We chose this cruise despite the poor reviews, based on the personal recommendation of friends who did this cruise last year and because it suited our date/itinerary/duration requirements.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise despite some shortcomings of the cruise line.
Positives: Beautiful Ship. Cabin (& bathroom) was spacious, well appointed with plenty of storage space. Cabin service was very efficient, and cabin was cleaned twice daily, so we always had clean towels etc. Great itinerary although we did not take any ship excursions (we learned on our 1st cruise that ship excursions are generally a rip-off and that doing our own thing was much cheaper and less restrictive).
Negatives: Service in Main Dining Room (Le Maxims) was pretty dreadful. This is clearly a management/training issue, as it's a widespread problem, also apparent in Buffet restaurant although there were some really nice dishes interspersed. Buffet breakfast was not brilliant, cold eggs and and generally lacking freshness and smacking of mass prepared food. If we didn't have our expectations raised by RCI & Celebrity, we may have found the food OK. We were not approached once by the Maitre D throughout the cruise. In fact the Maitre D even avoided eye contact when we entered the dining room.....really disconcerting. This also seemed to be an issue with other staff, as there were no friendly RCI staff style greetings forthcoming (apart from cabin staff who could hardly avoid us as we passed them in the narrow passages). On RCI & Celebrity, the crew evaluation questionnaires seem to be a huge deal and staff really go out of their way to ensure they get the best ratings. On MSC, this seemed to be a non-issue, and this is probably part of the underlying problem with service levels - the cruise line doesn't really seem too fussed about getting it right. There seems to be a bit of a "this is how we do it, take it or leave it" attitude. Dining room staff knew nothing about the wines and there was never a Sommelier in sight, so we just drank the wines out of the package we bought in the order that they were in the voucher booklet. On that point, the voucher system for wine or beverage packages is just plain dumb. Other lines just place a sticker on one's cruise card for this purpose. We had to remember to carry vouchsafed with us.
Pool areas were very crowded and noisy, with lots of kids all over, but we could always find a quiet spot on the upper decks to relax, or retire to our own balcony for some time out.
I had 3 massages on board. The first was actually very good, but the 2nd was poor (possibly because I didn't buy any products offered by the therapist after the first one). They also messed up my booking for the 2nd one which was supposed to be an hour, but after 30 min she announce "your massage is finished", so they re-booked my 1hr session and didn't charge for the 30 min mix up (after I dug my heels in). 3rd massage was not good, and I left with the feeling that I was rich tourist, exploiting the massage therapist, a sharp contrast to the warm welcome reviewed on day one! I guess this could be the sense of staff dissatisfaction with their working conditions coming through. If that is the case, then MSC need to sort it out.
Unlike many other reviewers, I had no problem with the European cultures or multi-lingual announcements. My attitude is that if you don't like foreign cultures, then stay at home! Don't expect to find America in Europe!
We absolutely loved all the ports, but I will not rate them as we made our own shore arrangements. Docking times were a bit short, especially with Santorini & Mykinos being visited on the same day.
I would possibly cruise with MSC again if the price/dates etc suited our requirements, but only if we couldn't find similar with another line.