Having sailed with MSC numerous times on several different MSC ships, our group were looking forward to our 9 night cruise. Embarkation at Malaga a nightmare. Having obtained our PCR certificates, our luggage was put onto the ship without anyone bothering to check that we had the necessary paperwork. As it was a requirement by MSC to have the PCR test 72 hours prior to boarding, you would have thought that the logical thing to do, would be to check every passenger had the required documents before putting your luggage onboard!! Once inside the cruise terminal-more chaos-absolutely no social distancing, and the staff were more concerned that we produced our Travel Insurance. More queues to have a mandatory antigen swab-again, no social distancing. My antigen was so invasive, the staff drew blood and gave me a nosebleed! Once we eventually boarded the Virtuosa at 5.20p.m it was evident that social distancing around the pool areas was non existent as all the sunbeds were positioned side by side with no gaps! Our luggage was not at our cabin in time for our 6.30 evening dinner, so when we arrived late at the restaurant we were refused entry & advised to go to a different restaurant where we would incur costs!! Our cabin on Deck 14 was situated underneath the main buffet restaurant and sleeping was impossible due to the noise of the catering trolleys. we were moved after 5 days. Food in the main restaurant was inedible on a number of occasions & the staff were equally embarrassed to serve it. The buffet, or 'cattle market' was farcical. Huge queues and no form of orderly conduct. We went to the main restaurant for breakfast one morning. After waiting 20 minutes to get a drink & take our order, we were forgotten about & had to ask staff on 3 separate occasions to chase our order. 50 minutes later, our inedible food turned up...thus we walked out! Previous MSC ships always provided excellent evening entertainment-this was totally lacking on the Virtuosa. One of the most baffling scenarios whilst on the ship, was that 2 of our party had received certificates(signed by the ships doctor), that their antigen swab tests taken onboard were negative. Great, but they hadn't had any tests done!!!! Customer Service desk only seemed to be helpful if you were from Italy, Spain or France as I queued for assistance & appeared to be invisible!!!
When we booked this cruise MSC stated that all guests MUST be double vaccinated, but that is not the case if you are from Italy, Spain or Portugal as we discovered when our friends received a call prior to an excursion asking if they had been double jabbed!!
The waterpark on top was a welcome distraction and wasn't too busy most of the time. The ship is one the newest in the fleet but at the pool area at the back on deck 16 and the Horizon bar Deck 18, each morning it rained black diesel oil from the funnel covering the deck and clothing in black spots! There was also a constant side to side wobble whilst sitting at the rear even on a flat calm sea. The only saving grace was the hard working and friendly table staff who we could not fault.