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Sean Wainer

Age: 31

Occupation:marketing manager

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Melody

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

My husband and I booked a cruise on the MSC Melody from 08 Sept to 14 Sept. The booking was made in February this year, and final payment was also made then.

It was made very clear at the time of reservation that we would need to embark in Dubrovnik, and our travel agent (Flight Centre) and the MedTour offices confirmed that all was in order. Furthermore, my husband took it upon himself to phone the MedTour offices before our departure from South Africa to ensure that the crew knew of our arrangements.

We embarked on Monday 08 September 2003 in the main harbour of Dubrovnik. Due to bad weather conditions the ship docked in the main harbour instead of the Old City harbour. My sister-in-law, who was on the cruise at that same time, tried to ascertain from the crew how we would be informed of this change; no one knew of our arrival nor seemed to care.

We were taken to our cabin, P094, as per our confirmation receipt. To our horror the cabin was occupied. We went to reception where we found out that the occupants were only leaving the ship that evening, and that we would need to wait for their departure before gaining access to our cabin. I presented the MSC voucher to the reception staff who queried whether I had any more documentation.

Mario, head of housekeeping, was called to the reception desk. He said that he would give us a temporary cabin and that we should return to the reception desk at 4.00pm to receive our cabin. We were not happy with this arrangement, but left our luggage in an inside cabin and went for lunch.

At 4.00pm we returned to the reception area; of course, the cabin was not ready. In fact, the occupants had not even vacated it. Mario did not seem to care for our concerns, saying that now the cabin may only be ready at 5.00pm. When we argued with him, he walked off shouting in Italian and waving his arms furiously in the air. We went to speak to the Chief Purser, who seemed to be a little more understanding. After a great deal of arguing, he said that we would have our cabin shortly; and that our cabin steward would contact us when it was ready.

We were given access to our cabin at 4.45pm. By this time my husband and I were so frustrated we were ready to end the cruise there and then.

Bearing in mind that my husband and I have cruised before, we were greatly disappointed in our MSC cruise experience. The variety of food at the buffet lunch was very small, and the quality of the food very poor. One evening I ordered a fresh garden salad as a starter; I could not eat it as the tomatoes were overripe and limp, and the cucumber was brown and soggy.

The cruise crew was unpleasant to deal with; no one smiled nor was friendly.

When my husband and I made the reservation for this cruise we were informed that MSC are trying to encourage South African tourists on to their cruises. I feel that we wasted our money due to the stressful, non-caring attitude of the various crew members that we had to deal with. If senior crew members behave in such a manner, it only sets the tone for the rest of the staff.

All in all, the only saving grace to this whole experience was the port stops that we found interesting and enjoyable. But even this proved a problem as the ship arrived late in the first few ports because of a late departure from Venice. I cannot believe that the whole timetable was so inadequately organised and managed.

The chairs in the public areas were filthy; huge stain marks covered most of them.

I dealt with the Sales Manager of MSC in South Africa. He escalated this to the Head Office in Naples, and after a couple of weeks the feedback given was even more atrocious. They did not feel that we were badly done by, nor that any kind of refund was necessary. I asked to speak to the MD of MSC in South Africa – I am still waiting for her to call me.

This kind of non-caring approach seems to be consistent with the ground staff as well as the crew.

I feel it very necessary to share this experience so that prospective travelers are fore-warned should they choose this cruise liner. We found the experience quite painful and will never travel on another MSC cruise again.

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