Booked with a large group. Promised the moon and stars but that is hardly what was delivered. Both the agency and the Cruise line had a full year to prepare for this 1700 plus member group, that brought aboard alot of it's own specialty entertainment, and had alot of it's own special events seperate from the rest of the customers. I was lucky enough to get to the port early and check in was a breeze as was boarding. Since I tip well my bag arrived rather quickly to my room, were others had to wait till well after we left Miami to see their luggage which caused panic.
My room on the 5th level which is the lowest on the boat with a nice big port hole window was comfortable, clean and enjoyable as it barely moved unlike rooms on higher floors. I tipped my cabin Steward the moment I arrived and said let's get this started right, we had a nice discussion of my likes , dislikes, and expectations and he delivered ontime, everytime. He therefore earned two more tips during the voyage. The ship is very large and the first thing I did was go floor to floor front to back getting to know everything and after about 3 and a half hours I had the ship memorized. General staff on board, with some exceptions, tended to be robotic, to cold, to downright miserable, and you could walk miles without seeing a smile unless you actually stopped, asked for one and humiliated them in the process. Bar tenders can be very shady, slow and arrogant, so it's best to pick a few in different locations, tip them really well right away, make a connection, and no matter what bar you are at or how busy they are they will drop everything and get to you right away even if your 4 deep in line. Our group had several very large parties and everytime they started out understaffed at the bars. MSC does not seem to get the hint after day 1 nor did they after day 6. Everything seemed as if we were lining up in a 1970's era Soviet Breadline. The Brunch is served on days at sea it costs extra but is worth every penny. The food and service are top notch and it's the only venue that is. The rest of the food and service ranged from passable to downright repulsive. I have never spit so much food back on plates in my entire life. It was a week of how not to cook and serve food. The main dining room was always slow, and the staff took 5 days to warm up to our table which was full of amazing wonderful people. The Dining Captain however met me the first night with a paper in his hand and discussed some of my special dietary needs and followed up daily to make sure I was happy. He earned a nice tip for that personal touch. The buffet while vast in size and choice provided food so bad I would not feed it to starving animals, I got so tired of spitting the food back on my plate in disgust most days I just waited to endure dinner. The staff at the buffet are very robotic and only speak with each other rarely did I see them approach a guest and speak, just lift dirty dishes away. Alot of the customer service staff and tour desk staff seemed under trained, had zero authority to make an independent decision, and while every day I got my wake up call by asking directly at the desk , on the most important day, departure day, no call at all. The entertainment staff was very nice on board and some nice shows, and the few chances I got to meet some of the professional entertainers they were delightful people and proud of their work and eager to have you see and enjoy it. They seemed to be, other than the cruise director, the hostess at the Brunch, the only ones that ever really got excited about the product they were offering. On a scale of 1 to 10 sadly this ship with so much potential has only reached a 3.5 with me.