This was my sixth cruise, but first on MSC, and it was Mark's first ever cruise. We flew from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale the day of the cruise, and arrived about 2:30. We took a cab to Port Everglades and were there in about 10 minutes.
Embarkation was very quick. There was no line by then, and after a quick picture, we were on the ship. We dropped our carry-ons in our cabin and headed to the buffet for lunch.
The ship was beautiful, very clean and well maintained. The atrium is beautiful, with musicians performing in the evenings, and there are several themed bars throughout the ship. We were able to walk around Deck 7 as well as the top of the ship and see the ocean and other ships. The pool area was crowded at times, but we were always able to find a chair and a place in one of the hot tubs. The pools are salt water, and they were a bit cold the first sea day but great the rest of the cruise.
Our cabin was an inside on deck 12, forward. It was a very quiet location, but we felt a lot of motion from the ship. It wasn't bad, just more motion than I was used to on other cruises. The bed was comfortable. We both have back problems, and we were fine. The only problem we had was that one of us would sometimes wake up in the gap in the middle of the bed where the mattresses were pushed together. The closets were spacious, and the size of the bathroom was good for a cruise ship. There was plenty of room for 2 people, just put your suitcases under the bed.
The cabin stewards try to make up the rooms when the passengers are out. We figured out how they do it. We had to put our card into a slot in the wall to turn on the lights, and that turns on a little light next to the door. That signals to the steward whether we were "home." If we needed anything, we just left a note. I left one asking that the ice bucket be filled every morning and evening, and it was. Our steward even left a towel animal one evening!
Just a quick word about the buffet because we only ate there a couple of times, the food was very good, with good variety. There were American standards like burgers, fries, and hot dogs, along with pasta and other Italian fare and foods from other nations in the ethnic corner. I ate the international foods, as I get the other stuff at home, but Mark tried the burgers and enjoyed them. He also liked the desserts in the buffet, whereas I always went for the soft-serve by the pool. The only real problem I saw with the buffet was that the beverage and ice machines were frequently empty and could not keep up with the demand of the passengers during peak times. This is something I put on my comment card at the end of the cruise, and hopefully it will be addressed because some folks weren't happy. I just went to another station to get what I needed.
We ate most of our meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) in the Le Fontane dining room. We had first seating for dinner, which was at 6 PM. We had the most delightful tablemates, including a German couple, and we were all sad to say goodbye on the last night. The food and service was excellent. I mostly stuck with the Italian fare, which was wonderful, but Mark either had fish or steak. The best dish I had was king prawns with angel hair pasta. Worst? On surf and turf night my lobster was tiny and overcooked, and my steak was bleeding, but Mark's was just the opposite, so it was luck of the draw. Also, Mark really enjoyed the steaks, and said the Steak Diana was in the Top 5 steaks he ever had. He was not crazy about the Mahi Mahi. The best dessert? The cheesecake!!!
Our room was always clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. Our dining room waiter, Puja, was a joy. The guy who handed out towels at the pool could have been friendlier, but for the most part it was a happy, helpful, smiling crew.
We were on a Baseball Greats theme cruise. Even though I never heard of any of the Greats, they were all very nice (Mark was in his National Guard uniform on one of the formal nights and they came up to him). We went to some of their activities, which were fun. There were constant dance lessons, massage classes and the like around the pool, along with lectures, trivia and game-type shows in the lounges. If anyone was bored on that ship, it was their own fault! The nightly shows were OK. There were some good singers and acrobats, but some of the shows (an interpretation of a chess game??) were just weird.
Overall, this was a great trip and an excellent value for the money. We were so pleased we booked another MSC cruise while on board!