This is a review about the MSC Ammonia cruise around the Mediterranean Islands for 7 nights from the 28th of May 2016. The ship holds around 2,600 passengers and is considered medium sized. The clientele are European, Italian, French & German, with around 5% (max) English speaking Embarkation – after all the horror stories, this was really easy and there were no queues or fuss, maybe we were lucky? Arrived at Genoa airport, directed to the coach, apart from the coach being very warm inside everything went smoothly and arrived at the port around 10-15 minutes later. Short walk to hall and very easy process of getting cards. As per usual, immediate pressure of selling extras. We bought 15 coffees on board. Found our cabin easily our luggage arrived around an hour later. This could be likened to a ferry as people embark at nearly every port, therefore there is a safety drill every day (you only attend one). Rating: Good The cabin – double, with balcony, not large, but big enough, can see why some have said balconies are small, may not be considered deep enough by some, but fine for us. Shower in bathroom all well laid out though again small. No comfy chairs/settee in room, but safe behind mirror (opens on left hand side). Enough hanging space and cases under bed. Friendly steward keeps it nice and clean. Rating: Average Food – firstly with one of us being a vegetarian the choices were exceedingly limited and sometimes there are no choices at all. There are three options main dining, buffet, in room (pay for depending on board/ room choices). We were in La Pergola on floor 6, a table for 2 and had an allegro drinks package (5 wine, 7 water) with evening meal that was fine for us. If you are in the main dining room on deck 5 Marco Polo it is much noisier and seemed frenetic, especially as it had the kids in there. In main dining room, squashed in, not a lot of room between tables, not seated next to other English speaking people, we had Germans either side and couldn’t really talk as our German is non existent and their English was not great, we/they tried. There was an American couple diagonally opposite us and it would have been great to sit next to them. The waiters were helpful and friendly. The food delivery was interesting. They took your order from 6 courses, no coffee: Appetisers, soup, pasta/risotto, salad, main, dessert. You had one or two choices for each and did not have to have them all. However they arrived two at a time, so if you ordered 4 of 6, and your partner 3. You were eating your main course when they were having desert. The waiters served a dish to everyone in their area at the same time! The food generally was reasonable but only occasionally hot. For us only a few dinners were good all the way through. The room service has a limited selection and may have a charge – depending on your grade. The main buffet area is on deck 11 and the actual seating area is very limited and around the food counters can be a crush! The best buffet bit for us was the fresh pizzas and the pasta. Hamburgers not great but OK. At meal times this area was just too busy. Water is available here, but you are not supposed to fill up any bottles but lots do, as there is a charge for water otherwise. Breakfast is either in the buffet or room service or main dining deck 5. Unless you have booked the top grade then this is buffet too. There is a coffee shop but it is a charge. Sit at a table and wait for the waiter, hopefully they will come quickly. If you ask at the counter you get put behind all the table orders and can wait ages. They also do small pastries here. There are bars but we didn’t frequent them. Be aware as the non-smoking policy is different, in certain areas smoking is allowed, e.g. the English bar/pub. Rating: Poor Onboard Activities – very limited if you don’t want to baste yourself all day in the sun (this is what is expected). There are dance classes, fun and games for children, bingo, table football & tennis and others. A number of pools, kids water area etc. The mini golf was our favourite. They had a number of quizzes but even on rainy days only a few people participated. The main theatre is curiously laid out with two sets of seats per tier, in order to see clearly you need to be in the front set so arrive early as these get busy very quickly, the shows only last half an hour and are mainly visual, but good. Three shows per night. Rating: Poor Excursions – our comment about English is relevant to 2 of our excursions being cancelled, due to “lack of interest” this means not enough English speaking people wanted the tour, first MSC staff blame the tour operators, then lack of guides, when you point out the contract we have is with them and not their sub-contractor, they then quote the small print at you. We selected another tour on one occasion, yet that was run in dual language, English and German, so why couldn’t they do this for the one we originally booked? Also they know beforehand that some tours in certain languages are not likely to run e.g. English so put this warning on the web site especially the msc one! As we booked this cruise because of the destinations and wanted specific excursions that “were not available” and MSC don’t give a fig! When we tried to find out times and runnings of other excursions again it is a lottery what they say and whether you can believe them. When we were speaking to the manager, after one had been cancelled, I asked that due to our weak walking capacity, could we reserve the front 2 seats which he said he would do immediately. The next day we walked slowly to the bus and found there was no reservations! When asking his staff later they said we had to take that sort of requirement up when we collected our numbers from the relevant staff at the time, this would then be called through to the coach!!! The manager obviously doesn’t care so neither does his staff. In total 3 of the excursions we wanted to go on were cancelled and the number that were offered and then cancelled virtually every day was ridiculous. Totally unacceptable and unlike the other cruises we have been on where they got overbooked. We ended up on a Rome on our own excursion, went to see the Forum. After a day out, we arrived back at the coach for the allotted time, however a group of ladies were nearly 45 minutes late. This was despite being told by the MSC rep, the guide, both in several languages, what the time back was (16:45) and given a piece of paper with it on plus a phone number to call if they were going to be late. They had decided to go on the hop-on hop-off bus and arrived back late. We were left just waiting and the passengers were getting very agitated. When they finally did arrive, no apologies or anything, even to the guide. So rude! The driver got us back to the ship only 10 minutes late for departure. There should be a fine for making us late, say over half an hour that should be given to charity? The local guides on Minorca and Sicily were great. Ratings: MSC Staff Absolutely Terrible! Local guides and drivers - Excellent. The staff – the reception and excursions staff, clearly could not care about you. They have set things they can do and if you ask outside of those parameters they can’t /won’t help. The excursion manager lied to us and so did a number of the staff, just to stop dealing with us. I would go as far as to say they were rude. This is just not the sort of service to be expected. Had word with Houcine, who is the English/French guest relations person on board. Only found this out when attending disembarkation talk on the second from last day. On the daily sheet it says hospitality person and he said at the briefing no one had come to talk to him, that is because we didn’t know what he was. Stated about excursions and lack of choice for my wife as a vegetarian, he talked to the restaurant management and they added another option for that night and were attentive, however it was back to normal the final night, with just soup a salad and a main. Went back and saw him after final meal to point this out again. The restaurant waiters are great and very friendly/helpful. Rating: Terrible – apart from waiters ( good) Disembarkation – pink luggage labels, on main bags and outside door for 01:00. Had to leave cabin by 07:00 even though docking at 09:00. Suppose it was due to the 1,000 plus guests departing at Genoa, but even so seemed early. Supposed to be bag drop off area for hand luggage, but couldn’t find it, so ended carrying hand luggage around. Disembarkation at 09:45 from main theatre. Announcement made at 09:45 for pink, exited ship, found luggage and coach to airport. Again couldn’t have been more straightforward. Rating: Good Conclusions – if you want good food and decent entertainment do not come on an MSC cruise, unless you like lying in the sun all day, which you can do cheaper elsewhere. Being in a minority as English speaking also makes a difference, not that it should be an issue, apart from the cancelled excursions. If you want politeness from the majority of crew and passengers, again this is in short supply – people barge into lifts before you get out and they will fill a lift up even if it is going in the wrong direction, plus requests for them to wait simply don’t apply to them, this is probably a European culture issue. We’re told by Houcine that new ships and ethos in for 2017. It has a long way to go, to get us back on an MSC cruise. Have filled in email for getting survey and been promised this will be taken seriously, we shall see! Overall we would place this experience as the worst so far of our 4 cruises (others being Oceania 5*, Celebrity 4* and Royal Caribbean 3* – in that order). MSC would get no more than 2* at best.