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99 MSC Cruises Genoa Cruise Reviews

Apologies for the length of this review: We actually boarded at Livorno but this wasn't an option in the review pick-list. We flew on Ryanair from Stn to Pisa, rented a car and spent 4 nights near Aulla in an excellent selfcatering ... Read More
Apologies for the length of this review: We actually boarded at Livorno but this wasn't an option in the review pick-list. We flew on Ryanair from Stn to Pisa, rented a car and spent 4 nights near Aulla in an excellent selfcatering apartment in the hills before dropping the car back to Pisa Airport and taking public transport to the port: here are a few tips we couldn't find on the internet before we went: Train from Pisa airport to Pisa was 15 minute journey and cost about 6 euros for 4 of us (2nd class) train efficient, comfy and no crowds and the station at Pisa Airport is literally about 30 yards from the check-in hall of the sirport. Change platforms at Pisa for train to Livorno which was pretty much the same and took about 20 minues. On arrival we took a number 1R bus to the main Piazza Grande ? then walked right around corner to bus stop 5 (marked on wall) and took another bus to the port entrance which was 5 minutes journey, walked through security gate unopposed and another 50 yards to MSC check-in, the ship was nearest to the port entrance. The bus rides cost about 6 euros for all of us (one-way) Check-in was slow but we did arrive early. Bought a beer package (14 paper coupons for the local draught lager which is OK and costs about 1 euro less than paying 4.90 plus 15% service charge on-board) Bought 10 soft drinks (Fant/Sprite or kids coctails) vouchers which represented a similar saving albeit the coctails are better value than a can of coke etc. Ship looks a little worn in places but we found all public spaces and cabins were very clean, always fresh towels and sheets etc after it had been serviced and cabin stewards were very friendly and efficient. 95% of guests were Italian and this is what we expected and was OK as we didn't expect being well catered for on the entertainment front tho' was pleasantly surprised that the shows were often in English and we didn't feel being a minority was a disadvantage; we decided to avoid all excursions and long queues disembarking and pretty much did our own thing which is far less stressful, more enjoyable / individual and considerably less expensive. Quite a few of the excurions are little more than a coach ride to a popular destination. Ports of call were usually only for half a day and included: The pools are nice areas but beds are in the usual demand and are reserved by the selfish majority. The water is SALT water so beware when you take a dip. The spa's are luke warm altho' the Italians were obviously having a 'how many can we get in a spa' competetion and how long can we stay in for... so we didn't spend long in them. Taking towels ashore: the grump by the pool (who wants you cabin number when he hands you the towels) told us they were available on the gangway; the staff on the gangway told us to get them from the grump at the pool blah blah so you're better off taking them from the cabin to save on the silly conversation. Kiddy club wasn't really for our children as their Italian was limited as was the interest of the staff in engaging children or maybe just English speaking children. Naples, We bought tickets for the City Sightseeing Tour which looked like a really time efficient way of seeing Naples and cost 66 euros for a family of 4. We boarded the purple line bus and alighted about 3 miles away to go to a beach named 'Bagna Elena' (10 euros for a sun bed and access to cramped beach and toilet / shower facilities but was OK) We walked back to bus stop 10 where we alighted and waited about 15 minutes for the next bus which drive straight passed us, even tho the driver had to avoid running us over when we stepped out to attract his attention. He rather dismissively motioned with his hand to 'sweep' us aside. Unimpressed, we walked all the way back to the port where I had a pointed conversation with the staff and was told there was no actual bus stop sign for number 10 and we were in the wrong place (What absolute B******s). The walk back along the shorline was actually quite pleasant but left us with little time to explore the red route around the city when we returned. There is a water park about 40k away but we were told it was full of undesirables; a better excursion would be Pompei or Santorini but we've visited these locations previously so the City Tour is quite a good option, providing you clarify exactly where the bus stops or take a Stinger with you! The buffet restaurant was a bit of a feeding time at the zoo affair altho' on the one occasion we had an evening meal there we found a quiet corner. The food was limited in the buffet. The dining room was good for breakfast, good for lunch but our waiter at dinner was about as dreadful as we've ever experienced and this was our 8th cruise. It was so bad it was laughable because he was so rude and dismissive with a constant sneer on his face. The menu was a little difficult to understand and when my wife asked him to explain he reacted like she'd just asked him to carry our bags to the airport. The food was very hit and miss; sometimes really good and sometimes school dinners. My daughter asked what the pasta of the day was and he shrugged and dismissed her then plonked / dropped a bottle of water on my place setting before throwing my sons dinner plate in front of him. I've had far better service in a McDonalds and tastier food on occasion. Back to Livorno, disembarkation was slow and disorganised however we had decided not to rush so slept in and had a leisurely breakfast before wandering off after the rush at about 10am. Contrary to expectation, the only taxis outside the terminal were those pre-ordered (maybe the MSC lady we spoke with in Ibiza thought we were in Livorno!). The locals seemed less than helpful so we re-traced our steps to the bus stop just outside the gate and waited 10 mins for a bus to the centre of Livorna and then took another to the railway station. On arrival at Pisa we took another bus and were dropped off within 100 yards of the excellent B&B we'd booked for our last night. This bus journey took about 15 minutes and represented excellent value as we couldn't buy tickets on the bus and hence weren't charged by the driver. Pisa was a great little place with attraction within walking distance. It was also the only place where we didn't feel we were paying a premium for being a tourist and had an excellent meal just along from the tower and a few other refreshments around the city paying similar prices as we would at home. The locals were very friendly and Borgo Largo 51 B&B was a real Find! Just 5 mins walk from the tower and absolutely delightful. We left on a Sunday morning at 8.30 and ordered a cab which took 3 minutes to arrive and 10 minutes and 12 euros to the sirport. Great holiday, good cruise and would recommend as long as your expectations are realistic. Have maybe been spoilt with Cunard and more recently HAL but this line are more like The Ryan Air of cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Having sailed on quite a few MSC cruises, it seems that overall service is deteriorating. Are the services bad? No Are the services good? No It is just all average...no more no less! It seems that management is ... Read More
Having sailed on quite a few MSC cruises, it seems that overall service is deteriorating. Are the services bad? No Are the services good? No It is just all average...no more no less! It seems that management is only focused on a few things: 1.MSC Yacht Club, sometimes more than 5 all dressed up butlers where greeting the Yacht club members in port!! I'm sure most of these customers got a little fed up with so much attention. 2.Tips, all gratuities or service charges as they call it now are mandatory, no adjustments are allowed. So tipping your waiter or room attendant extra becomes an expensive proposition. Thus resulting in unmotivated staff and just average service at best. Overall beautiful ships, decent food, high school-like entertainment with uninspiring service and management not visible at all. If the itinerary is good and the price is right...take it. Otherwise look further! Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
This cruise was booked because of the price and the itinerary. We knew beforehand that we would probably be paying for everything except at foodtime. The Spendida was a lovely ship, and the number of ports visited were excellent. 9 ports ... Read More
This cruise was booked because of the price and the itinerary. We knew beforehand that we would probably be paying for everything except at foodtime. The Spendida was a lovely ship, and the number of ports visited were excellent. 9 ports in 11 days. We were only onboard ship for 2 sailing days and after visits to the different ports. There were some strange events happening aboard this ship. The clientel were truly multi national. 60% German, and the rest a mixture of Italian, French, Japanese, American, Australian, British and other Europeans. It was amazing that our table of 8 British had a waiter who could not stand a word of English. We were often being served our food at different times. Whilst we were wating for all the table to get their servings, our food was always getting cold, Some of us were served our main course with others who were having starters. When tea was bought for over 2 euro's a cup, you were only allowed 1 teabag, even though there was enough water in your pot for 3 cups. If I wanted another teabag, it was another 2 euros Lager was over 5 euros a glass (not even a pint). The entertainment was diabolical. Variety shows every night for half an hour and piano music in the bars. One of the main shows was duplicated one night to one we had seen only 8 days earlier. There was little day time entertainment in the day except for bingo and aerobics. We enjoyed our time as we saw many countries, but I dread to think of going with MSC for a long haul cruise with not many stops. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
MSC Splendida - 11 days, 16th to 27th December, Christmas Cruise to the eastern Mediterranean. Splendida is a splendid ship, very elegant, clean, comfortable and excellent food; however there are a few 'buts'. The main gripe is ... Read More
MSC Splendida - 11 days, 16th to 27th December, Christmas Cruise to the eastern Mediterranean. Splendida is a splendid ship, very elegant, clean, comfortable and excellent food; however there are a few 'buts'. The main gripe is that the British customers, and remember this is an Italian cruise line catering to Italians, Germans, French, Spanish and Americans, and probably some other nationalities also, are not very well catered for in some areas. For instance, one cannot get a cup of English tea served in any of the bars/cafes, any flavour tea but English. If the beverage stations are closed in the self-service cafeterias (and they are, after normal meal times, contrary to what one is told of 24 hour service) then tough luck. I suggest you take a small kettle with you so that you can make tea in your cabin after having helped yourself to teabags and milk when you visit the cafeterias. For breakfast and lunch you have the choice to eat in the self-service cafeterias or to visit either of the dining rooms. At evening dinner you will have to eat in the dining room and at the table allocated to you. Eating in the dining room for dinner is very nice, no self-service here, all waiter service. A 7 course menu is presented to you and you may choose as many or as few courses as you wish, so there is always something for everybody to eat, but you will not be served coffee after dinner. However, do not expect to have a jug of water on your table, a glass of tap water is nigh on impossible to get and if you manage it, you will be sworn to secrecy. You will be urged to purchase a 1 litre bottle of still or sparkling water at €3.70 + 15% service charge. This service charge is added to ALL drinks purchased in dining rooms, bars and room service. To my mind this is an absolute audacity when you have already been charged a daily gratuity which is stated on your account as "service charge" of, in our case €12.00 per day. When we were boarding the ship and doing all the necessary documentation the Lifeboat Drill was taking place and we hadn't even been shown to our cabin at this time to be able to access our lifejackets. I understand this drill is a worldwide legal requirement and that ALL passengers must take part, in this case many didn't. The use of the hand sanitisers at all points was very haphazard with no member of crew ensuring that everybody used them. We noticed that towards the end of the cruise some were empty and were not being refilled. At the end of our cruise, it was absolute chaos. We could not get any information regarding our coach transfer departure time. It appeared that whichever airport you were departing from, everybody, whatever time their flight was were disembarked at the same time. Our departure point was Milan and we were herded on to our coach at 10.00am, and left the port at 10.30 on a 2 hour drive for a flight departing at 18.55, an enforced wait of 6 hours at the airport. Having said all that, we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, we visited some very nice places and a couple not so nice. Some places we had not been to previously, so this gave one the opportunity to decide if you wanted to visit them for a longer period on a land- based holiday. Would we go with MSC again? No we would not, mainly for the outrageous charges levied, but also we prefer a smaller ship (Splendida can carry 3,274 passengers) and fewer nationalities. This was not a happy ship, the training for crew members who we came into contact with left a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Arriving at Nice !6th Decenber 2010 was not nice since no rep. was there to greet us, we were left stranded for about 2 hours with out any explanation. Eventually getting on a coach for the 2 Hour drive to Genoa, the coach had a toilet but ... Read More
Arriving at Nice !6th Decenber 2010 was not nice since no rep. was there to greet us, we were left stranded for about 2 hours with out any explanation. Eventually getting on a coach for the 2 Hour drive to Genoa, the coach had a toilet but was locked so we had to negotiate a stop where the driver took the opportunity to have a belated lunch and the passengers were left out side the coach waiting for him to come back and open up so we could board for the rest of the journey. Not a good start to our holiday No apology was forth coming from the Company. Eventually on board we had the shock of finding that drink prices were double that which we thought they would be ie 3.45 Euro's for 2 litres of water,so you can imagine what the beer's and wine were. Also excursions were extremely expensive, and some time mis-representative of the trips expected. ie. Trip to Athens no mention of shopping stop, however we stopped for an hour in downtown Athens then had only 20 Min's to see the pantheon from a distance where it was expected 1. To see it close up. and 2. To have more time. Then to cap it all we stopped again for shopping at some shop defined by the Courier for another 20 Min's. What a con. The ship was great with good size rooms and room service but was let down by bad organisation and small meal portions. I suppose with some 3.274 passengers you would expect hold ups but to be treated like sheep is unforgivable. We shall not use this MSC line again nor would we recommend it to others. Our 25th anniversary was spoilt by the greed of the Shipping Company who could have done a lot more to make such a cruise more enjoyable and listen to many people's complaints. Also more consideration needs to be given to where to meet when on trips as some couriers could not describe accurately where to meet, small maps may have been better especially in large towns with limited bus waiting areas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The MSC Splendida good or bad you decide If you are thinking or have booked with MSC find out where you are flying too as we found ourselves going to Nice airport then a 2 hour 30 minute trip on a coach with no toilet facility. ... Read More
The MSC Splendida good or bad you decide If you are thinking or have booked with MSC find out where you are flying too as we found ourselves going to Nice airport then a 2 hour 30 minute trip on a coach with no toilet facility. When checked in we were shown to our cabin (something we missed out on with royal Caribbean) The gratuities run at 6 euros a day per a person all drinks have a service charge of 15% so be prepared or opt for the all inclusive package which must be purchased before thru your agent (£34.00 per a day per person) this covers you for all drinks except champagne special cocktails it also covers for extras like ice creams. Tea and coffee are not available in cabins so I would suggest taking a travel kettle tea bags etc. Tea and coffee are available in the buffet area all meal times but lunch an afternoon tea only one or two places were tea is available are open so you opt to pay for drinks. The water for the tea is generally too cold to make a good cup of tea. The food in general is good but we have had better on other cruises and you do not have the option to eat in the buffet when the evening meals are on. They have 4 specialist food areas which incur an extra payment one being they buffet area which becomes a pizzeria The ship is well laid out but unfortunately not utilised to its full potential. The cleanliness 'of the ship is second to non the cleaning never stops The evening entertainment is a very good standard but quite short compared to other Cruises the daily activities are very limited and in one area and more directed to the children and teens unfortunately. They usually do a daily quiz but being a real cosmopolitan ship its done in 5 to 6 languages so a small quiz takes some time Cabins are well laid out spacey and very clean the one down side people may have is that you are not allowed to smoke in the cabins or the balcony. One of the reasons we purchase a balcony is that you can wake have a tea or coffee sitting on the balcony. The balcony is quite small but adequate. The cabins do not have a kettle of tea and coffee making facility. The cabins have 220volt European sockets and 110volt So with an adaptor you are able to run UK devices Drink Prices Coke 33cl 2.70 euros plus 15% service charge = 3.11 euros Bottled Water 100cl 1.80 euro plus 15% service charge = 2.07 euros (note water is available free by the cup in the buffet area ) Cheapest bottle of wine including service charge 18.40 euros Beer 33cl 3.90 euros plus 15% service charge = 4.49 euros Draught Beer (picola) 3.11 including service charge Coffee 2.19 euros including service charge On the time of booking a cruise prepare a list of questions to be answered by your chosen agent before you put down a deposit or any payment If you want to know if tea/coffee facilities are in you cabin ask. I would advise you to make sure you know where your flights leave and arrive if they can't answer stay clear Gills would have received a 10 but we were not told about the flight situation and we did not receive the MSC issued tickets until 2 days after sailing from Genoa. On enquiry about the tickets we were told by MSC that gills had not paid them so they did not issue the tickets. I do not know if this is true but as our agent the correct tickets should have been issued as we had paid our account within the time specified by Gills I hope Gills can comment on this cock up Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
long honest review of MSC Splendida New Year Cruise - Mediterranean This cruise was a last minute booking and was suggested by our travel agent, we had no knowledge about the ship or Msc beforehand - in fact I had never heard ... Read More
long honest review of MSC Splendida New Year Cruise - Mediterranean This cruise was a last minute booking and was suggested by our travel agent, we had no knowledge about the ship or Msc beforehand - in fact I had never heard of them before ! My husband and I had taken a honeymoon cruise way back in 1993 on the Cunard Countess, and a 3 night cruise on Carnival Cruise lines in 1991 - so a large gap between cruises. This time we had our 6 year old daughter with us We were offered a balcony room deck 8 with £100 on board spend each and booked our own flights from Gatwick to Genoa. Once everything had been booked I then started researching the ship. And came across this forum - reading the reviews with mounting horror, wishing I hadn't been so hasty.... I now knew about the service charge (not paying !) No tea, coffee, or even water available, so we went on holiday prepared. Our experience which I hope will help someone. When we first saw the ship we were astounded - it is huge and quite an impressive sight Embarkation 7/10 December 27th we were to embark at 1pm in Genoa, as we were at the port early (11am) we decided to see if we could board early, as their were already many people milling around. Fortunately this was allowed our luggage was taken from us and we checked in, this was pretty easy, as it was still early, we later found out that 3000 people were embarking that day. We were given our boarding cards, these you need when getting on and off the ship, you can also use them to purchase goods on board, so you don't need to carry cash around with you. We refused to register our credit card saying that we would be paying with cash instead. We signed up for a water and soft drinks package (14 x 1.5 litre water and 14 x tinned drinks) at a cost of €65 We had the obligatory photo taken before going on board the ship, as we walked up to entrance their was a long line of ushers ready to take us to our room. Our Room 8/10 We had a balcony room on deck 8 above the theatre, which was nice, 2 single beds and a sofa bed for our daughter. Clean & fresh smelling, just enough space for our clothes, bathroom with a great shower and air conditioning that was adjustable, hair dryer in the bar, a TV that only had 4 English channels - all news (CNN etc.) The balcony had 2 wicker chairs and a table, just enough room to sit out on. The service lady was very nice, and visited 3 times a day, and kept our room perfect The Ship 9/10 Wow its pretty amazing - the staircase is fantastic, the whole ship is very ornate and impressive, the staff clean constantly, hoovering, cleaning off fingerprints, polishing the already gleaming windows ! We started to try and find things that were amiss just to reassure ourselves that it couldn't be so perfect. We did find a few light bulbs out here and there!! Food 6/10 Breakfast We ate buffet breakfast in the bora bora cafe each morning, the food was not always hot - mostly warm. The front of the cafe was always a mass of people, but at the back it was quieter, and seats could always be found. The menu was the same each day, there was .... Cold Meats, Cheese, Yoghurt, Croissants/ Danish, cereal (rice crispies, muesli, cornflakes, frosties), Toast, Rolls, hard boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, porridge, omelette, fried eggs, bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, baked beans, prunes, pineapple, melon and bananas Tea, coffee, orange / fruit juice, milk. There was always lots of food, unfortunately only one place to get the fried eggs and omelettes - which was at the very front server - which was always busy Breakfast could also be taken as room service, or in the restaurants. Lunch again available in the restaurants, or in the bora bora as a buffet. Menus varied slightly each day - but they always had hot dogs, chips, burgers, minute steak, pizza, fresh fruit, bread, cheeses, rolls, jelly, cake, pasta (3 or 4 different types) fish and usually a roast - we twice had a carvery, rice dishes. Again plenty of food, and a good choice - food warm not hot. The most popular was the hot dogs and chips, these were again only available from one position, at the entrance. No drinks available apart from Ice, drinks had to be bought. Afternoon Tea again in the Bora Bora - small filled rolls, cakes and biscuits. tea, coffee and hot milk available only, Dinner Our restaurant was ville verde on early sitting (6.30) we were placed with another English couple who were lovely and had a boy aged 5, so our children quickly made friends and sat together. The menu consisted of 6 courses, appetiser, salad, soup, pasta, main and desert. Each day we had a different Italian regional dish, the food was fine, not great, but edible. The children's menu was naff - pizza of the day (cheese & tomato it never changed) pasta dish with tomato, macaroni or bolognase sauce, a fish dish, cheeseburger or hot dog, fries, soup (which was horrid). My 6 year old had pizza every day, and had very few fresh vegetables. The ice cream was nice though. No drinks free - everything had to be bought. Entertainment 7/10 Each night there was a 40 minute show, and they were all slightly different. The shows mainly consisted of dancers, a bit of magic, balancing acts, singers, there was a great hand shadow act, 2 of the nights were taken up with Opera - we didn't bother with that ! The shows though short were enjoyable, and appealed to most. There were also numerous jazz, piano music in the many bars around the ship. - we didn't see any of these. What was on was good, but there wasn't enough entertainment. Kids Entertainment 0/10 Our daughter never went to the kids club, our table companion did and I think there were only 3 English children in the club. He said it was OK The kids club put on a small show for the parents apart from that - there was no shows at all - no pantomimes, no kids TV, nothing. We spent most of the time on board playing cards. Excursions 5/10 We only went on one excursion, and that was to the caves of nerja in malaga. It was about €110 for the 3 of us, consisted of a 40 min coach drive, a tour round the caves (paintings were closed off for renovation), 10 mins spare time, into town for an hour, then back to the boat. It was good, but expensive. Many of the excursions would have cost us nearly €200 - so we didn't bother. Itinerary 6/10 We didn't choose the cruise because of its Itinerary - and we soon realised that most of the ports were miles away from the city centres. Virtually all the excursions were to look at buildings etc, which didn't really appeal to our 6 year old. We stopped in Barcelona, where there was a shuttle bus laid on (not free) - though we walked nearly into town Casablanca - walked through the port, but never got close to the city - taxi touts kept hustling us. Malaga - we went to the caves of Nerja Alicante - never left boat Cittevecnchi (Rome) was going to catch the train to Rome, but didn't get up early enough ! Staff 9/10 Reception help desk 1/10 The staff on board were all very good, friendly and helpful, always a cheery hello - or happy new year.... However there was an exception..... the reception staff :- these were some of the rudest, people I have ever met Why ? The full explanation is below. Our whole cruise was tarnished by an incident, that should have been dealt with quickly and easily by the reception or accounting staff. When we booked the cruise we were given a total price from our travel agent, We were offered either 1) an all inclusive drinks package or 2) £100 on board spend each (daughter didn't qualify) As my self and my husband don't drink a great deal, we took the on board credit. It was only from reading from forums that water / tea / coffee weren't included in the price, but again we accepted that and took a bottle of squash with us. We also found out from the MSC web page that a service charge was billed to each adult at a rate of €7 per day, however it wasn't compulsory quoted from their website For your convenience, MSC Cruises will automatically add a modest service charge to your on board account, which will be based on the number of days in which services are actually rendered and vary by itinerary: Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Westbound Transatlantic sailings: €Euro 7.00 per adult per day There is no service charge for children under the age of 14, whereas, guests between the age of 14 and 17 will pay 50% less than the adult fare. Service charges are subject to change and may vary based on the ship's on board currency. Should you wish to make adjustments, you may do so by contacting the Guest Relation Manager at any point during your cruise. We eventually got the MSC booklet 4 days before leaving the UK, which fortunately had the above statement written in it. We had already decided, that as we had paid for the cruise we weren't going to spend €130 on a service charge that we hadn't been told about, but were happy to tip individually for good service. The first day on the boat we went down to reception with our msc booklet and spoke to 'Claudia' and asked to see the guest relations manager. She told us that he wasn't available as we were in port, and wanted to know what the problem was, we quickly explained that it was about the service charge and that we wouldn't be paying for it. From that moment her attitude changed, she rudely told us that is was compulsory, and that was their policy and that had been in effect since January (I guess 2010), I again stated that actually she was wrong and it wasn't compulsory and I had written evidence of it. she handed us a sheet of paper and told us to write a letter explaining the reasons why we didn't want to pay the charge. We did this straight away and handed her the paper and asked what would happen next, she replied that she would give it to the ships manager, who would decide if our service charge would be granted or not. We replied that we wanted an answer, so she told us to come back another time. The next day I went back down to the accounting desk and spoke to 'Shameen (?)' and again explained the problem, she went over and got a summery of our account, and put it front of me, it showed an on-board credit of €116, 3 x €1 charges to UNICEF and 6 x €7 service charge amounts, she explained that our on board credit was going towards the service charge, so it wouldn't actually cost us anything !! My on board credit was strangely missing.... I patiently explained again, that our on board credit was not for paying their service charge, that it was a hidden charge as it was not given to us when we booked, and we would not be paying it. She said well in that case you need to speak to the guest relations manager and make an appointment. So back I went to reception and saw a different girl (Italian with black short bobbed hair) who was very rude when I wouldn't tell her what it was about, sighed, huffed and puffed and told me to come back at 7pm that night. I said sorry - can't do that - I was on early sitting at 6.30pm, she eventually gave me a time of 8.30pm and stuck our cabin number on a post it note. 8.25pm I went back to reception armed with my letter explaining why we wouldn't be paying the charge and the booklet that MSC had sent us. Saw a different receptionist and told her that I had an appointment, she wanted to know what it was about, I wouldn't tell her so she hunted for the appointment that was made, and surprise surprise couldn't fine it. She told me to come back the next day. By this stage I was getting very annoyed and repeated I had an appointment and wouldn't go until I saw the guest relations manager. She told me to take a seat and that the manager would be down soon. I waited for another 5 minutes (8.40pm by now) and no sign of action, so I went and stood in front of reception looking very angry, this gave the desired result. She spoke on the phone and took me to the guest relations managers office behind reception. I explained the service charge problem to him, told him that his reception staff were very rude and asked why I had to leave my dinner early, and miss the beginning of the show because this service charge problem couldn't be sorted out simply by the reception or accounting desk. Again he tried to tell me that the service charge was compulsory, so I got out the MSC booklet and their terms in writing - which he read, he told me that the service charge would be removed at the end of the week. I told him, that unfortunately due to the attitude of the staff, I didn't believe that it would be sorted, and didn't want a problem when disembarkation and paying the final bill, and wanted his statement in writing that the service charge would be removed. He refused to do this, and kept saying it would be his word that it would be removed, I refused to leave until he eventually photocopied the letter I had written and signed the bottom. Fortunately the service charge was removed. And we tipped our waiters (even though he got our dinner order wrong virtually every night) and cabin staff personally. Conclusion. The Splendida is a beautiful ship, however - we felt that it was too big with too many people on board of different nationalities to effectively entertain them. The Reception staffs rudeness and bad manners and the Service charge fiasco left a really sour taste in our mouths and did spoil an enjoyable cruise. If MSC spent a bit more time training their front of house people in reception to deal with problems instead of having to make appointments with managers then the rating would be higher. The impression I was given was that if they could make it as difficult as possible for me to actually see someone - then I might just go a way and not make a fuss. Ron Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
It was a nice boat ride but a shoddy cruise. We had read all the reviews on MSC Splendida and decided to try them anyway because we loved the itinerary and the price; the timing worked for us and we didn't need to gain any ... Read More
It was a nice boat ride but a shoddy cruise. We had read all the reviews on MSC Splendida and decided to try them anyway because we loved the itinerary and the price; the timing worked for us and we didn't need to gain any weight from too much good food. "Maybe it will be like a bus tour to a lot of terrific places" we speculated. As a result we were not unduly disappointed. Embarkation was the oddest in our 10 cruises. Quick, but they made you walk all over the place, up stairs and down, (though a staffer took our heaviest carry on up the last flight) to get on the boat. My heart was warmed when one of their staffers told a fellow who was pushing past us in line to wait his turn. After even a couple of days in Italy, this was lovely to hear. During the boat drill, we asked a photographer NOT to take our picture and he just laughed and did it anyway. Our room was nice, and clean, and had the further advantage of being a handicapped room, which made it and the balcony bigger, too and stewardess was pretty good. One thing we were surprised that no one had mentioned was that you must put your room card in the slot beside the door (as with many European hotels) to make the lights and electricity work. It was an annoyance until we got into the habit. Our water vouchers were not there and it took a lot of trouble to get them. They didn't provide many hangers, and those were those annoying two piece ones cheap hotels use to keep you from stealing them. They thoughtfully provided a list what you'd be charged in case you pilfered their towels, robe etc. There was a special card asking you not to steal their "blue book" (the room guide) listing its value at 50 euros. (WHY on earth would anyone want that, anyway?) We discovered that the bottom desk drawer was a fake front, and were unhappy until we figured out how to put it back in. No triple sheets, no pillow chocolate, only two pillows (till we requested more - twice) no wash cloths, no ice delivered regularly and a faint smell of mildew in the bathroom and here and there throughout the ship. The window curtains did a better job of blocking the light than most hotels'. We were kept awake one night by loud hurricane/blizzard sounds coming from the hallway. Something wrong with the air pressure? Anyway, a bathrobe in front of the crack under the door helped a lot. We were also repeatedly woken at night by people running and shouting in the hall. There were a lot of children on board, and they, like the adults, behaved worse than passengers on the other lines we have been on. I think there was not perhaps a lot for the children to do and Italians are just loud people. Line ups became war zones with MSC making no effort to maintain order. The ship was attractive, but I felt that public rooms lacked windows compared to other ships we've been on. The life boats sat directly on the promenade deck which may have made for faster evacuation but spoiled the view. The deck was cut off at both ends making walking the circuit impractical, and there were no deck chairs there at all. We were really glad we'd booked a balcony. The fifteenth floor, however, had more and better deck chairs than we have ever seen before; but they were placed erratically and sometimes impeded walking or running. The lovely fountains in the MSC site pictures were never turned on except once, and then only to about knee height. One pool and the water slide were usually closed but that could have been due to the weather. There was a nice outdoor screen that could have been used for Movies Under the Stars like Princes but only ever showed the usual port and ship information. There was no movie theatre and the TV was every bit as bad as the reviews had indicated. We were really glad we had brought our own on an IPOD. The library was pathetic, even considering that it had to cover several languages and the internet logon we were given did not work. At least they didn't charge us for it. The elevators were too few, too small and the locals were as pushy as advertised. Once the elevator just refused to stop at our floor. Eventually we just walked down a flight. The airline had lost my bag, containing most of my clothes. Reception was willing to speak to them for us and even offered a nice little amenities bag to help bridge the gap. We were less impressed when they charged us 10 euros to get the bag back when the airline finally shipped it to a port. The Bora Bora and the Pago Pago were crowded and unpleasant. Aggressive fellow cruisers and lukewarm mediocre food didn't help. The ice and water machines were few, partially hidden, sometimes locked up, and often guarded by staffers to prevent you from getting a free drink of water. Churlish. "Normal" cruise ships do NOT charge for water (or tea, coffee and some sort of juice outside of breakfast.) One morning we noticed a British couple being told that tea and coffee were "closed" 15 minutes before breakfast was over. The staffer was holding the teapot as he said this but pointed out that the cups had already been removed. We were delighted to offer our unused ones and they got their beverages. Desserts were nasty and ice cream was charged for in the cafeteria. IF there was, by chance a dessert that looked ok - like a fancy cake inscribed "bon voyage" then it was left whole and never cut. We wondered if these were plastic. The afternoon "tea" was a another nasty stampede as caffeine deprived cruisers fought for their hits. Again, the food was terrible compared to afternoon tea on any other ship but then what would you expect from "tea" in a cafeteria? The restaurant was better, but still a very mixed bag. Food ranged from disgusting (the salad, always) to good (the lamb, veal and pork). One rare delicious item was the coconut ice cream. Soups and gravies were only ok and all tasted the same. Beef was very, very bad. (think bubble gum) Salmon was either poor (fillet) or canned. Canned mushrooms were also in evidence and some of the pasta was definitely channeling Chef Boyardee though there was some good pasta, too. One offering we didn't try was a "rice salad with frankfurters, swiss cheese, red cabbage and black olives." (think on THAT if you are trying to dull your appetite!) We had an excellent waiter who disappeared after two days to be replaced by one we privately christened "Grover" after the Sesame Street sketches about the waiter who will never bring the top hatted man the correct order. He brought food we didn't want, failed to bring whole courses, brought the wrong items and was generally hopeless. Luckily we decided his problem was language, and started to point to each item on the menu when ordering, which improved his performance to acceptable. Lunch and breakfast waiters were often unbelievably slow. One day we sat at lunch for forty minutes before any food arrived. My third course with my husband's appetizer. As the food was terrible anyhow, we gave it up and scrounged in the cafeteria. The maitre'd seemed to feel we should have made do with bread. He seemed to mean well enough, and HAD given us a table for two for dinner, but the staff were just untrained and lacking in language. Without tips related to performance, service does tend to slow down, too. The dining room, the Villa Verdi, was attractive (not many windows, though) and its low ceiling made it possible to merely talk across the table and not have to shout, as you must so often on cruises. We did notice passengers shouting to others at other tables, sometimes two tables away. While we loved the itinerary, it was really too tight. One night we were 3 hours late leaving because an MSC excursion was that late. Katakolon (for Olympus) was a nice surprise. Found a bus tour just outside of the port area offering a tour for ten euros. (versus the boat's forty some, I think it was) Nice excursion, nice enough little town and a little museum, too. Heraklion We took the city bus (about 2 euros) to Knossos and beat the cruise buses. Which was good because it seemed like millions of them descended all at once. The tour leaders spoke quasi unintelligible English and we were delighted to be on our own. Coming back on the bus, we got off a stop or two early and saw the temporary museum, which was absolutely wonderful. You have to sort of walk around back and down a ramp to get it. We did wonder if we were in the right place. Ashdod We had booked a tour to Jerusalem with Guided Tours Israel. It was excellent except that our guide wouldn't let us look in the beautiful little market near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre telling us we'd go to a "better" place later which proved to be a pathetic tourist trap. Alexandria We booked a out through Nile Blue Mohamedmostafa303@gmail.com. It was a great tour to the pyramids, museum and a feluka ride on the Nile. We had to move pretty fast to do all that though. The driving in Egypt is both bizarre and very fast. Tunis was also a nice surprise. We got dinars from the ATM in the terminal and set out for the train station a few blocks away. We found that a gap in the fence led directly into the little train station but they would not change a 10 dinar bill. This wasn't about keeping the change, they just only wanted coins. A guard actually lent us the change which we repaid with interest later. The people were charming and the sites at Hannibal Carthage station were good. Note the little underground chapel at the Antonine baths and do visit the Roman villa a short walk past the station as the tours don't go there and it is even better. Naples We only had six hours and it was a scramble to get to the train and see Pompeii (working around the tour groups again) and get back. Naples is not a charming city, but was better than our last trip a couple of years ago. Debarkation was the "jolly well sit in the theatre until we call you" kind. We asked about self debarkation and were rudely told to do whatever we wanted. So we did, and as we happened to be leaving the ship with a large group of Americans (We are Canadian) we got off without being trampled. We found that most of the English speakers we talked to were unhappy with MSC - usually because of rudeness, cheapness or disorganization - all valid complaints. While we were able to have a mostly enjoyable cruise (lots of our own books and entertainment and low expectations really helped); we concluded that we would not plan to sail MSC again. Remember that this is not really a cruise, just a bus tour that happens on a nice boat. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
There were so many things wrong with this cruise I feel I need to start with what was right: the rolls and breads were delicious, the cabin steward did a fine job and our luggage was already at our cabin when we arrived. Pretty much ... Read More
There were so many things wrong with this cruise I feel I need to start with what was right: the rolls and breads were delicious, the cabin steward did a fine job and our luggage was already at our cabin when we arrived. Pretty much everything else was awful. Although I would not categorize it as a problem, it was interesting to note that shortly after our arrival in our cabin the steward came and asked what nationality we were. When told that we were Americans he asked if we would be wanting ice in the room every day. When I stated that we would, he incredulously asked, "In the winter?" Ah well, we crazy American ice lovers. Not too long later he brought the ice and two wash cloths. In pretty much of the world they don't use wash cloths, but as Americans we were given two new ones every day. The first dinner was crazy. We were hungry and thirsty and asked for water. They wanted money for bottled water. We and the other diners at out table stated that we just wanted some tap water. It never arrived. Finally it was pointed out that American and Canadian passengers were given vouchers for one daily 2 liter bottle of water. Apparently since Europeans are accustomed to buying bottled water all the time, they do not object to this additional cost at every dinner. As identified by other critics, the food was lukewarm on arrival, and quickly cooled to cold. Also, food in the buffet lines at breakfast and lunch was also lukewarm. Whatever the warming plates are that they use under the trays of food, they don't work. Are you accustomed to omelette stations on cruise ships? Don't look for one here. They have a tray of loose scrambled eggs, sunnyside eggs and something labled omelettes, which were folded over dry scrambled type eggs with no fillings or toppings. Like your eggs over easy or well done? Too bad. Like some variety in the offerings, too bad. If you elect to go to the dining room for breakfast or lunch, you may receive a little different selection, but the service is extremely slow. The buffet lines are long, and some Europeans seem to think that a line is only a suggestion, barging in and grabbing up the few items in a tray. Would you like some milk to drink, or perhaps some coffee at lunch time? Good luck. The only milk available was at breakfast, intended to go on cereal. They practically push coffee and juices on you at breakfast, but at lunch it is nearly impossible to find coffee, and if you want water, you can go to the ice machine and use a tiny juice sized tumbler to get your water. Our dinner time was 6 PM and they were quite strict about closing entry to the dining room after 6:15. When we were unavoidably delayed and arrived just at the closing time, our waiter ignored us for 15 more minutes and then presented items at warp speed. In fact, he seemed to have chosen our table as the first one to service. He always seemed to be in a hurry, and other tables were on their appetizers or salads while we were finishing our main courses or desserts. He seemed to be severely overworked, with far too many tables to cover. And speaking of salads, each night the salads were advertised on the menu with some elegant name; what we got was a bunch of iceberg lettuce sitting in a puddle of olive oil. No other dressing. The occasional tomato wedge or radicchio hardly made the salad any better. I had one beef main course which was tasty, most others were strange or sadly lacking in eye appeal. The lamb chops and "rack of lamb" were tiny, a few bites each. With one meal I asked for the "side order" of vegetables and received a whole plate of vegetables with a huge puddle of "mashed potatoes." Desserts were uneven in quality, I had one creme brulee which was creamy and excellent. The alternative ice creams were excellent, and the only time on ship that you could get some without a charge. As noted by others, the opportunities for recreation on board were sadly lacking. It was nearly impossible to use the exercise facilities, since all of the machines were constantly occupied. Movies? Pay for one on your cabin TV. Sea days were best spent catching up on sleep. Upon our arrival, our in room safe was locked, apparently left that way by the previous occupant. An initial call to Reception was met by surliness and the implication that we had locked the safe. Eventually they stated that they would come and fix it. Hours later, after dinner, another call got a similar response. No one showed up. Another call, and no one came. The next day it took two more calls before someone came and fixed it. On the second morning my husband called to ask for a cable so that he could use his own laptop in the room. Just connecting with the responsible person was an ordeal of rudeness and when he finally found the correct person he was told that they had "given them all away yesterday." Great planning for the computer age. The "cyberlibrary" had 4 computers for everyone. We had a great time on excursions until Alexandria. Our tour was scheduled to leave at 9 AM. About 1030 we were herded to the stairs and then the forward movement stopped. We were packed on the stairway and feeling claustrophobic for another 45 minutes when the line began to move again. It moved very slowly toward the exit where 2 Egyptian authorities were inspecting our previously visa stamped passports. Unfortunately, many of the Europeans did not understand the instructions in English to open their passports to the visa page. Another bottleneck made worse. Onto the buses and then what: not out of the parking lot until 1215. Our poor guide told us later that he usually has tours into Cairo by 1030, or by noon at the latest. Let it be known that Egyptian traffic is the worst on earth. The so-called highway from Alexandria to Cairo is interrupted at regular intervals (every 5 miles or so) with speed bumps. The trip which was supposed to take 2-2.5 hours took over 3 just to reach the outskirts of Cairo. At that time we encountered a horrendous traffic jam. We did not reach the Cairo museum until 4:30 and were rushed past the King Tut exhibition in 30 minutes. All the occupants of the 65 other buses from our ship were there at the same time. Imagine the crowds. Then we re-entered the buses and headed for Giza. By the time we arrived it was pitch black. Folks who had never been to Egypt and who had thought that seeing the Pyramids would be the highlight of this trip were devastated. But, oh, they said the lights would go on at 6 PM, so we waited 20 minutes only to have the lights go on for 30 seconds! Honestly. Then we drove by the Sphinx, which we could also barely see the outline of. After all these hours off of the ship we were taken to a hotel ballroom filled with people for a buffet Mediterranean style meal. Back to the bus, and the trip back, now complicated by some of the worst fog I have ever encountered. I believe that everyone on board seriously felt in fear for their lives, since we could not see the roadway, and we knew that those 65 buses were all on the road back. We finally safely made it back to the ship at 1215, 12 hours spent, mostly on the bus, to spend about 45 disappointing minutes in Cairo. As might be imagined, there was much restlessness over this all. About 200 Italian passengers staged a mini-riot, and then the next night succeeded in shutting down the first show with a sit-down shouting strike. The only concession to the disappointment of passengers was that the cruise line stated that they would refund the cost of the excursion. Not really much of a consolation for those for whom seeing the Pyramids was a lifetime dream. All of this was upsetting enough for us, and then there was the passport debacle. Two days before debarkation day we were told that we needed to turn in our passports to the ship authorities. It was unclear why we needed to do this, but like the essentially obedient folks that we are we turned them in. The explanation was hazy and seemed to be that it was necessary for Italian authorities. But the rumor was that only Americans were having to do this, and that the reason was so that we would pay our bills, including the tips. What, some folks think that not everyone is deserving of the pre-determined tips? A group of 8 of us were leaving the ship one day early. We were told that we could pick up our passports the next morning at 8 AM. Eight AM was also the time we were meeting for the tour to Pompeii. My husband went to Reception as directed at 8 along with two others who were leaving the ship early. Complete confusion ensued. No one knew where the passports were. It was stated that if my husband left the ship without retrieving his passport he would not be able to return to the ship to get it, even though we had paid for the full cruise. Meanwhile I was on the bus my husband was captaining trying to quiet the group who were understandably upset at the delay given the situation in Egypt. My husband eventually left without our passports, made it to the bus before they took off without him and enjoyed the Pompeii tour. We made up for lost time by spending only 10 minutes in the cameo factory tourist trap. We were scheduled to leave the ship at 2 PM. We returned on board at 1:10. We were told that we had either 15 or 50 minutes to leave the ship. This was stated emphatically, as though they could hardly wait to get rid of us. When we arrived at our room, there was someone there to assist with the baggage. We were ushered through the bowels of the ship where passengers never go, and deposited out onto some back dock. But not before the security person looked at my cabin card and said, "You're not supposed to leave until tomorrow." That was the original plan I stated, but now we're leaving early. "I'll have to call", he said, and proceeded to take 5 minutes to determine, that yes, I could leave the ship. I had told him that they had already locked my minibar, surely it was okay for me to leave. Needless to say, not only will we never sail with MSC again, but we will be advertising this fact to everyone we know who might be taking a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We travelled on MSC Fantasia in Sept '10 on their Western Med cruise after completing the eastern side of the med on the Musica. We quite enjoyed the Musica Cruise, although it was fairly crowded and their lack of smoking policy was ... Read More
We travelled on MSC Fantasia in Sept '10 on their Western Med cruise after completing the eastern side of the med on the Musica. We quite enjoyed the Musica Cruise, although it was fairly crowded and their lack of smoking policy was not to our taste. Fantasisa is a bigger ship; longer; more passenger decks; but roughly the same amount of passenger area. Firslty, let me say, it truly is a fantastic ship and lives up to it's name. We enjoyed the meals and the service was generally good, but we would say to intending travellers of the future, consider these 3 points; - It is a multi lingual boat, so all announcements are in about 5 languages, so announcements went on forever. Quite often the English speaking part of the announcement was so accented you missed the beginning of it. If English followed Italian, the Italian crowd (by far the largest number) were all up and talking so the announcements were difficult/impossible to understand.This also affected the variety and content of the shows, which were OK, but singing and comedians were out of the question; and the announcer took up about 1/3rd of the show making the opening and closing announcements in 5 languages. - The deck areas, especially the upper deck with the pools were unreasonably crowded and you had to be lucky to get a deck chair. - SMOKING!!! Being an Australian and a non-smoker we simply couldn't handle the smoke. It was impossible to escape it. 4,000 passengers, I estimate 3000 of them chain smoked for the entire voyage. Other points to consider; they don't serve English Breakfast tea except at breakfast (outside of that it's coffee or French tea!). The optional excursions were expensive, overcrowded, and multi-lingual, plus, if you went for the 'do-it-yourself' option, there was a charge to catch a shuttle bus to the edge of the port 8 - 15 Euro each time. Drinks were reasonably priced, but the additional charges for tea, coffee & water made it more expensive. As said, this is a great ship and a good itinerary, but it's not all that was shown in the DVD!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Background -Second cruise ever. First on a ship this size. Two adults and two teenage girls- 15 and 13. Western Mediterranean cruise - July 25 - Aug 1, 2010. Fantastic weather. The Ship was quite comfortable and well maintained. Crew ... Read More
Background -Second cruise ever. First on a ship this size. Two adults and two teenage girls- 15 and 13. Western Mediterranean cruise - July 25 - Aug 1, 2010. Fantastic weather. The Ship was quite comfortable and well maintained. Crew was primarily from Indonesia, India, and Europe. Most crew, if not all, spoke excellent English. Our cruise was full and Fantasia was definitely bursting at the seams when it came to finding a place for everyone to hang out when not in the cabin. During long cruises, decks were pretty crowded with people. From what I can tell, the "don't leave your towel for more than 20 minutes" policy by the pool was not enforced. There are two main pools, with two additional pools - one for adults only (which was the most crowded) and one for the "club" members. There are also several whirlpools. We were blessed with relatively calm seas throughout the trip, and as such, felt little movement or rocking when the ship was moving. We had two connected cabins which proved quite comfortable for our family of four. Be prepared to pay dearly for internet connectivity: 18E for one hour of connection time. Gym was marginal, but with a great view out the front of the ship. Water/Drinks Quite simply, prepare to be nickel and dimed. You pay for everything, including nearly every glass of water or soda. Granted, drinking water and coffee are provided in the cafeteria during meal times. Water is provided in small glasses, and the crew enforces the "don't fill your water bottle here" placards. Having traveled to Europe several times, I was quite prepared to pay for water at meals. However, their obsession with preventing you from bringing your own water and alcohol on board borders on ridiculous. Handbags are scanned on each boarding, and all pass through metal detectors - this is not for safety so much as to make sure you are not bringing alcohol back on board. Beers - 5,90E Cocktails 5 - 7E Water 2.07E each for .75 liter. Everyone is offered a "plan" at boarding and regularly while on board. Plans consist of prepaid drink packages. For example, one can buy 14 beers for approximately 4,70E each ( 65,80E total). Our family purchased the "family" package which consisted of 14 sodas, 14 bottles of water and 4 bottles of mediocre wine. However, this family package worked out well for us. Boarding - Initially embarkation was relatively painless. We boarded in Geona on a Sunday. There is not much open in Genoa on a Sunday and we arrived from the Versilia coast town of Forte Dei Marmi, dropping our car at the Genoa airport and taking a cab to the ship. This proved a tad expensive (32E for a 15 minute ride from the airport for 4 with luggage). Smoking Policy Coming from California, we find that almost everywhere in Europe smells of smoke. Generally our cabin did not have a stale "smoked in" odor, however, we regularly had foul smelling "fresh" smoke smell in our cabin. This was mostly true when the ship was not moving. There was no ashtray in our rooms. Bottom line - you are in Europe and Europeans smoke more than Americans. MSC's policy is a bizarre one - it is only "suggested" that you not smoke in your cabin, but you are supposedly not allowed to some on balconies. Make no mistake - people smoke in their cabin, on deck, on the balconies, in certain bars, but NOT in the restaurants. There is a lingering, faint smell of smoke throughout the ship. It's not overpowering, but it is there. It is not worse than you would find in many European cities. My daughter is extremely sensitive to smoking and made it through the trip with little difficulty, but she was uncomfortable a few times. Food Rating about 3 - 3.5 stars out of 5. There are two dinner seatings, and there is quite a bit of variety in the menus. There is a vegetarian menu, and in addition, one can always order grilled salmon, chicken or meat as a dinner option. The menu changes every day, but there are at least two appetizer choices, a soup, salad, pasta, and four main dish choices, as well as four dessert choices. As other reviews noted, there are two "premium" restaurants. We actually liked the TexMex grill, having had lunch there one day. The primary advantage of the restaurant was there were not a lot of people there. Breakfast and lunch are mainly served in a cafeteria setting on the same deck as the main pool. It is quick and convenient, but generally loud and crowded. There are two other seating areas called "restaurants", which mainly serve as seating areas for dinner; one restaurant is also used for breakfast and lunch seatings. One can go to these "restaurants" to have breakfast and lunch, and this is advisable as again, it is less crowded and much quieter than the cafeteria. These are not to be confused with the "premium" restaurants. Dinner is served at assigned tables, which from what we can tell were based on the number in your party and your cabin level on the ship. Higher level cabins rated one of these two "seating" restaurants, while lower end cabins were seated in the cafeteria area for dinner. Shows: On a cruise ship, you get what you get. These were hit and miss. Generally, if no performers sang, it was a good show. Several shows featuring acrobats were quite entertaining. A Michael Jackson tribute show as laugh-out-loud funny (though not intended as such). Overall: We would take the cruise again. My wife, who was apprehensive about the cruise, enjoyed it greatly. My children enjoyed the cruise as well, but were somewhat apprehensive about not speaking the majority of the languages spoken on the ship. Cruisers were mostly Italian, then German, with some Spanish and English. Ports Of Call: All the excursions are pretty expensive, but we opted for a few. Genoa - Sunday - there is not much to do on a Sunday in Genoa, but the Maritime museum and Aquarium are open. This was our boarding destination, so we did not spend much time in the city. We have been here before. Naples: Opted for the Pompeii tour. Excellent tour guide and good tour. At the end, we still had time to walk into the city near the port for some Neapolitan pizza. There is not much near the port, but there are some shopping streets and a Galleria within walking distance. Sicily: We skipped any excursion, opting instead for a cab ride to Mondello beach. Spent a wonderful day at the beach with some of the clearest water ever seen. Tunisia: You don't get a lot of time here. We opted for the Carthage and Medina tour. It wasn't great, but I was very interested in seeing Carthage ruins. Ruins are nothing compared to Pompeii. Shopping is "guided", meaning you get a "rug" demonstration and a perfume "demonstration" and about 45 minutes in a souvenir shop. Not great, but not awful either. Mallorca: Took the bike-riding excursion and would recommend it. Was a great way to see around town. After riding, went back to town for dinner off the ship. Barcelona: No excursion - simply walked Las Rambas (we had been to Barcelona before). If you've never been here, would recommend seeing the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi park. You can do this by taxi. Marseille: We took the excursion to Aix En Provence. Beautiful town; terrible excursion. Would recommend you simply find a way to get to the town without a guide. Did not spend any significant time in Marseille proper, as we were told there was not much to see in Marseille itself. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Having cruised with Princess 6 times, my first time adventure with MSC Cruises was an eye opener to say the least. My friend and I went with an open mind, besides we'd "only" paid £749 for our balcony cabin on a ... Read More
Having cruised with Princess 6 times, my first time adventure with MSC Cruises was an eye opener to say the least. My friend and I went with an open mind, besides we'd "only" paid £749 for our balcony cabin on a Mediterranean cruise ! Flights were excellent, British Airways (for once) excelled theirselves, quick, efficient service on the 1 hour 20 flight to Genoa, we flew over the ship as we landed and Genoa did appear pleasant in the early June sunshine. What a surprise then when we landed, cleared immigration and customs to be met by a pleasant MSC rep who directed us to our bus, all 28 Brits on board the flight eagerly looking forward to joining this new cruise ship. Genoa was awful, vey industrialised, filthy, thank god we were only passing through, I'd hate to spend any time there. Embarkation was smooth and efficient (a big plus there MSC !) As we tried to make our way onboard we were met by a barrage of "flyers" advertising Spa deals, drinks packages, shore excursions etc. Shoving these aside (shoving would come into play later in the cruise too !) we made our way to our Cabin on Deck 13. The cabin was beautiful, very clean, spacious and modern, much larger than on Princess. Our steward Juni was friendly, ever helpful and always there to assist us (another big plus MSC). The lifeboat drill was atrocious, god only knows how passengers would cope in an emergency, nobody listened to the announcements and the crew seemed hell bent on making as much money as possible by flogging photos of passengers with their lifebelts on, very bad. The food ? oh the food...Most days was passable, breakfasts were a mission shall we say, if you're not Italian and not used to being pushed around, this morning event will seriously annoy you. Free tea and coffee, if you want a cup after 11am you pay for it (naughty MSC) Lunch was ok, enough choice, again if you pushed your way to the front (something the Brits and Americans on board, refused to do). Dinner was good, our table in the restaurant consisted of two other British couples and we all got along fine, our waiter Guiseppe was efficient, food was ok. We ate a couple of nights in the O'livio Restaurant and Tex Mex restaurants, again, food ok, service especially in the O'Livio, atrocious to say the least, we weren't even offered a drink, all the waiters (5 of them) fussed around a table of 8 Italians, ignoring us and two other couples. Entertainment we thought was poor, the shows were amateurish in their design, dancers who couldn't keep together and two girl singers who thought shouting throughout the song would keep them in tune, just awful. A couple of nights they had jugglers, acrobats and magicians, very old hat and a little tired. Overall, the ship was clean, modern and well run, the crew were a little bored by their jobs we found, apathy reigned a lot of the time, but our biggish gripe were the passengers, this is not a cruise for those who don't enjoy other European passengers, having said that, not all French, German and Spanish are bad, the Italians are though, have never come across such rude, ignorant and damn right arrogant people who thought as this was an Italian cruise line, gave them carte blanche to be top dog all the time. A relief to get back to Genoa on the Saturday morning, bags offloaded quickly, onto the bus to the airport, long wait for the plane to arrive from Gatwick, when we did take off, again, BA excelled theirselves, fast and efficient service, well done BA. Don't cruise with MSC if you like lots of kids, pushy parents who ignore the signs that say "Adults Area Only" and Italians. Do cruise with MSC if you like to pay for your tea and coffee, like a scrumdown every morning with your fellow passengers and can put up with bolshy crew. Enough said, take me back to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We were very uncertain about this cruise even after we booked it. This was our 7th sailing with our other cruises being on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Costa. We are big fans of RC, but Costa was less than spectacular in our eyes, so we ... Read More
We were very uncertain about this cruise even after we booked it. This was our 7th sailing with our other cruises being on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Costa. We are big fans of RC, but Costa was less than spectacular in our eyes, so we were afraid that MSC would be the same value. The other element for us was that we brought our 14 month old daughter on this cruise. We wanted to make sure it was doable for her. Here are our thoughts. Embarkation: We were at the Port of Genoa around lunchtime and there was hardly any line at all. We breezed right through all of the check points and were in near shock when we were walking on board after less than 45 minutes. On past cruises, this was one of the more painful parts of the cruise. Ship/Stateroom: These were both outstanding as many on Cruise Critic have already stated. There were very few areas that we could fault but we found ourselves overly impressed with the elegant design of the common areas and the stylish decorations in our stateroom. With a balcony stateroom, it was slightly difficult to find a place to put the baby crib, so it ended up sitting in the middle of the room between our bed and the balcony. As you can expect, this was not the most convenient place, but the narrow space did not have room for a crib anywhere else. The bed was extremely comfortable and the balcony was a good size. In the rear (aft?) of the ship, we did not feel much motion except for docking at the ports. Food: We were pleasantly surprised by the breakfast and lunch buffets. I think our expectations were low, but the food quality was good. The dinners were initially stated to be at 7, but almost all of the meals began at 630pm. This was much better for our daughter because she is usually in bed by 730. After the first night, the high chair was ready at our table. The dinner meals were hit and miss, but were never displeased by what was served. Some meals were notably good. Initially, we were not allowed free ice water, but we used a booklet of free bottled water that was in our stateroom. If we didnt have this, I would not have been pleased about having to purchase water every night. Ports: We were pretty happy with the itinerary that was offered by MSC. The shuttle to Marseille was 15Euro per person for a 10 minute ride and there was no other option to get to the Port Vieux. In my eyes, MSC should have provided this complimentary. This is an example of being nickel and dimed by a 'budget' cruise line. In some cases, the ship should have stayed longer in some ports and less time in others. Barcelona is the one port that we felt especially rushed. I'll write more in the port reviews. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
On 7 Feb 10, my wife and I board the MSC Splendida in the port of Genoa for a trip in the eastern Mediterranean. I chose the line since the ship seems new and beautiful and the price offered by my travel agency include three days in Rome ... Read More
On 7 Feb 10, my wife and I board the MSC Splendida in the port of Genoa for a trip in the eastern Mediterranean. I chose the line since the ship seems new and beautiful and the price offered by my travel agency include three days in Rome with hotel. I entered the trip with eyes wide open knowing that it was an Italian line with different cultural approaches. The itineary included Israel and Jerusalem which seemed very attractive. Pre-Cruise: We flew coach on Delta Airlines (great service) to Rome and were transferred free of fees to the Dominia Hotel in the Campanella section of Rome. The hotel was quite nice and the service was faily good, but there were very few places to eat and nothing to do near it. Americans usually have to look carefully for dining options since restaurants in Italy are very expensive and the Euro to dollar exchange rate is not very favorable. One can figure doubling the price of a meal in Italy over American prices for comparable food. Though tourist sites were far away, the hotel did transfer us to the subway station each day at no cost and the metro could be used for one Euro to go to any station on the line. The tickets were good for 75 minutes before timing out. With a map of the subway and a tourist map of Rome, we found everything very easily. Travelers should be careful of pick pocket on the subway. The worst part of this arrangement was getting back to the hotel. The subway ran frequently, but the hotel only provided early evening transfers from the metro station back to the hotel so the time frames became inconvenient. The bottom line is that you were stuck in Rome from 2 PM to almost 6 PM unless you used a taxi which was about 50 Euros ($75) back to the hotel. The buses involved changes and were somewhat confusing. Boarding: We left Rome aboard a very early morning transfer bus (0545 AM loading time) and traveled six hours to Genoa. The transfer on to the ship was easy, but unfortunately, it took until 9 PM for my wife to receive her luggage and she was forced to dine in clothing she had worn since 4:30 AM. Cabin: We chose and inside cabin for cost and the fact we use it only to shower, sleep, and change. It was very adequate in size and the cabin stewards were absolutely excellent. Very little U.S. news was provided on the TV satellite. The stations were all Italian or German with European CNN as the only exception. One complaint I did have was no robe, despite the fact I saw others with such a garment use for the indoor pool. I found out that only selected cabins and levels had this service, but upon complaining, we got robes. The cabin was equipped with a mini-bar and a small fridge that keep things only slightly over room temperature. I tried to lower the temperature, but there were no thermostatic controls. The sheets were changed every day and the attendants provided new towels twice per day. Water: It seems that MSC tries to squeeze the last Euro out of every passengers. My biggest complain was that there was no drinking water. One had to buy drinking water by the liter bottle at 1.9 Euros apiece. We did get a 12 bottle coupon book for 12 liters, but it could only be used in the dining room. In the cafeteria, it would not be honored, but one could find some water at one of two tiny water/ice dispensers that were well hidden in the dining area. Waiters would not give you water and you had to get it only your own. We asked service personnel in Reception and they gave us a ludicruos answer. They said the Germans were the majority on board and the Germans preferred to buy their water. I wondered if the Germans would agree. Another one in reception told me that the water in the cabins was not potable which is ridiculous for they would then have a very sick group of PAXs aboard. At the water dispensers in the cafeteria only small juice glasses were available or coffee cups. The machine did dispense ice however. We, like most Americans are accustomed to getting water all over the ship and resorted to refilling bottles in our cabins. Most purchased bottled water was served at almost room temperature and the waiters seemed to resent bringing ice to the table. This was the single most irritable thing to us. Beverages: Free coffee/tea was only available at breakfast. If you wanted a cup after lunch or dinner, you were told it was from the bar and one would have to pay for it. The alcohol and soft drinks were probably priced the same as on other ships and we noticed that drinks were not pushed as heavily as on the Caribbean cruises. In fact, you could not buy a drink in the theater area before a show, but the shows were short by comparison, so no problem if you were thirsty. The cappuccinos sold near the indoor pool in the afternoon were very good. Between 3:45 and 4:30 each day, the ship offered tea and snacks in the cafeteria area. It was the same snack on the same tray day after day which was a tea sandwich and some cookies. Food in cafeteria: Poor at best. It was the same thing on the same tray every day. The only sort of change was a small carving table for roast chicken or ham, etc. on a daily basis. Breakfast offerings were exactly the same every day. The meat offerings were usually cold cuts (mortadella and ham, but on once occasion,we tasted a very good salami), We always got very undercooked bacon, and small Italian sausages that invariably seemed to be overcooked or undercooked. The eggs were always on serving pans, either moist and scrambled over overcooked sunny side up. There were no omlette stations, but they did offer a precooked cheese/egg something or other. There were various breads of the European variety, but the toast could be used for floor tiles. We'd have killed to get a good pastry or donut. We never did see French toast nor pancakes, but the variety of fruit was nice and waiters traveled about with glasses of juice on trays. Unfortunately, the cafeteria closed for the day at around 2:30 PM and never reopened for meals. You could get cabin service, but we were told it was at a cost. So much for 24 hour availability to food. Food in the dining rooms: Mediocre at best. Lunch was geared mostly to suit a European clientele, but the did have some old American favorites like hamburgers, fries, and hot dogs. Problem was they didn't seem to be very much like real American not dogs and hamburgers! Somehow a hot dog without "the works" isn't really a hot dog and hard rolls are not conducive to American tastes on a red hot. Each lunch featured things like fish, beer and some sort of pasta for lunch. There were also soups. They did have desserts, but we stuck with the ice cream which was very good. One day they offered calamari and fries, but the waiter seemed to be insulted when someone asked for marinara dipping sauce. The even meals were so-so. There were appetizers, salad (iceberg lettuce with very little variety in dressing or other vegetables). Each meal offered a large pasta dish which was very filling. There was also a two soups, one chilled and one hot (lukewarm on arrival), but these were always absolutely excellent. The main courses were themed to some area of Italy and always some sort of fish, a beef/veal/lamb dish. There was no lobster night, but one evening we did get large prawns with the heads on. They were very overcooked, almost to mush. The desserts were fair. We had three "Gala Nights" which meant tie/suit/formal, but many of the Italians showed up in open collar shirts and no jackets. Frankly, we thought three was too much for a eleven day cruise. Let me emphasize one thing. We are NOT picky eaters. We ate what was presented, but I am comparing this cruise to food on Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean and in every case, the Splendida was far below their Caribbean counterparts. Clientele: The Americans were a small component of the total passenger load. Most were Germans with the Italians coming in second, and the French last as European counter parts. There were a few wonderful Brits and Australians too. With this in mind, it was obvious the crew catered to the Germans. All announcements were made in German, Italian, French, and English, but the explanations were long in the first three and short in the others, especially during the shows. We found ourselves outnumbered at about 2,800 Germans to 78 Americans, but those were pretty good odds at Bastogne and likewise on this cruise. We found the Germans to be very rude and the French polite to our surprise. The Italians were terrific as were the few very friendly Spaniards! One German who spoke English criticized his own countrymen saying the rude were from East Germany. They pushed on elevators, criticized other passengers in German, and would not politely cue up as others did. Their behavior in the pool area was obnoxious as if they were the only ones using a hot tub. During announcements, everyone tried to be quiet to allow the other languages to be heard.....except for the Germans. Shows: The cruise line did OK considering the problems of multiple languages, but the shows were short (about 1/2 hour) and had two presentation per night. Due to the language differences, we had no com medians, but lots of no speaking acts. One mime was teriffic and put on a great show without one spoken word. They had what appeared to be an eastern European classical group with an Italian tenor and they were very good. The violinist was the best I had ever heard. We also enjoyed a piano virtuoso who was Italian. Dancing: Almost non existant. Day time entertainment. There was one cooking demonstration and little else available to English speakers. Games like Trivia were played, but the games were usually in Italian. I read three books during the cruise to keep busy. Enrichment: Very limited English library with only about one shelf of dog eared books and many more suited for the younger traveler. Not on lecture in any language to my knowledge. The library also had a computer center for e-mail, but it was expensive and get up and running as well as downloads ate most of the time. We had no hook up in our cabin for a laptop. Crew: Very professional, but sometimes the ones who were bilingual and worked the desks seemed to blow you off. The passport control became a mess at times and this was really evident when we had to get our passports back upon disembarkation. Disembarkation: The ship ran us about to several locations on different decks as the result of passport control in conjunction with departure. We found our baggage easily, but one American couple lost one of their bags from the cabin to the terminal and had to leave without it due to their transfer. Medical: One American member of our dining group fell on the ship and broke her arm. The ship treated her at no cost, but there was no x-ray equipment on board. She was x-rayed by a Greek doctor on Crete and casted ashore. The costs were hers alone. The ship seemed to show concern for her injury and she was treated aboard by a German doctor. Overall: We are used to Caribbean cruise lines. This cruise was definitely different and I don't regret taking it for the itineary, but the service and food was difficult. The service was not as responsive and the idea of having to buy drinking water was entirely foreign to me. I went into it eyes wide open, but still I didn't like this feature. The language barriers created some lack of passenger interaction and we felt like we were second rate in the eyes of the crew. The MSC Splendida is absolutely beautiful, but if the line wants to be a success in the Caribbean, they must change a lot of their ways. As for us, we will not sail aboard MSC again. Reason? The service wasn't as good and the food was mediocre at best. Entertainment was lacking. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
While the MSC Splendida is a lovely ship, the culture is very different than most other major cruise lines.. For your reference, this was our 19th cruise and we've sailed on almost every major cruise line several times. This was our ... Read More
While the MSC Splendida is a lovely ship, the culture is very different than most other major cruise lines.. For your reference, this was our 19th cruise and we've sailed on almost every major cruise line several times. This was our first trip on MSC and it will probably be our last. Here are the cliff notes of our experience. Pros: • Ship and the infrastructure - it's new and one of the most beautiful ships afloat • Fitness area - the condition, dEcor, condition, and selection of equipment were the best • Saunas and lockers (even though you have to pay) • The interactive TV was nice • Internet was available in the cabins • The cabins were relatively quiet, except when your neighbor's phone rang • The beds were comfortable • The towels are above average and fluffy • The styling in the theater was excellent • The dEcor of the public areas was superb • We loved the drink packages that lowered your overall per drink cost Cons: • The food and service in the dinning rooms are mediocre in every respect. If Carnival quality food is OK with you then you won't be disappointed. • Save your money and avoid the specialty restaurants - the food is at best forgettable and at it's worst downright terrible. The service is even worse • There is no late breakfast in the Lido- get there before 10 am or wait until lunch • The lido lunch buffet has no other food selections except the main buffet - no sushi, pasta, pizza, ice cream, or sandwich stations • No drinking water in public areas anywhere on the ship, all water must be purchased at $3 a bottle. • The servers are largely apathetic and indifferent - this may be due to the language barrier and no incentives via tipping. • The staff seemed generally unknowledgeable and unhelpful - waiters, sommeliers, reception, accounting, and bar staff. • There is a feeling of being on a crowded ship, mostly due to lack of dining choices and limitations around opening times. • The musicians are sub par to any line we've ever been on • Communication is lacking - tours, delays • The entertainment is sub par to any line we've ever been on • You can't use any drink packages in specialty restaurants, which really drives up the cost of eating in them. Since we don't recommend eating in them anyway, this should present no problem. • The fitness area has only six sets of barbells weighing 4 to 14 kg • No wine or drinks ordered in the dining room can be taken out of the dining room, they must be consumed at dinner - another very odd rule • No coffee or tea is available during or after dinner - this was really unusual • Decks are named after Italian artists verses their function • The only English options for TV are all news: Bloomberg, CNBC, and CNN - movies are $15 • Plan meals judiciously, no meals/snacks are available between 10am to 12 am or 2pm to 6 pm • No "free" drinks (coffee, tea, juice) are available between meal times - a big difference from other lines • There is no lotion in the bathrooms • There is no pancake, waffle, or omelet station in the lido restaurant • Afternoon tea has no scones, jam, or cream - just pastries and sandwiches • Bathrooms lack the normal amount of toiletry storage • We found a smaller number of menu selections in the main dining rooms than other lines • The lido is not open for dinner leaving no casual dress options on formal nights except for the specialty restaurants • No refunds on anything purchased in the shops or shore excursions • Not as much English spoken as on most lines • There was a continual dance of giving up, getting back, and tracking down passports. It was unlike any cruise we've ever been on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
We were excited at our first opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean. The ship was beautiful and our stateroom was lovely and spacious. We were told that we may have to switch rooms (our cruise was booked at the last minute and for a great ... Read More
We were excited at our first opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean. The ship was beautiful and our stateroom was lovely and spacious. We were told that we may have to switch rooms (our cruise was booked at the last minute and for a great price)and although we didn't have to switch rooms, it became clear why they left that option open for themselves; they were taking on and letting go of passengers at every port we stopped at. Now that's very different from the U.S. Some of the other differences became apparent quickly. We went up to the gym to check it out and found out that we had to pay to use the sauna - like over $100 Euros (approximately $150). Then we found out that they don't serve any liquid refreshments with lunch and dinner with the intent of getting more Euros for bottled water. (at breakfast they do serve juice and coffee free of extra charges. Like U.S. cruises they did sell discount tickets for soda and water and beer. But no iced tea which is served on U.S. cruises. The other thing that bothered me is that they provided buses out of all the port areas - just barely out of the port area and charged 5 Euros for each person. It's like they wanted to make it nice BUT wanted to make a profit on every silly little thing they did. I don't like that. I start to feel like I'm being taken advantage of. They charged a lot for internet use, but they must need a bigger satellite because you couldn't get through half the time. The internet connections were very slow when they were working. The food was pretty good. They did have specialty restaurants (TexMex and French) for added fees, but they were virtually empty every night. They were too expensive and everything in them was al a carte. Their food each day at the ship's restaurants was okay - not sensational. The food at the buffet was good, except at breakfast, the bacon was practically raw and the sausage was also undercooked. And then there was the lack of English speaking people on the cruise - not MSC's fault. That just started to bother us after a while. There were primarily Germans, Italians and French on the cruise. There were a few Americans, but only a handful. Because of this experience, I don't think we would go on a European based cruise again. After a while you just feel lonely for someone to speak to - lonely while you are surrounded by 2,000 people! We are very friendly, but it didn't help us and we just didn't like the fact that there were so few English speaking people on board. All in all, it was great to get away. We loved Rome and had a great day in Barcelona visiting Parc Guell. The stops in the Canary Islands and Madiera were okay. I would do it differently next time. And I'm pretty convinced that cruising is not the best way to see Europe; goodness knows you need more than a day in Rome and Barcelona. It is a good way to get a taste of each city and then schedule to come back to the ones you love. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We were encouraged to cruise by many of our cruising friends. They raved about 24 hour buffets, loaded with seafood and fresh produce. They raved about friendly and helpful staff, and idyllic days around the pool. So, that is what we ... Read More
We were encouraged to cruise by many of our cruising friends. They raved about 24 hour buffets, loaded with seafood and fresh produce. They raved about friendly and helpful staff, and idyllic days around the pool. So, that is what we expected when we booked MSC Orchestra for an 8 day mediterranean cruise in September. The first disappointment came at the embarkation, nobody had a clue. We were sent upstairs, then downstairs, then finally after about 4 hours, up the escalator to board the ship. When our luggage arrived it was soaking wet right through! At this point I want to point out that our cabin crew (mostly of Asian extraction) were wonderful! They did their utmost to make our holiday special. We found the food at the buffet very ordinary (hospital cafeteria comes to mind) I don't think we saw any seafood, apart from the baked white fillets of fish. Even so, a choice of buffet for evening meal was denied us, as the buffet closed at 3pm (for the day). That meant the ONLY free option for the evening meal was to be at your assigned seating in the dining room. The food was disappointing there too, even though served by formally attired waiters. Once, we ordered lobster soup (by this time we found it all hilarious) and we renamed it "sweat of lobster soup", it may have required DNA evidence to prove the presence of lobster. In general if that food was served in any Italian cafe in any city in the world, there would be loud complaints. I regularly eat at Italian restaurants, and it bears no resemblance to what the Orchestra kitchen serves. Most of the other passengers were Italian, and unfortunately most of them were smokers. Many of them also ignored the designated smoking areas too, making it uncomfortable for non smokers. There were areas set aside just for smokers (the shaker lounge and the casino) but no such kindness was extended to non smokers. We always had to share a room with smokers on one side. Even our own balcony was contaminated by smokers on either side. (Smoking is strictly banned on balconies, due to fire risk). The management were not interested in enforcing the rule, as they didn't want to upset the smoking passengers, too bad for the rest of us. Finally disembarking was as chaotic, but at least it meant we could get off the ship (that was at least 2 hours late, and some people missed connecting flights). We haven't given up on cruising but we will definitely look more closely at reviews etc. in future before booking. And certainly MSC cruises will not be on our agenda!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We departed from London Gatwick with BA a direct flight to Genoa , on arrival the weather was warm and sunny. We used a private transfer to the City costing 50euros for six they were very good. The hotel Best Western City Centre was ... Read More
We departed from London Gatwick with BA a direct flight to Genoa , on arrival the weather was warm and sunny. We used a private transfer to the City costing 50euros for six they were very good. The hotel Best Western City Centre was well located for our one night stay. The rooms which had been recently refurbished were spacious and clean. Embarkation in Genoa with MSC was a fiasco, no snake queue, so everyone was pushing and shoving, mother nursing her baby and husband pushing a toddler were given no consideration, this needs sorting out MSC staff seemed to have no authority over the passengers. Disembarkation skills also a fiasco in Barcelona, 50mins of pushing and shoving, only one exit open used for foot passengers and excursions. MSC get your act together please! Only 56 Brits and a handful of Americans on this cruise. Found that the Italians keep themselves to themselves so found making conversation very difficult. Ship itself is immaculate, I mean immaculate, the continuous cleaning I have not seen to this extent on any other cruise line I have sailed on. The majority of the staff were excellent, especially Denny and Alex in the main restaurant. Not the same choice and quantity as on other liners but what was on offer was good. Speciality restaurants were always empty, 18 Euros for set Italian menu, Sushi restaurant various prices, minimum of 12 Euros in cheese and wine bar. Grill and Pizza prices were not on show, neither is the main restaurant menu, so difficult to decide where to eat! Asked why not on show and said to difficult to show in so many languages, but the main restaurant menu is printed in several!! Bar prices expensive, especially to us Brits. Beware if ordering a mixed drink; I was charged 6.90 Euros for a JD and then an extra 2.80euros for a can of sprite. When asked if I could of had a splash told no as only could sell a full glass from the tap. Soon became an expert smuggler. No hassle getting bottles aboard at ports. Superior Wine package added in the UK is £82 at embarkation and onboard same package 119euros? Large beer package for 14 is 59euros; soda package for 14 is 28euros. Cocktails and Liquor coffees are 5.90 Euros. No free tea, coffee, water or juice served at lunch or dinner. Free tea and coffee at afternoon tea at 4pm. Tip, order free room service available at breakfast only, order juice and milk for later in the day, we took a travel kettle with us. Also you can use the water vouchers from your wine package in the cafeteria, but they won't advertise this. Shows were different to the UK market but entertaining a lot of circus acts, band music in bars were poor, entertainment starts late in the evening so need to be night owls. Sea days are boring as not much entertainment, bingo 10euros for three tickets for one game ouch!!! No dress order in the restaurant, do not think they know what Formal and Informal means, tux, suits, cocktail dress, jeans, shorts and t shirts were the norm, no one was ever turned away. Need not have packed my glad rags. Cabin, suite on deck 15 was like a deluxe balcony on other ships but with a bath. No special services for these higher grade staterooms, i.e. priority embarkation or disembarkation etc. Fitments and decoration were immaculate though. Cabin stewards excellent. Excursions expensive, 45euros for a do it yourself trip by rail to Rome, we paid only 9euros for a return ticket which includes the underground in Rome from the shop inside the railway station. A free shuttle from the ship is available but not advertised by MSC. The station is 500mts from the port entrance where the shuttle drops you off. Trains every half hour, journey takes an hour and Is easy peasy. It was unfortunate that the weather was not at its best for this trip, a few sunny days but the majority of the time overcast. Disembarkation was more organised, although as an independent traveller I did have problems getting my departure time changed to an earlier one. It was pouring with rain in Genoa and I was pleased to see that our arranged private transfer was ready and waiting. Would I travel MSC again? It would not be my first choice, having sailed with Costa I feel that MSC have not yet catered for the UK and US market in Europe as they have done in the USA. I missed the opportunity of eating in the cafeteria as an alternative without having to pay extra, the drinks voucher system, no water, tea or coffee at meals seems to be penny pinching. The disorganisation needs addressing. MSC would certainly not be my first choice, would depend on cost and itinerary but prefer US ships. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
Arrival at Genoa - to find chaos in the hall to book onboard. Arrived on board - beautiful - cabin spotless. Super balcony. The ship is fantastic - glittering from top to bottom with shimmering lights. With so many floors the lifts just ... Read More
Arrival at Genoa - to find chaos in the hall to book onboard. Arrived on board - beautiful - cabin spotless. Super balcony. The ship is fantastic - glittering from top to bottom with shimmering lights. With so many floors the lifts just cannot cope - they often do not stop on your floor. The areas permitted to smoke are far too many - even one huge lounge with dancing was used for several meetings etc but as the smoke smell was so bad we did not attend. The areas running down the side of the ship by the side of the swimming pool (part enclosed) was smoking permitted. The entire indoor pool area full of children - smoking permitted). The restaurant service was poor to start - no time for coffee we were originally told at dinner the first night - every night after coffee was served as the order for sweet was taken. Lights go up after one and a half hours to tell you to leave!! A glass of water was served HOT. Many meals for the table of 6 were completely missed - forgotten or brought out of sync with the other meals. We had ordered the wine in the UK - they knew nothing about it on board. Had to find our documentation to convince them - and they worked out what it involved. They used a book of vouchers to tear out a bottle each night. They originally had no person responsible for the wine. Water had to be purchased at almost £2 per bottle. Tonic £2.80 - (Beer 2 bottles) £9. It cost 6 Euros per person one day & 5 Euros other days, to get out of the port on the local coaches. The hazards within the port made the coach essential. The gym was part closed to the public because of poor conditions at sea and the spa sauna was closed because a VIP had wanted it to himself. VIP passengers are the elite with their own facilities - but it did not stop them using the midnight feast to gorge themselves silly with the rest of the passengers. The daily newsletters were repetitive and the information for the Germans had included film shows etc that the other nationalities did not get. The dress code of formal when at Sea - informal in-port did not apply. Smart jackets was the order every day, apart from two Gala nights - one night informal. The shows started as rubbish but gradually improved - and the quality of performers became outstanding. Poor stage lighting was a major factor and my comments on board were noted and acted upon. Overall the ship was excellent, the friendliness usually associated with a cruise was totally missing. Meet one of the few English speakers - standby for a criticism and a moan. Stella looked after the cabin really well - Ice each night!! Overall - just about value for money - but would never set out to choose a large ship again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
We boarded MSC's Poesia with an open mind. I have read many poor reviews, but we paid a very reasonable price for an 11 night Christmas family cruise, and you shouldn't expect to get champagne if you pay only for sparking wine! ... Read More
We boarded MSC's Poesia with an open mind. I have read many poor reviews, but we paid a very reasonable price for an 11 night Christmas family cruise, and you shouldn't expect to get champagne if you pay only for sparking wine! The ship is quite superb! It is among the best I have ever sailed on, public rooms were attractive and in very good taste, and kept immaculate. Cabins were kept beautifully clean, and are spacious and more than adequate. We encountered very heavy seas on more than one occasion, and this large vessel coped well with the conditions. We were on a winter cruise, but did note that the lack of open deck space might be an issue in a warmer climate where more time would be spent outdoors. The food onboard was very hit and miss. As other reviews suggest, if your taste is conservative (steaks, lobsters, roasts) then go elsewhere, but if you are prepared to try the Italian flavors, the risottos, pastas, soups and salads were generally quite good. I would say, however, that whilst we always managed to find something fit to eat, none of the meals would really rate as much more than adequate. Getting really hot food seemed virtually impossible, with the exception of breakfasts in the main dining room. MSC prices are initially inviting, but onboard drinks and extras mean that overall it's not as cheap as it seems. Mineral water is charged for, which I had expected, but the excessive charges soon accumulate, although the euro exchange rate is hardly MSC's fault, and that is partly responsible. We allowed our son just two tins per day of his favorite soft drink, but that alone put £70 on our bill at 2.8 euros a time. We did learn to buy water ashore, and chill it in the minibar which we had asked the maid to empty, but alcoholic drinks could not be brought onboard, and were sold at astronomical prices. A gin and tonic set me back 5.8 euros, and wines too were charged at high prices. A beer package, which was 14 glasses of 40cl of lager, was 59 euros Our son, aged 14, didn't attend the kids club as he was the only English speaker on day one, and didn't go back, but he did eventually meet other teens and have some fun. Many other little charges contribute to the bill. We were able to walk rather than use shuttle buses, but at 7 euros for a five minute drive, I'm glad we're able bodied. We rarely take shore excursions, (as the are usually an expensive rip-off on every cruise line afloat) but MSC even charge 50 cents for the photocopied port maps usually given out free of charge. The entertainment was also hit and miss. Singers in the bars were little better than poor pub karaoke standard, with one exception. Frequenze Retro, the gypsy jazz band who played every night in the wine bar, were quite exceptional, and possibly the best onboard band I have ever seen. We have cruised with several lines, and unfortunately can't recommend MSC for us. The prices of better quality lines such as Cunard and RCL may initially seem more, but MSC get the cash from your pocket in the end. If, however, you don't drink, are not too fussy about your food, and don't need transport ashore, you just might manage a bargain cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
Poesia Xmas 2008 Embarkation in Genoa was the usual organized chaos we have come to expect from MSC. Our scheduled sailing time was 16.00, so we arrived at 15.00, having checked in on-line. With MSC Club priority boarding we expected to ... Read More
Poesia Xmas 2008 Embarkation in Genoa was the usual organized chaos we have come to expect from MSC. Our scheduled sailing time was 16.00, so we arrived at 15.00, having checked in on-line. With MSC Club priority boarding we expected to waltz straight on board. Hope springs eternal! In fact we got our cruise cards right away, but were then given a boarding number and asked to go into a waiting room full of hundreds of passengers. No thanks. We went off for a drink in the bar in the terminal. Twice. We finally boarded at 16.15, having waited for ten minutes for security. Someone told me we eventually set sail at 18.00. First impressions of the ship were as expected, with everything ship-shape as it should be on a six month old ship. She really is a magnificent vessel. The public rooms and staterooms are tastefully decorated, and everything is pristine. I witnessed officers and crew alike, constantly running their fingers over every flat surface in a hunt for the slightest speck of dust. Our balcony stateroom on deck twelve aft was nicely furnished, with a reasonable size shower room, and very comfortable. Unfortunately it suffered from terribly unpleasant vibration at eighteen knots plus in a rough sea, gale force 8. Others reported vibration from their cabins in that same area. One phoned reception to complain and the Chief Housekeeper came to investigate. They should have sent the Naval Architect who designed the darned thing! The Grappolo d'Oro is a nice bar with Italian snacks (chargeable)where they serve a good selection of quality Italian wines, that are not on the regular wine list. There is also a knowledgeable sommelier (the only one on the ship) to discuss our wine choices. The passenger mix is predominantly German, with many Italians, Brits, a sprinkling of Yanks and then lots of other nationalities. We travelled on her sister ship Musica a year ago and had a great time. Unfortunately, since then cost-cutting accountants appear to have taken over the helm, and examples of penny-pinching abound. There is a 4 Euros minimum internet charge, 4.40 Euros to log on to the GSM phone system, plus call charges on top. No tap water is served at table in the restaurant - you must pay through the nose for bottled. The "speciality" restaurant (really just a section of the buffet with tablecloths on) has an 18 Euros supplemental charge, and guess what? - a supplement of 8 Euros on top of that if you want shrimp! 10-15 Euros to watch a year-old movie on your TV? The orange "juice" served for breakfast appears to be the "nectar" type, i.e. 25% juice and 75% sugar water. You can buy freshly squeezed juice: nearly 4 Euros for a small glass. A photocopied city map from the tour office? 50c! A pizza in the evening? 7 Euros. A free daily newsletter with news and sports results from home? You must be joking! At the Captain's Cocktail party, only the four drinks on the waiter's tray are available, and they wait till the room is half full before serving you any drink, so as to cut down on consumption. You can't even buy a drink whilst you are waiting, as the tills are not open. But the nickel and diming is at its absolute worst in the buffet at lunch. The ice and hot and cold water machines are shuttered and padlocked like Fort Knox, in case you try to get a free glass, and there is a notice on the water dispenser warning "It is not permitted to fill your own bottle", for when the vault is unlocked during the breakfast buffet. The food budget has been cut to the bone. On the first Gala night, thin slices of fillet of beef were the only steak option. The same on another Gala night. In fact all the steak choices were thin slices, rather than a whole steak. I have recently come off Oceania line where you could have a 32 oz Porterhouse every night, Cardiologist permitting! When lobster was served it was only half a tail from a small specimen. No smoked salmon is offered on the breakfast menu. The buffet menu at breakfast and lunch appears virtually identical to the fare on offer in the restaurant. There is nowhere to eat from 2.30 until your dinner service in the main dining rooms, unless you pay. The buffet re-opens at night as a paid for pizzeria. The food in general is very tasty, with excellent breads and patisserie. Do not expect gourmet cuisine or any prime cuts. One day the roast of the day in the buffet was meatloaf. Some of my tablemates had a problem with the temperature of the food as served, complaining "It's not hot enough." I asked for a bottle of Tabasco to be set on the table, and invited them to use that instead of sending the plate back They have never had an orchestra on MSC in recent years, which means the theatre shows are performed to recorded music. Don't expect epic productions like on Celebrity or Cunard, but the entertainment is just about OK. The "Atlantis" show is well executed. We saw an excellent magician, Martin, and a superb shadow lamp exponent who produced the most amazing shadow characters with just his hands. There is very little to do on sea-days or half days at sea if it's cold or raining, unless you fancy a multi-lingual quiz or bingo. There are amateurish ad-hoc "shows" performed by the cruise staff in various lounges. They are a bit of a laugh and help you while away the time whilst waiting for the next port of call! There are umpteen TV channels with about four broadcasting news in English; Sky, CNN, CNBC, Russia Today, but otherwise, only pay TV films. We had poor weather most days, so no sunbathing. We longed to be able to watch the old re-runs of Lucy, Bonanza, Frasier, and The Beverly Hillbillies etc. that seem to be on a permanent loop on other lines. Some of the Purser's staff seem to have a "no can do" attitude. There are something like twelve to fifteen red-clad girls on the front desk, some of whom seem to have been specially selected for their stupidity. Perhaps a brain with a flair for languages is balanced by a deficiency in the part of the brain that deals with common sense! There is virtually no Concierge service available, as the whole set-up seems geared to selling you expensive ship's tours at 40-109 Euros a pop. A simple request to the front desk for a paper print out of a single page railway timetable from a specific website was met with every excuse why this was not possible, including: "You can see it in the Cyber Cafe" "There's no printer there" "You can get it on your laptop" "I don't have a printer" This proved an insurmountable task for the receptionist. I got the print-out myself in minutes from an internet cafe in third-world Egypt. It took five visits to the accounts office to claim my 200 Euros on-board credit promised by my travel agent, and it eventually appeared in two instalments of 100 Euros, days apart. In the wine bar, there are a number of flat screen TV's. I and one of the staff were watching cricket on one screen. A "Purser Cadet" appeared on the scene, demanded the remote control, and proceeded to change the TV to the ship's promotional channel showing exactly the same programming as the other TV's. Apparently, it's "impossible" to watch a sports channel, as all the screens must show the MSC propaganda videos simultaneously in perpetuity. The wi-fi connection is patchy, slow and expensive, so we didn't bother after an initial attempt in the cyber cafe, as the cost was 25 Euros an hour. I had no signal in my stateroom, 12180. We were surprised that the excellent cabin stewards seemed to know when we were home, because we were never disturbed by them barging in to "do" the room. I wondered if they had CCTV surveillance in their pantry, but it turns out when you put your key card in the slot to turn the cabin lights on, it also illuminates a little amber warning light above the door to show the room is occupied. Don't buck the system by leaving a business card in the slot when vacating the room, otherwise you'll wait all day to get your room serviced! Some passengers had an issue with tipping, as all tips are pooled between the whole crew and around 40% goes to management, who are already on decent money paid in Euros with pensions and European-type employment contracts. The third world staff on ten month contracts who need the money, supporting extended families at home are thus short changed. Many of the bedroom stewards and cleaning staff come from Madagascar. MSC must have found they will work for less than Filipinos. However, if you go to the cash desk to remove the automatic tips, there is a notice: "Staff are not allowed to receive their tips directly in cash". You betcha! See if they turn down cash. They did not! All in all, MSC provides a pleasant enough cruise experience, better than the Carnival and Costa ships we have travelled on. We enjoyed this voyage, which was very reasonably priced for a Christmas cruise. However, following the changes, MSC is not for us either. Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
This cruise appealed to us because of its unique ports of call, which exceeded expectations. We commenced and ended our journey with a tour of Northern Italy. We spent 3 nights in historic Genoa, at Hotel Soana, centrally located near ... Read More
This cruise appealed to us because of its unique ports of call, which exceeded expectations. We commenced and ended our journey with a tour of Northern Italy. We spent 3 nights in historic Genoa, at Hotel Soana, centrally located near the Oriental Market. Prior to embarkation, we took the lift to Spianata di Castello, which is the best lookout in the city, with panoramic views of the old town, port, surrounding hills and the sea. When we walked around the lookout, we spotted the Lirica, looking majestic, waiting for us in port. Embarkation. Knowing Genoa was a home port of MSC, we thought embarkation would be a smooth process, as our previous experiences with other lines had been efficient. However, after slowly queuing at wharf level, then upstairs, with our luggage, we were escorted back down to the wharf to deposit our luggage there. After which, we started the queuing process downstairs all over again. By the time we reached the final check in stage, we were surprised to discover people pushing. We decided not to sweat the small stuff and moved to another slower queue, where we were kept amused by watching people looking in vain for the fast Priority Queue. This was not part of the dream when we gazed at the Lirica from Spianata di Castello in the morning. The cold drink, welcome and being personally escorted to our cabin by a staff member were all appreciated nice touches, as well as the early meal in the buffet. Cabin. We loved our midship outside cabin portside, with its smooth sailing in swells, and ample storage space, plus room for our empty luggage under the bed. It became our welcome haven. Who needs to search for a rare empty deckchair in the sun, whilst dodging the smokers, when the sun streams into your own private cabin! The shower recess was small, but functional. My logical husband soon worked out the way to shower without being licked by the shower curtain was to shower before me, whilst the shower curtain was dry. Our efficient room stewards, who worked long hours, made it a delight to always come back to a cleaned made-up cabin, complete with fresh fruit in a bowl. We were disappointed with the lack of TV programmes, and poor variety of movies, especially during the 5 sea days. Fortunately, we brought ample reading matter with us, as the English selection in the library was slim (and I saw it before anyone borrowed any books). Dining Room. We chose to eat most of our meals in the dining room, where food was a bit hit and miss and rarely hot, but overall we ate very well. We were fortunate to share a table with a chef and an Italian. Good food choices were Italian, soups and vegetarian (much to our surprise). Forget all ideas of a romantic atmosphere - think more noisy cafeteria, scraping of plates, etc., compounded by a low ceiling - as the dining room is badly designed with the serving area in the middle of the dining room. Be persistent if you are not happy with your table sitting. Like many people, our first appointment was with the Maitre D'Hotel to have our late sitting changed to our requested early sitting. Eating late is not an option for early to bed seniors from farming stock ancestors, who had to get up early to milk the cows. Surely, MSC could save itself a lot of work by automatically allocating all seniors, who request early sitting, early sitting! I won't go into details, but later it took us 3 days for our table of 4 squashed people to be shifted to one of 3 empty roomier tables nearby. Our request was handled poorly by the Maitre D'Hotel. Whilst I will never know whether my final whispered threat, after being ignored, for us all to sit on the floor that night helped, I know patient politeness didn't. Entertainment. We chose limited night entertainment, which was mainly visual and excellent. Daytime entertainment was a major disappointment. Many of the daytime activities are held outside in the pool area, which also happens to be a smoking area. On previous cruises, we have joined in all the daytime activities. However, on this ship, we ended up doing little. The exception was Trivia, which was held in the theatre, and was fun. Ports of Call were the highlight of our trip. We visited all ports of call independently, by walking or taking public transport. General Comment. This could be a great cruise line, but it isn't. MSC rewards bad behavior, by not enforcing their own rules, which brought out the worst in people, with people smoking where they liked in no smoking areas, saving deckchairs all day long, pushing in, etc. If you come from a background that likes order and civility and detest rude behavior, MSC might not be the cruise line for you. However, if you love a unique itinerary, like we did, choose a good comfortable cabin and take some enjoyable reading matter! On the positive side, we enjoyed the cruise and met some of the nicest people. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was a Christmas Cruise experience of many facets. We were a party of 6 with many Cruises behind us, from 80+ to 20+ in total, so we've experienced many ships from Asia, Caribbean, Europe & USA. We took the package LHR to ... Read More
This was a Christmas Cruise experience of many facets. We were a party of 6 with many Cruises behind us, from 80+ to 20+ in total, so we've experienced many ships from Asia, Caribbean, Europe & USA. We took the package LHR to Milan Linate (our first mistake) & waited about 20 mins for the coaches to arrive. After loading we waited another 20 mins whilst they did 3 recounts to tally the pax list. The journey to Genoa takes about 2 hours & embarkation by MSC staff went smoothly & then the troubles began. We were herded into 1 double line, with no escape, just to have a Welcome Aboard Photo taken. We were then held in a large area to await entry through security. Eventually when the crowds had built up to a few hundred they announced ticket numbers 1 to 400 could go through, so people at the back were trying to get to the front & people at the front were reluctant to give up their prized position... Chaos.... It doesn't end there. On climbing the 3 layered gangway then had to wait at the top for an escort to our individual cabins, another farce as some of us have been on a cruise ship before! So the Ship. Musica is a beautiful ship by any standards, be it 3* 4* or 5*. Modern elegance without being flash, gaudy or over glitzed. Launched in 2006 Musica still has that brand new gleam & shine both in the public rooms, deck areas, the cabins & bathrooms, which should satisfy most tastes.Disembarkation Dining. Food in the Main DR is adequate & plentiful. That's about all I can say for it. If your expecting 5* food, then don't because your not paying a 5* price. Service in the DR was good efficient & cheerful & served at an acceptable pace for our liking. The Self Service Rest. on deck13 was a different story. The pax mainly consisted of Germans with a strong compliment of Italian thrown in. They hunt in packs for tables before getting food, leaving 1 person in charge whilst their cohorts push & barge their way along the food lines with complete oblivion to anyone standing in line. Hence the tables are not being used efficiently & people wandering around with plates of food getting cold. Entertainment. Le Scala is a beautiful theatre by any ship's standards & entertainment is more a dancing & circus type show to cater for the multi national pax contingency, with little vocal content. Other lounges have piano men, Duo's, Trio's, Quartet's of either, Italian or Classical music mainly, one exception being Sillio's Band, with a broad range of music styles & good standard of musical ability. Ports Of Call Ajaccio, Valletta, Rhodes, Alexandria, Tunis, Messina & Naples were a good mix of cultures & our taxi to Cairo was a life experience which is too lengthy to discuss here so I'll leave that for posting in the main forum. Service Deck service & lounge service were as good as most ships & no 15% Gratuity added to drinks was a welcome change to the already fairly priced drinks.This goes to show that service & tipping have little relationship with a 6 Euro Autotip per day charge to your account. (removable at you convenience). Disembarkation This was done efficiently by the usual colour tab system, but on arrival into the coach area the fun really began. The Germans & French pushed their way to the front, loaded their own cases into the side lockers of the coaches whist an MSC girl was doing a roll call on the other side coach for pax allocated to that coach. Hence when the correct pax were on the coach there was no room for luggage. This was chaos on a grand scale, just the way to end a holiday. Eventually we were all bussed to Linate Airport where some of us had to wait 6 hours for our flight. As I said in my opening remarks, taking a package was a big mistake us, as we have arranged our own flights, transfers, hotels etc. for the past 10 years & only book 'Cruise Only'. We could have flown direct UK to Genoa with a short taxi ride Airport Hotel Ship in comfort & at our own pace. The remarks from every Brit we spoke to, Never Again MSC. Ourselves? Well in fifty years of cruising we've seen a lot, done a lot . We had a great time because we make sure we do, take from it the positives & accept the negatives are part of life's tapestry. In conclusion would I cruise MSC again? Never say never, the right itinerary, the right price, the right time of year (not my main holiday).Yes I had value for money & would consider MSC again, but would not join the cattle bus transfer scenario at any price. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
We are long time cruisers, having traveled the best of all cruise lines. This was our first cruise aboard MSC. Here are our comments: Considering the fact that one is in environment of 2,000+ passengers, overall, we have to say the cruise ... Read More
We are long time cruisers, having traveled the best of all cruise lines. This was our first cruise aboard MSC. Here are our comments: Considering the fact that one is in environment of 2,000+ passengers, overall, we have to say the cruise was fairly good. Let me say at the onset, we are very demanding passengers. We know good food, good service and good accommodations. Accordingly, if one expects the best, their going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if one compares this cruise line to Royal Caribbean or Carnival, MSC wins hands down. The biggest problems we encountered was the fact that despite this being an Italian ship, most of the crew are all from 3rd world countries. Most do not speak English and lack any experience. This is most evident in the dining rooms where the waiters cannot understand what one is saying. Nor do they understand what Italian food is really all about. Fortunately, in our case, we speak Italian. Once we became aware of the inability of the waiters to speak either English or Italian, we grabbed the Maitre D'(who are generally Italian) and demanded good service and good food. Without hesitation, we were assigned to a table with an excellent waiter who spoke good English and Italian. This fellow knew how to serve and was as good as you could find at any restaurant. The Maitre made certain our food was as good as one can expect on a ship this size. Without this,(with the exception of the their ice cream, which was outstanding) do not expect anything but mediocre food and service. Our cabin steward was excellent. The biggest other problem one will encounter is MSC's policy of charging extra for everything. Be prepared to be "nickel & dimed" everywhere. At the various ports of call, unless you are on an excursion, you will be dumped, far from anywhere (at most ports) with no transportation to the various city centers. So, its either pay the exorbitant excursion prices, or be prepared to walk, and sometimes very long distances. And, don't expect any help from the ladies at the reception office. Frankly, they didn't have clue.....! Frankly, as a group, they had little knowledge or information regarding the ship, or the ports of call. In fact, most of the time, what little information they had, was erroneous. Overall, if you can handle the above stated deficiencies, I suggest you give MSC a try. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
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