Cruiseline is Italian owned. Expect an European feel throughout the entire ship. They try to accommodate the North American clientele, while keeping with the European flair.
We arrived at the the terminal just after 2:00pm. Filled out the public health questionnaire and proceeded to the security scanners. Check in was quick and fast with no line, photo op was completed and was on the ship and in our cabin in less then half hour. One of the smoothest embarkations I have ever experienced.
Cabin was on the 10th deck forward. We were upgraded from and inside cabin to a standard balcony- 160 sq. feet 2 beds, 1 chair and small desk. The room itself was big enough for two people. Luggage stored under the beds. The bathroom was a typical size, no special amenities were offered. Bathwash and shampoo dispensers were in the shower. The T.V. was very small perhaps 19inch screen, which sat on the mini bar. It would make more sense to have the T.V. mounted to the wall to give more counter space. Bed spreads could use some updating.
Beds were firm and comfortable. We did ask for an additional pillow. No complaints. Ice was always in the fridge morning and night.
Buffet restaurant on the 13th deck, food quality was good. Always found something to eat. I preferred the second buffet area at the back of the ship. It was less crowded and congested. The ice machines in the first part of the ships were hit and miss, but if you simply walked a little further, there were ice machines on both sides of the buffet that worked perfectly.
Breakfast: Had the buffet most days, omelette station set up in the front mid section of the first buffet area. Fresh fruit, milk, cereals, were offered. Eggs over medium to hard were offered on one side of the buffet. Scrambled eggs, waffles and pancakes, bacon, sausage, etc. There is not much you can do the switch up breakfast on a daily basis. Did have breakfast in the MDR 2 mornings, again, quick fast and ready to serve you.
Coffee was strong, not weak, orange, cranberry, pineapple and grapefruit juices available. Ice tea was also available. Lemonade was not offered.
Lunch: the international buffet at the back of the buffet was always good, lots of flavour, and different choices offered. The pizza, focchicia, hamburgers, pasta were all fresh. Just depends on your palate. The desserts and cheese selection was always fresh, the bread sticks were to die for.
Dinner: We had the late seating. This was a highlight of our evening. We travelled with a group of travel agents from Canada, 24 of us in total. We had the best server -Corneal from Romania for the week. The menu was always varied. Did not have a bad meal the entire week. The streak was always cooked to perfection. All the desserts were amazing. Not a huge cheesecake fan, but the offerings were light and airy. Tiramisu, Baked Alaska and canolis are not to be missed as well.
Some mention on previous posts regarding the food quality. People need to realize that this is not your typical walking into a restaurant and ordering off a menu type of place as you would at home. Having worked in the hotel and restaurant industry for over 25 years I can appreciate the behind the scenes effort that goes into doing 2 full seatings in 2 restaurants at the same time. Everyone sitting down at the same time and ordering at the same time. The kitchen is pumping out all the appetizers, some guests ordering 2, plus all the meals and asking for the doneness for the steaks not only for your table, but for the other tables in the restaurant as well as the restaurant either below or above you. This is a major production. Thousands of plates are going through that kitchen in a very short time. Not once was any of our orders screwed up, very impressive operation.
The kitchen is serving 12,000 meals per day. This is something to be considered before complaining about the food.
We went to every 7:00pm show except for the first night. Unbelievable is all I can say. The productions were high energy, the set designs were professionally made, the costumes were top notch, with attention to detail. Very Cirque du Soleil. The singers and the acts were incredible, yes most songs were in Italian, but you need to be able to appreciate their voices and their talents. Remember this is not an North American cruiseline. So do not expect North American talent.
Listening to Anna speak in 5 languages, flawlessly, with no interruption was impressive. She actually speaks 9 languages. Hats off to her.
The evening shows were good in the lounges. Loved the look and feel of the Zebra Bar. We usually had our post show/pre dinner drink in this lounge.
Drinks and Extras:
The drink prices were very reasonable. $6.00 for glass of wine, $7.25 for a mixed cocktail. Not a beer drinker, but prices were in line to what we pay at home.
The gelato is a must try. $2.75 for a waffle cone. Gelato in made on board, rich texture, flavourful, creamy and a variety of choices.
Very impressed with the ship as a whole. We did not feel that we were nickeled and dimed to death, as we have been on other cruiselines. This is more of a softer sell. Very much appreciated.
The pool area, main pool area was busy, that is a given. Deck 16 was closed for most of the cruise due to high winds. Stayed on either deck 14 or 15. Never had a problem finding a chair, there were a few choggers (chair hoggers). Mostly found the sea days relaxing and not having announcements blaring every 5 minutes. The only thing missing was a pool at the aft of the ship, or an adults only area.
Smoking on board- It was not as bad as Carnival. You were able to tell that people were smoking in their cabins when you walked by their doors- my only complaint regarding that. All public areas (lounges, except Bar del Porti were smoke free).
Would defiantly book another cruise with MSC. I appreciate the culture and the European feel of the ship. Staff were wonderful. I can not find any major faults on this cruise.