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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are just returning from our 18 day adventure as a family of five ,two adults three children age 7, 13 ,15 we have previously sailed with RCI , NCL ,PRINCESS AND CUNARD and after reading some of the reviews of MSC had very low ... Read More
We are just returning from our 18 day adventure as a family of five ,two adults three children age 7, 13 ,15 we have previously sailed with RCI , NCL ,PRINCESS AND CUNARD and after reading some of the reviews of MSC had very low expectations but they do a loyalty match to our diamond plus level with RCL so we gave it a go and this is honestly the best cruise line we have sailed with happiest ship , friendliest crew , most gorgeous ship and child friendly ship, any child not enjoying this cruise I would say their parents have got real problems because it has everything kids love everything adults love really superb peace and quiet , loud and bouncing and all inbetween . We had a whirlpool suite cabin 14211 ,gorgeous , space,technology ,walk in wardrobe .Erica our room steward was amazing as was lokesh and Anand our anytime dining staff so helpful and obliging,although portion sizes were small in the dining room we were constantly offered more so it was never an issue. We were on the aurea package and used the thermal suite a lot (gorgeous ) we also had our complementary massages (no catch) Ship is very smooth and incredible with technology everywhere, we purchased nearly every package before we boarded and it was cheaper and so easy for f1 simulator, zip line ,4d cinema ,air hockey, waterslides ,bowling ,washing package was great and next cruise I will definitely pack less and have more washed and pressed ,brilliant . Just 1 small complaint MSC what on earth is going on with your embarcation process ???? NOT GOOD stood like sheep in sao Paulo in scorching temperatures appears no organisation or communication it was almost a crush a bit frightening to be honest ,fix this and we have found our perfect cruise line by the way disembarking was a breeze so you can do it Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Modern ship, many open areas from which you can admire the sea. I liked the track with a transparent bottom. The glass was clean and it was clearly visible what was happening below. Lots of fun for kids. There is a water park, rope ... Read More
Modern ship, many open areas from which you can admire the sea. I liked the track with a transparent bottom. The glass was clean and it was clearly visible what was happening below. Lots of fun for kids. There is a water park, rope town, zip-line. There is a pool with a retractable roof, which is very important for me if the trip passes through countries with different climatic conditions. There are soft loungers near the pool. Good organization of stations in the buffet, no queues. Even at peak times it was possible to find a free table. Dirty dishes cleaned quickly. In the restaurant at the beginning the service was very slow. Then it became faster, but the choice of dishes was not very impressive. Desserts were quite good in the buffet and in the restaurant. Loved the assortment of fruit in the buffet. There were mango, papaya, passion fruit, kiwi, pineapple - all I love. Landing in the first port was not organized very well. The exit in the last port was flawless. I really liked the cruise itinerary, the weather was great. Overall, the cruise went well. I can recommend this ship. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Notice that the title is not unexpensive cruise, as this one costed some usd 3500 for a couple and a todler in a balcony. Well, if this is your first cruise, you probably will like it. But when you have a bunch of others as previous ... Read More
Notice that the title is not unexpensive cruise, as this one costed some usd 3500 for a couple and a todler in a balcony. Well, if this is your first cruise, you probably will like it. But when you have a bunch of others as previous experiences, you might get disapointed as we did (and most of the passenger we spoke with who had previous cruise experiences) Let me start with the good points: the ship is new, and beutifully decorated in a modern and posh way. cabins are nice and entertainment is also good, being the slides and waterpart on of the best i´ve seen on cruises. Now the down points: The food is far bellow average. You´ll rarelly see cow meat on the buffet or the menu. Burgers, pizza and sousage are available everyday, alongside with chicken. And most food lack taste or freshness (fish, salmon and chicken always seemed "dry", overcooked or looked like done hours ago and just heated to serve) Remember those nice formal dinners, where they serve lobster at least in one day? Not on this one, lobster is sold at usd 50 at the "speciality seafood restaurant". A nice steak? Not served on the regular restaurants, but rather for 95 usd in the "butchers cut" In fact the formal restaurants do not serve not even water, they charge you usd 2,10 per botle (and its not perrier, or fiji, just regular botled water that they sell for 30 cents on the supermarket) We know that cruise lines always try to find ways to charge you more on additional items, but never expected they to come to your table and offer you a meat plate for next night, to be served on the very same restaurant you have your dinners, but only if you pay an extra of usd 20 per person... this was very sad posture by them. Bear in mind also that this is a 5100 passanger ship, and the crew seems not able to handle so many passengers (I will definintelly not cruise on their 6500 passenger ship expected for 2020). And since you are not allowed to access parts of the ship unless you are a "yacht club member", you have to live on a smaller portion of the ship.(you will not acess the front lounge, one pool, one restaurant and one sundeck, unless you are VIP paying for a suite on the "yacht club" SPA, sauna and steamroom are also not accessible, unless you pay a daily rate to use the spa, or choose the "aurea" experience upon booking, paying a few hundred dollars more. There is also a bowling lane (45usd per hour) a F1 simulator (10 usd per play), a zipline (12usd per use) and a 3d theather (10 dollars per 5 minutes) Other down points were that they seemed to try to save money by contracting some chep tender boats (all our ports of call were tendered) and we`ve seem one of them be at large, without motor for almost an hour.... cruise did not send any of their tenders to save the passengers....they had to wait for another old tender to go there and transfer them in the middle of the ocean, from a boat with a broken engine that was being taken away.... We heard by the passengers that complained that they got a standard letter plus a bottle of proseco (very cheap way again to apologise for putting people´s life in danger....) Well, in general is not a bad cruise, but considering the quality of the food and all the extras they charge, I´d say it´s value should be from 20% to 30% less than a similar lenght cruise in other good cruise lines such as RCCL or Princess. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Food is terrible, this is the weakness point for sure. The food had no taste, no presentation, no talent. Service is a nightmare, it is clear for me that people had no training and its not prepare for the functions, there was no ... Read More
Food is terrible, this is the weakness point for sure. The food had no taste, no presentation, no talent. Service is a nightmare, it is clear for me that people had no training and its not prepare for the functions, there was no leadership, the managers were extremely arrogants and they spent their time talking each other instead of looking their team, I have never seen such attitude before in my previous crusies. The ship looks nice however it doesn’t work, the theater and the other areas are too small for the capacity of the chip 4300 passangers. We had to make a reservation for the theater but it never worked, we are oblied to seat on the floor, the theater has 03 presentations per night but the capacity is not enough to attend all passengers. It is a very ashamed situation for everyone. The restaurantes work in three shifts, so the last dinner is at 22hs45, my cruise was overbooked so I had bo other choice, that means my dinner started around 23hs15 everyday, crazy. I have already traveled with Costa and Royal Caribbean and had a nice experience! MSC never more!! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Due to the fact that this ship is new and luxurious, we had high expectations for our vacation. But it ended up as the worst cruise service we ever experienced. Unprepared crew, no knowledge of what's happening at the ship, and ... Read More
Due to the fact that this ship is new and luxurious, we had high expectations for our vacation. But it ended up as the worst cruise service we ever experienced. Unprepared crew, no knowledge of what's happening at the ship, and always with a bad mood (with few exceptions). Attendants of the bar always busy, causing waits of up to 10 min for a simple beer (which was sometimes, warm). Food is the worst, breakfast has always the same options with low quality coffee. Lunch is basically hamburger, hotdog, fries and pizza (2 or 3 flavors). If you want some meat during lunch, there's only one location serving it, with at least 20 people on waiting line. Dinner is even worse, the options are always tasteless and repeated, ingredients are not as good as expected from a cruise service (if you order a steak, don't expect a juicy thick one, you'll receive a very thin tasteless overcooked). Elevators were pure pain, always slow with an automated system to distribute load that does not work. Cabin was good but the bathroom was a bit small. Entertainment shows were good, but the cruise didn't offer trivia/quiz/sports activities The ship has never landed on "Buzios", one of the main ports to be visited, always claiming bad weather (even though there were no clouds in the sky, and a quick google search indicated weather was perfect). TouchScreen totems and smartphone applications were really usefull for managing what to do and how much money you have spent. If it was possible, I would ask for a refund. After this cruise I'll stay away from MSC cruises and stick to Royal Caribbean (the best company so far). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had a lovely onboard experience - we thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary as well as the advantages which come with a suite. Loved the spa area! The service on Magnifica was very good and the staff really friendly, helpful and ... Read More
We had a lovely onboard experience - we thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary as well as the advantages which come with a suite. Loved the spa area! The service on Magnifica was very good and the staff really friendly, helpful and multi-lingual. What we did find annoying though (and this is the reason why we could not award "Excellent" for the Shore Excursions Category), was that the English excursions which we booked in every port (English explicitly printed on our tickets) on a number of occasions were conducted in only Spanish and/or Portuguese and German. The guides could luckily understand English and give us some information when requested, but overall the situation was very unsatisfactory and at times quite stressful. There were only a handful of English speakers on Magnifica, so we did not expect to be specifically catered for, however one would expect to be able to feel included. Whilst the wait staff were excellent, the food was rather mediocre. We did expect more tasty and more of a variety of Italian cuisine. However, as we chose this cruise for the itinerary, we did not let it affect the enjoyment of our cruise. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
the shopping was so good! Way better than Zalando!! AND THE BOWLING ARENA WAS SO COOL!!! LOVE IT. Went on the behind the scenes tour which covered the bridge, engine control room, galley and gave a chance to understand crew life - very ... Read More
the shopping was so good! Way better than Zalando!! AND THE BOWLING ARENA WAS SO COOL!!! LOVE IT. Went on the behind the scenes tour which covered the bridge, engine control room, galley and gave a chance to understand crew life - very interesting and worth doing. Had the beverage package - if you drink wine, esecially the nice stuff, be aware that the wines available at the bars are very limited. The good wines are only available in the Sapphire/Chops Grille (and possibly Giovannis), and only by the bottle which means that you are paying 60% of the cost. So factor that in when deciding whether beverage package the right choice. Tried to to register daughter at kids club on the first night @6pm when the notices said it would be open - at 6:20pm there was a large group of us outside the kids club banging on the door - no-one there. The guys from the videa arcade rang someone who told them KC wasn't opening until 6:30. Left as tired of waiting and daughter then refused to go back. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
i loved the shopping!! way better than zalando. THE BOWLING ARENA WAS SO COOL! My main gripes would be - the music round the pool was ridiculously loud - I mean OTT. I also didn't like the music for most of the time, but even ... Read More
i loved the shopping!! way better than zalando. THE BOWLING ARENA WAS SO COOL! My main gripes would be - the music round the pool was ridiculously loud - I mean OTT. I also didn't like the music for most of the time, but even when I did like it (they played some ok electonic/techno for a while) it was too loud for a family area. Maybe play some chill-out quieter for most of the day and then crank it up after 4pm? - smoking are immediately adjacent to the pool deck on starboard side - Yuck Overall the service was very good - a few staff members whose English was really not good which made it difficult, but almost everyone cheerful and friendly, said hello/good morning/afternoon. VoTS is not a very exciting boat for kids I think - it was fine for a short cruise like ours but not enough for kids to do - need water slides (I would like water slides too :-)), but overall this was good and I'd recommend for singles/couple without kids. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
I live in Brazil near Sao Paulo and the idea of cruising without having to fly first was appealing. The cabin was huge, and the waiter was very good. The food was mediocre and we had a room full of women next door who thought they should ... Read More
I live in Brazil near Sao Paulo and the idea of cruising without having to fly first was appealing. The cabin was huge, and the waiter was very good. The food was mediocre and we had a room full of women next door who thought they should be very loud at any time of the day or night. We had the unlimited drink package, but the wines they allowed were very limited. We tried a couple of times to go dancing at the Disco, but the DJ wasn't there even though it was listed he would be. Uruguay was disappointing. We visited a winery and that was great, but it seems financially depressed. We loved Buenos Aires, we just got in a taxi and took off and we found a great place for lunch. If you don't speak Portuguese, this cruise could be a bit difficult as most everyone is Brazilian. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
This review is very late in writing!! The reason I am writing it now is as we have just booked a cruise on the MSC seaside for this April and all the negative reviews have been a bit worrying! When I had a look at the preziosa reviews I ... Read More
This review is very late in writing!! The reason I am writing it now is as we have just booked a cruise on the MSC seaside for this April and all the negative reviews have been a bit worrying! When I had a look at the preziosa reviews I saw that many of them were not great either and so different from our experience that I realised I really should have shared my opinions earlier. So we sailed out of venice - was actually back in may 2014- but I CC wouldn't let me review back that far. We were travelling with our 2 daughters ages 9&10 at the time. We had room 11009 a large corner suite- which was amazing - we had a big lounge room with small balcony- actually very small but was off no worry to us we prefer to be at the pool or the bar. The balcony did however extend all the way around the front of the boat- walking space only but was amazing to stand out there when sailing in and out of ports. The girls shared the sofa bed in the lounge which for 2 kids was more than fine - for 2 adults perhaps not. Our bedroom was enormous with a great king bed and large floor to ceiling windows- we were gob smacked!! we had a large walk in wardrobe and an adequate bathroom - small but fine. We found the food to be excellent- service in the MDR was fantastic and we really enjoyed the food. The buffet was huge and the pizza incredible- the one big negative was the amount of people and finding a table at breakfast was a headache- we decided after a few days to eat breakfast in MDR and was much better. We loved the layout of the ship, the service, the food and the pools / waterslide for the kids. Our only true negative was that dining and bars were crowded Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
I feel like MSC improved recently, but I didn't enjoy this cruise on 2016, even though it was on a Yacht Club cabin. Pros: - Yacht club area was very nice: amazing pool and hot baths! - Nice excursions, specially the one to ... Read More
I feel like MSC improved recently, but I didn't enjoy this cruise on 2016, even though it was on a Yacht Club cabin. Pros: - Yacht club area was very nice: amazing pool and hot baths! - Nice excursions, specially the one to Ilhabela! - Decent saunas, and an exclusive elevator from the YC area to the aurea SPA! - Butler service, organizing your room and bringing breakfast to bed with domed plates! Cons: - Mediocre dinners. No lobster. Worst Hollandaise sauce I've ever had in my life. - Although the cocktails were tasty, the quality of wines was terrible. Prosecco was often still, and we had a minuscule selection of drinks, even on YC areas. There was no craft beer, no Aperol Spritz, etc. - We couldn't get free drinks on other areas of the ship with the YC pass. MSC fixed this issue recently, to be fair. - No app Read Less
Sail Date: January 2016
The ship is very big, so be ready to walk, however, it's incredible, with delicious foods for all tastes, comfortable cabins, an excellent service, with some entertainment (but not always), activities such as videogames, F1 simulator, ... Read More
The ship is very big, so be ready to walk, however, it's incredible, with delicious foods for all tastes, comfortable cabins, an excellent service, with some entertainment (but not always), activities such as videogames, F1 simulator, football ("soccer", for some), baskteball fields etc. The ports in Brazil are very direct to your ship, but I can't give a review on shore excursions by MSC because we visited the cities on our own. By the way, if you're a fan of disco, there's something for you there, but I wouldn't say it's really that great if you're a hard partying person. We embarked in Santos, and the trip followed as we visited Búzios, Salvador, Ilhéus and Ilha Grande, until we return to Santos. MSC Splendida has great plays and music for all, but I'd like to assure that this ship is actually perfect for who wants to rest, feel happy again, forget about your daily problems and remember what "relax", "rest" and "smoothness" mean again, having moments where you do can have fun too. The trip was so incredible that I feel like I just disembarked to date. I absolutely recommend it! PS: As for the children, I didn't go with "my" children, they were in my group, and that's my review for children: not very recommend, the ship is more adequate for what I mentioned above, but yeah, definitely, they loved the trip for its other facilities! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
The cruise itself was very nice. Cabin was clean, the menu and service were very good. The entertainment was varied including jugglers, acrobats, magicians, singers and an attempt at stage production. The staff was polite and attentive. ... Read More
The cruise itself was very nice. Cabin was clean, the menu and service were very good. The entertainment was varied including jugglers, acrobats, magicians, singers and an attempt at stage production. The staff was polite and attentive. The public areas were very clean The truly disappointing aspects of the cruise came at the beginning and end; the exact times you would think MSC would like to make a good first impression and lasting final impression. The embarkation at Santos port was disorganized and confusing with poor signage and little cruise ship guidance. It was like being at a busy bus/metro station during rush hour on a Friday evening while carrying a weeks worth of luggage. The luggage drop off was extremely disorganized with multiple lines converging on unclearly marked drop areas. Amazingly the luggage did make it aboard the ship. With many passengers being in the 60 to 80 year range, the scene was very stressful.There was very little guidance provided by terminal staff or MSC staff in the staging of embarkation. The cruise was 2 hours late in departure from Santos. The 'Loading of Passengers' was not well staged and lines of several hundred metres were common. The disembarkation at the termination of the cruise in Santos was a disaster. It was not safe and took over 2 hours to conduct. The ship arrived 4 hours late; yet passengers were called to sit in a crowded lounge (Zebra Lounge) staging area to await instructions regarding disembarkation. This waiting lasted 2 hours in a lounge designed to seat a fraction of the passengers in the area. Elderly passengers sat on the floor or on the stairs awaiting information without water or comfort. When a manager was called for assistance, the response was that all staff were busy at reception and that all passengers were to remain in the lounge area. It must be noted that staff in the staging area was accommodating and helpful to the elderly. What was obvious was a management absence in the area. There was no one to give direction to staff. Management was not available. Clearly the management responsible for the organization of disembarkation had no contingency plan for a 'ship running behind schedule' or for addressing the related complications of passenger crowding in the disembarkation staging areas. For the comfort and more importantly safety of passengers MSC management must review these polices, procedures and practices. The disembarkation procedure was unsafe for all and a health hazard for the elderly.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We were a family of 4, a couple with 2 teenagers, a girl (16) and a boy (14). We have booked for our first cruise on Preziosa one of the most expensive cabins in the Yacht Club class, the Executive Family suite. The first disappointment on ... Read More
We were a family of 4, a couple with 2 teenagers, a girl (16) and a boy (14). We have booked for our first cruise on Preziosa one of the most expensive cabins in the Yacht Club class, the Executive Family suite. The first disappointment on arrival was that although we were in the front of the ship and had a balcony we could not access it as the windows were sealed and could not open. A shame, for a cabin of that size and position. Second disappointment on arrival was that even though it was for a family of 4 the sofa bed was a small sofa bed and my teenagers would have to share it, what didn't seat very well with a girl of 16 and a boy of 14. In the end this was sorted and the staff brought in a mattress and placed on the living room floor and we had to live with it for the whole of the trip. This was a bit annoying as we were told at the time of booking that there were 2 sofa beds. The Yacht Club class is very nice, but there was only 1 restaurant and a buffet area near the bar in the pool that we were allowed to use and by the middle of the trip it starts to get a bit boring with the same thing every day. For the price charged on this class we should be allowed to chose any restaurant on the ship to dine in. Drinks were only included in the Yacht Club area as well, so if we went to another part of the ship we had to pay extra for drinks. Even though it's nice to be in an exclusive part of the ship, you will not be only in that area for 7 days in a ship, so not very good value for money if you have to pay for anything outside the area. This Yacht Club arrangement needs to be reviewed in my view. On the other hand I don't recommend any other class as by wondering around I could see how crowded the other classes were. Another point to mention was the fact that the Executive suites can only be booked on the Yacht Club class, but they are located on the front of the ship while the Yacht Club class reception, bar, restaurant, pool and all other cabins from the class are on the other end of the ship, so we had to walk the whole length of the ship to access the areas every time we went there. Not very well designed and if you are planning to book these suites be aware of this detail specially if you have problems of mobility. Prepare to walk a lot from one side to the other all the time. Another negative was the lack of sun shades in the pool area. If you don't arrive early in the morning to get a table with a shade you will not get one later. There are plenty of tables and sun loungers, but not enough sun shades. On the positive side the ship is stunning, the gym and the SPA have wonderful views and excellent service. The food was good and the entertainment also good, but not exceptional. Would I book this cruise again? My answer is no. No, because of all the above reasons and I would try another cruise company such as Celebrity Cruises or Royal Caribbean instead of going back to Preziosa. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
A trip on the MSC PREZIOSA is a great example of this basic capitalist tenant. Me and my family took a 7 day trip on this ship along the Brazilian coast on New Years 2015. There were so many things wrong with it that I don’t even know ... Read More
A trip on the MSC PREZIOSA is a great example of this basic capitalist tenant. Me and my family took a 7 day trip on this ship along the Brazilian coast on New Years 2015. There were so many things wrong with it that I don’t even know where to start. Most of the crew were rude and not at all helpful, with very few exceptions. The majority seemed not to speak English or the local language, or at least pretended not to. My impression is that there were so few of them and so much work to do that everyone ended up miserable and the job was poorly done. Cleanliness of cabins was a major issue. One the most revolting things I have ever experienced dried up faeces and gave out the most foul smell ever. After a lot of complaining, they sent someone to clean it. Not exchange it and throw it away at a nuclear disposal site, mind you. They cleaned something like that, which still remained brown, as you can imagine. That´s not all. The linen was never changed in all seven days and it smelled like cigarettes. Furthermore, one of my family members found a package of condoms under their couch. The food was also terrible. The lunch buffet served pretty much the same pizzas and hot dogs everyday, with some daily specials that changed. But the worst were the dinners. Both the Golden Lobster and the Arabesque restaurants served some of the worst food I have ever tasted. Chewey pasta, bad meat, old salad and so on and so on. So in order to have a proper meal you have to go to either Italia or Eataly restaurants, which are not included. So you add up some US$ 50 to 80 per meal per person to your bill and the reason why the main dining restaurants are so awful starts to become clear. Also, they put on a lot more guests then they should. Pool areas are extremely crowded, there aren´t nearly enough seats, chairs or pools for everyone, so you either get there early or spend your day spending more money in the smoke-filled casino. Still, the ship was full, so MSC seems to have struck gold: bad service for high prices.   Read Less
Sail Date: December 2014
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was ... Read More
We had a family vacation time during the Christmas week, departing from Santos - Brazil heading to Montevideo / Punta del Este (Uruguay) and Buenos Aires (Argentina)... Our expectation (we had a group of 5 balcony cabins to our family) was to have time to relax and enjoy the trip. To make short a long history, we waited for approximately 5 hours to get on board in a very crowd area (even considering that was Christmas time, the waiting time was not reasonable). By the time we finally entered the ship, we had only a few minutes to get to our cabin, pick up the life jackets and proceed to the meeting point. It is not necessary to say that after the emergency exercise all passengers went to the restaurant at the same time to grab some food (considering that the majority of the passengers do not live in the departing city and spent several hours to arrive there before the check-in). Again another patience exercise because the restaurants had no space to everyone and it was a very bad "welcome aboard" message. After this first "lost" day, the trip was reasonable until the stop in Punta del Este, where we noted several (dozens of) mosquitos in our balcony and in the surrounding areas (we had a cabin on the back of the ship, near the external stair). We asked for plague control and a very polite man came to our cabin with an electronic raquet used to kill mosquitos and killed the insects inside our cabin and also the ones located in the balcony - but not the ones in the other balconies near or the mosquitos hidden in the stairs area, even after we alerted him about it. The result was that we were not able to use the balcony after this point of the trip. To conclude our "not so happy trip" the arrival in Santos, Brazil had the same situation we faced during the check-in... You were requested to leave the cabin at 8 AM because they need to clean the cabins to the next group of guests (perfect!) but we stayed inside the ship until 2 PM without access to food or drinks, except if you want to open a new account and proceed to a new check-out before leaving the ship. This is not reasonable and MSC must think a way to allow the passengers to pay the last drinks/ice creams, etc in cash or to sell special vouchers for use during this period. I know the company will say the year end time is complicated and the delay was related to the immigration offices but I would say it does not sound reasonable, because in a previous trip using another ship of MSC in the same itinerary we did not face the same situation... Additionaly, another ship that was doing exactly the same route apparently had no problems with delays... Our group were the last one to leave the terminal. I would suggest MSC to check the procedures again and try to improve the boarding and departing in this port. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2014
Firstly the good points - ship décor still on good condition; clean cabins; restaurant staff excellent; dealt with lactose-intolerant problem extremely well.Now for the problems- 1. Buffet food is always cold and repetitive and no-one ... Read More
Firstly the good points - ship décor still on good condition; clean cabins; restaurant staff excellent; dealt with lactose-intolerant problem extremely well.Now for the problems- 1. Buffet food is always cold and repetitive and no-one including the Maître d'hôtel interested. 2. Even the main restaurant has a tendency to serve cold food unless you complain. 3. At the commencement of the cruise, the lunch time restaurant was quite quiet. However as a result of the poor food in the buffet, then the restaurant soon became very busy, and lunch became an almost 2 hour marathon as the staff and kitchen were overrun by the demand. 4. Embarkation was a total and utter disaster. A numbered sequence used, but called too many numbers at once resulting in passengers having to queue for well over 1 hour to reach the embarkation desk. 5. UK booking process totally lacking and a total shambles with e-mails continually ignored. 6. Organisation of disembarkation at ports of call virtually non-existent. 7. Entertainment quite basic, but energetic performances by the dancers. 8. Mainly Brazilian & Italian passengers who tend to be very noisy and regularly queue jump.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
This cruise was very disappointing for a number of reasons 1 MSC allow smoking in the casino, in the lounge area above the casino and on all the port side of the pool deck. In fact they have signs stating " MSC welcomes smokers in ... Read More
This cruise was very disappointing for a number of reasons 1 MSC allow smoking in the casino, in the lounge area above the casino and on all the port side of the pool deck. In fact they have signs stating " MSC welcomes smokers in this area ". Although smoking in the cabin and balcony is not permitted, the fact that they have placed an ashtray in every cabin toilet onboard means that they turn a blind eye to this. Our sink and carpet both had cigarette burns although this ship is only 12 months old. MSC say that the ashtray is a soap dish, but it has ridges for the butts and swivels to empty and also all soap in the cabin is liquid. The also sell cartons of cigarettes on deck at cut price, therefore you can smoke all day although you cannot take any drink on board or buy any at duty free for cabin consumption. 2 The Dress Code was not followed, in fact even on a formal gala evening I found myself in dinner jacket seated next to a passenger with Tshirt, shorts and flipflops would you believe ! 3 The Preziosa has a design problem in that midship cabins on deck 13 have a 30 foot overhang from the pool deck. This means that the cabins are dark with a very poor view, although the cabins are one of the most expensive after the Yacht Club. So if you like to enjoy the sun on the balcony be very careful which cabin you choice. The front or the back is OK but deck 13 and 12 midship are a problem. We eventually after five days and numerous visits to reception managed to change our cabin. This cabin was very disappointing due to the 30 foot overhang caused by the pool deck above. This restricts the view and means that the cabin is dark and the lights are required at all times, it was not posible to sit on the balcony and enjoy the sun. We were eventually moved to another cabin 13043 which was at the front and does not have the same problem. Be very careful with cabin selection, on the ship the majority of cabins on the 13th and 12th decks have the overhang although they are the most expensive apart from the Yacht Club. Our cabin had cigarette burns on the sink, although MSC says that there should be no smoking in the cabin and balcony. They have put an ashtray in every toilet which means that they turn a blind eye to smoking ( MSC say it is a soap dish ). Read Less
Sail Date: February 2014
Just returning from a 7-night cruise aboard the MSC Preziosa . Travelled with my husband , my parents , in-laws and 3 nephews . Among nine people , only the children were fully satisfied with the ship . This was my fourth cruise, the first ... Read More
Just returning from a 7-night cruise aboard the MSC Preziosa . Travelled with my husband , my parents , in-laws and 3 nephews . Among nine people , only the children were fully satisfied with the ship . This was my fourth cruise, the first by MSCs . We chose Preziosa because it was the newest ship traveling along the Brazilian coast , and really , its decor is beautiful , extremely tasteful . There are many options of entertainment for children and adults . The team of Brazilian animation was pretty fun , but the qualities end there. The feeling is that there is a lot more people on board the vessel support . The public areas were always overcrowded . There was no place in the pools during the day, or in the lounges in the evening for a drink . But worst of all was definitely the buffet Maya & Inca . Disorganization is the word that best describes the place , with a terrible arrangement of food, spread over 100 meters restaurant. When you get a place to sit , the marathon begins to find food. When you return to the table , the food is already cold . The disembarkation by tender was so tumultuous and disorganized that we gave up going down on Ilha Grande - very frustrating . Another downside was the poor service . With few exceptions , grumpy and unwilling crew. Cleaning was also lacking , especially in the cabins and corridors . The carpet was always dirty and sometimes there was food dishes alongside some doors (which were also not collected within the rooms) . Now the food ... Little variety in the buffet , and repetitive menu . At dinner restaurant, excellent service by the waiter Soni and his assistant Alexander. Tasty but unsophisticated food. Very different from the other ships that I traveled before . Finally , the price of food and drinks paid separately . Too expensive ! Draft beer Itaipava 400ml U.S. $ 4.80 , can beer $ 3.00 , longneck $ 3.60 to $ 3.80, soda can $ 2.60 , $ 3.00 bottled water , and most cocktails $ 8.00 . Everything plus another 15 % service charge . No wonder there was always huge queues to get water at the buffet ... When we got on the ship we were offered drinks package "all inclusive" . Is nothing more than a booklet with 14 sheets that gives the right to any soft drink and ice cream for U.S. $ 31.00 plus 15% or 18 sheets for liquor at most $ 8.00 for U.S. $ 61.00 plus 15% . That is $ 2.55 for sodas and juices and $ 3.90 for alcoholic beverages . And don't even think about eating outside the buffet , if you are not willing to pay for it . Only one restaurant serves breakfast and lunch a la carte included in the package . We felt exploited ! Normally I try to make positive reviews of hotels and places I know , but this time I felt compelled to share my negative experience . If I recommend a MSC cruise ? Definitely not ! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2014
We started this adventure in the port of Santos, Brazil. Embarking was swifter than I expected considering so many people. The first impression of the ship is great, I particularly liked the entry setup with the little tent and flowers and ... Read More
We started this adventure in the port of Santos, Brazil. Embarking was swifter than I expected considering so many people. The first impression of the ship is great, I particularly liked the entry setup with the little tent and flowers and flag. The magnetic card check-in at the ship's entrance is also swift and cool; it makes you feel safe that the person checks the picture to be certain it is you who is entering. At first glance the ship looks so fancy, but I think the entrance space could be a bit larger since the line gets slow because everyone is admiring the lobby so it gets crowded pretty soon. Getting to the cabin the first time is a bit difficult (getting acquainted with the ships map), and throughout the trip we encountered too many people lost, specially elders, we traveled in a 7 people group with my parents, who had trouble most times getting around, I really do not understand the lack of signage marking elevators and stairs, and more didactic signage for getting around. After we settled in, everything was bliss, the ship is so tidy, it smells great everywhere. The main deck (14) restaurant area is fantastic, the food is abundant and so good, there is great quality of ingredients and preparation, although one has to schedule the visits to the buffet to avoid crowds and enjoy a better experience without long lines for serving. The pool areas are very nice but the negative side is that after so much attention to detail, it doesn’t seem that someone thought about the music volume, it is extremely too loud in all pool areas, so after a few minutes it becomes really annoying, on the one hand because music playing too loud does not allow for conversations comfortably and second because the quality of the music itself gets distorted after so many decibels. So if you can tolerate extremely loud music, continue. The pools are a bit small for the amount of people on board, when no one disembarks there was simply no room in the pools it was a bit of an adventure getting in to refresh from so much heat, the water is salty (I don’t know why) but very refreshing on the days with less people on board. We had the arabesque restaurant assigned for the evening, the menu promises a lot but the served dishes are far from that promise, the buffet if far better quality, it is hard to understand why they can’t match that quality considering it is supposed to be fancier. Get the beverage packages as soon as you get in, the service charge savings are very convenient. The entertainment was just awesome, well performed and themed, really great artists. All ports and disembarkation procedures top notch, Buzios my favorite, great picturesque little town, great shopping, beautiful beaches. Do your best to avoid visiting the medic, my wife suffered an ankle sprain on the last day, and the doctor was just awful, the low point of the MSC Company. I highly recommend this cruise, the preziosa through the Brazilian coast simply unforgettably beautiful. I shall post further as I recall more details.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Sailed on the Orchestra from 9th-28th April 2011, first time with MSC, we have previously experienced cruises aboard Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Fred Olsen lines. I read lots of reviews both prior/after booking both good/bad and we ... Read More
Sailed on the Orchestra from 9th-28th April 2011, first time with MSC, we have previously experienced cruises aboard Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Fred Olsen lines. I read lots of reviews both prior/after booking both good/bad and we travelled with open minds, here is our review of our MSC experience : Flight/Embarkation Flight to San Paulo was with Swiss Air, out of Heathrow to Zurich then short wait for onward flight to Brazil. First problem of the vacation was that MSC had block booked seats which had pre-allocated names, however the majority of people were not sitting next to their family/friends !!! This caused chaos aboard, I was also informed from other travellers that joined the cruise at a later date that the same thing happened to them, poor organization from MSC. The flights, leg room and entertainment aboard the flights and service from Swiss Air staff was very good. Collecting luggage and getting through customs at San Paulo was a nightmare and after 14 hours of flights a further 3 hr delay was very frustrating, not MSC problem though. However organization of transfer from airport to ship was not very good, this was not helped by two travellers going missing at the airport (found out later that they made there own way to the ship) and this caused a further 1 hr delay. Having finally arrived at the ship port of Santos, checking in was a free for all with a further 2 hrs delay, when we finally stepped on the ship the time in transit from checking in at Heathrow was 24 hrs !!!! Cabin Our cabin was a balcony (8159), nicely decorated with quality fixture/fittings, similar in size to previous cruises, no complaints. Ship Ship was well laid out, very stylishly decorated with no signs of wear, very clean. Food We were appointed a table in the Villa Borghese restaurant on 2nd sitting, for the first four days of the cruise this was 10pm to suit the Brazilians customers that were onboard on a 4 day mini cruise, after this the sitting time was adjusted to 9pm. For most of the cruise we eat in the Restaurant rather than the buffet within the cafeteria. Breakfast was fine, few communication problems with waiting staff whom many speak minimal English, if you prefer orange juice rather than orange squash ask for "sugar free orange" also HP sauce is available which was a nice bonus. Lunch was generally good, very busy on sea days, check out the special pasta of the day being cooked at the restaurant entrance which is not illustrated on the menu. Dinner was generally good, portions were on the smaller size but lots of courses so not a problem. Whilst food was fine, didn't quite have the wow factor enjoyed on previous Princess cruises, especially the deserts. Buffet only used a few times, similar to previous cruises, lots of people, trying to find table, lots of noise...................no thanks, but can see the appeal of families with children who may be more fussy on what they are eating. Entertainment The Theatre is top class, excellent lighting/seating, however shows were generally for us disappointing with the exception of the Moonwalker and Rock and Roll shows. Shows were only on for approx 30 mins, and same performers appeared every night, female singer was very good, dancers good. The general standard of the bands in the lounge bars was poor, ok as background music for the over 70s maybe, by far the worst evening entertainment of cruises that we have experienced to date. Disco Bar, was very stylish but its location and opening time together with non promotion from MSC conspired to make this very under used, so much potential, real shame. Daytime entertainment, didn't really participate so unable to comment, however the "Equator Crossing Ceremony" was very entertaining. Formal Nights These were generally well received with formal dress code being observed, cocktails/bubbly was free flowing without cutting corners and gala night dining of a good quality. Spa/Gym Did not use the Spa but used the Gym on a few occasions, quite small and busy but good views and equipment. Staff Overall the staff were very helpful and polite, no complaints. Excursions We like to arrange our own thing, but did a tour at Recife/Olinda which was a disaster (received partial refund), however others that we spoke too enjoyed good excursion experiences at Rio, and reported reasonable costs in Brazil but expensive in Europe. Disembarkation We had a coach booked at Southampton and needed a early disembarkation, this was arranged without any problem. Conclusion There were lots of complaints on-board in respect to : Buffet not open 24 hrs No free water available in the dining rooms No free tea/coffee available outside restricted hours/meals No kettles available in cabin Multi language announcements $9 per day gratuity per person added to bill however I was prepared for the above and was taken into consideration PRIOR to reservation. The overall experience was very good, we met lots of new friends, drink prices very reasonable in comparison with other lines we have used, we managed all ports advertised on time with no problems with tender arrangements. Lots of missed opportunity with no sail away party's at any of the ports, which was very well done with Princess. The large on board deck screen not used, another missed opportunity. We found that the foundation for a top quality cruising experience was in place with the facilities/quality of the ship, but somehow on so many occasions that there were so many missed opportunities from MSC to fulfil the potential available onboard, if MSC are to be more widely accepted as a major cruise line they need to listen to their customers to understand what features are important. Would I travel with MSC again ?............Sure if the itinerary/price suited our budget, this cruise was enjoyable and represented tremendous value for money, but without the wow factor of Princess, you pay your money and take your choice ! Would rate out of 5 the following : Ship 5 Staff 4 Cabin 4 Food 4 Entertainment 2 Value for Money 5 Overall Experience 4 Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
Well, after all the worry after reading some of the reviews on this Cruise Line, we did actually go with an open mind. We where not dissappointed the ship was beautiful. After a very long flight we actually boarded just after 1pm plenty of ... Read More
Well, after all the worry after reading some of the reviews on this Cruise Line, we did actually go with an open mind. We where not dissappointed the ship was beautiful. After a very long flight we actually boarded just after 1pm plenty of time to unpack have lunch and a good look around. Everything on this ship is very expensively done the furnishings, decor etc are magnificent. Our cabin on Deck 12 was very clean and spacious and our cabin steward extremely good. We opted for the late seating for dinner as the early one was 6.30 a little soon for us, this was perfect as MSC did a show at 7.30pm for late diners so we saw the show before our meal. Every show was exeptional, we loved them all most could compare with a West End show they where so good. The Covent Garden Theatre is beautiful the nicest I have seen on any ship. We found the meals to be very good, plenty of choice and the Express Breakfast in the Main Dining Room was really nice. We have no cause to complain, yes the food on other ships is possibly better but for the price we paid the choice was very good and we enjoyed all. Our waiter Salvador was excellent. The Animation team worked really hard especially when we celebrated Crossing the Equator meaning that the pool had to be emptied and refilled and cleaned there was so much mess as people where Christened with Champagne, flour, milk, raw egg and last but not least Coco powder it really was quite a celebation!the ports of call where all good especially Rio and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer was magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and would have no hesitation in sailing with MSC again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2011
We were all hit by this company making a charge of nine dollars per person per day 'for our convenience as tips'. On top of this everything drink purchased had a 12% service charge. Add all that up at the end of the holiday and ... Read More
We were all hit by this company making a charge of nine dollars per person per day 'for our convenience as tips'. On top of this everything drink purchased had a 12% service charge. Add all that up at the end of the holiday and it amounts to a fair bit. Several people on our cruise had not funds to pay this, in fact two elderly ladies were not able to go on the trips (which again were very very expensive for what you got)but were then hit with these charges.The ship itself is very nice and clean. Should be every night one man alone is cleaning the brass on the stairs. Lots of times the public toilets had no soap. Very few toilets onboard anyway and several times just before going into dinner only two toilets and these would be shut for cleaning. I have never been on a ship with such miserable staff. Each morning when you went to the buffet breakfast the head man would stand hands behind his back. Never ever did he say morning or smile. This staff on the breakfast were all like this. While queuing for outside buffet lunch waiters pushed through without giving us warning or giving us chance to make way for them. They had trays of food at shoulder height which was very close to peoples hair and heads. On my last morning one waiter walked in front of me when I was going to the outside breakfast area and then let the door go in my face when I was carrying my plate of breakfast. How rude. I had a hairclip on my bedroom floor on my arrival and it was still there fifteen days later! On the day of the Royal Wedding not a thing - not even a mention in the newsletter. With no SKY News and being in the Atlantic Ocean they said they had no signal. Having been on holidays further afield and receiving SKY News it is obvious this ship is not geared up with any decent satellite technology. One passenger said he had cruised the Southern China seas and had SKY News all the time. Most days there was a 'theme' to the dining. ie. German, Indian, Italian foods, but nothing on the Royal Wedding Day. Could they not have had a British evening but in hindsight perhaps not or they would have spoilt any English menu. I will never cruise on MSC again even if they offered me a free cruise. This was echoed by lots of passengers on board this cruise. Its the first time I have wanted a holiday to finish. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was our second transatlantic cruise. We fell in love with the destinations: 3 stops in Brazil, 5 days crossing the Atlantic ocean, Canary Islands, Funchal, Malaga, Tunisia, Croatia and finally Venice. Cabin and dinner service was ... Read More
This was our second transatlantic cruise. We fell in love with the destinations: 3 stops in Brazil, 5 days crossing the Atlantic ocean, Canary Islands, Funchal, Malaga, Tunisia, Croatia and finally Venice. Cabin and dinner service was great. Breakfast and lunch were not so good. The staff was slow (almost sleeping), we never got hot toast in the morning and they never changed the breakfast menu. For 18 days, we had the same menu in the morning: scrambled eggs, fried, poached and plain omelet with either sausage or bacon. We are used to Princess or Celebrity where you get a different breakfast menu every morning. Lunch was so-so, not too bad but never delicious. Dinner was terrible. We stuck to pasta and soup, as they were decent. They had quite an extensive wine list but most of the wines were not available. On the first night, our first three choices were not available! Thank God there was an excellent japaneese restaurant on board so we had a few decent meals there. Of course you have to pay extra! One good thing though; drinks and available wines are quite cheap compared to the other cruise lines we have sailed with. The ship is beautiful, our cabin service was OK and our dinner servers were great. When we booked, MSC mentionned that this cruise was a Hobby Cruise. The only hobby offered was cross-stitching. Their advertisement specified jewellery making, etc. Nada! The Maitre D's were hiding. We never got to meet them to express what we thought of the food. At least we got to eat well at the different stops we made and we never took the organized tours for each destination, we went on our own, got to see more than those who took the tours for a third of the price. When all is said, we will definitely never sail with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
THE SHIP: Getting on board the MSC Musica is a marvelous experience. The ship lives up to the promise of the travel brochures. It is B E A U T I F U L! It is a monument of thoughtful design and ergonomics, and by some standards even good ... Read More
THE SHIP: Getting on board the MSC Musica is a marvelous experience. The ship lives up to the promise of the travel brochures. It is B E A U T I F U L! It is a monument of thoughtful design and ergonomics, and by some standards even good (though some may find it garish) taste. The state rooms are spacious, well appointed and comfortable. Passengers may wander freely, from the fifth floor reception to the 16th floor tennis court - and there are plenty of elevators to get people to their destinations reasonably fast. Though filled to capacity, despite the ravages of ocean air, the ship appears to be clean, and maintains its fresh air of newness - kudos to the army of minions who surely toil around the clock scrubbing and painting to accomplish this in such a vast and luxurious space. The only disappointment in the ship's design was the gym. It is minuscule, open for short hours (from 8 AM to 8 PM). Six treadmills for 3000+ passengers just doesn't ad-up. There are a few other machines (e.g. two elliptical and two bicycles) of dubious quality and resistance. The gym manager is not particularly knowledgeable, nor helpful - but you could count on him to be late for work in the morning. THE FOOD: After a surprisingly bland and unimaginative buffet service, we were later introduced to the ship's cuisine at dinner time. This was the first indication that there is a chasm between the ship's maintenance crew, and its tour operators. The latter showed themselves not only to be sophomorically incompetent, but puny and cheap. Meats, poultry and sea food though sometimes reasonably seasoned, are usually overcooked - possibly an attempt to fight an epidemic of diarrhea on board due to expired validity dates. The pasta and the pizza are competent, thus the cruise is safe for anyone on a high carbohydrate diet. A tasty spaghetti al vongole one evening featured four beautiful clamshells, alas only one clam had actually found its way to my serving. I wondered all night if some lucky passenger received four shells and seven clams ... The examples of abuse are too many to enumerate. Some however are so outrageous as illustrations of the pettiness of the profit driven experts running this operation, that they deserve special recognition: • Though the quality of the fresh fruit is passable - the salads come from the bottom of the barrel - the leftovers from wholesale produce markets - normally destined to the soup kitchens for the homeless. Except for the tasteless, styrofoam-like tomatoes, the greens often exuded a perfume of chemicals, either of the toxic pesticides used in their production, or of the preservatives used to disguise their expired validity as betrayed by their lackluster appearance. • Prior to the cruise we were offered a package of seven bottles of wine "chosen by our sommelier" and an equal number of mineral water bottles for the reasonable price of US$99. The mineral water was indeed of good quality - the wines unfortunately weren't even suitable to be used as vinegar in salad dressings. After the third night we gave up and didn't even bother ordering wines from the sommelier's choice any more. This is surprising considering the excellent wines we drank in Argentine restaurants during our stopover in Buenos Aires, at prices similar to our sommelier's choices. • The coffee and milk served freely at breakfast tasted neither like coffee nor milk - adding insult to injury, for an additional charge a decent espresso or cappuccino is served throughout the ship at its many coffee shops and bars. • The little honey containers of European origin ran out after the first day. They were truly remarkable illustrations of European prowess in industrial design - these little plastic receptacles with an aluminum foil top which easily pealed back to allow customers access to the honey inside. The batch of the Brazilian brand served thereafter clearly had not passed quality control - the aluminum foil top was firmly attached to the plastic receptacle, and would not let go. Careful surgery with a dull knife was required to access the honey inside - invariably resulting in a gooey mess worthy of inner city emergency rooms and trauma units. • The menus, with few exceptions were unimaginative, often using fancy words to describe pathetic options. On New Year's eve I was driven to take pictures. One from the fancy desert advertised as a Saint Silvester cup - a panachE of fruit on lemon gelatin - which alas cannot be posted here. The other illustration of is of the "olive bread" Three types of bread are served at dinner time - one of each. As service is often excruciatingly slow, you may ask for more bread. Your waiter will gladly oblige ... eventually. Extra bread must be ordered from the central kitchen in the ship's bowels - it usually arrived little before desert was served. • If you like ice cream you may purchase the mediocre stuff sold by the pool, for an extra fee - of course. The melting goo in the restaurant menu is neither ice, nor cream. ENTERTAINMENT: Like the rest of the ship, the installations are impressive, world class, state of the art, and comfortable. Alas, some of the good artists, though clearly past their prime, deserved a kinder setting before being put out to pasture permanently. Many of the costumes worn by dancers and acrobats revealed undergarments unfit for the stage. The awkward choreography was often well, embarrassing to put it mildly. The cruise director, an aspiring young polyglot with a failing hair transplant sounded much like a circus ringleader from an old Disney animation (Pinocchio - I think it was). The Crystal Room was supposed to have more romantic music for old folks like me. Alas the nasal lead singer had a painfully strident voice which one might even have gotten used to were it not for random missed notes, just enough to jar your nerves. Moving on to the Tucano Lounge we theoretically had Brazilian music. It was largely rock'n roll - but Brazilian. WiFi: As befits a state of the art cruise ship, such as the MSC Musica, the latest technology is offered in the internet cafe where for US$30 an hour you can surf the Web at roughly half a dial-up connection speed. There is a minimum US$10 fee - but that's OK because it took me almost 15 minutes just to log into my gmail account. Lip service: I have already mentioned the impressive tidiness through most of the trip. As was to be expected the latest in prophylactic technology was also spread haphazardly throughout the passenger area in the form of alcohol dispensers to slow the spread of contagion. There are plenty of signs admonishing passengers and crew to be mindful of healthy hygiene. Alas most of the time the dispensers were either broken or empty. Philanthropy: The sharp business executives at MSC found a novel way of exercising the social responsibility required by modern management dogmas. A letter was left in our stateroom one evening informing us that unless we filled in a form and delivered it to the reception area, a charitable donation to a UNICEF organization would be tacked on to our invoice. I'm as much of a philanthropist as the next guy, but I like to choose on my own how to practice it - having MSC do it on my behalf without my express permission, seemed somewhat underhanded. Shore leave: When returning to the ship from our sojourn in Punta del Este we needed to wait for the ship's life boats to ferry us back. It's a pretty smooth operation. Unless it rains. Which it just happen to do when were there. This was, after all, the season of the Summer rains. MSC set up a large tent where you can wait for your raft - a good distance from the loading dock. From the tent to the dock there was no cover, there were no umbrellas, and there was a lot of waiting in line. Saddest of all was an elderly couple, huddling, him leaning heavily on a cane, struggling down a steep ramp (the poor guy apparently couldn't handle steps) on their own, unassisted by an oblivious and overwhelmed hapless crew. Green: The New Year was celebrated with the distribution of a helium filled balloon to each passenger. We were told to write our wish on a piece of paper and tie it to the string of the balloon to be released into the atmosphere at the stroke of midnight. Future passengers on an Antarctic cruise may be scratching their heads as to where all these balloons littering our oceans came from. An unforgettable farewell: On the day of arrival, we were asked to be out of our staterooms by 7 AM, to have breakfast, and then not return - but to wait in our assigned areas for the call to disembark. Nearly 3000 passengers huddled in cramped quarters awaiting their turn. Our group was one of the middle ones in the queue to get off the ship. We were called at 11 AM. The one thousand + stateroom toilets usually available to this bunch of not-so-happy travelers were no longer available. The result was predictably unforgettable. CHECKING IN: The inadequacy of the cruise passenger facilities at the port in Santos deserves a review of its own. Anyone who loves cruising should avoid it at all costs either by flying to a previous or subsequent port of call for embarking on a cruise. For anyone my age or younger, who did not actually live through the real horrors of World War II, arriving at the passenger terminal at the port in Santos is reminiscent of movie scenes depicting getting off a freight train at Auschwitz. The enormous, snail paced line we were assigned to was not even to check-in. It was merely a to get a senha (number) which entitled its lucky bearer to eventually get in another line where the actual check-in formalities were to be processed in a system not unlike that of a Brazilian pharmacy - where no one has any authority - a series of smiling clueless people, with no idea of the purpose of their minute role in this saga, and who must refer E V E R Y T H I N G to some invisible all-powerful entity for confirmation and approval. Not wanting to break away from our group I had turned down several hints of taking the shorter snail paced line for senior citizens. After a couple of hours I decided to investigate. It turned out that my wife and I, being seniors, would also be entitled to a preferential senha, meaning we could get to the second snail paced line sooner - but still all members of our party would be entitled to get off the Dantesque queue we had been wallowing in for so long. We took advantage of this heaven-sent opportunity which surely cut our overall wait by at least another couple of hours. The "real" check-in was "interesting". The staff takes it for granted that they have the authority to take away your documents (passport, identity cards, etc.) - with a cheerful promise that they will be "returned later". To the exasperation of the various smiling clueless faces mishandling this circus, I adamantly refused to part company with our passports several times - as my 'misbehavior' wound its way up MSC's hierarchy. At one point a smartly pressed young man in a company (not an official) shirt and a heavy Porteño accent reassured me he was an 'Immigration Officer' and I could rest assured my passport would be properly handled. I politely congratulated him on his high rank and suggested then that either he properly handle our passports in my presence - or that I would have file a complaint with the Federal Police that MSC had absconded with my passport without my permission. As it turned out, our passports were promptly returned without an explanation - the Gods of MSC must have been otherwise appeased. All in all, from leaving our home in São Paulo, to entering our stateroom on board (including a 90 minute bus ride to the Santos passenger terminal) took approximately seven hours - thanks to our privileged senior citizen status, which allowed us cut the line. Read Less
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