Our fifth Cruise - 3 on Ocean Village, 1 on P&O (Oceana). Not sure what to expect from an Italian line. However, as you might tell from the 'hint' above - we were totally satisfied, and would not hesitate to go again with MSC. The language was not a problem at all.
To be fair, we were watching our budget, and got an extremely good deal, but even at 'normal' prices, I would consider the cruise very good value for money.
We booked Cruise Only, and made our own way to Venice, staying at the Albergo Marin - ideally situated, and again, very good value for money.(See Trip Advisor)
We even walked to the cruise terminal - then a courtesy bus took us from there to the ship. Check in was extremely efficient. We took up the offer of a soft drinks package, but declined all excursions, as we were comfortable with making our own arrangements at the ports of call.
We had a balcony suite,(first balcony experience!) and had to pinch ourselves as we sailed away from Venice - we were on the left(port?) side of the ship, so on the best side to see St Mark's Square etc - what a view!
As we had opted for early sitting (18.45) we missed the meal in the restaurant first night so that we could make the most of the balcony view of Venice. Of course we did not miss out on a meal entirely, as we went to the self service Brasserie instead. Late sitting would have been 21.00, and that seemed a little late to us.
Every night there were 7 courses available: Entree, Soup, Salad, Pasta, Main, Dessert, Cheese and Biscuits. I defy you to say there's nothing to your liking!
Our room was bigger than anything we had had before - balcony, sofa, chair, coffee table, 2 bedside cabinets, huge bed (ok, 2 singles pushed together), walk-in wardrobe, desk, dressing table and bathroom with shower over. Concealed safe, hairdrier and mini bar. Alas, no tea making facilities for the Brits, but plenty of tea always available at drink stations.
The ship is beautiful - spotlessly clean - this may sound funny, but I was impressed that never ever did I come across toilet rolls or hand towels empty in public toilets. There's a lot to be said for that!
We particularly liked this itinerary: Venice, Ancona, Dubrovnik, Gythion, Corfu, Kefalonia, Kotor. A port of call EVERY day. We did our own thing at all of them - i.e. walk round, quick dip in the sea if possible, stop for a cold drink/ice cream. Back on board well before last call, then settle down on one of the numerous sunbeds to enjoy the afternoon Med sun.
I'm rambling - probably losing your interest by now - so as for the rest:
Entertainment - a bit corny for my liking. Lots of dancing, strength and balancing acts. A tribute act or two would have been nice. Not quite comparable with P&O and Katherine Jenkins this year! But hey, the theatre is a good space, and you csn see from everywhere. The entertainment team are good fun and work hard.
Can't comment on the spa or gym - I've got those where I live and don't want to waste holiday time in them! Not interested in the casino.
Staff - all are wonderful - but a special mention for the cabin steward and waiters - so friendly helpful and respectful.
Tender service - extremly efficient, tickets were issued with a time, to prevent clogging up the stairwells, but we always got straight on. Very smart arrangement with gazebos and flags on quayside.
Start of the school holidays, so lots of children around - thay didn't get in our way - if that's an issue for you - go in June!
Overall, I hope you have gathered that we had a great time. The crunch - would we cruise with MSC again? - unequivocally (hope that makes me seem educated!) YES!!