Our second cruise with MSC, and first on the Preziosa (obviously!). We have also cruised with Royal Caribbean, NCL & Carnival. We choose MSC because of the very reasonable prices and unusual itineraries. This was our first inaugural voyage so we were expecting some hiccups, but all in all things went smoothly and we were very impressed with the Preziosa.
Embarkation/leaving the ship etc:
Embarkation was extremely easy, there were no queues when we arrived, so we were onboard within a few minutes. Luggage arrived to the cabin within a couple of hours. Muster is held inside, with lifejackets worn. This seemed to be slightly shambolic, within no-one really in charge and I didn't see anyone ticking off passengers' attendance.
Leaving the ship for excursions was not straightforward. There were always long queues caused by having only one exit open, and everyone being thoroughly scanned when leaving the ship! Is this necessary?
Disembarkation was a similar story, but as we left at Barcelona (you can leave the ship at any stop) it wasn't as bad as it might have been.
We had a balcony cabin, 13052. This cabin is the last to 'jut out' so has a much larger balcony than we are used to which I was looking forward to, however I wasn't really able to use the additional space, and the lay-out made the interior darker than normal. Inside of the cabin is laid out beautifully. Plenty of storage space. Bed is a double rather than two singles pushed together, and was comfortable. Shower has doors which can open inwards as well as out, so gives you plenty of room. There is shower gel and shampoo in the shower (and an ashtray for some unknown reason- smoking is not allowed in the cabins or the balcony!) .
Choice of t.v. channels is abysmal for an english speaker. BBC world news! And that's it! There are film channels to choose from, which for 7 euros each isn't extortionate, but honestly! When there are even 3 channels available in Russian!.... we spend a lot of time in our cabin and would like to have had more choice.
We twice had pizza from room service because I kid you not , they are fantastic. For the cost of 7 euros for a pizza with a drink, they are also good value. Hope NCL send someone along to find out how they do it, because their room service pizza's are horrible.
Public rooms are beautiful as you'd expect on a brand new ship. Very glitzy, and being constantly buffed up by a number of cleaners. Everywhere sparkles, especially the 'Swarkovski' staircase in the atrium. Boutique shops, an internet cafe, a coffee shop and the 21 bars, everywhere looks fabulous.
Of the 21 bars, I think we used 4. The El dorado bar has one side where smoking is allowed. Here and the casino are the only areas allowing smoking inside the ship. The sports bar is very bright, and has lots of noise from the bowling alley, but the staff Remus and Diana were the best. The galaxy bar has the best views, and serves as a pay restaurant for lunch and in the evening.
The pool deck is a bit of a treat. On the main pool-deck there is an indoor and outdoor pool area, with plenty of whirlpools. At the front of the ship there is an infinity pool, as well as an adult only area with a large whirlpool and a few cabanas (cost is extra). Near to the adult area is the entrance to the children's playarea (!) where you will also find the rather large waterslide. Plenty of deckchairs available, and lots of hidden areas.
We had breakfast a couple of times in the MDR which I'd recommend. Very good service, plenty of choice and the coffee is really nice. Only had dinner once in the MDR, was ok, nothing special. Would have been nice to have table mates, but we were on the 6:30 sitting and no-one else turned up!
I was however very impressed with the buffet, with the exception of the very limited salad bar. The buffet is really well laid out so that there are never really any queues. The seating areas near to the entrance were always quite busy, but head towards the back and these areas were generally next to empty. Good selection on offer. Generally an oriental plate, pizza obviously, sandwiches, hotdogs, burgers, pasta, meat and veg. Food was of good quality, the oriental plates especially good. Only complaint other than the salad are the people who think it's acceptable to walk around in dressing gowns....really, does it take longer than 5 minutes to change into some clothes? Hope MSC do something about that.
In general the staff do a good job of looking after you, but no going the extra mile (except for the staff at the sports bar, who were fabulous). The staff could do with a little more smiling as you walk past, but really this is a minor issue, as I don't really like all that false 'Have a nice day' attitude. Customer service desk very efficient.
Laundry is great value. E25 for a bag. Newspapers available at E2.40 per day, good value. The pay restaurants are quite badly advertised. We didn't know about the galaxy until we stumbled on it one lunchtime, and none of them have any menus available at the entrance to see whether you want to eat there or not. Allegrisimo package is a mut-do, even for moderate drinkers. Even on the couple of days were all we drank was waater, coffee and coke, we still didnt lose out.
Didn't attend any of the shows so can't comment on that.
From our experience, there were mainly Italians and French on board. We only bumped into a handful of fellow brits, and a couple of Americans. In general our fellow passengers were well behaved and courteous and we didn't see children running around unattended.
Genoa is a nice town to stay for a couple of days pre-cruise. Plenty of shopping, and nice places to eat.
If you haven't been to Naples, there are plenty of options for excursions. Pompeii is a must.
Sicily is a nice stop. We just went shopping in Messina, but again plenty of excursion options.
Tunisia is a bit of a puzzle. We changed some money to local currency then found next to no-one would accept it, preferring the euro! Come out of the terminal to get a good rate on taxis. We paid 30 euro for a driver to take us round for 4 hours, which we were happy with, as we didn't go to the usual tourist places.
We have been to Barcelona several times, so opted to stay outside the city, but easy to get the shuttle bus to the start of the Ramblas if you're only there for the day.
So to wrap-up, a good cruise itinerary on a lovely ship. Just a couple of niggles that can be easily sorted out, but not enough of a problem to stop us sailing with MSC again.