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MasterNotCommander

MSC Splendida - Grand Voyage Dubai to Genoa

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Does anyone have any info on how this cruise is progressing?. I know it’s become a Dubai to Marseille cruise since all of the intermediate ports have denied cruise ships. I have friends onboard and hoping all is well. 

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They were allowed to dock in khasab but are not docking in the other Oman ports or Jordan. The ship is now heading through the Suez canal as planned. The next ports were Greek but these are closed. 

France have announced a lock down from Tuesday 17th for 15 days so Marseille looks doubtful but they've had no official announcement on board. 

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Apparently now heading straight to Marseilles, estimated arrival date of 22nd March.

How that works for disembarking and to return home with France in lock down I've no idea but that the information they have at present.

 

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@MasterNotCommander   The general consensus now appears to be that they will arrive on March 24th and everyone, including most of the crew will disembark. At this time it is indicated they have receive special dispensation to do so.

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21 hours ago, CruisingFox27 said:

@MasterNotCommander   The general consensus now appears to be that they will arrive on March 24th and everyone, including most of the crew will disembark. At this time it is indicated they have receive special dispensation to do so.

 

Thanks for the updates, hopefully all goes well for them. 

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I saw a MSC charter flight from Marseilles to London and Manchester, which I guess was to get the guests home.  Hope everyone made it OK.

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I'll post a full rundown of the experience soon. I'm working on a letter to MSC with a long list of issues that we had..

 

Worst bit - Dropped at the Marseilles airport from 10am for a 4:35pm flight. No food, water or information. Flights did not depart until 7pm, 8 hours in the airport with no food, water or info from MSC. We got lucky that the Aussie Consulate ran over some food for everyone about 4pm which we ensured that the diabetics had first shot at. The flights were so hastily organised that they didn't have anything on the plane other than water.

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March 30, 2020
Attention MSC,
I request confirmation of the receipt of this email by COB 31 March 2020, and a response that this complaint has been passed to Management, along with an acknowledgement by Management by COB 4 April 2020.

This email has also been sent to the following recipients as a CC:
⦁    ACCC – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
⦁    Sydney Morning Herald – A leading newspaper in Sydney, Australia
⦁    The Australian Embassy in France
⦁    Our Cruise agent
⦁    Several other Australians who were on the cruise as a BCC

My complaint to MSC is about the Splendida Grand Voyage – Shanghai to Genoa Feb 13- March 29, 2020. This complaint is related to the second part of the cruise, from Dubai (March 12) to Genoa (March 29).

I acknowledge that MSC has offered all passengers on the cruise a 100% future cruise credit, however, I have no intention of using MSC cruises after the experience detailed below. As compensation, I request that I am reimbursed (cash refund) the cost of the cruise from Dubai to Genoa, and 50% of the cost of Shanghai to Dubai. Along with the cruise refund, I am also requesting the cost of the emergency flights booked to return to Australia. ($7,885.24 total)

Important timeline and facts with regards to the Dubai -> Genoa/Marseilles component:
Feb 29, 2020 - We leave Phuket Thailand and this turns out to be the last point that we have access to any Wifi (we did not pay for the service on the boat) or reliable TV reception (large chunks of time from now there was no reception for the 2 English news channels); we are at sea for 7 days straight until March 7 and 8 when we dock at Muscat and Khasab.
March 9, 2020
⦁    Italy goes into lockdown
⦁    Australian Gov advises against taking overseas cruises
March 10, 2020 - Abu Dhabi closes it's port and the Splendida instead docks at Dubai. We are told that the Dubai port will be closing and that our ship was granted special clearance to proceed as normal and that two other MSC ships (Lyrica and Belissima) will be the last two ships allowed into port
March 11, 2020
⦁    Cases of Covid-19 in Spain have increased by approx. 1000/day over the previous 3 days (March 9/10/11), which we learn from a Spaniard onboard
⦁    the WHO declares a global pandemic
March 12, 2020
⦁    Australians who are boarding have all apparently been told by MSC and their agents that everything is OK and there are no issues with the cruise going ahead. There are conflicting reports (emails and discussions with reception onboard the Splendida) that the new debarkation point will be Barcelona or Marseilles
⦁    MSC cancels the Lyrica and Bellisima cruises
⦁    Some Australians who have been onboard since Singapore and are scheduled to continue beyond Dubai decide to pull the pin in the cruise and debark. They are told by MSC that they will lose all the money for the rest of the cruise and are asked to sign waivers (most I believe refused to sign)
⦁    Splendida departs Dubai approx 9pm
March 13, 2020 - We stop in Khasab, Oman. This turns out to be the last stop that we have on the ship and from this point until March 24, we are constantly at sea.
March 15, 2020 - I believe that the Marseilles port is closed.... Note that none of us onboard the ship are told this and the Australian and other Government Authorities apparently negotiate with France from this point on to allow us to dock at Marseilles.
March 20, 2020 - We book flights from Nice -> Sydney via Emirates based on a letter that MSC provided to everyone to organise flights from from Marseilles or Nice.
March 22, 2020 - Emirates cancels all flights.
March 24, 2020
⦁    We dock in Marseilles
⦁    ~1:26 pm (Marseilles time) - Email from Consulate indicating that MSC have chartered a flight for March 25 @ ~4:30pm (Marseilles time)
March 25, 2020
⦁    MSC advises that shuttle buses to the Marseilles Airport for the chartered flights will begin leaving ~10am
⦁    10am - Approx. 140 English and 270 Australian passengers start to load onto buses, no food or water are provided to us on our way off the boat.
⦁    11am - we arrive at the Marseilles airport with no one on site to direct anyone as to where to go, we just follow the direction that the last of the previous busload which can be seen in the distance. There are 2 MSC representatives on hand who have no information, food or water. No shops within the airport were open and the only food onsite were vending machines, these were rapidly cleared of any food by everyone.
⦁    Between 1- 2pm - Apparently multiple emails/communications occur between the Australian consulate and MSC, where MSC state at least 3 times that they have provided food and water to us.
⦁    Australian Consulate staff finally do arrive and one of them brings about 10 bags of groceries to at least allow the diabetics, elderly and general others to eat.
⦁    7pm - The chartered flight takes off from Marseilles, a full 2.5 hours later than we were scheduled to. This causes some Australians who had booked flights from London onward to miss their flights.
⦁    7pm - 8:30pm - we are in the air with Tiu (the chartered airline) where we learn that the crew basically learned about the flight at 12pm (Marseilles time), and that MSC didn't complete the arrangements and provide the funds until sometime after lunch (London time), which would put it somewhere around 1-2pm Marseilles time. The staff onboard the charter flight are wonderful and go above and beyond to provide us with as much information as they can in the 1.5 hour flight time. Sadly there was no food onboard due to them finding out so late; imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn't gotten that food from the Consulate.
⦁    10pm (London Time) - we arrive in our hotel (that we had to arrange ourselves at last minute) for the night, where we then begin looking at flight options for us and wind up booking a flight back to Sydney (for A$3,942.62 /person)
⦁    A group of 5 Australians from Melbourne don't get off the ship as they have confirmed flights for the 26th from Nice to Doha and on to Melbourne. Sometime during the night they are informed by MSC crew onboard that their flights have been cancelled (incorrect) and could those people authorise MSC to book them on new flights, the Australians confirm that the flights are still on and refuse MSC authorisation. Despite this they receive a letter under the door with flights from Lyon -> London -> Sydney
March 26, 2020 - The 5 Australians leave the boat to board the bus to Nice to catch their flight. Just after they have cleared the French customs and are about to board the boat they receive a call from one of the staff at the Australian consulate stating that MSC have advised the Consulate that the Qatar flights Nice -> Doha -> Melbourne have been cancelled (again incorrect) and that if they reach Nice and the flights are indeed cancelled there will likely not be much that the Consulate can do. The Australians make a judgement call to go to Lyon and take the flight London -> Sydney. Later confirming from others who were in Qatar (in transit from our cruise) that the flights from Nice -> Doha -> Melbourne were all running as scheduled and there never was any issues with those. As a result they have arrived in Sydney instead of Melbourne and been placed into required quarantine in a hotel in Sydney for 2 weeks causing additional stress and hardships on those passengers. At least one of the parties invovled has been included in the BCC list of this email.
Thankfully, we were able to obtain flights to Sydney, and were able to arrive safely back in Australia. During the rapidly changing environment, it appeared that MSC was determined to continue as if nothing was out of the ordinary, and it did feel like passengers were an inconvenience to those in charge on the ship.
Key questions to MSC:
⦁    Why was the Splendida cruise not terminated in Dubai when the Lyrica and Bellisima were?
⦁    Why were passengers allowed to embark in Dubai after a Pandemic had been, several countries were advising against their citizens cruising, and an increasing number of countries denying cruise ships to dock?
⦁    Why were the Australians onboard and those who were boarding not told about the update on cruising from the Government?
⦁    Why were we never told about Marseilles being closed, but instead we were kept being fed the false premise that we would be heading to 3 Greece stops?
The above items point to negligence (at best) or a willful dereliction of duty in the care for the passengers and crew. In several cases above it appears that MSC deliberately provided false or misleading information to the Australian Government officials and definitely withheld or provided false/misleading information to passengers. All of the above items also put a lot of undue stress and mental anguish on all of the passengers.
As such I believe that we should receive a 100% cash refund of the costs of the cruise from Dubai -> Genoa, as well as full refund of the emergency flight costs incurred. Once the Pandemic was declared all bets were off on passengers being able to claim compensation for new flights, but it would have been cheaper, easier and a hell of a lot less stressful organising flights from Dubai on the 12th of March rather than 12 days later.
Should MSC fail to acknowledge their failures and mishandling (not to mention false statements to Government officials) of this whole situation I believe that the ACCC should look into adding MSC onto a "Not Allowed to Sell in Australia" list.

I will now go into additional issues that occurred on the earlier section of the cruise from Feb 13 - March 12 which we believe also lean to a 50% refund of that section.
Prior to Embarkation - MSC Splendida had approx 2.5 weeks without any passengers, which you would think would have given plenty of time to get things working, organise and practice.
Embarkation on Feb 13 - We were told that we could board the ship from 6pm on the 13th. We arrived at approx. 5:30pm. Boarding finally began at 7:30pm with probably close to a thousand people in the terminal. It was pretty apparent that there was very little in the way of organisation from the MSC crew attempting to register people. Most of those working behind the computers acted as though they were doing this for the first time and were regularly calling managers over. At one point the rate of boarding was 4 people per minute. There was no food offered to those waiting, many of whom had flown in from Europe that day and had come straight from the Airport to the Terminal. We eventually boarded somewhere shortly after 10pm, proceeded to the buffet to eat mostly cold food and head straight to bed with raging headaches from the lack of food. We never received any acknowledgement or apology that this was poor.
This leg of the cruise had ~1300-1500 passengers onboard.
The Security guards onboard were extremely gruff and demanding - several passengers complained about this and eventually they seemed to get the point and started to smile. However, one would think that they were in charge of a high security facility and not dealing with paying passengers on a regular basis.
The MSC App that was supposed to work on our cruise never worked, although reception did at one point say it would start working in Europe.
The sports bar did not have any sports on the TVs. After several trips to reception to complain about it (being told it's a technical issue and being worked on), we were eventually told that it would not work until Dubai. At the meeting with Roberta (further down) it sounded as though the sports TV was never going to work in the southern hemisphere as apparently the contract was only for northern hemisphere satellites... This cruise had a lot of areas involved below the equator.
There were never any useful updates on things that we broken (app/TV/etc) or news items (such as stopping of the food in the sports bar) in the daily newsletter. The daily newsletter should be more a daily advertisement, as everything in there was pretty much focused on getting passengers to spend on something onboard rather than information.
Food quality was always a hit and miss target on board. One night you would have a good meal and then the next would be so so, the evening with the Turbot was just flat out awful and we refused to eat that dish completely.
There was a woeful lack of quality cheese on board and anything remotely resembling a blue cheese was nowhere to be found. I had to bluntly ask for it (to a white jacketed individual) for any to actually make an appearance.
Food spotters onboard were either asleep or possibly blind. Examples - 3 plates at the table where a prawn would be centre top on the meal; 2 plates would have the prawn and the 3rd would not. Dessert with honey drizzled on it; 1 plate had it and the other 2 had no honey. Even after we had our discussion with Roberta (again see below) we had an occurrence of receiving a hummus plate with no bread on it.
Tender boarding tickets were useless - they were completely ignored by the staff who were boarding the tenders.
The port in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam was awful. Even the MSC staff onboard said that the last time they were there, the boat had used a much better facility.
India - We never received a letter about the India port being cancelled, we had to find out from another couple on board. Even worse was that when we went to dinner that night and said to the Indian Maitre De that he should call Modi to let us dock and he looked at us and said "we are going to India". Once our shock at realising that he didn't know had passed, we (not the cruise boat) informed him and the other Indians in the restaurant that no indeed we were not going to stop in India. How bad is it that you could not inform your own staff about the port cancellation?
India visa refunds - These were "offered" in that you had to go down and ask the reception to refund you the costs. No general announcement was made about this, it was only passed by word of mouth among the passengers.
Sri Lanka - Once again you failed to tell your staff ahead of time, instead letting everyone know at once via a loudspeaker announcement. Watching your crew's hearts and faces fall at the news while we were at dinner was heartbreaking.
In return for the missing Sri Lanka we were offered a paltry 100 Euro (per cabin), which we do not believe would cover the port costs that we would have been charged as part of the cruise overall price. We never received any compensation offer for India, but instead had Khasab added to the cruise on our way to Dubai (Khasab is a very small port with nothing really to offer and we were seeing this on the way from Dubai to Genoa anyway).
Reception staff were pretty much useless. There were always instances of two different reception workers providing two completely different answers to the same question at the same time. ex. Yes there is a shuttle bus to Nice from one reception person. While at the very same time another receptionist is saying No there is a bus to Nice. Other instance: Passenger - I have question x. Receptionist A to Receptionist B - Passenger is asking question x. Receptionist B back to Receptionist A - Tell passenger answer....
We submitted a complaint letter with the above (and more) to reception on March 10, we never received any update on this or acknowledgement of this. I had to go to reception on March 16 and pretty much demand to speak with someone before a meeting was arranged with Roberta (Customer Relations?) for March 17. All that took place in that meeting was her sitting behind her desk listening to us, nodding and offering some placating words. Not a single note was taken by her during the entire meeting.
March 14 - the day that Muscat was cancelled, there was zero fallback plan for entertainment. It was as if the regular port stop went ahead. Port cancellations are something that can happen at any time in regular circumstances (weather, mechanical, etc) and I would think that you would have had some sort of fall back plan in those cases, but apparently MSC has an issue with planning.
Summation - Even though the cruise was under one half full of the normal passengers and you had an extra two and a half weeks to prepare, you still delivered what felt like a cruise from a company that had zero experience cruising.
Should MSC not provide considered responses to the request for compensation, and answers to the key questions asked, I will be in further contact with the ACCC to see what further action can be taken.

The reputation of MSC from the passengers on this cruise is in tatters. All passengers that we have spoken to have no intention of using the offered future cruise credit.

I look forward to discussing the complaint with you.

Regards,
R Douglas Wilson - Cabin 9155

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Wow - quite a post.  Sorry you had such a terrible time.  The main thought that came to mind was hopefully the lessons are learnt for next time, but hopefully this pandemic is a one-off occurrence.

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Well a Pandemic is one thing, however the entire cruise felt like it was the first cruise for a brand new company.

 

Then you add onto that their decisions and providing false information to Australian Government officials multiple times.... Yeah, that's more than Pandemic related.

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