After reading all the reviews, and getting a tremendous balcony price, we decided to try this beautiful ship. We really enjoyed the elegance and entertainment on the Celebrity Silhouette, and MSC is similar. We can't understand the bad reviews, unless it was a crowded holiday sailing because children below 12 are free. Our Jan. 12th sailing had some toddlers, babies and children and the facilities for them were excellent...great wading pools all around the main pools which are beautiful Gaudi-like tiled shapes. The steam room is beautiful with a cool fountain in the middle...also the Zen room and fitness area.
The ceilings in the public areas are not as high as the Solstice class, but the atrium with the crystal staircase, and the Pantheon theatre are spectacular. The access around the ship is great, with lots of elevators and stairways. There is no access through deck 6 because of the kitchens.
We had 5:45 dining and were able to finish by 7:15 and get to the theatre to see the first show, and then enjoy all the entertainment and live music on the 7th deck...the Luna. Golden, and Black and White Lounge all had fabulous singers and musicians. The Michael Jackson Show, Witches, acrobats, and Wonderland were the Best! Every night the dancers and singers performed, sometimes in the disco too. There is no live orchestra but the sound and lighting are good. We feel we received hundreds of dollars worth of entertainment. Leaving the lit port of Miami at night on the upper rear deck while dancing to a guitarist/singer was a memorable highlight.
We have always selected "my time" dining, and a table for 2, but enjoyed the couple we met and didn't have to reserve, wait in line, and liked the slower cadence of the presentation. The menu had excellent choice, presentation, and flavour and our waiters would bring us more, or change our plate if it was not to our satisfaction. My veal ossobucco was not tender one night, but a beef striploin steak was delicious. The main dining rooms are open everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The 14th floor buffets had more selection and most of the tables had water views. We enjoyed the Mediterranean dishes at the rear, and the aft tables. However the salad bars are all at the front, perhaps they could put some stations at the back. We avoid carbs and desserts for our waistlines, but the breads and pastries looked delicious. We bought a house wine package online and did save the gratuity....7 bottles for $85. The red dolcetto is OK, we were able to taste the other house wine at the buffet bar, but would recommend the higher priced package.
The entertainment staff worked hard with lots of activities, games, dances, and at night would convince everyone to have fun and join in. They had a "dancing with the stars" contest, and lots of nighttime stuff if you have the energy to party at night. They had a "60's" night, a white night etc.
We had a baseball stars group who did activities, told stories, signed baseballs, etc and also 2 terrific Country and Western Bands onboard for 6 days from Grand Rapids Michigan. We really enjoyed the celebrity guests.
Our fellow passengers were mostly European, 600 Italian hairdressers for a L'Oreal convention, Germans, Brits, Chinese, S.American, and lots of snowbirds like us who live in Florida. Most everyone was polite, very happy, not too obese, and we never noticed a smoking problem. We had a mix of ages.
The bar, wait, and cabin staff work 7 days a week, and long hours. I read that they do not get all their tips, so we gave half our gratuities to them in cash, and tipped our room service person when she brought our coffee in the morning. I spoke to some of the workers discreetly about their working conditions, poor food - they are very skinny, and they say their tips are rolled in with their salary...no wonder we are not bugged to buy drinks. Customer service could not say exactly how the tips are distributed ie $4 for waiter, steward, and other staff. They used to have 2 stewards cleaning 19 rooms, now have only 1. We have no complaints about the service and/or friendliness.
We were able to visit "the Yacht Club" on departure day. Very swish..saw cabin 16005, similar to ours, but an extra dressing room, and bigger balcony. Their restaurant, La Muse, is aft on deck 15. They have no trouble finding a deck chair on their private oasis. People still "save" their chairs even though they leave for longer than the 30 minutes allotted.
Loved it....so much better than Carnival....will go again.