Last spring my family and I had the misfortune of going on an MSC Cruise, NEVER AGAIN! But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me begin by saying that we are a family of avid cruisers. We’ve all gone on many cruises with various cruise lines particularly Princess, Celebrity, and Royal Carribbean. And this was NOT our first MSC Cruise, in fact it was our second. We sailed on the MSC Lirica in Spring 2018; that was pretty bad!
So why you ask did we go yet again on another MSC cruise if the first one was so bad. I guess the answer is price, MSC has some amazing cruise deals and most of the time kids sail free. This is a huge deal when sailing with our daughter and son-in-law who have 2 kids and we usually take along one or two of our other grandsons. So free cruise fare for kids staying in the same room with their parents or grandparents is a very big savings.
We also figured that due to our first bad experience on an MSC cruise our expectations were pretty low but because of the great price we could still go on MSC if only to get from port to port. It’s definitely cheaper than flying to all those different places not to mention dragging kids and luggage, sorting out transfers to and from airports, booking hotel rooms, and finding a place to eating after a tiring day running around. We figured as bad as an MSC cruise was it at least got us from port to port without schlepping luggage, provided a reasonably clean room to sleep in, and fed us after a long day at port, even if the only thing we found palatable was the pizza. In short we were prepared to use the cruise sort of like a bus/hotel. Sounded like a great idea at one time; but after this past experience I wouldn’t take an MSC cruise even if they gave it to me for free! Yes it was that bad!
We sailed on the MSC Meraviglia on a 7 day round trip cruise from Rome’s port in Civittavechia. At first glance w thought Wow! This ship is amazing! And it was! the Meraviglia is one of MSC’s newest cruise ships that features state of the art technology, an amazing play area and pool for kids and adults, Cirque de Soleil shows, a chocolate shop, an awesome arcade complete with 3D simulators and F1 Racers, and first of it’s kind on sea digital display ceiling!
And that was where the Wow factor ended. Everything else was mediocre at best and terrible most of the time.
The food was mediocre at best, the buffet served the same thing pretty much the whole 7 days. Breakfast had bland made to order omelets (assuming you could fight the hoards and actually order one), runny tasteless scrambled eggs, under cooked bacon swimming in fatty oil, and only sunny side up fried eggs. The best thing at breakfast was the croissants and other pastries at the bakery section. Lunch pretty much consisted of pasta, pizza, and some type of ethic food like paella one day which everyone fought to get to. And dinner was a rehash of the same things.
The buffet layout was weird to say the least, it had a narrow aisle which everyone squeezed thru and blind corners where the ethnic foods were so that one pretty much had to claw one’s way to. And as huge as the buffet area was there were never ever enough tables and that’s because service was so bad. Buffet staff took their time clearing off tables during the meal rushes. Yup there were tables but you pretty much had to clear the plates yourself or find personnel willing to do so. Of course if you were Italian you got much better service than guests of other nationalities, it is after all an Italian company.
Now I talked about service, actually I should say the terrible service. Again we noticed if one was Italian it seemed they got better service than the rest of us. The bad service was every where, in any dining venue except possibly the main dining room because you did get to know your waitstaff if you had fixed dinner seating. If you didn’t have fixed dinner seating all I can say is good luck finding someone to help you make reservations and find your table.
Bad service abounded from every bar and cafe on board, to the shops, to the specialty restaurants whose menus and packages were out right confusing and the pricing highway robbery! Even the customer service desk and the shore excursion desk had very bad customer service. If you complained (we complained daily because our neighbors in the next cabin would pound on the walls, run down the hallway, and scream and yell every night between 2:30 to 4:30 am!) it was never dealt with. In fact we were never believed, because it seems they decided that I loved getting up every night at 2:30 am to call customer service to tell them my neighbor was knocking on the door. And then there was the time those same neighbors spent an afternoon on their balcony while we were docked in Barcelona tossing bread at the seagulls. Yup everyone just loves to have frantic seagulls dive bombing their balcony as the birds fight for the bread. Of course customer service didn’t believe us. Did I mention our neighbors were Italian?
And the shore excursions! They sold us round trip shuttle bus tickets to Marseilles, unfortunately they didn’t tell any of us, there were fellow passengers with us at the shuttle stop, that there would be no MSC shore excursion staff to help you at the shuttle stop in the heart of Marseilles, and that the buses don’t stop to pick up returning passengers at the shuttle stop if they don’t feel like it and they don’t follow the posted schedule unless they want to. So yes we all appreciated waiting almost an hour for a return bus that was scheduled to pick up every 15-30 minutes. We especially loved the fact that it as very cold and raining while we watched the buses pass by without stopping to pick us up. It was a great experience for the infants and toddlers that were there too.
Of course those of us who had to wait at the bus stop marched over to the shore excursion desk to complain. In a nutshell we were told that there was supposed to be MSC staff at the bus stop but he’d have to check out why they weren’t there (could it be because it was cold and raining?), and that the shuttle bus was contracted to a local company by MSC and therefore MSC has no control over what they do. Really?
Ok all this was pretty bad and we had already decided this would be our last MSC cruise, the free cruise fare for the kids just wasn’t worth the aggravation of everything they put us thru. But the final straw came on the last day after we disembarked from the ship. We were already on the train to Rome when I handed my grandson Devon what I though were his new airpods which I had found the night before on his pillow. At that time I thought how nice, the cabin attendant (I don’t know who it was because said person never introduced his or herself and I saw several different people cleaning our room during the cruise) kindly placed the airpods and the case on the pillow so that we wouldn’t forget them. I put them in my purse for safekeeping. (mind you Devon wasn’t allowed to remove the airpods from the room. He only used them while in our room to avoid loosing them.)
So on the train I gave them to him to use during the ride. He immediately told me that someone had switched his airpods for a broken pair. And sure enough they had been switched. How do we know? Well his new pair were in excellent condition and paired to his iphone as Devon’s Airpods, the pair that I had thought were his popped up on his iphone as John’s Airpods; Devon’s Airpods were not on the train with us. Not to mention there are no Johns in our family and John’s airpods would not charge up. So I can only deduce that one of the people servicing our cabin was a thief and switched the airpods for his broken pair.
As many cruises as we’ve been on, well over 30, we have never had anything stolen from us. Bad enough to steal but even worse when you’re stealing from a child!
This was the final straw I will NEVER sail on an MSC Cruise EVER AGAIN!
All I can say is that if you do sail with MSC keep your valuables locked up and your expectations very low!