Just to give you some background I have cruised more than 20+ times and have been mostly in this order RCL, NCL, Carnival, princess. First time on MSC. I will provide good and not so good in my review. Overall it is great value but geared toward Europeans that want to cruise in the Caribbean. Americans will notice the differences. This is not a party cruise. The cruise line does a good job of creating a more refined and quieter cruise. Example: Almost no announcement in the cabin and throughout the ship. No constant beverage selling in your face.
Ship: Overall very nice, will exceed most of your expectations. It is very different than most ships with loosest of marble and artwork. They could have designed the spa a bit better to include a whirlpool and larger locker room and place to get water? The pools are beautiful. I was traveling with 2 kids that were looking forward to using the water fountains, which were not working, on all pools. The temperature of pools was very cold including 2 of the whirlpools. With so many people 4000+ every whirlpool is important.
Kid program: This is where they excel. The program is great. No fees at all. The ship has a nice program that keeps them busy. I can speak for the 3-6 year old program. Staff was great.
Food and service: The food is same quality as RCI, NCL, etc. (yes food was served hot). Presentation and overall service is the problem. No creativity in the way it served on plate. Example: breakfast salmon and bagel. Dump salmon mixed with onions, tomato wedges (you can not put a wedge on a bagel) I asked twice for a sliced tomato. They simply could not provide and as matter of presentation makes no sense to serve with a tomato wedge. Next bagels come in separate plate, next comes the cream cheese in a separate plate. This delays the entire process and creates a sloppy presentation. Almost every plate at breakfast has the same tomato wedge with a drop of lettuce? Another example: spinach salad for dinner. Dump spinach in bowl with few walnuts. Not very creative to say the least? Next example on service. Asked for skim milk from waiter, response I have to go upstairs to get it? Hopefully they will make some tweaks to service to gain more acceptance in this market. Otherwise they are going to have to give this cruise away to Americans.
Shows: Nice production shows. Msc spent a lot of money here and it shows. Only problem is that it is the same people every night performing for the most part. They are going to have to change these shows at least 2 times a year for repeat cruise customers. Not to mention if you are on back to back cruises they are going to very unhappy with the same show.
SPA: First sauna not working on women’s side. This is a big deal since there is now a fee. Staff did not reveal that it was not working only after paying the fee and entering the SPA. Second, cruise line confirmed 2 weeks before sailing that there was no fee to enter steam etc. Got on ship and now there is fee $99 for week or $165 for 2? Msc needs keep shoreside people informed if they are going to change policies. This seems very deceptive, especially since they sell packages much cheaper on their web site which include spa passes. (I was steered away from this, as it was free at the time) They did discount all service even on sea days by 50%. Never seen this before. Wonder why?
Overall, still this is cruise worth taking. You will not be disappointed. Just set your expectations and hopefully the cruise line will listen to their N. American customers