We have been in discussions with MSC since our return from our trip to try and find a solution for our dispute. Unfortunately they came back with an offer of 10% discount off our next cruise with them. Please read our complaint and see for yourself our experience.
I can honestly see why MSC are struggling to compete in the American market. Having travelled on the same ship previously our expectations were high. I feel it is my duty to share my review on here as it was quite possibly a disaster from start to finish. The only thing I enjoyed about the Yatch Club was the peace and quiet away from the rest of the ship.
I sailed this same ship 2 years and 8 months earlier for my honeymoon, completing a back to back cruise in an inside cabin. I feel I have knowledge of the service provided not in the Yacht Club.
Prior to booking this cruise, I read MSC's boasts of the Yacht Club as well as reviews on cruise critic and trip advisor.
My expectations were high!
Day 1 – First impressions
Arriving at the port of Miami I was lead to the Yacht Club desk by a baggage handler. She was extremely pleasant and she did all she could to assist, she like us was let down by the Yacht Club team. As we approached the Yacht Club desk there was nobody there. The baggage handler took out bags and labelled them even though this was not her specific role. She asked us to wait while she tried to find someone, she was shocked that no one was there. A few minutes passed and finally a butler arrived. He told us he was unable to leave his station. Unfortunately, I did not think quickly enough to ask, if this was the case, then why were you not here when we arrived? We waited a short while, during which time two other couples had arrived who were also waiting. A second butler arrived and introduced himself as Estefan, he escorted us on to the ship and took us to the person whom provides the cruise cards, Estefan then left. After we had been given our cruise cards (which took less than 2 minutes) we were told to go into the waiting room next door. As we walked in, we sat down, no one was around except for an attendee cleaning glasses and clearing tables. A few minutes passed and in walks a couple who arrived just after us. To our astonishment they were with the original butler (the one that could not leave his station), he offered them champagne and fussed around them. I then asked the only butler present for a glass of champagne, which he did get for us and he asked where our butler was. (I could only shrug my shoulders).
After they left to head to the ship I saw a new butler and he asked what was going on, he asked if we wanted to go on to the ship. I was almost startled as I wondered why we were bothering with this room if the option was to go on to the ship. I said yes and he began to walk us out of the waiting lounge. Then from out of thin air appeared Estefan. I'll take them he exclaimed to the other butler.
So, here we are being led on to the boat by our butler,
Hooray! Oh wait! We arrive at deck 7 and our butler quite simply says, you may now go to the main buffet area or go to the yacht club, he then walked away! As we hadn't at this stage realised exactly where we were on the ship, we had no time or opportunity to question anything. In fact we had been dumped on a deck where everyone else gets led and at this stage were unsure of how to navigate our way to the Yacht club.
We asked a couple of workers where to go to get to the Yacht Club and they directed us to the main buffet area.
This was not where we wanted to be! We sat down and ordered a drink to try and figure out why we had been directed here. This was not in the Yacht Club promises. If we had not purchased the basic drinks package we would have incurred a charge here. I asked three different people how to get to the Yacht Club and their reaction was as if this place did not exist. Basically no one seemed to be able to help. We walked around and eventually found Le Muse, where one of the staff kindly directed us. We finally arrived and yet couldn't get in due to our cards not working. A problem which other people had and collectively we had to wait for other Yacht club passengers to open the doors for us. On entering the Yacht Club we were asked to take a seat. We were told we could go to the bar or to our room so again with no direction we found our own room.
Finally making it to our room, where we dropped off our hand luggage and explored the room. We saw a letter welcoming us to the ship and advising that there was a fresh bowl of fruit and a bottle of prosecco to welcome us. Neither of which were in the room. Perhaps this was because we had not yet set sail? We went off to explore the Yacht Club whilst we waited for our luggage to arrive having a drink in the main bar, then venturing up to the smoking area in the top pool bar area.
We returned to the room from around 4 until 6 to unpack (I imagine you have logs so as to show where guests are as well as times). Once we were unpacked we went to the pool bar where we enjoyed some drinks which my husband had to go and get (every single one of them) from the bar. No waiters seemed to come round to the smoking area. Our previous experience was not like this in the main part of the ship. We stayed at the pool bar until around 930 (incidentally, we were there for so long because we met the travel agent I referred to earlier). Having decided that we should go and get ready and meet up again an hour later, we headed to our room. It should be noted that just before we left the pool bar, we were advised by the bar man that the restaurant closes at 930. This was disgraceful as no one had informed either room of this and also, what time is that for a 6 star service to say that we cannot eat later than 930 (I will come back to this later as later in the week the restaurant closed at 10)!!!!!!
Around 10, our butler knocked on the door. He introduced himself and that was about all. We advised about the prosecco and the fruit, he questioned it as if we actually hadn't had it already before advising that he will look into it. He soon re-appeared with it. He asked how my first day had been and I explained very frankly that I was very disappointed by the service already provided. First impressions are so important!
What was frustrating most about this encounter was
1) The butler should have walked us all the way to the Yacht Club and to our room.
2) The butler should have explained all aspects of dining, bars, what was included, what was not included
3) The butler service and what to expect and what not to expect
4) How to contact the butler or anyone else
We experienced the top sail lounge on our first evening (and went in at least for a drink or more every night thereafter), I was shocked at how few people were in there every single night. To say that we were told by cruise nations upon booking the additional drinks package that we would not want to ever leave the Yacht Club. This being a complete fallacy. Clearly everyone wanted to be elsewhere than listening to the same 12 pieces of music being played on the piano and that being the extent of range of entertainment. It might be interesting for you to note how much money was spent on drinks out of the Yacht club by Yacht club members during this week. I should imagine it is a large amount.
Due to the lack of information of the restaurant, we remembered the fact that we could order room service. So, my husband placed a call for room service. 30 minutes was advised for how long we should be waiting. 25 minutes passed and a phone call was received. Have you received everything on your order? No, nothing has yet arrived. 15 minutes passes, my husband calls and chases up the room service, it’s on its way, it won’t be long. 10 minutes passes, another phone call. Have you received everything on your order? No, nothing has yet arrived. It won’t be long, but I just wanted to ensure that what you ordered was available. Yes, pending the actual arrival! 5 minutes later, we placed another call chasing room service and then it finally arrived. Guess what, we never received a phone call asking about the order. The order was wrong and the bread soggy. Situation = hopeless. Give up and eat some pringles was what we ended up doing. Thanks for closing our first day of glitz and glamour so perfectly.
Day 2 – Day at sea
I opened my door to two newspapers. One from Wales and the other from Scotland, I could only assume the butler had guessed on what paper I would like.
Having received no information still regarding where to go or how to get there. We headed out to the only place we knew from before……..the buffet, where we experienced the horror of more people getting food than there were seats for them after they had obtained their requirements. Fortunately we were able to find a table outside, however the food was close to terrible.
We headed back to our Yacht Club area and over the course of the day established that there was a buffet selection at the pool bar. Thanks for the information!
Knowing now about the times of Le Muse, I suggested that my husband calls to book us in, given that we had anytime dining, the time should not be an issue, but more of a courtesy if you will.
My husband was told by the concierge desk (around 4pm) that he would receive a call back once the reservation of 7 was made. We never heard back, so again my husband called. The concierge advised that he still had not spoken to anyone and hence not confirmed. Why did you not call to advise of this? No feasible answer was provided. My husband, frustrated at the phone calls, went to the concierge, whom advised that his colleague had been dealing with the reservation (the colleague was not available). My husband advised that he was appalled at the reservation fiasco and reiterated the anytime dining that we had.
He also took the opportunity to highlight the fact that he was not happy with the fact that our butler was never around and asked for our butler to come and see us but he never came (seriously, 4 hours passed and I just gave up ever expecting him). He continued to advise that it was his understanding that the butler attends to 6 rooms and therefore perhaps 5 rooms are receiving the best possible experience and we are being treat like second class citizens. The concierge simply nodded to acknowledge the 6 rooms and apologised for the problem with the restaurant booking, advising that he will confirm shortly. Eventually, we heard back only to be told that the reservation time was not possible. We could go at 830pm though!!!!!! My husband continued to discuss this unacceptable alternative until I became upset and took the phone from him and spoke with the concierge. I exclaimed my dissatisfaction at having not had any service so far, no information and missing dinner the night before. Eventually, the concierge called back at advised we could go to dinner right now……the time being 630pm, my husband had to reiterate the time we wanted to go! We made it to dinner, making our own way to the restaurant because no one advised us a butler should/could escort us. So we took probably half an hour to arrive due to the maze effect of the ship!
The dinner was of a very high standard and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The service was exceptional that night. Unfortunately many other people we spoke to had not enjoyed the food that evening and had therefore not returned to the restaurant.
Day 3 – First port of call – change of schedule- Grand Turk
We received our daily itinerary (the evening before) advising we were going to Grand Turk. Knowing about the Hurricane we guessed as to why the change had been made, however, there was no actual information regarding this, which I found very poor.
Having spoken to fellow guests over the past two nights, we were starting to find our feet and understand how things worked, no thanks to the staff.
We received a continental breakfast to the room, which was really great. We enjoyed the jug of coffee for two and the muffins as well as the fruit. A good start to the day.
The breakfast had made up for the fact that the wrong newspaper was delivered two days running.
We went to the concierge desk and asked to be escorted off the ship. We were escorted off the ship in a small group having been made to wait for more people almost to make the butler’s journey worthwhile.
Upon returning to the ship we had a specific entrance which initially was fantastic as we by-passed the crazy lines, but once on the ship we were unable to get our 'special lift' to come down to us. Instead, we opted to walk up the stairs and go to a bar on level 7 until the crowds of people had dispersed. A very good job, we had the intelligence to pay for the drinks package for use in the rest of the ship.
A general observation which is not limited to this day was that the service in the pool bar was terrible but when we sat by the bar the barman was very attentive and made excellent cocktails. I was extremely disappointed that proper champagne was unavailable in the Yacht Club without paying for it. My previous experience on Divina was with the premium drinks package it included Nicholas Feuillatte champagne. This change was a very unwelcome surprise. In addition to this, I would like to highlight that the alternative drink selected by MSC was Prosecco. In the absence of champagne, this was my alternative preferable drink, however, when every bar on the ship has none until the Wednesday then this is disgraceful. I think this in particular is incredibly poor. How do you explain that a drink which I prefer to drink and I can have in my paid package, I cannot actually have because your bars have none? (I did try every bar).
It also seemed that if you were seated in the smoking area that service was almost none existent. This area seemed rather inadequate for the number of smokers in the Yacht Club and there was a serious lack of shade and shelter. Finally all the chairs and tables in this area were always put away by 8 this is very unaccommodating for the smokers in the Yacht Club as this is the only area in the whole of the Yacht Club that smoking is allowed.
Day 4 – St Maarten
The morning room service arrived early and was cold. What looked like an already used cup was on the tray and there was no coffee, just milk and hot water. We had pretty much repeated the order from the other day. I called to complain and ask for the ‘breakfast’ to be removed immediately. My butler arrived (wow, forgot I had one), he was accompanied by the person whom brought it originally. He apologised and explained that he had been somewhere else and this was the reason for the sorry state of the breakfast. This made no sense as he was basically saying that only he could keep muffins warm and ensure that a pot of coffee is placed on a tray. He offered to remake it, but the moment was ruined. We went to the pool bar to get our own breakfast (which was very good, a small selection but the best bacon and scrambled egg I’ve had on any ship we have sailed on) and never used room service again!
I had been experiencing for two days now a slight problem with one of my eyes, whereby it was regularly streaming and running for a period and causing a little discomfort. With our second stop being in St Maarten I asked the concierge about a local pharmacy. I don’t expect concierge’s to know everything but something like this should be known, I was simply told, just try any store you come across.
I bought some eye-drops which were bought in a local store. The eye drops carried no warning label and when applied, they dilated my pupil, this then caused complications with my eye due to the exposure to the sun.
As a result, I had a raging headache and felt incredibly tired. My husband asked the concierge about the medical team on board and was told that I had to go to them by 8pm at the latest. At this time (around 6), I did not want to be rushed into going to see the Doctor, due to having to pay insurance excesses. It might be required but I felt that my window of time was being pressed against me.
My husband went to the concierge to ask if I wasn’t well enough to leave my room, could he go and collect food from Le Muse and bring it to me. The concierge told him, he could order room service or order pizza to the room. My husband challenged this and eventually and after asking someone else, the concierge advised that if I wanted to order from Le Muse, then they would deliver it. This was very frustrating, as I had read that this was actually fine to do in the circumstances explained. Eventually my eye was better and I was able to go out that night, though we did not eat at Le Muse or order from there.
We were party to a conversation which took place between two passengers and the manager of the Yacht Club staff and a lady officer who was in charge of customer relations. The two passengers whom we became friends with were highlighting their utter disgust at the lack of service they had received. Their complaints were close to those of our own. We were docked at St Maarten at the time and it was late morning. The two passengers advised that they were to leave the ship at this port and make their own way home. Money was not an issue to them, what was an issue was the service which was promised and not delivered. Your staff tried to appease them by listening to them but not really offering anything as a means to rectify the situation. The manager of the Yacht Club staff, brought a bottle of Asti and shared it amongst 8 people (us included).
It was not until the next day when we saw the couple again (clearly opted to stay on the ship). The main reason was logistical to them but they had been offered the ability to go to any restaurant at any time at no cost. This seemed to appease them somewhat but they were still vastly unhappy with the so called butler and concierge.
We weren’t afforded this offer but I suppose money was an issue to us and we weren’t in a position to attempt to abandon ship. Also, some aspects were really great, the relaxing and quietness of our area for example.
Day 5- San Juan
Today we had a relaxing day by the pool. In the pool bar the food was always good but it was often left out for long periods of time uncovered.
We rarely saw our butler in the butler role (as previously advised) but saw him more and more in the pool bar area serving drinks. On this day he spent the whole day serving drinks round the pool.
We had conflicting information on whether the boat was short staffed or not. Guests told us the ship was understaffed. We spoke to bar personnel whom confirmed the same. When one of our friends asked the concierge, the concierge looked stunned and said no, not short staffed. We are running at full capacity. Who knew what to believe? Should we be making excuses for the lack of service? Is it our fault if the ship is understaffed? Every bar we went to on the rest of the ship seemed to have plenty of staff, you sat down and someone came over and served you. Why was this not the case in the Yacht Club??
Day 6- Day at Sea
We went to dinner with two of our new friends (1 being the travel agent). Our friends booked ahead via the concierge and guess what, they had no difficulties in making the reservation. They were even offered a butler to escort us. We took advantage of this rare butler sighting and were escorted to Le Muse (the butler incidentally was our friends’ actual butler).
Upon arrival, we were seated in a booth, we sat for 15 minutes with no waiter attending to us. Eventually, one of our friends asked for some bread. Another 10 minutes passed before we again asked for bread. The service eventually picked up, though one of our friends had to wait 30 minutes for a Martini.
One of our friends had completed the form regarding an allergy to Mushroom – They had to still ask and ensure that no such sauce was used. I am unsure what the purpose of this form therefore was. We were going to fill out our own form but wisely decided to just manage it per meal. Our friends advised that the whole time they had to check and re-check and that all servers had no knowledge of any requests. Surely if someone is severely allergic then it is important everyone knows.
We enjoyed Le Muse generally and this experience was a small distain. The general service was excellent.
We were told by the person who gave us your contact details that the day before she had asked for Sangria. She was simply told that it takes 24 hours to make and the person she asked walked away. Wanting to test this and also being partial to Sangria. We asked a server at the pool bar for Sangria. True to form, he advised that this takes 24 hours (which is ridiculous by the way, we have travelled in Europe a lot and know that this is not the case). As he was about to walk away, we as a group of 8 people asked can you make us some. Yes was the reply. We clarified a couple of times and ensured that 24 hours from now we can order Sangria. 24 hours later we asked for the Sangria. It had not been made. This isn’t good enough, there are not very many people in the Yacht Club and I’d be surprised if it was full when we travelled. Why was the Sangria not made?
Day 7 – Last day and night
First task of the day……..remove gratuities.
We would not have even dreamed to remove these due to being in the Yacht club and had actually discussed it before we left, that we would absolutely leave the gratuities on.
My husband without even telling me went and took these off. He told me that he said to the concierge, I would like to remove the gratuities for both parties. The concierge simply replied ‘Of course’ and removed them. My husband advised, that even though they were clearly anticipating this and most likely every cabin in the Yacht club did the same, he expected at least a brief Q and A about our reasons (even with the concierge knowing many of our grievances)
We went to the Pool bar for breakfast (a repeat of the last 3 days as it was very good). My husband ordered an omelette, the waitress (whom was the butler who escorted us to dinner the night before) asked my husband to wait one moment whilst she got her pad and pen. As she approached, another guest stopped her and ordered an omelette. Instead of suggesting that she was already dealing with a customer, she proceeded to take the order before finally getting to my husband (very poor customer service). The order was placed, when it came…….It was wrong. The omelette was re-ordered and came out as originally ordered. I did feel that this particular butler struggled with English.
One very amusing moment. When we left our room that morning to go for breakfast, we saw the couple (whom were so unhappy with the experience that they intended to leave the ship early) in the hallway talking with our butler. When we saw them upstairs at the Pool bar, we joked with them that we now understand their dissatisfaction. They asked why, we joked because your butler is our butler. Unfortunately, this was the case, something wasn’t working right for us to feel this way. When you have spent a small fortune on the holiday of your dreams to feel so let down is unfair.
We happened to be walking back to our room, late morning, when we noticed our door was open so as we approached, we said we would pop into the top sail lounge whilst they finished our room. As we walked past we were able to observe 2 people in the room one watching the TV (our butler) and one making the bed. Interesting thought!
So, moving on to lunch. Again, we went to the pool bar, one of our friends went and kindly ordered burgers for 4 guests (my husband included, but not me). In the meantime, my husband ordered 1 mojito, 1 pineapple mojito and 2 waters. The waitress (still the same from the morning who struggled with English) brought to my husband 2 mojitos. She gave them 1 at a time and said, this one is the pineapple mojito and this one is the regular mojito. They were both regular mojitos, we just left it. He did however, ask where the waters were and said, don’t worry, when you next come over this way, please bring them.
10 minutes later, the same waitress brought 3 burgers. My husband again asked where the waters were and also serviettes. Cutlery, salt and sauces. The waitress returned with 2 waters, 1 burger and some sauce. Already during this time, my husband had established that the chips were flat cold. The burger was tasty however. You almost feel bad to keep asking for things. Why is it so hard to get it right? I may be wrong to think this but surely a butler is one of the best service positions to have on the ship. Why are the staff in the Yacht Club making so many mistakes?
That evening we went to watch the Michael Jackson one show, which was of a poor standard down to the appalling attempt at lip synching and out of time dancing. We, along with our new friends, thought, let’s have a few drinks in the top sail lounge and order pizza.
Hello Mr Concierge, can we order pizza to the top sail lounge? As we had read on trip advisor someone had done this. No, only to your room. Really? So, one of us is going to wait in the room for pizza and then walk into the top sail lounge with it!? Unbelievable! So, we went to Le Muse again. Not what we wanted to do but the service and food was excellent.
Day 8 – It doesn’t end well
We left our suite with our luggage in tow. Went into the top sail lounge for a final drink and bite to eat. My husband went to the bar (as he was accustomed to doing). A butler asked what his order was and said he would bring it over. Never came.
Meanwhile we saw our butler fussing after a table which had a baby with them. Clearly we were the wrong demographic and this was now apparent. Neither our butler nor any other butler approached us during our half hour visit.
We went to concierge desk and asked for a butler to escort us off the ship. Our own butler saw us off.
As we came out of the lift ready to disembark we saw the 'butler' whom was supposed to bring my coffee. Sadly this butler had always been very pleasant and attentive up until now. My husband sarcastically said to him, thanks for the coffee. Why did my coffee not come? Why did no one ever seem interested in attending to us? My butler who was seeing us off the ship told me to complain and agreed that this was not right. He himself could have got my coffee not one person came and offered us a drink that morning.
I would like to return to my earlier point about this being the second time we have travelled on MSC Divina. I would like to point out that within 2 minutes of arriving at our inside cabin, the person assigned to our room (cleaning) introduced themselves, made us feel very welcome and advised what his role was. He remained incredibly attentive throughout the next 2 weeks. Filling our mini bar daily and turning our beds down every evening with towel animals left on display. We had our bed turned down twice during this whole trip. This is not good enough. We had to ask for our mini bar to be replenished. When you are in the Yacht Club you shouldn’t have to ask for these things.
I can honestly say that the Yacht Club experience was not as advertised. It was a huge disappointment. For this reason I have made my complaint very thorough as I feel changes need to be made for your customers to receive the service that you are advertising. I was so looking forward to the Yacht Club after having spent two weeks on Divina on our honeymoon. We decided to return to Divina for our five year anniversary of being together, what better way to celebrate than on the ship you spent your honeymoon on. Unfortunately we had a much better experience on our honeymoon. Read Less