This review will also be posted on the MSC Chat Boards also so you can respond.
I am trying to figure out what I thought was sooo different about this MSC cruise than my other cruises on “American” lines [RCL, Carnival, Celebrity, NCL, etc…]
NOTE: [I am standing on my “soap box” right now]
“When reading reviews here on CruiseCritic by people saying how horrible everything was…and said reviewers saying “I’m a Diamond Member” or “I’ve been on 50 cruises”…and this is their FIRST review online? Where are the reviews of all those GREAT cruises you are comparing this one to? Did you join CruiseCritic just to criticize and grumble? Oh wait….maybe all of your reviews are on the site “CruisePraise”? If you have a gripe…give us the details. Don’t just complain!”
[Stepping down from “soap box”]
ALSO NOTE: Yes…embarkation was a disaster. I agree! See “also note” at end of review.
So…What was so different about this cruise than my other cruises? Here’s what I experienced!
1) The crew was just the same as any other line: Staff from every nation. Many of them on the ship for the first time like the guests. Once I was on the ship…I don’t think I had one problem with customer service or my bill…nope! Reviewers have noted how different the staff is: never smiling or saying hello….Not True! Well not for me. I had cabin stewards wishing me a good day when just passing in the halls [With a smile too!] I made friends with Rose at the Spa and Cynthia of the entertainment crew and Youseff at Jean Philippe Chocolates, then there was AJ one of the photographers. They all made the cruise much fun!
2) The food was about the same as other lines. I WAS disappointed though that the menu was not as Italian as when MSC’s ships sail in Europe. The food was “Americanized” and I thought the idea was to have something different.
Our service in the MDR was just fine! Our food was hot and we ran about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours for dinner. I’m not a steak eater, but I love lamb. I had lamb chops/rack twice on this cruise...my last cruise on Royal lamb wasn’t on the menu even once! The MDR desserts were the best of any main cruise line I have been on.
I’ll agree that the choices in the lunch buffet each day were limited and the buffet desserts lacking, But of those limited options I had some delicious lunches. A white fish stuffed with spinach in a cream sauce that was wonderful! And I never like white fish. A beef and mango stew another day was also wonderful!
[For all you nasty reviewers who slander their pizza? What planet are you on? The pizza was always fresh out of the oven and excellent!]
3) My studio cabin [Yes, I was in steerage as I heard YC people referring to us] was quite stylish and it looked exactly like the picture. I thought the bed was just fine. [I know people can be finicky about beds...that's why there are so many different kinds!]
Though the bed was a pull out sofa bed...it was not the home kind that the "two year old" could open like in the commercial. It was a seriously solid piece of bed! In fact...I had wanted to open it the first night before my steward came...and I couldn't figure it out. When he came and I saw how it opened...I would never have figured that out nor could I do it myself. My only issue was that when the sofa bed was open at night you could only open the closet doors 1/3. Fine when the bed was closed during the day. But having the option of closing the bed to a couch made the room perfectly livable!
The bathroom was cool...curved glass shower door and the cool diagonally shaped sink and the square glasses in the square holders. Yes…there were tissues! And yes there was a garbage can under the sink, but I didn’t know it until the 3rd day.
4) The Vegas style shows were very good. The LED drops were very classy and well done for the scenery. Though I do like physical scenery, it seems that LED drops are the way of the future.
The dancers in the stage shows were exceptional. What a big cast! 12 dancers and 6 singers. Carnival shows now have a cast of only 8 in their Playlist shows. [Though all Europeans and Middle Eastern performers doing songs from Oklahoma....well...O.K...] Two of the singers were great doing the opera and classical, but when miked for B'way and pop....didn't work for me. Their voices were so strong and classically trained that I don’t think they needed the microphones…and when they tried to pull it back for the amplification it technically didn’t work. I just wasn't crazy about all the singers.
There was a show called “Life is Magic” with this magician who was so polished…doing magic from card tricks to full on illusions [the ones with big boxes you put a lady in and stick swords through and slide middle parts over…you know those!] It also featured all the female dancers [with at least 6 full cast costume changes!] It was so “Old School” and it was GREAT!
I won’t lie to you…I like Vegas style shows….I do NOT want to see Cats!
5) The Passengers…I talked to more people and even developed a nightly "route" from showing up for cocktails with these folks, then to dinner with my table mates, then to another table to check in during dessert with those folks, then to the show. I never did that on any other cruise. [This is cruise #24]
One Bad Story from the first hour I was on the ship. After finally getting on board at 1:30 pm [I arrived at 11 am and my luggage was professionally and immediately handled by a porter at the entrance door] I immediately went to the cirque box office and booked my times, went to the spa and booked my 2 massages appointments, checked on the location of my dinner table...and then proceeded to find out how to connect to the Wifi with my android phone.
Right in the gallery there was a table and a young crew woman talking with a guest leaning over a phone and there was a little placard with the internet symbol on it. I couldn't believe my luck in finding this and exclaimed "Oh...this is where we find out how to connect to the internet! Yea!".
Well! This female guest turns to me and in the nastiest voice says "SHE'S HELPING ME NOW!" I just stared at her in disbelief. The crew member was mortified!. Then she says "DO YOU WORK HERE?" What? I have a coat and I am dragging luggage. I sheepishly said "no". “WELL WHEN SHE IS THROUGH WITH ME THEN SHE CAN HELP YOU!"
I backed away....and when she was finished she put this evil grin on her face and turned to me said "SHE CAN HELP YOU NOW". The wonderful crew member, Cynthia, almost cried and fell over herself apologizing for this woman's behavior.
Epilogue: On the last sea day I was in the quickly moving and not long line for cash refunds and there was that same woman...with that same weird grin on her face berating a uniformed officer trying to answer questions in the line. it was all I could do NOT to go over and tell her off.
6) Yes...I was approached often for specialty restaurants...but on MSC they actually took "no thanks" for an answer. I felt LESS “nickel and dimed” on this cruise than on NCL or Royal Caribbean..
7) Bar service…I’m afraid you may have to believe every other review on here about the bar service.
8) The Coffee….O>M>G>!!!! The most excellent Macchiatos and Correttos I have EVER had! I had at least two machiattos at the Jean Phillipe chocolate counter each day and one or two correttos at the sky lounge each evening.
9) Disembarkation….My bill was left in the door and was totally correct so I did the self-express…lined up at 7 am in the Galleria and was in a [FAKE!] Uber, but let’s not go there!...and I was home in Jersey City at 8:30am!
So....in conclusion. I think it was beautiful ship...but a budget, not a luxury brand. However with the low cruise fare I paid I was able to afford the Wifi, Thermal Spa, two massages, and both Cirque shows with [strange] cocktails. On my previous 23 cruises I have NEVER gotten Wi-Fi or a Thermal Spa Pass, only once a massage as it was a free perk.
I personally found service to be good, I know some others didn't...activities need to be honed.
[ALSO NOTE: Yes…embarkation was a disaster. I agree! It is a BIG ship and the NYC Cruise terminal was not built for this size ship. AND it was a transatlantic so there was customs to clear 4500 people.
Yes…the NCL Breakaway Class sails from there also and I remember it took a long time to embark on that ship also, but it wasn’t chaos…but it was a weekend when the pier has a full complement of porters and staff, unlike, I am told, during weekdays when we sailed. And the departing guests did not have to go through customs. Enough said]
Great Cabin for one person. Storage was just fine and the sofa bed was quite comfortable. LOTS of Pillows! Bathroom was much nicer than most with a curved glass shower door and this cool angular sink and square glasses with square holders.
ONE problem is that when the sofa bed is open the closet doors only open 1/3...problem in the morning, but not too big a problem.