This was our first cruise and we had no idea what to expect or what kinds of things were abnormal or normal for a cruise. Our travel agent, a good friend of mine, had never booked through MSC and could only give us expectations based on other cruises he had been on. He left me with the assurance that we would be well taken care of and guided through the whole process so we could relax and not stress for 10 days. This did not prove to be true.
Embarkation was a nightmare. We flew from Chicago to London, then from London to Marseille on the day of the cruise arriving at around 10, with boarding presumably going from 1400 to 1800. We called an Uber from the airport to take us to the port, thinking we would hang out there for a few hours until boarding started. When we arrived there were no ships in port and our Uber driver, who only spoke French, looked over the paperwork to make sure we had the right date and location. God bless that driver who went and talked to the French security for us and nailed down the details, then translated for us with his google translate app because nobody there, not the MSC staff or security or even any other passengers, spoke English. Turns out our ship was in Nice, 200km(120mi) away. It was too windy in Marseille for them to dock there. They put us on a bus to Nice for two hours to get to the ship. It would have been nice to get some kind of heads up that this was the case. They must have known even a few hours or a day ahead of time that they wouldn’t be docking in Marseille. We are thankful we decided to show up early because otherwise we wouldn’t have made it.
Once we got to Nice, there were a bunch of cruises there with different luggage vans and security spots to get through. All of the MSC staff we could find were smoking or on their phones not paying attention or giving good direction so even if we did understand French who knows if we would have been less confused. We prayed we put our luggage in the right spot because none of the vans were marked with our boat name. We followed some people we thought looked familiar from our bus to check in. Nobody at MSC spoke English, so, again, we stayed confused. We followed the line to a small boat which took us to our cruise boat which was sitting in the middle of the ocean.
Cabin was better than expected. Comfortable bed, cleaning staff very attentive and kept our room promptly clean.