We have cruised about 15 times prior to this cruise so we knew what to expect. Our embarkation went smoothly in Barcelona, but no amount of prior cruising knowledge could prepare you for this cruise.
Our room was probably the best part of our cruise. We paid for an inside room and received a balcony. The beds were clean and the bathroom was adequate. There was gum all along the cupboard and the TV cut out right before our 5 straight sea days when MSC decided to give everyone 10 free movies. After calling front desk more than once and them never sending anyone to look at the TV we told the cabin attendant as a last resort. The TV never ended up working. In the barfet (previously known as the buffet) we saw an Italian woman holding a banana up to her ear pretending to talk to MSC staff... nothing could sum up this cruise better than that image I have of her doing that. No one is there to listen, you might as well be talking into a banana.
The barfet itself was just as the name implies. We had pizza every day (which was actually pretty good for ship pizza) as everything else was cold or inedible. The desserts were so unappetizing I may have lost a few pounds on this cruise. The barfet repeated the meals pretty much daily. You could consider yourself lucky if you didn’t get pushed out of the way while waiting in line for food by the hungry Portuguese, and even luckier if you could find a seat that wasn’t all the way at the back. If you try ordering water from the back bar they give you a hard time trying to convince you that you’re only allowed to at the other bar.
The water at dinner was a whole other story. We have cruised only this once with MSC (and believe me this is the last time) and we received bottled water every night at dinner. Our dinner mates however weren’t so fortunate. They have cruised with MSC multiple times now and MSC couldn’t even supply them with one bottle of water every night. We ended up sharing ours with them and eventually they even started bringing their own water. We have never seen a cruise line that doesn’t provide water at dinner. The dining room experience was much better than the barfet as the food was actually proper temperature. The waiters were very accommodating despite everything falling apart around them.
We missed the drill on the first day. We read in the newsletter when it would be taking place so we waited for an announcement in our room but it never came. Turns out they made one announcement but it was only heard in the hallway. We then got a letter to attend the next day but it was during the time of one of our excursions. We never made it to the drill.
Our cruise friends met this woman with a rash. They decided to tell the ships doctor about it as it was contagious. We went down there with them and got there at 2 pm. The doctor was not there until 4 pm. We had the unfortunate experience of talking to the nurse. I’m convinced she was the was the most incompetent worker on this entire ship. She told us MSC can’t do anything about it, if she wants to come down to get it checked out she can. They asked what if it spreads to other passengers? She opened the door for us and told us to leave. We were so disgusted with the experience we told front desk. They told us to fill out a form... it never got acknowledged. After reading other reviews I should’ve known better not to expect any call back.
As far as entertainment goes, we did trivia a few of the days. One day one of the women cheated. The next day we got the same amount right as the winners of trivia (7/10) and the entertainment staff didn’t acknowledge that we won (they took our paper to mark). We asked to see it and she refused. Clearly the English speaking guests were on the back burner.
I can’t say the shows were much better. They ended up repeating a lot of the acts.
The excursions were ok... a little disorganized but that is to be expected from MSC. We left an hour late for the 6 hour drive (3 there, 3 back) to Marrakech. We also had no free time there.. all very structured. On the ride back there was no stops for bathroom during the whole 3 hours, and no bathroom on the bus. For another excursion in Ilheus, they took us to a beach with Portuguese man of war (one of the most dangerous jellyfish), seems like they wanted one less person at the barfet. Our third excursion we got taken to the city in Tenerife. There was no way they could mess up dropping us off in the city, right? Wrong... as our bus pulled off to head back to the ship, the tour guide realized she left two passengers behind. The only reason she realized it was because they were running up to the bus.
The elevators play tricks with you, it is really just better to take the stairs on this cruise. Not that you’ll be eating much since the barfet doesn’t have many options. This cruise would make a good cruise if you’re looking to go on a diet.
All in all, we won’t be cruising with MSC again.