Me and my wife are both 32 yrs of age and this was our 4th cruise in less than 3 yrs. It was also our first one which was not a Royal Caribbean one. I was interested to confront other cruise lines so most probably the positive/ negative issues are being compared to the Rc ones.
A reason I sailed with MSC was that MSC embarks/disembarks passengers from each port so you can catch a cruise each day of the week and I could not start this cruise on a sat or sun due to work commitments so we started our cruise on a Monday from the port of Naples.
I did check in online a week before so I thought that it would be straight forward thing but I was mistaken. Ship started embarkation process at 13:30 so we arrived at around 14:10. We did almost 2 hrs in a 4 metre queue without ac just to check in our luggage. There were like 5 lanes but our lane was the slowest. Mind you, other lanes were slow as well. No personnel to assist you but just those 5/6 employees doing the check in. We handled them our luggage and went upstairs in which you have to queue again twice more.
Whole embarkation process took like 3 hrs. Imagine if all the passengers would come up from the same port? They could take a whole day I presume. It was like their first cruise embarkation process ever. A Whole Nightmare.
Once aboard, they escort you to your stateroom which was very nice gesture. The ship is very nice. It's attention to detail is amazing. Super clean. On a negative side about the ship, mobile coverage is non existent. Our two mobiles were all the time searching for network in almost all parts of the ship. From your cabin, to the reception, to the theatre and dining areas. The only good part was on the deck.
Food was good. Nothing out of this world. Very repetitive selection all days. Only 3 or 4 items change during lunch buffet. During the buffet, lots of queuing.
Service varied from good to poor. Once a woman felt unconscious next to the lift and I went immediately to the reception to call for help. The receptionist was asking million questions (with calm) but not taking any actions.
The entertainment aboard was very good when there was since out of 7 days, there were 2 days without any shows. The event Fantasia and the tribute to Michael Jackson were brilliant. Better than the best Royal caribbean ones but for the rest it was ok. All shows last around 40 mins. You can't drink in the theatre since no place where to put your glasses.
The pools were nice but with absolutely NO CONTROL at all. Most of the times, they were packed with children (and "adults") jumping and splashing water all day long. Babies with nappies in where also present in the sides of the pools. No one from the employees told their parents anything. It wasn't nice to stay in the pool and more in the jacuzzi with all the children around. They could have left at least one pool reserved for adults.
The excursions were available but very expensive. We only took the excursion at Tunisia since I didnt feel like going around alone. Price was of 51euro each for 4 hrs. But beware when going to Barcelona and Marseille. In order to go to the centre, MSC organized shuttle buses whereas on Royal caribbean are free, here you have to pay for. A short trip from the port to the "centre" of barcelona costed 8euro each for a 3 mins drive and from Marseille was a 15euro each for a 20 mins one. They were both a RIPOFF.
Prices aboard are very expensive for alcoholic drinks. Usually on Royal Caribbean we always take the wine package according to the days we spend aboard. For 7 nights we take 7 wines in which you can choose from 10 bottles of wine at your convenience where on MSC , the wines' package is limited to one bottle less per package vs nights aboard. for example for 7 nights, package consists of 6 bottles! Another negative thing is that during summer me and my wife always drink White wines but MSC does not let you. The x6 bottles consists of x2 white, 3 reds and a rose' so you have to take one each.
Room service was very good although once the cabin attendant just opened the door without even knocking. No fancy towel shapes. I would leave him notes like to refill ice etc. On the day before disembarking, there is a note saying that by 6p.m you have to clear anything from the minibar. I left a full bottle of water which I bought from aboard for 3euro inside. I thought that before closing it, he would take it out and leave it on the table but there was nothing, either he closed it or took it off. So I was left with drinking very bad water from the buffet restaurants from 6p.m. till the disembarking at 11:30 a.m. Mind you, a 7 euro each person would be automatically deducted as a service charge daily apart from the 15% service charge for everything you drink.
On a positive note, ship respected all the timings. We would leave or dock exactly as stated on the brochure except for the disembarking.
All in all, the cruise was good. Embarkation process was a disgrace and started our cruise on a negative point but price wise was excellent. It was better to put the price up a little and then having some services for free. We ended with a bill of 360 euro from purchases aboard which include the excursions and service charges. Out of the x4 cruises, I would put it in 3rd position only ahead of the Dubai cruise on the Brilliance of the seas.