Embarkation at Fremantle was slower than any we have previously experienced with the last of the luggage being delivered around midnight. The first week at sea was very unpleasant for us and for many other passengers, standing around in ... Read More
Embarkation at Fremantle was slower than any we have previously experienced with the last of the luggage being delivered around midnight. The first week at sea was very unpleasant for us and for many other passengers, standing around in queues listening to the multitude of complaints from angry people trying to sort out the multitude of problems with pre ordered merchandise issues. This was not the fault of MSC – the ship was being charted by Travel Superstore who proved to be most inefficient in many areas, leading to much confusion between the two parties.
My husband and I have done 23 cruises between us previously in all classes of ships and have a good idea what to expect for the money paid, $20,000 for an aft balcony cabin (not a suite). A similar time in a Queen Mary II balcony cabin costs around half that. Consequently we were entitled to 5 star accommodation and definitely 5 star service, particularly with Travel Superstore’s continuous pre-cruise advertising that this cruise would be the “Trip of a Lifetime!” However for our 6 star prices the eventual outcome was a 3 star ship with a 2 star experience.
General feeling of many of the passengers we spoke to during this cruise was that we Australians and New Zealanders were taken considerable advantage of by Travel Superstore, because of our Anzac sentiments on this 100th anniversary.
We were dismayed when we first saw our cabin. The room and ensuite were far smaller than any other we have experienced at close to a similar price. The quality of the soft furnishings was a disgraceful standard. For example our sheets were so thin they needed replacing twice because they tore, our threadbare blanket was unusable and was stored under the bed, pillows were appalling – lumpy, matted balls of synthetic substances, the plastic(!) curtains had holes in them, the lounge upholstery was torn and sagged right down in the middle caused by broken slats and should have been replaced long ago.
Day 3 in Albany saw us and many passengers purchasing their own pillows, and we even saw one person with a new duvet! We also had to resort to purchasing our own shampoo, conditioner and soap as that supplied was anything but quality.
The restaurants and public places were the most crowded we have ever experienced. The overcrowding was explained to us by MSC and Gallipoli staff who told us that the ship had recently been refurbished to increase capacity by 500 passengers. The restaurant staff did their best under the circumstances but were hopelessly understaffed. On this subject, we have never experienced a worse staff to passenger ratio previously. The original ship offered had a standard passenger to staff ratio of 2 to 1 but our ship ended up being less than 3 to 1! This refit, to squeeze in more paying passengers probably also explains the lack of alternative restaurants other than the Asian one. Imagine an Italian ship without an Italian restaurant! (Although the pasta in other venues was below standard so maybe MSC were doing us a favour!)
The quality and the presentation of the food was generally anything but 5 star! MSC was most inventive at giving different descriptions and names to salads all consisting almost exclusively of limp Iceberg lettuce. The vegetables, in short supply, were tasteless and overcooked, meat generally tough, with most main courses arriving luke warm. Icecream and sorbets however usually arrived half melted. The many countries from which the menus were supposed to pertain tasted nothing like what they purported to be.
Drinks Packages: Drinks were generally dispensed in a miserly fashion, although this can be partly explained by the shortage of staff, particularly in the restaurants. Bar Staff had no such excuse to explain their poor and rude behaviour that we witnessed. The quality of wine provided in our package (Unlimited wine and beer with our meals) was disgraceful. Most passengers on other packages complained about the ship running out of supplies, often early in the cruise.
The most reprehensible aspect of the cruise however was the attitude taken to the health of the passengers. There had been an epidemic of flu like symptoms from the departing passengers in Fremantle, which many of us caught in the first few days. Subsequently almost everyone else eventually caught it. The ‘pharmacy’ ran out of supplies within a week and these were never replaced despite many requests and opportunities! The doctors, charging EU$80 per visit for dispensing disprin! and not much else, were often criticised for lack of expertise and dispensing half courses of antibiotics, an extremely dangerous practice, with the advice to get the other half at the next port!
And although hand cleansing devices were available around the ship their use was unpoliced. Sadly, once we all departed in Rome, the next unsuspecting embarking passengers no doubt also suffered similarly in all of our germ ridden cabins. Surely it should be a requirement to fumigate or otherwise disinfect ships thoroughly under these circumstances, as should have happened in Fremantle before we embarked.
The ship was spotlessly clean which was great, and the cleaning, painting, varnishing and general maintenance was constantly ongoing, very much ‘in your face’ but often to the inconvenience of passengers with stairs blocked off, strong paint smells, balconies constantly cleaned resulting in our cabin being used as the cleaners’ thoroughfare as our balcony door couldn’t lock.
The Balinese staff in the dining rooms and cabins were very friendly and efficient. The Italian staff were often rude and surly and never friendly.
The entertainment was generally very good, and almost the only thing we can be complimentary about. The entertainers brought from Australia were excellent and the ship board ones were usually more than adequate. The Gallipoli Peninsula and Anzac Day ‘pilgrimage’ aspect was handled very well although we were too ill at the time to appreciate it properly. Cozzi, Travel Superstore's ‘front man’ upset many people with erroneous, poorly timed and often poor taste announcements.
Disembarkation: We arrived before the listed time in the listed location, only to find out that our group had already left. After rushing to the gangway, we were refused exit as our account hadn’t been paid, despite us giving you our credit card details. Of course this was another stuff up which nearly caused us to miss our hotel transfer. This may have been noted on our account’s hard copy however no time did we receive one but as we had seen it on the TV we had not been too concerned.
The following are some of our observations of services that were either missing completely or were unsatisfactory to a level that we have never experienced previously in our 23 cruises.
• Internet. We appreciate that ship internet services are restricted by their dependence on satellites, but this was the worst we have experienced in 10 years, despite being the most expensive.
• Room TV service. The first time we have experienced a service lacking in news services such as BBC, CNN, Bloomberg etc. which were only included from the 3rd week of the cruise on. Also the first time we have been asked to pay for movies. Apart from a repeat of the previous day’s history lecture and one very dated movie each day, there was no free entertainment or other documentary channels, only MSC self-promoting recorded channels ad nauseum.
• Port Information. The first cruise we have experienced that did not provide comprehensive information both via lectures and newsletter prior to each destination that we visited. This ship had no information available for any of the ports, other than the paid excursions.
• Room service. The first cruise we have experienced that did not provide unlimited choices from all menus as part of complimentary room service. All was at an extra charge.
• Laundry. The first cruise we have experienced that did not have a guest Laundry on board.
• Reception. The first cruise we have experienced where the reception refused to change large currency notes– US & EU. Reception staff were generally unhelpful and often surly.
• No deck chairs on the promenade deck, only around the pool, which were all occupied very early in the day, most inadequate for a ship with 3000 passengers.
I strongly recommend that everyone steer very clear of both this ship and its chartering company, Travel Superstore. Read Less