I have to say I was overall disappointed with this cruise line and the ship itself. Perhaps my expectations were too high going into it as I had incorrectly made the assumption that the price was set low as a tactic to compete in the ... Read More
I have to say I was overall disappointed with this cruise line and the ship itself. Perhaps my expectations were too high going into it as I had incorrectly made the assumption that the price was set low as a tactic to compete in the market with the other big cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess, etc (all of which I have sailed with many times). Unfortunately, I was wrong. The price was low as we got what we paid for. Thank goodness kids under 12 are free as I would not have wanted to spend one penny more for what we experienced.
MSC matched my loyalty status from another cruise line so I was granted "Gold Status", which is one level under the highest status possible. This gave me a fruit basket, a picture with the captain on a particular night only (which we were never able to find out how to get as no one knew), one hour in the steam room/sauna area (a $20 value) and an invitation to a cocktail reception one night of the cruise. I at least appreciate their willingness as a company to match status as other cruise lines will not do that.
To start off, the ship is in complete disrepair. It's is, frankly, filthy. The carpets are so dirty that most of the ship has this dingy smell to it. The carpet in our room, and many places, is this burnt orange color, like from the 1970s. I almost want to say it's from the 1970s as it was so filthy!!!! I know this can't be the case but it was gross. It had stains everywhere and smelled like a “highway motel”. I wouldn't let me daughter sit on the ground to play with her toys in the room. It was awful. Continuing on with the room, the first night we turned in, we found the pillows were all lumpy and falling apart. And I mean they were LUMPY. Like the kind you throw away and would be embarrassed to give to a guest in your home. Oh wait, that's right, you wouldn't have them for a guest as you would already have thrown them away! I couldn't believe it. We called housekeeping and our room steward came. He apologized and said they make them put out those pillows and he knows they are bad and can only change them upon request. Ya, so in other words, they are putting out a crappy product to cut corners and know it but will only change it out if someone calls them out on it. Very professional MSC. Unbelievable. Then, there are the bright orange towels in the room that are for the pool. Not only are they all tattered and fraying but you can only change them out once a day for new ones and it needs to be done in the room. What a way to cut corners, again. You wouldn't want your guests to have a dry towel at the pool, let alone one that is not ripped.
On a more positive note, the room size was standard. There was ample storage space and the comforter was light and comfortable. The bathroom, though was rusting and had chips in the sink. It, again, was in need of some serious repair. The chairs were also all stained (they were covered in a darker brown fabric and had deep oily stains - like they had food and drink spilled all over them for years). Just gross. I'm not sure what to make of this but there was an ashtray (at least that's what it looks like) in the bathroom next to the toilet. ??? I'm still not sure what the appropriate comment for that is. It was also extremely loud. You could hear guests slamming doors, running up and down the hallways, etc. We were never up late, as we had a child with us, but it wasn't until the wee hours of the morning that things finally quieted down. And to reiterate, we have cruised many many times on various ships and I have never experienced noise like this. To be fair, it could be due to the guest demographic but I shall not comment on that.
The next big thing is the pool area as it tends to be a place one spends a lot of time, especially with kids. There is a waterside but kids need to be at least 8 years old and 46 inches to use it. Sort of disappointing. The main outdoor pool is gross. The tiles are falling off everywhere and it is filthy. There were chunks missing and stains all over the place where they tried to patch it up. The pool fountains were off half the time and all rusted out. One day, when the fountains were actually on, a piece of one broke off and water was just shooting out about 6 feet high..........they just left it like that with the metal piece broken off sitting in the pool. They constantly had the shallow parts (the 4-inch deep areas) of the pool closed off. The water looked dingy and smelled. They would not allow cocktails near the pool area, so you could not enjoy your drink with you feet in the water or lounging in the shallow area. On this seven day cruise we only once got chairs at the pool itself and had to be out there at 6:30am to even get them. Lounge chair space is always limited but we've never had anything this bad on any other cruise. People literally went out, tagged tons of chairs and then never sat in them. It was simply excessive on this cruise as people will do that everywhere but not to this extent. It was almost as if they simply did not have space to accommodate the amount of passengers they had on board.
The doors leading to the indoor/outdoor pool were also filthy. They were glass and metal and just covered with smudges. I only saw them cleaning occasionally, likely because they just do not have enough staff as they are cutting corners. The indoor pool was even worse than the outdoor pool. There were so many tiles missing it looked like someone had picked off half the pool. The tiles were laying broken all over the floor, some very sharp that could cut your feet. There was also black tar melting off of the hot tub bars in-between the wooden panels. We got it all over our hands and on our daughters bathing suit. They tried to dry clean it (and apologized) but could not get the tar off. One day, the ladder to the pool broke and was covered in red and white tape. The mats on the flooring were also falling apart and torn with all kinds of gunk and hair. The floors in general were just filthy, sticky and stunk. There were fountains at the front of the indoor pool and they were not on a single time. They were all rusted out and probably permanently broken. Given the state of the pools, I did not want my daughter to get in the pool (either indoor or out) but felt I had to let her do something otherwise she would have done nothing the entire time.
A final pool area comment, all the "decorative plants" around the pool areas inside and out were falling apart, broken and just in disarray. It literally looked like a bunch of tattered plastic shoved into a bunch of plastic rocks. Does the crew even look at that stuff? How embarrassing to leave things in that manner, and of course, there was trash all over and inside of it.
The pool bars were also dirty and the glass top was all cracked. They were clearly understaffed so I only saw people taking drink orders around the pool(s) a couple of times as there was no one available to take orders. Being understaffed, it could take a long time to get a drink at the bar itself, and the drinks were pretty terrible. There was one bar menu that had only the basics and it was the same menu all over the ship. There was no variety. Lack of staffing also meant that no one was there to clean up cups, plates, trash, etc. around the pool and the entire area just looked trashed half the time. It was like walking through a dump. The entire right side of the pool area (forward) also stunk like a backed up sewer after the 1st day. It was particularly pungent next to the gelato stand and the bar connected to it. It was hard to order a drink when all you could smell was open sewer. I think it had something to do with the pool on deck 15 next to the smoking area that suddenly drained during the 1st day of the cruise out of nowhere..........it literally just “whoosh” drained. They had to close it for a few days, but the smell never really went away even after they repaired it.
One morning I asked for a glass of water at one of the pool bars and they said that I would have to purchase a bottle or wait another hour......and it was 8:30am. According to the bartender, they have to run the water for an hour before it is safe for drinking because of all the chemicals in it. What are they putting in the water...........
A final comment on the bar situation is the drink packages they offer. I was impressed that they offered a package of 14 prepaid cocktails and a wine with every dinner. It gave about a 30% discount and was something I've never seen other cruise lines do. You usually have to get the all you can drink package which is just way to much. BUT, instead of it being loaded to you card, you have to carry around these paper vouchers. That I could not understand. It was like a trip back to 1989 where this was the best technology they had. Why not just load it to your sea pass card? The coupon book could early tear and get wet or you could lose it (perhaps a planned strategy). As for the wine at dinner, it was very cheap basic wine. Probably something you'd pay $6 a bottle for in a store (maybe less). It ended up costing $12 with the pre paid vs the $25 they were charging in the dining room. If you did not finish the the wine, though, they would not let you take your glass of wine with you. They put it in a tall/high ball glass?!?! Why can't you just have your wine glass? That seemed cheap to me.
Continuing on with how understaffed they are, these poor people were running around like crazy. It's like they had each person doing two peoples job. One night I saw one of the head waiters hit one of the Filipino waiters one the back of the head telling him to go faster. I was in complete shock. I wanted to say something but the rules in the US do not apply so perhaps hitting staff is acceptable but certainly not right. Unbelievable. The uniforms of ALL staff looked worn and dirty. Everything was incredibly faded and had fraying as well as strings/pulls visible. It looked like the company had not provided new uniforms In a LONG time. Their shoes were also just cracked and old. Perhaps they do not provide a uniform budget and maybe make them pay to have their cloths cleaned. It was disgraceful and I feel bad for the staff that are working under those conditions. A couple of staff mentioned trying to leave as soon as they could when I commented on how it seemed they were understaffed. The staff are clearly not happy and it shows. I can only hope they are not abused in any way behind the scenes when one was hit in front of everyone in the dining room.
Now on to the food. I'd have to say the main dining room food was better than some ships. It was not great but it was at least decent. Some things were better than others but that's the way it goes. The buffet was a complete mess. The food there was standard cruise ship buffet food BUT the pizza was great. Some of the best pizza I've ever had on a cruise that did not come out of a specialty restaurant. I guess the Italian quality shines through with the pizza! We did not try the specialty restaurants as it was a la cart and not a fixed price like other cruise lines. To get an appetizer, entree and desert you'd probably be looking at close to $50 a person which is far to high in my opinion. As I mentioned above about the staff uniforms being torn and tattered, the linens in the dining room were the same. They were all torn, stained and falling apart. It was a disgrace.
Even though the pizza in the buffet was good, it was a complete mess and I mean a complete MESS. I don't know how they allow that sort of chaos. There was no place else to eat most of the time and it felt like 3,000 people shoved into a tiny unsanitary space. The water machine was also broken there half the time and quite frustrating. You could not get water on the ship anywhere but in the buffet and there were not enough water stations so you would stand forever waiting for the few that were open and functioning. I felt dehydrated on several occasions and truly had trouble getting water! This was the case in the spa as well but I will leave that for another section.
I did manage to use the gym and spa and it was, again, disappointing. In the gym, there were only two elliptical machines and, I think, six treadmills – for thousands of people. On only one day did I get to use an elliptical machine due to the crowds, and they were in terrible condition. You could not get them to do a proper full rotation so the range of motion was extremely limited making it hard to actual get any “cardio” out of it. The other equipment was in decent shape from what I could see but was simply very limited and thus always crowded. I did try their aqua spinning class. It was my first time doing such a class and I was somewhat disappointing. I used to teach spinning and still practice regularly. I wasn't sure what to expect, but there was not much resistance with the water and you really needed to get in some awkward and uncomfortable positions to get a true cardio workout. The instructor was wearing “booties”, like the kind you wear for scuba diving. When I first saw that I was a bit concerned as the plastic foot holders seemed uncomfortable but nothing was mentioned. After the class I had the skin ripped off my right foot and it was nearly bleeding. All they said was “I was strong” and laughed it off? If they know it's a problem, and the instructor has to wear boots to prevent skin tearing, why would this not (a) be mentioned to participants so they can put on socks of some sort of protective covering or (b) booties provided for participates of the class as a piece of necessary “equipment” for safety? We were not asked or expected to bring our own jump suits and goggles for RCCL's RipCord indoor sky diving so why should MSC not be providing equipment necessary for the safety and enjoyment of this experience?
The spa service I received was a 60 minute massage. Prior to the service I visited the steam room/sauna area. First, they do not give you rubber spa shoes to use in the area so you either bring your own or go barefoot. For sanitary reasons, shoes are generally provided so people are not tracking in whatever may be on the bottom of their own shoes. Can you imagine tracking in stuff from the outside and smearing it in a hot, wet, steamy room? Just imagine what will start growing in there! This next one is unbelievable.......truly. They did not have water available – nothing. So you are expected to use the steam room and sauna but drink nothing. When I asked they said they did not offer water for safety reasons. Ok, call me crazy but what safety hazard would water pose in an already wet area? People are more likely to dehydrate and that is a safety issue. But, they let you track in all kinds of gunk from your shoes into the area? I actually exited the spa area to get some water as I was in fact dehydrating and the “spa bar” is closed from 10:00am-4:00pm everyday so you can not get something to drink. I can't make this stuff up. When I asked for water they gave me the whole song and dance but I finally managed to get someone to get me some as I explicitly stated I was dehydrating! What a mess. On a positive note, the treatment itself was good and the lady performed a wonderful massage so at least there was that redeeming factor. She also managed to fetch me some water (in a coffee cup) but it was clear that water is not offered before or after a massage.
Just a few final comments before I conclude. We did not get to experience any of the evening shows due to multiple factors so I can not comment on them. There were problems on several different occasions with staff speaking English. I even speak Italian and tried Italian with them (as they are largely required to speak that language as well) and still had issues in communicating. They spoke none of the other languages I speak so I had to leave it as there is simply a language barrier. The bars and evening activities were nothing remarkable and we thus did not spend a significant amount of time out and about to enjoy the “night life”. Daily activities were also limited and nothing really noteworthy. Embarkation and Disembarkation were quite smooth so no complaints there at all.
In conclusion, this cruise and cruise line are a huge disappointment. I would highly caution anyone considering this line. As always, perception is reality so my opinions come from someone who has done over 15 cruises and also has visited over 55 countries staying in 4 or 5 star accommodations. I have a wide range of experiences to pull from and can honestly say this was a less than mediocre experience. Read Less