We initially chose this particular cruise because of the lovely itinerary and for a special pre retirement holiday. We had cruised with MSC three times previously and although it was not the best quality cruise line it was always an acceptable standard, reasonably priced and had good itineraries.
Right from the start of this cruise things were not managed well, the cruise started in Durban South Africa and finished in Venice. We arrived for embarkation and the queues were the longest we had ever seen, it was a very hot day and there was very little shelter from the sun and no where to sit. Passengers of all ages were standing in lines for nearly two hours before getting onboard. Once on board we were told we had to join another very long queue in the theatre to sign for our drinks vouchers, we normally purchase a drink package but were advised that ships sailing from South Africa were unable to sell these. After another hour in a line we managed to pick up the vouchers we had already preordered and already paid for. When we had had a couple of days onboard and met other passengers it was soon apparent some passengers had been able to purchase a drinks package and staff were unable to explain this.
A few days into the cruise many passengers were becoming unwell with a respiratory illness, hygiene standards onboard were very poor and the food quality and quantity were the worst we had experienced. No water was served in the dining rooms, we had to purchase a bottle of water if we wanted water to drink and food was only warm when served, the poor dining staff had to keep taking meals back to be reheated. For the last week of the cruise all the good wine had run out, nothing was restocked and passengers were forced to drink cheap unpleasant wine which was less to buy than the value of the prepaid vouchers. Many people had vouchers left over because of this and were told they were non refundable.The ship did not have sufficient staff and those they had were overworked and tired, several were unwell and they were all trying their best to cope and very apologetic.
The cabin was comfortable but not very clean and needed a makeover. The cabin steward was lovely but had so many cabins to look after he was only to do the basics. Part way through the cruise the shower started going hot and cold when in use. After reporting it a mechanic visited and did his best to repair it but said it needed a new shower and he didn’t have one and several other nearby cabins had problems The shower was still changing temperature and got so hot it burnt my skin so another visit to reception and they gave us a change of cabins which solved the problem.