I am writing to report my experience in the MSC FANTASIA Cruise from Genoa to Santos between November 4th to 24th 2018. This was our third cruise, but the first with MSC. We have never experienced or expected a ship being run so poorly by the Master and his crew. I will provide the details below.
The embarkment took place in the port of Genoa on November 4th; from the beginning it was a complete chaos, a process that should take a couple of hours took at least six, they even have started the embarkment two hours earlier to make it easier. Numbers were distributed to the passengers to assist with the registration, but they were not followed; the staff members will jump numbers and then will go back again, a total chaos.
Many crew members were rude and have no customer services skills, the majority look very unhappy. There were some crew members very polite and did a good job, but it was the minority.
The safety box was not working in the cabin, I called the front desk and they sent a technician to fix it, he replaced the batteries. After about 30 minutes it stopped working, I called again, and they told me they will send a technician within 30 minutes, nothing happens, I reported at least five times in the next few days. Finally they sent a technician, according to him it was the cover of the batteries that was interfering, he removed it, put a piece of paper to make it tight and left, after one hour the safety box stopped working again. I checked myself and to my surprise I found one of the battery contacts sulfated, I scraped it and clean it and never have any problem again.
The light in the night table burned out, I told the cabin assistant and he reported at least in two occasions. I started calling the front desk asking them if they could give me a bulb so that I could replace it, they told me they could not, and they will have to send a technician to check it out. I have to wait five days to have the burned-out light replaced.
We had a balcony suit, located beside the deck and outside stairs. During the cruise they left a note in my cabin that they will be painting the balcony and to keep the curtains closed. They did paint, but they also spilled paint all over the two chairs, table and floor, they never cleaned it. I never have seen a sloppy job like this. During the cruise they left at least in four occasions notes that they will be doing maintenance in the balcony, in one occasion they flooded the balconies from one extreme to the other and left the water standing until the water evaporated by itself. One of the last evenings, they poured lot of water from the top floor, we could have been totally soaked if we were in the balcony. They cleaned the outside stairs and deck every morning about 4 am, and every time our balcony will be left with water and dirt on it. They never cleaned the balcony, we have to clean the hand rail and chairs our self. It was great to have a balcony, but because of their neglect we could seldom use it.
When we cross the ocean, which lasted six days, the satellite services were disconnected, we did not have any news and were totally isolated. The explanation given was the satellite services did not work because we were too far away from land, but this happened even when we were 50 kilometres from the coast of Brazil. This never happened in any other cruise we have taken. They offered 16 free movies that you could watch in your cabin, but the audio of the movies was absolutely terrible, you could not understand anything; when I called the front desk, they said they have problem with the system.
The hygiene practices in the cruise was terrible, there were dispensers with sanitizers, but most of them were empty, the crew members never encourage the passengers to use them. Some passengers will pick with their hands bred or other food from the buffet areas and the crew members never told these passengers not to do it, they will not get involved and ignore it. Some passengers will fill their personal bottles in the water or juice machines directly into the faucet touching them and of course contaminating them.
Painting was performed in corridors and food dispensing areas; the smell was extremely strong. Painting in areas were food is dispensed and people are walking by is totally unacceptable.
All the tours obtained through MSC started late. The crew members in charge in the meeting places were confused and they did not provide proper information.
After a week people started to get sick. Many crew members and passengers got sick, sneezing, coughing and with flu symptoms. The situation started to get worse when we start crossing the Atlantic, the ship had to disembark a sick passenger in Cabo Verde in front of Africa because the passenger was too sick. The situation got worse and by the time we reach Brazil most of the passengers were coughing, sneezing and with flu symptoms. We were eight people travelling together and seven got sick.
The passport return process was another chaos, two crew members were doing this process, but they have difficulties to find the passports even that they were classified by countries.
During the last couple of days, we noticed a change in the attitude of the crew members in relation to hygiene in the food areas, the sanitizer dispensers were filled, the supervisors started to give direct instructions to waitresses to remove dirty dishes and clean the different areas.
When we arrive to Santos the Health Authorities were waiting; they recommended to passengers before disembarking to use the disinfectant their hands with the gel provided and see their personal doctors, they also informed us there was a possible case of measles aboard.
The disembarkation in Santos was another chaos, they asked the passenger to meet in the theatre and wait for instructions, but the theatre have steps and all passengers have carry-on bags. After a couple of hours, the Health Authorities allowed the disembarkment; the passengers were asked to take shuttle busses to the terminal. The buses had very narrow aisles, and the passengers have to claim with their bags since they did not open the bag carriers on the belly of the buses.
The Master of the ship is the person responsible for the well being and health of the crew and passengers and the training of the crew. Therefore, he is responsible for the poor service provided by the crew and the bad hygiene practices on his ship. I saw him only once in the entire trip when he welcomes the passengers assisting a function. He never talked to the passengers on the speakers to provide explanations or information; what a difference with other Captains from other companies that I have had the opportunity to travel with.
This was the first time that we travel in a MSC Cruise and possible will be the last.