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antcindee

Any comments from Dec 11th sailing????

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Anxious to hear comments from those of you who sailed on the Dec 11th sailing, please post your reviews. Thank you

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too many to post....

 

the only thing i can say is i would NEVER sell this product to a client!

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I'd be happy to share a few thoughts with you... I hope not to ruin your trip!

 

Boarding the ship was fairly easy, a little chaotic, but all in all fairly smooth. The ship itself is beautiful. For a small ship it is laid out fairly well, and the cabins have more than ample storage. (be sure to "open" your large mirror!)

 

Unfortunately from here everything goes south fast! The crew is very much trained for a European clientele, which makes for unimaginable challenges. Most every staff member struggles with english with the exception of the Italian waiters. The bar staff is probably the worst of all on the ship.... two specific examples, while in port at Key West several of us visited the pool bar. The bartender on duty looked at us and said "why won't everyone just get off the ship." Secondly, I ordered a frozen rumrunner from three different bars... three different drinks made poorly at best. We had a minor travelling with us who ordered a non-alcoholic banana daiquiri, she was told "no." Apple martini's in the Byblos disco were blue in color... and so on. All of the bars are understaffed to the point that you have to flag down a drink like you were 21 again in a nightclub!

 

As far as food goes, the dining room food is average. Menu selection is usually very limited. There really are no alternatives when it comes to dining. The only buffet on the ship offers the same food as the dining room. The food in the dining room was of considerable better quality than the buffet, which often times was cold and bland. We switched dining rooms in the middle of the week as our waiter would not talk to us, rolled his eyes at any requests, and told us we could not order off the "always available" menu one night. Once we switched to the L'Approdo dining room (deck 6) we had a waiter named Peppe who was much better. Room service is a joke, I urge you to order the club sandwich just to marvel at the quantity of chicken on the sandwich. On average (amongst our 30 plus agents who tried it) room service took 1.5 to 2.5 hours for delivery. All I can say about food is that there is really not a lot of choice or options. Hamburgers and hotdogs are offered daily from 12-2 and pizza from 1:30-6. The buffet is open for breakfast (dining room is better), lunch, and dinner (6-8?). Other than this there are NO other food options!

 

Our itinerary was changed upwards of 6 times on our trip. We were scheduled to be in cozumel for 8 hours, but they kept increasing the time to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 hours. We were scheduled to be at Grand Cayman 10-6, but they changed it to 7-2, and to top it off they pulled in and did a u-turn cancelling the visit as the Carnival Triumph and Navigator of the Seas were both dropping anchor! When we asked why the change, we were rudely told that's the itinerary even as we held our cruise doc's listing the 10-6 times...

 

Entertainment... unique to say the least. No caribbean band for the pool deck. A three man mariachi band seemingly was the premier entertainment on the ship.

 

I could go on for some time... as far as an agent's perspective....

 

I could never sell the product to a client. The staff and the ship are trained and designed for Europeans. The dining and entertainment is designed for Europeans. I am the first to say that Americans are arrogant, ignorant, fussy, and picky, but MSC choses to come to America to market the product. If this were an MSC cruise in Europe, some of the complaints would be invalid. If they are trying to get Americans to travel, they will certainly need to turn over a significant number of "anti-American" crew, and reformulate entertainment and dining to suit the demands of Americans.

 

Sorry I can't say anything positive...

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Jeff,

Thanks for your honest opinion. I appreciate you taking the time to say what you did in what I thought was a very tactful way.

I am sailing on Dec 28th and will try to keep an open mind and hope for the best. I tend to doubt that between now and the time I cruise (9 days from today) that alot will change but do hope that those folks cruising with MSC in the future will have a better experience as MSC hears what people think and hopefully makes what seems to be necessary changes.

Thanks again for your review

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jsargent34 - in view of the crew apparently being paid adequately and tipping being not required- did you feel you had to tip for what sounds like appalling service?

 

I am very disppointed to hear your comments and hope ( without any valid foundation) that my trip on Lirica next week will be different.

 

I find it hard to believe that Europeans will put up with this sort of service and food but I have never taken a cruise in Europe except on a theoretically British but actually American ship with Princess - which was excellent in almost every aspect.

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In the end my honest take on it all was that the ship and the crew were trained for and expecting to do European cruising in America. I love Europe and have been to most every country in Europe, but it is a fact that the culture is very different than ours. I find that the difference is what all the "anti-Americanism" is all about. Europeans eat differently than we do, we expect to eat 14 times a day on a cruise, whereas the dining onboard Opera was designed to eat three times maybe four a day!(I may have actually lost weight on this trip) The entertainment is VERY subdued (with the exception of the 14 foot boa constrictor brought out a show) and very European. Are these bad things? Well, they wouldn't be if they weren't trying to market to Americans... The staff has apprehension and bias towards Americans for what I can only assume to be our demands and expectations. With Sasso (former Celebrity CEO) at the helm, it will get better I'm sure, but it seems years off. Some posts have said it correctly, in that if you have been on ANY cruise prior to MSC, you cannot go with ANY of the same expectations as you will be monumentally let down.

 

Bottom line... As of now, MSC is SO unique and different, that it cannot be compared to any cruise line operating in the U.S.

 

If you go, make sure you change your dining to the deck 6 dining room L'Approdo. The room itself is nicer, and the staff seems to be of better quality for some odd reason.

 

Any specific questions, I'd be glad to answer...

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Sargent, is this something you could perhaps SELL for the reason I specifically BOUGHT it? That it isn't the usual American line?

To put a positive spin on this ... aside from the bar fiasco, I'm quite heartened that it's what would be a cruise satisfying Europeans-- and I don't even have to go to Europe for it! That's what I was looking for. For example, someone complained (I think it was re. the inaugural Caribbean cruise) that dinner took 2.5 hours. Well, bring it on, I say! I look forward to not being rushed off from my table.

Another thing that helps me put my Feb. 26 cruise in perspective: I had to visit Washington earlier this month, and the heavily discounted block (group discount) rate for the hotel was $129 a night. And here I am, spending seven nights cruising the Caribbean, meals, entertainment and soothing environment INCLUDED, at about $100 a day.

All in all, I'm going with an open mind. I only hope I can get there before things change and become too Americanized!

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thanks for the comments Sargent. I'm booked on this cruise Jan 8 and am a bit apprehensive. However I booked it because it was inexpensive and a different experience from what I've had before. The postings about this ship tend to be consistent so at least i have some reasonable expectations and assumptions. thanks for the comments!

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I was also on the December 11 sailing and would not sell it to any of my clients. Half way through the cruise they where running out of bottles of beer and other bottles or different kinds of drinks. The mixed drinks on the ship where not very good. The embarkation took an hour and 15 minutes earlier in the day. The staff was rude, and not very helpful. They missed out on there selling things to the passengers, the bar staff never asked if you wanted a drink unless you chased them down. The stores closed for 4 hours while we where at sea. We where not able to stop at Grand Cayman but other cruiselines did. All in all the ship was great, but the service and the food where not very good. The comment box at the end of the cruise was so full you had to give it to the staff. Everyone is saying that they should not americanize it but I can not see the Europeans putting up with that type of service. Maybe if they had to depend on tips like employees on other cruiselines have to the service would have been better.

 

Rick sasso the President of MSC has his hands full trying to get that cruiseline in shape for sailings to the caribbean.

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I was on the December 11th trip as well, and have to unfortunately concur with a lot of the comments written.

 

On the plus side, the ship is a very beautiful build. It's also clear that MSC is working hard to keep it that way. Rails are constantly being sanded and recoated, and there are 'pittura fresca' (fresh paint) signs in abundance. Inside, the brass rails are constantly being cleaned and the scent of Brasso prevails.

 

There are communication difficulties though - even with people in positions who should know simple phrases. For example, it took a few minutes to communicate to the Guest Relations representative that I'd like a printout of my cabin charges. Certainly, I can't be the first to request this, but it was a trial to communicate my request.

 

The dining room was, as previously reported by many others, a disappointment. One night, for example, there was only one bread plate and one water glass for three settings. We asked for the second and third water glass and bread plate, and they took over 50 minutes to appear. In that time, the sole water glass on the table was refilled three or four times. It was funny to watch the assistant waiter go for the non-existent second and third glasses and pull the pitcher up instead. I guess the lightbulb never went on that he should've retrieved the glasses at that point. Additionally, I received appetizers that weren't ordered (better, I guess, then the person who ordered them and didn't receive them), our orders were often confused so that we received the wrong items, etc. Basically, you get the picture - the dining room was below par. This was NOT an instance of being 'European'. This was an instance of a dining room staff way behind the curve in terms of cruiseline (or your local Denny's) service.

 

Another odd difference and one that I haven't seen mentioned - the "cruise staff" was titled the "entertainment staff" onboard. We found this difference notable. While on other ships, the cruise staff worked to include passenger participants, on this line we noticed a different bent. One night, for example, I saw a passenger get up to join a line dance and he was physically moved by an "entertainment staff" member away from the front of the dance floor (where the 'entertainment staff' congregated). Apparently, they were NOT going to share their spotlight even if just by chance. I also felt on this line that they were play-acting too hard who they felt they were supposed to be instead of just being themselves. When I had a chance to share a Red Bull with an entertainment staff member, I found her MUCH more interesting than the role she was playing. I like hearing about the real Europe and Italy - I just don't want to be fed stereotyped characters playing a role they think is palatable to us.

 

A minor annoyance to me - no complimentary iced tea. You had to buy the European "Lipton-ish" brand instead (San Pellegrino). Soft drinks were also very expensive ($2.15 each) and there was no soda card available. Mixed drinks are also quite expensive compared to other lines. And when you went to get water, you had to literally take a Dixie cup (6 ounce size, which meant 5 ounces of liquid) to the machine that spat out water and ice. Try drinking less than half a can of soda to find out how convenient that is.

 

Also of note, Internet access on MSC was 60 cents per minute compared to, for example, thirty-five cents per minute on Princess. I came away thinking that they were trying to nickel and dime us onboard to make up for the inexpensive cruise fare.

 

Unlike many others, I do believe that MSC can create a brand that works in the U.S. I think they need to do a lot more research on what they want their final product to be and I think they need to determine who their target market is. Research, research, research!

 

The more choices we have as passengers, the better, so let's keep our fingers crossed that this line makes it. I won't say that I'd never sail them again, but I would say that it will be - at earliest - in over a year's time.

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I went into this knowing it was a "different" kind of cruise, not what Americans are used to. For what I paid, it was acceptable. I was on vaction and just glad not to be in frigid weather and took it all in stride!!!

 

On the other hand, I hate to say it... but I agree with eveything everyone has posted.

The first night there, my husband and I went to the pool bar and every beer we asked for was either warm or they did not have it. Eventually it came down to "what do you have that is cold??"

 

I had the WORST martini ever in the Martini Bar. I do not know how true this is, but we were told that the original bar staff had immigration issues so they picked up a totally inexperienced staff to cover. It showed.

 

The unedited versions of 50-Cent and other rap songs played at the pool was interesting. I am pretty young so I wasn't totally offended, but there was a woman in her 60's sitting next to me and she looked like she was going to fall over. They really need some sort of an American input for cultural things like this. Maybe it's just me!

 

At dinner, the waiter walked over to our table, handed us the menus and walked away. When he came back, he said, "Lady, what do you want?" Every night, "Lady, what do you want?" I chalked it up to a language thing.

We asked a waiter at lunch, what kind of sherbert do you have? He replied "I don't know" and walked off.

 

The food was good, not great. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the Baked Alaska was fabulous.

 

Did anyone else feel like there was a water shortage? We practically had to beg for water at dinner.

 

We ordered in room breakfast twice and twice it never came.

 

All in all, it was a relaxing cruise. I did not overeat and did not gain the 5 pounds I normally would have. Wouldn't sail MSC again though.

Good luck to the future cruisers, hope they have the kinks worked out by then.

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I am writing this wondering if we were all on the same ship. Maybe I got extremely lucky with servers and attitude. It would seem from the comments of others that we were spit on all week for being Americans and fed dog food in the dining room :-)

 

This IS a different cruise line and I do admit that it is not for everyone, but it is dirt cheap right now for a 7-night cruise and might be appealing to some if they know what it is all about before reserving it. The SHIP and the atmosphere is premium-like, the service is somewhere between mainstream and premium, but the food is more in line with mainstream (and will most likely improve.)

 

Embarkation process was smooth. I was at the terminal by 11:00 and on

the ship by 11:30. They served champagne and mimosas in the waiting

room which was a nice touch.

 

Ship: I doubt there will be many complaints here. The ship is a great

new medium sized ship and just beautiful in every area.

Lots of small comfortable lounges all over the place and very muted

and tasteful colors. Very good use of brass and mirrors everywhere to

make things always look bright and bigger/roomier. The ship was easy

to get around with no cabins below the first public deck (5). You

could also walk the length of the ship on deck 6 without hitting any

dead-ends which is always nice. A special point of emphasis has to go

to the pool deck which is just amazing and especially for a ship this

size. The deck seemed bigger and roomier than ships twice its size. It

is also nice to see wood and brass on the pool deck instead of

Astroturf for a change. They have really great European style lounge

chairs with attached/movable sun screens. The overall look of brown

lounge chairs and bright orange towels all over was a very cool look

to the whole pool area.

 

Dining: This is where it will get interesting. I had a blank slate

going in because I knew it was going to be heavily European influenced

with a quickly shifting focus as it entered the North American market.

I really didn't know what to expect. I felt that most of my dining

room meals were very good. I've had worse and I've had better. I heard

on many occasions that it was better than Royal Caribbean :-) The main

dish selection was pretty much what you found on most other cruise

lines. The European influence came in a different cheese, pasta and

Risotto selection every meal. I will say that the offerings that were

Italian were excellent. The cheeses and breads were outstanding. The

pastas and risottos were also very good. I may have been guilty of

ordering too many Americanized main dishes. I bet if I stuck to the

Italian offerings all week it would have been even more satisfying.

The deserts were a big negative. They were mostly bland and there

wasn't much chocolate to speak of. The cheesecakes were pretty good

though.

 

Service: My dining room service was excellent and on par with the

better that I've experienced. The waiter and assistant waiter worked their tails off and kept a very good pace without missing very much at all. The water glass was never more than half empty before being refilled. We even asked one night to be out by 10PM to make one of the events and the waiter had our deserts on the table by 9:55. Our cabin steward(es?) was also excellent. She was lightning fast in changing our cabin the minute we left the room but was never in the way. The cruise staff was always cordial and said hello most times when walking by and holding doors/elevators.

 

Entertainment: VERY VERY high marks here. Every lounge was lively with

a perfectly suited band/entertainer playing well into the night. The

shows (aside from the Las Vegas show) were slightly European in focus

and very entertaining. The magician was very good. The dancers (mostly

Russian) were very good and the Riverdance themed numbers were

outstanding. The tenor brought the house down with multiple standing

ovations, which you don’t see on ships too often. I didnt care much for

the Italian comedian/clown guy, but others thought he was hysterical,

so what do I know.

 

A special category has to go to the Cruise Director Staff/”Animation

staff”: This group of people REALLY made this a lively ship and deserve

a special mention. This is no exaggeration when I say that this ship

might be the most lively I have been on and that includes a few

Carnival cruises with ships twice the size and an average age 20 years

younger. The ambiance of this ship just seemed to have a

European-style musical beat that kept beating all week, all day and

all night. It started with all passengers wearing masks and blowing

kazoos at sail away and continued with the most lively midnight deck

party I have ever seen as we pulled out of Cozumel. The band on deck

played for five straight hours with no break and the deck was a very

well attended dance party with a midnight buffet. I was amazed at the

participation given the ship size and an older crowd. This lively

atmosphere seemed to float into every lounge where the animation staff

seemed to be everywhere at the same time getting everyone up and

dancing. This wasn't just one or two staff members, but always like 8

or more. The ship was just surprisingly lively.

 

Communication: This was an interesting one all week. Not many

announcements which was nice for quiet, but left many people clueless

since the paper schedules were lacking and not easily translated into

English it seems. When they did make announcements it was always in

six languages and not very easy to understand. Many of these

things will be corrected and you saw communication improve a great

deal over the week. A good point was on day one they don't tell you

on your room key card which dining you are at. In your cabin you get a

card that says which table, but even that doesn’t clearly say which

seating time. Ours said "X2" which might have meant 2nd seating, but

you had to wait in the dining room line just to find out. I assume

many of these communication issues will be corrected.

 

Theme Cruise Galore: The baseball legends theme activities were just

amazing. they had 8-9 former players and some big names and it was a

lot of fun. I thought this might have just been a few sessions, but

there were I believe 11 different sessions throughout the week. The

players were interesting, very funny, and very accessible to everyone.

They never hesitated to be stopped for a picture or autograph and

almost always encouraged it. The comic theme events were pretty hit or

miss. I saw a part of the US Ambassador lecture and it was pretty

interesting.

 

Disembarkation: This was a little chaotic. It was pretty normal in the

time it took to get off the ship, but the ground transportation was a

nightmare. Most blamed all the ships getting off at the same time and

the Caribbean Princess right next door. There was a long line for

cabs, but just none to be found. We quickly jumped line and walked a

few minutes to the front gate where we found plenty of waiting cabs who

were all in a line to get in (but couldn't) So, we saw a problem and

quickly adapted to it, but I wonder if anyone missed flights. Not sure if the blame here goes to the port or the cruise lines, but it was getting ugly.

 

CONTINUED ON NEXT POST....

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Minor points I had written down on a weekly pad scoresheet with PROS

on one side and CONS on the other.

 

CONS:

Small cabin (but they were functional...lots of storage space)

Small showers (RCL sized...maybe smaller)

Plastic small cups in the buffet. EVERYONE commented on this one and I

suppose it will be corrected as time goes on. I bet it is probably

something that Europeans don't complain about and Americans will :-)

Salt/Pepper packets and no shakers at the buffet (see plastic cup

comments!)

Internet cafe...no frequent use packages and European keyboards slow

you down!

Communications onboard (already commented)

No food from 10:15 to noon (except room service) for late risers

Decaf coffee was only instant

Gift shop not too much there

No urinals in the mens rooms

Virtual Reality Center/Arcade...not finished...no games yet at all

Tipping policy a huge question mark by everyone onboard

Desserts were not that great

Small Casino...but given the ship size it wasn't to crowded either

Time as local time and not ship time...we changed our clocks like 4 times!

 

PROS:

Beautiful ship

Very uncrowded feeling

Cool brown Med-style lounge chairs

HUGE light-up fountain above the pool deck

Kazoos at sail away....never seen that before

CD/animation staff...best I've ever seen

Deck party...also best I've seen...the band played on..and on..and on

I NEVER HEARD Bob Marley or Hot! Hot! Hot on the ship once! GASP! I

heard LOTS of Italian music, European-Techo dance music, lots of

Spanish music and not much Reggae...strange and interesting!

On the same theme....music in other languages was a welcome change

All lounge entertainment was great

Actual midnight buffets most nights..I thought those were extinct

Was thinking the ship was a perfect size...name another midsized ship

that is new and isn't a luxury line??

Very few loudspeaker announcements

White glove escort to cabin...ours just pointed! But many commented it

was nice.

NO pre-made drink hawking or constant hawking of ANYTHING! Very

strange to sit by a pool all day and have people always walking by but

never bothering you.

No tips on drink orders.

Cheap drinks! This was another very European element of the cruise. The

drinks were very cheap. Inexpensive wine by the glass...draft beer for

$2.15 and Cappuccino for $1.50! and like in Europe...Coke was $2.50.

High Tea every day was very nice and very well attended. This was also

a secret that this is the only place on the ship that the good

desserts were hiding....strange but true.

Good hamburgers/hot dogs/fries at the pool grill

Italian food...cheeses/breads/pastas/Risottos were great.

Lots of quiet/hidden spots in the far aft and far forward decks.

Bathroom stalls had green=open, red=occupied signs...minor but cool

Free printing in the Internet cafe.

Shows were very good

Dining room and room attendant service were very good

Onboard activity staff was amazing

Theme cruise (esp baseball) was good.

 

This will be interesting to see the MSC product unfold. It isn't Celebrity or Holland America as far as “premium” goes, but I also think that is maybe why it is also unique. If someone wants a Celebrity type premium experience for less cost then this might not be the best fit (yet) If someone wants a very European styled cruise on a smaller and newer ship, with a lively atmosphere but lots of quiet spots as well them maybe you have something here. Yes, improvements will be made and

there are lots of little things to fix.

 

In closing, I also heard some negative comments that they will have to

make many changes before appealing to an American clientele. I hope

this isn't totally the case. There were plenty of European elements

that made it charming, rather than confusing and it might be more of a

selling point than a sticking point. If they water it down too much it

becomes a smaller mainstream line and I don't think that is what Rick Sasso and MSC is going for.

 

Michael

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oooh...sorry about the funky formatting! I copied my comments from somewhere else and it didn't translate very well. Anyone who was on the Opera last week should be used to inexact translation, so you probably won't mind! :-)

 

I forgot to also mention how cruel it is to go from 90 degrees and sunny with a 70% humidity to 15 degrees and a below zero wind-chill in one day...YIKES!

 

Winter is WAY over rated!

 

Michael

freezing in NJ

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Michael,

 

Thanks for your very informative review, I appreciate you taking the time to write it and feel a bit more reassured now after reading it. I am trying hard to go into my cruise on Dec 28th with a very open mind and seeing all the reviews written on this post in particular, I think now I will have a basic idea of what to expect, beit good, bad or indifferent, everyones opinion has really helped me with my expectations. I just want to thank all of you who took the time to write them, finally some posts where noone is getting flamed and everyone is being civil, I was sorry I found this website until those of you that wrote from the Dec 11th sailing voiced your opinion.

Hope your staying warm Michael, I know it probably doesnt sound like much compared to the temperatures you are having but even we here in Florida are a bit cold, 40's for us is quite cold Brrrrrrrr

Cant wait to be in the sunny Carribean next week!!!!

Cindee

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Michael, thanks for an enlightening and open-minded review. You've made me look forward even more to my turn on Feb. 26.

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Michael, finally somone who had the same type of experience I had on the December 4th cruise. Of course there where some rough spots but definitely more good than bad. Thanks for the review.

 

Margaret

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Michael, Thanks so much for your detailed review. I will be sailing the Opera on Feb 5th. I am looking forward to this "new experience" after having sailed Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity and Carnival in the past 5 years. Was there a specific reason that the ship did not visit Grand Cayman?

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I was on the 12/11 sailing as well and enjoyed myself. There were definitely more posititves than negatives. We had a good waiter, and that helped things along - he was not Italian btw. I had no complaints about the food, some of the pasta was excellent. On the second Gala (formal) night, there was no always available menu for that night only.

 

I really enjoyed the baseball theme part of the cruise. For the most part, the players were very open and accessible (in Bob Feller's case almost too accessible). :)

 

Our standard outside category 8 cabin was a little cozy, but very functional. The shower however was one of the smallest I have ever had on board.

 

We were told that we could not tender in to Grand Cayman as the waves were too high. There were some whitecaps and even though we saw two other cruise ships pull in, we did not see tenders in the water to them yet either. This is not the first time that I've missed Cayman in December/January due to wave action.

 

The ship itself is beautiful. The cruise staff were fun and energetic. The cruise director, Ketty had to repeat every announcement in 5 languages which again can either be charming or exasperating depending on your situation.

 

A couple of improvements that could be made: as already mentioned the Dixie cups in the buffet area need to go. I had a couple of massages which were very nice, but the massage table had no place to put your head - no head extension or hold in the table to put your face. I thought the soft drinks were a little pricey and it would be nice to have a soda card. The tipping policy is very strange. No tips are expected because they are paid well, but there is a tradition of tipping at sea. We did give some tip money to our waiter, assistant, cabin stewardess and wine/water server.

 

So, there's another mindset for you.

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thank you everyone who responded both good and bad. I will be sailing 1/8 and am so excited despite the mixed reviews. i can't wait to have my own posts to add especially for those of you going later. hopefully we'll see a progression on some of these issues (dixie cups????). otherwise, thanks to everyone and have a great holiday!

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Michael and everyone, thanks for your input. I really like the way Michael spelled out the pros and cons. Frankly the cons are things I can live with and many of which will get better with time. It's always interesting how two people can be on the exact same cruise and come away with very different opinions. It comes down to expectations and perception ... and of course the individual. Bottom line, take all these reviews with a grain of salt, go with an open mind, have a great time, and come away with your own thoughts and opinions. How bad can a week long cruise to the Caribbean really be for $495 on a brand new ship?

 

Once again it seems those most disappointed are the ones going onboard expecting Holland America or Princess Cruises (at $495 rates I might add). When they book the cruise all they care about is price. Suddenly they forget how much they actually paid for the cruise when everything is not perfect. Many also forget this is a relatively new line to N.American and essentially this is a "shake down" season, hence the rock bottom prices. Some people only have themselves to blame for letting money talk and not doing the proper research to make sure the product fits their lifestyle.

 

MSC is supposed to be a European experience (and they don't hide this fact) so things are going to be different. It's NOT going to be the cruise line for every American as many American's want everything to be just like it is at "home". One look at MSC's less "polished" brochure and you can see this. Read between the lines folks! There is a segment of American population that might consider a cruise but they don't want to be stuck on a ship with the "overeating, old, fat and lazy obnoxious Americans". This is blunt I know, but I have many friends who would never consider a cruise because of the "reputation" and frankly they feel they are too young. Those of us who cruise a lot know this is a generalization but none the less it exists. For someone that may want a little style over longer buffet hours, MSC might be a good choice. From everything I'm reading it sounds like it will be for me. I certainly don't need to be fed 24/7 on a cruise, and the buffet is not the reason I take a cruise.

 

I agree some of the service issues are unacceptable, but these will eventually be worked out. It certainly doesn't sound as bad as NCL America's first cruises on PRIDE OF ALOHA. And this is an American product, with American crew, catering to almost all Americans. See, it's not just a "European thing".

 

Ernie

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ps - love the fact there is Euro-tech music played. I love it! As someone in my 30's this is very appealing. Don't think I will like the rap though, if that is really what was played. Anything besides the typical "cruise ship" rendition of "hot, hot, hot" or the "Macarena". Please, no embarrassing versions of "American the Beautiful" in the dining room either! I always felt so bad for the wait staff (all non-Americans) having to sing this for the benefit of their "customers". It never felt right.

 

Ernie

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One of the problems is MSC is trying to promote themselves as a premium cruiseline which they will never be until they have larger ships. The cabins are just to small and need to be bigger and service in both dining rooms has to improve.

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One of the problems is MSC is trying to promote themselves as a premium cruiseline which they will never be until they have larger ships. The cabins are just to small and need to be bigger and service in both dining rooms has to improve.

 

 

Service in the dining room will improve with the right managers and training in place. Right now it seems to depend on where you are sitting and who your waiter is. Some people are raving about the food and service while others are disappointed. I'm still reading about major problems with QM2 (a so-called luxury ship) well after a year since her debut. Cunard is now blaming the galley layout and apparently it will be redesigned during the next refit. Thankfully I experienced no problems during my cruise onboard her in May.

 

I agree a definite problem for MSC will be the lack of balconies and small cabins. It's not the end of the world though, and should these ships get a reputation for fine Italian cuisine and service I think people will overlook the design faults. One thing that seems universal is that the rest of the ships (LIRICA and OPERA) are beautiful and quite well designed.

 

The next MSC ship is MSC MUSICA. She is larger, based on the hull design of CORAL PRINCESS, and will be loaded with balconies. It's my guess that she and her sister will find their way to N.America for year round cruising. In a way that is good for MSC since American's now seem to expect and want the larger ships. For those of us that prefer the smaller, mid-sized ships like LIRICA and OPERA we might have to fly to Europe. :(

 

Ernie

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In my experience BIG is not always beautiful more frequently the reverse.

 

One small perfect diamond can be worth far more than a huge flawed rock!

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One of the problems is MSC is trying to promote themselves as a premium cruiseline which they will never be until they have larger ships. The cabins are just to small and need to be bigger and service in both dining rooms has to improve.

 

I am not sure what is the problem with the size of the cabins on the Opera.

 

RCCL's Majesty of the Seas says that the Oceanview is 157sq ft, Opera's Oceanview is 140. But supposedly the Opera has more storage.

 

Although the Interiors are 120-140sqft probably is similar in size to NCL's Sun Interiors.

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I have to agree with the negative comments on the December 11th sailing. We were second sitting and on the first formal night - we still did not have all of our meal served at 11 pm (sitting started at 8:30), when the lights went on and we were told to leave now! They were also out of some food selections. The room service menu was really a 'snack' menu and the language barrier got very frustrating after awhile.

 

The ship was well stabilized and handled herself well in rough seas. We hit Force 7 one night (gale force winds) and she rolled a bit, but all in all sailed smoothly.

 

This line has a long, long way to go to compete in the north american market. But until the service issues, cigar smoking (choke, choke) and language issues are rectified, I cannot in good conscience recommend this line to my clients - unless they are Italian and want a truly Italian cruise.

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Well I am NOT ITALIAN and LOVE my MSC cruises - so how wise is it to prejudge people in such a way?

Surely a decent travel agent realises they do not know everything and all clients - regardless of nationality - will have different likes and dislikes.

 

But hey! Keep up the good work of NOT selling/recommending MSC in the USA.

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Well good for you - you obviously fit into my criteria about a client wanting a truly Italian cruise.

 

Comments have been made in these boards about travel agents being too picky and complaining. Did you stop to consider that clients depend a lot on info provided by travel agents. It is by TA's experiencing the actual product that we can give accruate into to the client. We had more than one meeting of travel agents on board the Opera during the Dec. 11th sailing - in fact, about 1/3 of passengers on this sailing were travel agents. MSC did this for a reason - wanted feedback from the people who are in a position to sell the line. Concerns from travel agents were similar and MSC cruises had these meetings with TA's to get valuable feedback to correct the problems.

 

I stand by my original comment = if you want a truly Italian cruise - then this is for you. By the way, Costa went through similar growing pains when they started in the NA market.

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I cannot in good conscience recommend this line to my clients - unless they are Italian and want a truly Italian cruise.

 

 

Wow, that is a very broad statement. I'm not Italian but after almost 60 cruises on all the major lines (and not so major) I'm ready for something different. So MSC is not perfect ... neither have any of my other cruises although I've always have a great time. Interestingly enough, the worst food and service I can recall was on Cunard's QE2 a couple years ago. I still had a great time though and by no means did I starve.

 

I would be very disappointed if my travel agent did not recommend new and different things. It's all about qualifying the customer and being truthful about what the product is. Give me the facts and I'm a big boy that can make my own decision .... but at least give me the option. At the prices MSC is charging it's quite a bargain, and certainly not the end of the world should everything not go like clockwork.

 

I'm certain there are many more cruiser's like me looking for something different than the mainstream, but not wanting to spend the big bucks for Silversea or other niche cruise line.

 

Ernie

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Funny thing is that MSC have been in the Caribbean for several years now - and some behind the times travel agents ae just waking up!

 

Then these same Travel Agents describe MSC as a "truly italian cruise" when it is no such thing at all ! There are of course italian influences creating the "Italian Signature" but no more than that. For the record TAcruzer You got it wrong yet again and I certaily do not fit "your criteria".

 

I am well aware that MSC entertained a huge number of Travel Agents on the cruise in question and frankly I think this was another huge error on the part of Mr. Sasso.

 

I would guess that the TA "feedback" MSC received was worthless and a biggotted attempt to create yet another floating horror.

I must also add that from my point of view Mr Sasso was totally out of order in packing Opera with TAs and looking for feedback and at the same time charging other passengers. If Sasso is so ignorant that he needs TA "feedback" then Lord help us and how the devil did he get his job?

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HI,

I am going on the OPERA this month, I keep hearing complaints regarding problems with getting drinks, alchol and non alcohol ie iced tea.

does this line allow you to bring on your own drinks/?

I never could understand how cruise lines can confiscate your bottle when you board. I have never had the Marriott or other hotel take my bottle when checking in in order to make me purchase their liquior.

thanks

 

[

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Hi Bridget

From some of the latest comments it would seem that MSC are still allowing people to take their own "bottle" on board and if you purchase in the "duty free shop" then it is handed over and can be consumed in cabin.

We never had a problem with this in the past. We even saw people filling jugs and bottles with the complimentray orange/pineapples juices to use as mixers!

 

In the dining room we always made certain that we were very polite and courteous and greeted our waiter first night with a smile and an intruduction and we had jugs of cold water and ice tea every meal without exception and without even request. Ask for something off menu and if it was not available that night it would be the following night. Express even disappointment with a served meal and it was replaced with a huge apology.

Without a doubt every waiter we have had serve us on MSC has been superb and could not have done more for us.

Our waiters have always been pleased to serve us at a pace that suited us and on the odd occasion that we needed a short turn-around that was always achieved.

 

Just do be aware though that the whole dining experience is going to be a little less "stuffed shirt" than you would find in some over-priced 5 * restaurant.

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Are you serious or just being difficult?

 

The 12/4 and 12/11 sailings were going to sail with half the ship empty anyway. The reason is that the product is new to the market and travel agents are their entire distribution channel. If you want the distribution channel to become knowledgable and sell the procuct then you have to have them experience the product. Filling the empty half of the ship with agents does many things 1) It gives the agents and opportunity to sample the product and be able to give advice to their clients from first-hand experience and not just a guess from a brochure (or a message board!) 2) It gives him feedback from experienced cruisers. He also requested feedback in the form of suggestion forms from ALL the passengers, not just the TAs. 3)The agents still paid taxes, tips, bought drinks, shore excursions, gambled, shopped... so he increased the revenue stream for these sailings by turning empty cabins into cabins with customers with money to spend onboard.

 

He got his job from turning Celebrity into a successful company. I'm betting he got some feedback from others there as well.

 

Michael-

 

"I am well aware that MSC entertained a huge number of Travel Agents on the cruise in question and frankly I think this was another huge error on the part of Mr. Sasso.

 

I would guess that the TA "feedback" MSC received was worthless and a biggotted attempt to create yet another floating horror.

I must also add that from my point of view Mr Sasso was totally out of order in packing Opera with TAs and looking for feedback and at the same time charging other passengers. If Sasso is so ignorant that he needs TA "feedback" then Lord help us and how the devil did he get his job?"

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