Having cruised before with RCC and P&O we are not unaware of the trails and tribulations that are thrown at parents traveling with an adult disabled child. Not in the least fazed and fully prepared for lack of facilities, problems with seating in the dining room, the difficulties of day trips, ect ect on all the cruises we have been on we booked an MSC cruise. Idiots that we were. We were tempted by the ports of call but mainly by the fact that we could not get a disabled cabin for any shipping line on the Greek cruise and on MSC we could get a suite within our budget, giving us the much need space.
First warning sign
It was our 40th anniversary cruise and a time for celebration. It was anything but.
We booked through TUI and they duly called to confirm that we had a wheelchair passenger who could not walk with us, that we were taking a ventilator and needed clinical waste disposal ect ect. On their advice we booked a suite with the Aurora package.
A catastrophic mistake.
Our cruise went wrong should be a song
1 . The wheelchair accessible transfer in a thunder storm from the car park failed to arrive . Hubby went to get someone to call them. When it did arrive they would not let my husband on even though we were all soaked. They tried to tie down the manual chair by the wheel spokes as it was too small for the huge size rack damaging the wheels and snapping the brake. As a family of 5, our eldest daughter and her husband were also with us and no one else was on the bus so we ignored them and all got on. They closed all the doors but one which meant we loaded the cases over our daughters head. The thunder crashed and the lightning flashed as we sat soaked to the skin. Foreboding 1
2. When we got to the fast track queue they said Tui had printed our passes incorrectly and we had to get in a reprint line. Thereby queuing up three times not the fast track we had hoped for but hey lets blame Tui? Foreboding 2
3. No easy access for us I had to push the manual wheelchair up to deck 7 through a series of zig zag ramps in a huge squash. Stopping on a hill with the brake now broken I jammed my foot under the wheelchair and leaned into it to stop it rolling back in the lack of space as I was pushed from behind by passengers impatient at the very slow progress. The rest of the family were carrying medical equipment so could not help. As we started to board there was a ramp and a twist to enter the ship. I struggled to take the steep turn and a German idiot pushed in front of us dragging his case and wheels over the wheelchair and our daughters legs. All the while a member of the crew stood there in his warm coat and watched. I felt so overwhelmed that I told my husband I didn’t want to get on the ship. Foreboding 3
yet I did.
4. That night we stood in the customer enquiries queue for over an hour missing our dinner reservation because of the pressure selling on a drinks package which we thought came with the Aurora exp. A member of crew told us it was worthless and we needed to upgrade. We were approached by staff on 13 occasions and told to up grade our package. They even cornered our daughter in the lift. An American was yelling that he wanted the package he bought , he didn’t get it either.
We now know that the drinks package for the Aurora exp., is under £5.50 I have the bills to prove it. It is Total rubbish. Our daughter was shouted at and reduced to tears for asking for wait for it. ” coffees and a bottle of water. Every time we asked for a coffee or water or the glass of rose I drank every day we were made to feel like beggars. Despite constantly requesting an explanation of the value of the package we received none. It was only when my husbands card was stolen and someone else charged a white wine to it that we discovered the true value just £5.50 for which you can not even get a beach cocktail. It took MSC until the last day to offer a meeting to explain. We passed on it by then as it would achieve nothing and we would have to waste more time on sadness.
5. The magic 16th deck privacy of the Aurora can only be accessed by metal stairs . They offered to Carry Sophie up and down but warned it would be at our risk. We passed.
6. We had a constant water leak from the ceiling except on one day which we fondly referred to as our water feature one bucket most days, lucky us got 2 sometimes. We had to walk under this to get into our cabin.
7. We passed on the massage as somehow you cant relax after you have seen your daughter reduced to tears in public. Please sir I want more.
8. The toilets stopped working on 2 days we presume because they were trying to fix the leak.
9. The wonderful Photo you get as part of your Aurora exp is one from the restaurant which we missed as we were at the guest services trying to sort the drinks package.
They did send a bottle of prosecco to the cabin , yet failed to address the drinks package and Sophie got to meet the Captain after she got crushed at the official meet and greet. However I have had no response at all to our complaint . Just one email promising a reply. Incidentally Sophia was admitted to hospital with pneumonia when we disembarked , she was in intensive care and spent almost 3 weeks in hospital. I will always wonder if the leaking water played a part but we will never know.