MSC Cruises is a pan-European cruise line marketing and catering to European nationals such as Italians, French, Spanish, Germans and English. Right out of the box, making comparisons to Costa Cruise Lines is only logical. Costa is the only other pan-European cruise line with a similar multi-lingual approach. Both lines offer ships to accommodate guests in five different native languages simultaneously. This is not an easy trick, but it opens up the market enough that both cruise lines have been able to build substantial fleets with state-of-the-art mega-ships.
MSC Cruises was founded in Italy in 1994 by Gianluigi Aponte, the sole proprietor of Mediterranean Shipping Company, the second largest container company in the world (after Maersk). Aponte acquired the Achille Lauro line, owned by a fellow Italian from Sorrento. But he didn't really focus on the cruise industry until 2003 when he decided to change the name to MSC Cruises and start a newbuild program to create the largest and newest cruise line in the world. In 2008 MSC Cruises met that goal, where "young" refers to the relative age of all the ships in the fleet.
MSC has already made a solid reputation for itself in Europe and is now doing the same in the U.S. The line suffered from "growing pains in its early days, but it has now hit a stride where returning passengers are reportedly much more pleased with their experiences. Costa Cruise Lines, another Italy-based pan-European cruise line marketing its ships to America as a secondary market, is their main competitor and the line to which MSC is most often compared.
There are more similarities between MSC and Costa than differences. Both are Italian cruise lines offering cruises in five languages. The motto for MSC Cruises is "Italian service, Italian style," while the Costa slogan is "Cruising, Italian style." If I had to pick one, I would say Costa is more Italian, while MSC does a better job of catering to all Europeans. Both market 90% of the cruises solely to the European audience, but also move ships to the Caribbean and South America in the winter to market to North and South Americans. So, do we really need another cruise line offering Italian style cruising to the American audience? Well, in fact, while Costa may offer "Cruising Italian-style" MSC actually offers more of a pan-European product which most people consider more authentic and diversified.
If Costa is the European version of Carnival Cruise Lines, in Europe that would make MSC the European version of Carnival's top US competitor, Royal Caribbean. The comparison holds up well. MSC has a modern fleet with the second largest class of ships (the Fantasia-class at 138,000-tons and 4000 passengers) in the world outside of Royal Caribbean. MSC Cruises' ships are modern and elegant in décor, as opposed to the fantasyland interiors one encounters on Costa/Carnival. Just to reiterate, MSC is an independent cruise line, not under the umbrella of any U.S.-based corporation. Also for the record, Costa has been marketing its line to Americans for two decades now, whereas MSC only started in 2004.
The classic interiors of the newer MSC Cruises' ships feature brass, glass and marble. MSC especially appeals to families due to a year-round "kids sail free" policy applicable to up to age 17. There are plenty of triple and quad cabins onboard all MSC ships.
The first step MSC Cruises took in establishing credibility in the U.S. was to hire the highly respected Rick Sasso, former president of Celebrity Cruises under the Greek Chandris family and previously with Costa before Carnival bought that line, to head up the marketing and operations for MSC Cruises in North America.
MSC Cruises' new-build program started with the Lirica class. Four ships were built, relatively small at 60,000-tons for 2000 passengers, which is minute and somewhat crowded by today's standards. The ships are known to have lovely interiors but tend to be a bit crowded at times causing service to suffer. Lirica (2003) was followed by MSC Opera (2004), Armonia (2004) and Sinfonia (2005). Four ships were introduced in three years bringing the fleet to 8000 passenger berths.
The Musica class was first introduced in 2006. These three 90,000-ton ships carry 3000 passengers apiece. MSC Musica debuted in 2006, followed by MSC Orchestra (2007) and MSC Poesia (2008). These sisters will be joined by a fourth in 2010 when the MSC Magnifica sails out of the STX shipyard in France.
In the late fall of 2008 the largest cruise ship ever built for the European market, MSC Fantasia was introduced. This ship is 138,000-tons, also the same size as Royal Caribbean's Voyager class, and has a rough passenger capacity of 4000. It was joined by a sister ship, MSC Splendida, in July 2009. All together, the fleet now has 25,000 berths and so it can carry 100,000 people per month. This cruise line started in 2003 now carries 1,000,000 cruisers every year. Quite an ambitious and notable accomplishment.
There is one ship currently under construction, the MSC Magnifica, which is a sister ship to the Musica class. A contract to build two more ships is still under negotiation, but the target dates of 2011 and 2012 have been informally pushed back. Still, by 2010 the 12 ships of MSC cruises will comprise of the "youngest" (average age of ships in service) fleet in the world.
Although the primary audience for the company is Europeans, the company is wooing American bargain hunters from its U.S. operations office established in Ft Lauderdale. The company now offers a selection of winter Caribbean voyages on beautiful, modern ships offering discounts to the same itineraries as the more well-known brands. Depending on what you expect out of a cruise, you just might find the right ticket on MSC Cruises.
Regarding your expectations; the same caveats we offer for Costa apply where MSC is concerned. Especially in Europe, English will not be the first language on board, or even the second or third. You will get your menus and daily programs in English, but communication with other passengers and onboard activities will not be like it is on English-only ships. The crew is adept at English so you will not have problem with service, but you might miss the usual trivia games or comedians you are used to seeing. Walking down the halls you will hear nothing but Italian, French, Spanish and German. Don't expect to make friends with fellow passengers easily.
The onboard entertainment is largely not language dependent. The productions shows feature magicians, acrobats, etc. Music the world over is primarily in English, so you will hear singers in your native tongue. The television channels are not optimized for English speakers, only CNN International, CNBC and Bloomberg are offered - no drama or comedy. Movies are available on pay per view, but pricey at almost 10 Euro per viewing.
The other drawbacks to European cruise ships, including MSC, is that Europeans are used to paying for room service and all beverages. So while in Europe, you cannot order room service unless you order off of the a la caret menu where a club sandwich is 3.50 Euro. In the buffet area if you order water it will come in a bottle and you will be charges .60 Euro (just under a dollar). There are tricks to avoid this - by the ice machine are glasses and a water tap. Coffee and orange juice (closer to orange soda) are free with breakfast in the buffet.
Also, Europeans smoke apologetically. MSC ships control the smoking pretty well, only allowing it in certain parts of certain rooms, but those extremely sensitive to just the smell of smoke will notice it.
Take note, however, that in the Caribbean the room service charges go away, buffet drinks like iced tea are free again, and onboard charges for movies and gelato are in Dollars instead of Euros.
First of all, it is important to note that MSC caters mostly to Europeans while in Europe, but when the ships come to the Caribbean they add Americans to the mix. They still make all announcements in five languages, but in the Caribbean English comes first. This is a classic American-style cruise with pool games, great food (especially in the buffet) and excellent entertainment. The only thing Americans need to know is that when in Europe they will not hear a lot of English unless they speak first. Most greetings to you will be "Buon Giorno," but if you reply "good evening they will respond in English. All of the crew speaks English comfortably.
MSC ships offers a mainstream cruise experience for every day Europeans. Americans with an open mind can appreciate the experience for what it is, but the general consensus was that this line is not for people who are not well-traveled in foreign countries. The basic cruise fares are pretty low, but you will encounter onboard charges. The alternative dining spots are a la carte instead of one service fee. This makes them more accessible if you want to get in and out for less, but you will pay about the same ($25 per person average) if you want a full three-course meal.
While the dining room has a no-smoking policy, so many Europeans still smoke (albeit in the areas where it is allowed) so much that you will smell smoke in many places, including the passenger corridors. The dining options on board are impressive, even if alternative restaurants do carry a la carte charges. On the Fantasia-class the Sports Bar stays open until 4:00 am and serves delicious a la carte at very reasonable prices; 2.50 Euro for a three-hamburger combo with fries. 1.50 Euro for a great boutique Mac & cheese. Gelato is $1.50 per scoop onboard and definitely worth the small cost. Some people would utter the phrase "nickel & dime" but we say they are optional charges at reasonable prices. Indulge a wee bit and you will feel far better for it.
On Caribbean itineraries, expect about 70 percent of your fellow passengers to be American, the remainder European or South American. The 11-night cruises attract passengers over 65. Lower-priced one-week cruises attract younger passengers and more families.
In Europe the mix will be 95% non-English speaking. MSC Cruises attracts these nationalities in this order: Italian, French, Spanish, German and English. Much of that varies by where the cruise starts; MSC has ships home-ported in Genoa, Barcelona, Venice, Copenhagen, Naples and Dover.
Kids Sail Free! This policy applies on all sailings when kids ages 17 and younger share a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults all year round. Hence, you see a lot of kids on MSC Cruises. In Europe, the children's programs are conducted mostly in Latin tongues, so American kids may feel a bit left out. There is a kids' menu in the dining room.Tipping
On all sailings, gratuities are added to the guest's onboard account (guests have the option to make adjustments at any time during the cruise). In Europe, guidelines are 6 Euro per adult per day and 3 Euro per day for kids ages 4-17. In the Caribbean, gratuities are $12 per person per day and $6 for per child per day. The gratuity for bar service personnel is included in the price of the drink.
Divina Transatlantic cruise Venice to Miami November 2nd 2013
This was our third cruise with MSC in Twelve months and our second transatlantic, despite all the issues with MSC since booking way back in early January we had high expectations of the Divina which is basically a stretched Musica class ship.
We arrived at the port of Venice at around 11-45am handed over our cases and went upstairs to find one area to our right very crowded and one to our left where people were in queues waiting for the check in desks.
MSC club said that there was preferential check in at Venice for Silver, Gold and Black card members (this has now been removed from the current club member benefits) so we went over and asked one of the staff who told us it was for Gold and Black card members only, we took ourselves over to one of the information desks and asked the same question and were then lead to a separate area and were on the ship within twenty minutes. For some reason it had been decided that Credit card details would be obtained on the shiprather than at check in and it was left to passengers to go to customer service to register their card. Once again we were never required to fill in a health questionnaire.
We headed up to our room which was a Balcony on the back of the ship on Deck 10, the cabin was similar to the one we had on Poesia the year before but slightly larger with a Balcony of some Fourteen feet in length that contained two chairs and a table as well as two sun loungers, the bathroom has two opening doors to the shower rather than a curtain which was great. Wardrobe space again was similar to Poesia with a three-door robe one containing the safe and draw storage space; there is also a 2 drawer bedside cabinet on each side of the bed and two on the vanity unit. The Fridge is also housed in this unit with the TV and a shelf above.
The furniture is a dark walnut colour whereas the Poesia had been a much lighter material, we found the bedside lamps were a little to dull for reading with the main lights switched off. Red carpet and Bed headboard covering and two large mirrors, table and two seat settee completed the room.
Our cabin was looked after by Nengah, who did a great job and left a note for me on my Birthday this was unexpected, and a really nice gesture.
We headed up to the buffet for lunch having left our carry on cases in the cabin, after around twenty minutes there was a total loss of power for around five minutes, we have no idea as to why or if it was only the buffet that was affected.
A problem with Deck 12,11 and 10 balconies is that when they wash the large panoramic windows of the back of the buffet on deck 14 these balconies get the water from it so every morning the balcony was wet and stayed that way until the room was cleaned, a further problem is that if they overfill the aft Infinity pool and forget to drain it back before leaving port these three decks get soaked as the ship makes its turns which is due to the water escaping from the contained area.
One of the White shirted crew/officers came to check out the problem and confirmed the water was from the pool but it was never cleared away, a possible design flaw, others on these decks also had to ring customer service about the water issue.
The sliding doors to the balcony cannot be latched while out on the balcony which means that if the ship is rolling from side to side the door slides open and closed with quite a thud, dangerous if you happen to be going in or out and are caught unawares.
For a somewhat new ship this area suffers from a lot of vibration during ship maneuvers being above the propellers and even small sea swells made the rolling of the ship worse, Divina rolls around quite a lot more than a big ship should do and this was noticeable in other parts of the ship.
The sign that tells you that you cannot smoke in the cabin was hidden behind the curtain on the fixed pain of glass, about halfway through the cruise it was moved to the sliding panel after complaints about people smoking on their balconies.
The meet and greets for the roll call were arranged by Ken who worked hard on arranging them and were somewhat interesting and a disappointment, the first one for thirty minutes was attended by Andre who was the new cruise director who was shadowing Maddie who was to leave the cruise once in Miami, I think Andre was taken by surprise at the comments being made. Only water was provided at the meeting.
A second meeting was arranged so that people on the roll call could meet and talk to each other due to the short time of the first one, sadly this clashed with the re arranged time of the world quiz for us, and again I believe no refreshments were provided.
Andre once again attended a third meeting and gave us an insight into how MSC intended to move forward in the Caribbean, the disappointment comes in because there were a host of senior MSC management people on the ship by this time and not one of them could be bothered to grace us with their presence nor any of the ships officers! Once again only water was provided.
We have heard it said before that MSC need to stop thinking of their passengers as Cargo.
Our thoughts on the Divina â€¦
The Divina is a nice very clean big ship but with small areas and what seems to be less space than on the Poesia and it does have some annoying design traits, the Villa Rossa dining room is located on Deck Six at the back of the ship and can only be accessed by Lift or by stairs from Deck Seven, to go from Villa Rossa to say Deck Five you have to go up and across Deck Seven and then down again.
The Atrium of Divina is possibly the best part of the ship in our opinion and looks great and it also looks like where most of the money was spent, especially the staircases.
Public toilets have no Hot water! And most have just two toilets in them, there also appeared to be a lack of them around or close to the Aqua Park.
Pools are Salt water as is the water slide, the Spa area is nice and the staff always greeted you with a smile, you need to watch you do not walk into the tall mirrored glass that are next to the walkway to the sauna, changing rooms and steam rooms which were free to use on this cruise unlike on Poesia last year.
At the bars we had no problem getting drinks although on busy nights in some it can get a little slow with not enough servers. The Jazz bar colour looks as though it has been imported from Costa and is not the usual MSC style, this bar is the only way to go forward to the theatre on this deck even if you come through the sports bar and many times people were walking past right in front of the singers despite the main route being to the left.
There are two rows of three glass mirrors on each side prior to the buffet entry when coming from the lifts on Deck 14, no idea what the reason is for this although the theme of mirrors was replicated all over the ship especially on the staircases.
The Buffet design although light and airy also suffers from lack of walking space between the tables and the food areas, with two of the beverage areas in the worst place possible next to a door leading to and from the kitchen. If you want salad be prepared to walk from one side to the other to get all you need unless you get the prepared stuff in a bowl from near the bar at the main entrance. At the back of the buffet opposite the bar are some bench seats that are not fixed down, be prepared to get stuck in there as we saw one guy did and could only get out when one waiter forcefully pushed the bench away after the people on the other side refused to moved despite being asked by the waiter his wife and four of us sat close by.
Also be aware of the small kids food area with its little plastic railing and entrance frame which one man walked into and knocked over! Not quite sure why he was in the kids food area.
Despite information to the contrary there were some people who still went into the buffet in swimwear and bathrobes!
Hot water for Tea and Coffee is stored in containers and ran out on numerous occasions so you had to wait for a member of staff to change them over or go elsewhere, not sure why they do not have them plumbed in as some other ships are.
The only passageway between the Black and White lounge on Deck Seven to the Theatre without going outside onto the Deck 7 boat deck has the photo shop and cruise pictures which means there is always a bottleneck of people coming from First dinner seating and the Black and White lounge to the theatre going against those heading to Second sitting dinner or coming from the theatre or other bars.
The boat deck may well be a spoiler for some people because apart from a few small areas forward and aft of the lifeboats you cannot stand at the side rail and gaze out to sea due to the design of the lifeboat stowage.
There is very little deck space between the pool and the small stage used by the Animation team and for those doing the dance exercises which means you have people dancing in between the sun beds around you. On Deck 15 there is very little room between the two rows of sun beds in many areas and people are constantly falling over them or kicking them as they go by, this area is also used by those jogging or walking.
We did not have any problems finding a sun bed during the whole cruise.
The Black and White lounge is the biggest lounge on the ship but is way too small for the number of people who wanted to use it and also had a lack of seating, it also possibly has the most uncomfortable and worst seats of the whole ship.
The theatre is a mix of Red seating and Silver paneling and poor lighting on the stage that made it difficult at times to see what was going on during the shows some of which were the same ones from the year previous on Poesia. On the nights we visited the theatre it was never full.
Anyone hoping to get to the front of the Divina for a view will be disappointed as this space is taken up by the Yacht club which houses around 4% of guests on the whole ship.
The ship has the usual range of shops like the Logo shop, wristwatches and sunglasses, jewelry and handbags and duty free.
The Disco appeared to be very under utilized in the evenings on this crossing, maybe it will get more use in the Caribbean.
This is always a difficult one because what one person likes another one may hate, the buffet food was the same as the previous years repo cruise on Poesia and at times lacked taste and was quite bland, the new size burgers were just meat and no flavour. Offerings for sweets at lunch and dinner were the same for the whole 18 days of the cruise and very unimaginative. The breakfast smoothies were one of the things to look forward to with Mango and Strawberry being our two favorites. Look out for Jennifer at breakfast who will have you one there in no time and they are best mixed by Kevin behind the bar.
The Dining room on the first night was late for second sitting with people going in at 9-30 instead of 9 pm and at 9 pm the next night instead of 8-30 but the following nights seemed to sort themselves out at 8-30. Food in the evening also suffered from up and down syndrome, one-day good the next poor with the odd really good one thrown in, there appeared to be a problem of consistency from night to night. Of the Four Gala nights again it was a case of 1 really good, 1 not bad and 2 poor. Towards the last five nights the Dining room was maybe only half full. Tables in the Villa Rossa dining room were mainly for between 6 and 8 people and it seemed that there were not enough tables for two people. The Majority of people seemed to observe the dress code in the Dining room especially on Gala nights.
The Cold fruit soups were once again one of the best foods served.
Lamb shank one night was a big order by many in both the Black Crab and Villa Rossa; it was also possibly the most returned or left meal due to the meat being tough. The Duck that night also suffered the same fate although later in the cruise the Duck a`lorange was possibly one of the best meals of the cruise.
The steaks went from wafer thin to be replaced mid cruise by decent thick tasty ones although we are still baffled as to how one arrived part well done and part pink inside!
The after dinner sweets were again somewhat lackluster and on a few occasions we headed to the CafÃ© Del Doge for the better tasting offerings though there is a charge.
Iced water was served from jugs without being asked for and coffee was available after dinner for those who wanted it.
There were complaints of slow service in some areas of the dining rooms which may have been down to the fact that one kitchen serves one deck of the Black Crab dining room while the other one served the Villa Rossa and the other floor of the Black Crab, it may also be because the assistant waiters are away getting drinks while the waiters are busy doing everything else.
Smoking is allowed on Deck 14 on the port side where you come out of the buffet and the bar with the Gelato is also on this side! A bad move in our opinion by MSC, they should have moved the smokers over to the other side.
Many of the staff are from Poesia and have worked the Caribbean before, the Animation team lead by Claudio (ex Poesia) with Brendan, Zac, Yves, Sean, Adam, Julio and the others work their backsides off to get people involved in the games but were it seems handicapped by management on this cruise for some reason in the Black and White lounge in the evenings.
The main band (ex Poesia) also seemed to have their hands tied singing the same set in the same order almost every night in the Black and White lounge where 95% of entertainment was dancing.
It would be helpful if before they cruised MSC advised guests that there are to be theme nights on their cruise, Divina had a White party but had to be cancelled on the outside deck due to rain, a smaller version took place inside. Then there was a /60`s/ 70`s/80`s night which was the actual dress code for that night along with a Carnival and Red White and Green night.
There were Four Gala nights onboard, Two casual, a 60/70/80`s, Green White and Red, Carnival, Casual or White and Eight Informal.
The water slide was available for anyone to use despite a sign saying teens only and we made full use of it on a few days, the 4D cinema was good though a cost is incurred of $7 per film, the F1 racing simulator costs $9 a go, the Shuffleboard court yes just the one is virtually unusable when there are sun beds on either side and also the entry canopy to the Top18 solarium ($10 a day for a sun bed) at one end. Surely someone must have noticed the issue of putting the court there?
During the Five day sea crossing with no satellite signal MSC announced that the pay films would be available for Free, what they failed to say was the system was only able to accommodate 500 TVâ€™s and each day the system crashed. They were upgrading the system with the new TV programmes as we sailed to Miami from San Juan that meant a visit to every TV on the ship to re programme them all.
Cruise cards seemed to be a problem this year for some reason and between us we had them replaced 11 times for various reasons including bar machines not reading them and failing to open the cabin door, plus the original ones not having the drink package code on them. Other people we knew onboard had similar issues with their cards.
Customer Service Desk â€¦
Very helpful staff although it did take Four visits over Six days to get the first days bar charges taken off our account due to not having the drink package code on our original sea pass cards.
Ports Visited â€¦
Malta way too short only around Five hours, Malaga 5 1/2 hours, Madeira Full day, St Maarten Full day, St Thomas Full day for some due to US immigration, San Juan Full day.
Getting off the ship at a few of the ports was a scrum at times because only one exit was used which was off the Atrium and having so many people in such a small space looked like disorganised chaos.
Cruise highlights â€¦
The Ports visited, the best theatre show that we saw was Wonderland.
Meeting many of the crew from the Poesia again especially Wayan our waiter from last year, Claudio from the Animation team, Sylvia in the Bacco bar and all the others. Meeting those roll call members we had chance to along with many others, taking part in the various quiz rounds and games. Visiting the two remaining ports on the itinerary that we had not been to, a visit to the everglades and our two days/nights in Miami despite the storm on the last night, meeting Police Officer Sergeant Bello of the Miami Beach police department who was one of the officers keeping an eye on the two buildings being built on South beach for an Art exhibition.
Cruise Lows â€¦
The big one of losing a port day and arriving a day early in Miami for an advertising day by MSC just so the Divina could be the only ship in port on the 19th of November! Not what we paid for and being fed a constant stream of excuses as to why it was being done, the worst of all making out that it was so passengers could enjoy an â€œExcitingâ€ day in Miami! Many of who had already made plans to stay for 2 or more days already. Plus there were people on the ship who live in Miami and Florida.
Some Theatre shows were the same as the Poesia repo cruise last year but with different singers and dancers who were not as good, very much the same menu and food as last year with a few changes. The Captain and Hotel Manager were also from the Poesia along with Cruise Director Maddie.
We were told by staff that around 1500 passengers got off the ship on the 19th rather than stay on an extra night. You have to vacate the cabin by 7am.
We will never understand the Italian way of organization of sending people to the farthest point when there is a shorter route, being on the back of the ship our allocated lounge was the theatre!
We queued at the gangway exit for around Thirty minutes during which point people were told that there was an issue with the elevated walkway! The very same one that had been used all the previous day and night and was being used by the people in front of us who had already left the ship.
The real reason was the slow baggage handling that was going on down below us, have these people learned nothing ? Tell people the Truth of what is happening and stop making up stories in order to cover up the problems.
Having left the ship with other people we had sailed with last year we headed to the baggage claim area which was three halls with a conveyor belt unlike most other places we had been to where cases are stored in their respective colours tag wise and you go and collect them.
The bags came through very slow and we waited around sixty minutes for ours, one German man had been waiting over two hours! Others waited longer.
We would count ourselves as liking big ships over small ones having sailed the Oasis, Mariner of the seas and Ruby Princess and while many people will like Divina for various reasons we cannot see ourselves traveling on any of the other three Fantasia class ships of MSC. One reason being that there is no access to the front of the ship other than for those staying in the Yacht club.
The Musica class of which Poesia belongs in our opinion has more wow factor than the Divina and has better-allocated space; any future cruises with MSC will likely be on this class of ship.
To quote one lady who has been on all the MSC class of ships including twice on Divina, â€œDivina is all show and no substanceâ€ her preferred ship is the Sinfonia.
Any cruise day at sea is always better than a day at work and some cruises are more memorable than others, sadly this cruise will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
After three cruises we are able to say that MSC although only being Twelve years old and young in terms of cruising compared to the likes of Carnival etc have a good product but it is let down by inconsistency in food in various areas and poor management especially those of the land based operations.
We are experienced cruisers over the last 20 years, having had an enjoyable cruise with MSC in the past we decided to sample MSC Splendida. We booked a Yacht Club suite and looked forward to being pampered,unfortunately this was not the case!
Service was poor from our steward, sorry our Butler who failed to introduce himself and was only seen when the cabin sorry again suite was cleaned. Service and the cabin 5/10.
Food was very average,drinks poorly mixed that's when you can find somebody to serve you 5/10
We did have a unfortunate experience when on a excursion resulting in 21 people submitting complaints....no response from the guest relations manager on board not interested, we all submitted written complaints to HO no response since June.
Overall the bottom line is would we cruise with MSC again? No the line is not for us.
The ship was spotless, and fellow passengers great.So we made the best of a bad lot and enjoyed the company of fellow cruisers.
This was our ninth cruise overall, our first time with MSC. We cruised previously with Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival, and Holland America. After reading the reviews, we embarked with low expectations.
Since we live in South Florida, getting to Fort Lauderdale was no big deal. We arrived at the Port Everglades around 11:00 AM. Embarkation was slow, but painless. MSC says they are in the process of rebuilding terminal 4, but we hear the MSC Divina is taking the Poesiaâ€™s place and is sailing from Miami.
Once on board, we were greeted and provided with a small life jacket for our 16 month old daughter. We went our room which was very clean, and well maintained. Our room was a superior balcony room on deck 12. While in our room, we met our room steward, Juliette. While many aspects of this cruise did not live up to our expectations, Juliette was well above our expectations and continued to impress us throughout our vacation.
The ship itself was very well maintained and absolutely beautiful. Crew was observed throughout the ship relentlessly cleaning the brass, glass, floors etc.
Service - Service was VERY slow inthe IL Palladio dining room. Water was only filled once a night and you would have to ask the waiter several times in order to get more water. It was faster for me to walk up to the buffet and get my own water. My daughter has a dairy allergen which we notified our waiter. Every night we reminded him of the allergen yet he continued to bring dishes with cheese. One night our waiter argued with my wife after we asked for pasta but instead received rice. The waiter insisted the rice was pasta but then admitted they did not have pasta.
My mother in law has mobility issues and needed a wheelchair to navigate the ship. With a baby and wheelchair, my wife was pushing her mother back to the room. Three crew members watched as my wife attempted to move the room steward clean supplies from the hallway that blocked their path. One crew member walked by and did not stop until my wife asked if he could help. His response â€œAm I supposed to help you?â€ The staff members for the most part were very unwelcoming. The only exception was the treatment provided to my daughter. All staff members went out of their way to help my little one in any way. I think the dining room staff was trying to do their best but it was evident they were understaffed and overworked. One word to describe the service on MSC is disorganized.
MDR â€“ Food was mediocre at best and service as stated earlier was horrible. Desserts were by the far the worst Iâ€™ve experienced on a cruise line. The pasta with meat sauce would have been better done by Chef Boyardee. The steak on the first night was the only good steak on the entire cruise. We showed up late one night for dinner as my daughter was having a tough day. The maÃ®tre D approached us and said that if we are not there on time that we would not be served. My wife tried to explain the him that we did not want our toddler to disturb others and his response was â€œ I donâ€™t need an excuse.â€
Room Service â€“ Did not use.
Buffet â€“ The selection was great but again most food was mediocre at best. The exception was the chicken wings, pizza, and hamburgers were really good.
Pools - The pools were nice and the hot tubs were very relaxing. The pool decks were busy on sea days but we always managed to find a place to settle down.
Entertainment - The entertainment range really never changed. The themes changed but the acts remained the same; Dancers, and singers in a different costumes. The acrobats were outstanding and talented. On this cruise, we found ourselves very bored. There was a lack of activities during the day and very few venues for entertainment. Sure there they hard their bars, but they had the same singers every night. One of the singers who played the guitar sang the same songs every night. Cobus was a good cruise director and should go places with MSC.
Announcements - The only announcements were the imperative ones and yes in many languages. The shows always started with an explanation from Cobus who speaks English and a translation from Anna Warner in multiple languages. It never bothered us but many people became annoyed with the multi-lingual announcements.
There was an older crowd but all were very respectful. Most passengers adhered to the dress code of the gala night.
Nassau â€“ Not a big fan but it was a relaxing day.
Bermuda - Self-tour. In Bermuda, we bought the ferry/bus passes, and they were the best way to get around. We hired a taxi driver in Hamilton who took us the aquarium for my daughter. The aquarium was beautiful as was the entire Island.
Embarkation: This was the slowest and worst Iâ€™ve seen in nine cruises. Again, MSC was very disorganized. We were supposed to be off the ship at 930 AM but did not get off the ship until 1100 AM.
Caution: The elevators did not give much time for ingress and egress. There were multiple passengers on board who received injuries from the doors closing on them. My daughterâ€™s hand was one of them when her hand got stuck in the door. Thankfully the extent of injury was minor but some passengers were not as lucky.
While the experience was not as bad as some of the reviews we read, it was clearly not up to the level of any of our pervious cruises. This was a destination cruise as we always wanted to see Bermuda. The cruise was adequate but I do not see us using MSC for our future cruises.