Our second time on a cruise and we still like cruising! :)
but, i will probably not choose to cruise with MSC again (unless it's dirt cheap or freeeeee. hehehehe).
Prior to boarding, i must say that i have a better opinion of MSC than Costa (our first cruiseliner). Their embarkation documents were definitely more professional and information pack was professionally done. (unlike costa which was a bit haphazard.... )
@ the port, the embarkation procedure was also quite good. the set up was definitely more pro and everything quite smoooth and efficient. i remember last year it was really quite chaotic trying to board the ship.
after embarking, we were impressed by the ship facilities -- MSC Splendida is definitely a newer ship then the Costa Meditteranea so everything was quite modern and new. the cabin was good sized and well equipped.
After checking into our cabin, we realised we given second seating for dinner event hough we requested for first. We decided to request for a change. now, this is when everything went downhill.
the staff attending to us was rude. in fact, they initially tried to stop us from even making a request to change!! and gave us the "reason" that the request for first seating is not guaranteed, it was a request etc etc.
we know and we understand. but we have a 2.5 year old toddler and 930pm meal times is going to be hard. when we made our cruise bookings (last year and this year), the travel agent always assured us that with kids, the cruiseline will try to give us priority in terms of seating.
anywayz, we realised that there are many many other parents (with kids) who are also trying to make the change.
to cut the long story short, we managed to get first seating for 5 dinners out of the 7. i figured we can live with 2 late seatings.
then i remembered that Costa served complimentary buffet dinner (at the buffet restaurants) for the entire duration of the cruise for guests who prefer not to dine @ the assigned restaurants. so i thought, ok, maybe we can do that instead of waiting for the second seating. when i checked through the daily program we received fr MSC, i realised there's no option of a complimentray buffet dinner (if we didn't take the assigned restuarant dinner, our other choice was to pay for our dinner @ the specialty restaurant). not very customer friendly!!!! in fact, downright penny pinching if u ask me ;(
however, on the last 2 nites, they actually did open up an earlier dinner buffet, supposedly for families with children who couldn't wait for the second seaing (but actually it;s for everyone lah). but, they didn't announce it via the daily program or at the restaurant so we actually weren't aware of it until the last nite!
i am like, if u want to do something, do it well please! why do it, and make the customer feel that u actually don't want to provide it?
whenever we are aboard the cruise, it felt more crowded than our first cruise experience even though the ship appeared bigger. everywhere was crowded. the lounge, pool etc. maybe the ship is not as big??? or are there just so many passengers ?? i wasn't sure. i felt it was the latter.
a conversation with the staff proved that i was right. he was telling us that compared to the other cruise ships, MSC has more life boats -- this means that it probably carries more passengers per cruise than the others. i know companies have to be bottomline focused but when it is not well balanced, u end up with passengers like me who will not cruise again with MSC. and i can assure you that we are not the only one who came to this conclusion.
there were friendly staff on board no doubt. but quite alot of them are stony faced and some, sulky in fact! and throughout my 8 days on board, i have had more experience with unhelpful staff than helpful ones. that's pathetic!! they are supposed to make the passengers happy!!! not the other way round!!!
another area which i wasn't too happy about is their shore excursions. i understand that all cruises will want to "push" for the passengers to take up shore excursions, this is where the money is made. but MSC leaves me feeling that i have no choice. on our Baltic cruise with Costa, it was clear beforehand that there will be shuttle buses (at a price of course) for those who are not taking the shore excursions. Costa even had maps printed and the staff will indicate for us where the shuttle bus pick up points are.
on this cruise, there were no city maps available onboard and whenever i inquire about the shuttle bus, i was given vague answers. i resorted to asking our server during dinner for more information about each port and the mode of transportation. In the end, shuttle bus service was available in Marseille and Civitavecchia (but this is by the city itself.)
ok, enough ranting about why i don't like MSC, i have to say that their entertainment shows were quite good. we watched it almost every night and kaira enjoyed herself watching the performances!
Guess we will not be cruising with them again. Hmmmm, which cruise line shall we try next?? :) :) we are definitely still fans of cruising!!!