THE GOOD - The cruise director Eric was fantastic, the best one I've seen on my 20+ cruises. He was funny, informative, lively and made the cruise enjoyable. The main dining room was excellent, consistent great and friendly service from Yuriy & Collins, great food and an oasis away from the crappy service elsewhere on the ship. The shows were very well done and entertaining. The ports were like nothing I've seen elsewhere, the way MSC have created the beach resort like areas in well worth the trip. Taking the buffet to the port was also very well done. Our cabin steward on the first day wasn't very friendly, however that night he did apologize and everything was perfect after that.
THE BAD - The service from the staff just about everywhere else on the ship was very poor. They were unfriendly, barely spoke even when we spoke to them, were very task orientated. When I asked questions they gave the answer that they thought would get me away the quickest, rather than what would actually be helpful. For example, I asked to buy a power adapter at a shop. I was told there are none in that shop. I asked do any of the other shops sell them. Answer was no. I then said, reception told me last night there were some for sale, all of a sudden he knew exactly where one for sale. Reception, the voyager club desk and several other places did the similar things.
Embarkation day was by far the worst I've ever experienced by a mile. You joined this line and slowly moved in that line for 2 hours before reaching the ship. Every possible task you could think of was broken down into a section you had to pass while remaining in the line. And when you finally got to the ship, the line continued past every possible thing they could sell you. The safety drill was 750 odd people packed into a room, most already wearing their life jackets. A staff member yelled out "You put the life jacket over your head and strap it around you like this" and that was it, the safety drill was finished.
THE UGLY - Hygiene, health and safety didn't appear to be of much concern. People were smoking and vaping all over the ship. Barely any passengers where using the hand sanitizer before entering the buffet and more people used their hands taking food (and occasionally putting it back) in the buffet than with the utensils. People were filling their used water bottles up at the water stations, picking the ice up with their hands or using the bottle they just sipped from to scoop up the ice. Staff were there, staff saw, staff just didn't care.
THE VERDICT - This was my 4th MSC cruise, my 3rd one was absolutely fantastic. I don't know what it is about MSC, but I really want to like their cruise line. I once went on another cruise line with some pretty good 'bells and whistles', however the absolute poor service has never tempted me to go back. I think the line has so much to offer and there are some pockets on the ship which show they can get it right, but the thing that should be their greatest asset is letting them down. It doesn't take much to answer someone's questions in a helpful manner, it doesn't take much to give a smile when someone thanks you for taking the plate away, rather than look blankly or just ignoring them as if they almost didn't exist.
The first night there was a very loud and annoying vibration through out the cabin. It sounded like a phone was vibrating on a table. I could feel the vibration in bed also. Was rather hard to sleep. The rest of the cruise, there were no issues.
It was very easy to remember the cabin number.
My daughter loved meeting the King of Incaha Island and driving along the sand tracks in an old 4WD.
Portuguese Island is really well set up by MSC.