Final Thoughts: Why No One Should Book / Cruise With MSC (Unless in Yacht Club)!

a large cruise ship docked at a dock

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I have had a number of readers saying things something like “Oh René, stop beating that dead horse about how bad MSC is“! OK I agree, beating a dead horse is just mean and cruel but then again so is taking an MSC cruise so they really do kinda match up right? 🙂

a close up of a card

Monday I had my final thoughts on my “free” HAL cruise (that I upgraded a number of times after the free offer) and I was so impressed I can not wait to pay “full boat” if you will to do it all again. But with MSC I paid using my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to cruise for free and I truly flushed the points down the MSC drain and I so wish I could have the 187k points back. Let’s look back why and expand on this.

a long river with boats and buildings in the background
Cruise Ship Row in Miami Florida

Boarding! Now I know MSC is building a mega wiz-bang new terminal in Miami to keep up with RCI and NCL that both have simply gorgeous new terminals on the cruise ship row but for now they are using the dark and ugly old NCL one but utilizing it way worse than NCL did. Just such a no. On top of that not having main dining open for lunch day one was such a disappointment (at least at the time till I got to try the food in main dining that is).

a couch with a stain on it
Our sofa in our smoke filled room

Our cabin! While it took forever to get into our room I was, initially, thrilled! That did not last long as the chance to breath air was clearly not part of the contract to rent the room. Had it not been for a cabin change, with help from the hotel director, we would have got off the ship early and flown home early!

a piece of meat with vegetables on a plate
Would you eat this? Yeah, me either!

The food! Oh My Gosh – just so no! So many folks say things like “dude – the pizza on the buffet is the best pizza in the WORLD”! Well OK then it was not bad but the rest of the food was dog food and this cruise was the only one I walked off thinner than when I got onboard.

Drinks! Again here so many readers, who like top shelf hard liquor, told me MSC is great if you pay up for the top package. Well I like wine not hard drinks and the choices, unless you are in the wine bar, are a joke. Had I paid to upgrade it would have been flushed as you can only get the top drinks at VERY limited locations and times.

a group of people on a stage with a band on it
MSC Divina Theater

Rather than add a number of additional MSC bashing posts I thought I would sum up the rest of the bottom of the barrel here and sail on. On so many cruise lines I count part of the daily price of the voyage that I am getting, as part of the fee, amazing entertainment that may cost me for tickets as much as the total I would pay for the cruise for that day – with MSC – really not so much. Most of the shows were not “production level” and shows were 25 to 30 minutes long! What is up with that? Some readers say they love that?! OK I get why you like MSC – I don’t! As an example the “magician” used a card tricks during his 25 minute show – just great for those like us in the balcony? Sigh…

a room with a table and chairs

a bowling alley with a bowling ball
Just why MSC – why?

This cruise was during the super bowl playoffs and, get this, there is no TV up in the Yacht Club. The only place to really watch the games was a tiny sports bar with tons of TVs but little comfortable seating. Oh and it got WAY worse. MSC had half the TVs on other sports when everyone crammed in to watch the football playoffs. Plus there was a mini bowling lane that was INSANELY LOUD that some guests who did not care about the games played and made everyone else nuts. After a few days we, the football fans, got smart and took over the lanes with “chair dots” (see photo above) to put and end to that during the games!

a beach chair with a towel on it

a plate of pizza and a book on a table
Not half bad pizza – horrible lounger

My wife and I, during sea days, love to read. There are few joys as amazing as getting lost in a great book (the one above was OK but still a fun read). But these loungers have simply one VERY reclined setting making it almost impossible to sit up and read. Nice for getting a tan but that’s it. Every other ship I have sailed has multi-setting loungers.

a plate of steak and baked potatoes

a lighthouse on a beach

There were a few bright points like the stunning private island and one of the best quality steaks I have ever had, let alone at sea, but the few amazing bright spots were not enough to offset the many pains of the entire MSC experience.

a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant

Another big issue was the poor service. One pays a daily gratuity so one hopes one would get good service but breakfast every day was a total joke. It was rare you got what you ordered and it simply took forever to get anything even with lots of servers just standing around. As an example we sat next to two Swedish folks, who were in a hurry to go for an excursion, and they waited 45 minutes and neither meal was what they ordered! It all just became a big joke day after day.

a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant

I saved the best for last and I say this as someone who has spent a large part of my life in Sweden and of Swedish decent but my gosh the international European mix of people on the ship was not impressive. So many rude and loud folks from south of Sweden that represented the worst of what you want to see on vacation! Now I know many from the USA are not much better and I am not saying one is better than the other but my oh my. This, plus having every announcement made in many languages was just annoying.

lounge chairs on a deck

Bottom line, unless you are booked in Yacht Club to get away from most of the bad things waiting for your below decks, you simply should not ever sail with MSC aka The “Most Shoddy Cruise-line”. There are just way too many better choices for your cruise cash or points! – René

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  1. I’ll be taking my first MSC cruise in about a month, have friends who had a great time on the same ship I’ll be sailing. There are cruise lines for everyone. You know how many articles and posts are out there bashing Carnival? So yes, stop beating a dead horse please, I think we get it.

  2. We had a fabulous 1st time Yacht Club experience but our left the ship after the first night on our second one. We booked a 7 day cruise out of Barcelona which was meant to be a relaxing end to a dream European vacation. We were in an inside Yacht Club room directly under a galley. We literally did not sleep the entire night. We asked to move to any room, any category, in or out of the Yacht Club. Nope. They offered a free massage as the ship was sold out. It was impossible for me to believe they are not prepared for situations like this. If our room had flooded would we have been forced to stay in it? It’s a long story how we were treated but in the end, we decided to bail. We got off in Palermo and flew home. I thought being in the Yacht Club offered a higher level of service and for the most part that’s true. But they turned nasty on us. We came home and cancelled two other MSC trips we had booked.

  3. @Pat Hendryx – Thanks for the reminder to look at your cabin location and if you are at all sensitive to noise make sure you are surrounded on all sides by other cabins. We just got off a cruise where our cabin at the front of the ship was over the stage in the theater and over the working bow and bow thrusters. We were OK with the location; however on two mornings we were awoken around 4am by all the activity on the bow and bow thrusters pulling in/out of port. We knew we would have one morning like this based on our itinerary; however, due to some delayed passengers on embarkation we pulled out of port at 4am instead of our scheduled 8pm.

  4. I am a solo traveler. I expect and am used to paying for both beds in a cabin ($298pp= $596 for a solo cruiser). But MSC refuses to sell a solo traveler a traditional cabin under any circumstances. On select ships they have “solo rooms” which are built for one person only. Those are the only rooms they will sell a solo traveler. What if I want to purchase a nicer room? Nope. Won’t sell a nicer room to a solo traveler. I have never seen anything like it. So I stay on NCL or Carnival.

  5. It looks like the ship you sailed hasn’t been refurbished in almost a decade. I sailed on one of the brand-new ships, Seascape, and it was great. Shows, food, water park, service, everything, all great. I think the lesson here is not to sail on their older ships, especially with MSC. They give their best service only to the new ones.

    • @Dale R – If this is a the case it reflects very badly on MSC (to put it mildly). As an NCL Frequent Floater I can tell you they are consistently good across older and newer ships and they do refresh ships often.

  6. You must be a paid shill for some other cruise line (NCL?).

    [personal attack redacted]

    You absolutely must be paid to write this junk. If not, your sponsors should drop you for being useless.

  7. I don’t have a favorite cruise line . In my opinion, MSC compares same as Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, & NCL. MSC had decent food & activities, in my opinion. Pricing is very good, in my opinion. Yes, please stop beating a dead horse! Reading your articles is enjoyable, but lately they have become infused with your hatred for MSC. Not a good look. Please enjoy your privileged cruising & stop complaining endlessly (and needlessly). I’m happy for you that you can pick & choose. Please stop acting like an entitled spoiled brat & get back to informative INTERESTING posting

  8. Thank you for your perspective. I cannot imagine it being worse than HAL. I had a cruise from HELL with them and never again (I have sailed costa, RCI, , NCL, carnival). Not a huge sampling but carnival is what it is …get over it and set your bar accordingly. I will sail them again before HAL. I agree with the comment that you should sail in yacht club with them. I have heard that many times.

  9. Can’t argue with tastes, but we loved our MSC cruises. We are taking a third one next fall. I love the food both buffet and main dining. Shows were fine too. Unlike you, the private island was a bit of a let down. Pretty much completely opposite experience.


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