Prior to this cruise we sailed with all major cruise lines except for Costa & MSC. Our best overall line is Princess cruises, but also for different reasons we love Celebrity, NCL and RCI.
Reading various review about MSC we were a bit confused. Beautiful ships, but so many negative reviews. We just could not believe it. What we found was a very nice and interesting experience, with its own strong and weak points.
Things that we found to be wonderful. Absolutely gorgeous ship. Great European ... I'd say Italian design and decor. Very modern and stylish. Beautiful atrium, large and small cozy lounges. Terrific entertainment. We attended nightly shows in the main theater, and found them interesting. In addition from great ... even opera-like voices there were nice dancers, and amazing gymnasts, acrobats etc, different every night. During our cruises we enjoy smaller scaled entertainment... and I feel this is one of MSC's very strong points. Music was everywhere - atrium, Poeti lounge, Zebra and in many other venues. I do not remember all names of entertainers, but especially we liked Italian guitar duo, Trio Stravinsky, English popular song singers in Poeti bar, tenor Giuseppe, both females singers in the Theater.
We try to go to Europe as often as we can, but with our American short vacation it is not always easy. On this cruise we enjoyed a company of people from all over Europe. I met and had interesting conversations with the guests from Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Switzerland etc.
Our cabin was 9187, regular balcony room. I find its design pretty modern and convenient. I think bed was a bit hard, but my husband could not agree with me. Cabin had everything necessary bathrobes, fan, shampoo and gel dispensers, shower cap. We like balcony furniture, and balcony glass.
Food is usually a very controversial topic. We enjoyed it overall. Breakfasts in Lido buffet were usual cruise breakfasts with everything necessary, except for salmon, although smoked herring was pretty good. There was no service for juices or coffee, so we used juice machine for cranberry, pineapple, grapefruit and orange juices. I think adding several more machines would be helpful as very often there was a line. Juices, water and coffee was available throughout a day. I heard some complaints that before this was not an options, as well as free water with ice in the Main dining room. We used Pompiano buffet for our lunch, and found selection of meats, fish, pasta, salads (both pre-made and salad bar) to be more than adequate. We usually do not eat pizza and other fast food on our cruises, but liked focaccia. Dinners in the dining room were enjoyable as well. Nice, attentive service, various selections of international menu, everyday menu etc. One thing we felt MSC could improve on was steaks.. They were very tough, and we felt that it was not cook's fault, just not the best pieces of meat. Other offerings - salads, soups, pasta, other meat, fish, seafood, desserts were quite pleasant.
We cruised in Caribbean and Bahamas about 15 times, and picked this itinerary, because we wanted to see Jamaica and Honduras for the first time, as well as our previously enjoyed Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Although we usually prefer Eastern Caribbean we had extremely nice time in all ports. Drove around Cozumel stopping in developed beach areas and wild ocean coast, had a great time with Victor Bodden tour in Roatan, snorkeled right near the port at Wreck of the Cali (tons of fish!!!) in Grand Cayman, and had very unusual excperience rafting on Martha Brae in Jamaica. The last tour was MSC sponsored one, nicely organized.
Couple of other observations. We had a balcony, so my husband who usually tries to get away from the crowds could enjoy time outside. If we did not have this luxury, he would be outside on promenade deck... and here is a problem. No chairs or loungers to seat on.
Another thing I liked was lectures. Usually most lines have port talks about jewelry and other stores on shore, but lectures are something you do not see very often. Poesia offered four lectures. I attended two of them - about Mexican civilizations and Pirates of Caribbeans, both of which were very interesting.
One small minus - we usually like to play mini-golf, but do not like to go to a special place and wait for special ours to get equipment. Also 15 Euros security deposit for a book seemed strange.
Embarkation and disembarkation were both well organized and smooth.
Will I sail with this company again? We would love to sail with MSC again. Probably not in Mediterranean where stops are somewhat short, and from what we heard too many kids on-board. In other places, including Caribbeans (if itinerary will fit our interests) most definitely. If MSC starts cruises out of NYC area, or Boston - definitely! Absolutely loved ship and ambiance!