Our first time on MSC and what value they deliver. We have previously cruised Princess, HAL, P&O but none of these matched MSC in terms of value or fun. Our friends placed MSC below Cunard but way ahead of P&O.
Embarkation and disembarkation required some waiting, but no more than any flight and hey - we were on holiday so were well relaxed.
Our balcony cabin was smallish but well laid out with lots of storage. I look forward to repeating my daily battle with the curtain in what must be the world's smallest shower cubicle. Not much in the way of toiletries but we always bring our own. Comfortable bed. The steward was almost invisible but gave immaculate service.
The ship was spotless and attractive with some very good bars/lounges.Each one had nightly entertainment of varying quality. We had purchased the allegrissimo package which was fantastic value. Even if you are not borderline alcoholics like us do buy this as it includes water, coffees, icecream, fresh orange and all soft drinks including smoothies and liquidized fruit/vegetable concoctions. I have read recent criticism of the speed of service. We never waited more than a few minutes. If the waiter service was slow a quick stroll to the bar and the excellent barstaff would soon sort it.
We found the dining rooms (deck 6 for dinner, 5 for breakfast and lunch) fantastic and ate all bar three meals there. At every meal the wait staff were attentive and quick and gracious. Our dinner waiter, Adi, deserves special mention. Breakfast was uniformly good. Lunch and dinner had plenty of variety and were pretty good. The risottos were exceptional. The main dish at each meal was sometimes overcooked and lacked the wow factor of some of the more expensive ships. 7 courses helped compensate for this. The buffet was a bun fight which we tried to avoid.
Ports of call were variable but the main problem was lack of time ashore. Loved Flam and the railway and the fjord. We didn't use ship's excursions.
We largely missed the theatre entertainment A short concert of famous arias was exceptional as was their abridged version of Carmen. Opera living up to its name. Comedy show was very funny. The entertainment team deserve high praise for their endless efforts with all sorts of quizzes, 'talent' shows etc.
Would I go MSC again? Absolutely. Yes they give announcements in umpteen languages. We only listened to the English one (and sometimes not that!) in fact we were bothered less by the tannoy than on most other ships we have been on - no sales stuff. It was nice not to have to face endless sales pitches. The normal stuff was there - excursions, photos etc but absolutely no pressure to buy. Yes dining is different to P&O etc. I stress different, with a European slant which was refreshing, and they did great pizzas and even greater icecreams. The staff were universally polite, attentive and helpful.We are not particularly demanding but appreciate good service nonetheless. The clincher however is the value for money which was remarkable.