Right lets get straight to the point here! My party and I of experienced independent travellers have no complaints about our first ever cruise, but a number of observations that may be of use to others.
We knew in advance it was an Italian cruise ship that would have a large mix of Europeans on board, in particular Italians, French, Dutch, Germans, Spanish etc and that we Brits would be in the minority. We knew in advance that the food in the buffet style restaurants would obviously have to cater to international tastes and that the food in the Villa Verde and Reggio restaurants would be of a high standard. We were not disappointed. However we did hear moans from some fellow Brits that the food was not well presented or like the food in the UK. Come on, get a life! In the restaurants the food was excellent and the service superb. They are serving in excess of 500 people at each sitting. In the Bora Bora and Pago Pago buffets the food is laid out for all to see and for all to help themselves. How else can these buffets cater for hundreds at a time?
Be prepared however for the rudeness of the Italians and Spanish who just push in and queue jump at meal times in the buffet restaurants. Grin and bear it or stop moaning and make the effort to go to your allocated restaurant where you can have breakfast lunch and dinner served to you in lovely relaxed surroundings by attentive staff. Treat the staff well and they'll look after you.
.This is a large ship, a really large ship but with everything you need. Smokers are catered for, casino goers are catered for, drinkers are catered for but not apparently the disabled or those with mobility problems.
We witnessed several elderly and younger passengers with mobility problems that the crew did not appear to have any foresight or ability to help.
I even witnessed an elderly couple having to abandon their allocated sitting in the Villa Verde restaurant because they could not reach their table at the far end of the restaurant. Even though they had informed MSC of their disability why on earth would you give them a table they could not reach. What made it worse was that none of the tables near the door were allocated to shall we say the elderly or infirm passengers. What made me angry was that the staff did not have the initiative to arrange a table swap. What made me incandescent was that a table of fellow Brits would not give up their table near the door for this couple.
I hope MSC read this and do something about table allocation sooner rather than later and I hope the hypocritical Brits are ashamed of themselves for not giving up their table. Shame on you.
Right back to the point - we embarked and disembarked at Genoa. Quick, easy and efficient.
Our cabin with balcony was at the stern; perfect in every way. Clean, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. The room staff were excellent and efficient.
Activities on board varied in style and quality, but remember they have to cater for 6 or 7 different nationalities.
The shows were good, again some repetition in several languages, but mostly visual to cater for different nationalities.
Drinks were very expensive - buy yourself the Allegrissimo package. Even if you are only a moderate holiday drinker you'll be happy you bought the package.
Barcelona - Enjoyable.
Tunis - A big disappointment in every respect.
Valletta - Lovely and enjoyable.
Messina - You need to plan what you want to do here.
Civitavecchia - A long way from Rome. Careful planning required.
Highlight of the holiday was the cruise itself.
Biggest disappointment was the number of fellow Brits who constantly moaned about it not being like home. My advice to them would be put your hand in your pocket, pay more and travel with Cunard.
Would we cruise with MSC again? Yes. Will we actually cruise with them again? Yes.
Holiday was Â£700 each.
We paid the 98 euro service charge per couple to the cabin and restaurant staff because they deserved it.
We bought the Allegrissimo drinks package which worked out at 312 euros per couple and included the general 15% service charge for drinks etc.
If some of my fellow Brits are offended because I've castigated them for their behaviour and meanness then so be it.