Year Started: 1987
Ships in Fleet: 12
Summary: A pan-European mainstream cruise line that competes with Costa. New, massive ships with decent food and entertainment, Look for bargains in Caribbean.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Seniors. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. Families. Value for Money.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families. Foodies.
Good for: Foodies. Families. Group.
Regions:Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Southern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, Transatlantic
Good for: Value for Money. Foodies. Group.
Good for: Foodies. Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Africa, Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
Good for: Foodies. Group. Families.
The whole time you are on this ship you can't wait to get to land. A British man I talked to compared it to being in the army and he hit the nail on the head. If you go on this ship drink HEAVY to cope with no service and no entertainment…BTW you will pay through the nose for it!
Food The food was for the most part is inedible. One morning the eggs were cooked is a dirty pan that fish (with bones in it) was cooked in the night before and I threw up. You can only eat when they tell you it is time and if you are late by 15 minutes…YOU DO NOT EAT! Room Service you need to pay for and the menu consists of bad pizza, boiled hamburgers, and soup. The "juice" is Tang unless you pay for it. All of the food is the cheapest crap they could buy. Every meal you need to fight for a glass of water and most times you loose. There is no service and if so none of the people understand English. Avoid the buffet unless youlike hospital food!
Customer Service There are only three answers at MSC if you can find a slave from a third world country that speaks English. NO, I don’t kNOw, or that is closed! I bought a cigar in the shop and the guy told me to go cut it with scissors or poke a hole in it and he had a cutter right behind him. I bought a 200 euro amber bracelet and had to fight to get a box. Checkout they made you stay on the ship in the lounge for 5 hours with your carry on bags.
Entertainment The entertainment was the worst! Unless you like country western music in sang in Dutch or comedy in Italian, or dancing the Achey Breaky Heart and the Macarena...I am not kidding! I have seen better stuff at the High school level. They have one good singer in one of their 70's style lounges other than that it was awful. I forgot if you want some real entertainment go to the smoking bar and watch the bartender yell at the staff and customers…that is funny!
Casino They only have Roulette, 21, and poker for table games. The machines are from the 1980’s from Vegas and some you need to put the Tokens in each pull and they do not pay.
Laundry "Misplaces" your clothes and then calls you a liar when you ask for it all back.
TV There is only one channel in English (BBC) and two movies that loop the whole time but if it has subtitles you can’ read them because the TV is two small and the volume does not go high enough to hear most of the time. Also it goes out all the time! BBC went out while in South Hampton.
"Beds" - Cots They are not beds!!! They have COTS that are less comfortable then the ones I have for camping!
Safety They do not go over the safety plan for the life boats! You watch it on TV and in England the port authority would not let us leave because there were not enough people that spoke English to properly execute the safety plan.
If you are an American you will not enjoy this cruise! It is geared for large, loud herds of Italians. The help is rude, the passengers are rude, the food is sparse and not good, the rooms are tiny and stained, you can't have ANYTHING to drink at dinner without paying extra, and the time in ports was too short. The public areas onboard have poor traffic flow, so with 3,000 passengers you feel like cattle. The only thing good was the entertainment! Don't waste your money. THis was my 7th cruise, and the worst cruise line by far.
Very disappointed in cruise. Most cruises are known for their food and this one is definitely not. For an Italian Cruise Line, the pasta was over cooked and rubbery. The steaks were either overly fatty or very tough. On formal night they had Fillet or Lobster choice, we had both. The fillet (Medium Rare) should cut like butter or close to it. You had to saw your meat and chew it forever. They will not give you drawn butter with your 1/2 tail of a lobster which was also overcooked and bitter tasting. The desserts - many were pre-made out of box. I saw one day them pulling out Eclairs from a container and they tasted just like the frozen ones from Costco. Their chocolate sauce was squirted out of a "generic" brand bottle. The breakfast buffet was awful. Had some fresh fruit but the pineapple came out of a can. It is crazy busy with passengers and very rude passengers that would constantly cut into line in front of you. If you have the time, eat breakfast in the dining room. More calming and you can order omelets. Thesoups and sauces they used had no zing to them. Very blah. Food overall disappointing.
If you eat your meals in the dining room - and you only speak English, be ready to be very patient and keep your fingers crossed that you get what you order. I wanted grapes for my boys (which I got before at another breakfast) but he brought Grapefruit. The wait staff's English is very poor overall. Our dinner waiter kept apologizing because he knew his English was so bad. He at least tried - the breakfast and lunch staff didn't even try.
The ice cream was good in the dining room. Every night they had a flavor of the day. Free Ice Cream on the pool deck too all day.
Wait & cabin steward staff was nice but no nice towel animals or personal touches on the cruise. Like chocolates on your pillow at night.
When we left the cruise at the port terminal we had help with our luggage the lady asked how the cruise was and we said not soo good. She said she has heard lots of people complaining about it. We also meet 3 girls from Germany that we shared an excursion with in the Bahamas. They had the same thoughts on the cruise.
If you have kids under 3 - you can't participate in any of the children activities even if you are there.
Entertainment was ok - only had 2 people that sang so you got tired of listening to the same thing every night. It became a joke - here she comes again. The girl sang 80% of the time.
Highly recommend looking at other cruise lines before booking on this line. I only recommend this to someone you don't like.
Good things about the cruise....fast elevators, nice towels, good ice cream. Energenic entertainment team.
The ship itself is nice. The itinerary however was way too fast; the ship was overcrowded (long lines at buffet) and the personel quite rude and overworked. Be prepared to spend for everything on board (including water and coffee at lunch and dinner). Overall not a good experience.
Must Save Cash Cruise
With the credit crunch impacting the family finances it was time to rethink the family cruise. For a family of four, cruising in the school summer holidays was becoming prohibitively expensive. Having sailed Celebrity, RCI and Princess in the recent past, it was with some reservations that we booked our first MSC cruise.
The prime and only reason for booking MSC was cost, and therefore we took MSC up on their promotional offer of full fare for the first adult, only £1 for the second adult and kids travelling free. We chose the brand new ship MSC Magnifica and paid a total of just over £1,200 for a weeks med cruise for family of four in late July, which to us seemed like the bargain we were looking for.
So what was it like?
Embarkation: A lot of waiting around and the MSC Express check-in didn't make a jot of difference. We were provided with free juice and water whilst we waited – in all, it took about 2 hours from the time we arrived at the terminal until we actually got on the ship.
Ship: The ship was onlya few months old when we travelled, (July 2010) so it was extremely well presented. The style was of a contemporary design with the use of rich warm colours of orange, brown, green and gold used throughout the ship. The layout of the ship has a number of pinchpoints especially on the upper outer decks, the atrium/shop area and just outside the main restaurants. In fact, do expect a lot of congestion on the ship at peak times. This is not a ship to get away from it all.
Cabin: With four of us sharing an inside cabin it was a squeeze, but it was clean, modern and comfortable.
Service: This was the weakest part the cruise. The service in the main restaurant was poor. We were often kept waiting for our drinks and had to pour the wine/ water ourselves, basically the staff were looking after too many tables with just one waiter to serve with another providing partial support. This was the biggest difference compared to other cruise lines where we have had up to three very attentive waiting staff serve our table.
The waiting staff in the Sahara buffet restaurant were equally lethargic and did not clear tables quickly and stood around in groups yawning watching their guests struggling to balance plates of food and cups of drink. I think MSC must be working their staff quite hard as we saw our main restaurant waiter at the midnight buffet, breakfast next morning and at lunch – great for cost control but not for providing excellent service.
The cabin staff were however excellent and we were amazed at the speed they cleaned up behind us. My daughter was pleased with the animals they made out of towels - a nice touch.
Food: The food was generally good. The main restaurant was fine if nothing exceptional. The buffet restaurant was good if lacking in depth. However, eggs were not cooked to order, there was no omelette station or freshly made waffles. This is not a ship to offer many (paid for) alternative dining venues (a small oriental restaurant, the back section of the buffet and a pizzeria (the front section of the buffet restaurant) was all that was available. The majority of customers took their evening meal in one of two sittings: 7.30pm or 9.45pm (which did lead to major congestion at change over time).
Drinks: We took advantage of the drink packages available on board (wine, water, spirits) which worked out at good value - they provided you with a book of paper vouchers which you exchanged for a drink of your choice. Slightly old fashioned but it worked nonetheless.
Fellow guests: MSC is an Italian line so the vast majority of guests were Italian. The next largest contingent were the Turks followed by the Germans, Scandinavians, Spanish, French and mere handful of Brits. Travelling with MSC was like being on a United Nations group outing. All announcements are made in at least four different languages. English was the working language of the ship so we had no trouble communicating the basics with the staff. However having to listen to umpteen messages in four different languages became tiresome after a time – especially when guests can embark/ disembark at Bari and Istanbul and the associated announcements that entails. With so many different nationalities aboard certainly creates a different atmosphere to that of an American or British line.
Entertainment: Poolside entertainment was enthusiastically provided by the mainly Italian 'animators' most afternoons. The evening shows were mainly colourful dance shows, mime and magic acts or singing or novelty acts - basically anything that didn't require the performer to speak! The shows were entertaining enough to pass half an hour, once you had endured the cruise director's evening message four times over in four languages!
Itinerary: We liked the itinerary, the highlights being Venice, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, some of the stops are very short (Dubrovnik was just 4 hours). The ship organised excursions are very expensive (especially for a family of four) eg a tour of Istanbul was priced at Euro 145 per adult, Euro 102, a total cost of Euro 494/ £420, or a third of the price of the cruise itself!! We caught a taxi at Istanbul port for £12 (each way) and saw most of what we wanted to see. We would suggest that you do you homework and try and arrange your own tours – the money you'd save could be used to treat yourself to another cruise!
Our verdict: This was an excellent value for money cruise - a fraction of what we could have paid on an equivalent American/ British line. For the price we paid for a family of four we got a very good cruise experience, which came close to but did not surpass those we had had on other lines. We are now looking for our next 'bargain' on the MSC Splendida!
We would recommend this cruise to a family looking for a cost conscious foreign holiday.
We would not recommend this cruise to a couple (the cost difference to that of a premium line is not great enough to offset the lack of service), somebody looking to celebrate a significant event, such as a birthday or a once in a lifetime trip as again the experience could be bettered elsewhere or those not willing to embrace a full continental experience!
OVERALL Terrrible. Will never, ever cruise with MSC again. I'm from Canada and have not been on a cruise that is primarily European in customers (booked it via Travelocity, later found out that this particular cruise actually wasn't available from MSC's N. American website. So, I'm assuming that thet cruise targets the European market only). So, I don't know if it's a cultural thing. But even so, I'd caution any N. American to NOT go on any MSC cruise that does not target N. American customers. Here are some of the problems:
1. You have to pay for water - even in the dining room. I've been on a number of cruises. Never did I have to pay for water. It feels like they're nickel-and-diming you to death. Makes for a very unpleasant start. Then, on the last night, they actually REMOVE all the water bottles from your room - for fear that you'd open up one and drink it and then leave the crusie ship without paying for it. So from 7:00 p.m. onwards, you don't have ANY water in your room. You have to call the reception desk andask someone to deliver water to your room and sign for them. That was just ridiculus.
2. NO coffee in any of the restaurants for lunch or dinner - not even if you are willing to pay for them. You can purchase coffee at the coffee bars only. Again, I have never been on a cruise where coffee is not available during lunch or supper.
3. Staff are exceeding rude and unhelpful. They don't treat you like customers at all. Rather, it's like you're a bother to them. Not once did I hear the word 'please', 'excuse me,' or 'thank you' coming out of their mouths, and they are prepared to argue every little point, or just outright ignore you.
4. Out of a 7-night cruise, ALL the bathroom malfunctioned on 3 separate days - ranging from a couple of hours to almost 6 hours. It was hell. Worst yet, the manager were completely unapologitic. I (together with a bunch of other cruisers) were extremely unhappy and complained to the manager at customer service. Instead of apologizing, the guy actually started to argument with us, saying things like: "What, the plumbing in your house never has any problem? These things happen, so stop complaining about it." In the end, we tore a few strips off his sholders.
5. You can have in-room meal service unless you're sick - and you have to prove that you're sick by providing a doctor's note from the ship's doctor (which you have to pay, of course). Then , you can only order from the "sick people's menu" which has about 3 items on it. My daughter simply wanted to eat in the room one night and we were shocked. We could not even order a class of 7-up because it's not on the "sick people's menu" I felt like I was in the twilight zone!
6. All the staff are unprincipled and spinless. As rude and unhelpful as they are, once you started screaming and yelling at them, they relent and you get your way. By the third day, I was screaming at everyone (4 to 6 times a day). Then, you pretty much get your way. For example, myself and 2 other cruisers (don't know them) wanted our passport back (all non-EU cruisers must leave their passports with the cruise ship). We just don't trust the cruiseline to keep our passport. We spoke to the manager to have our passports back because we really weren't satisfied with the reasons they gave us for keeping our passports. At first, he refused. Then, I started to tear into him and he relented - and returned the passports to me. But he wouldn't gve the passports back to the other 2 cruisers. So, one of them pointed to me and said, 'well, you gave the passport back to him!' At which point, the manager replied, 'Yes, but that is because he was angry at me!' That was just so shocking to hear, the other cruiser didn't even know how to respond to that!
FOOD: I would feed them to my dog. Both my father, myself, and my daughter lose weight simply because we could take the food onboard. No, it's not because we're to 'North American' in our tastes. All three of use has travelled extensively and on past travels (including cruises) had enjoyed local foods tremendously (including insects in fried eggs in Macau and fried scorpions in N. E. China, and conk 'penis' in the Carribeans [it's a glass-like tube you eat raw right after the conk is removed from its shell]). But the food served on this crusie is just terrible. They could not even cook a plate of spagetti well). I order cabbage roll one evening as the main course - the rice inside it was uncooked, the cream they used was thick and sour. I took one bite and almost threw up. It was worse then trash.
ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: Poorly organized and too crowded. The ship was at full capacity (almost 4,000 cruisers) but many of the venues and held in areas that just simply could not accommodate that many people. Everywhere to go, it's crowded. Again, it would be a cultural thing, but I found people generally to not care about personal space. They tend to push their way through you without something as simple as 'excuse me' (or something equivalent in their own language). Parents tend not to discipline (or even take care of) their kids so they're going wild all over the ship, and what I considered as common decency was missing among many of the cruisers (e.g.: pressing the 'door close' button while people are still stepping into or out of the elevator, spitting into the swimming pools, letter toddlers go into the swimming pool with diapers on even though there are signs that clearly prohibit that, cuting into lines, etc.). So, we ended up avoiding many of the onboard activities.
EXCURSIONS: We joined 5 English speaking excursivers. TTwo of them, the guide dose NOT speak English (and of course, no refunded). One excursion was cancelled by the ship, but I had to fight to get the refund (basically, if you don' t ask, they won't refund you).
We recently cruised with MSC cruises for the first time and it will definitley be the LAST!! The itinerary was satisfactory and the cruise ship was acceptable. However, the food was horrible! It was equal to school cafeteria food!!I have been on several (10 or more) cruises and never had such horrible, inedible food. The only good news is that I lost weight! There are NO free beverages, except at breakfast and water which is so sparcely given out that you'd think it was liquid gold! You have to purchase a costly beverage package before boarding in order to have decent drinks.
You are nickled and dimed to death. The matches for cigars even cost extra, according to our dinner mates.
As far as tours, they are cancelled frequently and take forever to be organized. You lose the time that is paid for in advance because of the incompetences of the cruiseline. In the casino, I did not receive full credit on a ticket voucher from the machine when attempting to cash it and was told that the cashier did not have coins for change!! The nightly entertainment was lame with the sameperformers in different scenarios with a different twist from the night before. The midnight buffet had one serving line for the entire ship.
Needless to say, we were very dissapointed with this line and will not even consider sailing with them again. If you are thinking about sailing in the Scandanavian waters, think of Costa or any other line beside this one, I now wish that I had!!
MSC Cruises-For so many reasons don't bother.
We booked the MSC Sinfonia from Livorno Italy in July 2010. Although I have been on smaller cruises, this seemed like a good option for my retired mother and me to see some new sites and have a new experience. Unfortunately, these gigantic cruises are a failed concept and coupled with other issues, made it an entirely disappointing experience. This is by no means a “Luxury” cruise nor is it billed to be, but I guess I kind of expected more. I thought once we booked & paid for the cruise, that would be the majority of the outlay. That was in incorrect assumption.
I call this cruise a failed concept because the entire IDEA of a cruise is to be able to sail to different ports & get a flavor of each place. Primarily, these boats are so large that they are forced to dock at freighter terminals that are typically MILES away from the locations you are scheduled to visit. Thus, to actually visit the ports that are promised, one needs to pay daily for shuttles or pricey tours, to each city. Thenthe big kicker is that you are only in each port for 5-6 hours. Sometimes the hours of port are not just inconvenient, but crazy-1.30 am-12 noon???? Unless my 72 year old mother wants to party the entire night in Ibiza, what is the point??? More on Tour Excursions detailed below.
Of course there are shops on board which is convenient when you have forgotten something, although pricey. However, it seems like at every turn they are selling stuff on deck, so it often feels like a floating flea market.
The most disappointing issue is the Management. I have had a few problems and asked for the Managers name so I can write a letter and have been denied this information!!!! It seems the buck stops nowhere and each desk employee is happy to explain how every problem is not their fault. I feel like in being denied the name of a manager, a great disservice is being done, as the managers don't hear the complaints or issues. How can these be fixed if they are not being heard??????? One can only assume that the Management prefers it this way. The Desk personnel are often quiet snippy; however dealing with issues and unhappy customers, is part of customer service in the hospitality industry. Then sitting next to them in the lounge, having to listen to them complain about their jobs, seems a bit unprofessional. Especially, when I felt like no one wanted to listen to me when I had a complaint or an issue that needed resolving.
The food is reasonably good at the dinner seatings, but the breakfast and lunch buffets are like a feeding frenzy & is nothing exceptional. I have found things in my food that I didn't want to, at nearly each meal at the buffet, and there seems to be an issue with clean dishes, glasses & flatware.
The one shining light seems to be the wait & housekeeping staff. ALL the waiters and waitresses and housekeeping staff greet you daily and ALWAYS have a smile on their face. I cannot say enough how well they both do their jobs.
Summing it all up..if you want a vacation on a large, impersonal, floating bus, go on an MSC cruise. If you want a more meaningful experience, look for a smaller cruise line.
Details on other problems experienced: Onshore Tours/Excursions: We had ENDLESS issues with the off shore excursions. Firstly, the MSC website allows you to download paperwork to book these tours in advance & at a slightly lower cost. This sounds convenient, but as it happened our paperwork was lost, even though I had received a confirmation that my fax went through, so we ended up paying full price on board. Then, once we did book, one of our tours was cancelled and we were not informed early enough to take another cruise. Luckily we found an independent tour guide(at a lesser cost than the tour offered thru MSC cruises) to give us a personal tour. It is worth noting that the MSC tours are quiet expensive; at least 40-50 euros per port(minimum 7 x 40=280 additional Euros per adult for sightseeing if you care to see every port). I actually would not mind paying these prices if I felt the tours were a value, however once you get off the ship, you are loaded onto buses & most of the tours are conducted in this fashion. It would be nice if these tours were more personable.
On another note: if you take the tour in Tunis that includes the Medina market..don't bother to buy anything there-it's like a feeding frenzy for tourists & everything is marked up 200%!!! There is a REALLY lovely, clean shopping area directly in front of where the ship docks. Prices are marked on the merchandise & the shopkeepers seem much more respectful of their clientele. I only wish I had waited to buy everything there.
The MSC Valencia City Tour & MSC Taromina Tour were decent.
There is a bit of on board bait & switch too-you need to be aware. My favorite example is the daily Bingo games. It is advertised that you can win 300x the cost of your bingo ticket(yes you have to pay to play), which seems like an interesting risk, however they don't properly explain that the large payout is only offered for the ONE ‘magic' number that is called; thus if you don't get bingo on the statistically slim number, you win only 25 x your investment.
Then there are the costs for internet use-60 Euros for 2 hours(!!!), or if you get lucky you can get the special which is 40 Euros for 24 consecutive hours.
We also sent in Laundry for next day service..in by 10 am & back by 5pm the next day. 48 hours later, we finally have it back, but it took us NUMEROUS calls to the desk and it was only after 36 hours did they bother to call & follow up what had happened with it. I just wish they had done that on the first call.
Great ship with very good itinerary. Having done five cruises in the Caribbean, the food was substandard along with the quality.
I would suggest the open top bus tours around the cities, they are great for seeing the various places. Be sure to ask about times of the buses though.
I am a 20 time cruiser and this line has totally disappointed me right from the start. Dealing with MSC-USA (booking agent for North America) is almost like they don't want North Amaricans on board.Published prices (drink packages etc) were changed and charged for as much as $5 per day more
Phone calls were never returned. All in all a bad start. Ship is new and clean ,cabins OK. Children all over. no rules obeyed (kids always in adult only areas).Dress code non existent, gratuities way to high for service rendered, food terrible. Itinerary very good with many ports of interest for a 7 day cruise. Overall never MSC again but take their itinerary and look for another Line.