First cruise with MSC having sailed previously on P & O, Celebrity and NCL. This is probably the most luxurious ship that we have been on, but the least positive experience of any cruises we have taken. The ship is beautiful, the food was reasonable but the organisation is abysmal.
Embarkation took a long time and the process was totally different to any other cruise we have been on - having security photo taken once on-board, having to go to your cabin for your cruise card and having to then find an authorisation machine to load credit on to your on-board account. We did not have to complete the health questionnaire as required on all our other cruises.
When booking we paid for all inclusive drinks however were told that we would have to pay for drinks as we did not have the package. We went to reception and it transpired that they had put the wrong code on our cruise card. The reception changed the card but there was no apology or interaction, they didn't even speak.
After being on board for 4 days we had not received our tickets for an excursion to Honfleur. We went to reception and was abruptly told that we needed to go up to the excursion desk. We were abruptly told that we would get the tickets at the start of the cruise, which apparently is Hamburg (5 days after boarding in Southampton) so we would get them the following day.
Our cabin steward was excellent. The waiters were friendly but made a lot of mistakes, twice out of four occasions in the dining room we were charged the wrong amount. There seemed to be a shortage of waiters in the bar and we had to wait a long time on some occasions before going to the bar ourselves. The waiters were very pleasant but obviously understaffed.
The food in the main dining room was reasonable but the portions were miniscule. Apparently Evening Dinner used be a 7 course dinner (as advertised on Vision Cruise) but it has been reduced to 3 with no water provided or coffee/tea afterwards. You have to pick your dessert from a different menu but at the same time as ordering your starter and main courses.
If you choose to go to the main dining room for breakfast or lunch. there is a strange set up where there is a buffet in addition to the waiter service. Nobody bothers to explain this to the guests.
The food in the buffet was average and there was a large choice. It was very loud and most times a struggle to find a table. They appeared to be understaffed and were slow to clear tables.
In general there was a lack of using sanitising gel throughout the ship. Quite often it was empty and it was concerning that staff did not enforce guests to use the hand gel when entering restaurants.
Shuttle buses arranged by MSC were very expensive. There appeared to be a general cost of 15.90 euros as in Zeebrugge to Blackenberge and Hamburg port to city. In Le Havre the shuttle was provided by the port and was only 4 euros for the whole day. No shuttle was provided in Amsterdam as they state it is only a short walk to the central station but this is not the case and a problem for those less mobile.
We booked an excursion - Honfleur on Your Own which cost £45.00 each. We were put on to a coach with a driver who could not speak English. The MSC rep told us we would be returning at 11.45 and then got off the bus. The coach was old and shabby with a number of the seats where the back rest would not stay upright or moved. The air condition was virtually non existent. We had to return on a separate coach as the previous one had broken down in Honfleur. The air conditioning on this was virtually non-existent also and very uncomfortable for the passengers as it was a warm day. The MSC rep did travel on the coach when returning to the ship. This was virtually a shuttle service and should not be advertised as an excursion. We had no rep on the first coach and not given any information on points of interest either on route or on arrival. The "excursion" set off at 08.15 so we arrived in Honfleur at 08.45. Most shops/bars were closed until about 10.30. We cannot understand the early start as the ship was in Le Havre until 22.00. Other cruise companies we have sailed with include a guide on the journey to and from the destination and provide information en route and points of interest to take in on arrival, even when it is described as "on your own". We approached the MSC rep on return to the ship about the absence of a guide/assistance and also the state of the coaches provided. Basically she wasn't interested and said it was just a transfer. It cost us £45.00 each for a 30 minute journey each way - what a rip off.
Getting of the ship in Amsterdam was a shambles. At 10.15 they announced that they were waiting of clearance to go ashore. At 11.30 we were still waiting in our cabin for a further announcement so we decided to go down to the atrium. There was a huge queue waiting to get off but nobody knew what the delay was. We were never told. Our tickets originally stated 09.00 for arrival in Amsterdam
We caught the MSC shuttle into Hamburg and again nothing was open until a couple of hours later, then it was mainly bars and restaurants not many shops as it was Sunday.
In Zeebrugge we used the free port shuttle to the port gate and then the coastal tram which is approx. 500 metres away. It was 6 euros for a full day ticket which covers the full route of approx. 42 miles. A lot cheaper to get to Blackenberge approx. 4 stops away, than the 15.90 euros for the MSC shuttle.
This is the worst entertainment we have ever endured on a cruise. The entertainment in the bars was average however the shows in the theatre were mediocre. We saw 3 shows, none of which we could understand the relevance to the titles. Basically all were the same concept using the same scenery - a bit of singing, dancing, acrobatics and juggling with different costumes each night. Any guests we spoke to were of the same opinion and like us gave up going to the shows. There was very little to do on sea days unless you wanted dance lessons. Some of the entertainment team did themed shows in other bars and were absolute rubbish - e.g. King versus Queen.
The Captain had a welcome party to introduce the senior officers when we were in Hamburg. We did not attend as we had already been on the ship 5 days and due to disembark 2 days later. What is the point of a welcome party 5 days after boarding.
We had not received any information on the process by 17.00 on the last day. We rang reception who told us we should get some information at/after 18.00.
To summarise this is a beautiful ship, but it is a shame that it is let down by poor management providing a lack of information to their guests. which is then received at short notice. Customer service does not appear to be important to MSC. Most British guests we spoke to had the same opinion as us and felt frustrated by the lack of information given throughout the cruise., the rubbish entertainment and the poor quality and small portions of food. The general consensus being that they would not travel with MSC again
Décor and cleanliness of the cabin was excellent. Good sized bathroom and shower cubicle. Comfortable bed. Would benefit from more hanging space in the wardrobes, would struggle if on a longer cruise than the week we were on.
Honfleur is very beautiful and worth seeing. Low rate given for the so called excursion and poor service provided by MSCView All 53 Honfleur Reviews