Cruised for the first time with MSC aboard Fantasia in November 2019, we embarked in Genoa, doing a few places in Europe then went across to Brazil. We have cruised with other companies many times and have never experienced anything as bad.
At the airport - MSC representative was waiting at the airport for us - but there was no transport for us and had to wait 45 minutes for it arrive.
Embarkation - what a total unorganised fiasco. From arriving at the cruise terminal, to actually getting onto the ship took 4 hours! No communication at all, very poor customer service and no where to sit. Not just a handful of people but thousands were in that hall, with nothing to drink. There was no reason, the ship was ready and people were getting on, one at a time - just poor organisation and no one from MSC to help. We found this wasn’t the only time they expect you to queue with no communication. Actually I’ll class this as appalling.
Cabin - this was good. Lots of storage space and comfy bed. TV didn’t work, but we weren’t bothered about that. Our cabin boy was lovely and looked after us and the cabin well. Clean towels twice a day and clean bed linen. 5* for him, but he’d be better if with a different company. However, on other ships, a chocolate, and shaped towels appear on the pillow but not with MSC.
Dining - evening meal was fixed dining times, with fixed table so you sat with the same people every evening. The restaurant closes the doors 15 minutes after your time! It is classed as fine dining, but let me assure you ( as I love food, cook food and love fine dining restaurants where I am prepared to pay for good fine dining) it was one step up from McDonalds. We only gave it one chance and the food was awful, very very small quantities of poor quality food. I had crumble with cream for desert which was the size of a mince pie. Pastry was dry and hard but the cream was not cream. It was a slither, an inch long, piped onto the plate in a chunk, and it was ‘cream’ from a spray can of cream - absolutely appealing. Oh and the salmon came without vegetables - apparently you have to ask for those. Word of warning also. We had a drinks package but if you haven’t you won’t even get water to drink - not even tap water!
We looked at the menu daily but decided we didn’t like the offerings and chose to eat in the buffet restaurants of which there were 2, but they were joined together for some reason! The food in these were equalling disgusting, but at least you could see first what you got. The meat in the stews, dishes was cheap and fatty - even chicken was fatty and not sure how they managed that. Each night they had a roast dish but always beef, veal or pork. Again few vegetables and food was cold. Not much variety for the size of the buffet, and actually very unorganised. Eg bread/rolls was at a few stations, but no butter, you had to walk round this huge buffet to find some.
We were told the food served in the buffet was the same as in the restaurant. That shouldn’t matter anyway as the food where ever should have been edible no matter where we chose to eat.
No WOW though in the restaurants. On it here ships they have ice sculptures and vegetable sculptures amongst the food - nothing like this here.
The was another steak restaurant where you had to pay. Staff walked around all day trying to sell it to you but, alas we NEVER saw anyone eating in it. But why pay at least €30 for food when you’ve already paid once and prolly no one thought to pay extra for poor quality.
Hygiene was definitely lacking. The hand sanitizers going into the restaurant and buffet rarely worked. They didn’t seem too bothered either. On other ships it is the norm for a member of staff to be at the door to squirt you or ask you to sanitise - not of his ship. Same in the toilets - no sanitiser!
Drinks - we had a package which included, wine, spirits, cocktails, water, soft drinks and ice cream. We didn’t pay for the premium package as it isn’t worth it. The drinks were fine and we certainly made up for the poor service with what we drank.
Lounges - there are several lounges and bars so you can choose what you want. The ones we used were fine and the staff were all very friendly and pleasant and looked after us. No problems with them.
Entertainment - the theatre is large and there was 2 sittings of a show each night. Very poor though. Most nights it was the same singer who would have been a good karaoke in the local pub, with dancers who were not choreographed well so were all over the place. There were also some acrobats in each show who were actually very good and should have done their own show. Now all these were on most nights, different music, but same routine, same dance and even same costumes on a few nights. Goodness it got boring. On another evening they had a ventriloquist - but doing that for so many languages was a challenge and we walked out.
Two comperes came on before the show, who were good at languages but were not funny although they thought they were. They took over the first 10 minutes of each show.
Several bar lounges had singers on and these were quite good - initially. But by the end of the cruise you knew their routine and which songs were going to be sung. So very little variety.
Activities on the pool decks was very loud, keep fit, dance lessons, run around games and very loud music and shouting. The pool deck and bar at the back of the ship was much better and much quieter.
Itinerary - places visited were ok. Only one needed a tender and guess what, we waited over an hour and a half! The theatre was packed with people waiting for tender boats. There were almost riots as again no communication, no reason. People were demanding to see the manager, there was shouting, hand clapping etc. The staff looked terrified. All it needed was an explanation for the delay. As it happened there were only 2 tenders and one broke down they should have lowered more. This is after all our holiday and we want to get off to see these places.
Excursions - expensive and the 2 we went on were very poor and definitely not value for money. Much better doing your own thing and getting a tour outside the terminal.
Disembarkation - no delay, everything went smoothly but then again all we did was walk off.
If you read to the end then well done. Now, we did meet people who had travelled with MSC before and on that occasion had all got together to demand better food! This is a holiday they had paid for by the way - they shouldn’t have needed to do that. Also people who had travelled with them before said that embarkation was always lengthy and unorganised so be aware.
Cabin was goos, at the back of the ship so had good views. Cabin boy was very good and kept it spotless