As a Diamond Club Card Holder and recently invited to the Launch Party for the MSC Orchestra on the 16th November 2019 and then Booked for the First 4 night cruise, commencing on the 17th November to say I was a Happy passenger would be nothing but further than the truth.
We were so looking forward to this cruise, as we were going to celebrate our 55th Wedding Anniversary on Board this 4 day cruise.
Initially I informed MSC that as I had already booked on the cruise immediately following the Launch Party, could they please link my Launch Party cabin to my Cruise cabin. (My cabin number was supplied to them)
I received a email back to inform me that this was not at all possible.
On the Saturday 16th November '19 I arrival at N shed my wife and were ushered into a marquee to wait boarding.
Due to certain "circumstances" the Boarding time was delayed by almost an hour and a half.
Diamond Card holders and other VIP Guest's were then herded into N Shed and joined a queue for Boarding. While waiting to board a chance chat to a MSC employer in the shed about the fact that when I asked to have my Launch cabin linked to my cruise cabin been denied, he promptly took our Cruise Booking letter plus those of at least 3 other passengers with the same problem and returned with our Cabin Cards all linked to our Cruise Cabins. Done in 5 minutes.
The Launch Party went ahead with no major problems.
In fact it was the highlight of our Holiday.
However, the next morning the 20 or So Diamond Club Card holders, "Cruise Passengers" were informed that we had to disembark and re-board once we passed through Passport control. In the morning then 20 of us were formed up and were escorted off the the ship with a MSC Staff member. However once we were in the Terminal we were left to fend for ourselves. We had to join the queue for the "Fast Trackers" of the new Cruise passengers embarking, which took for ever to get through to Passport Control.
Surely MSC could have arranged with Home Affairs before hand to process the 20+ cruise passengers on the Saturday and thus saved the hassle and inconvenience of seasoned Cruise travelers having to Disembark and back on again standing in long hot queue's??
Some I may add with chronic back problems.
Once on Board our "Usual" well organised Gold Card / Diamond Card experience fell terribly short.
There was No welcome back party for Gold Card/ Diamond card holders.
No Chocolate Ship in Cabin.
No Gowns in room, only slippers.
No Dance Lessons,
No free Sauna /Spar Invitation,
No notification of a "Free" meal at the Specialty Restaurant.
No Photo taken with the Captain.
When I inquired at the Voyager Club Office and spoke to a Mary Ann as to why all the above had not been given as per previous cruises, she informed me that a lot of it was all explained in the letter sent out on the First day. I informed her that we did NOT receive such letter, but she promptly shifted the blame to Housekeeping department. While I was at the counter I was joined by no less than at least 5 other disgruntled passengers with similar "concerns".
Mary Ann did however offer to give us each a MSC Backpack that evening. However when it didn't arrive at the given time, again she Blamed Housekeeping.
For Dinner we were Booked for 2nd sitting with 5 other Diamond Card holders. Two of them I believe are pretty active on Social Media in South African circles under "Friends of MSC". All were very unhappy on how Diamond Card Holders were treated.
Now are also questioning whether it is any incentive to cruise, in order for all passengers to up their status on the MSC Voyager Club Card incentive Rewards System.
Of all the many times we've cruised this Dinner time experience in the L'ibiscus Restaurant must rate as the worst my wife and I have ever experienced on board any MSC Cruise liner.
During the 4 nights we dinned there, we experienced the following:
No Castle Larger Beer. (Hello, this is a South African Cruise season AND it is on the Wines List) The Liner docked Saturday so there was ample time to stock up on all the Required South African drinks and Food lines.
Our waiter's English was poor and therefore service was lacking. At times we waited over 30 minutes just to get ice cubes.
The delay between courses was far too long.
On one occasion a fellow passenger at my table asked for the Indian/ Asian menu. Well it never arrived. ( NB! The Asian Menu was posted in a Glass cabinet at the entrance to the Dinning Room)
Food presentation also fell short as we were not offered anything else when ordering Mutton Curry and Rice. That's all one got.
No accompanying Sambal's or condiments were on offer.
We were also highly disappointed that on "Italian Night" there was NO Usual singing and waving of serviettes as the Kitchen Staff raced through the Dinning Rooms as we all waived our Serviettes singing " Volare".
As for our Cabin. Our room was only finished been cleaned at lunchtime on day 2. Plus the bed covers were not put on the bed until our last day.
There were no tissues paper in the bathroom. Of the 2 dispensers in the shower, one was completely empty and the 2nd one wouldn't dispense. When I asked the gentleman to bring me his supervisor, he never complied.
Besides the Tea/Coffee/Water stations positioned in the wrong areas, one could never find Hot water for tea or coffee, let alone find coffee sachets. One would have to wait until the gentleman taking care of these stations happened to pass by to get a coffee sachet from his pocket.
As for the Duty Free shops, VERY few items were priced. When I asked the assistant as to why there were no prices? A very rude man replied that he was on his own and hadn't had time to put up the prices from Euro to Dollars. Every night I went back to check and by the last and 4th night there were STILL no prices up.
I finalized my account the morning of departure and proceeded to breakfast. When I tried to disembark the Security Officer informed me that I had to report back to Reception as there was a problem with my account. When I joined the queue at reception I had to wait at least 25 minutes before I was served only to be told that it was a "misunderstanding" and I could continue to Disembark.
In the meantime my wife who was in front of me was left standing at the bottom of the gangway on the dock waiting for me and not knowing what had gone wrong with me.
So in closing. To say was this one of the worst cruises we've been on, I have to say, YES.
Will I cruise again with MSC? Yes of course. But NEVER again on the first cruise.
It was so sad, as this was not the way we wanted to remember our 55th Wedding Anniversary, but alas it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
May I also add, that as I am on Social Media I see a lot of of other passengers gripes and complaints and the replies they in turn receive back from MSC Customer-care and it seems their replies tend to be a lot of "Cut & Paste" replies.
Hopefully my concerns are forwarded to the MSC South Africa Director as well as the team in Naples, and the reply sent to me is not the usual, "Cut & Paste one??
As per My Review above