Where to start:
First, we have sailed nineteen times and experienced an array of American AND European cruise products from RCCL, Princess, Costa, P&O, NCL, Holland America etc. The experiences of these diverse products have collectively informed my opinion of our MSC experience.
MSC is NOT for the American market share rather, this European line is clearly after the sustainability of the European market share. American products by and large, do not charge a consistently high price for the cruise and then, charge clients for water while on board. Yes... MSC does this. Not even Costa does this.
We paid over 3k for our cruise (similar and consistent to what we have paid for with other products like RCCL, Costa, Princess etc.) but while on board the MSC product we were charged for water.... we were amazed, perplexed and terribly disappointed.
Its also important to note -what MSC USA sold us was not what we experienced onboard. When we pointed out the discrepancies on board we were told to take it up with MSC USA when we got home. We did, they did nothing to satisfy or settle our issue. We purchased the Fantastica experience, were told drink packages were included - then they somehow were not included. When we argued they were - we were told we had to buy a drink package which we did for our two children (non alcoholic package) and 1 adult alcoholic package. Only to get on board and be told we shouldn't have done that in fact it was included in our package and when we asked to have the initial prepaid packages we purchased refunded they said - sorry it wasn't included... The only thing which we felt was consistent was the inconsistency between what was sold and what we expected to what we actually experienced onboard.
Other things we felt were important to note. The excursions - expensive but of little to no substance; again, representing to us an imbalance between what we paid for and what we actually experienced. We purchased several excursions through MSC - and quickly spent MORE TIME transiting to the excursions than we actually did enjoying the place we were visiting. This happend to us in both Arles France and Portofino. In Arles, we spent 3 hours on a bus to experience the town for only an hour. While in Portofino, same things - we paid a fortune to go to Portofino and spent three hours transiting there only to spend an hour IN Portofino... Very little value for money. Similarly, MSC twice docked at a port which they charged a fee to go from the Port facility to the town.... We were left shaking our heads and again, having the experience of other lines, this was an anomaly we felt was important to note for others who are considering this line.
The ship itself was clean, comparatively clean to other lines and with cabins which were much larger than the typical stateroom found on other lines. That was about the only two bonuses on this line.
Our experience of the ship was in one word -- exhausting. Terribly overcrowded and with clearly overwhelmed staff who continually treated us with discourtesy and disregard. The staff appeared as exhausted of the overcrowded conditions as we were. This was consistent from the bar staff to the dinning staff -- totally overwhelmed and continually discourteous and seemed exhausted.....
The common centers on the ship were jammed daily elbow to elbow with people and loud music - wasn't a quiet spot on the ship to be found... ever. The smoking is an experience not commonly found with American products, on European lines - smoking is everywhere and something we found terribly intrusive and distasteful. Imagine placing the ONLY soft serve ice cream station for kids on the ship in the smoking section of the ship... kids actually have to endure cigarette smoke while waiting for their ice cream (which was eventually closed down due to being broken). This careless disregard for children - alone, made us not want to return to this product... ever.
We have sailed many ships (19 cruises to date) and several of those other European products. First time we were ever on a ship and product we couldn't wait to leave... first time.
The cost of this product comparatively is similar to other lines - RCCL, Princess Holland America - but what you get for your money is wholly inconsistent and as a result, we could not in good conscience recommend this product, especially for families. While MSC is trying desperately to break into the American marketshare, we believe this is going to be extremely difficult as people with experiences such as ours, share our impressions with others.
This was an honest and unbiased account of our experience. We hope it is taken seriously so the product may be improved for others going forward. For us, we will not use or recommend this product in the future.
Above average in size and clean. Bathroom was huge by comparison to other product lines we have sailed. Balcony was great but sadly our kids could not enjoy it because we had smokers to our left who, despite our repeated requests to discontinue smoking, would not stop.
We complained several times and finally escalated to upper management who did not address an outcome with us directly but ended up fining the occupants of the cabin 250 Euros for smoking (according to our cabin steward) This fine did nothing to help offset our non use of the balcony we paid to have our kids enjoy but who couldn't. No one from management came to discuss the outcome with us or even provide us a partial refund for a product we paid for but could not use.... awful. So who got the 250 euro anyway?
This is not a port - its a shipyard.... its an hour to/from Rome
Easy to find the hop on hop off bus tour but very little to see or do in Palermo
This was an excellent experience - would highly recommendView All 8 Catamaran Tour Reviews
We took an Aquarium tour independent of the ship. Ship charged for transport into the city center -- not even Costa docks in a shipyard then charges its clients for transport out of the shipyard... HUGE turn off
Awful experience - SUPER EXPENSIVE - and was a three and a half hour trip to spend only 1 hour rushing through the town with an exceptionally rude guide who would not wait for our children whose stride is half his. Was an exceptionally expensive and awful experience.View All 12 Arles Walking Tour Reviews
Again, money for value was just not here. We paid a fortunate with the cruise line to go to Portofino and spent three hours on an overcrowded tugboat (roundtrip) to only spend an hour in Portofino. Our other family members got off the ship, taxied to the train station and took a train to Portofino spending three hours on the ground there for a third of the price we paid. Beware MSC excursions are expensive and with very little value.View All 36 Portofino Walking Tour Reviews