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MSC Seaview 31st August - 7th September 2019, return trip from Barcelona with stops at Cannes, Genoa, La Spezia, Rome, Ajaccio and Palma This was our 23rd cruise, having cruised, as a couple and as a family, with most of the mainstream cruise lines. Our trip with Seaview was our 3rd MSC cruise experience having sailed both Magnifica and Splendida previously. As before, the decision to choose MSC was driven mainly by the itinerary and the perceived value. Our experience of MSC in the past had been mixed at best, however, the draw of a port intensive cruise along the French and Italian rivieras was sufficient to overcome any concerns we may have had. Sailing MSC from a Med port is a different experience to other lines. The ship acts more like a bus, where passengers from across Europe and beyond can start and end their cruise at any of the main ports. For us, provided you arrive early in the day, embarkation was relatively straightforward (we were on within 30 mins). This is possible as only a proportion of the passenger complement is embarking/ disembarking at any given port. Once on Seaview, our initial impressions were that this ship is large, very large and slightly disorientating. You are sharing your cruise holiday with thousands of fellow guests speaking multiple languages from across Europe and Latin America. The ship is ‘busy’ - this is not a ship to choose for peace and tranquility! The design theme of the ship is ‘modern’ - plenty of glass, steel, mirrors, chrome and vinyl in a muted pallette of purples, greys and greens. Whilst we would not describe the ship as dirty, it was the least ‘kept’ ship we have ever been on. This could be to do with the thousands of people in constant movement on the ship, but one of the biggest differences we noticed is the total lack of staffing. We rarely saw anyone cleaning the public areas, and it was common-place to see unvacuumed carpets or handprints across mirrored surfaces. Hygiene did not seem to be enforced on the ship with no one being asked to wash or sanitise their hands before entering the restaurants. Whilst embarkation was straight forward and quick, the rest of our ‘cruise prep’ was nothing short of a mess. We had pre-purchased our drinks package and had paid extra for the ‘Fantastica’ experience to ensure we had our choice of dining time as we enjoy eating later in the evening. This was all confirmed with MSC by our TA and our tickets issued by MSC confirmed the same. Once on board we celebrated the start of our cruise with a sail-away cocktail only to be told by the barman that no drinks package was loaded to our account - at this point we noticed we had been allocated the first sitting (6.15pm) for dinner. A trip to Guest Relations was required. We felt sorry for the staff in the end. There are just too few of them employed by MSC. This means they are overworked and tired and begin to see guests as a problem. We queued for 20 mins to see the agent at Guest Relations. He could not help as his computer just said ‘no’ to finding our drinks package. His colleague was better equipped to help but never once looked us in the eye and continued to tap furiously at the computer trying to find our drinks package. After calling over a third colleague and then reissuing our whole party’s cruise cards we were all set to go. This episode had taken 1 hour. We mentioned the dining time error and were dismissed with the wave of the hand and told to report to the restaurant to request the change. We duly reported to the head waiter at the restaurant and after a further queue we were summoned forward to plead our request to change our dining time. Our request was met with a snort and we were asked if we knew how many children were on board (1500 apparently). We were informed that children like to eat late so we would have to eat early - no ifs or buts. We protested that we had paid the extra to eat at a time of our choosing. His response was, with a wry smile, to read the small print (there is no guarantee that MSC will honour the time of your choice). We continued to protest - clearly the head waiter had heard all of our arguments before - and only gave us the blank stare look. Eventually we must have hit the correct word pattern for him to take out a notepad and write down our request for a table for 5 at a later time with a promise to see why he could do ‘tomorrow’. Unfortunately this start to the cruise was an all too familiar MSC experience for us. We don’t understand why they make such hard work of such basic elements of their service. Clearly the deficiencies are all too evident to their staff but they seem so indifferent to their employers incompetence. Our inside room was well appointed, the beds comfortable and the IT (interactive tv and USB charging ports) were excellent. Whilst most continental channels were provided, English speaking guests have a diet of three news channels or PPV movies at 7 Euros a go. Our room steward made himself known. He was efficient if somewhat aggressive. MSC only allow you one pool towel that you must return to your cabin. Failure to comply will result in a 20 Euros fee. Our towel was taken by ‘persons unknown’ whilst we made use of a jacuzzi. The cabin steward took some convincing that we had not sequestrated an MSC branded towel. Whilst familiarising ourselves with MSC app we discovered the head waiter had managed to change our table reservation for a later evening slot as originally confirmed by MSC. Hooray! Not that this was communicated directly to us, we just noticed the table number had changed on the MSC app. A call to Guest Relations did indeed confirm the change. Dining with MSC can never be described as a culinary experience. There are three set dining times, with just a 15 minute window for you to enter the restaurant at your set time. With up to a third of the ship eating at any one time, it is a miracle what they do achieve. It was staggering sight to see so many people crowed outside the restaurant waiting for the ‘rope drop’ moment when the hoarding mass is let into the room to feast. We ate in the Silver Dolphin restaurant. A dull grey affair with seating that resembles 1970s office furniture. Our ‘new’ table for five was in fact a table for four with the fifth person stuck on the end. This person being just inches away from the adjoining table; they could easily join in with that party. The waiters did well, but they were clearly overworked covering a wide section of tables. We would arrive around 8.15pm and would be asked to select all courses. We would not receive our first course until well after 9pm. The rest of meal being served in quick succession to ensure we were out by 10pm for the next sitting. The food itself is fairly bland and uninspired and was served to us ‘warm’. Most dishes appeared to be a variation of fish and pork. The din in the room was so much it was very difficult for us to conduct a conversation. In a first for us, we ate more frequently in the casual dining option (Deck 16 buffet was a good option) to escape the confines, noise and mediocrity of the main restaurant. It has to be repeated - this ship is large. This wouldn’t normally have fazed us, but this time we travelled with an older family member with limited mobility. We were somewhat reliant to travel by lift when we wished to move between decks. The ships deploys an ‘intelligent’ lift system where you select the floor you wish to travel to prior to entering the designated car. Whilst this may result in a fair distribution of available lift space it can mean lengthy waits in the lobby area. This can become tedious especially at peak times as you can’t just jump in the next available passing lift. Based on our previous MSC cruise experience we knew that a drinks package of some description would be required - the only free options are water, tea and coffee in the buffet areas and ‘juice’ at breakfast. To find someone to order your drinks from is a challenge. Again MSC don’t employ sufficient staff. In the buffet a call bell system is deployed where you press a button on your table that buzzes a nearby waiter’s watch to notify him to coma and take your request. That’s the theory but it rarely worked without prompting. We noticed that several bar staff were manning at least three of these watches. Where were the staff? On the outside deck we never saw a bar service waiter. One of our party needed to make a trip to a bar to get the order. On one occasion the bar man asked a colleague to help take out our drinks to where we were sitting - this was met with a ‘do I have to’ protest. To sum up, we were aware of MSC’s deficiencies before we booked and they did nothing to change our view. The ports of call were excellent and were the focus of the holiday, and therefore we enjoyed our time. MSC seriously understaff their ships and whilst there were a couple of exceptions most staff appeared disinterested in the customer experience. The food remains average. The consequence of a large ship is lots of people, noise and queues at peak times. For us, this will be the last MSC cruise. We will focus on the quality of the experience and steer clear of the larger mega-ships. If MSC spent as much money on their staffing and food offering as they have on their latest ships the overall product would stand better scrutiny. We would rate our overall experience as 3 out of 5.

MSC misses the mark

MSC Seaview Cruise Review by maphi3

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
MSC Seaview 31st August - 7th September 2019, return trip from Barcelona with stops at Cannes, Genoa, La Spezia, Rome, Ajaccio and Palma

This was our 23rd cruise, having cruised, as a couple and as a family, with most of the mainstream cruise lines. Our trip with Seaview was our 3rd MSC cruise experience having sailed both Magnifica and Splendida previously.

As before, the decision to choose MSC was driven mainly by the itinerary and the perceived value. Our experience of MSC in the past had been mixed at best, however, the draw of a port intensive cruise along the French and Italian rivieras was sufficient to overcome any concerns we may have had.

Sailing MSC from a Med port is a different experience to other lines. The ship acts more like a bus, where passengers from across Europe and beyond can start and end their cruise at any of the main ports. For us, provided you arrive early in the day, embarkation was relatively straightforward (we were on within 30 mins). This is possible as only a proportion of the passenger complement is embarking/ disembarking at any given port.

Once on Seaview, our initial impressions were that this ship is large, very large and slightly disorientating. You are sharing your cruise holiday with thousands of fellow guests speaking multiple languages from across Europe and Latin America. The ship is ‘busy’ - this is not a ship to choose for peace and tranquility!

The design theme of the ship is ‘modern’ - plenty of glass, steel, mirrors, chrome and vinyl in a muted pallette of purples, greys and greens. Whilst we would not describe the ship as dirty, it was the least ‘kept’ ship we have ever been on. This could be to do with the thousands of people in constant movement on the ship, but one of the biggest differences we noticed is the total lack of staffing. We rarely saw anyone cleaning the public areas, and it was common-place to see unvacuumed carpets or handprints across mirrored surfaces. Hygiene did not seem to be enforced on the ship with no one being asked to wash or sanitise their hands before entering the restaurants.

Whilst embarkation was straight forward and quick, the rest of our ‘cruise prep’ was nothing short of a mess. We had pre-purchased our drinks package and had paid extra for the ‘Fantastica’ experience to ensure we had our choice of dining time as we enjoy eating later in the evening. This was all confirmed with MSC by our TA and our tickets issued by MSC confirmed the same.

Once on board we celebrated the start of our cruise with a sail-away cocktail only to be told by the barman that no drinks package was loaded to our account - at this point we noticed we had been allocated the first sitting (6.15pm) for dinner. A trip to Guest Relations was required.

We felt sorry for the staff in the end. There are just too few of them employed by MSC. This means they are overworked and tired and begin to see guests as a problem. We queued for 20 mins to see the agent at Guest Relations. He could not help as his computer just said ‘no’ to finding our drinks package. His colleague was better equipped to help but never once looked us in the eye and continued to tap furiously at the computer trying to find our drinks package. After calling over a third colleague and then reissuing our whole party’s cruise cards we were all set to go. This episode had taken 1 hour. We mentioned the dining time error and were dismissed with the wave of the hand and told to report to the restaurant to request the change.

We duly reported to the head waiter at the restaurant and after a further queue we were summoned forward to plead our request to change our dining time. Our request was met with a snort and we were asked if we knew how many children were on board (1500 apparently). We were informed that children like to eat late so we would have to eat early - no ifs or buts. We protested that we had paid the extra to eat at a time of our choosing. His response was, with a wry smile, to read the small print (there is no guarantee that MSC will honour the time of your choice). We continued to protest - clearly the head waiter had heard all of our arguments before - and only gave us the blank stare look. Eventually we must have hit the correct word pattern for him to take out a notepad and write down our request for a table for 5 at a later time with a promise to see why he could do ‘tomorrow’.

Unfortunately this start to the cruise was an all too familiar MSC experience for us. We don’t understand why they make such hard work of such basic elements of their service. Clearly the deficiencies are all too evident to their staff but they seem so indifferent to their employers incompetence.

Our inside room was well appointed, the beds comfortable and the IT (interactive tv and USB charging ports) were excellent. Whilst most continental channels were provided, English speaking guests have a diet of three news channels or PPV movies at 7 Euros a go.

Our room steward made himself known. He was efficient if somewhat aggressive. MSC only allow you one pool towel that you must return to your cabin. Failure to comply will result in a 20 Euros fee. Our towel was taken by ‘persons unknown’ whilst we made use of a jacuzzi. The cabin steward took some convincing that we had not sequestrated an MSC branded towel.

Whilst familiarising ourselves with MSC app we discovered the head waiter had managed to change our table reservation for a later evening slot as originally confirmed by MSC. Hooray! Not that this was communicated directly to us, we just noticed the table number had changed on the MSC app. A call to Guest Relations did indeed confirm the change.

Dining with MSC can never be described as a culinary experience. There are three set dining times, with just a 15 minute window for you to enter the restaurant at your set time. With up to a third of the ship eating at any one time, it is a miracle what they do achieve. It was staggering sight to see so many people crowed outside the restaurant waiting for the ‘rope drop’ moment when the hoarding mass is let into the room to feast.

We ate in the Silver Dolphin restaurant. A dull grey affair with seating that resembles 1970s office furniture. Our ‘new’ table for five was in fact a table for four with the fifth person stuck on the end. This person being just inches away from the adjoining table; they could easily join in with that party. The waiters did well, but they were clearly overworked covering a wide section of tables. We would arrive around 8.15pm and would be asked to select all courses. We would not receive our first course until well after 9pm. The rest of meal being served in quick succession to ensure we were out by 10pm for the next sitting. The food itself is fairly bland and uninspired and was served to us ‘warm’. Most dishes appeared to be a variation of fish and pork. The din in the room was so much it was very difficult for us to conduct a conversation. In a first for us, we ate more frequently in the casual dining option (Deck 16 buffet was a good option) to escape the confines, noise and mediocrity of the main restaurant.

It has to be repeated - this ship is large. This wouldn’t normally have fazed us, but this time we travelled with an older family member with limited mobility. We were somewhat reliant to travel by lift when we wished to move between decks. The ships deploys an ‘intelligent’ lift system where you select the floor you wish to travel to prior to entering the designated car. Whilst this may result in a fair distribution of available lift space it can mean lengthy waits in the lobby area. This can become tedious especially at peak times as you can’t just jump in the next available passing lift.

Based on our previous MSC cruise experience we knew that a drinks package of some description would be required - the only free options are water, tea and coffee in the buffet areas and ‘juice’ at breakfast. To find someone to order your drinks from is a challenge. Again MSC don’t employ sufficient staff. In the buffet a call bell system is deployed where you press a button on your table that buzzes a nearby waiter’s watch to notify him to coma and take your request. That’s the theory but it rarely worked without prompting. We noticed that several bar staff were manning at least three of these watches. Where were the staff?

On the outside deck we never saw a bar service waiter. One of our party needed to make a trip to a bar to get the order. On one occasion the bar man asked a colleague to help take out our drinks to where we were sitting - this was met with a ‘do I have to’ protest.

To sum up, we were aware of MSC’s deficiencies before we booked and they did nothing to change our view. The ports of call were excellent and were the focus of the holiday, and therefore we enjoyed our time. MSC seriously understaff their ships and whilst there were a couple of exceptions most staff appeared disinterested in the customer experience. The food remains average. The consequence of a large ship is lots of people, noise and queues at peak times.

For us, this will be the last MSC cruise. We will focus on the quality of the experience and steer clear of the larger mega-ships. If MSC spent as much money on their staffing and food offering as they have on their latest ships the overall product would stand better scrutiny.

We would rate our overall experience as 3 out of 5.
maphi3’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Fantastica Inside Stateroom
Cabin I2 11220
Our inside room was well appointed, the beds comfortable and the IT (interactive tv and USB charging ports) were excellent. Whilst most continental channels were provided, English speaking guests have a diet of three news channels or PPV movies at 7 Euros a go.
Aegean Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins