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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
First time on MSC and from all the reviews I had read I went in with low expectations. Embarkation was a nightmare. There were long lines that moved very slowly and there were large groups of very noisy people cutting in the line and ... Read More
First time on MSC and from all the reviews I had read I went in with low expectations. Embarkation was a nightmare. There were long lines that moved very slowly and there were large groups of very noisy people cutting in the line and pretending they did not speak English so they didn't need to explain themselves. Immigration and security was very slow and we even saw one of the officers asking the check in team to keep things slow as security was taking a long time so there were lines everywhere. The ship itself is old but has been quite well maintained although it is showing a little wear and tear in some areas and they have a tendency to try to mask funky smells with very strong sickly sweet floral scented air freshners. We did encounter a few maintenance issues like one of the public bathrooms not having water and water dripping from the ceiling in one of the cabin corridors. The cabin was one of the positives as it was a nice size and we were expecting it to feel small but it was very reasonable in size and we liked the decor. Shower was a little cramped and they still have shower curtains which is a shame. Dining was ok at the restaurant in the evening. As we tried the buffet for lunch and were not impressed, we had dinner at the restaurant every evening. We got a table for four but were by ourselves every day which we did not mind at all. Our waiters were friendly and fast. As most of the tables around us were either empty or half full the service was fast and efficient and food was normally always hot although quality and variety were sometimes lacking. As we had never done a new MSC cruise we did not know the type of food they served. It was just ok for us although at least we tried new things as we feel that most cruise companies tend to offer the same type of food through their fleet. However we did miss the quality in the food that other companies offer and that this one seemed to lack. We had a basic drinks package offered when we booked our cruise so that was a bonus as we normally do not get drinks packages. The package did not include a lot of choices but they were enough for us and we were especially glad to be able to have good expressos at the coffee shop. At the buffet the food was pretty bad in my opinion and breakfast was just ok but a little repetitive. They could have tried to at least vary the pastries and bread offered so there was some variety. The only food we liked in the buffet were the pizzas. Entertainment was also one of the positives. Although the shows were nothing fancy and the ship performers (evening shows) were not very good, they actually had some good side entertainment which they included in most of the shows such as a good tenor, an excellent mesosoprano, and other acrobatic performers from Russia and Mongolia. They made the shows enjoyable. The opera singers also performed in other bars throughout the ship a few times which was nice. We aren't really people who sit at bars listening to music so we cannot really comment on the musicians that were around the ship. They also had some good Cuban music one evening which was nice. Overall there were not that many activities offered compared to other ships I've been on but no complaints. Announcements in 7 different languages was a little bit of a pain but understandable due to the number of different nationalities on board. Now the service...that was the biggest negative for me of this ship...most members of staff are not very friendly and looked bored or annoyed most of the time. Security members getting us in and off the ship were sometimes even rude. They didn't acknowledge anyone, didn't even say thank you or welcome back or anything. Or at least answer the guests when they wish them a good morning. I believe that they may be understaffed so everyone has to work a lot so they are tired but that is definitely not the guests fault so at least try to be friendly. Bar service was slow at most bars and the staff went as far as ignore us completely even though we were standing there waiting to be served for a long time. The buffet waiters and bar service were the worst. Most of the time there were no waiters getting drink orders and when they were there, they took a long time to bring drinks and most of the time the beer, water or soft drinks were warm. We chose this ship and company because of the itinerary so we enjoyed the ports although we did not do any shore excursions offered by MSC. Getting on and off the ship in port was ok except in the Cayman Islands as we had to tender and that was very badly organized. Firstly they announced that the ship would leave at 2:30 pm when on the internet they always said 3 pm and then the last tender was at 1:30 pm which meant lots of people were scared to book tours outside the ship so as not to be late. We had booked a tour long in advance and were lucky enough that they are used to these changes and guaranteed they would get us to the last tender on time and they did so we really enjoyed our day. But we really waited a long time to get on and off the tenders which was a pain and definitely due to bad organizational skills from the MSC staff. Disembarkation was a little better although the immigration and security in Cuba takes so long we were inevitably in a long queue again. Suitcases were ready for pick up and taxis were available in Havana although we did have to walk a while after leaving the port as police in Havana doesn't allow the taxi drivers to pick up passengers in front of the port unfortunately for them and us passengers. I have another MSC cruise booked for next year on one of their new ships so I am hoping that service and food is better. I am willing to give them one more chance to change my mind. Another big negative for the MSC company is that they do status match for frequent passengers meaning that if you are a Top tier member in another cruise company they match your status...HOWEVER...they only do this for some nationalities and mine wasn't one of them so I was very disappointed and hope they change this very soon! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
In my new Cruise I decided to try MSC and we wanted to have at least one stop in Cuba. The desapointment started when I bought the Ticket. A mispelling in my email and it was impossible for me to change anything in my reservation. ... Read More
In my new Cruise I decided to try MSC and we wanted to have at least one stop in Cuba. The desapointment started when I bought the Ticket. A mispelling in my email and it was impossible for me to change anything in my reservation. Arriving in the cruise the check in, the informations are poor. The only thing the want is to sell you the drink package. The security instructions failed because nobody was there to give us the information. At least the security information about any emergency event should be taken seriously. Not even... The Cabin is actually ok. The shower is terrible, but most of the ships have terrible showers. During the fisrt dinner we figure out how desorganized this ship crew is. The restaurante is not big enough for all passengers, It took us more than 2 hours to have dinner. It was hard to find somebody that could talk english. In the first morning we went to see the excursions and the sound system didnt work. The lady that was there said it was her first day....so, we didnt get any information about any excursion. In the following morning, as usual, the people that have excursions leave early. The problem is the crew is desorganized. It took us 1 hour and half to leave the ship. Comming back, we asked to change the dinner hour to have a chance to eat properly. It was better, but the food is terrible. The drinks are not good. In the second day, again, another delay in leaving the ship. It cost us again another hour. In a stop that wasnt that long. In the last day, the ship left the dock 3 housr later and of course arriving late in next stop...it made us loose our ground transporation. Not even the shop ladies are in a good mood. In some days they didnt have towels forthe rooms and our toilet flush broke. We had to use a restroom in a Friends cabin. The enterteiament team is surprisely good. It was the only good aspect in the ship. The plays are good for such a small ship. The Entertainment team is very nice and creative. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I booked with MSC because my main intention of travel was to visit Havana and the price that MSC offered for 7 nights is very good !! I took the MSC Armonia from Cozumel to Cozumel, Mexico The boarding process in Cozumel is horrible ... Read More
I booked with MSC because my main intention of travel was to visit Havana and the price that MSC offered for 7 nights is very good !! I took the MSC Armonia from Cozumel to Cozumel, Mexico The boarding process in Cozumel is horrible since the shipping company does not open the check-in until after 1:00 pm so there is huge line of people waiting under the sun and heat of the island. I was surprised that the "cruise card" is delivered to you inside the ship in the cabin, in other shipping companies it is the first thing you get. The Armonia is an old ship that was "remodeled" recently but the years are very noticeable. Because the itinerary was almost 90% full, I did not have the opportunity to book a Suite with a balcony so my only option was in the Oceanview "Fantástica" cabin. In short, we were 3 passengers in a cabin which is horribly small and uncomfortable, especially the bathroom. The food is bad in general, there is nothing of variety in the Buffet and in the Marco Polo that is the dining room. The food is very "European" with small dishes and nothing like an American Buffet, if you are thinking taking a cruise and food is very important, definitively MSC is not the cruise for you. The shows are "good" although not excellent, there is no variety and it is always the same. The staff (Crew) is nice to dry ... especially the waiters they don't seen very enthusiastic about helping the guest because the answer is always..."It would be about 30 minutes for your Coffee because im very busy and the Specialty Coffee Section is at the other part of the ship" The wifi works fine. There are no specialty restaurants. As mentioned above, I chose this cruise only for the 3-day visit that I made in Havana. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
Went on this cruise because I wanted to see Havanna,Mexico and Jamaica. It was my first cruise, and I rely enjoyed this way of traveling! We had everything we redden on board! What I did not like, which i recon is the same whatever ... Read More
Went on this cruise because I wanted to see Havanna,Mexico and Jamaica. It was my first cruise, and I rely enjoyed this way of traveling! We had everything we redden on board! What I did not like, which i recon is the same whatever cruise you do is this: The food waste in restaurants was a shame to see, also thinking about all the poverty we saw ashore. There should have been solicitations on that in the restaurants! Also thinking about MSC`s partnership in UNICEF. I know that this is a hard task, but there are some hotels etc. that have done something about it. Like guest paying for the food waste etc. Also saw a lot of very tired and overworked staff in the restaurants. Long hours, heavy lifting and a lot to do. This two are th main thing I found very sad about the cruise. Also experienced the the estimated hours and real time for the excursions could vary in a couple of hours. That's too much when you have to plan your day. We also had to visit the doctor on the ship, she was great. The only thing we miss was that she should been licensed to document days of sickness. Travelers need that for getting replacement for lost holidays. Finally, when the bill came, we got a lot of "extra service payment". I checked it out, and did find out that it we voluntary to pay, but yo put it on the bill, without explanation on the bill. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We cruised with this company on the MSC Armonia in September this year. Although we had noted some bad reviews about this ship, we decided to give it the benefit of doubt and have a go. WELL WHERE DO WE START. Embarkation – An ... Read More
We cruised with this company on the MSC Armonia in September this year. Although we had noted some bad reviews about this ship, we decided to give it the benefit of doubt and have a go. WELL WHERE DO WE START. Embarkation – An absolute farce. We arrived at the port at 3:30pm after a night stay in a local hotel. We were told to leave our cases at port side but would not be allowed to board the ship till 6pm. We were therefore told to have a look around Havana for the next few hours carrying our rather heavy hand luggage. After a couple of hours sweating our cobs off we became very frustrated, went back to the ship and had to demand to be let on the ship. Eventually we got on board at 5:30 to be told we couldn’t go to our cabin till around 7pm as they were still being prepared. We therefore had to sit up on deck and wait. So to the Cabin (when we eventually got there) – Clean but dated and fairly small with a shower (curtain type) that you can barely swing a cat in. Plenty of cupboard space but we still had to leave about half a suitcase full under the bed. TV adequate. Marco polo Dining – Disgusting – We only used it once on the whole 14 night holiday. Poor quality food that was shunted one course straight after the other. Quick to say the least. We were in and out within 35 minutes. No offer of Coffee or cheese board etc. Buffet Restaurant – We used this all the time after the dining experience. Can be busy with average food quality. Europeans don’t like queuing, so expect to be barged about a bit. Drinks – Very expensive plus they put a 15% service charge on everything they sell. Laundry Facilities – Well what a money making Scam this is. Unlike other Cruise companies, these don’t have laundry facilities on decks. When I asked the reception if they could supply an Iron so we could spruce up our case creased clothes, we were told they don’t have them on board for safety reasons BUT it is OK to use hair straighteners and hair dryers. Upshot of that one is you can use their on board ironing service at seriously escalated rates. Be prepared to add a couple of hindered Euros to your tab if you want to have ironed clothes. BIG HINT ON THIS ONE – There is an electrical shop about ¾ of the way up the main street in Havana that do a lovely range in Irons and fairly cheap as well. Theatre – Acts are colourful but very amateurish. Singers and Duos in the Deck Bars - wouldn’t I suggest get in to the preliminary stages of our X Factor. Excursions – Very expensive but I have to say, these made the holiday. With regards to the vintage car tours in Havana. You get plenty of time in this port so I would recommend sort your own out prior to going on holiday. Web site is https://www.oldcartours.com/classic_car_tours_in_cuba You will find you only pay half the price and they’ll drop you back off at the port or any other place you want. WELL WORTH IT. On Board Staff – Reception Staff have their moments and can be helpful on the odd occasion. Buffet Staff are always busy but polite and our Cabin Lad was exceptional “ Wyann” ( if that’s how you spell it). Get a job with a different cruise company mate, you`re too good for these lot!!! DISEMBARKATION – We found this to be fairly organised and quick which is about the only Plus for them. Now for the big question – Would we use MSC again – NO!!!!! – Would visit the region again but not with this company. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
What an amazing wonderful experience. We did the Caribbean cruise. This was our first ever cruise. We chose MSC as We were attracted to the destinations that other cruise company’s didn’t do. I read the reviews and was a ... Read More
What an amazing wonderful experience. We did the Caribbean cruise. This was our first ever cruise. We chose MSC as We were attracted to the destinations that other cruise company’s didn’t do. I read the reviews and was a little nervous but there was no need. It was a wonderful experience, staying in a five star hotel that took us to amazing places. Staff were wonderful, and ok you might have to queue or wait for a drink during busy times but the bar staff knew what they were doing and would get to you in turn, often serving 2-3 people at a time. Some people were rude which rightly didn’t get them served any quicker. I enjoyed visiting all the different destinations although short visits but the excursions gave you an overview of the place. Also enjoyed the days at sea. Ship would be fuller but the atmosphere created by the pool entertainment team was great. I would definitely use MSC again although would try a different ship and locations as that’s what we like to do. I am also curious to try one of the bigger cruise companies to see if they are as good as people say and worth the extra money, personally I think it’s difficult to beat this experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Not even 3 stars level, fraud with shore excursion, German description of the beverage package completely wrong, old and for passenger number clearly too small ship (German version below / Deutsche Version weiter unten) The ship ... Read More
Not even 3 stars level, fraud with shore excursion, German description of the beverage package completely wrong, old and for passenger number clearly too small ship (German version below / Deutsche Version weiter unten) The ship The MSC Armonia is comparatively old. The ship was built in 2001 for Festival Cruises as MS European Vision and was taken over by MSC after Festival’s bankruptcy. It was renovated in 2014 and extended by about 20 m. Due to the renovation you can hardly see the high age of the ship, at least not in the interior design. Only some of the elevators are a bit rickety and have worn buttons with hardly readable lettering. By the way there are 4 elevator areas instead of the usual 2 or 3 (which is probably related to the extension), but nevertheless you still often had to wait a long time and some of the elevators do not reach the pool deck. There is no atrium and also something like a Royal Promenade / Broadway does not exist. The fact that the ship is rather old can mainly be seen from the overall design. For example, there is only one deck with balcony cabins. Positive: In the rear area the ship is much less built up than many modern ships, there one can get over outside stairs from deck 11 to at least deck 8 (or 7...) and you can find quiet places there. For breakfast a relatively small outside area behind the buffet can be used (or you could just go one or two decks lower). There is also a semi-open area (covered with an awning) with a bar in front of the buffet. The pool area is relatively spacious (because of the extension). There are two main pools, two whirlpools and a large children's paddling area. Nevertheless, the pools and also the number of sunbeds in the shade* are not nearly sufficient for the large number of passengers (approx. 2600!) on a rather small ship. There is no solarium (covered pool area) on this ship. This problem was also exacerbated by the outrageous behavior of many fellow passengers (keyword “Chair Hogs”, see also below), which was completely ignored by the MSC employees. The cabin My cabin (a standard outside cabin on deck 8) was by far the smallest I had on my 30 cruises so far. For a single use it was sufficient, but with the normal two occupancy you probably constantly step on each other's feet. The bathroom was also very small with a tiny triangular shower corner separated only by a curtain. But the cabin was functional and elegantly furnished - and always top clean - thanks to my cabin steward Mohamad! Service I chose MSC for this trip exclusively because of the interesting route and the comparatively low price with a very moderate single cabin surcharge. So far I have cruised mainly with Celebrity, Princess, NCL and Royal Caribbean. Altogether I had to find out that MSC does not come close to these cruise lines from the entire service level. The friendliness of the staff (apart from those with whom one had constant direct contact, i.e. cabin steward and head waiter as well as a few bartenders) was far below from the standard on American cruise lines. For example, nobody welcomed the guests when entering the buffet restaurant (no "Good Morning!", no "Welcome!", no "Enjoy your breakfast!" ...), nobody said goodbye to them (no "Have a nice day!", no "Thank you!", no "Good bye!"). When going onshore or coming back the boarding pass was accepted without any greeting (no "Enjoy your day!" or "Welcome back!") and without the slightest hint of a smile. The service at most bars (especially at the pool bar and at the Il Girasole) was listless, sluggish, very slow, not very friendly and often disinterested. There, one was sometimes left standing for minutes while something was rearranged or the counter was cleaned unhurriedly. One could also place the order with the waitresses directly in front of the bar. They were always friendly - but it wasn't any faster. But there was very good, always friendly service in the White Lion Pub and at the casino bar. Numerous small things, which are of course included in the above mentioned American cruise lines, are only available at MSC for an extra charge (e.g. ice cream or water for dinner in the main restaurant), if you haven't booked a beverage package (yes, strangely enough you also need a "beverage" package for the ice cream!). Even for the access to the upper sundeck there is an extra charge, which I feel is outrageous! Food The meals served on board were among the worst I've had on all my cruises so far. The choice in the main restaurant was rather below average, there was often risotto as well as some pasta dishes (which were qualitatively quite good), but e.g. very rarely steak (and that was then abysmal: quite thin, very dry and chewy). Also it was delivered (very) well done on both occasions despite explicit order medium. The meat showed that MSC was mainly concerned with the price and not with the quality. Filet mignon, lobster, surf & turf were not available at all (without additional payment), although these are all classics on other cruise lines. Just to compare: at Celebrity there is New York Steak available as a daily alternative. At MSC Armonia there is also no specialty restaurant. The offer in the buffet restaurant was still much worse! For breakfast there was exactly the same every day. At lunch time and in the evening there was hardly any meat to choose from (mostly only chicken and at best a roast, at any rate no steak) and the selection of vegetables and fruit was also extremely modest. If you wanted a piece of fresh pineapple, you had to order a cocktail. At the buffet, pineapples were only available from the can. Altogether the fruit offer in the middle of the Caribbean was rather poor. During an earlier voyage, MSC had praised itself several times in the on-board newspaper for having a pizza baker on every ship. Surprisingly, both the pizzas served on the Splendida and now on the Armonia were the worst I have ever eaten: very thinly topped, bone dry and at the same time tough, and largely tasteless. Every Philippine assistant cook on an American ship creates much better pizzas (and that even without any Italian roots). The most insignificant McDonalds somewhere in the outback would be ashamed of the burgers (wretchedly thin and wishy-washy) and French fries (floppy) served at the MSC Armonia. Beverage package with wrong, deceptive name and completely incorrect (German) description I had booked the "Premium All-inclusive" beverage package as well. The description on the German website is completely wrong. It starts with the name: all premium drinks are excluded (and the package is far from being "all inclusive"). On board / in English this beverage package is only called "All inclusive drink package" - and there is also a "Deluxe all inclusive drink package". Only the latter corresponds to a "Premium" or "All inclusive" package to a large extent, even though not really everything is included there. The German description of the "Premium All-inclusive" beverage package promises "... a large selection of open wines (by the glass), beer...". Of course, you can argue about when a "large selection" starts. I would have expected approx. 10 different white and red wines each. At MSC the " large selection" consists of the choice between two white wines, one rosé and two red wines. With the white wine one could choose between an Italian Grillo and a (probably also Italian) Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was clearly below average, the Grillo practically undrinkable. Everyone who only wanted white wine got the Grillo without asking. With beer one had the "choice" between Heineken in a small glass, Heineken in a large glass and Heineken in a small bottle. I found this restriction particularly outrageous, as there was a whole series of other varieties of beer (all in 0.33 - 0.355l bottles) at exactly the same price of the Heineken bottle of 4.80 EUR (+15% tip). After a long discussion about the obviously faulty German description of the beverage package with a receptionist, with the deputy bar manager and finally with the chief bar manager (all very nice), my "not at all premium and not really all-inclusive" beverage package (internal code, e.g. on the boarding pass: 431) was upgraded to the "Deluxe all inclusive drink package" (code 421) free of charge. With this package you get almost everything included: Beer of other varieties than Heineken, e.g. Stella Artois from Belgium, Red Stripe from Jamaica, Dos Equis from Mexico, Cristal and Buccanero from Cuba. With wine, you can actually choose, although the choice and quality is very much behind that offered at NCL or Celebrity. There were mainly unknown Italian wines (of which no one convinced me) and a few international ones. MSC even managed to select a German Rieslings that doesn't taste at all – although there are a lot of excellent German Rieslings to choose from. In the end I mostly drank Californian Chardonnay (Woodbridge). With the 421'er beverage package you can also enjoy a good rum (after all, you are in the Caribbean!), like the 7-year-old Havanna Club or the 8-year-old Barcardi. There were also two kinds of single malt whisky: Glenlivet and Bowmore, while the Macallan was not included in this package either. Entertainment / Shows The theatre shows were really great. Here MSC can almost keep up with the American companies. Absolutely no comparison with the incredibly lousy offer at the cruise company with the stupidest ship names of all time (Mein Schiff #). TUI Cruises could even learn here something from MSC - or even better they could ask their parent company RCI (RCCL, Celebrity). At MSC there was apart from the main show (performed at two times to fit the two meal times) also an alternative show in between (9:15 p.m.). Among others there were two incredibly good singers (he tenor, she mezzo-soprano), who performed classical music at several gigs - opera arias among others, may sound boring to some, but they were really great. If a large opera house, like the Scala in Milan, would engage these two, this house would absolutely not have to be ashamed of it! However, I have to deduct one point here because I had booked two consecutive (one week each) cruises and the show program was exactly repeated in the second week. If a cruise company (as not uncommon) offers two routes alternately, it is obvious that many guests book both routes (back to back) - especially since this was already offered here from the outset as a combination cruise. In such a case I expect a show program for two weeks. Also the musicians in the bars and lounges showed an appealing performance. The offered pool activities were rather not my thing - but that is a matter of taste. Fraud on a shore excursion The fact that the shore excursions offered by cruise companies are almost always completely overpriced is well known. But I have never experienced anything like this time at the MSC: During a shore excursion booked through MSC I feel very betrayed - I'm sorry, but I really can't express it any other way. A few days before the cruise I booked the shore excursion MTB42 (German title “AUSFLUG TO THE MAYFIELD FALLS”, from Montego Bay) via internet. For the booking decision the description displayed on the German website of MSC was of course decisive for the purchase. I booked the trip because of the promised following experience elements: - Jeep trip - Guided hike along the river (with information from the tour guide) - Climbing / swimming in the river Unfortunately I had to find out during the trip that the first two points did not take place at all: - Instead of a jeep (as booked) the trip took place with an old, rickety, shabby bus of Chinese origin. - Apart from the short descent from the parking lot to the starting point of the (inside the) river hike, there was only the return (a few hundred meters) from the end of the river hike to the starting point along the river bank as a "hike", but without any explanations. As the wrong excursion description is still on the net weeks after my multiple complaints, the suspicion arises that this is not a mistake but a deliberate act. Since a jeep tour is usually considerably more expensive than a simple bus trip and the guided river bank hike did not take place, I demanded a corresponding refund from MSC. For a half day excursion by bus with only one stop the excursion price would be completely unreasonable. I would never book such a thing! 6 weeks!!! later MSC promised a 50% refund, but another two weeks later I still did not receive the money. Port times / Last tender In some cases, berthing times in the ports were significantly shorter than they could have been with reasonable planning. With a slightly higher sailing speed the departure could have taken place much later or the arrival correspondingly earlier. I found it particularly bad if the last tender boat had already sailed a whole hour or even 1.5 hours (Belize and Roatan) before the scheduled departure time of the ship. Even with the really long tender trip in Belize, half an hour before the ship's departure would be completely sufficient (tender trip time about 15 minutes - and since local tender boats are used here, no time is necessary to board the lifeboats again). Example Roatan: Arrival of the ship according to the daily planner at 7:00 a.m., actual arrival at 6:00 a.m., but the first tender boat did not leave until 8:00 a.m.! What is this about? Departure of the last tender boat was again already at 3:30 p.m., although the departure of the ship was scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (journey time of the tender boat less than 10 minutes). The distance to the next port Costa Maya was 166 nautical miles, arrival there 7:00 a.m.. This results in an average speed of less than 12 knots. With this section it would be theoretically even possible to leave only at 10:00 p.m. (last tender 9:30 p.m.) and to arrive nevertheless the next morning punctually. Second example: George Town, Grand Cayman: last tender boat already at 1:30 p.m.!, departure at 2:30 p.m., 332 nautical miles to Cozumel, arrival there at 10:00 a.m.. With an average speed of 20 knots (unfortunately this old ship cannot do more than 21 knots), a departure 3 hours later (or a corresponding earlier arrival) would have been possible. I cannot avoid the impression that the effective mooring times are deliberately artificially shortened in order to make it as difficult as possible to organize individual or local shore excursions. Fellow passengers One of the biggest problems of an MSC cruise are the fellow passengers. If you travel with an American cruise company, the majority of the passengers are usually US-Americans. Of course, there are also always some Canadians, Australians and British. Experience has shown that these people are almost always very polite, extremely considerate and friendly (ok, perhaps apart from the typical Carnival clientele) - and they are almost always ready for a small talk. On an MSC ship most of the passengers speak Italian, Spanish or Portuguese and are not only from the mother countries of these languages, but also from the former colonies. On this trip there were numerous Argentinians, Mexicans and Brazilians. Attempts of a Small Talk almost always fail, since one cannot presuppose even elementary English knowledge with these compatriots. Compared to the US-Americans, whom I have learned to appreciate as pleasant fellow travelers, these people are much more ruthless (jostle often, reserve sun beads the whole day without ever using them...) and they are always very loud, especially since they also like to appear in large groups. It can happen that you wake up at 2 a.m. (or at 4:30 a.m.!), because there is a loud palaver in the corridor in front of the cabin (the soundproofing wasn't the best either). After two weeks on the cruise, one is simply annoyed by their constant loud chatter! Some of these passengers apparently haven't been taught the basic rules of elevator use yet. There is a lot of pushing into the elevator although not all people wanting to get out have left it yet or they get into a downward moving elevator although they want to go up (and with that the elevator gets uselessly clogged). Other points Compared to American ships, little attention is paid to hygiene. There are the usual stands with hand disinfectants, but often the dispensers were empty and the passengers are never asked to use these dispensers. The captain read a few words in 5 languages from a sheet at the captain's reception, but otherwise he did not make any of the usual announcements (ship position, route, weather, events...). Fortunately, there were also no bingo or similar announcements. But the announcements of the cruise director e.g. after every theatre show in at least 5 different languages were extremely annoying. The info page in the on-board TV was largely unusable. On the maps there was no information about the distance already covered or the distance still open, no display of the speed, the display of outside temperature, air pressure, wind force and wind direction did not work (it was allegedly always exactly 20°C with a wind speed of 0 knots). The usual functions for displaying the on-board account or for booking excursions were not available here either. All clocks on board were constantly 12 minutes ahead - which is certainly not dramatic, but a sign of general carelessness. Flight package Only in the afternoon before the departure an email came with the hint that the Cuba entry card (Visa card) is available at an MSC booth near the check-in counter at the airport. There we were told that we don't have to pick up our suitcases in Havana ourselves, instead they would be taken directly to the ship. At the airport in Havana stood then directly after the immigration a representative of MSC, who informed us that we must pick up our suitcases ourselves and bring them to the bus. A bit chaotic. The fact that MSC uses the worst airlines in the world (Ugh! Disgusting! Condor* and the hearsay even worse Air Europe) rounds off the overall picture. They even print the Condor flight on their departure information sheet as "MSC flight DE 2185". * Ancient and correspondingly unreliable aircrafts (the aircraft used for the outbound flight had to be quickly repaired on the apron shortly before takeoff; the Boeing 767 used on the return flight with the identification D-ABUZ is more than 27 years old!), cheapest apron parking position in Frankfurt still behind various cargo aircrafts with correspondingly long bus journey and eternal delay in baggage reclaim, extremely narrow seat spacing (30"=76cm!!), very narrow seats (17"=43cm), extremely thin and correspondingly hard upholstered seating with garden center quality at best, poor on-board catering without any choice (two warm meals with a choice between 2 or 3 dishes each are usual on routes of this length), no normal selection of drinks (without additional payment), extreme pettiness regarding the luggage (even hand luggage is weighed). Condor is also probably the only airline in the whole world that even has the brazenness to charge extra for the in-flight entertainment program (9€)! At Condor you don't feel treated like a guest, but only like a case of transportation. After my internet booking request I was informed that there are no more flights from Frankfurt and that I would have to fly with Air Europe from Düsseldorf via Madrid. For me, this would have meant a night on the train both on the way there and on the way back and, of course, a much longer and more complicated journey overall. A short internet search showed however still free places on the Condor flights (as mentioned above also very badly, but nevertheless nonstop), whereupon I made my cruise reservation dependent on the additional reservation of these flights, which then suddenly was confirmed very fast. Probably the Air Europe flights are cheaper. Condor is a miserable low service airline, but by no means cheap. Due to the numerous points in which MSC has remained below my expectations and of course above all also due to the deliberate deceptions on their German website I will rather go in the future again with American cruise lines. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- German version / Deutsche Version: Nicht mal 3 Sterne Niveau, Betrug bei Landausflug, Beschreibung Getränkepaket völlig falsch, altes und für Passagierzahl deutlich zu kleines Schiff Das Schiff Die MSC Armonia ist vergleichsweise alt. Das Schiff wurde 2001 für Festival Cruises als MS European Vision gebaut und nach deren Bankrott von MSC übernommen. Es wurde 2014 renoviert und dabei um ca. 20m verlängert. Aufgrund der Renovierung sieht man dem Schiff sein hohes Alter zumindest bei der Inneneinrichtung kaum an. Lediglich einige der Fahrstühle sind etwas klapprig und haben abgenutzte Knöpfe mit kaum lesbarer Beschriftung. Es gibt übrigens 4 Fahrstuhlbereiche statt der üblichen 2 oder 3 (was wohl mit der Verlängerung zusammenhängt), wobei man aber trotzdem oft lange warten musste und zudem mit einigen der Fahrstühle nicht aufs Pooldeck kommt. Es gibt kein Atrium und so etwas wie eine Royal Promenade / Broadway schon gar nicht. Daß das Schiff schon älter ist sieht man auch eher am Gesamtdesign. Es gibt z.B. nur ein einziges Deck mit Balkonkabinen. Positiv: Im hinteren Bereich ist das Schiff weit weniger zugebaut als viele modernere Schiffe, man kann dort über Außentreppen von Deck 11 bis mindestens Deck 8 (oder 7...) gelangen und findet dort ruhige Plätze. Zum Frühstück konnte man hinter dem Buffet einen relativ kleinen Außenbereich nutzen (oder eben ein oder zwei Decks tiefer gehen). Außerdem gibt es einen halboffenen Bereich (Sonnensegel) mit Bar vor dem Buffet. Der Poolbereich ist (wegen der Verlängerung) relativ großzügig. Es gibt zwei Hauptpools, zwei Whirlpools und einen großen Kinderplanschbereich. Trotzdem reichen die Pools und auch die Anzahl der Liegen im Schatten* nicht annähernd aus für die große Zahl an Mitreisenden (ca. 2600!) bei einem insgesamt doch eher kleinen Schiff. Ein Solarium (überdachter Poolbereich) gibt es auf diesem Schiff nicht. * Dieses Problem wurde auch durch das unverschämte Verhalten zahlreicher Mitreisender (Stichwort Chair Hogs, siehe auch weiter unten), welches von den MSC Angestellten völlig ignoriert wurde, verschärft. Die Kabine Meine Kabine (eine Standardaußenkabine auf Deck 8) war die mit weitem Abstand kleinste Kabine die ich auf meinen bisher 30 Kreuzfahrten hatte. Für eine Einzelbenutzung war sie ausreichend, aber bei der normalen Zweierbelegung tritt man sich wohl ständig gegenseitig auf die Füße. Das Bad war auch sehr klein mit einer nur durch einen Vorhang abgetrennten, winzigen, dreieckförmigen Duschecke. Die Kabine war aber zweckmäßig und elegant eingerichtet - und immer top sauber - Danke an meinen Kabinensteward Mohamad! Service Ich habe MSC für diese Reise ausschließlich wegen der interessanten Route und wegen des vergleichsweise günstigen Preises mit sehr moderatem Einzelkabinenzuschlag gewählt. Bisher bin ich hauptsächlich mit Celebrity, Princess, NCL und Royal Caribbean gefahren. Insgesamt musste ich feststellen, daß MSC vom gesamten Service-Niveau her nicht annähernd an diese Kreuzfahrtlinien heranreicht. Die Freundlichkeit des Personals (abgesehen von denen, mit denen man ständig direkten Kontakt hatte, also Kabinensteward und Hauptkellner sowie einigen wenigen Barkeepern) war weit entfernt vom amerikanischem Standard. So hat z.B. niemand die Gäste beim Betreten des Buffetrestaurants begrüßt (kein "Good Morning!", kein "Welcome!", kein "Enjoy your breakfast!" ...), niemand hat einen dort verabschiedet (kein "Good bye!", kein "Have a nice day!", kein "Thank you!"). Beim Landgang wurde die Bordkarte grußlos (kein "Enjoy your day!" oder "Welcome back!") und ohne die geringste Andeutung eines Lächelns entgegengenommen. Die Bedienung an den meisten Bars (insbesondere an der Poolbar und an der Il Girasole) war lustlos, träge, sehr langsam, nicht besonders freundlich und oft desinteressiert. Dort wurde man teilweise minutenlang stehengelassen während in aller Ruhe etwas umsortiert oder der Tresen saubergemacht wurde. Man konnte die Bestellung auch bei den Kellnerinnen direkt vor der Bar aufgeben. Diese waren immer freundlich - aber schneller ging es dadurch auch nicht. Sehr guten, immer freundlichen Service gab es aber im White Lion Pub und an der Casino-Bar. Zahlreiche Kleinigkeiten, die bei den oben erwähnten amerikanischen Kreuzfahrtlinien selbstverständlich inklusive sind, gibt es bei MSC nur gegen Extra-Bezahlung (z.B. Eiscreme oder Wasser zum Dinner im Hauptrestaurant), wenn man kein Getränkepaket gebucht hat (ja, seltsamerweise braucht man auch für das Eis ein "Getränke"-Paket!). Sogar für den Zugang zum obersten Sonnendeck wird extra kassiert, was ich als unverschämt empfinde! Speisen Die an Bord servierten Mahlzeiten waren mit die schlechtesten, die ich auf all meinen Kreuzfahrten bisher bekommen habe. Die Auswahl im Hauptrestaurant war eher unterdurchschnittlich, es gab häufig Risotto sowie einige Pastagerichte (die qualitativ durchaus gut waren), aber z.B. nur sehr selten Steak (und das war dann grottenschlecht: ziemlich dünn, sehr trocken und zäh). Auch wurde es trotz ausdrücklicher Bestellung statt medium im ersten Versuch bei beiden Gelegenheiten (sehr) well done geliefert. Am Fleisch konnte man gut erkennen, daß es MSC beim Einkauf hauptsächlich um den Preis und nicht um die Qualität gegangen ist. Filet Mignon, Hummer, Surf & Turf gab es nicht einmal (ohne Zuzahlung), dabei sind dies alles Klassiker bei anderen Kreuzfahrtlinien. Nur zum Vergleich: bei Celebrity gibt es beim Dinner als täglich verfügbare Alternative New York Steak. Bei der MSC Armonia gibt es auch kein Spezialitätenrestaurant. Das Angebot im Buffet-Restaurant war noch sehr viel schlechter! Zum Frühstück gab es jeden Tag exakt dasselbe. Mittags und abends gab es kaum Fleisch zum Auswählen (meist nur Huhn und bestenfalls mal einen Braten, jedenfalls kein Steak) und die Gemüse- und Obstauswahl war auch ausgesprochen bescheiden. Wenn man ein Stück frische Ananas haben wollte, musste man sich einen Cocktail bestellen. Beim Buffet gab es die Ananas jedenfalls nur aus der Dose. Insgesamt war das Obstangebot mitten in der Karibik ziemlich dürftig. Bei einer früheren Reise hat sich MSC in der Bordzeitung mehrfach dafür gerühmt auf jedem Schiff einen Pizzabäcker zu haben. Erstaunlicherweise waren sowohl die Pizzen, die damals auf der Splendida serviert wurden, als auch die jetzt auf der Armonia, die schlechtesten, die ich je gegessen habe: sehr dünn belegt, knochentrocken und gleichzeitig zäh, sowie weitgehend geschmacksfrei. Jeder philippinische Hilfskoch auf einem amerikanischen Schiff bekommt wesentlich bessere Pizzen hin (und das ganz ohne italienische Wurzeln). Für die Burger (erbärmlich dünn und labberig) und die Pommes Frites (nur labberig), die auf der MSC Armonia serviert wurden, würde sich noch der popligste McDonalds in Hintertupfingen schämen. Getränkepaket mit falschem, täuschendem Namen und völlig unzutreffender Beschreibung Ich hatte das "Premium All-inclusive"-Getränkepaket mitgebucht. Die Beschreibung auf der deutschen Webseite ist vollkommen falsch. Das fängt schon mit dem Namen an: es sind nämlich sämtliche Premium-Getränke ausgeschlossen (und "All inklusive" ist es schon mal gar nicht). An Bord / in Englisch wird dieses Getränkepaket auch nur "All inclusive drink package" genannt - und es gibt dort auch noch ein "Deluxe all inclusive drink package". Nur letzteres entspricht weitgehend einem "Premium" oder "All inclusive" Paket, wenngleich dort auch noch nicht wirklich alles inklusive ist. In der deutschen Beschreibung des "Premium All-inclusive"-Getränkepaketes wird "... eine große Auswahl offener Weine (glasweise), Bier ..." versprochen. Darüber, ab wann eine "große Auswahl" beginnt, kann man natürlich streiten. Ich hätte je ca. 10 verschiedene Weiß- und Rotweine erwartet. Bei MSC besteht die "große Auswahl" aus der Wahl zwischen 2 Weißweinen, einem Rose- und 2 Rotweinen. Beim Weißwein konnte man zwischen einem italienischem Grillo und einem (wohl auch italienischem) Chardonnay wählen. Der Chardonnay war deutlich unterdurchschnittlich, der Grillo praktisch ungenießbar. Alle, die nur Weißwein verlangt haben, bekamen ohne Nachfrage den Grillo. Beim Bier hatte man die "Wahl" zwischen Heineken im kleinen Glas, Heineken im großen Glas sowie Heineken in einer kleinen Flasche. Diese Einschränkung fand ich besonders unverschämt, da es eine ganze Reihe weiterer Biersorten (alle in 0,33 - 0,355l Flaschen) zum exakt gleichen Preis der Heineken-Flasche von 4,80 EUR (+15% Trinkgeld) gab. Nach einer längeren Diskussion über die offensichtlich fehlerhafte deutsche Beschreibung des Getränkepakets mit einem Rezeptionisten, mit dem stellvertretenden Barmanager und letztendlich mit dem Chef-Barmanager (alle sehr nett) wurde mein "Überhauptnicht Premium und nicht wirklich All-inclusive"-Getränkepaket (interner Code, u.a. auf der Bordkarte: 431) in das "Deluxe all inclusive drink package" (code 421) kostenfrei upgegradet. Mit diesem Paket gibt es dann tatsächlich fast alles inklusive: Bier auch anderer Sorten als Heineken, z.B. Stella Artois aus Belgien, Red Stripe aus Jamaica, Dos Equis aus Mexiko, Cristal und Buccanero aus Kuba. Beim Wein darf man dann auch tatsächlich wählen, wenngleich die Auswahl und Qualität doch sehr sehr hinter der von NCL oder Celebrity zurückbleibt. Es gab hauptsächlich unbekannte italienische Weine (von denen mich keiner überzeugt hat) und einige wenige internationale. MSC hat es sogar geschafft, unter all den hervorragenden deutschen Rieslingen einen auszuwählen, der überhaupt nicht schmeckt. Am Ende habe ich meist kalifornischen Chardonnay (Woodbridge) getrunken. Mit dem 421'er Getränkepaket kann man auch mal einen guten Rum (man ist ja schließlich in der Karibik!) genießen, wie den 7-jährigen Havanna Club oder den 8-jährigen Barcardi. Es gab auch zwei Sorten Single Malt Whisky: Glenlivet und Bowmore, während der Macallan auch bei diesem Paket nicht inklusive war. Entertainment / Shows Die Theatershows waren wirklich großartig. Hier kann MSC fast mit den amerikanischen Gesellschaften mithalten. Absolut kein Vergleich mit dem unglaublich lausigem Angebot bei der Kreuzfahrtgesellschaft mit den dämlichsten Schiffsnamen aller Zeiten (Mein Schiff #). Da könnte sich TUI Cruises sogar mal was bei MSC abschauen - oder besser gleich ihre Muttergesellschaft RCI (RCCL, Celebrity) fragen. Bei MSC gab es außer der Hauptshow (zu zwei Zeiten aufgeführt passend zu den zwei Essenszeiten) auch meist noch eine alternative Show dazwischen (21:15 Uhr). U.a. gab es zwei unglaublich gute Sänger (er Tenor, sie Mezzosopran), die bei mehreren Auftritten klassische Musik vorgetragen haben - u.a. Opernarien, klingt jetzt vielleicht für manche langweilig, aber die beiden waren echt klasse. Wenn ein großes Opernhaus, wie die Mailänder Scala, diese beiden engagieren würde, müsste sich dieses Haus absolut nicht dafür schämen! Einen Punktabzug muß ich hier aber doch vornehmen, da ich zwei aufeinanderfolgende (je einwöchige) Kreuzfahrten gebucht hatte und sich das Showprogramm in der zweiten Woche exakt wiederholt hat. Wenn eine Kreuzfahrtgesellschaft (wie nicht unüblich) zwei Routen immer abwechselnd anbietet, liegt es nahe, daß viele Gäste beide Routen buchen - zumal dieses hier so bereits von vornherein als Kombinationskreuzfahrt angeboten wurde. In einem solchen Fall erwarte ich dann auch ein Showprogramm für zwei Wochen. Auch die Musiker in den Bars und Lounges haben eine ansprechende Leistung gezeigt. Die gebotenen Poolaktivitäten waren eher nicht mein Ding - aber das ist Geschmackssache. Betrug beim Landausflug Daß die von Kreuzfahrtgesellschaften angebotenen Landausflüge fast immer völlig überteuert sind, kennt man ja. Aber so etwas wie diesmal beim MSC habe ich noch nie erlebt: Bei einem über MSC gebuchten Landausflug fühle ich mich ausgesprochen betrogen - tut mir leid, aber anders kann ich das wirklich nicht ausdrücken. Ich habe einige Tage vor der Kreuzfahrt via Internet den Landausflug MTB42 (AUSFLUG ZU DEN MAYFIELD FALLS, ab Montego Bay) gebucht. Für die Buchungsentscheidung war natürlich die mir auf der deutschen Webseite von MSC angezeigte Beschreibung kaufentscheidend. Ich habe den Ausflug wegen der versprochenen folgenden Erlebniselementen gebucht: - Jeepfahrt - Geführte Wanderung am Flussufer (mit Informationen durch den Reiseleiter) - Klettern / schwimmen im Fluss Leider musste ich während des Ausflugs feststellen, daß die ersten beiden Punkte überhaupt nicht stattfanden: - Statt einem Jeep (wie gebucht) erfolgte die Fahrt mit einem alten, klapprigen, schäbigen Bus chinesischer Herkunft. - Außer dem kurzen Abstieg vom Parkplatz zum Ausgangspunkt der (Im)-Flusswanderung gab es als "Wanderung" nur die Rückkehr (wenige hundert Meter) vom Ende der Flusswanderung an den Ausgangspunkt entlang des Flussufers, dies aber ohne jegliche Erklärungen. Da die falsche Ausflugsbeschreibung auch noch Wochen nach meiner mehrfachen Reklamation unverändert im Netz steht, drängt sich der Verdacht geradezu auf, daß es sich hierbei nicht um ein Versehen sondern um Vorsatz handelt. Da eine Jeeptour üblicherweise deutlich teurer als eine simple Busfahrt ist und die geführte Flussuferwanderung nicht stattfand, habe ich eine entsprechende Erstattung von MSC gefordert. Für einen Halbtagesausflug per Bus mit nur einem Stopp wäre der verlangte Preis jedenfalls vollkommen unangemessen. So etwas würde ich niemals buchen! Der deutsche MSC-Kundenservice hat nach 6 Wochen!!! eine 50% Rückzahlung zugesagt, aber weitere zwei Wochen später das Geld immer noch nicht überwiesen. Liegezeiten / Last Tender Teilweise waren die Liegezeiten in den Häfen deutlich kürzer als sie bei vernünftiger Planung sein könnten. Mit einer geringfügig höheren Fahrgeschwindigkeit hätte die Abfahrt deutlich später oder die Ankunft entsprechend früher erfolgen können. Als besonders übel habe ich es empfunden, wenn das letzte Tenderboot bereits eine ganze Stunde oder gar 1,5 Stunden (Belize und Roatan) vor der planmäßigen Abfahrtzeit des Schiffes fuhr. Selbst bei der wirklich weiten Tenderfahrt in Belize würde eine halbe Stunde vor Schiffsabfahrt völlig ausreichen (Tenderfahrzeit etwa 15 Minuten - und da hier lokale Tenderboote zum Einsatz kommen ist auch keine Zeit zum Wiederanbordnehmen der Rettungsboote notwendig). Beispiel Roatan: Ankunft des Schiffs lt. Tagesplaner um 7:00 Uhr, tatsächliche Ankunft gegen 6:00 Uhr, das erstes Tenderboot fuhr aber erst um 8:00 Uhr! Was soll das? Abfahrt des letzten Tenderbootes war wiederum schon um 15:30 Uhr, obwohl die Abfahrt des Schiffes erst für 17:00 Uhr angesetzt war (Fahrzeit des Tenderbootes dabei weniger als 10 Minuten). Die Entfernung zum nächsten Hafen Costa Maya betrug 166 Seemeilen, Ankunft dort 7:00 Uhr. Dabei ergibt sich eine Durchschnittsgeschwindigkeit von weniger als 12 Knoten. Bei diesem Teilstück wäre es theoretisch sogar möglich, erst um 22:00 Uhr loszufahren (letzter Tender 21:30 Uhr) und trotzdem am nächsten Morgen pünktlich anzukommen. Zweites Beispiel: George Town, Grand Cayman: letztes Tenderboot bereits um 13:30 Uhr, Abfahrt um 14:30 Uhr, 332 Seemeilen bis Cozumel, Ankunft dort um 10:00 Uhr. Bei einer Durchschnittsgeschwindigkeit von 20 Knoten (mehr als 21 Knoten schafft dieses alte Schiff leider nicht), wäre eine Abfahrt 3 Stunden später (oder eine entsprechend frühere Ankunft) möglich gewesen. Ich kann mich des Eindrucks nicht erwehren, daß die effektiven Liegezeiten absichtlich künstlich verkürzt werden, um das Organisieren von individuellen bzw. die Buchung von lokalen Landausflügen möglichst zu erschweren. Mitreisende Eines der größten Probleme einer MSC-Kreuzfahrt sind die Mitreisenden. Wenn man mit einer amerikanischen Kreuzfahrtgesellschaft fährt, bestehen die Mitreisenden üblicherweise zum größten Teil aus US-Amerikanern. Natürlich gibt es dort auch immer einige Kanadier, Australier und Briten. Diese Leute sind erfahrungsgemäß fast immer sehr höflich, ausgesprochen rücksichtsvoll und freundlich (ok, vielleicht mal abgesehen von der typischen Carnival-Klientel) - und sie sind fast immer auch zu einem Small Talk bereit. Auf einem MSC Schiff sprechen die meisten Mitreisenden italienisch, spanisch oder portugiesisch, wobei sie nicht nur aus den Mutterländern dieser Sprachen kommen, sondern auch aus den ehemaligen Kolonien. Auf dieser Reise gab es zahlreiche Argentinier, Mexikaner und Brasilianer. Versuche eines Small Talks scheitern fast immer, da man bei diesen Landsleuten nicht einmal aller elementarste Englischkenntnisse voraussetzen kann. Verglichen mit den US-Amerikanern, die ich als Mitreisende schätzen gelernt habe, sind diese Leute sehr viel rücksichtsloser (drängeln gern und häufig, reservieren Liegen den ganzen Tag ohne sie je zu benutzen...) und sie sind immer sehr sehr laut, zumal sie auch gerne in großen Gruppen auftreten. Da kann es einem schon mal passieren, daß man um 2 Uhr Nachts (oder auch mal erst um 4 Uhr 30!) aufwacht, weil es ein lautes Palaver auf dem Gang vor der Kabine gibt (die Schallisolierung war auch nicht die beste). Nach zwei Wochen Kreuzfahrt ist man von deren ständigem lautem Rumgeplärre einfach nur noch genervt! Einigen dieser Mitreisenden hat zudem anscheinend noch niemand die Grundregeln der Fahrstuhlbenutzung beigebracht. Da wird mit Macht in den Fahrstuhl gedrängt obwohl ihn noch nicht alle Aussteigewilligen verlassen haben oder es wird in einen nach unten fahrenden Fahrstuhl eingestiegen obwohl man nach oben will (und damit wird der Fahrstuhl dann sinnlos verstopft). Sonstiges Im Vergleich zu amerikanischen Schiffen wird wenig auf Hygiene geachtet. Es gibt zwar die üblichen Ständer mit Mitteln zur Handdesinfektion, aber oft waren die Spender leer und es wurde zu keinem Zeitpunkt zur Benutzung aufgefordert. Der Kapitän hat zwar beim Kapitänsempfang ein paar Worte in 5 Sprachen vom Blatt abgelesen, sonst aber keinerlei der üblichen Durchsagen (Schiffsposition, Route, Wetter, Ereignisse...) vorgenommen. Zum Glück gab es aber auch keine Aufrufe zum Bingo oder ähnlichem. Dafür waren die Ansagen vom Kreuzfahrtdirektor z.B. nach jeder Theatershow in mindestens 5 Sprachen ausgesprochen nervig. Die Infoseite im Bord-TV war weitgehend unbrauchbar. Auf den Karten gab es keine Angaben zur bereits zurückgelegte Entfernung oder zur noch offenen Strecke, keine Anzeige der Geschwindigkeit, die Anzeige von Außentemperatur, Luftdruck, Windstärke und -richtung hat nicht funktioniert (es war z.B. angeblich immer genau 20°C bei Windgeschwindigkeit 0). Die anderswo üblichen Funktionen zur Anzeige des Bordkontos oder zur Buchung von Ausflügen gab es hier auch nicht. Sämtliche Uhren an Bord gingen konstant 12 Minuten vor - was sicher nicht dramatisch ist, aber ein Anzeichen von allgemeiner Nachlässigkeit. Anreise Erst am Nachmittag vor dem Abflug kam eine Email mit dem Hinweis, daß es die Kuba-Einreisekarte an einem MSC-Stand in der Nähe des Check-In-Schalters gibt. Dort wurde uns mitgeteilt, daß wir in Havanna unsere Koffer nicht selbst abholen müssen, stattdessen würden diese direkt zum Schiff gebracht. Am Flughafen Havanna stand dann direkt nach der Immigration ein Vertreter von MSC, der uns wiederum mitteilte, daß wir unsere Koffer doch selbst abholen und zum Bus bringen müssen. Alles etwas chaotisch. Die Tatsache, daß MSC für die Anreise die übelsten Airlines dieser Welt verwendet (Pfui-Teufel-Condor* und die dem Hörensagen nach noch miesere Air Europe), rundet das Gesamtbild ab. Dabei geben sie den Condor-Flug auf Ihrem Abreiseinfoblatt sogar noch als "MSC-Flug DE 2185" aus. * Uralte und entsprechend unzuverlässige Maschinen (bei der für den Hinflug verwendeten Maschine wurde kurz vor dem Start auf dem Vorfeld noch schnell eine Notreparatur vorgenommen; die auf dem Rückflug verwendete Boeing 767 mit der Kennung D-ABUZ ist mehr als 27 Jahre alt!), allerbilligste Vorfeld-Parkposition in Frankfurt noch hinter diversen Frachtfliegern mit entsprechend langer Busfahrt und ewiger Verzögerung bei der Gepäckausgabe, extrem enger Sitzabstand (30"=76cm!!!, sehr schmale Sitze (17"=43cm), extrem dünn und entsprechend hart gepolsterte Sitzmöbel mit bestenfalls Gartencenterqualität, miese Bordverpflegung ohne jede Wahlmöglichkeit (üblich sind auf Strecken dieser Länge zwei warme Mahlzeiten mit einer Wahl zwischen je 2 oder 3 Gerichten), kein normales Getränkeangebot (ohne Zuzahlung), extreme Kleinlichkeit beim Gepäck (sogar Handgepäck wird gewogen). Condor ist außerdem wahrscheinlich die einzigste Airline dieser Welt, die sich erdreistet sogar für das Bordunterhaltungsprogramm extra zu kassieren (9€)! Bei Condor fühlt man sich nicht wie ein Gast behandelt, sondern wie ein Transportfall. Nach meiner Internet-Buchungsanfrage wurde mir mitgeteilt, daß es keine Flüge ab Frankfurt mehr gibt und ich mit Air Europe ab Düsseldorf über Madrid fliegen müsste. Dies hätte für mich sowohl auf dem Hin- als auch auf dem Rückweg eine Nacht im Zug bedeutet und natürlich eine insgesamt viel längere und umständlichere Anreise. Eine kurze Internetrecherche zeigte aber noch freie Plätze auf den Condor-Flügen (wie oben erwähnt auch sehr mies, aber immerhin nonstop), worauf ich meine Kreuzfahrtbuchung von der Zubuchung dieser Flüge abhängig gemacht habe, was dann plötzlich auch ganz schnell ging. Wahrscheinlich sind die Air Europe Flüge billiger. Condor ist zwar eine überaus erbärmliche Low Service Airline, aber keineswegs günstig. Aufgrund der zahlreichen Punkte, in denen MSC unter meinen Erwartungen geblieben ist und natürlich vor allem auch aufgrund der vorsätzlichen Täuschungen auf ihrer deutschen Webseite werde ich zukünftig lieber wieder mit amerikanischen Anbietern fahren. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Absolutly DO NOT GO to MSC Armonia or MSC cruises. The ship is very old, needs to be refurbished at all or get retired. When we sailed the sea was quite calmed but the ship moved a lot, some people even got move-sick. We’ve sailed in ... Read More
Absolutly DO NOT GO to MSC Armonia or MSC cruises. The ship is very old, needs to be refurbished at all or get retired. When we sailed the sea was quite calmed but the ship moved a lot, some people even got move-sick. We’ve sailed in many other cruises of other companies before and I can asure you that we didn’t feel the movement. The entertainig activities and the shows were poor, except the classical musicians. The pool is very small, seemed dirty and, even though, was unexplicable crowded. Although our room was a suite it was like a regular balcony room in any other cruiseship, so you can imagine the tiny size of the interior rooms. They will try to get money from you many ways: snacks, minibar, non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, water on the minibar, ... and EVEN WIFI! It’s absolutly no sense that in the 21st century you can’t have public access to the internet, at list in the common zones, but you have to buy a 100€ access for a ridiculous slow web browsing and you can’t get access to your email. The food did absolutly not have quality, absolutly digusting breakfasts and snacks. Maybe the dinner and pasta was a bit better but still very low quality. The service in general was bad, despite some very nice people. We will not go in MSC again for sure. Español: Definitivamente no vaya al crucero MSC Armonia o a algún crucero MSC. El barco es muy viejo y necesita ser reformado por completo o ser retirado. Cuando nosotros estuvimos en el crucero el mar estaba bastante calmado pero el barco se movía mucho, incluso algunas personas se marearon. Hemos navegado en muchos otros cruceros en otras compañías antes y les puedo asegurar que no notábamos el movimiento del barco. Las actividades de entretenimiento y los shows eran pobres, excepto la música clásica. La piscina era muy pequeña , parecía sucia y además estaba inexplicablemente llena de gente. Aunque nuestro camarote era una suite era como una habitación con balcón normal de cualquier otro crucero, por lo que se pueden imaginar el tamaño diminuto de las cabinas interiores. Van a intentar sacarte dinero de muchas formas: snacks, bebidas no alcohólicas y alcohólicas, agua del minibar, ... e INCLUSO LA WIFI! Absolutamente no tiene ningún sentido que en el siglo 21 no puedas tener acceso público a internet, por lo menos en las zonas comunes, pero tienes que comprar el acceso a internet por 100€ para que la navegación en internet sea ridiculamente lenta y ni si quiera puedas acceder a tu correo electrónico. La comida no tenía calidad alguna, desayunos y snacks realmente malos. Quizás la cena y la pasta era un poco mejor, pero todavía de muy baja calidad. El servicio en general fue malo, excepto por algunas personas. Definitivamente, no iremos otra vez en un crucero de MSC. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our first time on an MSC ship having previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard & Princess. It's safe to say they do things a bit differently on MSC but this cruise was a lot cheaper than our previous ... Read More
This was our first time on an MSC ship having previously cruised with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard & Princess. It's safe to say they do things a bit differently on MSC but this cruise was a lot cheaper than our previous cruises and the itinerary was unique and the main attraction for this holiday. Overall it gave us value for money, especially the pre-booked drinks package and photo package although the wifi package was a bit expensive and we still had a poor reception. I would say most guests were Italian and Spanish with a high number of Germans and South Americans. About 5% British and no Americans that I was aware of. It was quick and smooth to actually embark onto the ship early afternoon. The problem for me was that you then had to wait until early evening before the rooms are ready. I have never come across anything like this before. The rooms are normally ready when you embark, certainly by mid afternoon. Not ideal after a long travel day! The ship is very old by modern standards, it has no atrium, no speciality dining areas, small pools and just your normal basic choice of bars (Pool bar, pub, piano bar, coffee etc) and a nice small theatre. The ship has been stretched (cut in half and added a bit in the middle!) but it doesn't flow very well getting around the ship, no big spacious areas (apart from top deck!) and everything felt a bit cramped inside and around the outside decks. I don't think this ship has long left for modern day cruising. The ocean view cabin was OK. A family of four in any cabin is always going to be a tight fit but we managed. It was clean, the beds were comfortable but not good for English speaking TV. Again, because of the age of the ship there are not many balcony cabins and I don't think any are available for a family of four. We had the early sitting for evening dining which was at 7.15pm, quite late compared to other ships but this suited us. The late sitting of 9.15pm sounded very late to me but maybe that is just a British thing. The food was OK, nothing special and lacked any wow factor. I felt the portions were small so on a few occasions I ordered either 2 starters or 2 deserts. The main dining room was also open for breakfast and lunch with a quite limited menu available. Keep an eye of the opening hours as they do change on different days. We never did the upstairs buffet in the evening but it was good for breakfast and lunch with a decent amount of choice, Like most ships, the buffet area got very busy at peak times. Their pizza station was a big hit at lunch times. The entertainment and activities on board the ship was very basic and is obviously aimed at it's main passenger nationalities. Coming from the UK and being very much in the minority on this cruise, it wasn't really our thing. We were quite happy just sitting back and relaxing while enjoying our drinks in the various bars but the theatre productions, the singers and games round the pool just weren't for us. The Cuban party on the top deck was a nice evening, as was the White Night. The pools were small and used mainly to just cool down. The Jacuzzi's had a funny smell that put us off a bit. A game of crazy golf was as good as it got. The level of service overall was a bit mixed. It was very difficult getting a drink round the pools. Whether you tried to get one via the waiters/waitresses or by going to the bar yourself, you had to queue up a lot. You could also have the same problem in some of the bars in the evening and sometimes in the main dining room. I felt the main problem was that they just didn't have enough staff. All the staff were working hard but just struggled to keep up with demand. Maybe that is why this cruise seemed so much cheaper than previous ones, less staff, less costs for the cruise company. I might be wrong but I also felt a lot of the staff were new to the ship. The dining room staff really struggled the first few days but did improve as the cruise went on. I don't know if they have a high turnover of staff but they certainly need to employ more staff if they want to keep all their passengers happy. The staff tried to be friendly but a lot of the time they were just too busy and stressed doing their job to spend time with passengers. The photography team were more relaxed and were all very friendly. They would chat to you about anything and always made time to talk to our children. Dress Code - Well, there isn't one really. Before the cruise we spent a lot of time researching into the ships dress code and theme night details so we were prepared for the itinerary. We shouldn't have bothered. The "suggested" dress code for each evening on the daily planner was just ignored by most passengers and we were very much in the minority on the gala evenings when we did dress up. I was amazed to see people in the main dining room in shorts and flip flops on a gala night. No one was turned away. It was the White Night evening that seemed to be the most popular when it came to the dress code. Otherwise it was shorts, t-shirts and flip flops all the way. Maybe it's a cultural thing but disappointing all the same. The main attraction to this cruise was very much the itinerary. The only ship that currently gives you a lot of time in Havana and then calling at the excellent ports of Cozumel, Belize, Grand Cayman and Jamaica make this a cruise well worth doing. (We never docked in Honduras). Our children never want to go to the kids clubs and prefer to spend their time with us (which is nice!) They love cruising but said they preferred the other ships we have been on to this one. (fair!) Another problem on this cruise that seemed to make it more chaotic (and probably more stressful for the staff) was the large number of people constantly embarking and disembarking. You could do this cruise as a 7 or 14 night cruise from Havana so obviously you get a large turnover of passengers every 7 days in Havana. What I didn't realise until on the cruise was how many people embark and disembark in Cozumel as well. When we returned to the ship the second time around in Cozumel we had to queue for over 45mins just to get back onboard it was that chaotic. Meanwhile, the NCL ship at the side of us with twice as many passengers all just casually walked back on board their ship without any problems. PORTS - HAVANA - The main attraction to this cruise. It was great to spend so much time exploring this fascinating city. We booked a tour with a local company for our first day to help us get our bearings. It was outstanding and much cheaper than anything the cruise ship could offer. I would love to come back here. Maybe spend some time outside Havana as well. MONTEGO BAY - We were told before our arrival there was a state of emergency due to unrest in the city and to keep to the tourist areas. We had arranged a tour with a local company to take us to Bob Marley's Nine Miles museum and then we went to a beautiful beach in Falmouth. Need to come back here again too! GRAND CAYMAN - We did the ships Dolphin & Stingray City excursion. The whole family loved this. It was amazing but not cheap. Come prepared for buying expensive photos! COZUMEL - This is a great place. We did a lovely beach club on our own for our first visit and then when we returned we did the ships VIP Save a Turtle trip which is one of the best excursions I have ever done. Make sure you book well in advance for this as there was only 14 places available when we did it. We also visited a very interesting Mayan village. I would love to come back here again. Lots to see and do on such a small island. COSTA MAYA - Not a great place really. You get off the ship and walk into a port that was modern but had a fake feeling to it which had been created by the cruise companies with lots of (overpriced) shops, bars and restaurants. We got a taxi to the beach but they are struggling with a lot of seaweed on the beach and it was very cramped. We cut our loses and went back to the ship. I won't be coming back here again. BELIZE - We split up here. Me and my youngest daughter did the ships horseback ride in the jungle (which was fantastic) while my wife and eldest daughter just did a small tour round Belize City calling off at a rum factory amongst some of the attractions. A very enjoyable day had by all. HONDURAS - (Port cancelled due to swells making it unsafe to tender) Ever since this ship crashed into the port and making significant damage, the port authorities have asked the ship to tender. I'm not sure of there is a bit of politics going on between the port and the cruise company but the swells didn't seem that bad. Some of the Italian passengers were not happy and organised a protest in the reception area. It came to nothing, no compensation or any sort was received (unlike other cruises I have been on) I think the title for this review sums it all up. Read Less
MSC Armonia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.8
Dining 2.0 3.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.0
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 5.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.0
Enrichment 3.0 2.8
Service 4.0 3.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.4

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