The embarkation process was totally awful. We were made to stand in the very hot blazing sun in a line for more than 1 hour. It appeared that the Miami port authority was doing some major renovations. The ship was using a massive air-conditioned tent for the process. However when we got into the tent we realized that there were tons of space in the tent that could have been used to manage the line but we were left outside in the sweltering heat. I am still dealing with skin irritation issues from being in the hot sun for so long.
Finally, upon embarkation, our cabin was not properly cleaned. The carpet smelled musty and the washroom area smelled badly. The cushions on the bed and on the furniture in our cabin had a clammy feel and strange smell.This was supposed to be a premium balcony cabin.
On the positive side, the liquid soap for the face basin was a nice improvement on bars of soap which usually can become soggy and slimy.
We had paid before-hand for shore excursions and internet packages for all of us including my adult son who was in a separate cabin. At the time of the online booking I had received email confirmation all of the bookings were a success. This I printed and carried with me on board as proof of the transaction. However when we go on board there was no record of his bookings anywhere. By the time that Guest Services - Reception had figured out what was going on, my son had missed out on two shore excursions which the rest of the family was going on, thus marring our overall family experience. Guest services indicated that their system had cancelled my son's bookings for no apparent reason. The ship claimed that they were in no position to do anything meaningful except for a bottle of champagne and some finger food. There was little or no follow-up from the staff to whom the matter was reported until the very end of the cruise at which time nothing could be done to salvage the situation. This was with the exception of Dimitri from Ukraine who attempted to be helpful at 5: AM at Reception to sort out my personal issues related to the non booking of Internet services which I had also paid for in advance but were not showing up on the ship's system.
In the buffet restaurant it must be said that the breakfast juices were very good. In fact the best which I have had after cruising several times with other cruise lines. However, the wait staff in the buffet restaurant did not seem to be responsive to the needs of guests. Tables were taking very long to be cleared and no one was offering any assistance or drinks etc. In fact on one occasion a guest requested a spoon from a waiter. The waiter in a condescending manner responded by telling the guest where he could go to get one for himself. The customer service or lack thereof in the buffet restaurant stood in stark contrast to the wonderful, warm and personal attention provided to us by one of our waiters in the main dining room. Virendra Singh displayed excellent service and people skills as a waiter. He clearly enjoyed his interface with us and he deserves favourable recognition for it.
On many ships shore excursions are planned for departure at multiple times during the day. And you know this because it is visible at the time of your online booking or on your excursion tickets which are delivered to your cabin upon your arrival. However, on this ship we needed to wait for the daily planner (the daily journal outlining activities) which was delivered under your cabin door at night, to know what time our excursion would leave. Therefore there was no possibility of sleeping late as you had to get up to find out the departure time and meeting point of our excursion. No information was on the ticket.
The Fantastica package really was quite useful when it came to obtaining drinks. And the bar did a reasonable job with the preparation of cocktails.
The interruptions in your cabin are very limited as it appears that they use your key card in the slot to determine whether you're in your cabin. This was quite useful. However it also meant that you did not see your cabin steward and so there was little opportunity for him to provide requested services.
Time changes for the purpose of daylight saving were communicated word of mouth from passenger to passenger instead of using written communication sent to the cabin.
It must be noted that there were excellent nightly shows for entertainment in the Theatre. Treasure Island and Spanish Classical stood out in particular. This is my second cruise with MSC, the first one being from Venice to the Greek Isles. That was a positive experience which is why we opted to use them again. I can say that their Theatre entertainment is quite outstanding and it is one of the few things which I will remember positively.
And while the absolute distaste for our early experience with the MSC Divina could have been tempered somewhat by the few positives mentioned above, the ship ensured that we left with a totally negative view overall by our disembarkation experience. The disembarkation process was a complete mess. The ship appeared to give priority to guests from the United States and Canada as opposed to those who had same day flights. Additionally, while the group with prepaid ground transfers to the airport were told to gather at the prescribed meeting point at 9:45 AM, we could not get off of the ship for more than two hours thereafter. MSC constantly made an announcement blaming the delays on the Immigration officials at the Miami port terminal indicating that due to congestion they had stopped the disembarkation. However, when we eventually got off of the ship it was clear that the problem was caused by MSC themselves. There were no attempts on their part to assist with persons who were going to miss their flights. No accommodations or exceptions were made. We saw several persons who were very sure they were going to miss their flights. We ourselves only made it to our departure gate with less than 15 minutes to spare. One young MSC representative clearly said that when problems occur all the supervisors disappear. We even had to deal with a rude attitude from the person at the ground transfer kiosk outside of Immigration. We also heard our coach driver yelling at two passengers who had been overcome by the frustration of knowing that they were going to miss their flight to Paris.
We are very disappointed by our overall experience with the MSC Divina. And while MSC may have done a good job when we cruised with them in Europe, clearly they are not ready to deliver responsive and caring customer service to customers cruising out of Miami.
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