Embarked at Southampton after painless car parking. First impression of ship was OK. A little small for the amount of people on board but very clean and tidy. Stateroom was adequate and clean. I know I got this cruise fairly cheap but no matter what you pay you should expect some sort of service. Unfortunately the ship bar areas were chronically understaffed. It would appear that most passengers had taken advantage of a very reasonably priced drinks package so there was no interest at all in serving drinks. Barmen would not serve you at the bar - you had to sit down and wait for a waitress to arrive which could be in the region of a 30-45 mins wait. At one time there were just 2 waitresses serving at least 100+ people. It was almost as if they had your money up front so couldn't care less. I would expect if people were paying for drinks service would have been vastly improved. Many people complained and the Bar Manager was called but he was not interested - just shrugged his shoulders.
Unfortunately the weather was bad on sea days so most people spent the time indoors. Indoor bars were often closed but the ones on deck were surprisingly open with no-one outside at all because it was too cold. Apparently they had to stay open as they were in smoking areas - not sure why. I have never seen so much bickering amongst staff members - and sometimes they were blatantly rude to passengers. We found the casino bar the best as the barman was excellent - best on the ship.
I must say the restaurant staff were plentiful and very good as was the food - good tip, stick with the pasta dishes - excellent.
Restaurants were very hot and opressive during the evening meals which made the dining experience most uncomfortable. Also, second sitting was at 8.15pm if you arrived after 8.30 you were not allowed in - a bit harsh I think.
The buffet was mediocre and at times mayhem with people wandering around looking for seats. Not much choice of hot meals but again always pasta on the menu which was good. Don't know why they use instant mashed potato even in the restaurants! We found eating all meals in the dining room a better choice particularly at breakfast time - much more civilised.
We decided to opt out of the tips as we felt it was just not up to standard but we did tip individually the staff who we felt deserved it - stateroom attendant and casino barman, waiters etc.
Can't really comment on entertainment as didn't see any shows but people did comment to us that they were quite poor and repetetive.
Beleive it or not we did have a good holiday but would not cruise with MSC again.