MSC Bellissima: Reasons to Avoid this Ship
This Post Updated: 2/12/2020 #msc #mscbellissima #dubai #uae #mydubai #abudhabi #dubailife #dxb #sharjah #emirates #dubaimall #dubaifashion #burjkhalifa #dubaimarina
Cruise Date: 13 December through 27 December, 2019 (Persian Gulf)
Ever wonder what is too big for a cruise ship ? Look no further, it’s the MSC Bellissima. While a beautiful new ship, it’s overcrowded without the staff to support the 4,500 passenger load. This type of ship size is what I call the supersized Panamax (used to describe the maximum ship size that can fit through the Panama Canal). It’s too big. It fits in the same category of the doomed Airbus 380 (also too big). And now with the recent CoronaVirus, a big ship just becomes a big sickness incubator. This size class ship is doomed. Sorry MSC, but you’ve hit the glass ceiling on this design. Time to focus on passenger experience, and not on your profits.
Here are some photos of the Christmas buffet, the ship, and the better experiences onboard.
Antiquated card based POS systems only make things worse, especially when trying to incorporate the medallion RFID system.
Unsure if it’s the Italian way of doing business, or the staff is overwhelmed, but the organization is fraught with problems, inefficiencies, and has the potential for very unsanitary operating conditions, especially in the buffet area (no soap or sanitary lotion many times).
Management, staff, and ship designers need to get together and learn from the mistakes made on this ship. An easy fix is to them go on a Sky Princess Cruise, and see how it’s done right. If you want long lines, poor service, nonfunctioning medallion systems, lots of waiting, crowded conditions, then go on this ship.
This is a poor value for the money, and may lead to an awful experience. Choose another ship, and another cruiseship line.
Photos from the cruise…
Believe it or not, we had to go to the internet cafe to find out how to log into the internet and get our paid WiFi. Apparently, upper management doesn’t think it’s necessary to put this information in the APP, nor tell passengers about. Result ? Passengers have to wait in long lines to overwhelm limited staff just to get their paid internet. Another example of product and service shorting. What a horrible system they have in place, to waste time for both passengers and staff. Here is the login page, so you don’t have to experience a poor embarkation. www.mscwifi.com
The hallmark of poor management and staff is if you have to spend time dealing with issues. On this ship, all the staff can do is listen. For some reason, they can’t do much to resolve issues.
Take Action: Always keep track of your bill. Make notes, take photos, and document any idiosyncracies. It’s more profound when you are paying more than normal cruises. Visit guest experience and let them know what is wrong. Unfortunately, on this ship your concerns fall on deaf ears.
Not enjoying your cruise ? Provide factual reviews online. This helps keep cruise lines accountable for their actions. It may not help you, but will help the next potential guest.
Divide and Conquer: The ship is divided into the fancy Yacht Club (forward and upper decks). And the economy class back and lower. Expect a poor experience unless you are in the Yacht Club level.
Yacht Club Level Photos
The ship is beautiful. Clearly some thought went into her design, but fails in the upper decks where most people congregate. Specifically the sun deck areas, and the buffet. Clearly, nobody ran computer flows to see where passengers would be the bottleneck. Problems compound, which makes life difficult for the staff.
Unless you’re on the main promenade, it’s hard to navigate from forward to stern on the ship. Luckly, the elevators are plentiful and work well.
Awful POS System
The worst point of sales system I’ve seen in the past 10 years. Not sure if it’s the Italian way, or just merging technologies that won’t blend.
The medallion system works intermittently, but rarely when you need it (when purchasing anything). On Princess, if you get near a POS, they immediately know who you are, and can easily charge your purchase, without handing over your card (and germs). This airless technology has been around for a long time. I’m surprised MSC hasn’t figured out the passive RFID tech yet. Purchasing a bracelet will insure that you will have to wait to get your bracelets to get working, and even then, it may only open your cabin door. They still ask for your card for any purchases.
Even worse, unlike the Princess Cruise Medallion bracelet, these bracelets are powered devices, which means they are not waterproof. This makes them virtually useless.
Expect to see a written receipt in triplicate every now and then. The Italians seem to like the antiquated, least efficient method, of delivering an experience.
The bottom line is that you’ll spend more time trying to resolve simple issues, than the cruise itself. Avoid this ship.
Kids Programs: The ship has excellent childcare and kids programs.
Top 10 Reasons To Avoid MSC Bellissima:
1. Overcrowded ship capacity leads to cut corners. It’s a management problem . Cut corners leads to unclean conditions and poor service.
Why no bath products or even facial tissue ? Cabin steward said that they ran out, and container with supplies didn’t arrive. Guest Experience said that they were trying a more eco-friendly approach, and no longer offer it. So instead, passengers use even more toilet paper. Odd approach to a eco ship. There are no bath products provided. Instead, they have soap in a dispenser in the shower. Eco friendly soap ? Soap with EDTA chemicals (tetrasodium ETDA, These chelating agents are cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic, but not carcinogenic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396676).
2. Food Quality: Buffet good (super crowded). Free restaurants average to poor food quality. The paid upsell lobster dinner, was awful. Specialty restaurants were good to fantastic (Tepanyaki experience amazing). Your paid drink package doesn’t work in the specialty upsell restaurants. If you’re a couple, buy the specialty restaurant package to save money. If you’re trying to buy packages for more than two people, or pay for other people, good luck working with the system that has lots of problems when you want to buy something.
3. Yacht Club: while you may get exceptional experience in this separate class, you are on the same crowded ship. I was in standard passenger class. If you go on this ship, only book Yacht Club level. At least you have a comfortable space to relax in.
4. Long Wait: expect long lines. Made worse when ship is fully booked, since they don’t have the staff to keep up with the crowds. Expect nowhere to sit or layout on a sunny day on the upper decks. Poor food quality in the lower deck free restaurants, results in lots of people at the lunch and evening buffet, which results in the buffet running out of plates, dinnerware, or poor cleaning. The dinnerware was of so questionable cleanliness, that we typically would grap up to 5 sets each, because most were still dirty.
5. Questionable Cleanliness: Overcrowded means limited (or no) soap or hand sanitizer in food areas.
6. Unhappy Crew: Overcrowding and limited staff means existing crew was overworked. Lack of sleep and lack of rest, combined with poor management, results in a less than energetic crew. This results in product (or service) shorting.
7. A La Carte Pricing: drink pre-paid packages don’t work at specialty restaurants. Skip the drink packages. Save your money.
Here are some images of the specialty restaurants (all with excellent food), and the free restaurant upselling the lobster (which was awful).
8. Internet Access: Service is inconsistent, and sometimes very slow. Service only works with one device at a time (can’t tether or share). Expensive (I paid around 148 Euro – but then had to buy for our group since bracelets didn’t work for location services).
9. Bracelets: prepare to spend hours with guest services to make them work. The don’t work with POS (point of sales) charge devices. POS still used paper receipt system. Antiquated system means more wait time, and less time enjoying your cruise.
10. Passenger and Crowd Flow: There were a number of bottlenecks, which result in frustration and poor passenger experience. This is a super beautiful ship (probably the nicest big ship I’ve seen) but someone didn’t put the time into running the analytics for computational flow design in the original design stage (orr was not properly executed in the build stage). In either case, more wait time, less experience.
Fixes: Lots of easy fixes, but in some cases, would reduce MSC profit. Easiest fix is more crew, to service increased capacity. The biggest fix is eliminating the legacy card system, and go straight to the medallion system which is used successfully on Princess Cruises. Eliminate the paper receipts altogether. Just a big waste of time and paperwork. These are real basic strategies that should have been employed along time ago by MSC management. Somebody isn’t doing their job in the top ranks.
Smart TV: Bring your Apple TV and plug into the cabin TV with your unlimited (paid) WiFi. We used the business center conference room to have movie nights. Simply get a computer to HDMI cable (we bought one at one of the malls) to stream your signal into the large screen TV’s.
Photos from the cruise
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