I have wondered why there are such varying reviews for MSC and I think I have established largely why. More on that as a summary.I have 20 cruises under my belt and this was the worst ever. The only exception being the fantastic itinerary. Port of call every day and this was the reason I decided to try MSC.
Embarkation at Venice was relatively smooth. It took about 70 minutes from arriving at the Venice cruise terminal to get on board. First impressions were that this was a very long ship. It is almost as long as the Queen Mary 2
Ports of call all went relatively smoothly with exception of a disaster in Dubrovnik. The ship was unable to dock and 4000 passengers had to be tendered in 4 boats. Over 2 hours late I missed my excursion. They put me on a German speaking bus as the English bus had left. On return it was another 1.5 hour wait to get back on the ship. This was a total disaster. In the very hot sun MSC couldn't even be bothered to offer their self loading cargo water.
So what is wrong with MSC and Fantasia -
*At 138,000 tonnes this ship carries more passengers than any other ship based on size. An officer told me that will all berths full she carries 4500 passengers and during European school vacation times up to 1500 children.
*Totally inadequate elevators. Smaller Carnival ships for example have 18 elevators. Fantasia has 14.
*Small cheap looking public areas with a couple of exceptions
*Narrow public passage ways in public areas
*Very cramped dining rooms with tables so close together it was claustrophobic
*Small food portions in dining room of varying quality food
*Paying for drinking water
*Buffet food was consistently cold and of very average quality. Much of the selections left too long
*Ships WIFI worst ever experienced. Poor connections and very very slow that it was almost unusable.
*Slow debarkation at ports of call
*Cheap decor in may areas. NO public art - just slabs of brown in some areas
*Starting to show heavy wear for age in some areas
*Constant selling got tiring. Other cruise lines tend to be more controlled
*Very average entertainment. Micheal Jackson would have rolled in his grave
*There was a foul sewage smell at the aft areas of the ship the first half of the cruise. the crew denied being able to smell it although many other passengers noticed it. On day 3-4 there was a sewage pump truck pumping all day. The smell went. Their denial of this problem was a major trust/faith issue. We understand ships have problems. Be honest
*Very little honesty about issues on board. For example, they never told anybody about the non docking in Dubrovnik
*Excursions were very expensive and some 3 times the cost of buying at port
What was good
*Cabins seemed to be a good standard. No fellow passengers had complaints in this regard
*Pool Areas were nice although with the large number of passengers consistently crowded
*It didnt sink
*Italian ship officers were very friendly and committed to passengers.
*Indonesian Cabin attendant
So what is wrong with the MSC culture. MSC seems to treat passengers like cargo. Get as many on as you can and once they have paid screw them as hard as you can for more money. The ship is designed to get as many passengers on board as possible at the cost of space and comfort. When passengers complained about issues it was generally never taken as important or acted upon.
So who are the people that like MSC -
*Mainly Europeans as they do not have the mainline cruise experience to compare to
*First time or inexperienced cruisers who do not know any better
Who should avoid MSC -
*English speaking passengers who do not know a second language
*Passengers who want to be treated as passengers
*Passengers who want a cruise not a journey on a ferry like voyage between ports
*Passengers who have cruised on the likes of Princess, P&O, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity etc
Fair size. About the only good thing about the whole ship was the cabin.