Monday, December 31, 2018

MSC is NOT For Me!

First & Last MSC Cruise

First I would like to say that I am not a complainer.  I never even would have posted this blog if it weren't for the fact that the cruise line sent me an email asking for my feedback.  When I attempted to fill out the online survey I was unable to submit it due to some technical problem their website.  There was a glitch that was not allowing me to move from one page to the next.  So I copied and pasted my letter and wanted to send it to them as a link to their representatives.

I went on their Facebook page and saw many people had similar experiences to mine and said similar things.  So it wasn't a fluke, but rather this is their modus operandi.  Sad to say.  Surprisingly they had 4.4 stars which a friend of mine says are paid reviews!

What I liked on MSC was the entertainment (although there were not a lot of costume changes in the shows) the variety was nice.  It was eclectic and circus-like.  My favorite was the guy who did flips in the air and landed on a narrow bar.  

I also liked the interior design, the color schemes, carpet, art, and interior of the ship, it was very beautiful.

My personal trainer, Jacques was great as well.

But overall, I am sorry to say I was very disappointed so I want to explain why I would not take another MSC cruise.

I worked on Celebrity cruise line for 2 years as an acupuncturist from 2004-2006 and I have also been on Princess, NCL, and Carnival.  I hate to say it but MSC was the worst line of the 5 lines I have been on.  
Here's why: 

I purchased the cruise directly from MSC.  Due to poor customer service (having to wait over 30 minutes on hold before anyone answered (numerous times), no one responding to emails sent from the company website etc) I cancelled the trip.  I wanted this itinerary because it went to Columbia (and I could not find another line with dates that worked for us) and I had never been there before so my father purchased the cruise from Expedia.  I had trouble getting my $198 deposit refund. I had to place several calls and emails about it.  We also had trouble getting our boarding passes.

Our check in time was late so we missed the boat safety drill.  Then the notice for the second drill came so late we didn't know about it and missed that too.  We felt the overall organization of the cruise was poor.  

I purchased shore excursions in advance and I was charged twice for the one for Aruba for all 3 of us.  That also took me many attempts to get refunded.  At first only 2 tickets were refunded and then the third one was refunded on another credit card statement even though they were all purchased together at the same time.

In Jamaica I wanted to go to Blue Hole but it was not offered so I purchased it from an outside shore excursion group.

In Columbia I wanted to do the hop on hop off bus tour but it wasn't an option until literally the night before we got there, we had a flyer on our doors. I was disappointed that I overpaid by using another tour company because it was not available on the cruise website.

The Panama excursion choices were not available until right before the cruise and the descriptions barely told us anything about the trip.

In Cozumel our snorkel excursion was cancelled due to the rainy weather.  We were able to get on another tour (in German in French which we don't speak) and I had to pay full price for it despite the fact that I prepaid for the snorkel trip and got a discount, It was not my fault the weather was bad and our trip was cancelled but the shore excursion department would not give me the discounted rate from the on board price like I got for the snorkel trip because I paid for it before we boarded the ship.    

I also purchased a photo package in advance before boarding.  It turns out the family eating dinner with us also pre- purchased the same package.  We both were under the impression from the marketing materials we got from MSC that we were getting both 10 prints AND 10 digital files but on board they insisted it was only 10 prints.  It's odd that we both thought the same thing.  There must be a mistake on the website or the printed advertisement that is not consistent with what the ship is actually offering.

So I prepaid and purchased the 10 photos for $80 because the advertisement lured me in by promising me 70% OFF of on board prices.  Then when we were on board they offered 15 photos for $99.  This is a MUCH better deal but they would not let me upgrade to the better package.  This was misleading and unfair.  I don't think any other company would have done that! -- Refused to allow customer to use purchase towards a better deal.  What happened to the customer is always right?  This was lousy customer service!  I wanted to pay the difference and get the better promotion but they said no.  Why burn a bridge for $19?  The printed photos were anyway going to recycling, there is literally no financial loss to the ship to give us the extra 5 photos and make us happy and take an additional $19.  It's literally a win-win but the ship was not able to accommodate, bend, or compromise.  What a shame.

I pre-purchased spa treatments and personal trainer (at the same time for my father and myself).  When I came to the spa to make my appointments they only had record of my personal trainer payments and not our 6 spa treatments.  I had to wait for the spa manager to contact reception to try to find the proof of payment.  

One day there was a time change so people came to their spa appointments an hour late.  Instead of rescheduling them they bumped people who were on time.  My dad was frustrated that his treatment started over half an hour later that it was scheduled.  

I spent over $114 for the internet plan (before boarding) for 5 devices and the data we were given only lasted a few days.  This is more than I pay for a month of internet at home with unlimited use.  So the majority of the trip we could not use internet.  Most people use social media to upload vacation photos and it would behoove the company to give better plans with more data because it's free advertisement for the cruise-line.  But the company seems too near-sighted to even see the big picture that they are jeopardizing long term gains for short term gains.   

The 4D movie and bowling and car simulator package was a rip off.  Very glad I didn't buy it.  The bowling had 2 lanes, a tiny ball and was not like real bowling, the movies were 5 minutes long, and the car was not a big deal to warrant such a high price tag.  

There were very long lines for the buffet and also for getting off the ship.  Never seen such lines on a cruise in my life and I have been on over 200 cruises.

The food was overall bland and lacked variety.  Would have liked lox for breakfast, but I never saw it offered.

Our waiter at night kept making mistakes every night, bringing people the wrong dish, and so many things.  We overheard another table complaining to the restaurant manager so my dad said it was happening with us too.  We were happy to see that steps were made to correct this and the service improved immediately.

We got the drink package and were told different things at different bars on the ship.  One bar said that the drink I wanted (BBC) was not included so I paid $9.95 for it, then I went to another bar and they took my drink voucher and the receipt said the drink price was $8.50 but there was no charge for me because of my drink plan.  People on board were not operating from the same rule board, it's as if they had no company/brand training.  The line was consistently inconsistent.    

I did not see any Friday night Sabbath services scheduled for the Jewish passengers but there were daily AA meetings and regular LGBT and singles meetings.

In general, there were way TOO many inconsistencies and poor customer service and disappointments which is why I will not be a return customer. 

I hope this helps you with quality control and to improve your service so that you have more repeat business and do not lose potential clients like me.  

We spent over $1,800 on board but will not be back, unless it's for a FREE cruise!

Sincerely yours,
Ahuva Gamliel, ND, AP

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