As forth time cruisers, this was our first with MSC as a result of a deal and included an overnight hotel stay in Barcelona which we chose to take at the end of our cruise. This is a beautiful ship, with spacious comfortable cabins and balconies. We even had a full size bath with shower (shampoo and gel provided in dispensers; shower caps but no body lotion) Staff very friendly and helpful and the entertainment was good. Two main buffet restaurants which basically face forward & aft as one very large area. Very nicely appointed with an Asian style décor rather than the usual cafeteria style of other ships. Two main dining rooms also very sumptuously appointed, both appear to serve same menu.
This is an English-speaking, Italian ship with multi-national guests (it was Chinese New Year on our cruise). In comparison with other experiences, we personally found the choice of food a little disappointing as it was mainly pasta/pizza/bread choices with little 'red' meat! In the main buffet, there was usually one meat joint on offer each day, a curry-type choice, and take away style hamburgers and hotdogs, otherwise, everything as above. Breakfast was ok, but only one toaster available (and not every morning) so for those of us who like toast & jam, we were often disappointed! Also, pretty busy in these restaurants in the morning, so we found fairly quickly that we preferred the more relaxed dining in the main restaurant.
Dinner choices lacked the usual 'wow' factor of formal dining although nicely served. Also a little surprising that water was not routinely available and had to be purchased as bottled. However, we were on a 'deal' as it seemed were the vast majority, so it may be that that was reflected in the menu. This is intended to be constructive comment rather than criticism. We were very happy with our experience.
Dress code - although 2 formal (Gala) evenings included - and we had taken the trouble to take evening wear- apart from the ladies who always looked smart, few men appeared to take the trouble and we settled for less formal attire for the second night.
Embarkation/disembarkation: As the ship calls at a different port each day, there is a daily changeover of passengers resulting in a continual 'churn' of new arrivals which meant that even on 'gala' nights, newly arrived passengers in travelling gear were drifting in and out of the mix whilst familiarising themselves with the ship/sorting out queries at the reception desk etc, which rather spoilt the ambience.
Excursions: we only did one; the 'romantic' 4 hour tour in Tunis. Informative guide, but would have liked longer time spent at the places of interest, rather than the 2 hours of free time in a market where we were hounded by the usual exuberant market sellers all trading the same line of tourist 'tat'. Hey ho.....
Otherwise, it was good to arrive in a different port/country each morning with a full day to spend exploring under our own steam. The catacombs in Palermo were of particular interest and well worth a visit but not for the faint hearted!
All in all, we had a great week in a beautiful ship, and met some very nice fellow travellers. Would have no hesitation in recommending MSC.