My wife and I chose MSCs 20 day 'Grand Voyage' from Genoa to Rio de Janeiro, leaving 04/11. We prefer sea-time over port-time and this had an exotic itinerary. This was the ship's first voyage after it's 27m 'stretch' and much refurbishing of public areas. We understood this was a 40 day operation which is an outstanding achievement. Our impressions were fully positive about the results of this 'renaissance' programme.
A few comments would summarise the contrast between our excellent experiences and our poor experiences. The ship was extremely clean and well maintained. All our experiences of Housekeeping, Food and Beverage and Entertainments staff were completely positive.
We, along with other guests, feel that it was Guest Services who were the weak link. I am sure it must require powers of resilience to remain cheerful in the face of constant guest enquiries/niggles/complaints. In my experience it was the style of their responses that was of concern. Some examples:
>>The ship was delayed 2+ hrs entering Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It had to be tugged in fore and aft eventually. The PA system apologised for this 'technical problem'. With previous marine experience I enquired with some concern about this 'problem'. From 3 different Guest Service personnel I was told it was not a 'problem' but was due to 'communications', then 'weather', then 'busy port traffic'. All patently untrue. Then it was announced that our departure was delayed until midnight 'because of late flight arrival'. There were no public flight arrival delays at Tenerife North or South that afternoon or evening. Still tied up at 0100, an honest Guest Services agent confirmed the continued delay was because of the ongoing 'technical problem'.
>>All TV reception was unavailable from Canaries to the Brazil coast when all TV channels became totally Brazilian emphasis. Many people enquired about the possibility of at least 1 English language news channel given the tragic events in Paris. All fervently promised deadlines passed without action. The Guest Services Manager gave me his absolute promise on consecutive days that it would be resolved. Without action or results.
>>After a 20 day cruise our arrival into iconic Rio, passing Sugar Loaf mountain as we enter the harbour was eagerly anticipated to end the 'Grand Voyage'. Unfortunately the previous evening's published navigation plan appeared to have been revised during the night by bridge officers so that we were tied up inside the harbour at 0700. The implication of this was that all passengers missed the much-anticipated arrival to Rio after our 20 days cruise.
I quote the above examples to indicate the indifference shown to fare-paying passengers by certain crucial aspects of the cruise organisation. At times I was being given ridiculous responses to valid enquiries much as might be given to a troublesome child ! As an adult I much prefer to receive honest replies. Certainly I will not be availing myself of such indifference again.