Read all the reviews before going and bad service+food was almost universal in them. However these I found were totally unfounded. At Venice the embarkation was rather chaotic but relatively speedy with helpful ground staff, most could speak good english. Upon entering the ship I was impressed by the decor+furnishings, interior appearance etc... (BTW, travelling with 2 children)
The crew is mainly composed of South East Asians however wherever we went onboard they were incredibly polite and could speak passable english, enough to get you what you would want on a cruise. Even if not totally knowledgable they were very helpful in every way. Our waiter at dinner was very polite and he did not try to hide the fact that you had to purchase water, found this a bit penny pinching of MSC but we felt it was not worth it to spoil our dinner for a few euros.Other than that the service I received everywhere from cleaners to officers was adequate if not excellent. Our cabin was cleaned/made up at least 2 times a day.
Very large choice of Food at buffet during lunch but less choice at dinner, contraty to some reports there was some slight variation every day but dinner+breakfast stayed quite similiar throughout though quality of food was excellent. I only ate at the sit down restaurants twice in the whole cruise, food was simply average compared to the buffet. Water+tea is always provided at the buffet free of charge.
Staff at excursion desk were friendly and didn't try to pressure us into buying trips, gave us good alternatives to booking an excursion. We did book one at Istanbul as we felt it was too large to explore by ourselves but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Some are quite pricy though I tried limiting the number we booked.
The ship if anything was extremely clean, the crew was working visibly hard to keep everything polished and clean, pool deck facilities and cleanliness were very good though it does get very crowded on some days.
Other passengers weren't the rude pushy Italians I read, most were polite and Buffet dining was crowded but orderly.
Shows were simply stunning. Dancers, acrobats, singers and actors all performed with great skill and all the shows I watched were spectacular, never failed to impress. Didn't do many of the daytime activities due to visiting ports most of the time.
Overall I found the ship impressive, manned by helpful and polite staff and English speaking passengers just as well catered for as the Italians. Food was excellent but the sit down restaurants need a bit of work and there are quite alot of charges of everything onboard such as bar surcharges, water etc..but I was very glad to pay everything at the end.