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jkgourmet

MSC and Travel Agents?

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Posted (edited)

We cruised on the Divina several years ago and enjoyed ourselves.  My husband heard an advertisement with some excellent sales prices that included alcohol for the Caribbean.  So I contacted our regular BIG online TA, who says they do not book MSC.

 

Then I looked at the online site for the big box store.  Their cruise department does not list MSC either.  Then I looked at another large TA site, and it does not list MSC either.

 

Has MSC stopped participating with agents? 

 

(We are US Based)

 

 

Edited by jkgourmet

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MSC  does  work  with agents.

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8 minutes ago, Ljoy said:

MSC  does  work  with agents.

 

Thanks.  I just found one of the big online agencies that still does. 

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MSC will work with agents, but several of the US agencies refuse to work with MSC. MSC has more than the norm issues with lack of consistent policies, long wait times on the phone, low customer service rankings, a website that operates below industry standards (and that bar is low), etc.. All things which make dealing with MSC less profitable as a time investment is often required.

 

Obviously there are still US based agencies that will work with MSC and, as you discovered, it just takes a bit of digging. I like the MSC product as long as it is priced appropriately, but US consumers would be wise to know what they are getting. 

 

This isn't a slam on MSC, just the facts which are something to be aware of. 

 

I'm from north America :).

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5 minutes ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

MSC will work with agents, but several of the US agencies refuse to work with MSC. MSC has more than the norm issues with lack of consistent policies, long wait times on the phone, low customer service rankings, a website that operates below industry standards (and that bar is low), etc.. All things which make dealing with MSC less profitable as a time investment is often required.

 

Obviously there are still US based agencies that will work with MSC and, as you discovered, it just takes a bit of digging. I like the MSC product as long as it is priced appropriately, but US consumers would be wise to know what they are getting. 

 

This isn't a slam on MSC, just the facts which are something to be aware of. 

 

I'm from north America :).

 

thanks for the explanation.  Mind sharing what more detail about what I highlighted above?  (As I said, it's been 5-6 years since we did the Divina.)

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Nothing more than you read in the reviews on a daily basis. You've sailed Divina so you have a very good handle on things. The most typical complaints seem to center around MSC's inability to resolve conflict, inconsistent policies, lack of customer service, and some from NA seem to think it's too "european".

 

Personally, I enjoy MSC very much and had two good experiences. I would sail on them again as long as they are priced less than the nearest competition.  All dollars being equal, MSC would not be my choice. I consider MSC's best asset is it's value. 

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My TA has booked me with MSC twice and says I'm on my own after this.  She says they are an absolute nightmare to deal with and the amount of time it takes is unreal.  I imagine other agents feel the same way.

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Our 4th MSC cruise coming up.  We've always booked through a specific agent.  She has said repeatedly that they are the WORSE line to deal with.  Long phone wait, inconsistent information, etc. 

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Even over this side of the pond in the UK, our cruise-specialist TA told me she would have to call me back once she "eventually" got things sorted with MSC.

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My very large on line agency does book MSC.

 

My travel agent has told me at the time of our first MSC cruise that there can be problems dealing with MSC ahead of time, but the on board experience is top notched.

 

He was right and we have been repeat customers of the line.

 

Of course, we seem to the somewhere rare US cruiser who understand there is a whole world outside Nowhere, USA with different customs, languages, and food.

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3 hours ago, Homosassa said:

Of course, we seem to the somewhere rare US cruiser who understand there is a whole world outside Nowhere, USA with different customs, languages, and food.

 

You can't seriously believe that the primary reason  US travel agencies refuse to sell MSC has to do with NA client expectations?  I honestly don't know of any other cruise line that TA's refuse to work with. 

 

I certainly can't speak for all TA's but I can speak for my favorite (who refuses to sell anymore MSC even if she loses commission): Her rational revolves around  excessive wait times, inconsistent information, and a high frustration levels trying to resolve issues. I believe the final straw for her was the issue when her client got the "compromised passport documentation' letter.  

 

In addition, MSC's the only cruise line I am aware of with a F rating at the BBB which should cause pause to even the most loyal fan. 

 

Please understand, I'm not a MSC hater. At the right price point, it's a lovely option.  But I'm not one to turn a blind eye to some of the potential pitfalls.

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40 minutes ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

 

You can't seriously believe that the primary reason  US travel agencies refuse to sell MSC has to do with NA client expectations?  I honestly don't know of any other cruise line that TA's refuse to work with. 

 

 

Nowhere in my post did I say this.

 

I just said that we might be happy as MSC cruisers because we know that customs, languages, and food can be different than in the USA.

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17 minutes ago, Homosassa said:

Nowhere in my post did I say this.

 

I just said that we might be happy as MSC cruisers because we know that customs, languages, and food can be different than in the USA.

 

In that case, please accept my apologies for misreading. 

 

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16 hours ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

 

You can't seriously believe that the primary reason  US travel agencies refuse to sell MSC has to do with NA client expectations?  I honestly don't know of any other cruise line that TA's refuse to work with. 

 

I certainly can't speak for all TA's but I can speak for my favorite (who refuses to sell anymore MSC even if she loses commission): Her rational revolves around  excessive wait times, inconsistent information, and a high frustration levels trying to resolve issues. I believe the final straw for her was the issue when her client got the "compromised passport documentation' letter.  

 

In addition, MSC's the only cruise line I am aware of with a F rating at the BBB which should cause pause to even the most loyal fan. 

 

Please understand, I'm not a MSC hater. At the right price point, it's a lovely option.  But I'm not one to turn a blind eye to some of the potential pitfalls.

I would love to know about F rating with BBB . Plus I work with huge USA agency and they have no problem to book MSC .

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Our travel agent had no issue booking our last cruise with MSC except for long phone wait times. Being a professional she did not gripe about it just stated she would call me back when she reached them rather than my holding online. We had a great cruise and plan to book another one with MSC.

 

I did look at BBB and saw many complaints which were resolved and not shared online. It could be anything and may not be a large issue. Some people use BBB as a resource for issues that they may handle on their own but prefer having a larger known entity take care of it for them.

 

There are agents who will assist you both online and in person. No, I am not a travel agent nor have I wanted to be one. 

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1 hour ago, Linda the Book Lover said:

Our travel agent had no issue booking our last cruise with MSC except for long phone wait times. Being a professional she did not gripe about it just stated she would call me back when she reached them rather than my holding online. We had a great cruise and plan to book another one with MSC.

 

I did look at BBB and saw many complaints which were resolved and not shared online. It could be anything and may not be a large issue. Some people use BBB as a resource for issues that they may handle on their own but prefer having a larger known entity take care of it for them.

 

There are agents who will assist you both online and in person. No, I am not a travel agent nor have I wanted to be one. 

OMG I just had a pleasure to read those complaints. LOL it's amazing how many idiots on Earth. 😅

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5 hours ago, GOLDENBONNY said:

OMG I just had a pleasure to read those complaints. LOL it's amazing how many idiots on Earth. 😅

 

I started reading the BBB reports months ago and can say without a doubt that all the mainstream cruise lines get similar complaints. I also agree that they are quite comical to read.

 

However; that begs the question I am left pondering: "Why is it that MSC is the only cruise line with a failing BBB rating?"  Certainly they don't have more idiots sailing with them than the other lines! 

 

RCL = A+

NCL = A +

Carnival = A+

PRincess = A

Celebrity = A-

Oceana = A-

Holland = C

MCS = F

 

While BBB ratings probably mean very little to the average cruiser, my understanding is that a BBB rating is based on how a company is willing to resolve issues.  If so, it's relevant information to share with cruisers.

 

To tie the BBB discussion back to the tenets of this particular thread: If MSC is the only cruise line with a failing BBB rating and they are also are (or appear to be) the only cruise line that some travel agents refuse to sell, what relationship exists between the two variables~ Correlation or Causal?  

 

No harm intended to those who remain loyal to MSC, but I would hope other cruise enthusiasts also find the discussion interesting at the very least. 

 

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As with sports cars, thoroughbreds, and opera, Italy has a cruise line that combines extreme enjoyment with disappointment. Fortunately, our Orlando-based TA has the intestinal fortitude to obtain our requested cabins and provide advance notice of MSC product changes such as the offerings on the repeatedly-delayed opening of Ocean Cay.

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Posted (edited)

I wrote an earlier post called MSC Comedy of Errors, which you can search for here or Google, that details many of the frustrating experiences I went through in dealing with MSC customer service.  I can't tell you how many calls I had to make or how much time I spent on the phone trying to resolve many, many issues.

Granted, I'm not a travel agent and this was a direct booking.  But I am an experienced cruiser, and I found the whole experience very, very time consuming and frustrating.

I can certainly understand why a travel agent wouldn't want to deal with this sort of thing.  The compensation may not make up for the time spent sorting things out in some instances.

Edited by Stockjock

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10 hours ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

No harm intended to those who remain loyal to MSC, but I would hope other cruise enthusiasts also find the discussion interesting at the very least. 

 

I find discussions on the boards filled with information and also sometimes not. I take all I read with a grain of salt and make up my own mind. Over the years I have found that no one cruise line has earned my total loyalty per se but I sail a ship for the itinerary or something I wish to try out on a certain trip. I do know initially there were many complaints about MSC, and I remind myself that they are based primarily in Europe and recently branching out. No worries and certainly no harm is done when one expresses their own opinion. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Fogfog said:

Under which BBB is this found?

 

Any updates on Ocean Cay? I did some sleuthing recently and found he history of this man made island (formerly a mining operation) fascinating

 

 

Better Business Report profiles are found under the location that the company is headquartered in the United States. I thought that the BBB was a United States watchdog organization and as far as I know, they only have one primary location for each company.

 

A general search including "_____ cruises BBB report" will take you to the placeholder for each line. 

 

RCL = A+ (Miami)

NCL = A + (Miami)

Carnival = A+ (Miami)

Costa = A (Hollywood, Fl)

Princess = A (Los Angeles)

Celebrity = A- (Miami)

Oceana = A- (Miami)

Holland = C  (Seattle)

MCS = F (Fort Lauderdale)

 

Certainly the BBB shouldn't be the only factor in deciding which cruise line to sail.  I find it interesting that MSC is in the bottom of the pack. Even Costa has managed an "A" rating. 

 

Edited by BermudaBound2014

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1 minute ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

 

Better Business Report profiles are found under the location that the company is headquartered in the United States. I thought that the BBB was a United States watchdog organization and as far as I know, they only have one primary location for each company.

 

A general search including "_____ cruises BBB report" will take you to the placeholder for each line. 

 

RCL = A+ (Miami)

NCL = A + (Miami)

Carnival = A+ (Miami)

Costa = A (Hollywood, Fl)

Princess = A (Los Angeles)

Celebrity = A- (Miami)

Oceana = A- (Miami)

Holland = C  (Seattle)

MCS = F (Fort Lauderdale)

 

Certainly the BBB shouldn't be the only factor in deciding which cruise line to sail. 

 

Aren't cruise lines are flagged outside US... ?

Not certain what maritime laws provide nor do I claim to understand the  contract of carriage etc. It would never occur to me to complain to the BBB about a cruise issue

I highly doubt the A+ ratings as much as I doubt the F,  Spent too much time here on CC !

 

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Fogfog said:

Aren't cruise lines are flagged outside US... ?

Not certain what maritime laws provide nor do I claim to understand the  contract of carriage etc. It would never occur to me to complain to the BBB about a cruise issue

I highly doubt the A+ ratings as much as I doubt the F,  Spent too much time here on CC !

 

 

Mainstream cruise lines are all flagged outside the US, but they each have a US addressed headquarter. I'm by no means an expert on the BBB, but remember, the ratings aren't based solely on consumer reviews. 

 

From the BBB..... "The grades represent BBB’s degree of confidence that the business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer concerns filed with the BBB." So in this case, an A+ does not mean that RCL is the best cruise line, it just means that the BBB believes the company holds high integrity and will work to resolve customer complaints. I suspect MSC's failure rating is related to unwillingness to resolve customer conflicts (which we read about here rather frequently).

 

I am more intrigued in understanding WHY MSC is the only line with a failure rating. A comparison among peers. I thought perhaps it was because they were "Italian", but the Costa data throws that theory to the wind. 

 

I

Edited by BermudaBound2014

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BBB ratings represent the BBB's opinion of how the business is likely to interact with its customers. The BBB rating is based on information BBB is able to obtain about the business, including complaints received from the public. ... BBB assigns ratings from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).

 

The organization says that trustworthy companies can become BBB "accredited," which can cost anywhere from hundreds to more than $10,000 in membership fees each year. ... While many people view the BBB as a consumer watchdog or even a government agency, the BBB itself says this is a misconception.

 

https://money.cnn.com/2015/09/30/news/better-business-bureau/index.html Tells another story with no date about BBB, dated September 2015. I am not a fan of CNN but I found the article interesting.

 

BBB Accreditation Cost: Each BBB has its own fee structure for businesses in their area. Those fees range from a few hundred dollars per year to thousands of dollars depending on the number of locations and employees a business has. Mar 22, 2019

 

To get an A+ rating, you need to get 97 points or more. The grade you get from the BBB represents the BBB's degree of confidence that your business is operating in a trustworthy manner and will make a good faith effort to resolve any customer complaints. Nov 1, 2018

 

The BBB rating is based on information BBB is able to obtain about the business, including complaints received from the public. ... BBB assigns ratings from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).

 

If you're dissatisfied with a business transaction, whether the company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or not, you can file a complaint through your local BBB. ... But if that fails, the BBB promises to do its best to help both sides come to a quick and fair resolution.

 

The BBB helps many solve issues they felt they could not resolve on their own. They have also been helpful in putting out information to warn consumers about scams. I do not deny I have read various stories about what has happened to them when sailing MSC. I have also read stories speaking of highlights and great service. I feel MSC has tried to achieve a better experience by changing many of the things in the American market that Americans prefer when sailing.

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MSC gets an A rating when it comes to cruise price. 

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