We had used MSC for our 10 year anniversary in the Mediterranean and I admit that it had been perfect on all points; staff, stopovers, shows, entertainment, quality of food served in the restaurants. We were therefore delighted to re-trust ... Read More
We had used MSC for our 10 year anniversary in the Mediterranean and I admit that it had been perfect on all points; staff, stopovers, shows, entertainment, quality of food served in the restaurants. We were therefore delighted to re-trust this company for our 20 year anniversary for a cruise in the Caribbean.
On this cruise, the only positive points were the staff, kind, helpful and largely contributed to making this cruise bearable despite the limited means allocated to them.
It was for us, what I ended up calling 'a shopping cruise'. This was mainly access to shopping, meeting about shopping, presentation of partners from whom it is absolutely necessary to buy, from them and no one else, VIP shopping card, invitation deposited in the cabin for shopping meeting, VIP shopping card available at MSC partners, shopping stops with MSC host ... And above all, do not forget to give the name of the ship and your cabin number (it would be terrible if they missed the opportunity to make a commission on all your purchases!)
Most of the entertainment on board revolves around champagne cocktails, mimosas lottery for gifts in shops, jewelers, art gallery on the ship.
The other activities: trivia, salsa lesson led by the entertainment team (excellent crew members, very resourcefull despite limited means)
My son, creative, was only interested in the creative workshops where he signed up every day, proposed theme: design your own jewelry, creating a bracelet, creating a photo frame ... All canceled because they did not receive the material, the poor host had to do with what she had on board, paper, so origami workshop all week.
We chose the fantastica atmosphere, and English as language preference when we booked, which gave us:
Choice of table during dinner (subject to availability)
Priority over the choice of service during the dinner
We had asked early or mid evening, we ended up with a service at 9:15 p.m. (the last one) without the possibility of changing because 'the boat is full' seated with French families , without the possibility of changing because ' the boat is full 'and the daily program in French but it can be picked up every day in English at the' customer service ' we were told at custumer service.
The food served in the restaurant (we were at IPANEMA) was frankly disappointing and equivalent to that served at Sodexo caffeteria (sorry for the analogy but that's what we felt).
My husband has multiple sclerosis, resulting in perpetual pain that drains him completely and he arrives at the end of the day exhausted and rarelystay up without going to bed past 09/09:30 PM. We ended up giving up the evening dinner and favoring the buffet which allowed us to eat earlier for my husband and had a wide choice, which suited the child (Pizza, Burgers...), less for me as I have a gluten free diet and the buffet had no specificity for food intolerance (the restaurant has a gluten-free menu, but unfortunatly it's the same every night so you find yourself eating the same every day), so salad / vegetable and fruit for me all week which did not bother me at all really.
The all-you-can-eat buffets have outdoor terraces, so super pleasant, especially if you can't stand the air conditioning (it's everywhere on the boat and very cold, Think of bringing a cardigan / shawls for those who are chilly, (we can lower it in the bedrooms fortunately)
I don't know how often the sheets are supposed to be changed in the cabin but ours were not. Which bothered us from the 4th day because they were visibly dirty, although our fault (stain of lipstick, stain of sole placed on the bed by one of the children) but they have not been changed until the end of our stay, the beds were made every day but with the same dirty and crumpled sheets)
The shows were really not great compared to those in the Mediterranean, except the BEERPROV which were original but at 10:45 pm on three nights.
The 3rd evening we left before the end and we did not return. Basically, they take the same team, change the decor and costumes and we start again and the same show on two / three evenings.
We really enjoyed the evening the evening of "MSC Crew has Talent", really great but at 11:30 pm. Organized and managed entirely by staff.
The White Party evening was also good, very good atmosphere and management by the entertainment team.
The Gala evening, nonexistent, there was, in fact, nothing, neither cocktail with the Captain, neither photo nor gala nor animation, nothing. Basically we crowded our suitcases with three costumes from Paris to sit and dine in a restaurant with a mediocre menu (sorry for my frankness).
When I spoke to customer relations about it the next day, I was told that it was because of the Corona Virus and that the American authorities had recommended that it be canceled. Of course we are told nothing! Our table neighbors informed us the following day that they had received an invitation from the commander for cocktail Gala and photo with the captain ( they were staying on for two weeks, we were only there for one week).
And strangely, the American authorities (although not in their waters anymore, recommended the cancellation of the Gala evening, but not the White Party, nor the 70's evening ...)
The first day we registered our credit card for the expenses on board for the two cabins ( we had a balcony acabin and interior cabin for our sons), having a minor, I was widely recommended to get him a teenager card instead of just registering our credit card and to put 100 € aon it to cover his expenses on board , I ended up putting only 50 € not thinking that he would spend as much and I could always have added money on it if necessary.
He ended up spending only the cost of a drink as didn't think he didn't think the zip line, bowling alley ... was really worth it. On thelast day, when I went to pay my card balance, I also asked for a refund of my son's card balance, I wa sthen told: sorry but the money put on the teenager card is not refundable.
Of course I insisted, I find these shameful forced selling practices without full disclosure of the terms and conditions appaling. You would think this is the first think they should tell you.
I accordance with the new MSC Policy I guess, like I said it's a Shopping Cruise!
My 16 year old son enjoyed himself and participated in the 16+ activities, no details on what they did exactly but he said he had a good time and rarely came back to his cabin before midnigh :)
The drinks packages are exorbitant I found, has to be bought by all member of one booking although having a minor therefore € 199 per person/week, for drinks not exceeding $ 6, basically for soft drinks (coke, water ...) and Miller Light beer, the only one at 6 €, all the others start at 6.5 $, the cocktails 9 $ and 11 $ and haven't seen any spirits at 06$ on they menus.
In the buffets you have water, ice cubes, cranberry juice, pineapple, mango / kiwi ... juices. Plan to bring water bottles, so you can fill it up rather that having a small glass every time and ending going often. Usefull especially when by the pool or night time.
The stops were also disappointing, Costa Maya is not a real city but an open air shopping center, intended only for cruise ship customers, nothing else to do than shopping if you did not take excursions, and above all, of course do not forget to give the name of your boat and cabin number.
On the daily presentation, the recommended things to do are the MSC excursions and shops and restaurant for shopping, of course recommended by MSC, However, we learned it by repeat passengers ( afterwards of course) , that there are a small village 5/10 minutes by taxi called Mahahual, typical Mexican village with a superb beach, beach club, restaurants and bars and craft market. Information that would have been more than useful to communicate but hey there is no restaurant or shop recommended by MSC there, so ...
George town, problem in the procedure for disembarking, we were to be there from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but the disembarkation with tender was so badly organized that we arrived at 1:00 p.m., just enough time to catch an excursion at 1:15 p.m., expected return at 4:00 p.m. but in fact late so we found ourselves there at 4:50 p.m., so had no time to see anything.
The excursion swimming with stingraies and snorkelling was great so we did not lost everything. We didn't book it with MSC, paid $ 30 per person
On each port you have touts for excursions, we did this on each port and worked out 3 times cheaper than MSC, so don't worry if you don't book or plan ahead, you will find your happiness on the spot. They are in port for those approved by the port authorities, you also have them at the exit of the port but these are not approved by the port.
The highlight for us, the full day until 11:00 p.m. in Ocean Cay, an absolutely magnificent island, however we had a prematured departure at 3:00 p.m., for whether reasons, certainly reason beyond their control but disapointing for us, an additional event of disappointment. And it's a shame, it's heavenly. Bring snorkelling gears, it's really worth it. MSC rents them for € 29 a day but we bought them for $ 25 in Jamaica and we get to keep them ...
The boat was full, but because the wheather was nice and the outdoor spaces were used, it didn't feel crowded.
As for swimming pools, it's Just !, The jungle pool is more for children so noisy because playground, slide and children's club ...
The Miami Beach is small so it’s impossible to really swim there, the decks are enough for sunbathing sessions with deckchairs everywhere, more are available on the deck when away from the pools.
Fortunately, the entertainment team and the staff raised the level considerably, although without much, just their kindness, humor and professionalism. Compared to their colleague responsible for pushing for consumption which had all the means at their disposal, not cool ...
And anyway thank you very much to them who helped make our stay a pleasant one. Thank you also for their honesty and objectivity with regard to the situation.
We really felt like it put a big dent on our vacation and it's disapointing. I don’t think we’ll reiterate the MSC experience in the Caribbean.
I did The caribean 8 years ago with my sister, on Norwegian and absolutely excellent in every way, next time I would probably try Royal Caribean ...
FYI: we had two cabins, one with balcony and an interior for our children aged 18 and 16. The cabins are very nice, nothing to say on that front.
For the famous obligatory tip, they will debit you automatically but you can request a refund, In our case we were debited € 350, a little much I think from the experience, so we asked for it to be refunded and individually left a tip to the staff of our choice (info provided by a member of staff so thank you to them).
Basically I think this cruise is not well suited to the European standard, the Americans on the other hand seemed satisfied so I guess it is a question of standards Read Less