As an Australian traveling to Europe, it is a long and expensive holiday to take. I was so excited to be visiting the Mediterranean with my family for 4 weeks; but the dreams of having a restful, stress free holiday was not meant to happen on board MSC’s Fantasia.
My cruise dates and destinations
17-27 December 2015 (Italy/Greece/Greek Islands/Israel)
27 December-07 January 2016 (Italy/Spain/Portugal/Canary Islands)
- Passages of Non-European passports holders (Australians/NZ/Americans/Japanese etc) BEWARE MSC retains your passport for the duration of the cruise. You are not entitled to have your passport. When I questioned it on the embarkation day, the staff could not tell me why they needed to retain them. But I could not board unless I handed it over to them. This meant that when I was at port off board, I did not have a passport with me. My question is How is this safe for non-European travellers when off board the ship? What happens if you fail to make it back in time to re-embark on the ship and you are stranded without a passport????
- The immigration process for Israel- this was a joke! It took 80mins to wait in a ridiculously long line of unhappy people. It was hot and very uncomfortable for all passengers. Then to find only 3 MSC staff handing passports out to passengers, while there were numerous Israeli officials siting waiting for passengers to have their passports checked. What is the logic behind that management when you have 4000+ passports to process?
FOOD & DRINKS
- The dining experience is poorly coordinated and service is slow and usually plate placement is incorrect.
- No matter if you ate in the restaurant, café or buffet the food always was served warm or cold (when it should be hot – I am actually surprised I did not get food poisoning).
- Day two on the first cruise my sisters cocktail package coupons were stolen. When we asked reception to follow up, they said there was nothing they could do. MSC showed no accountability to track the coupons. They said it was impossible to do (even though each coupon package had their own unique code, that should be easily traced to the person who stole them).
- Furthermore, what is with the paper coupons for packages???? For a so called state of the art ship, you would think they would have ventured into the 21st century world of utilising technology to deliver packages to passengers. Paper seems to be their go to solution for all services on board.
- Health and safety is not paramount when disembarking at each of the ports. It was a danger battle ground of push and shove. An elderly lady had fallen in stampeded at the Israel port. No one (not even staff) apart from my family went to her rescue.
- The day of our departure disembarking, there was no signage to direct you how to get transport out of the terminal. We waited 1 hour to just get a shuttle bus out to the entrance of the port. Again no one from MSC were managing the crowd of hundreds of passages. It was absolute mayhem. We had to give up waiting cause passengers were unfairly pushing in and fighting to get onto the buses. And they were not allowed to call taxis into the terminal area. So we had to walk 20 minutes with our suitcases to the entrance of the port. Disgraceful!
Due to the lack of problem solving, concern or consideration at reception desk for issues that we was faced with on board the MSC Fantasia; I ended up having to contact the complaints department back in Australia on day 4 of our holiday. Day 6, the Guest Relations Manager requested to see me to discuss my complaints. I felt like I was sent to principal’s office for doing something inappropriate. The manager did not have resolutions for me, just EXCUSES! Then my waiter and cabin attendant told me they got into trouble, which was never my intention. The issues I addressed in my email to the complaints department was directed at the management team about their poor administration and communication with their passengers and ground staff.
A Few Positives…(but not enough to counteract significant issues that I had to endure for 21 days)
- Port days at the islands and cities (was the best part, cause I was not on the ship)
- Friendly ground staff (bar/restaurant/cabin attendants).
- Delicious cocktails (as it helped to ease my experience while at sea)
- Public areas are impeccably clean and tidy (mainly because those poor staff were slave laboring 12-16hour days)
- Booked and paid for a twin share room with my sister, but got 2 single beds put together to make a double bed. When I questioned the staff at reception, I was told we were not allowed separate them.
- Linen was poor quality, old and had marks. Had to have the bed totally remade first day on board.
- The base sheet on the beds are FLAT not fitted. As a result while you toss and turn in bed; you then wake up laying on dirty old mattress … ours was disgusting.
- The pillows…well they had definitely seen better days. They were ALL deteriorated inside the casing. We had to ask for additional 2 pillows each to give us some support during our sleep.
- The shower curtain had serious attachment issues. I was constantly fighting the curtain to not touch me during my showers…eck!
- The speakers in the cabin were so loud you couldn’t even hear yourself think. To make the matter worse the daily messages at 10am went for about 20 minutes, so that they could cover the 5-6 languages.
- You could hear the night club downstairs on level 7 every night. Some nights were worse then others. Christmas and New Years our cabin shook from the serious bass expelling from the band.