We took our first MSC cruise, a 21 day TA from Martinique to Hamburg, many port stops in between which I initially thought might be a negative (we love the sea days, hence the TA's) but it was broken up nicely and we saw a few new ... Read More
We took our first MSC cruise, a 21 day TA from Martinique to Hamburg, many port stops in between which I initially thought might be a negative (we love the sea days, hence the TA's) but it was broken up nicely and we saw a few new ports by sheer number. It was like having three different cruises, the Caribbean followed by the TA followed by a European cruise, very nice.
We arrived late with late flights, 7 pm-ish to check in but they had the whole YC experience going strong including drinks upon arrival, easy passport check, etc and then you're guided to the concierge floor to meet the concierge on duty and a few butlers hanging out, likely yours. We had awesome Roberto aided by two junior butlers and all was well. My only negative observation is the whole YC team tries too hard to provide service even when you decline it...an example would be getting a few items of food at the buffet and trying to carry it yourself, they always want to tray it up and take it to your room/table and it took at least two weeks to get them to back off. We are fit mid 50's folk and perfectly capable to carry our glass and a plate and it felt like a negative, the constant spotlight they want to shine on you. I enjoyed the experience but wished often and to their face that they would just back off a bit, we don't need a guide to our seats in the theater and I'm sure folks who DO will let it be known, if someone declines than back off and respect our choice and we found that happened too often, the push for service.
Weird complaint, right? I know, it is weird but its how it felt, to always having someone rush to open a door or guide you to a seat or try to grab your food to take it to your table instead of letting us quietly enjoy this wonderful time without the fanfare attached to it.
This leads into further service issues upstairs on deck 18, Topsail. AWESOME space with plenty of lounge chairs, oddly not padded chairs but plenty of towels available and when it got cold they brought out the blankets, nice touch. The pool guys were always smiling and nice! They have tables/umbrellas in the bar section where a buffet is set up for breakfast and lunch so probably about 10 tables available...also a smoking section that has three umbrella tables.
Weird service in the beverage department up there, hot and cold with sometimes 30 min between a round of servers and then suddenly a barrage. Gelato guy would go by (awesome) but twice we waved to flag him and he just walked by or you'd have to flag a server and then they're quite nice but just not on it the way they want to be or should be, rarely did someone take multiple orders which led to a long time getting drinks brought to you so we embraced the exercise portion of this and just went to the bar...not a big deal but the substance is lacking and my first thought was they're new at this but apparently YC has been kicking for years now so not sure if any of these issues will be fixable. We did see the turnover of one manager to another and the guy that left was so burned out, you rarely saw him vs Allessandro the new guy who was seen multiple times a day, checking on your day, borderline bothersome but I got what he was going for so hello, hello and good luck on changing practices.
Food was the major negative, it was truly tasteless and almost funny how every dish (sadly not kidding) was without taste. Upside we actually lost weight on this 21 day cruise and happy for that but wow, a whole of salt used and worse, steak sauce for a filet, that's almost criminal behavior.
We only ate at the buffet for salad bar, sad sad salad bar, and some pizza slices and that was just average at best. Wild amount of people but heck, it IS a buffet, and we found seats the three times so thats my only input. Our YC restaurant was just average, there IS an alternate menu available including chicken, a large filet of beef, a large filet of salmon, and perhaps a few other things but its not advertised oddly enough. Our waiters actually brought us the best dish we had, chicken curry, after we laughingly asked if we could eat in the crew dining room, betting they had tasty Indian food available and the next night we were eating the best chicken curry. Why that isn't on the menu is mindblowing and I asked the maitre'd and the hotel director and anyone who inquired but the answer is oddly 'we cater to an international crowd' to which i reply so does every other cruiseline and they manage to have tasty food. Europeans don't like bland, do they? I'm going to assume no because the ongoing theme from the Germans, the Brits, the French and us, the minority Americans, during the cruise was the bad food but whatever, we ate just fine, remembering that upside of weight loss and knowing it was just the way it is. Gelato was good and free for YC, once we found that baby we imbibed often!
The best advice I'd give is to reitterate what another post said regarding MSC and that is to not compare it to any other cruise and you'll love it. I reminded myself of that often and I loved it, truly. The quirks were funny including the five and six language announcements, that's just funny and even more fun when the Russians boarded in France, dropping Portuguese in exchange, and the crazy entertainment.
Wow to this menage of acts, it was funny and fun and really a wild experience. One night started out with Van Halen 'Jump' and was followed by the ring dropping from the ceiling followed by a dance number, etc etc. Crazy fun and we had a blast! No production shows, good classical voice concerts (two in the afternoon) and also a nice piano concert in the afternoon, nice additions. Their classical voices were excellent, good acts and something you don't see often. Main night acts are short, 30-40 min long which is perfect for the acts and we saw them all minus Abba and a ventriloquist. I would rate them as matinee Vegas quality and again, they were all fun, esp the acrobatic guys. Dancers were good, singers were good, all around pleasing...but remember, don't compare because these aren't Broadway shows brought to the sea or Blue Man, its great for what it is.
Ship design is lovely, crazy crystal inlays into the stairs, beautiful but somewhat blinding, pretty and nice layout of ship (a lot of mirrors!) minus the casino. Leaving the theater loads you right into it on deck 6 and its the smokiest casino I've ever seen, so much so that I didn't bother to do any gambling because the odor was so cloying, as if they lacked any smoke eating device at all and it resulted in the smoke drifting directly into the lounge directly above it, the jazz bar, so we also avoided that area. MSC should absolutely install state of the art smoke eaters, we absolutely would have frequented those areas, esp their money making casino so I guess I should thank them for that too, weight loss and more euros in my pocket.
Would we do this again? Yes but only in the yacht club, it was sheer madness in the 'real' world and not worth my cruising dollars. I'd like to hope the food issue is a one off with the ship. We ate at Eataly once and it was probably a B experience, the food was mostly tasty but all around the worse tiramisu ever eaten, both in this restaurant and La Palmeraie...found that to be quite odd for an Italian ship but ultimately thanks, two lbs of weight gain would have come from all of that tiramisu!
We loved the international blend, it was fun to chat world events with world travelers.
This particular itinerary hit a lot of ports so we enjoyed all of this exposure to new lands.
We would do another TA with MSC but again, only with yacht club, it just looked too crazy. Unfortunately prices have jacked up, we apparently paid 1/3 more than the Brits that asked us (but we are still quite happy with our choice!) so that factors in...food quality has to be considered and after traveling with Azamara (10 lbs gain, food was stupidly great) and Celebrity Blu its hard to spend extra $$ just for the 'experience' but good itinerary and we'd likely be there.
Another addition, GREAT gym! They have a variety of machines, probably 25-30, and we found working out at lunch was the time! Worked around people with the machines, empty gym in port days (yay) and would highly recommend this gym to keep your body in shape. Its up there with NCL Epic gym.
Oh yeah, one last addition...we didn't feel like MSC was nickeling and diming us at every turn. Minimal announcements, no big push of products despite a nice supply of stores on three levels, not the feeling like someone just had their hand in your pocket.
Okay, ONE last also, the nautical information they provided on the daily planner was great, informative in a different way, and we learned stuff. Sadly the captain wasn't chatty (but with the language spread its probably good) so none of the good sea tales that others like to provide but we felt information was dispelled quite well. Read Less