2 Havana First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

My wife and I went on an MSC Carribean Cruise, the Cuba Special Cruise, from December 22nd to December 28th, 2015. On December 22nd when we arrived at Rome Fiumicino Airport we were welcomed by three very nice young ladies who helped us ... Read More
My wife and I went on an MSC Carribean Cruise, the Cuba Special Cruise, from December 22nd to December 28th, 2015. On December 22nd when we arrived at Rome Fiumicino Airport we were welcomed by three very nice young ladies who helped us to carry out the check-in procedures. So far so good, but as soon as we reached our gate the ordeal started. The Meridiana flight, coming from Milan, that MSC had booked for those who were going on the "Cuba Special Cruise" had a three-hour-delay; consequently we arrived in Havana three hours later than the scheduled time. Once in Havana we were pushed like cattle to the buses by people who only spoke Cuban-Spanish. BOARDING THE MSC OPERA SHIP: when we boarded MSC Opera Ship things got even worse: each of us was given a cruise card with our name and cabin number on it. Nobody helped us to reach our cabins on that big ship. There were some crew officers in their elegant white uniforms looking at us without even raising a finger to help us who were exausted and absolutely lost. Would it have been too costly for MSC to organize a Welcoming Committee to welcome their passengers on board, to make them feel at ease and help them to reach their cabins? When at last we reached our cabin, an aurea cabin which had cost us a lot of money, we saw that it was very small and with an extra bed on the wall. Of course, my wife and I didn't need that extra bed which dwarfed the cabin making it look even smaller and uglier that it already was. Dialing 99: at this point we had questions we wanted answered, so since on the Daily Planner it was written that we could contact "Reception" dialing 99, we called but got no answer. In the next couple of days, after dialing that numer several times without getting any answer, we realized that if on board we needed any kind of help we had to go to Reception Desk or/and to the Excursion Desk. RECEPTION DESK AND EXCURSION DESK: unfortunately, going there was like going to an Amateur Night Show; in fact most of the members of the staff were rude, impatient, uncaring and unable to solve most of the problems the passengers had on board. My wife and I had already booked and paid for two of the excursions we wanted to take but when we went to the ship Excursion Desk we were told that those excursions had been cancelled; then the next day they told us that those excursions had been arranged again. A very inconsistent behaviour! Once on the ship we also booked and paid for two additional excursions and they said we would have our tickets delivered in our cabin the next day. As a matter of fact, the next day we had the tickets delivered but, guess what, they had made a mistake giving us tickets for excursions we had not booked. When we went to the Excursion Desk to return the wrong tickets and to get the right ones, they were rude and impatient as if it had been our mistake and not theirs. Mind you, in order to speak with members of the Reception Desk and the Excursion Desk staff we had to stay in line 10 to 45 minutes depending on the day and on the time of the day. MSC made clear that they wouldn't take any responsibility for the excursions because they said: "the excursions are organized by independent third parties" but since MSC granted those "independent third parties" permission to operate on their ship and to deal with MSC passengers shouldn't MSC take responsibility for the way they operate? INTERNET SERVICE: At the Opera Reception Desk I bought a 24.90 euro packet in order to use Wi-Fi for 100 minutes. After sending only three messages and four photographs I realized that I had no credit left. Since I couldn't believe it and I thought I had made a mistake, I went to the Reception Desk where a very rude young lady told me: "You don't understand! Don't you realize you are on board a ship where a lot of passengers are trying to use Wi-Fi?" Since MSC are aware of that problem, shouldn't they charge 24.90 euro for a whole day instead of charging 24.90 euro for only 100 minutes? MEALS ON BOARD: buffet food was average but it was hard to find a free table and since waiters were slow in cleaning the tables , most of the times we had to eat at tables where the left-overs of previous passengers hadn't been removed. L'APPRODO: the only good restaurant on board was L'Approdo where the food and the service were excellent. We wish to thank here two highly qualified waiters: Mr Adiana and Mr Altamirano. Unfortunately, however, that Restaurant was only open for dinner. TEATRO DELL'OPERA: the evening and night shows at the Teatro dell'Opera were very enjoyable and the artists very talented. THE LAST TWO DAYS: the last two days and our return home were the worst part of our ordeal. The day before the end of the cruise, our cabin steward removed the bathrobes MSC had given us to use during our cruise. The problem was that, especially on the last day, we counted on those bathrobes to keep us warm while in our cabin because we had been asked to pack and leave our luggage outside our cabin the night before our landing. The day before the same steward locked our minibar that was supposed to remain unlocked until 9 a.m. of the next day. On the last day we waited, as we had been asked, from 2.30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Piazza di Spagna ship lounge. At 7 p.m. they announced it was time for us to land, to collect our luggage that had been left the night before by MSC at the Port of Havana Customs Warehouse and to carry it by ourselves without any help whatsoever to the bus where a driver loaded it . When we arrived at the airport, however, the driver didn't help any of us to unload our luggage, so all of us, old and young, had to do it by ourselves. In a few words nobody took care of us. It was hard for us to collect our luggage, to carry it, to look for the check-in area and to find the gate whose number was changed at least three times. To make the disaster complete the Meridiana aircraft took off with about a four-hour- delay. I only wrote here a few of the things that went wrong!!! DECLINING THE CAPTAIN'S INVITATION: my wife and I wish to answer Captain Raffaele Iaccarino, the Commander of MSC Opera Ship, who wrote on MSC Opera Daily Program that he hopes to see us again on bord the ship, that we firmly decline his invitation because "ERRARE HUMANUM EST, PERSEVERARE AUTEM DIABOLICUM" Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
In the past, when I saw one star reviews for vacations I asked myself how people can do that for 5 star hotels. Well, here I am writing my one star (or should be 0) for this Cruise. First of all, I have to say that I loved Cuba. I went ... Read More
In the past, when I saw one star reviews for vacations I asked myself how people can do that for 5 star hotels. Well, here I am writing my one star (or should be 0) for this Cruise. First of all, I have to say that I loved Cuba. I went to cuba with very low expectations, I was in a resort in Varadero the week before the cruise and the experience was excellent, including the resort, the people, the service, the room and even the food. My main purpose for the cruise was to visit Cuba after a week in the beach...but I didn't see much of cuba. Excursions were completely disorganized. The Cruise Director is a clown, and a bad one. And when you put a Clown together with a Salsa dancer that only knows how to count to four to organize 120 people in 4 buses, that's what you get. A hour and a half delay. In addition the boat was always delayed. They always blame the weather (even the day that the cruise didn't sail). The only day that we were on time the joker woke us at 7:20am to call everybody take the temperature even if the disembarking was at 9, and they didn't even took our names or cabin numbers. The end of the story is that you lose most of your time in port because they are extremely disorganized, plus Cuba customs. They take you on a 3 hours tour where they want them to take you and you don't have extra time to do anything on your own. One example of what to expect was at Maria la Gorda. Like many other people, I was prepared with hiking gear to go to a natural reserve. Instead, we were 3 hours on a bus that took us to a place that was...nothing. Only and old lighthouse on the other side of the fence. I asked about changing that excursion for diving, it was u$s 165 for only one tank on a choppy day, when regular price for 2 tanks is $49 in Cuba and they will refund you if there's bad weather. About the cruise. This is a refurbished ferry that was burned and crashed an oil tanker (Do your own research on this one). It might be ok as a ferry, but It cannot handle very well the conditions in Cuba, it was a little bit windy but it was sunny all the time, standard weather for Cuba at this time of the year. I can't imagine it with a real storm, even a minor one. So expect it to move, and a lot. First I got an inside cabin, if you can call it a cabin. It was not even half the size of a small cruise cabin. I upgraded (after having to pay, and they are very good at getting your money) to an outside cabin. The carpets were stained and didn't look modern. the washroom had problems most of the time. Also the air conditioning was unpredictable. Food was college cafeteria grade. At the buffet, there were always the same, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food seemed to come from Greece more than a month before, nothing was fresh at all. Fruits were mainly canned. They advertise that they serve Alberta beef, but I only seen overcooked pork and chicken. Also they changed the dinner plan to open seating. First day I was refused to enter one of the restaurants. They said it was booked by a group for the next 5 days, but other people got in. I got in the next day. Both restaurants serve exactly the same. Sometimes you have to wait 45 minutes, or go to the buffet. Entertainment was always the same, not much entertaining. On the positive side. After the shows, the band stayed playing and they were really good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015

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