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15 MSC Cruises South America Cruise Reviews

It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. ... Read More
It was our second time with MSC. The first one was with MSC Fantasy and was very good. To start, embarkation lasted three hours, very stressful. We had to buy soap at the first port we arrived because the soap dispenser did not work. The menu at buffet and restaurants did not have many options, specially if you do not want to eat meat. They take a lot of time to refill food and coffee, when they do. Napkins at the buffet were dark blue fabric, dirty and smelly as well as the plastic glasses to drink water. Dining tables at the buffet were usually dirty, they did not remove the dirty dishes and stuff very fast. No enough tables at the buffet, it takes some time to find a place to seat. No shows at the theater for several days, even at sea days. However, one night there was the best show we ever enjoyed at cruises, with an Argentinian singer, Guillermo Guido. Great show. Instructions to connect to the Internet were not given to the rooms. After some time, we finally found the instructions on a blackboard near the Reception office. We wasted a lot of time with long lines everywhere because there were just a few officers to help you. It seems that they did not have bilingual crew. The library was very limited, not only the quantity of books available but also its schedule. The person in charge of the library did not speak or understand basic Spanish, in spite of most of the passengers were Argentinian. The crew looked very tense and did not smile at any moment, they just did the minimum required with a tired face. Finally, they charged for water and everything, even for the only scale they had at the gym, $9!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We have sailed mostly with RCL previously and was looking forward to sailing with a different cruise liner. This was our first time sailing with MSC. Embarkation process was alright. We embarked from Salvador (Cruise started in Santos, ... Read More
We have sailed mostly with RCL previously and was looking forward to sailing with a different cruise liner. This was our first time sailing with MSC. Embarkation process was alright. We embarked from Salvador (Cruise started in Santos, Brazil a couple of days before we embarked) and therefore they only had 2 staff at the check in desk which probably took longer than it should have. As soon as we got on the ship, my first impression was what a stunning ship! There is a lot of mirrors which makes the ship look even bigger. It looks very extravagant. It has a water slide, jungle pool, pools, jacuzzis, zipline, bowling alley, arcade, library, theatre, cinema etc. Our rooms were also ready unlike RCL where you have to wait until 2pm (we were in the ship around 12ish). We had a balcony room and it is very spacious and the bed is comfortable. Also the wardrobe space is adequate. They describe the ship as a smart ship. I recommend purchasing the wrist band (about $5) as you don’t have to worry about your cruise card at all. But you will need your cruise card when you get off the ship. You can use the wrist band to purchase things and for reserving theatre shows if you haven’t done it yet on your TV. There’s about 11 free movies and some of them are quite decent. Live TV channels are also available that caters to different language speakers (we’ll come to that in a moment). You can also check menu from the dining room on your TV and book spa/excursions. I would also recommend downloading the MSC for Me App as you can use it onboard to check for activities and book stuff without having to pay for the internet. You can connect to the ship WiFi and then use the Internet ID that you can find in your cruise card and cabin number to log in. This will not work unless you are connected to the ship WiFi, i.e. will not work outside the ship. Now for the not so good reviews. Food - If you are looking to go on a cruise and worried about gaining weight- this is the cruise for you. The food is not great in the dining room - with the exception of desserts, they’re pretty edible. The buffet isn’t great either. No comparison with RCL on this one - RCL’s food is definitely better! Service - In comparison with RCL, I missed the smiley faces of the crew regardless of who you are. In RCL, they greet you in the corridors with a big smile, everywhere in the ship. In MSC, you’ll be lucky to get one. The staff are pleasant but they don’t go that little bit extra which makes your cruise special. Entertainment - In terms of activities throughout the day - you’ll get bored. There’s nothing fun. This is what the ship lacked - a sense of fun! A waste of a beautiful ship! However, the in-house entertainment is definitely better than RCL. In fact RCL can learn from MSC in delivering a great show. Also the staging and costumes are phenomenal. However, the guest performers on some nights are quite so-so. Language issues - It gets a little bit exhausting when they had to repeat the same thing 7 times in different languages. It’s mostly a Brazilian cruise but dear God, apart from Portuguese, it was translated to English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish. So an announcement that should last 30 seconds, lasts about 10 minutes. They need to learn from RCL on this one on how they make it work. Disembarkation - the disembarkation is also an issue. We were delayed in our stop in Malaga due to three medical emergencies during the cruise (one was a pregnant woman who had to be taken off the ship using via an air ambulance). So when we disembarked in Malaga, we had to queue for about an hour before we were let out and there was no queuing system so people started overtaking us. It was a shamble! Overall, I think it’s a nice ship and I would go back only if it is destination heavy. Will never go back on a transatlantic cruise, it was a slow death! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Notice that the title is not unexpensive cruise, as this one costed some usd 3500 for a couple and a todler in a balcony. Well, if this is your first cruise, you probably will like it. But when you have a bunch of others as previous ... Read More
Notice that the title is not unexpensive cruise, as this one costed some usd 3500 for a couple and a todler in a balcony. Well, if this is your first cruise, you probably will like it. But when you have a bunch of others as previous experiences, you might get disapointed as we did (and most of the passenger we spoke with who had previous cruise experiences) Let me start with the good points: the ship is new, and beutifully decorated in a modern and posh way. cabins are nice and entertainment is also good, being the slides and waterpart on of the best i´ve seen on cruises. Now the down points: The food is far bellow average. You´ll rarelly see cow meat on the buffet or the menu. Burgers, pizza and sousage are available everyday, alongside with chicken. And most food lack taste or freshness (fish, salmon and chicken always seemed "dry", overcooked or looked like done hours ago and just heated to serve) Remember those nice formal dinners, where they serve lobster at least in one day? Not on this one, lobster is sold at usd 50 at the "speciality seafood restaurant". A nice steak? Not served on the regular restaurants, but rather for 95 usd in the "butchers cut" In fact the formal restaurants do not serve not even water, they charge you usd 2,10 per botle (and its not perrier, or fiji, just regular botled water that they sell for 30 cents on the supermarket) We know that cruise lines always try to find ways to charge you more on additional items, but never expected they to come to your table and offer you a meat plate for next night, to be served on the very same restaurant you have your dinners, but only if you pay an extra of usd 20 per person... this was very sad posture by them. Bear in mind also that this is a 5100 passanger ship, and the crew seems not able to handle so many passengers (I will definintelly not cruise on their 6500 passenger ship expected for 2020). And since you are not allowed to access parts of the ship unless you are a "yacht club member", you have to live on a smaller portion of the ship.(you will not acess the front lounge, one pool, one restaurant and one sundeck, unless you are VIP paying for a suite on the "yacht club" SPA, sauna and steamroom are also not accessible, unless you pay a daily rate to use the spa, or choose the "aurea" experience upon booking, paying a few hundred dollars more. There is also a bowling lane (45usd per hour) a F1 simulator (10 usd per play), a zipline (12usd per use) and a 3d theather (10 dollars per 5 minutes) Other down points were that they seemed to try to save money by contracting some chep tender boats (all our ports of call were tendered) and we`ve seem one of them be at large, without motor for almost an hour.... cruise did not send any of their tenders to save the passengers....they had to wait for another old tender to go there and transfer them in the middle of the ocean, from a boat with a broken engine that was being taken away.... We heard by the passengers that complained that they got a standard letter plus a bottle of proseco (very cheap way again to apologise for putting people´s life in danger....) Well, in general is not a bad cruise, but considering the quality of the food and all the extras they charge, I´d say it´s value should be from 20% to 30% less than a similar lenght cruise in other good cruise lines such as RCCL or Princess. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The embarkation process was catastrophic, it took me 6 hours to get onboard. Unacceptable. The cruise was fine, with some good points during the trip, such as the animation team, and bad ones, such as the pool water color (green) during ... Read More
The embarkation process was catastrophic, it took me 6 hours to get onboard. Unacceptable. The cruise was fine, with some good points during the trip, such as the animation team, and bad ones, such as the pool water color (green) during some days. The cabin was very good. The restaurants handled well all the people onboard, and the food variety was very good. However, the Red Velvet restaurant does not match the intent to have a more intimate and full service restaurant. Very crowded, the opposite of the idea. The schedule was not met in any destination. As a result, one of the planned stops, at Ilhabela, could not be done, resulting in a $100 credit for all cabins. I found it unfair, as one passenger could be alone in a cabin while others, such as myself, could have a family of three, for which $100 is almost nothing (3 drinks and 3 hot chocolates during the day and that's it!). The shows inside the ship were OK, with some better than others. In summary, the trip was fine but nothing beyond average. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
The bars and restaurants structure are beautiful, lots of yellow marble and Svarowski crystals. The maintence of several areas are very bad, roof gutters in some places, the pool area always dirty and the swimming pool very dirt all the ... Read More
The bars and restaurants structure are beautiful, lots of yellow marble and Svarowski crystals. The maintence of several areas are very bad, roof gutters in some places, the pool area always dirty and the swimming pool very dirt all the time. The service is mostly bad, unfrendlly attendants, exception the attendent of the sollarium bar, I Putu and Ana, an watress from the pool restaurant, they are very kind and funny. The aurea experience not worth, the price is very high and the exsclusive package have very little things. The food on board is good, the service os drinks is very bad, Few waiters. Very few sea food, lots of chicken and pork, cheap meats only. All the public bathrooms are very dirty and have maintence problems. The activities are very poor, The itinerary is the same as every ship that come to Brazil Is a ship to go once and never go back. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
i chose this cruise based on it being a short break around the Med and because I wanted to try MSCs new ship. The embarking process was a bit long but relatively well organised and didnt take too long. as they were directing everyone ... Read More
i chose this cruise based on it being a short break around the Med and because I wanted to try MSCs new ship. The embarking process was a bit long but relatively well organised and didnt take too long. as they were directing everyone into the buffet at lunch as you can imagine it was rammed and it took a hile to find a table. The cabin was spotlessly clean but we didnt get the beds separated into 2 individuals until after I had called a few times to guest services ( I was travelling with a friends ). Being an avid traveller of Norwegian and Royal Caribbean I expected to meet the cabin steward on the first day but it took a few days ( of a 4 day cruise ) to figure out who our steward was. We ordered choc covered strawberries which were mushy and not very appetizing. If it is out of season dont offer them. I guess that was my fault though. The ship itself felt like the layout was confusing but every area was spotless and very impressive. The shows in the theatre could have been better and more entertainment could have been offered as I felt like we were only being offered half of what could have been. The food was ok but I was left with an upset stomach after the second night in the MDR so stuck to the buffet. You have to try and avoid peak times at the buffet as otherwise finding a seat is quite some feat. I have had better food on other cruises but it was ok in general. Not impressed that they charge you for everything. Even 7 euros for a film to watch as otherwise you are stuck with news channels and there was a huge queue at Guest services on the last day as they automatically charged 34.99 euros per person to your bill for the welcome photo whether you want it or not so be warned. Disembarkation was an absolute shambles. No organisation whatsoever and there were at least 200 people queuing up in the staff areas of the ship waiting to disembark and people pushing in and arguing etc. Having said all this I would travel with MSC again but be better prepared for what to expect though after my experience on Seaview I think there is a lot to say for smaller ships Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The enticement? Interesting ports in Europe, Africa and South America. Our first cruise experience. We agree it might be the last one. Looking back it was frantic from the moment of embarkation in Genoa. Long line ups, hours of waiting. ... Read More
The enticement? Interesting ports in Europe, Africa and South America. Our first cruise experience. We agree it might be the last one. Looking back it was frantic from the moment of embarkation in Genoa. Long line ups, hours of waiting. It's true that the ship houses over 3000 passengers, but knowing that beforehand, the process should have been smother. The cabin we had , with balcony, was really nice. Crew attendant for the cabin was hard working and really personable as were the people serving in the restaurant. The rest of the staff was silent, in general not very friendly. The food in the buffet wasn't so bad, but very salty and considering that most passengers were seniors, not healthy. Menu in the buffet section was almost the same every day and this was a 20 day cruise. The quality of the water and coffee was bad. However, the most problematic circumstances of all were the contaminated air circulating in the ship, with the result that the majority of people were sick. Another really vexing situation was the total isolation we endured during the crossing of the Atlantic, almost six days. No TV, no internet, no information. Movies offered in the cabin, did not display well. The price of the internet connection offered in fliers to the cabin was misleading as they would charge more if you signed for it. We believe that the economics of scale for such a huge crowd have something to do with this situation. We probably will think twice before signing up for this kind of cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise having never been to South America before. The itinerary suited us i.e. Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil together also the dates. This was our 7th cruise and first time with MSC. Despite reading some poor reviews ... Read More
We chose this cruise having never been to South America before. The itinerary suited us i.e. Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil together also the dates. This was our 7th cruise and first time with MSC. Despite reading some poor reviews because of the above we decided to book. We flew via Heathrow to Buenos Aires on an 18 year old 777 with British Airways BRUTAL It took 2 hours to clear B.A. airport as all the flights from Europe and many from North America arrive around 8 in the morning. Spent one night in a small boutique type hotel in BA which was very good. As we had to check out of our hotel at 11.00am we went straight to the port as embarkation was due to begin at 12.00 only to find around 2000 people had arrived before us. 2.5 hours later we finally got on board. Initial impressions of the ship were good. Cabin nice and clean and general appearance of the ship was very good. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7.Buffet lunch that day comprised hot dogs, Pizza and burgers. A sign of future meals to come! The biggest let down on this cruise was the food. This was true in both the self service cafeteria and dinner in the MDR. Service in the MDR was good but the food was very poor. We had the inclusive drinks package and wine was good and plentiful when dining. The ship looked as if it was pretty full but together with 1 German couple,1 French couple and a single woman from South Africa everyone else was from Argentina. During the whole cruise we only heard 3 announcements in English although this did not really bother us. The entertainment was very much geared towards the Argentinians for obvious reasons but was still very enjoyable. The live bands at night were excellent playing a few international songs but mainly Argentinian. Everyone up dancing even people in their 80s. One thing we did notice was that most Argentinians do not drink. Bar service was therefor very quick. Overall the crew were excellent but if you are looking for them to say hello every time they see you then forget it. Again not an issue for us. On the first day we had to visit guest relations to clarify a few things. The girl on the desk was very helpful and gave us complimentary passes for the VIP sun-deck and also for priority boarding of the tenders when they were used to visit some of the smaller ports where we could not dock.This was a great asset as the queues to disembark looked horrendous. As a rule we do not normally do organised ships excursions preferring to do our own thing. We did however go on the Rio de Janeiro trip which was very good although due to low cloud at Christ the Redeemer that part was very disappointing. Disembarkation in Buenos Aires was terrible although not MSC's fault. We were off the ship and picked up our luggage in 30 mins. Once outside the port gates thousands of passengers were standing like penguins in Antarctica.. There seemed to be no real taxi queuing system. Cabs would appear and drop people off but no-one seemed to be getting in one. After about 20 mins we crossed the main road with 3 suit cases, turned left walked for about 300 yds, turned right and stopped by chance outside a government building where there was a taxi marshal. Within 2 minutes he had hailed us a cab and we were on our way. I think most of the other passengers are still probably at the port gates. Would we book MSC again? It would not be our first choice as we prefer smaller ships like Azamara. ( Just back from the Azamara Quest last week) Different class but you only get what you pay for. Overall we had a great time but please MSC get a grip on the food situation both in terms of choice and quality. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I live in Brazil near Sao Paulo and the idea of cruising without having to fly first was appealing. The cabin was huge, and the waiter was very good. The food was mediocre and we had a room full of women next door who thought they should ... Read More
I live in Brazil near Sao Paulo and the idea of cruising without having to fly first was appealing. The cabin was huge, and the waiter was very good. The food was mediocre and we had a room full of women next door who thought they should be very loud at any time of the day or night. We had the unlimited drink package, but the wines they allowed were very limited. We tried a couple of times to go dancing at the Disco, but the DJ wasn't there even though it was listed he would be. Uruguay was disappointing. We visited a winery and that was great, but it seems financially depressed. We loved Buenos Aires, we just got in a taxi and took off and we found a great place for lunch. If you don't speak Portuguese, this cruise could be a bit difficult as most everyone is Brazilian. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose the cruise mainly the length and the itinerary. Whilst we booked Aurea class our cabin 12071 was just below the pool area and the noise at times was intolerable especially at night when they were cleaning the deck. I was woken up ... Read More
We chose the cruise mainly the length and the itinerary. Whilst we booked Aurea class our cabin 12071 was just below the pool area and the noise at times was intolerable especially at night when they were cleaning the deck. I was woken up several times and phoned guest services to complain, they promised to send someone to sort it out, straight away, however it was more like half an hour. Nevertheless we did not expect that we would be the on two English passengers on board with 99% being Spanish speaking and as a result all of the entertainment was in Spanish including the TV. Had I known this in advance I would not have booked and would advise anybody booking a similar cruise to ask the question. The food on board reminded me of school dinners, poor quality and unimaginative, basically on the cheap. Guest relations was poor and they just smiled a lot without addressing the problems, the other staff were however friendly an efficient. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We were a family of 4, a couple with 2 teenagers, a girl (16) and a boy (14). We have booked for our first cruise on Preziosa one of the most expensive cabins in the Yacht Club class, the Executive Family suite. The first disappointment on ... Read More
We were a family of 4, a couple with 2 teenagers, a girl (16) and a boy (14). We have booked for our first cruise on Preziosa one of the most expensive cabins in the Yacht Club class, the Executive Family suite. The first disappointment on arrival was that although we were in the front of the ship and had a balcony we could not access it as the windows were sealed and could not open. A shame, for a cabin of that size and position. Second disappointment on arrival was that even though it was for a family of 4 the sofa bed was a small sofa bed and my teenagers would have to share it, what didn't seat very well with a girl of 16 and a boy of 14. In the end this was sorted and the staff brought in a mattress and placed on the living room floor and we had to live with it for the whole of the trip. This was a bit annoying as we were told at the time of booking that there were 2 sofa beds. The Yacht Club class is very nice, but there was only 1 restaurant and a buffet area near the bar in the pool that we were allowed to use and by the middle of the trip it starts to get a bit boring with the same thing every day. For the price charged on this class we should be allowed to chose any restaurant on the ship to dine in. Drinks were only included in the Yacht Club area as well, so if we went to another part of the ship we had to pay extra for drinks. Even though it's nice to be in an exclusive part of the ship, you will not be only in that area for 7 days in a ship, so not very good value for money if you have to pay for anything outside the area. This Yacht Club arrangement needs to be reviewed in my view. On the other hand I don't recommend any other class as by wondering around I could see how crowded the other classes were. Another point to mention was the fact that the Executive suites can only be booked on the Yacht Club class, but they are located on the front of the ship while the Yacht Club class reception, bar, restaurant, pool and all other cabins from the class are on the other end of the ship, so we had to walk the whole length of the ship to access the areas every time we went there. Not very well designed and if you are planning to book these suites be aware of this detail specially if you have problems of mobility. Prepare to walk a lot from one side to the other all the time. Another negative was the lack of sun shades in the pool area. If you don't arrive early in the morning to get a table with a shade you will not get one later. There are plenty of tables and sun loungers, but not enough sun shades. On the positive side the ship is stunning, the gym and the SPA have wonderful views and excellent service. The food was good and the entertainment also good, but not exceptional. Would I book this cruise again? My answer is no. No, because of all the above reasons and I would try another cruise company such as Celebrity Cruises or Royal Caribbean instead of going back to Preziosa. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was ... Read More
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was to have time to relax and enjoy the trip. To make short a long history, we waited for approximately 5 hours to get on board in a very crowd area (even considering that was Christmas time, the waiting time was not reasonable). By the time we finally entered the ship, we had only a few minutes to get to our cabin, pick up the life jackets and proceed to the meeting point. It is not necessary to say that after the emergency exercise all passengers went to the restaurant at the same time to grab some food (considering that the majority of the passengers do not live in the departing city and spent several hours to arrive there before the check-in). Again another patience exercise because the restaurants had no space to everyone and it was a very bad "welcome aboard" message. After this first "lost" day, the trip was reasonable until the stop in Punta del Este, where we noted several (dozens of) mosquitos in our balcony and in the surrounding areas (we had a cabin on the back of the ship, near the external stair). We asked for plague control and a very polite man came to our cabin with an electronic raquet used to kill mosquitos and killed the insects inside our cabin and also the ones located in the balcony - but not the ones in the other balconies near or the mosquitos hidden in the stairs area, even after we alerted him about it. The result was that we were not able to use the balcony after this point of the trip. To conclude our "not so happy trip" the arrival in Santos, Brazil had the same situation we faced during the check-in... You were requested to leave the cabin at 8 AM because they need to clean the cabins to the next group of guests (perfect!) but we stayed inside the ship until 2 PM without access to food or drinks, except if you want to open a new account and proceed to a new check-out before leaving the ship. This is not reasonable and MSC must think a way to allow the passengers to pay the last drinks/ice creams, etc in cash or to sell special vouchers for use during this period. I know the company will say the year end time is complicated and the delay was related to the immigration offices but I would say it does not sound reasonable, because in a previous trip using another ship of MSC in the same itinerary we did not face the same situation... Additionaly, another ship that was doing exactly the same route apparently had no problems with delays... Our group were the last one to leave the terminal. I would suggest MSC to check the procedures again and try to improve the boarding and departing in this port. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just returning from a 7-night cruise aboard the MSC Preziosa . Travelled with my husband , my parents , in-laws and 3 nephews . Among nine people , only the children were fully satisfied with the ship . This was my fourth cruise, the first ... Read More
Just returning from a 7-night cruise aboard the MSC Preziosa . Travelled with my husband , my parents , in-laws and 3 nephews . Among nine people , only the children were fully satisfied with the ship . This was my fourth cruise, the first by MSCs . We chose Preziosa because it was the newest ship traveling along the Brazilian coast , and really , its decor is beautiful , extremely tasteful . There are many options of entertainment for children and adults . The team of Brazilian animation was pretty fun , but the qualities end there. The feeling is that there is a lot more people on board the vessel support . The public areas were always overcrowded . There was no place in the pools during the day, or in the lounges in the evening for a drink . But worst of all was definitely the buffet Maya & Inca . Disorganization is the word that best describes the place , with a terrible arrangement of food, spread over 100 meters restaurant. When you get a place to sit , the marathon begins to find food. When you return to the table , the food is already cold . The disembarkation by tender was so tumultuous and disorganized that we gave up going down on Ilha Grande - very frustrating . Another downside was the poor service . With few exceptions , grumpy and unwilling crew. Cleaning was also lacking , especially in the cabins and corridors . The carpet was always dirty and sometimes there was food dishes alongside some doors (which were also not collected within the rooms) . Now the food ... Little variety in the buffet , and repetitive menu . At dinner restaurant, excellent service by the waiter Soni and his assistant Alexander. Tasty but unsophisticated food. Very different from the other ships that I traveled before . Finally , the price of food and drinks paid separately . Too expensive ! Draft beer Itaipava 400ml U.S. $ 4.80 , can beer $ 3.00 , longneck $ 3.60 to $ 3.80, soda can $ 2.60 , $ 3.00 bottled water , and most cocktails $ 8.00 . Everything plus another 15 % service charge . No wonder there was always huge queues to get water at the buffet ... When we got on the ship we were offered drinks package "all inclusive" . Is nothing more than a booklet with 14 sheets that gives the right to any soft drink and ice cream for U.S. $ 31.00 plus 15% or 18 sheets for liquor at most $ 8.00 for U.S. $ 61.00 plus 15% . That is $ 2.55 for sodas and juices and $ 3.90 for alcoholic beverages . And don't even think about eating outside the buffet , if you are not willing to pay for it . Only one restaurant serves breakfast and lunch a la carte included in the package . We felt exploited ! Normally I try to make positive reviews of hotels and places I know , but this time I felt compelled to share my negative experience . If I recommend a MSC cruise ? Definitely not ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My wife wanted to go to Rio de Janeiro for our anniversary. I always wanted to go to Buenos Aires. Only one cruiseline gave us both with significant time in Rio on the dates near our anniversary plus a stop at Punta del Este, Uruguay - ... Read More
My wife wanted to go to Rio de Janeiro for our anniversary. I always wanted to go to Buenos Aires. Only one cruiseline gave us both with significant time in Rio on the dates near our anniversary plus a stop at Punta del Este, Uruguay - MSC. So, I researched MSC very thoroughly both on this board and elsewhere. Thanks to everyone who provided information like boardmember woodofpine (see his helpful review here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=24572068&highlight=#post24572068) and many others. This is my full review of THIS cruise. I say this one specifically because I don't know if this experience is completely reflective of MSC in all other cruises, but I'd suspect so from the many comments I have read. Here is a quick summary, using the A - F grading system, of how we viewed the cruise: Itinerary: A+ Food: D Cleanliness and Condition of Room: A Condition & Layout of Ship: A Customer Service from Crew: C Pricing of Cruise and Drinks Onboard: A Embarkation/Disembarkation Process: F Now, from the grading you can see we didn't hate our time on the cruise, but there were several very low marks and we probably will not cruise MSC again. First, about the issue of MSC not providing complimentary water and coffee, to me it was a non-issue at the buffet because coffee is provided at breakfast and water is provided at all times. Plus, you can buy a water package (21 bottles of 16 oz. of mineral water) for about $31 USD which we did. It was a little annoying when in the main dining room not being brought water automatically, but we have experienced that in Europe before and we knew about it heading into the cruise. What was much more disconcerting is the service levels of most of the employees we encountered at the bars and restaurants. On more than one occasion, we waited in the buffet for over 10 minutes before any employee came towards our table for beverage service. Also on more than one occasion, when an employee did approach us they said they weren't the waiter and our waiter would be by shortly only to wait even longer. Never have I been in a restaurant, resort or cruise ship where an employee in that situation neither a) called my waiter over or b) just took the order her/himself. I also remember asking for additional ice for Cokes we ordered and the waiter said "the ice machine is over there"; I wouldn't have minded this at all except for the ice machine to which the public had access was on the fritz for almost the entire cruise. I have traveled to many places in Europe and in Latin America and this is not the standard sort of service I've come to expect; this isn't a "European problem" or "American problem", it's a service problem. Speaking of the restaurants, we had a couple of dishes that were "ok", but I was never wowed or even satisfied with any total meal. The traditional Brazilian feijoada was good, but not great. The desserts were bad except at the Gala Buffet. The meals in the main dining room included some very overcooked beef tenderloin (think a dry washcloth), very underseasoned fish, fatty beef stew and spoiled prawns delivered to my wife and the second to last night. On the spoiled prawns, I literally didn't believe her and I tasted it myself and promptly spat it out. I guess I figured no matter how bad the food was, serving spoiled crustacean was impossible for a competent kitchen staff. We also thought the embarkation and disembarkation was a nightmarish process. We arrived to our last cruise with NCL after 2:30pm in Barcelona. We had a balcony and were shown to a shorter line because we paid more and got onboard by 3:30pm (maybe earlier). We arrived to the port in Rio at 12:30pm. We got onboard the ship at 4:20pm. Why? Not only were balcony and suite passengers not given preferential boarding, everyone got what seemed to be a number based on their deck level regardless of when they arrived at the port. That number determined when you boarded the ship. Boarding didn't seem to start until after 1:30pm when the first number was called. We had a similarly hellish experience leaving the ship. We didn't pick up passports on the night before; instead we picked them up the morning of disembarkation but weren't told where. So I hobbled about the ship (with a bad foot... that's another story ) and got ours from reception just as a madhouse began by lots of angry and pushy passengers fighting for their passports. There were definitely some great things we experienced. Irene, our cabin steward, was fantastic. She gave us a few special favors we needed. She helped me out when I was put down by the forementioned foot problem. She was flat out the best service person on the ship. Our main waiter at the dinner restaurant, Gregorio, was great as well. He learned our preferences and had bottled water and ice waiting for us at our dinner time. We also had some pretty good bar staff. As for the ship, it's beautiful with good shops and has reasonable prices for things. Overall I'd say we had a good experience being together and seeing great cities, but MSC isn't really for us I would say. Not because it isn't "American" enough, but because they still have significant operational and service "kinks" that we can avoid by using other lines like NCL. My advice is make your own determination through thorough research if you are considering MSC, but unless they have a "once in a lifetime" itinerary, I'd counsel you to choose another line. As for the destinations, they are excellent. Rio de Janeiro is a city I fell in love with years ago and it's even better now. We got into town a day before the cruise and stayed one night at the Acapulco Copacabana hotel which is 2 blocks from the beach and only 2 blocks from nightlife. The hotel is a boutique property that had a large room and kingsize bed in its superior room for $169 per night in high season. The service was good and the staff were very nice. In Rio, we used private guide, Martha Vasconcellos for a small group tour of the Rocinha favela and a private tour of Corcovado (Christ statue). She was fabulous and I would wholeheartedly recommend her. Buenos Aires was great as well. Pedro Werberg provided private guide services for us there. We did a full city tour viewing some of the old mansions, the Pink Palace for the lowering of the flag ceremony, the Recoleta cemetery, a coffee shop and a great steakhouse (El Establo). I also would highly recommend Pedro. Also, if you love hot beaches and can stand cold water, Punta del Este's beaches were some of the best I have been to and because of the currents it had some of the coldest water I've experienced. Let's hope some other lines pick up this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
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
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