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16 MSC Cruises South America Cruise Reviews

Food is terrible, this is the weakness point for sure. The food had no taste, no presentation, no talent. Service is a nightmare, it is clear for me that people had no training and its not prepare for the functions, there was no ... Read More
Food is terrible, this is the weakness point for sure. The food had no taste, no presentation, no talent. Service is a nightmare, it is clear for me that people had no training and its not prepare for the functions, there was no leadership, the managers were extremely arrogants and they spent their time talking each other instead of looking their team, I have never seen such attitude before in my previous crusies. The ship looks nice however it doesn’t work, the theater and the other areas are too small for the capacity of the chip 4300 passangers. We had to make a reservation for the theater but it never worked, we are oblied to seat on the floor, the theater has 03 presentations per night but the capacity is not enough to attend all passengers. It is a very ashamed situation for everyone. The restaurantes work in three shifts, so the last dinner is at 22hs45, my cruise was overbooked so I had bo other choice, that means my dinner started around 23hs15 everyday, crazy. I have already traveled with Costa and Royal Caribbean and had a nice experience! MSC never more!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I am writing to report my experience in the MSC FANTASIA Cruise from Genoa to Santos between November 4th to 24th 2018. This was our third cruise, but the first with MSC. We have never experienced or expected a ship being run so poorly by ... Read More
I am writing to report my experience in the MSC FANTASIA Cruise from Genoa to Santos between November 4th to 24th 2018. This was our third cruise, but the first with MSC. We have never experienced or expected a ship being run so poorly by the Master and his crew. I will provide the details below. The embarkment took place in the port of Genoa on November 4th; from the beginning it was a complete chaos, a process that should take a couple of hours took at least six, they even have started the embarkment two hours earlier to make it easier. Numbers were distributed to the passengers to assist with the registration, but they were not followed; the staff members will jump numbers and then will go back again, a total chaos. Many crew members were rude and have no customer services skills, the majority look very unhappy. There were some crew members very polite and did a good job, but it was the minority. The safety box was not working in the cabin, I called the front desk and they sent a technician to fix it, he replaced the batteries. After about 30 minutes it stopped working, I called again, and they told me they will send a technician within 30 minutes, nothing happens, I reported at least five times in the next few days. Finally they sent a technician, according to him it was the cover of the batteries that was interfering, he removed it, put a piece of paper to make it tight and left, after one hour the safety box stopped working again. I checked myself and to my surprise I found one of the battery contacts sulfated, I scraped it and clean it and never have any problem again. The light in the night table burned out, I told the cabin assistant and he reported at least in two occasions. I started calling the front desk asking them if they could give me a bulb so that I could replace it, they told me they could not, and they will have to send a technician to check it out. I have to wait five days to have the burned-out light replaced. We had a balcony suit, located beside the deck and outside stairs. During the cruise they left a note in my cabin that they will be painting the balcony and to keep the curtains closed. They did paint, but they also spilled paint all over the two chairs, table and floor, they never cleaned it. I never have seen a sloppy job like this. During the cruise they left at least in four occasions notes that they will be doing maintenance in the balcony, in one occasion they flooded the balconies from one extreme to the other and left the water standing until the water evaporated by itself. One of the last evenings, they poured lot of water from the top floor, we could have been totally soaked if we were in the balcony. They cleaned the outside stairs and deck every morning about 4 am, and every time our balcony will be left with water and dirt on it. They never cleaned the balcony, we have to clean the hand rail and chairs our self. It was great to have a balcony, but because of their neglect we could seldom use it. When we cross the ocean, which lasted six days, the satellite services were disconnected, we did not have any news and were totally isolated. The explanation given was the satellite services did not work because we were too far away from land, but this happened even when we were 50 kilometres from the coast of Brazil. This never happened in any other cruise we have taken. They offered 16 free movies that you could watch in your cabin, but the audio of the movies was absolutely terrible, you could not understand anything; when I called the front desk, they said they have problem with the system. The hygiene practices in the cruise was terrible, there were dispensers with sanitizers, but most of them were empty, the crew members never encourage the passengers to use them. Some passengers will pick with their hands bred or other food from the buffet areas and the crew members never told these passengers not to do it, they will not get involved and ignore it. Some passengers will fill their personal bottles in the water or juice machines directly into the faucet touching them and of course contaminating them. Painting was performed in corridors and food dispensing areas; the smell was extremely strong. Painting in areas were food is dispensed and people are walking by is totally unacceptable. All the tours obtained through MSC started late. The crew members in charge in the meeting places were confused and they did not provide proper information. After a week people started to get sick. Many crew members and passengers got sick, sneezing, coughing and with flu symptoms. The situation started to get worse when we start crossing the Atlantic, the ship had to disembark a sick passenger in Cabo Verde in front of Africa because the passenger was too sick. The situation got worse and by the time we reach Brazil most of the passengers were coughing, sneezing and with flu symptoms. We were eight people travelling together and seven got sick. The passport return process was another chaos, two crew members were doing this process, but they have difficulties to find the passports even that they were classified by countries. During the last couple of days, we noticed a change in the attitude of the crew members in relation to hygiene in the food areas, the sanitizer dispensers were filled, the supervisors started to give direct instructions to waitresses to remove dirty dishes and clean the different areas. When we arrive to Santos the Health Authorities were waiting; they recommended to passengers before disembarking to use the disinfectant their hands with the gel provided and see their personal doctors, they also informed us there was a possible case of measles aboard. The disembarkation in Santos was another chaos, they asked the passenger to meet in the theatre and wait for instructions, but the theatre have steps and all passengers have carry-on bags. After a couple of hours, the Health Authorities allowed the disembarkment; the passengers were asked to take shuttle busses to the terminal. The buses had very narrow aisles, and the passengers have to claim with their bags since they did not open the bag carriers on the belly of the buses. The Master of the ship is the person responsible for the well being and health of the crew and passengers and the training of the crew. Therefore, he is responsible for the poor service provided by the crew and the bad hygiene practices on his ship. I saw him only once in the entire trip when he welcomes the passengers assisting a function. He never talked to the passengers on the speakers to provide explanations or information; what a difference with other Captains from other companies that I have had the opportunity to travel with. This was the first time that we travel in a MSC Cruise and possible will be the last. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I feel like MSC improved recently, but I didn't enjoy this cruise on 2016, even though it was on a Yacht Club cabin. Pros: - Yacht club area was very nice: amazing pool and hot baths! - Nice excursions, specially the one to ... Read More
I feel like MSC improved recently, but I didn't enjoy this cruise on 2016, even though it was on a Yacht Club cabin. Pros: - Yacht club area was very nice: amazing pool and hot baths! - Nice excursions, specially the one to Ilhabela! - Decent saunas, and an exclusive elevator from the YC area to the aurea SPA! - Butler service, organizing your room and bringing breakfast to bed with domed plates! Cons: - Mediocre dinners. No lobster. Worst Hollandaise sauce I've ever had in my life. - Although the cocktails were tasty, the quality of wines was terrible. Prosecco was often still, and we had a minuscule selection of drinks, even on YC areas. There was no craft beer, no Aperol Spritz, etc. - We couldn't get free drinks on other areas of the ship with the YC pass. MSC fixed this issue recently, to be fair. - No app Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The cruise itself was very nice. Cabin was clean, the menu and service were very good. The entertainment was varied including jugglers, acrobats, magicians, singers and an attempt at stage production. The staff was polite and attentive. ... Read More
The cruise itself was very nice. Cabin was clean, the menu and service were very good. The entertainment was varied including jugglers, acrobats, magicians, singers and an attempt at stage production. The staff was polite and attentive. The public areas were very clean The truly disappointing aspects of the cruise came at the beginning and end; the exact times you would think MSC would like to make a good first impression and lasting final impression. The embarkation at Santos port was disorganized and confusing with poor signage and little cruise ship guidance. It was like being at a busy bus/metro station during rush hour on a Friday evening while carrying a weeks worth of luggage. The luggage drop off was extremely disorganized with multiple lines converging on unclearly marked drop areas. Amazingly the luggage did make it aboard the ship. With many passengers being in the 60 to 80 year range, the scene was very stressful.There was very little guidance provided by terminal staff or MSC staff in the staging of embarkation. The cruise was 2 hours late in departure from Santos. The 'Loading of Passengers' was not well staged and lines of several hundred metres were common. The disembarkation at the termination of the cruise in Santos was a disaster. It was not safe and took over 2 hours to conduct. The ship arrived 4 hours late; yet passengers were called to sit in a crowded lounge (Zebra Lounge) staging area to await instructions regarding disembarkation. This waiting lasted 2 hours in a lounge designed to seat a fraction of the passengers in the area. Elderly passengers sat on the floor or on the stairs awaiting information without water or comfort. When a manager was called for assistance, the response was that all staff were busy at reception and that all passengers were to remain in the lounge area. It must be noted that staff in the staging area was accommodating and helpful to the elderly. What was obvious was a management absence in the area. There was no one to give direction to staff. Management was not available. Clearly the management responsible for the organization of disembarkation had no contingency plan for a 'ship running behind schedule' or for addressing the related complications of passenger crowding in the disembarkation staging areas. For the comfort and more importantly safety of passengers MSC management must review these polices, procedures and practices. The disembarkation procedure was unsafe for all and a health hazard for the elderly.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
A trip on the MSC PREZIOSA is a great example of this basic capitalist tenant. Me and my family took a 7 day trip on this ship along the Brazilian coast on New Years 2015. There were so many things wrong with it that I don’t even know ... Read More
A trip on the MSC PREZIOSA is a great example of this basic capitalist tenant. Me and my family took a 7 day trip on this ship along the Brazilian coast on New Years 2015. There were so many things wrong with it that I don’t even know where to start. Most of the crew were rude and not at all helpful, with very few exceptions. The majority seemed not to speak English or the local language, or at least pretended not to. My impression is that there were so few of them and so much work to do that everyone ended up miserable and the job was poorly done. Cleanliness of cabins was a major issue. One the most revolting things I have ever experienced dried up faeces and gave out the most foul smell ever. After a lot of complaining, they sent someone to clean it. Not exchange it and throw it away at a nuclear disposal site, mind you. They cleaned something like that, which still remained brown, as you can imagine. That´s not all. The linen was never changed in all seven days and it smelled like cigarettes. Furthermore, one of my family members found a package of condoms under their couch. The food was also terrible. The lunch buffet served pretty much the same pizzas and hot dogs everyday, with some daily specials that changed. But the worst were the dinners. Both the Golden Lobster and the Arabesque restaurants served some of the worst food I have ever tasted. Chewey pasta, bad meat, old salad and so on and so on. So in order to have a proper meal you have to go to either Italia or Eataly restaurants, which are not included. So you add up some US$ 50 to 80 per meal per person to your bill and the reason why the main dining restaurants are so awful starts to become clear. Also, they put on a lot more guests then they should. Pool areas are extremely crowded, there aren´t nearly enough seats, chairs or pools for everyone, so you either get there early or spend your day spending more money in the smoke-filled casino. Still, the ship was full, so MSC seems to have struck gold: bad service for high prices.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Firstly the good points - ship décor still on good condition; clean cabins; restaurant staff excellent; dealt with lactose-intolerant problem extremely well.Now for the problems- 1. Buffet food is always cold and repetitive and no-one ... Read More
Firstly the good points - ship décor still on good condition; clean cabins; restaurant staff excellent; dealt with lactose-intolerant problem extremely well.Now for the problems- 1. Buffet food is always cold and repetitive and no-one including the Maître d'hôtel interested. 2. Even the main restaurant has a tendency to serve cold food unless you complain. 3. At the commencement of the cruise, the lunch time restaurant was quite quiet. However as a result of the poor food in the buffet, then the restaurant soon became very busy, and lunch became an almost 2 hour marathon as the staff and kitchen were overrun by the demand. 4. Embarkation was a total and utter disaster. A numbered sequence used, but called too many numbers at once resulting in passengers having to queue for well over 1 hour to reach the embarkation desk. 5. UK booking process totally lacking and a total shambles with e-mails continually ignored. 6. Organisation of disembarkation at ports of call virtually non-existent. 7. Entertainment quite basic, but energetic performances by the dancers. 8. Mainly Brazilian & Italian passengers who tend to be very noisy and regularly queue jump.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We were extremely disappointed with the experience on this voyage. While our expectations were not high, based on others' reviews, we still hoped that would be somewhat enjoyable. It turned out to be a great disappointment with a few ... Read More
We were extremely disappointed with the experience on this voyage. While our expectations were not high, based on others' reviews, we still hoped that would be somewhat enjoyable. It turned out to be a great disappointment with a few notable exceptions. Since the exceptions were few, I decided to give credit first. The ship entertainment throughout was of very high value, with nightly shows being of high quality, especially acrobatic and dancing members. The singers at the show were average but still all went well except for the MC who never spoke a word of English, only speaking Portuguese or Spanish to a primarily Brazilian clientele, though knowing very well that others were on board. Not a word in English the entire 8 days. Same can be said of ship announcements. Not a single announcement in English entire 8 days. Food was terrible except for the Asia restaurant where it was OK., but great by comparison to the rest of the meals on board. Health club equipment was in working order but set to another language so had to make due by guessing the meanings. Port and tender disembarkation was well organized except that we had to stay by the reception to find out when our number would be called. The ship is clean and is worked on continuously, but they don't put warning signs or block sections while cleaning so you can get your hands on clothes dirty with paint or chemicals if not careful. Notably terrible was the dining service. It was so bad it became a running joke. Complaining to the floor managers did nothing. We were being ignored. No was always the answer, hardly any friendly faces and it was as if we had done something to make them mad, which was odd since we tried to tip everyone the first chance we had. It did absolutely no good. While the Stewart for our cabin did make up the room consistently well, he never tried to bring us a clean blanket that we asked for nor had the light bulbs fixed in the bathroom leaving a windowless bathroom with a single light. BTW, there are no Hair Conditioners provided on the ship so we had to buy a bottle on the ship for $80 (least expensive one available). Of notably bad items some stand way out, like the chaotic 3 hour initial embarkation in Rio that was just awful and completely disorganized. Quality of Food was just awful in all locations of the ship. Small, overcrowded pools on a single deck were of no use. Whirlpools were always jam-packed with with overweight Brazilians who seemed to treat them as their permanent place on ship. Both dinner restaurants resembled cheap cafeterias rather than fine dining facilities. This ship provides you with almost nothing for free so you get nickel and dimed the entire time. Despite that very few waiters were actually visible on the ship working the minimum amount of space just make it look like they are busy. Go up one deck from the pool and you may not see a waiter for days. Sun beds were ok that there wasn't a single side table on entire ship. Towels were given one per individual who brought their card to the towel desk. We traveled during "Summer" break for Brazil thus lots of people were traveling with small kids who were completely unsupervised and seed to do anything they wanted without as much as a peep from their parents or personnel. Even at 1am you could see a bunch of small kids running wild in the adult areas. If you are hoping to catch up on news forget it. The daily handouts contain nothing outside of the ship. there are no English speaking channels on TV. Entrance to the SPA is not Free, so you do not get to use a steam room or indoor whirlpool unless you pay or scheduled a massage. Overall, I would stay away from this cruise line and avoid south america cruises where the crowd is mostly Brazilian. You will regret it from first day on. The only people I feel for are the entertainers on the ship as they are stuck with this bunch for 4 months of the year. so many of them mentioned how they can not wait to get back to Europe, it was stunning. Special thank you to the Piano Man Melo for giving us something to look forward to nightly. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
I confess. I disliked immensely my previous cruise aboard an MSC ship. In the hopes of discovering that MSC in So Am has improved, I hopped aboard the Poesia since I was already in the departure port (Buenos Aires) and it was only a 3 ... Read More
I confess. I disliked immensely my previous cruise aboard an MSC ship. In the hopes of discovering that MSC in So Am has improved, I hopped aboard the Poesia since I was already in the departure port (Buenos Aires) and it was only a 3 night cruise with a single port layover in Punta del Este. Besides, I needed to go to Uruguay anyway so I booked the cruise at the last minute through the US office of MSC. I paid $756 for a balcony guarantee for solo occupancy. Embarkation would have been quicker if the cruise terminal didn't lose electrical power during the process. That might not be MSC's fault, nor could MSC be blamed for a separate line for AR Immigrations after checking in with MSC. On none of my approx. 65 previous cruise check-ins do I recall having to form a separate Immigrations line apart from the cruise line check in line where the required docs were submitted and processed. However, after waiting in the passenger terminal for my number to be called so that I could get to an MSC check-in desk, then waiting in line at the check-in desk, then waiting in line at the Immigrations desk, I was not in the mood to be told by the ship's photographer that I had to wait in another line to be photographed. To his surprise and apparent dismay, I ignored him and proceeded to walk past the others waiting to be photographed. I boarded the bus taking passengers to the ship. On the short ride to the gangway, I noticed that, despite my request when I booked for a large table at second seating dining, my cruise card did not indicate a dinner table seating assignment. Upon boarding the ship I found myself near the reception desk. When I asked about a dining room assignment I was told, albeit it apologetically, I had to go to the meeting room on deck 6 to get one. Despite it being no fault of my own (after unpacking) I was required to wait in another line for about 20 minutes to get a dinner table assignment. I figured nothing with MSC had changed. That turned out to be only partially true. I made my way to my cabin. No one assisted me. My cabin was standard although smallish for a balcony (I would guess about 160 sq ft). The flat screen TV was small (about a 16 inch screen), too small for decent viewing from the bed. The pillows were horribly lumpy. I ran into my cabin attendant and asked if down pillows were available. I also asked for my ice bucket to be filled. After a quick unpacking and waiting to get my MDR seating assignment, I set off to explore the ship. It is handsomely decorated. There are quite a few large lounges (5?), but only one specialty restaurant - a Japanese one with an ala carte menu that did not look worth trying. I didn't spend a lot of time in the lounges and I never saw them fully occupied. This was due in part to the fact that I retired relatively early and also because of the large contingent of kids aboard the ship (the kids sail free promo works well in So Am). From the little I got to observe of the lounge acts and theater stage shows, the entertainment provided was quite good. I caught part of 2 shows in the theater and the singing and dancing especially of the ship's company was fine. Good costumes and production values for the shows. The animation team were most visible at the pool organizing games and dance lessons. The small library was open only a couple of hours each day. There were no English language, non-fiction books. Most all books in all languages were paperbacks that appeared to be left by former passengers. The dance company captain that manned the library when I was there confirmed as much. The tiny card room on this 3200 pax ship contained 6 tables. Apparently bridge games, if they did exist, were conducted somewhere else. TV programming was okay. They actually contained the So Am Fox or ESPN channel that broadcasts Monday night football. The welcome aboard buffet lunch was poor. This was a harbinger of things to come. The food in the buffet and dining room was simply bad. If I had received this level of food in any Buenos Aires hole in the wall at any price, I would never revisit the place. An indication of the type of "cuisine" that was served was that at the first night's dinner, the sauce for the risotto was identical to the sauce served on the few slices of flank steak. The exact same sauce for both dishes. And both were bad. The food was unacceptably poor in all venues at all times. That was the salient feature of my cruise experience. I am not exaggerating. My Argentine table mates concurred. This is especially unacceptable for a line that touts dining as the premier event aboard an MSC cruise (as MSC does). I attempted breakfast at the buffet on the first morning. I arrived as soon as it opened. The fried eggs were already cold. The bacon was fatty. The sausages of poor quality. The melon and papaya were very good, but there were no berries. The fruit juice was artificial and tasted worse than koolaid. I headed to the MDR. At least the smoked salmon was good. That and the cured ham that I had at a subsequent meal were really the only dishes that tasted good on the entire cruise. At another breakfast in the MDR, my eggs Benedict came hard boiled. At one dinner "roast piglet" (cochinillo asado per the menu) turned out to be the very same baked pork carved at the lunch buffet earlier that afternoon. When I pointed this out to the maître 'd he conceded that "asado" was a misdescription, but attempted to correct me by noting that the buffet carving was lamb. As I departed a head waiter ran after me to further explain that, in fact, the buffet carving was roast beef. Whatever it was, it was identical to the non-asado served at dinner (pork). As bad as the food was, the service by our dining room waiters was worse. It got to the point where I had to excuse myself from the table and seek out the maître d. He apologized and explained that our waiter had just boarded after a long flight from Indonesia although I fail to see how that would excuse his obvious lack of experience. He spoke practically no English or Spanish. Most orders were taken by pointing to the menu. He didn't appear to be observant when one of his patrons sought his attention. When asked to recommend a sweet wine, he suggested a heavy cabernet sauvignon. Orders were taken in haphazard order and the courses likewise served haphazardly so that some patrons had finished dessert before others had received a first course! I had never experienced this kind of MDR dining. In part this circus was due to the failure of the dining room mgmt to enforce the rules about arrival to the room on time. Inasmuch as this was So Am and dinner is served late, the first seating began at 8:15 (10:45 for the second seating) and the dining room doors were supposed to close at 8:30. Patrons at my table arrived as late as 9 and were seated. This detracted from a polite, shared dining experience. Combined with the bad food, it made dining totally unsatisfactory. My cabin attendant was able to obtain one new pillow that, while not down or feathers, was a little better than that which was initially furnished. He neglected to refill my ice bucket the 2nd day of the cruise. When I attempted to speak with him about the location of a lounge, he was unable to properly engage, looking away as if not paying attention to me. I turned and walked away and didn't see him for the remainder of the cruise. Disembarkation was swift as I was self assisted and first off. Buses brought us from the gangway back to the terminal. There was no custom process to speak off. We simply were directed to a line for passing street taxis which were hailed by a couple of locals who helped load the bags. This was an improvement over what my previous taxi mafia experience had been. The cabs operated on the meter, although my driver told me this was the procedure just for locals coming off a 3 day cruise. The cruise ships with longer itineraries and international passengers had a different lineup to get cabs, entrance to which was still controlled by the mob. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We decided on this cruise because we have never been to South America. Rio and Buenos Aries were exotic cities that we were interested in seeing. They are both wonderful cities with much to explore. The difficulties started ... Read More
We decided on this cruise because we have never been to South America. Rio and Buenos Aries were exotic cities that we were interested in seeing. They are both wonderful cities with much to explore. The difficulties started when we arrived at the embarkation port at 1/pm the published time. On most other lines boarding starts perhaps two hours earlier and the flow of passengers is smooth. Apparently boarding actually started at 1/pm and there were thousands of passengers sweating in the reception area which appeared to have air conditioning ducts, but there was none. We boarded at about 4/pm after enduring barely distinguishable announcements announcing the code that was placed on our E-Mailed boarding documents at the entrance to the waiting area. The announcements were in Spanish or Portuguese. Our cabin was smaller than most any ship we have been on in the same class. No wash cloths, no sofa, Shower with a sheet rather than a plastic enclosure found on most if not all new generation ships. Arriving for dinner's early seating which began a 7:45 we found that water is not free, coffee is not free and the meal choices are skimpy. On their Formal Nights, called Gala, there was never steak or lobster. They did once have an ugly looking large Prawn that we believe caused diarrhea. Breakfast never had smoked salmon or other expensive seafood. Portions were generally small with limited choices. Fortunately we sat with the only other US citizens on board. They had the same complaints we did,and, additionally suffered from some form of infestation in their bedding. The Brazilians on board were the most pushy group of people we have ever encountered. The females were the most offensive. The ship returned to Rio at 8:00AM but our flight didn't leave until 10:30PM. They offered no tour that would pick us up at the ship and drop us off at the airport. No suggestions were even attempted by their tour desk. We rented a hotel room at the airport. The Shows were the only positive. They had a large cast and provided quality entertainment. The MC only spoke one word of English "Showtime". Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Venice to Rio Start: Booked hotel with MSC in Venice for the night before the cruse. Great hotel only it was a £40.00 return trip into Venice by taxi and we did not see much of the city as it was night time by the time the ... Read More
Venice to Rio Start: Booked hotel with MSC in Venice for the night before the cruse. Great hotel only it was a £40.00 return trip into Venice by taxi and we did not see much of the city as it was night time by the time the reception checked us in. Oh so slow... Would suggest you book your own flight and hotel to Venice as we paid £300 for this privilege and could have got closer and better standard of hotel and service. Boarding: This took hours, a mass of people trying to get on it was a mess! Cabin: Great clean and tidy no problems with it. Ship: Great could not say anything bad about it. All you could want. Food: Hit and miss. Breakfast in the cafeteria was a nightmare. Staff patrol the tea and coffee machines and are very rude, you can tell they hate the job and they have no idea what customer service is! But you could get room service at no extra price and this was great. So we did that every morning. Lunch better if you wait till the 12 o'clock rush is over. Dinner: Unless you want to pay for your food in other restaurants you have to dine in the main restaurant and this was ok. Themed night menu and also a plain menu should you not like what is on offer. You have to pay for water 1.80euro. No coffee on offer. Over all it was ok. Service charge is 6 Euro per person per night. And every drink you buy has a 15% service charge. We asked to have the 6 euros each taken off our account as this would have been over £200.00 for the whole trip and to be honest the service was rubbish. You would not get away with the kind of treatment and service in the UK. I know.......I said the same when I read the reviews before I went but it was BAD...So bad it became a laugh. The accounts desk and the guys working there treat you like S..T and reception staff are ok but no one understands English fully. Biggest thing was the fact they wanted everyone of the ship early on day of departure and this would have mean us being at the airport at 10am for a flight at 11.30pm so being in Rio and not seeing it. Nothing was provided and we had to gang together and arrange our own tour which cost us 100 Euro each. Would I go again..? Yes if they went to somewhere I wanted to go to. It was a good price holiday and great destinations. What would I do different? Book my own extra days in Venice and Rio as there is only small service charge to change you flights. I would take my own kettle for tea and coffee. De-program myself of everything I have every learned from my parents or experiences at school or work on how to be polite. As this trip was full of Italians, French, German and Brazilians who are rude and have never grasped the concept of please and thank you. God I am glad to be home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
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
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
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
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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