.... 2 hours prior to the stated embarkation time... This was to ensure that we would not have to wait in queues later in the day, and would get onto the ship before the heat ... Read More
We travelled by Taxi to the Port of Durban, and got there early.... 2 hours prior to the stated embarkation time... This was to ensure that we would not have to wait in queues later in the day, and would get onto the ship before the heat of the day really set in. MSC started embarkation at 09h00, and went smoothly, until we got to passport control... They would NOT start processing any passengers until 09h30, which meant waiting in queue in the NOT AIRCONDITIONED shed. MSC did supply water and fruit juice, but this was NOT COLD.
Upon embarkation, our cabins were not ready for us.. which wasn't a problem for us, but we did overhear other passengers complaining. The previous cruise passengers had just disembarked, and cabin stewards had a big job getting all the cabins ready for the new cruise. Perhaps a little understaffed..... The cabins weren't ready until after lunch...
We went to the smoking bar on deck 5 (Sotto Vento), and had excellent service from the waitrons there.
We sailed for 2 sea days to reach the port of Fort Dauphin in Madagascar. It is disappointing that MSC has decided to take the stop at Anakao off the itinerary of this cruise. They say that they can't guarantee the landing there. I have been there twice previously, and never had a problem. This tendered landing is sheltered, so should not have any problem with landing!!!! At Fort Dauphin, we decided not to use the MSC excursions, as we found them to be too expensive. We had already made a booking with a local tour operator at half the price. (Dodi's Lemur Tours). MSC announced that they were still waiting for the Madagascan authorities to clear the ship, but they were basically lying to us, as we could quite clearly see passengers disembarking the ship and climbing onto shuttle busses. We do understand that they were giving priority to their own excursion guests, but there was no reason to lie to the rest of the passengers who were in queues waiting to get off the ship!! We only disembarked after 09h30, and we had to be back onboard by 14h15 for sailing at 15h00. The excursion ashore was therefore very rushed.
One issue we did have was that MSC closed the smoking bar on deck 5 (Sotto Vento) on one evening for a "private function", which we discovered was for a CREW party. They had NOT notified the passengers in any way about this happening. There are so few smoking areas on board..., so why take somewhere that the PAYING customers use, and use it for the exclusive use of the CREW...???? They had other options open to them... i.e: the large lounge on deck 7 (Caruso Lounge), which was very seldom open to the passengers... MSC made absolutely NO apology for this..!!!!
The food was of a mediocre, satisfactory standard... some highs... some lows. We did, however get excellent service from our waiters (Arick and Jan) in the dining room (La Caravella).
There were times, that we felt that the service in the bar areas was slow, due to them being unerstaffed. We were advised by staff members that MSC had halved the number of serving staff before arriving in South African waters. Apparently MSC don't care about the South African passengers. MSC have NO competition in South Africa, so have a captive audience!!!! The staff who were on duty did their level best, but at busy times, they were stretched to their limits...!!!
Another point that i think needs to be aired, is that MSC does not offer the Allegrisimo (all inclusive for $31 per day) drinks package for any cruise departing from a South African port calling them "LOCAL" cruises. They DID previously offer it!!! They say they only offer it on "International" cruises. MSC offers this package EVERYWHERE else in the world.... !! why not in South Africa?????? Methinks we are being discriminated against. If i had a choice of another cruise line operating out of South African ports.... I would not use MSC again, despite being a MSC gold club member!!!