This was my first cruise on MSC and I should have paid better attention to the reviews. There were so many things wrong, the list is long:
1. Food. I was on the ship for 15 days and the same cold breakfast buffet was offered everyday. There is no service in the buffet unless you pay for items from the buffet bar.
2. Be prepared to add the cost of water, tea or coffee in the main dining rooms. They will not bring you a glass of water, but offer a bottle of water for Euro 3,44. That is per meal. Also don't bother to go to the dining room to get away from breakfast or lunch in the buffet. The same buffet is is set up both places. You can order from the menu, as I did one morning but they just put buffet food on the plate.
3. You have an assigned dining time and a seat and DON'T ever move to another table with empty seats or they rush over to make you feel like a criminal. It happened to me. I sat at a table for 8 the first night and no one else came. I am a solo traveler, but that is no excuse. Three nights later, I was seated again at my proper seat and table. No one came, I put the napkin on the table and walked over to a table speaking English-table for 6 with only 2 diners. Immediately the waiter approached, arms flailing stating "You can't change tables!" My response was "I just did. I refuse to eat another meal by myself.". "You have to check with the boss and he has to OK the move." Have they never heard of "my time dining" or "pick your own dining time" as many other lines have?
4. Four ports we visited, we were notified the night before that we would be docked outside of town, but they would offer a "shuttle" to get us into town. Of course, there was a price, averaging euros 10 per person. When you are told you are 30 min. away from the town via bus and don't have a clue where you are docked, what other option do you have? My theory is the cruise line has to pay to dock the ship and areas out of the center of town are cheaper, so it is another way to make money. This wasn't busy tour season, and when we got to towns, there were places for more ships and none of our rides took near as long as they stated they would take.
5. I got off 1 day early, and on that day we were told we were 30 min. away from city center. I have my luggage so what else do I do but pay for the shuttle? When I went to the excursion desk to sign up, I was told I could not use the shuttle because I was disembarking. "What, you are just going to drop me God knows where and I have to find my way?" After a phone call, he permitted me to buy a ticket.
6.On disembarkment day, I was not the only one leaving. We were told to have luggage out in the hall before 8am but would not be able to leave until 4pm or after and were instructed to meet in one of the bars and someone would come and give instructions. Our luggage could be picked up in the terminal. I, along with others, obeyed and sat there, Well, no one came. We decided to get off on our own and find our luggage, and as were were exiting, we met people coming back onto the ship and said there is no luggage in the terminal. They had to come back, then get off another deck and look for their luggage on the dock. Luggage was found, but what a mess!
7. If you enjoy the shows, don't go on this ship. They were almost non-existent. The ones they did have were nice, only ever lasted less then 1/2 hour.
8.I did not use all my pre-deposited money I added to my ship account before sailing, so I ask customer service desk how to get it back. The response was, "Come back on disembarkment day and we give you euros." I returned as told, talked to the same girl and she said, "We don't give you cash back". Wait a minute, "You were the one that told me how this works and only yesterday. I came for my money." She went to the back room and when she returned, she said, " I will give you the money in euros."
9. I attended a CruiseCritic reception, and the officers in white uniforms were to come around and talk to the passengers. I sat there 50 minutes, making direct eye contact with the men and NO ONE approached me. The cruise director, Darren was there and I asked to speak to him. I told him about the "criminal" way I was treated in the dining room and also had some real issues with a laundry package I had pre-purchased. He said he would check into the laundry issue and get back to me the next day. I'm still waiting. Four days later, I went to the service desk, and told them I had not heard from him. They called his office and said the office would call me and set up an appointment. I expressed my disappointment in Darren and said he must not be a man of his word. I am still waiting for that call also!
There were a few good things that were appreciated.:
1.The cabin was neat and tidy, and clean daily.
2. I enjoyed the 9 ports we visited and the excursions I did go on were orderly and well run.
3. The ship was beautiful and always clean.
The cruise director stated at the CruiseCritic meeting that MSC was putting 14 new ships in the water in the next 12 months. If they are are going to be a big player in the American cruise industry, they will need to make some changes and have some organizational skills with much better communication between staff and toward passengers. It seems there is only chaos and no one knows how or why things are to work or run.
I have been on Avalon, Viking, Holland, Princess, Celebrity, and NCL over the years and they were all better than this. I will not be booking another cruise with MSC.
Cabin was kept clean, orderly and as advertised.