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MSC vs. Costa?


Stockjock
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My GF and I enjoy the cruising experience on MSC, but we find the customer service situation maddening.  Lack of communication and lack of options on recent cancellations being at the top of the list of annoyances.  But once on the ship, we always have a nice time.

We found a very well-priced sailing on Costa for a balcony w/a drink package.  GF is encouraging me to kill our MSC reservations (we have 3 active, although 2 look to be cancelled) and instead move to a fall sailing on Costa.  We'd certainly return to MSC once things are more normalized.

I've read some very shaky reviews on Costa and I wonder if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them?  Also, for those who have sailed on both Costa and MSC, any opinions or comparisons you would like to share would be helpful.  TIA!

Edited by Stockjock
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10 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

My GF and I enjoy the cruising experience on MSC, but we find the customer service situation maddening.  Lack of communication and lack of options on recent cancellations being at the top of the list of annoyances.  But once on the ship, we always have a nice time.

We found a very well-priced sailing on Costa for a balcony w/a drink package.  GF is encouraging me to kill our MSC reservations (we have 3 active, although 2 look to be cancelled) and instead move to a fall sailing on Costa.  We'd certainly return to MSC once things are more normalized.

I've read some very shaky reviews on Costa and I wonder if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them?  Also, for those who have sailed on both Costa and MSC, any opinions or comparisons you would like to share would be helpful.  TIA!

There are many threads of MSC vs Costa here on CC.

I have written a lot myself. MSC is far superior & also better value for money

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32 minutes ago, drsel said:

There are many threads of MSC vs Costa here on CC.

I have written a lot myself. MSC is far superior & also better value for money

Thanks.  Although Costa does have a 7 day balcony with drinks for $580, which seems like a good value to me.

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We sailed on Costa Deliziosa Xmas cruise some years back, had a great outside cabin which was very large, buffet has strange hours and was usually closed from 3 to 5 pm with only room service available, main dining room food was ok with some good and not so good meals 

Would be interesting to sail on the new ships to see if things have improved but MSC has been better.

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Costa is part of the Carnival/ Carnivore Corp.... the only Carnivore  line I  sail on is Cunard.

Over the last 10  years or so I've been on 4 MSC cruises & find it a good fit.  I sail in middhip balcony, food is subjective but I've always been able to find something I enjoy. There's a great variety of entertainment also.

All the cruises lines had problems w covid, cancelations, refunds etc. So I don't think thats a good COMPARISON as far as the cruise itself.

I really enjoy the MSC EUROPEAN FLAVOR. CARNIVAL Corp stripped the quality & uniqueness on all the lines they bought.

MSC, hands down for me is the choice.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Stockjock said:

My GF and I enjoy the cruising experience on MSC, but we find the customer service situation maddening.  Lack of communication and lack of options on recent cancellations being at the top of the list of annoyances.  But once on the ship, we always have a nice time.

We found a very well-priced sailing on Costa for a balcony w/a drink package.  GF is encouraging me to kill our MSC reservations (we have 3 active, although 2 look to be cancelled) and instead move to a fall sailing on Costa.  We'd certainly return to MSC once things are more normalized.

I've read some very shaky reviews on Costa and I wonder if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them?  Also, for those who have sailed on both Costa and MSC, any opinions or comparisons you would like to share would be helpful.  TIA!

How I understand your frustration over MSC's costumer services right now, but all cruise lines have been struggling with this Covid situation to date, and things aren't that black and white like one must think about.

 

I know, all of us here in CC would want for cruises to restart ASAP.... An that the dream that all of us know a cruise is can no longer stop any more... But, at the larger scene things are what they are. All companies are delaying reopening schedules and canceling/consolidating operations.

 

So for you to have such a little example of that: Last week the Portuguese MSC's representative went on the press proudly announcing that, for the Portuguese market, the first of those usual September/October southern med 10 nighters was fully booked. Guess what? A few minutes ago I went on the Portuguese website and there are still plenty of Bella/Fantastica cabins out there to chose from for that particular sailing, and their prices don't seem that inflated whatsoever... To give you an idea: MSC used to make at this time of the year some nice sales here where practically everyone would get a basic drinks package bundled in the basic fare at a reasonable rate. Quite surprisingly, or not by the way things are going on the whole industry, this year's promotional will give you a 2 for 1 set price with gratuities bundled into the price. Comparing with 2019 prices, the final cost seems to have a relative discount, basically they're comping out the gratuities to an extent giving the impression that it is a nice deal. And it is to an extent, even though the previous drinks package inclusion seemed to be a better value than the current gratuities one...

 

So, for what am I writing this? By the way, because, even at reduced capacities the cruise lines are having a hard time to regain the consumers confidence. And here there are some subjects to bear in mind: They can't to discount infinitely... But even if they did, cruises wouldn't come from the sky!...

 

As regarding to costa, I've never gone with them, but according to what I heard from friends whom went there, TBHH, it is like to compare a nice Sheraton Hotel in land with an Ibis one, being MSC the nice Sheraton, and Costa an Ibis that sometimes can to become more expensive than the nice Sheraton.

 

Hope to have helped a little bit and have a nice day!...

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Our first cruise as a couple was a Costa sailing some 8 years ago, which we did enjoy and gave DH the cruising bug. However, we did find a number of things about the experience frustrating, I can't recall all in detail but the absolute chaos onboard, unorganised holiday camp feel, and we didn't ever get a sun lounger, are some that I do.

 

We discussed the pros and cons with a friend who recommended MSC. We booked a sailing the following year, which eradicated the things we had not enjoyed and enhanced the things we did. We are well into double figures sailing with MSC now.

 

I will caveat our Costa experience with several things though, it was a July 7 night sailing in the Mediterranean. We knew nothing about cruising, and I'd not discovered the helpful insights of CC. Timing of a cruise is key for us. We did a 14 night from Florida with MSC one July, had it not been a special trip, and we were YC, the experience would've disueded me cruising was for us. Although it was the exact same ship as our first sailing previously, a summer sailing from Miami was an unpleasant experience unless you are used to full scale busy family holidays. The passenger demographic is vastly different depending on the season. We vowed never to sail from Miami ever again but accidentally found ourselves on a 7 night Seaside sailing one November, and it was a vastly different experience.

 

Had our first Costa cruise been out of season, we may have had a different experience and a more favourable opinion.  Equally, we may not have had such a good experience with MSC if our first sailing had been the 7 night Med trip.

 

With our Costa sailing, the places we visited were memorable, the ship, staff and onboard experience were less so. The ships, the crew and the whole experience of each MSC cruise has been.

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Posted (edited)

We did Costa many, many years ago.  We have also cruise on MSC, but only in the Yacht Club....Costa was a balcony.

 

We had a fairly good time on Costa.  However, there are points I'd like to make.  Our next door balcony neighbors had a horrible time.  They were in a different dining room than ours and that seemed to make a difference.   The Maitre'd in ours (I still remember his name...."Hilton" ) was great.  I think he ran a pretty tight ship (LOL).  

The decor on the ship reminded me of Carnival....This was Divina.  Some rooms were bright and garish.

There were some service issues also on Costa.  Little things, really, but for some reason they stick in my mind.  In the buffet there was a orange juice machine that closed at 10 AM.  My husband was about to get juice from said machine, probably 9:59.  A server practically ran across the room, pushed him aside, and stated that the machine was now closed.

We also tried to make reservations at their (Only) specialty restaurant.  If you called, they advised you to make reservations in person.  If you went to the restaurant, they told you to make reservations via the phone.🤔

 

I probably wouldn't book with Costa again.

 

We never had ANY problems on MSC.  However, that was probably because we were in the Yacht Club.

 

 

 

Edited by mafig
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On 5/29/2021 at 12:05 AM, Stockjock said:

My GF and I enjoy the cruising experience on MSC, but we find the customer service situation maddening.  Lack of communication and lack of options on recent cancellations being at the top of the list of annoyances.  But once on the ship, we always have a nice time.

We found a very well-priced sailing on Costa for a balcony w/a drink package.  GF is encouraging me to kill our MSC reservations (we have 3 active, although 2 look to be cancelled) and instead move to a fall sailing on Costa.  We'd certainly return to MSC once things are more normalized.

I've read some very shaky reviews on Costa and I wonder if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them?  Also, for those who have sailed on both Costa and MSC, any opinions or comparisons you would like to share would be helpful.  TIA!

I have an idea-- maybe you should put this same topic in the Costa forum and you may see a HUGE difference in the replies you get.😉.

Have fun

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On 5/28/2021 at 2:35 PM, Stockjock said:

My GF and I enjoy the cruising experience on MSC, but we find the customer service situation maddening.  Lack of communication and lack of options on recent cancellations being at the top of the list of annoyances.  But once on the ship, we always have a nice time.

We found a very well-priced sailing on Costa for a balcony w/a drink package.  GF is encouraging me to kill our MSC reservations (we have 3 active, although 2 look to be cancelled) and instead move to a fall sailing on Costa.  We'd certainly return to MSC once things are more normalized.

I've read some very shaky reviews on Costa and I wonder if anyone has had a good or bad experience with them?  Also, for those who have sailed on both Costa and MSC, any opinions or comparisons you would like to share would be helpful.  TIA!

I have done both as well as many other cruise lines. We are in our 50s.

 Its not an easy question to answer because there are so many factors.  I have been in Bunk bed rooms all the way up to the owners suite.

Do you sail for the food? Destinations? Break from a job? Do you dance?Drink?

 

I have sailed all over the world with different lines and for us, the destinations are why we sail. 

Costa was amazing for dancing as we Ballroom dance,when the band took a break, another band came in. Their food was not like we see on US cruise lines which is aimed more at an international base.

 On US sailings it was mostly US passengers, overseas was overseas passengers and we felt highly in the minority as they went thru announcements in several languages. We loved the ports which is why we chose them as well as the pricing. We don't do 7 day cruises as a rule, we like 30+ days in a row.

 We found the entertainment lousy but we have sailed 60+ cruises so we have sort of seen it done it.

 Msc...I have 4 Yacht club bookings with them. Great pricing, but I also think the entertainment was lousy and dancing was very little for structured dancers.

 The ships are beautiful, the rooms are all the same as other lines. The food was bland in my opinion and the choices were very similar it seems every night. Again where the ship sails will effect your experience.

 I prefer NCL overall with MSC in second place. I am Platinum plus with NCL, Diamond with MSC, and Platinum with CCL. Its hard to pass on the loyalty plus the NCL credit card works very well for us. We are also fans of RCCL and Princess.

 Reviews are misleading sometimes. Experience for yourself and make your own choices.

STeve

 

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Its been many many years since I’ve sailed on Costa, but one of the things that I consider a “turn off” about them is that they use the same interior designer (Joe Farcus) that Carnival Cruise Lines used for their ships built during the 1990’s and 2000’s. It’s gawdy and garish decor.
 

Although many will say that they don’t cruise for a ship’s decor, I personally don’t find it enjoyable to be stuck on a ship with flashing neon and oversized plastic decoration. I find MSC’s decor throughout to be much more eye pleasing and enjoyable. 
 

For the record, I have immensely enjoyed the many Carnival cruises I’ve sailed on, but their decor hasn’t been one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed sailing on them. 

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4 hours ago, mscdivina2016 said:

Reviews are misleading sometimes. Experience for yourself and make your own choices.

 

Pretty much this.

 

I've not sailed with Costa yet but I'm quite ready to give them a try just for the experience. There's a couple of things that give me pause, mostly the worry of being nickel and dimed, but if the cruise appears to be good value for money and the itinerary is right then I think you should give Costa a try.

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9 hours ago, drsel said:

I have an idea-- maybe you should put this same topic in the Costa forum and you may see a HUGE difference in the replies you get.😉.

Have fun

I did.  Not much response there, actually.

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3 hours ago, Tapi said:

Its been many many years since I’ve sailed on Costa, but one of the things that I consider a “turn off” about them is that they use the same interior designer (Joe Farcus) that Carnival Cruise Lines used for their ships built during the 1990’s and 2000’s. It’s gawdy and garish decor.
 

Although many will say that they don’t cruise for a ship’s decor, I personally don’t find it enjoyable to be stuck on a ship with flashing neon and oversized plastic decoration. I find MSC’s decor throughout to be much more eye pleasing and enjoyable. 
 

For the record, I have immensely enjoyed the many Carnival cruises I’ve sailed on, but their decor hasn’t been one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed sailing on them. 

From what I can see, their ships are on the garish side.  Perhaps their newer ships will be more subdued?

 

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1 hour ago, Stockjock said:

I did.  Not much response there, actually.

That's probably because many of the Costa fans have not even tried MSc

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Costa fans are loyal to Costa because their cruises were very low priced in the past and they offer discounts for loyal customers as well as free cabin upgrades if you cruise more and more every year.

 

The criteria for a free cabin upgrade is that the number of Cruises in any particular year should be at least one more than the number of cruises in the previous year

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23 hours ago, Tapi said:

Its been many many years since I’ve sailed on Costa, but one of the things that I consider a “turn off” about them is that they use the same interior designer (Joe Farcus) that Carnival Cruise Lines used for their ships built during the 1990’s and 2000’s. It’s gawdy and garish decor.
 

Although many will say that they don’t cruise for a ship’s decor, I personally don’t find it enjoyable to be stuck on a ship with flashing neon and oversized plastic decoration. I find MSC’s decor throughout to be much more eye pleasing and enjoyable. 
 

For the record, I have immensely enjoyed the many Carnival cruises I’ve sailed on, but their decor hasn’t been one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed sailing on them. 

 

I don't recall exactly when it happened, but when Carnival began to develop a new Class of ships, Mr. Farcus was not retained as the interior decorator.  Never any explanation for this decision that I have learned; it happened when Mr. Arison was still the CEO as well as the Chairman of CCL, it was not due to the advent of a new CEO.  

 

I have only sailed on Carnival Freedom, Liberty, Miracle, and Pride.  Liberty and Freedom's decor and the name of the public spaces attempted to match the ship's name fairly well.  Miracle and Pride had their own decor that was, I thought, more adult oriented than not.  None of which I found objectionable.  

 

Like you, the enjoyment that I have had when I have sailed on these 4 ships had nothing to do with their decor.  It had to do with my onboard experience.  

 

MSC Meraviglia's decor, my only MSC experience so far, was more modern and provided a pleasant backdrop for a wonderful cruise experience.  

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Posted (edited)

Hello, I used to travel with Costa and moved to MSC.

Some years ago I was organizing a family cruise(Costa) with 4 cabins for a special aniversary. Some months after paying the deposit, they decided to charter the ship.

I had high loyalty status as I had more than 20 cruises with them and that provided me with a specifc person to contact, so I expected they at least pay the cancellation fee for the flights that we had bought for a confirmed booking, around 40€ per person.

Mind you, if I had cancelled at that pointm I'd have lost 50€ per person(deposit), so I thought it was only fair that they cover the very small and comparable costs.

They decided that I wasn't owed anything, it was my problem that they decided not to honor my reservation and it was under my risk to make any plans with a confirmed reservation.

At that point I was doing around 4 cruises each year with them, but I'm a planner, I like to reserve around 1 year before the date to schedule work.

I told them that if they have the ability to cancel 2 months before without consecuences, I wouldn't reserve anything more with them, as I don't feel that to be fair, I understand not paying 1000€ for cancellations on a cheap cruise, but at least the same amount they would charge me to cancel at that point feels reasonable.

So, when I got the opportunity because the status match, I tried MSC and I loved it.

At that same point Costa started taking into account only the last 3 years for loyalty status, losing everything older. I think this is the only company that does that. You will probably never achieve high status as that requires continuous sailing in suites. Fidelity doesn't matter(after 3 years).

As a summary, if you think MSC customer service is bad, be prepared for Costa. In my experience, is the only company with even worse customer service.

On the other hand, Costa used to have very nice routes that no other company did, so if you can tolerate the bad things, it can offer unique routes that no other company does.

 

Edited by elbarney
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7 hours ago, elbarney said:

Hello, I used to travel with Costa and moved to MSC.

Some years ago I was organizing a family cruise(Costa) with 4 cabins for a special aniversary. Some months after paying the deposit, they decided to charter the ship.

I had high loyalty status as I had more than 20 cruises with them and that provided me with a specifc person to contact, so I expected they at least pay the cancellation fee for the flights that we had bought for a confirmed booking, around 40€ per person.

Mind you, if I had cancelled at that pointm I'd have lost 50€ per person(deposit), so I thought it was only fair that they cover the very small and comparable costs.

They decided that I wasn't owed anything, it was my problem that they decided not to honor my reservation and it was under my risk to make any plans with a confirmed reservation.

At that point I was doing around 4 cruises each year with them, but I'm a planner, I like to reserve around 1 year before the date to schedule work.

I told them that if they have the ability to cancel 2 months before without consecuences, I wouldn't reserve anything more with them, as I don't feel that to be fair, I understand not paying 1000€ for cancellations on a cheap cruise, but at least the same amount they would charge me to cancel at that point feels reasonable.

So, when I got the opportunity because the status match, I tried MSC and I loved it.

At that same point Costa started taking into account only the last 3 years for loyalty status, losing everything older. I think this is the only company that does that. You will probably never achieve high status as that requires continuous sailing in suites. Fidelity doesn't matter(after 3 years).

As a summary, if you think MSC customer service is bad, be prepared for Costa. In my experience, is the only company with even worse customer service.

On the other hand, Costa used to have very nice routes that no other company did, so if you can tolerate the bad things, it can offer unique routes that no other company does.

 

You may know this, but with MSC, in non-Covid times, if you don't sail within 3 years they take all of your points away.

They cancelled one cruise on me, which would have qualified as within 3 years, told me they wouldn't take away my Voyager's Club points because the cancellation was their fault, and then took me to zero points.

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47 minutes ago, Stockjock said:

You may know this, but with MSC, in non-Covid times, if you don't sail within 3 years they take all of your points away.

They cancelled one cruise on me, which would have qualified as within 3 years, told me they wouldn't take away my Voyager's Club points because the cancellation was their fault, and then took me to zero points.

MSC approach is not ideal, I understand your frustration, they should reinstate the points as you tried to sail, but in any case, Costa deletes all points older than 3 years even if you sail..... It's like they want you to try other companies. ..

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1 hour ago, elbarney said:

MSC approach is not ideal, I understand your frustration, they should reinstate the points as you tried to sail, but in any case, Costa deletes all points older than 3 years even if you sail..... It's like they want you to try other companies. ..

Absolutely! It is very difficult to reach the highest level in Costa, because points expire automatically even if you sail every year.

 

Whereas MSC is far superior because you just need to sail once in three years to keep your points forever and accumulate more

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Posted (edited)

On Costa, the lack of free drinking water with lunch and dinner in the main dining room, mandatory service charge,  poor quality and variety of 'free' food are the main complaints.

Even pizzas are chargeable on an Italian ship!

 

Also very limited times for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the buffet and main dining room, around 2 hours for each.

 

No free tea and coffee available except during the 2 hours of breakfast and 1 hour evening tea.

 

When you come back from an excursion, there is no decent food on the entire ship late afternoon and evening (except for pastries with evening tea)

You have to wait until 7 or 7:30 p.m. for the buffet to re-open

 

Edited by drsel
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Posted (edited)

On Costa,  the passengers are mainly Italian and less than 5% of passengers are native English speakers, whereas MSC has a better international mix of passengers.

The crew on both MSC and Costa speak good English.

 

On MSc all the activities and games are conducted with English as the first language and Italian as second.

On Costa, it is the reverse. Sometimes they need to be reminded to repeat everything in English.

Edited by drsel
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