After more than 30 cruises mostly on RCL and NCL, the time was right to try out an "Italian" cruiseline. Price was right and expectations were not too high. I read many reviews about MSC and especially Fantasia so sort of knew what to expect.
Check In was easy and very well organized in Genoa. Ship appeared very well taken care of and quite grand. They obviously took a lot of thoughts into the conception of the vessel.
Staff were super friendly and efficient (all through the cruise), Spa beautiful, Gym a bit small, saunas not necessarily worth the extra money ( not a very tranquil place the way they were built), if you need to pay for it. Had the beste massage ever on this ship by the way.
My cabin, all the way aft, was beautifully decorated, had a large balcony due to its loacation, unfortunately the bed was the worst I had on all of my 30+ cruises. The mattress was the cheapest one I have ever slept on and unfortunately was well past it´s sell date. Actually quite unacceptable. However table mates did not seem to have the same issue, nor did they complain about their mattress.
Main reason fro writing this review is the culinary experience I had on the Fantasia. I can honestly say that it was by far the worst dining room food, I had on any cruise so far. MSC definitely is no ambassador for the Italian cuisine. The only thing that was conistantly good was the pasta, in the dining room as well as on the buffet. Everything else was a joke, in taste, presentation as well as quality. It definitely couldn´t get any cheaper than that. The buffet in fact would have been a good alternative , the food there however, although better in taste, was never hot.
Cost cutting on MSC definitely went too far with the food. For me it is a reason not to come back to MSC. I also doubt that it was much better in their Yacht Club restaurant to be honest, but have not heard from anyone, eating there and thus cannot comment.
Another thing that I did not like at all, was the wine they freely offered (even in whole bottles) with the Allegrissimo drink package. The package is not as overpriced as with some cruise lines, gives a great value, staff is very happy to serve you drinks with the package by the way ( no extra tip wanted or needed), BUT(!) the wine that comes with it was undrinkeable. And I am not exaggerating. It was the cheapest wine, the stuff that would cost € 1,99 in the supermarket. MSC would not give you alternative wine by the glass of the wine menu, unless you paid extra, despite the fact that the actual wines there were not even that expensive and would easily fit in the drink package price wise. So figure... The wines from the regular wine list were actually quite good and not too expensive.
A last remark on their entertainment. Well it´s an Italian run ship and you can tell. The Italians are a lively bunch and they seemed to have a great time in the bars and with the activities around. Do also expect 5 year old childen in the bars and discos at midnight running about having a good time.
The nightly shows consisted of a female violinist ( mostly electronic and battling against extremely loud canned music), the ships singers and dancers ( good), an opera singer, some aerealists, jugglers, a "magician" and some very talented artists that you would find going to a varieté.
Now imagine all of them in one show, that´s what they did . So far so good.
Now imagine this EVERY single night, only given it a different name, motto or storyline, imagine it with lack of a stage scenery except for 3 stairs and an up and down moving part of the stage, imagine it being very noisy at times - This was the Fantasia entertainment. Not really bad , actually quite good at times, but totally repetitive and often not for my taste because it tried to please at least 20 different nations at the same time and every night. Quiet a waste of the talents on board. I stopped going after seeing the 5th mostly identical show..
MSC might be the perfect fit for some, it would be a good product if the food was better, it is great for families, the ships are beautiful and well designed, staff is fabulous, however it is not for me.