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61 MSC Cruises South America Cruise Reviews

THE SHIP: Getting on board the MSC Musica is a marvelous experience. The ship lives up to the promise of the travel brochures. It is B E A U T I F U L! It is a monument of thoughtful design and ergonomics, and by some standards even good ... Read More
THE SHIP: Getting on board the MSC Musica is a marvelous experience. The ship lives up to the promise of the travel brochures. It is B E A U T I F U L! It is a monument of thoughtful design and ergonomics, and by some standards even good (though some may find it garish) taste. The state rooms are spacious, well appointed and comfortable. Passengers may wander freely, from the fifth floor reception to the 16th floor tennis court - and there are plenty of elevators to get people to their destinations reasonably fast. Though filled to capacity, despite the ravages of ocean air, the ship appears to be clean, and maintains its fresh air of newness - kudos to the army of minions who surely toil around the clock scrubbing and painting to accomplish this in such a vast and luxurious space. The only disappointment in the ship's design was the gym. It is minuscule, open for short hours (from 8 AM to 8 PM). Six treadmills for 3000+ passengers just doesn't ad-up. There are a few other machines (e.g. two elliptical and two bicycles) of dubious quality and resistance. The gym manager is not particularly knowledgeable, nor helpful - but you could count on him to be late for work in the morning. THE FOOD: After a surprisingly bland and unimaginative buffet service, we were later introduced to the ship's cuisine at dinner time. This was the first indication that there is a chasm between the ship's maintenance crew, and its tour operators. The latter showed themselves not only to be sophomorically incompetent, but puny and cheap. Meats, poultry and sea food though sometimes reasonably seasoned, are usually overcooked - possibly an attempt to fight an epidemic of diarrhea on board due to expired validity dates. The pasta and the pizza are competent, thus the cruise is safe for anyone on a high carbohydrate diet. A tasty spaghetti al vongole one evening featured four beautiful clamshells, alas only one clam had actually found its way to my serving. I wondered all night if some lucky passenger received four shells and seven clams ... The examples of abuse are too many to enumerate. Some however are so outrageous as illustrations of the pettiness of the profit driven experts running this operation, that they deserve special recognition: • Though the quality of the fresh fruit is passable - the salads come from the bottom of the barrel - the leftovers from wholesale produce markets - normally destined to the soup kitchens for the homeless. Except for the tasteless, styrofoam-like tomatoes, the greens often exuded a perfume of chemicals, either of the toxic pesticides used in their production, or of the preservatives used to disguise their expired validity as betrayed by their lackluster appearance. • Prior to the cruise we were offered a package of seven bottles of wine "chosen by our sommelier" and an equal number of mineral water bottles for the reasonable price of US$99. The mineral water was indeed of good quality - the wines unfortunately weren't even suitable to be used as vinegar in salad dressings. After the third night we gave up and didn't even bother ordering wines from the sommelier's choice any more. This is surprising considering the excellent wines we drank in Argentine restaurants during our stopover in Buenos Aires, at prices similar to our sommelier's choices. • The coffee and milk served freely at breakfast tasted neither like coffee nor milk - adding insult to injury, for an additional charge a decent espresso or cappuccino is served throughout the ship at its many coffee shops and bars. • The little honey containers of European origin ran out after the first day. They were truly remarkable illustrations of European prowess in industrial design - these little plastic receptacles with an aluminum foil top which easily pealed back to allow customers access to the honey inside. The batch of the Brazilian brand served thereafter clearly had not passed quality control - the aluminum foil top was firmly attached to the plastic receptacle, and would not let go. Careful surgery with a dull knife was required to access the honey inside - invariably resulting in a gooey mess worthy of inner city emergency rooms and trauma units. • The menus, with few exceptions were unimaginative, often using fancy words to describe pathetic options. On New Year's eve I was driven to take pictures. One from the fancy desert advertised as a Saint Silvester cup - a panachE of fruit on lemon gelatin - which alas cannot be posted here. The other illustration of is of the "olive bread" Three types of bread are served at dinner time - one of each. As service is often excruciatingly slow, you may ask for more bread. Your waiter will gladly oblige ... eventually. Extra bread must be ordered from the central kitchen in the ship's bowels - it usually arrived little before desert was served. • If you like ice cream you may purchase the mediocre stuff sold by the pool, for an extra fee - of course. The melting goo in the restaurant menu is neither ice, nor cream. ENTERTAINMENT: Like the rest of the ship, the installations are impressive, world class, state of the art, and comfortable. Alas, some of the good artists, though clearly past their prime, deserved a kinder setting before being put out to pasture permanently. Many of the costumes worn by dancers and acrobats revealed undergarments unfit for the stage. The awkward choreography was often well, embarrassing to put it mildly. The cruise director, an aspiring young polyglot with a failing hair transplant sounded much like a circus ringleader from an old Disney animation (Pinocchio - I think it was). The Crystal Room was supposed to have more romantic music for old folks like me. Alas the nasal lead singer had a painfully strident voice which one might even have gotten used to were it not for random missed notes, just enough to jar your nerves. Moving on to the Tucano Lounge we theoretically had Brazilian music. It was largely rock'n roll - but Brazilian. WiFi: As befits a state of the art cruise ship, such as the MSC Musica, the latest technology is offered in the internet cafe where for US$30 an hour you can surf the Web at roughly half a dial-up connection speed. There is a minimum US$10 fee - but that's OK because it took me almost 15 minutes just to log into my gmail account. Lip service: I have already mentioned the impressive tidiness through most of the trip. As was to be expected the latest in prophylactic technology was also spread haphazardly throughout the passenger area in the form of alcohol dispensers to slow the spread of contagion. There are plenty of signs admonishing passengers and crew to be mindful of healthy hygiene. Alas most of the time the dispensers were either broken or empty. Philanthropy: The sharp business executives at MSC found a novel way of exercising the social responsibility required by modern management dogmas. A letter was left in our stateroom one evening informing us that unless we filled in a form and delivered it to the reception area, a charitable donation to a UNICEF organization would be tacked on to our invoice. I'm as much of a philanthropist as the next guy, but I like to choose on my own how to practice it - having MSC do it on my behalf without my express permission, seemed somewhat underhanded. Shore leave: When returning to the ship from our sojourn in Punta del Este we needed to wait for the ship's life boats to ferry us back. It's a pretty smooth operation. Unless it rains. Which it just happen to do when were there. This was, after all, the season of the Summer rains. MSC set up a large tent where you can wait for your raft - a good distance from the loading dock. From the tent to the dock there was no cover, there were no umbrellas, and there was a lot of waiting in line. Saddest of all was an elderly couple, huddling, him leaning heavily on a cane, struggling down a steep ramp (the poor guy apparently couldn't handle steps) on their own, unassisted by an oblivious and overwhelmed hapless crew. Green: The New Year was celebrated with the distribution of a helium filled balloon to each passenger. We were told to write our wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the string of the balloon to be released into the atmosphere at the stroke of midnight. Future passengers on an Antarctic cruise may be scratching their heads as to where all these balloons littering our oceans came from. An unforgettable farewell: On the day of arrival, we were asked to be out of our staterooms by 7 AM, to have breakfast, and then not return - but to wait in our assigned areas for the call to disembark. Nearly 3000 passengers huddled in cramped quarters awaiting their turn. Our group was one of the middle ones in the queue to get off the ship. We were called at 11 AM. The one thousand + stateroom toilets usually available to this bunch of not-so-happy travelers were no longer available. The result was predictably unforgettable. CHECKING IN: The inadequacy of the cruise passenger facilities at the port in Santos deserves a review of its own. Anyone who loves cruising should avoid it at all costs either by flying to a previous or subsequent port of call for embarking on a cruise. For anyone my age or younger, who did not actually live through the real horrors of World War II, arriving at the passenger terminal at the port in Santos is reminiscent of movie scenes depicting getting off a freight train at Auschwitz. The enormous, snail paced line we were assigned to was not even to check-in. It was merely a to get a senha (number) which entitled its lucky bearer to eventually get in another line where the actual check-in formalities were to be processed in a system not unlike that of a Brazilian pharmacy - where no one has any authority - a series of smiling clueless people, with no idea of the purpose of their minute role in this saga, and who must refer E V E R Y T H I N G to some invisible all-powerful entity for confirmation and approval. Not wanting to break away from our group I had turned down several hints of taking the shorter snail paced line for senior citizens. After a couple of hours I decided to investigate. It turned out that my wife and I, being seniors, would also be entitled to a preferential senha, meaning we could get to the second snail paced line sooner - but still all members of our party would be entitled to get off the Dantesque queue we had been wallowing in for so long. We took advantage of this heaven-sent opportunity which surely cut our overall wait by at least another couple of hours. The "real" check-in was "interesting". The staff takes it for granted that they have the authority to take away your documents (passport, identity cards, etc.) - with a cheerful promise that they will be "returned later". To the exasperation of the various smiling clueless faces mishandling this circus, I adamantly refused to part company with our passports several times - as my 'misbehavior' wound its way up MSC's hierarchy. At one point a smartly pressed young man in a company (not an official) shirt and a heavy Porteño accent reassured me he was an 'Immigration Officer' and I could rest assured my passport would be properly handled. I politely congratulated him on his high rank and suggested then that either he properly handle our passports in my presence - or that I would have file a complaint with the Federal Police that MSC had absconded with my passport without my permission. As it turned out, our passports were promptly returned without an explanation - the Gods of MSC must have been otherwise appeased. All in all, from leaving our home in São Paulo, to entering our stateroom on board (including a 90 minute bus ride to the Santos passenger terminal) took approximately seven hours - thanks to our privileged senior citizen status, which allowed us cut the line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
I flew with BA to Milan(mxp),then over 2 hour coach trip to Port.check in was OK apart from MSC "conviscating" 2 cans lager I'd bought to drink on coach(but didn't!) Had nice Balcony Cabin on Deck12 PortForward...good ... Read More
I flew with BA to Milan(mxp),then over 2 hour coach trip to Port.check in was OK apart from MSC "conviscating" 2 cans lager I'd bought to drink on coach(but didn't!) Had nice Balcony Cabin on Deck12 PortForward...good for early morn swim but long hike to Dining Room(Deck6 Aft).Beautiful ship and very clean as was Cabin. Food very good as I had FISH every night for main course..Desserts not MSC strong point! Buffet lunch(Deck13) had fresh Pasta+Pizza(bit cold often) but very "iffy" salads...buffet could be a McDonald's at times, so always had breaklfast in Dining Room(Deck 5)to avoid the scrum!! If U ask for WATER ,they think U're from another planet...so had to go up to buffet to obtain very mini plastic glasses of H2O..I had 8 or 9 to hydrate myself!! Tea and Coffee not available for lunch or dinner but Ok with Afternoon tea!! Buffet does NOT OPEN for dinner. Evening Shows good but only 30 mins Entertainment tried hard but in all honesty failed with silly pathetic deck games.Few Quizzes, although a good Team Quiz for the 5 Sea days crossing Atlantic. Swimming pool is NOT heated, so freezing water in Med but sea water warmed up after we reached Tenerife!!!! Crew 40% Brazil,owing to law,and they speak PORTUGUESE..but some good English. 2200 on board incl 900 Brazilian 400 German 300 Brit 200 French Only did one tour which was to Sao Paulo to avoid 6 hour wait for BA return flight.Pricey @ 57E but included good buffet lunch but we only saw ONE attraction(paid for 5!) To be fair it was FRIDAY RUSH-HOUR!!! My main gripe is the drink prices which are just plain CRAZY..Cheapest wine bottle was E20..beer E5..so went teetotal and felt good for it!! Pity others didn't vote with MOUTH,then prices WOULD go down! With MSC U get what U pay for and for SINGLE's it's the best deal going. The old adage applies,aa Brits EXPECT(but don't get)Roast Beef/Yorkshire +stodgy puds!! ONE MAN'S MEAT IS ANOTHER MAN'S POISON Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My wife and I have just returned from a cruise on the Musica to Brazil which was most disappointing. The ship was excellent and the crew kept it in exceptionally fine condition. The boarding and disembarkation arrangements worked well and ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from a cruise on the Musica to Brazil which was most disappointing. The ship was excellent and the crew kept it in exceptionally fine condition. The boarding and disembarkation arrangements worked well and organised tours were all very informative and interesting. The evening theatre events were often spectacular and the theatre was worthy of the West End of London. Without wishing to go into great detail the standard of food was not up to the standard that one would expect. Breakfast was a buffet that was of a good quality, lunch was ok but the desserts were very poor except for the fresh fruit. Dinner served in the dining room was based on a different country every evening. Whilst the idea was good there was no occasion that the food was served hot. All cooked meals were tepid and were frequently sent back to be reheated. The desserts, in many cases, lacked imagination and the cheese, served was more like plastic than good quality cheese, this from a country that has some of the best cheeses in the World. During the afternoon, tea and coffee was served with bread rolls filled with ham and cheese and occasionally something else. Not very appetising. Cakes of a sort were available usually as a dry spongy cake with a thin layer of nondescript filling. Apart from the food we were surprised to discover that tea, coffee and water could only be obtained by purchasing it from the bars except at breakfast and tea time. All other beverages and drinks had to be purchased at excessive prices. An average drink at the bar would cost in excess of £5 and a bottle of "duty free" wine at the table or in the bar was about 20 euros. Here I am not talking about exceptional wines just ordinary run-of-the mill Italian wines that should have been at duty free prices. Ice cream was available, only at one bar, at a price. The shops on board and treatment services that were offered were at very high prices. The shops' prices were far in excess of those at the non-duty free shops at the airports and were certainly not good value, The ship had no shop from which you could purchase, say toothpaste or soap or any everyday item that might be required by the traveller. The laundry was very expensive at 50 euros for 10 items and there were no laundrette facilities on board. Finally we missed our plane home because there had been an accident on the road to Sao Paolo airport. Organising this last day tour, so far away from the airport was unwise, for not only were we in the bus for six and an half hours, missing the plane by at least two hours, we arrived home a day an half late. Apparently being late is not uncommon on this tour and the distances involved from Santos to Sao Paolo airport make delays quite possible. We have spoken to many people who are regular cruisers, who were most surprised by the facts that we have stated above. To sum up: The cruise was very disappointing for many reason but mostly to do with the high prices and the relatively poor meals. Even worse than this is the fact that it has taken me years to persuade my wife to go on a cruise, only to be disappointed by this cruise. She now says that she will never go on one again Our comments about the overall cruise run into many pages and would not fit into this space.In effect the cruise was a great disappointment. The food was poor and unimaginative and was always served cold. There were no laundrette facilities and the ship's laundry was very expensive- ten items costing 50 euros. Wine and drinks that should have been at duty free prices were very overpriced- a modest bottle of wine was charged at 20 euros and a gin and tonic was about 6.80euros.Yhe tours were well organised but there were no lectures about the places we were to visit. The activities on board were restricted to embroidery, chess and bridge with a few morning talks but little else. The final day's tour ended up with us missing the flight. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
First time with MSC on repositioning cruise. The MSC homepage offered a going nuts in Brazil promotion and many people had taken advantage of the ridiculously low price. I booked cruise only and flew London Gatwick to Venice the day ... Read More
First time with MSC on repositioning cruise. The MSC homepage offered a going nuts in Brazil promotion and many people had taken advantage of the ridiculously low price. I booked cruise only and flew London Gatwick to Venice the day before. Nice hotel and stay, then next day went to Piazzale Roma bus station for free shuttle to ship. I had used the express booking online and found this a complete waste of time, the queue was slow , it was quicker in the regular check-in. On the ship by 12.30 p.m, the cabin was ready, and was instantly impressed by the ship's condition, the cleanest one I've ever sailed on. This is an account of what happened next. Went for lunch and there was no tea or coffee just water. At tea time there was no tea or coffee just water. Had 7 course dinner no tea or coffee you're getting the picture. MSC wanted you to buy tea or coffee the whole of the cruise. This infuriated very many of the passengers I can tell you. They also wanted you to buy bottled water with all your meals. The prices for these extras was extortionate There was water and ice available from the drinks area so most people filled their own bottles. Tea and coffee were available at breakfast and tea time only At the end of these times around 10.30 a.m and 4.45 p.m drinks machines were closed. Then later completely drained of the hot coffee,water, and milk this was in most people's view despicable Why didn't they let passenger drain it off. This one action was the constant topic for most of the British passengers. The other minor irritation was the announcements in 7 languages I was prepared for this however going to the theatre for 7.15 p.m became 7.30 on most occasions. The shows were OK but I've seen much better. Coming back to the ship cleanliness it bordered on the paranoid and one day at buffet lunch with not many diners the waiters outnumbered us and cleaners were around our table during our meal I don't want my meals with the cleaners thank you can't it wait till lunch is finished. I've devised the MSC mission statement as follows " Cleanliness before customers" I've not had this irritation on other cruises MSC are 3 star against RCCL/Celebrity/Princess/NCL (only my opinion) If there was another repositioning bargain I might be tempted but I think I'll stay with the above cruise lines In case I forget the weather was fabulous all the way I've had a summer holiday in October/November GREAT Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
INTRODUCTION I choose this cruise because from a lot of years ago I had the dream to see the fire works of reveillon in Rio. I leave a part of the year in Lisbon and generally in European winter I am in Brazil where I have residence too. ... Read More
INTRODUCTION I choose this cruise because from a lot of years ago I had the dream to see the fire works of reveillon in Rio. I leave a part of the year in Lisbon and generally in European winter I am in Brazil where I have residence too. We were two couples , we with a total of 120 years old the other rather young , him in the early thirties and her with 25. THE EMBARKATION We flight on 24 th. December from Fortaleza to Sao Paulo and on 26 th. we went on a private transfer to Santos. When we arrive to the Port of Santos after 2 hours I had the first surprise. The road in front of the piers was completely crowded of cars, bus, tucks, etc with a big confusion and a really horrible environment. After leave the car we went to a queue so slow as an " escargot" and after 2 hours!!! we received a paper with a figure and the orientation to go to a room completely crowded to await that our figure was called!!! I was just a pre check-in. The check in was made only about 17.15 , we enter abroad about 17.30 qand for the first time I saw a ship leave the port with more than 1 hour of delay. And for us were almost 6 hours without any kind of comfort, without food, etc THE SHIP MUSICA is a beautiful ship and cabins are nice and comfortable but balconies are smaller that in other ships . Another negative point is the number of elevators. Too small overall in a cruise where the boat was completely full.The capacity of elevators is too reduced and one elevator was out of service since the first minute. Result: people were obliged to exercise and to go up or down using the stairs. THE SERVICE and FOOD Most of employees of the ship seemed to be the first time on a boat. In restaurants to see the service was like a funny joke if the price paid wasn't so high. I was normal to have in all meals the arm of the "garçon" passing near my nose for serving my wife when was possible walk 2 meters and serve her as is common even in any 3rd. class restaurant. Once I asked for a second bottle of wine. when the waiter bring it , open the new bottle and put the wine over the rest of wine I had in the glass from the first bottle and asked me to try!!!! The food in Oleandro was generally very poor and in Buffet was horrible , hamburgers, pizza and other things without a minimum class. To see the quality of the service we need to say that on 31 December all keys didn't open the cabin doors!!! All of us were obliged to go to the reception to resolve the problem, The last day I received a notification to return the net cable!!! I hadn't asked for any net cable. THE PORTS I knew already Salvador but is always good to see the old part of the town. Ilheus and Buzios are typical Brazilian beach villages , interesting and with their beauty. Ilha Bela was a surprise . Is terrific. We rent a taxi and we go to the Curral beach that is excellent. THE SHOWS About shows MUSICA can compare withe other competitors , they are good and some excellent artists. But a cruise only for 2 or 3 good small shows is not enough.Poor MUSICA , the beauty of the ship deserved much more, overall in service quality, food and personnel training Read Less
Sail Date December 2008
I have just returned from a 2 month overseas trip which was for business and pleasure combined where part of my trip was a cruise on the above mentioned ship MSC MUSICA which departed Venice on 2/11/08. I was meeting my parents and their ... Read More
I have just returned from a 2 month overseas trip which was for business and pleasure combined where part of my trip was a cruise on the above mentioned ship MSC MUSICA which departed Venice on 2/11/08. I was meeting my parents and their friends for the cruise; all seasoned cruise travellers for what was to be my first luxury cruise and sadly my last with MSC Cruises. Below is a summary of what I wrote to the cruiseline and felt this should be shared with other people thinking about MSC Musica for a cruise. Embarkation: This was THE worst organization I have ever seen in my life. I work in marketing and advertising and I can say that "first impressions" really do count and you only have one chance to get it right! I was expecting a smooth embarkation process where I was to arrive by canal boat from Venice's San Marco Piazza to the terminal, have my bags taken care of and easily board the ship. Sadly not so - we all had to join a long line to carry our cases to a baggage area in a warehouse. There was no formal line, no signage and no clear instructions from crew. It looked like a herd of elephants all barging towards a building which was loud, disorderly and to tell you the truth with 2 ships departing from the terminal it was a case of fingers crossed our bags in fact make it onto the right ship. Some of us were quite accustomed to queuing in an orderly manner, but not so many of the passengers arriving from countries where 'queue' does not seem to be in the vocabulary. This pushing and shoving and provocation were demeaning and not designed to get our cruise off to a harmonious start. But this 45 minute experience was nothing compared to what was to follow. As it was a Sunday in Venice, the tax refund office in Venice itself was closed and I assumed that there would be one at the terminal. I was told there was by an MSC Cruises representative and sent on what could be described as a "wild goose chase" to find it. I spent the best part of 1.5 hours trying to get a tax refund on some shopping I had done in Venice the day and night before my cruise. Only to learn that there is no such office at the terminal and no post box either where I could mail the forms off to the Tax Office for processing. I in fact had to wait till I got to Malta before I could mail the letter and to this date I have not received a tax refund on my credit card. Embarkation commenced at noon, and when we got to the embarkation hall it was utter chaos. There was no attempt at crowd control or line-ups to the check-in desks - it was as if 3000 or so people had all turned up to buy half price tickets on the last cruise there ever was. After talking with many passengers this apparently is the "norm" for MSC Cruise embarkation in Venice which is rather disappointing. This is certainly a serious issue for MSC Cruises and one which I would rather hope you address. Word of mouth is one of the strongest forms of communication and with the internet and blogging sites these days bad word of mouth can spread like wildfire. In fact, if MSC Cruises was to look at the many of the websites where travellers can critique their travel and cruise experiences, you would be rather shocked at the comments being made about your company and in particular this cruise. All the money spent on advertising by your company will never overcome the value of real life brand experiences by actual passengers who have experienced your cruises. Eventually, by around 4.30pm we were on-board - disappointed, tired and weary from the rather awful experience we had just been through. Our luggage arrived at our room doors well after dinner so in fact we could not even change into some clean clothes before dinner. We decided to put this first impression behind us and look forward to setting sail on out 18 nights cruise through the Med and across the Atlantic to Brazil. Service: Our first dinner service put a bad taste in our mouth so to speak for the rest of the cruise. Firstly, we were placed on the wrong dinner service seating which was eventually changed to the 6.30pm sitting in the Maxim's restaurant. We were met by our Brazilian waiter called Clayton. He seemed nice enough however it was to be the worst experience of our lives in terms of wait staff. He was dripping with sweat all over the place, getting meals mixed up and delivering meals at different times to the guests at the table. We were still eating at 9pm and told to get out as the next seating was waiting to come in. The food as well was awful, tasteless, cold and very disappointing in every aspect. After two nights of having this waiter we complained to the Supervisor and had our waiter changed to an Indonesian waiter called Duroman. He was so much better however it's a shame he was made to serve us the woeful food for the reminder of the cruise. Overall the service on board was extremely poor. It seemed to be that the crew on board were not well trained, had too many language barriers and were never trained in customer service. When I complained about the service I was either told: -It's because MSC have employed 50% Brazilian crew -It's because Brazil makes us take 50% Brazilian crew and because it was all very last minute we did not have time to train them. Quite often the usual response I would get from any of the staff I was complaining to was a wry smile, pretending to not understand me, a shrugging of the shoulders and then they would walk off. I was never apologized to, given an explanation nor felt that anyone was trying to help me. I wasn't the only one complaining. From day one of the cruise it was the hot topic of conversation for the entire cruise amongst all passengers about all their terrible excuses and the fact that their complaints were falling on deaf ears. Of course there were one or two nice crew members who told me they did not like working on the Musica because of the mixed up and poorly trained crew. Safety Drill: I was expecting this to be the very first exercise before even departing to sea. However it was not until day two of the cruise that a drill was activated. What would have happened had there been an emergency at sea on the very first night? The safety drill was poorly executed and probably not in the way safety authorities would expect. We were made to put on life jackets and wait in lounge areas for announcements in 7 languages. I was not confident at all that in an emergency neither the crew nor the passengers would know exactly what to do and where to go. We were not even shown a lifeboat nor how to assembly and get to one which in my experience of water safety is illegal and rather uncomforting. I do hope Musica never has an emergency at sea as I would suspect the crew would just fend for themselves and many of the passengers would unfortunately have to jump ship literally! Communication, Language Barriers & Announcements: Whilst I understand that there was a multitude of different nationalities amongst the passengers, I would have expected that most if not all could understand English. English is normally the first language spoken in announcements however in most cases on the Musica it was the last. There were several languages spoken in every announcement. In particular the safety drill with the lengthy announcements made this a very long and drawn out process. Perhaps different areas could have been set up where only one language was spoken. Many of the staff were not skilled in various languages either - in fact many could only speak Portuguese! Food & Beverages: I have always heard that the highlight of any cruise is often the cuisine and the endless smorgasbords of fresh seafood, salads, fruits and the amazing ice sculptures and displays. Well this was definitely the opposite on Musica. I think the local slums in many of the ports prepared better food that what we were served half of the time. Jugs of water were complimentary at dinner on Day 1 and thereafter it was to be paid for by the passengers. Apparently the ship's captain changed his mind and decided to charge the passengers for water after Day 1. I think this was because he knew none of the passengers were going to pay any gratuities after the bad experiences at embarkation and service on day 1 of the cruise. Paying for water, coffee and tea from what I have learnt is "not on" - many other passengers who were "cruise veterans" told me this was the first time they had been a ship which had done so. In terms of the food, after the experience at dinner on day one I dreaded what food I was going to be served thereafter. The food was the worst food I have ever seen or tasted. Terrible quality, awful presentation, no flavor, too salty, lack of variety, served cold and the list goes on. Obviously there were one or two desserts which probably were acceptable but overall every meal I experienced in Maxim's restaurant was poor. Almost every dish was served on a sea of pulped tin tomatoes and every salad was limp browned iceberg lettuce with one olive and a slimy tomato wedge. Every lunch-time in the cafeteria featured the same food trucked out every day which was mostly tasteless and not fresh and at breakfast they did not know how to boil and egg properly (one day I sent mine back 3 times) not cook toast... quite often it was cooked for 10 secs and served cold. Being a cheese platter connoisseur I would often order these after dinner. In the beginning they were served with in the beginning a plastic wrapped packet of "Salada" biscuits which are NOT for cheese platters. After a few days they must have been in short supply as we were served two small "Salada" squares and mind you they were cracked and broken and nowhere near enough for the amount of cheese on the plate. The only two experiences food-wise which were of high quality and what you would expect were the ice creams at the pool deck ice cream parlour and the Sushi Bar Restaurant food - both of which were not free and had to be paid for with extremely inflated prices. Tours: The ship on Day 1 provided a list of tours for the various ports were visiting. The ship offered a special promotion of several tours, movies, laundry and discounts in the day spa - which I bought as it seemed to represent good value at the time. My first land tour experience in Malta was poor. The ship herded us all into the theatre and spent an hour trying to sort out bus numbers and tours. It was so poorly organized and we wasted time just all sitting there waiting for them to sort things out. I thought perhaps this was just Day 1 jitters but in fact the process just got worse and worse with every tour. I was then made to join a joint English and Spanish speaking tour. This was not what I was expecting. In a nutshell, the Guide we were allocated native tongue was Spanish and she was not so good at English. I do not speak Spanish however I can tell when the Spanish were getting their value for money in terms of being "guided on a tour" versus the English which was basic and uninformative. The tour was basic and there was too much free time given when in fact I could have just done my own walking tour of the city. The next tour of Malaga was even worse. Again poor guide, not very inspiring landmarks and too much free time and the cultural dancing and tapas experience was anything but. The value of this tour was highly questionable. It was then I decided to see the Tour Desk on board and ask for the rest of my tours to be cancelled explaining my thoughts about the first 2 I had done. I was giving them several days notice to cancel the others and was told an explicit NO that I could not cancel and that it was the ship's policy. The ship's tour manager told me no one else had complained and that the tours seemed fine to her. Well, I can tell you that every single person on the English side of the tour was moaning and groaning about what a "rip off" the tours were. I therefore had to complete the other tours and none of them met or exceeded my expectations. I think MSC Cruises need to seriously reconsider their tour operators and revisit all of the on land tours in the particular ports on this cruise. I also wish to advise that the Tour Manager on the ship was not helpful nor highly experienced in customer service - I did not feel she listened to me nor was willing to help me get a solution. Ship Facilities: Overall I thought the ship was modern and adequate in terms of its rooms, facilities, layout and presence however probably a little dated in decor and all the brass fittings a terrible waste of time for the staff to polish. There were a few things though I must point out which either were a disappointment or require attention: -No movie theatre. You are made to watch movies in the cabin and pay a premium to do so. Many of the movies were only available in foreign languages and there were loads of kid's movies yet only 20 children on board the cruise overall? -The Day Spa is very over-priced and it seems the staff are all trained to just try and sell you products at hideously expensive prices. They really should be there to provide a top quality service and not be just doing sales pitches. In particular the nail technician on board was inexperienced and slow - it took 2 hours to do an infill whereas at home it takes 40 mins and she was really was not qualified to carry out this service for passengers. -The gym was also way too small for the number of passengers on board. There were not enough machines and I was made to wait 10-15 mins to get on a machine most mornings and afternoons. -The TV inside the cabin provided very limited entertainment. There was no reception at all whilst at sea for 5 days and no offer of free movies to watch whilst at sea either as compensation. Of the channels available, only two were English speaking and they were just repeating the same news stories over and over again. The ship owned about 4 channels including ship camera views which more often than not were out of focus, a ship's voyage channel which only showed a map, ship services which mainly plugged the Day Spa and a Video channel trying to get you to buy the cruise - why on earth would you want to? It was just embarrassing the woeful footage the videographer took. -The Daily Ship News was so unprofessional it was a joke. A child could have prepared a better desktop published news bulletin. It was basically a sales pitch about sales in the shops and the Day Spa every day because obviously no was spending money in them. There was little information about the weather forecasts and ports and it was most often delivered around midnight when we were asleep so we never knew what time to be ready for tours etc till we woke up the next morning. -Once we were sailing in warmer weather at sea for 5 days, all passengers were up on deck and it was way too crowded. The ship's decks cannot accommodate that many passengers all up on deck at the same time. There were days where I could not get a deck chair, could not get into the pool as it was way too overcrowded. Many of the deck chairs were set up and reserved by 7am and there were often no chairs or spaces left. -The worst feature of the deck is the large video screen and the entertainment team who just take over the stage, microphones and screen. The screen does nothing but play adverts all day long and Bingo numbers. You try and relax on deck and you have Brazilians screaming into the microphone to play mindless, child games or play Bingo. They also play the same music over and over to the point where you are cringing. I was expecting the decks to have soft background music and various bands playing on deck during the day and not some kids trying to get us play kindergarten games. -Inside the Musica the Reception and Accounting desks are positioned in a central area where they also play piano and have string quartets. Only problem is you have people seated in this are wanting entertainment and others lining up to make complaints and the guests wanting to listen to the music and angrily asking the other passengers dealing with reception and accounting staff to be quiet. I witnessed many arguments in this area as well as what could be described as almost a punch up between passengers. -The shops are terrible and very overpriced. Not a lot of variety nor items you would want to purchase. A child's t-shirt I looked at was approximately $42 USD which is unbelievable! The photo gallery was also seriously over-priced and the photographers were rude and inexperienced and took poor quality shots. -The theatre and the quality of entertainment was also disappointing. Enzo the Entertainment Director was painful to listen to and really had no role, he just liked the sound of his own voice. After 2 attempts at the shows I gave up and never returned. I would often get reports from other passengers that the quality of the shows was getting worse and worse as the cruise went on and that the shows were getting less attendance as the cruise progressed. -You would think the ship would have organized presentations on the upcoming ports we were going to be visiting with helpful tips and ideas for all whether you were planning a tour or planning to go it alone and discover the city yourself... but nothing like this was on offer except a basic lesson in Portuguese! -The only other activities on offer were bingo, t shirt painting, vegetable cutting and the likes of this which was not at all appealing to me and many of the passengers. Even the library was woeful. It really was a small locked cabinet of crappy used books which the ship's crew would open once a day for you to borrow books. -My only real form of entertainment was the internet. This was so overpriced and on several occasions the computers did not work or were off line. Gratuities: There was a ship policy that a gratuity was to be added to your overall account being some $6 USD per day per person. After 2 days I decided I was not paying any tips at all and that I would tip my cabin personnel myself directly (as they were the only crew that ensured personal service to me). I asked the Accounting Desk to remove them when I was told I could only do that the day prior to disembarking. Why? Were they hoping people would forget? The day before I departed I was made to wait in a very long line and there were loads of angry and disgruntled passengers complaining everywhere. The whole experience again was poor. As you may gather, my experience was not at all what I had hoped it would be. I was fully expecting to have the "wow" factor in every aspect and have my expectations exceeded in terms of the service, food and entertainment especially however this obviously was not the case. Whilst the Musica experience has not dampened my thoughts on one day doing another cruise, it certainly has cemented the fact that any future cruises I book will not be with MSC Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
INTRODUCTION This is a review from my cruise aboard the MSC Armonia in January 2005. We sailed seven days from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador and back. The Armonia continues to ply these So American waters so for anyone thinking about ... Read More
INTRODUCTION This is a review from my cruise aboard the MSC Armonia in January 2005. We sailed seven days from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador and back. The Armonia continues to ply these So American waters so for anyone thinking about booking this line, my advice is to do some homework first. As detailed below, this was a horrible cruise, although in fairness to MSC I have heard that the Armonia experience outside of Brazil is not as bad. It could hardly be worse. I have been on over 50 cruises, on just about all cruise lines. Given this extensive experience I consider myself knowledgeable. I had no axe to grind with MSC. This was by far the worst cruise I have been on. Although time has passed since I sailed this review will still be relevant especially to those in the southern hemisphere as the ship continues this So American run. Since we sailed over the New Year, prices might have been somewhat higher than usual. An inside cabin cost about $300 per day per couple. I can usually get outside cabins on mass market lines like HAL, Carnival and RCCL for that or less. Per diem prices for cruises in Brazilian waters are uniformly higher than in most other areas of the world. EMBARKATION - BAD FIRST IMPRESSION Embarkation was special. Somehow we didn't make it on to the passenger list and were refused boarding. A person who I later learned was an MSC land agent tried to help us prove our entitlement to board. Things were frantic and when, out of curiosity (and concern for our bags which he had put aside out of our eyesight) I asked him who he was he told me to "f" myself. This was overheard by MSC staff at the boarding desk, but to my disbelief, no one seemed to care, much less apologize. Subsequently, I learned that it was the chief housekeeper, a senior officer, who had heard this exchange. He later bought me a bottle of wine for my troubles. At her request, I submitted a detailed memo of the outrageous incident to the Hotel Mgr demanding an apology from the MSC agent. When I wrote the home office for a status, it said my memo was lost and I was asked to resubmit it. I did and it went unanswered. DINING and SERVICE Without regard to price, the food was horrendous. The only free breakfast available from room service was a continental one of bread and coffee. Other room service breakfast items came with a charge. There was also a charge for all other room service snacks. The breakfast buffet consisted mainly of scrambled and hard boiled eggs only -- no omelet station, no waffles or pancakes -- sometimes accompanied by reheated hot dogs, greasy bacon or unappetizing cold cuts. The majority of the fruit offerings were canned. Can you imagine that in Brasil where there are fabulous exotic fruits so widely available that they served mostly canned fruit? Unbelievable. Breads were not much better. Only white toast was served -- forget English muffins or bagels. The juice was like Kool-aid. There was a fresh juice (and ice cream) bar, but it was closed because, I was told, it was not profitable. There was no variety from one day to the next. The lunch buffet was not much better. It seemed like the food was recycled. The desserts were bad. As Italians, they ought to be ashamed of what they tried to pass off as pizza. It was worse than any improperly cooked frozen pizza I ever tasted (and I was a bachelor for a long time). They served poor quality hot dogs and hamburgers at the poolside grill. There was no option for a cheeseburger or veggie-burger, nor was there any relish, pickles or a normal variety of condiments available. Food handlers often were not wearing gloves, so it didn't come as a total surprise when I got sick the last day of the cruise. Curiously, in the buffet lines and at the grill there are no food trays, one is required to carry a single large plate and put everything on it, including utensils and drinks. This was quite challenging for even the most dexterous of passengers. The situation was exacerbated by the absence of any servers to assist carrying items. Forget about service. The waiters were there to clear the tables, nothing else. Talk about laid back European service. My wife and I played cards for four hours one afternoon at a poolside table on deck, and no one ever came by to ask if we wanted a drink. Dinner in the main dining room was bad. Service vacillated between inept and surly. I attribute the poor service to dining room management. An incident that occurred right after embarkation provided a harbinger of things to come. Through no fault of our own, we were not provided with a dining room seating assignment. I called the Reception Desk to get one, but I was told (after some delay and a couple of follow-up calls) I would have to go to the dining room to get one. Consequently, I had to wait in line approximately one hour just to get a table assignment. Not to change one, but to get one. Though service was lackluster, it was nowhere near as bad as the food itself. In keeping with the ship's Italian origin pasta was served every day which is fine, but it was offered with only the same mundane tomato sauce each and every day. Bread sticks and rolls were ordinary - there was no bread tray. Soups all tasted the same no matter what they were called. The food was over-salted. On one occasion the meat was as tough as shoe leather. On another a fish offering came with some of the scales still clinging to the fish! Some dishes were downright inedible. My tablemates concurred. ENTERTAINMENT/PORTS The ship's cast of dancers (who doubled as the animation team) were OK as performers, but the production values of the shows were poor. The costumes, lighting, props and decor were all amateurish. Music in the lounges was very limited and ordinary at best. We like to dance and have a cocktail before dinner, and we couldn't find a decent spot to do so. There was no functioning library or card room. On the last day, the library was open one hour. It had only a small selection of English paperbacks, probably left behind by passengers, and one Spanish-language Scrabble set. The "animation" team had a field day because there were oodles of children on board. MSC must have been offering a special kids free type promotion. So the lounges were chock-a-block with kiddies screaming and running about. They and there parents may have enjoyed it, but there was little adult dancing, etc. We ventured into the disco a couple of nights and I was shocked to hear the gross rap music lyrics that came out over the loud speakers. It was in bad taste, but the deejay was oblivious. There were no port lectures or presentations of any kind in any language. We have grown accustomed to skipping almost all ship excursions as I find that they are overpriced and/or geared to a less active person. Those offered by the Armonia were no exception. Generally , one can arrange a better tour with a local cabbie at dockside. Which we did at Salvador, Ilheus and Buzios. We did not go shore in Santos ( Sao Paolo's port). ACCOMMODATIONS/PUBLIC AREAS The Armonia is a compact 58,000 gt, but accommodates about 2100 passengers owing to the tiny cabins, compact dining and public rooms, a small casino, no library/card room to speak of and bizarrely spaced shops. All cabins and public rooms and furnishings appeared clean and well maintained though a bit spartan. The pool area with buffet restaurant was typical except for a large eyesore of a rock climbing wall that was sealed off. The gymnasium was adequate. There was a charge to use the saunas - a first in my experience. The cabins were smallish at 144 sq. ft., but had adequate storage space, some of which would have been better devoted to making the uncomfortably tiny shower larger. There was a small refrigerator - good for keeping your own drinks cold, although the price of drinks aboard was reasonable. TV in the rooms advertised pay movies, but none ( pay or non-pay) were available at any time throughout the cruise. There was not much programming at any time, though we did get CNN for a while one day. The cabin attendant provided the best (in fact, the only) decent service. An oasis in a sea of incompetence. The shops were only open limited hours, but that was no problem since they didn't have much to offer. I thought the layout of the shops was disorganized. The underutilized casino had a couple of roulette and blackjack tables and a modest number of slot machines. I don't remember a craps table although there was ample space to install one. The pool was always crowded because on this South American run there were loads of kids...to whom I have no objection. It's just that it was noisy and crowded. CONCLUSION Unless this cruise was an aberration I advise against spending your money with MSC: Caveat emptor. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
I have just returned from a wonderful cruise on the beautiful MSC Lirica. This ship has had some dreadful reviews and since factual information in these reviews (e.g. MSC described as a "new" line) is so inaccurate one loses ... Read More
I have just returned from a wonderful cruise on the beautiful MSC Lirica. This ship has had some dreadful reviews and since factual information in these reviews (e.g. MSC described as a "new" line) is so inaccurate one loses faith in the entire content I approached the experience with an open mind and determined to form my own opinion. I had cruised the previous year with MSC aboard the Melody and was aware that somethings might be less than perfect. However I was delighted and really would only make two complaints. First the slow delivery of baggage to the cabin and second the late running of the Captains cocktail party. We were invited for 19.45 not admitted until 20.00 and at 20.15 advised that dinner was now being served. The cabin was a joy...and yes I realise that I was fortunate to enjoy a full bathroom and balcony and I do realise that the showers are extremely small in all other cabins as are the complete shower/toilet area. The staff were magnificent and could not have done more for the passengers. I had specifically requested Ippocampo Restaurant 2nd sitting and a table for 2 and all was in order. Luigi the waiter was superb and provided brilliant service. The Italian/European food was excellent. It may not be to American tastes but that does not make it bad. The itinerary was excellent and we made the most of our time in every port. We docked in Montego Bay and had great value in the tour we took which lasted almost 5 hours and was spent in the company of a very funny guide. We enjoyed the ships tour of Cartagena also but did find the continual hassle of the local vendors a little tiring by the end. San Blas was a delight and after tendering ashore spent an idyllic day partly on the beach and also in the motorised canoe of one of the local indians. It was sad to see wealthy passengers bartering and haggling and taking pride in paying 2 dollars for something which had taken great skill and countless hours to produce and which was at a reasonable price to begin. Panama Canal/Gatun Yacht Club was another interesting and most enjoyable day. Costa Rica we docked and hired a local taxi driver to take us on a wonderful tour taking in the canal, a banana plantation, several local beaches, hotels and churches, his home village, a delicious local restaurant and a city tour. Excellent value and another memorable day. Once again we berthed in Key West and although it was crowded being a Saturday we had a special time that will always be a happy memory. All too soon it was time for us to leave Lirica but there is no doubt that we will be back and we will continue to use MSC for good food, superb service and value for money. Just for the record I am a British Citizen now living in the Czech Republic. I have lived in 4 continents and visited every continent. By sea and by air I have been round the globe 5 times. I have dined in the grandest 5 star restaurants in every major city and have shared food at the most humble inns. The one downside to the Lirica experience was the huge contingent of American passengers who could do nothing but complain in decibel 10 of their total dissatisfaction about anything and everything. They prided themselves on their gourmet knowledge but simply as a result of their comments poroved there ignorance on matters of food. I had to applaud the one American who in desperation finally told one group "If you want everything to be like at home then stay at home. If you want your plastic and tinsel cruise ships then have them but do not expect everyone to dumb down to your level". Seated beside us in the restaurant were 8 of the most uncouth boorish people I have ever encountered in my life. They proudly bragged they came from a free country not some communist state and would say do and behave exactly as they wanted and no one would stop them. They were wrong. A formal complaint to the company and they were obliged to tone down their behaviour even if in their ignorance they continued to toss personal abuse and make verbal assaults upon me. I urge all potential passengers - Keep an open mind and Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We have the following comments regarding the cruise, which, in all kindness, we feel should be passed on to the owner(s) of the cruise line: As you are may be aware, some of the comments posted on-line from fellow passengers on our ... Read More
We have the following comments regarding the cruise, which, in all kindness, we feel should be passed on to the owner(s) of the cruise line: As you are may be aware, some of the comments posted on-line from fellow passengers on our cruise and comments posted by passengers on the previous cruise (which unfortunately were not available prior to our departure), identify the MSC Lirica as the "Cruise Ship from Hell," among other labels. Here are some of the deficiencies specifically identified: 1. Our trip started off by having our photos taken as we entered the gangway. Our request to have the picture of the four of us taken was denied as being "not possible." In trying to find our pictures in the photo gallery, we became aware of the fact that there were pictures of three, four and even five people in one shot. Are there different rules for different photographers? As it is, this issue became irrelevant since the ship lost our pictures along with about 25 other guests' pictures. 2. The cabin was acceptable and quite spacious. However, the refrigerator stopped operating the second day and someone came to look at it approximately 5 days later. By that time it was working marginally and we were advised it was "just defrosting." At the time of the inspection of the refrigerator, the maintenance personnel also checked out the very pronounced indentation in the floor in front of the sliding glass doors. We thought for sure we would end up on the deck below before too long. The electrical outlets for the American products were exposed because some of the covers were missing; there were no outlets in the bathrooms and the doors to the wardrobe did not latch properly and thus the light inside was on most of the time. 3. The robes provided by the ship in our cabin were a nice touch. It would have been really nice to have had the use of them when it really mattered - the evening/morning before debarkation. Since everything was packed except what we were wearing the next day, it would have been nice to put on a robe when we put our luggage out instead of trying to wrap a towel around us. 4. The service at our dinner the first night on board was intolerable and rude. We were served in an abrupt manner and only very grudgingly received water upon request, forget about a soft drink or ice tea. Also, coffee was not offered at any time. We had a recommendation to request Ciccio as our waiter and our request was accommodated, but also very grudgingly. The service we received from Ciccio was superb, proficient and professional. Unfortunately, even very fine service could do nothing to improve the quality or presentation of the food in the dining room. 5. The food at the buffet and grill was marginal, to say the least. The first few days were almost unbearable in that we were served rather large rolls with one thin slice of meat in the middle, very dried out white bread sandwiches with the crusts cut off, marginal salads and very, very dry cakes and desserts. As shown on tours through the galley on other cruise lines, pastries, rolls, breads, etc. are freshly baked. Not on the MSC Lirica - and we can see why there were no tours of the galley given 6. Further to the issue of food and service, we have never been on a cruise where one could not get some kind of snack at any time of day or night. On this cruise, not only were the meal times rather limited, but the buffet, especially, would close 15-20 minutes early. On several occasions, but most pronounced and noticeable to all of us at the outing at the Gatun Yacht Club, was the fact that no food was served on the excursions, and no food was available upon return to the ship. To be fair, there was plenty of fresh fruit and ice cream, and, wonders never cease, free water, soft drinks and beer. Fortunately, none of our party were medically required to have some kind of "real food" between departure at approximately 9:00 a.m. and return approximately 3:00 p.m., so we waited until we could be elbowed by the tremendous rush of bodies to the mid-afternoon buffet when it finally opened at 3:45 p.m. 7. Most mornings we requested breakfast service in our room. Even though we noted that there were 2 people in the cabin, we received our requested order, BUT with one plate and one knife. We do not mind sharing in the least, but can they spare a plate and knife for each of us? We had to note 2 plates, 2 knives on our order, along with 2 people in the cabin and continuously received just one if not otherwise requested. 8. As far as the formal dinners were concerned, unfortunately we could not enjoy them as we had intended since the Ship took it upon themselves to reject - not once, but twice - the delivery of Joe's tuxedo to our cabin. We have never experienced a ship refusing delivery of any kind, since it is quite popular to send and receive "bon voyage" flowers, candies, champagne, etc. Without the proper attire, the experience of the formal dress nights were totally ruined and almost inappropriate - with Angela wearing quite formal attire and Joe in the suit he fortunately brought. The dinner at the formal nights did not differ from any other night, so the atmosphere was only enhanced by the clothes worn, but again diminished by the fact that most of the Europeans must not have been informed of the "formal attire nights" and were notably inappropriately dressed for these occasions. 9. The tours: Fortunately, we did not book any tours, with the exception of the Cartagena City Tour - since we were advised not to venture out on our own into this country, and the Panama/Gatun Yacht Club - since we would not be able to leave the ship otherwise. We also question the appropriateness of having to pay to "get off the ship." 10. Since the ship was usually either late arriving at a given port, or did not dock and tendered the passengers, the time allotted in these ports and our opportunity to experience the various countries and activities offered was diminished and spoiled. 11. Activities on Board: I would highly recommend that someone purchases the "Cruise Video" to get the full effect of the activities offered. We decided not to waste $29.95 on this experience, since we could not justify putting our friends and relatives through the antics of "Mr. Cortez," dressed up in various women's and otherwise unrecognizable attire, hosting contests where, at various times, two guests put their faces into bowls filled with some kind of "goo," a few of the men passengers perform a half striptease and three male passengers have wine or some other liquid squirted into their mouths to win an MSC Lirica t-shirt. Other activities included water balloon tossing around the pool, aerobics (or some form thereof) by the pool (which was the only time there was music by the pool), napkin folding demonstration some place, unhosted chess and bridge club meetings and Italian lessons. Judging by the winner, the Ms. Lirica contest most definitely must have been fixed. 12. The evening entertainment was, if possible, even worse. We looked in and walked out. Our friends looked in, nodded off, and walked out. Definitely not a fun experience. 13. As far as the decor of the ship is concerned, since it is still pretty new, the decor was sparse, but still within acceptable limits. The decorations, such as they were, left a lot to be desired. Not a fresh flower in sight, and even the very, very cheap fake flowers looked wilted. This experience definitely does not fall into the "want to recommend to anyone" category. We understand that some guests may have "jumped ship" at the first port - we certainly thought about that and more often than not wished we had, and we were told by one woman that her husband was marking off each day of the voyage left with felt-tip marker on their cabin wall. We didn't think it worth the effort. Joe and Angela Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
WARNING!!! This was the voyage of the damned! For a line trying to break into the US market, they did everything wrong! From being herded like cattle at embarkation (including a welcome buffet I wouldn't serve at a prison) to a staff ... Read More
WARNING!!! This was the voyage of the damned! For a line trying to break into the US market, they did everything wrong! From being herded like cattle at embarkation (including a welcome buffet I wouldn't serve at a prison) to a staff that could barely speak English with a 70% American passenger complement. Our Mini-suite was a highlight, with an actual walk-in closet and lots of room(although our friends closet door fell off and hit them).The food would have been better if Denny's or Appleby's had catered the ship. The restaurant service was so poor we had to switch dining rooms and waiters (our 2nd waiter, Vincenzo was a dream). The entertainment wouldn't have made it in a 3rd rate Atlantic City casino lounge. Most of what they had in the bars and lounges were about 20-30 years out of date, as were most of the shows. Drink service on the pool deck was next to nonexistent, with maybe 3 servers at each end of the pool. If you were on any higher decks during the day, forget service! Then there were the excursions. This line was so cheap they didn't pay for docking fees. We were tendered off at almost every port. In Jamaica, this resulted in a 2-3 hour delay, with some passengers getting as little as 2 hours ashore. There it seemed a Carnival ship had taken what was supposed to be our slip. The final straw was at Key West, where again they chose not to pay the docking fees, and we were unable to land due to sea conditions. The excursions at San Blas, Cristobal, and Jamaica were poor, hardly what was advertised. It seems they spent the money on hyping the cruise prior to its crossing, and didn't have the money to provide the amenities they should have. We have been on both Princess and Celebrity ships and enjoyed those experiences with our friends. This cruise was so bad, that one couple we travel with may never cruise again! While the European passengers didn't seem to mind, I would say that if you are an American and have gone on other lines, you would be sorely disappointed. From the food (including the midnight buffets that ended at 12:15 with No other food service except room service available after that), the non-functioning ice cream machine, the outdoor buffet with burnt hamburgers and undercooked hot dogs, to the poorest shore excursions possible, this line failed to deliver what it had promised. We booked the cruise for its itinerary, and the mistaken assumption,that a new line and new ship would go all out for its passengers. There was not even the consideration I had come to know from traveling in Italy several times among the staff and crew. They also seemed to be constantly running behind schedule,and ran without the stabilizers engaged much of the time. It was certainly a rough ride! And finally, out of our party of 6, 5 of us had gastrointestinal problems at least for a night! MSC Lirica, thanks, but no thanks. Go back to ferrying goats from Venice to Athens, you certainly do not know how to cruise passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
WARNING!!! Read this review carefully before you book a cruise on this ship! Day One: Embarkation - Boarded ship at approximately 2 PM. At the embarkation picture area we requested that our picture be taken with our friends. We were told ... Read More
WARNING!!! Read this review carefully before you book a cruise on this ship! Day One: Embarkation - Boarded ship at approximately 2 PM. At the embarkation picture area we requested that our picture be taken with our friends. We were told "No" even though we saw embarkation pictures with 3 - 5 guests in the photo library. We were also told we could not use our personal camera either to record the event with our friends. We were later told by the photography crew that our embarkation pictures were lost along with about 25 others due to a camera malfunction. Upon arrival in our cabin #12031 we noticed that both 110V electrical outlets at the dressing area did not have plates on them and the wires were dangerously exposed. In addition, the door covering the mini-bar was falling off. We noted these deficiencies to our Cabin Stewart, Alex Noel. He assured us that these items would be seen too and corrected shortly. Upon disembarking the ship the items still had not been attended to. We also noticed that although our friends in the adjoining cabin had been given robes, however, we did not receive any in our cabin. Upon questioning Alex, he made us feel that we may have misplaced or taken the robes. When he did bring us two, they were shrunken, frayed, and too small for even a child to wear. The air conditioning system in the room consistently failed to bring the temperature down to an acceptable level. We brought these issues to the attention of Alex, once again to no avail. It operated in the same condition upon our disembarkation. We finally left port in Fort Lauderdale about 2 1/5 hours late. We were informed by a placard in our cabin that we were assigned to table #75 in the L'Campo dining room at 1st seating which was advertised in the brochure as 7:00 PM but turned out to be 6:00 PM. Table #75 turned out to be two tables seating two each next to each other. Our other friends we were cruising with had been seated at separate tables. We went to speak with the Maitre'd, Leonardo Moccia regarding this error and were reassigned temporarily to Table #80 at 2nd seating which had now been changed to 8:00 PM from 8:40 PM as the brochure indicated. At dinner that night we were assigned to a waiter by the name of Marcella. Upon sitting down at the table, he "threw" the menus down in front of us, never smiled, failed to introduce himself, and demanded that we make all of our dinner selections including desert on the spot. When the beef entrEe arrived it looked like the bottom of an old shoe although we had ordered them rare. He begrudgingly took back the entrEes in a huff and replaced them with something that looked somewhat better but now had the consistency of an old shoe with vegetables that looked like they were "Jolly Green Giant" frozen rejects. We could not get tea at dinner, only water which was served in a wine glass without ice. Needless to say dinner was ruined and our appetites quickly disappeared. Our travel agent had requested a seating with the waiter Ciccio, all together. In addition, my wife is allergic to tomatoes and several other vegetables. A special food request was put in by our travel agent, but both requests were not honored by MSC staff. Day Two: At Sea - We paid a visit to the Maite'd once again to get reassigned to a table with Ciccio so we could all experience our lunches and dinners together. The Maitre'd was outraged at us and others trying to change their seating arrangements. He outwardly made disparaging remarks about Americans and vowed he would never sail with Americans again. He started swearing in Italian (I understand some) and kept up his negative remarks against Americans. His assistant finally changed our tables. However, the food once again proved to be of extremely poor quality although the service had improved. On another note, all beverages such as soft drinks, lemonade, etc. with the exception of water, tea, and coffee needed to be purchased at additional cost. We also found out that lunch is "open seating" and we cannot enjoy it together at an assigned table. This was not the way the cruise brochure depicted it. We were also surprised upon visiting the "Coffee Corner" that we were charged for our coffees as other ships we had sailed on in the past, these were always included. Activities on board were sorely lacking. No bands around the pool, no music, and a lot of dull entertainment. All lounge chairs, tables, etc. were wrapped up and put away by 5:30 PM and the pool/Jacuzzi facilities were then unavailable. The pizza area by the pool was never open during the duration of the cruise. We also realized at this time that the ship was not taking the navigation itinerary as shown in the brochure. The ship rather than going around Cuba to the West took the Windward Passage to the east. We especially booked our cabins on the port side to take advantage of the passage to the west around Cuba. This did not happen. Day Three: Montego Bay - We arrived in Montego Bay 1 hour late, however, by the time we made it ashore we were over 2 hours late. We had reserved a car for the 12:00 PM arrival so we could tour on our own. We were told that we would be Tendered to port although the itinerary in the brochure never did not suggest this method of debarkation and there were ample docking facilities available for our ship. A Carnival cruise ship was docked at the port. Reasons for not docking at the port were not given and the crew members asked did not now why. We went out on the first tender, thanks to Betty at Reception, although we were told that excursions would go first. As we arrived at the dock the tender pilot was unable to secure the vessel. We bounced around in the docking area, almost turning over once, as the locals laughed at us as we tried to land. The tender pilot came around time and time again until finally several strong locals tied him up. No disembarkation photos were taken as experienced on other ships. Since we had only a 7 hour time slot in port and 2 ½ hours were now gone, our day in Jamaica was ruined. We only had the time to visit one attraction before we had to reboard the vessel. Although we had to be on board by 7:00 PM, we did not leave port until 9:30 PM since the ship lost several passengers and their travel agent. Apparently they left the ship in Jamaica, refusing to return due to their negative experience on board. Day Four: At Sea - Once again the food was poor. The food at the buffet was bordering on uneatable. The joke on board was that whatever you didn't eat the night before would appear at the buffet the next day, and it did. Once again, the activities on board were the poorest we have ever experienced, napkin folding, learn to speak Italian, etc. Where was the wine tasting and the art shows we experienced on other cruises? Where were the bands around the pool, the excitement of it, and all the games on deck? Nothing at all on this ship! Day Five: Cartegena - We disembarked and proceeded on a tour of the city booked through MSC. There were no disembarkation photos taken as we had experienced on other cruises. We were promptly advised by our tour guide that Cartegena is not visited by many cruise ships lately because of the danger to Americans. As a matter of fact we were told that it has become "a very dangerous kidnapping area" and we must stay close to our tour. My wife was terrified upon learning this and did not enjoy her time on shore. She counted the minutes until the tour was over. These security matters were never explained to us in the MSC brochures or accompanying information. Once again the food was very poor and the buffet got worse (if that was possible). All juices are canned, not fresh; everything on the buffet seems very old and recycled. Day Six: San Blas Islands - Tendered to shore to Provenir Island where the local Kuna Indians sell their "molas". No disembarkation photos once again. On a high point, this was this first location that the ship set out water and juices for passengers. The experience here left a lot to offer. No tour guides from the ship to help us, dumped us off on an island where we were left to fare for ourselves. Food on board is continues to be the worse we have ever experienced on any cruise ship. Juices are canned, vegetables seem frozen and yesterday's food becomes today's salad. Day Seven: Panama Canal - We are told that we can not set foot on Panamanian soil unless we signed up for an excursion. No mention of this in the brochure. Since we booked an excursion to the Changres River, our ability to set foot on land was guaranteed at this point. However, all others had to pay $32 to go ashore. We were later informed that we also paid the $32 each as it was included in the excursion we took. We were at informed at booking the cruise that all port charges were included. If so, why were we charged an additional $32 each to go ashore? Again, food is absolutely terrible; nothing ever changes from the rolls to the desert. All deserts always come with a putrid green liquid on the plate that doesn't taste like anything. Day Eight: Puerto Limon - Once again ship is late getting into port. Brochures depict ability to travel inland to capital of San Jose. However, no tours or cabs will travel to San Jose and expect to get back to the ship in time for sailing at 5:00 PM. Trips to San Jose were advertised in the MSC brochure but no one could travel there due to the time constraints. Spent most of our time at the dock purchasing local handicrafts and other trivial items. Food hasn't improved at all. Now we're getting leftovers from three days ago at the buffet and at dinner. Day Nine: At Sea - Activities at sea once again very limited. This is definitely not a "fun" ship. It seems that MSC has purposely segregated the nationalities on board and the attitude towards Americans is not good. It seems a joke when we wanted to play miniature golf that we had to go down to Deck Six, pay a deposit of $10 to secure a ball and club to play. The hours of operation were so short that it was almost impossible to enjoy a game. Tonight was the "Buffet Magnifique" or the best buffet of the cruise. No ice sculpturing on deck. We were so disappointed having experienced the Grand Buffets on other ships. This buffet was a total "joke". The food at the buffet and the presentation was terrible. The one ice sculpture presented had already melted into a form that was all but unrecognizable. Food was a little bit better but not at all what we had experienced on other cruise lines. Day Ten: At Sea - Once again, activities are extremely limited. Food at the buffet has not improved at all. Staff continues to be nasty and not very accommodating. Our cabin steward at this point has made sure he doesn't interface with us, for what reason we do not know. Food in the dining room has become a ritual rather that an expectation of a culinary experience. This experience has set us up to never sail MSC Italian Line again. Everyone agrees that this ship will never make it in the U.S. Day Eleven: Key West - All 972 Americans on board were compelled to gather at 6;45 AM in the Lirica Lounge to meet Immigration Officials. Arriving at 6:45 AM all available seating was taken. Passengers were pouring outside onto the decks and elevator areas. No refreshments, coffee, etc. were served. Passengers waited until approximately 8:00 AM before the Immigration Official made it on board. Passengers were told that they could board tenders for Key West beginning at 9:00 AM. At 9:00 AM all passengers were informed that the tender could not operate due to the fact that the seas were too rough. Our entire day in Key West was spent aboard the ship anchored off shore. No explanation was ever given as to why we could not dock at Key West. The brochure we relied upon to make our decision to cruise the line never alluded to a tender at Key West. There were two other cruise ships docked at Key West (RCCL) and there was ample room for another ship to dock. Day Twelve: Fort Lauderdale - Thank GOD this experience was finally over. All of us on board have already come to the conclusion that the MSC Lirica is the "Motel Six" of cruise ships. Nothing could have been worse. In conclusion, this ship definitely did not live up to our most conservative expectations. Our expectations were based upon the literature that MSC Lines disseminated as well as our previous cruising experience. Your cruise $$$ will be much better spent on any other ship!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
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