I chose this as a first cruise mainly on the price - it was relatively cheap and seemed to offer the things I wanted. HOWEVER, having booked the cruise I read a lot of very negative reviews and wondered if I had done the right thing in booking this cruise.
MSC offered the flight booking as well as the cruise - an option I took up - which included transfers to and from the airports - I travelled from London to Venice. Having arrived in Venice we found the MSC office at the airport and were very quickly dealt with and transferred to teh cruise terminal by coach.
We identified our bags and handed them over to crew to be loaded. I had read that embarcation wa likely to be a long hot and boring process. It took about 10 minutes with a very short wait to be fully registered and issued with our ship cards. We were actually on the ship within 20 of arriving at the terminal (less than 2 hours after actually landing at the airport) - a completley painless experience. We soon found our room where the bags had already arrived. The cabin attendant introduced himself in a very friendly manner. So far so good..
We went for a short walk around the ship and soon found the buffet where we decided to have lunch. The selection and quality of food available far exceeded my expectations - especially with the reviews I had read. My son even ate something - quite a feat as he is very fussy (in fact we found things he woudl eat every day - including some news things).
The rooms were very clean and comfortable as is the rest of hte ship - which seems to get cleaned on a constant basis - without being at all intrusive. We never bumped into the cabin attendant in our cabin but it was always tidied or the sheets turned down when we wanted. He also left folded towels to entertain our son - which he appreciated very much.
Dinner in the restaurant (we were assigned the panoramic restarant at the back of the ship - though our cabin was just about as far forward as you could go) was a highlight - there were up to 7 courses every night. Whilst these were generally smallportions - there were 7 of them available which make a very substantial meal. Despite reviews that I had read - we were sat with some very nice people with similar families and interests.
The nightly entertainment was excellect although in some cases there was a slight Italian flavour - it was not over the top - and the majority of passengers were Italian - so this seemed reasonable.
We bought the Allegrissimo drinks package and this proved to be well worth the money - though it seemed steep when we first brought it.
We had booked some excursion through the MSC web site and these were well organised and ran without a hitch.
On disembarcation we had 7 hours to kill in Venice so used an MSC excursion into the city to fill the time - this worked well - and disembarcation was as well organised as embarcation.
Overall this was an excellent introduction to cruising. It was a well organised and extremely rewarding experience.
I cannot agree with any of the criticisms I have seen on this and other web sites - it was excellent.
The only area I would criticise is the cost and packages for on board photgraphers. These were excessively and aggresively priced - however, there was no pressure (apart from family) to buy anything.