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J. Gates

Age: 37


Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Melody

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean

We chose this cruise for the Egypt stop, which I think was originally advertised as 2 days in Egypt. Other passengers also booked under the impression that there would be 2 days to visit Egypt. The boat is smaller than US cruise ships, and a little older, but reasonably well kept, bathrooms in cabin are big enough to turn around, shower unit was over a real bath. 2 pools, both decent size, and with 1,200 passengers, still not overcrowded.

Food - disappointing - colors flavors textures just boring, we dine out a lot, and eat every kind of food, so the 'authentic Italian' served was VERY lacking in quality and flavors. There was nothing memorable served, risottos were boring and mushy/bland, and pastas served were very lame. We had spent 4 days in Rome prior to cruise, and ate such great pasta for 7 euro, that this 'luxury cruise' food was really disappointing. Definitely didn’t gain any weight on this cruise. Also, breakfast served 7am -10am, and THAT'S IT. IF you want a cup of coffee between 10am and 12 noon (lets say sometimes you are up late and want to sleep in on your vacation) you cant get a cup of coffee until noon), unless you are willing to "buy a cappuccino" which after American cruises, I found outrageous (I am of course a coffee drinker, 2-3 cups a day) The coffee served at meal time was very lame, water was not offered with dinner, always bottled water was offered and charged for. Last night of cruise we realized that other tables had caught on to requesting a 'carafe of drinking water' which was then supplied free. So, we had to pay for coffee and all drinking water most of the time. the coffee tea and water machines were shut off between actual dining times, very awkward if you wake up at 10am, and feel like a drink of water, especially if you purchased cocktails the night before!

SERVICE - LOUSY - sad thing about Europe, there I was, surrounded by 1,200 different nationalities, all pushing and shoving each other when they were supposed to be in a polite line for lunch buffet (plus age group on this actual cruise was 40+), our dining table for dinner had me, 37, spouse 31, then 68 +75 and 81 + 91 years old, so it was hard to crack a joke!!) Anyhow, service, just poor, we were prisoner-customers, unable to 'get up and go to another restaurant' so frankly, compared to US service standards, where service is really a business, service sucked. It was so prevalent that we actually learned how to say 'service sucks' in Italian to entertain ourselves. For example, I held the door for an older woman behind me, she went thru, then her husband pushed past me, some kids dashed thru and then at least 3 Italian service staff barged one offered their hand to hold the door as the next person through. We saw this happen over and over with the service staff, just pushing past customers like we were a bother to them. They had Italian officers and lead waiters, then mostly Indonesian bar-backs, back waits etc...Indonesian and Pilipino culture includes raising your kids with some manners in general, so they fit right in to offering polite service. Not so Italians, who get the better jobs apparently (we spoke to all kinds of staffers) yet don’t have an interest in offering thoughtful service. In terms of service, we heard ‘NO’ just way too much. Simple requests too. No, Not possible, NO. Even having a cup of coffee with my lunch. For 30 minutes, I asked 3 different servers. I got up and helped myself to it, and caused a furor. The waiter was angry because it made him look bad. Service stunk.

ENTERTAINMENT - ok, not bad at all - Spanish ballet and magic shows good. Band played 40's dance music in between shows; this suited age group really well, and was fine with us as we are dancers. Cruise entertainment staff was a bunch of 20 ish good-looking young men who got the 40+ ladies up to dance at this time, which thrilled them no end. Other band had singer and they played to the crowd, dance standards, lots of 40+ couples doing foxtrot, waltz, some tango, nice to watch and participate. You really had to make your own entertainment somewhat, but we met 5 other dancers who salsa, (English, Pilipino, Italian, Swiss and Peru!) so we took over the emptyish disco, and we danced at least 5 nights in a row all switching partners...(salsa rocks by the way - the entertainment staff stopped in the disco and we wound up teaching them!) Also singer in band was desperate to dance, and was thrilled when my husband danced with her. (Salsa salsa) Later we found out that staff that danced with us were disciplined, so we told ship that we had asked them to dance. It wasn’t like they left their post to run off with us. There was some definite discrimination from Italian staff towards other races staff. We live in America, and we HATE THAT CRAP.

Anyhow, we did a daytrip to Egypt, we saw Libya from the ship – there were two young 20 ish men on the boat, Libyan immigration officers, I observed them for a bit, and they were just 20 yr old goofs, so my husband and I challenged them at Foozball…we were playing and they asked if I was Italian, I said no, American, and concern and suspicion shot across their faces…but none of us spoke enough of a common language to find out what they were thinking…or what they had been taught to think! American lady at dinner said she was in a shop in Libya and when she said she was American, she got the same reaction, so who knows what Khadafi has told his people about Americans, maybe we are the devil….in a yellow bikini playing foozball. I guess my bikini was near enough pornography for these guys, they seemed to like it.:)

So service sucked, ports were interesting, as long as you know what to expect of Europe, (which I do) age group that week was OLD but apparently earlier in the year when they did West Med including Ibiza they got a lot of 20-30 yr olds) entertainment was ok-good, food was boring enough not to gain any weight, they were really bad at desserts, I can cook like that, and so I don’t….as a humanitarian thing really.

Flexibility – they are no good at odd requests, like, getting a cup of coffee at 11am…or with lunch, or with dinner. Borrowing scissors for a minute, not possible, getting a book from their library, open for about 2 hours a day, locked up in front of you all day…you have to get up early on this vacation if you want a book…lots of staff, no real service. We will not do this cruise again; I recommend Royal Caribbean, southern Caribbean stops, different island every day and exemplary service, so much less frustrating on your vacation.

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