i have had a chance to read a couple of other reviews of this exact same cruise and i mostly disagree with what was said by them. all cruises have problems. none are perfect, and msc is no different. luckily i knew what to expect and i also have patience.
I personally enjoyed this cruise very much. much more than the a couple of the others i have done on so called main stream lines. the main reason is that the entertainment on this cruise ship was the best ever. their shows and the animation team were the ultimate in fun and most cruisers i talked to were delighted by this aspect of the cruise.
i have been disappointed by every cruise i have ever taken in the food department. no cruise line ever gets it right. i am a foodie and all buffets on all cruise lines are crappy. period. msc is no different. i ate most of my meals in the dining rooms. i had approdo late seating for my dining and i enjoyed excellent quick service every night. i ate breakfast and luncheon in the other dining room and most days it was fine. granted, there were language probs with the Balinese waiters on one or two occasions, but it is clear that the line is trying their best to satisfy the american cruiser. little things like the availability of cream for my coffee every day, bagels and cream cheese, show that the cruise line is making an effort to please.
the only real down side of this cruise was dealing with the throng of elders from florida. i never in my life met a more demanding, rude, pushy, shoving bunch. good thing my husband and i have a sense of humor, or they would have ruined the cruise with their behavior. on more than one occasion we witnessed arguments among the americans over deck chairs, spots at the theater and any other place. the americans were also guilty of treating the staff like crap. i tell you, i was ashamed to be an american by the end of the cruise.
anyway, here goes with my review:
embarkation: slow, and a bit of a problem. we were in line for at least forty five minutes
ship: awesome, beautiful and spanky clean. just the right size. we were given an upgrade from guarantee inside to an outside cabin. yippee. what a treat. the cabin was fine, a bit small in the shower as previously reported, but manageable. the only complaint i had was my cabin girl failed to bring me fruit every day, as others got. my cabin was cleaned and towels replaced twice daily. the ship itself had plenty of entertainment venues and clubs, although there were several complaints we heard about the casino size. i couldn't care less as i don't gamble, but others said there was a lack of decent slots. there was always a traffic jam on deck 6 during meal time, as most were traveling to and from the dining and theater. this is where you really saw some rude boring behavior, shoving, cutting in lines, stopping in the middle of the pathways, in total disregard for who was behind you waiting to pass. what a bunch of asses...my husband and i don't drink so we tended to hang around the aroma coffee bar. hint, just order the american coffee with milk. you get cappuccino for half the price of the cappuccino listed on the coffee menu. we really enjoyed the coffee and especially the service there. i have no complaints at all about any of the service i received on this ship. they were all trying hard to please. what a good bunch of kids.
pool deck was nice, with entertainment every morning which was fun to watch. there were tons of pool chair hogs, though, saving chairs at 8 am with a towel. that's where the arguments started. salt water pool with a wading area that was shallow and easy to get into and out of, something that i appreciate with my arthritis.
dining room: i had approdo second seating a cute table for two and my waiter was excellent, trying very hard to please. food was interesting. i am italian and some of the selections brought tears to my eyes as they reminded me of my mom's cooking. i have to be fair and admit that many of the items were down right awful. my husband who is not italian certainly didn't starve, but he would have appreciated an american selection on the menu each night. believe me, we did not starve. as previously reported, pastas and ice creams were always top notch. i also enjoyed the parfaits, which were these rich creams, and the rum baba, and the cream puffs, and the eclairs, and the .....oh, excuse me, got carried away there!!! stay away from the veal scallopini. yikes, awful. we also tried to eat breakfast and lunch in the dining room and were never disappointed. the service was fine and so was the food. best of all we got to avoid the throng of people pushing and shoving on the buffet.
buffet. when i was brave or desperate enough to endure the crowd i ate at the buffet. well, there was never a shortage of octopus on this ship!! you always saw that as part of the cold salads. but there was always a green salad selection, pasta, a carving station, a potato and a veggie in addition to the international selections such as lamb with couscous or mousaka. i really liked the four cheese pasta that was served a few times. if i didn't like that stuff i could go outside and partake of the fresh pasta station on deck or the pizza or the hamburgers. we didn't starve. on the pool deck there was an ice cream bar that they charged for, but here's a hint, if you eat lunch in the dining room you could select your ice cream any day in any amount you wanted for free, which we did several times.
shows: top notch, can't say enough about the shows. best i ever saw, from jugglers to magicians or acrobats to dancers to italian tenor, well, i was never bored and contrary to my usual behavior i only missed one show the entire cruise. usually i just go to a couple. and it's usually your tired show tunes crap over and over again. not on this ship. the shows were great.
animation team: what a sweet bunch of kids. they were always entertaining, looking to include you in the activity. i tried to study italian and can't remember a damned thing i learned, but i do remember the feeling of inclusion i had from daniella the girl trying to teach us. husband enjoyed line dancing by the pool and we both enjoyed the pool games up there every day. in the evenings, the team was usually running some sort of game or entertaining us pre show in the theater with their antics. i am not usually a joiner, but even i tried to be a part of the fun on this cruise. they were charming, with their broken english. i attended two midnight buffets, missing the grand buffet due to sleepiness, but i got a chance to do the galley tour buffet, cool...
as to the ports of call, i will be entering separate reviews on each port of call, but the itinerary was interesting. one incident is worth reporting, at curacao, there was some difficulty with tieing off the ship at the port, and a rope ended up snapping and the ship drifting. it took several hours to repair the problem and we were unable to disembark at curacao due to this reason. i still don't know who's fault this was but i understood that the curacao authorities improperly tied off the ship in the windy and rough waters, thus leading to the problem. luckily no one got hurt although the picture of the gangway swinging in the breeze is an interesting one.
conclusion: great cruise. i would suggest that before you book a cruise on a foreign cruise line you do your homework so that you can be prepared. it is also required that you have some patience, too. no cruise is perfect, but i appreciated the attempt that msc is making to please us as americans and i just know that they will get it right very soon. i also most enjoyed mingling and meeting the italians and other europeans on this ship. it was very cool..
i am shopping for my next cruise and will certainly consider msc in europe this summer if the price is right. review.