First of all I will start by saying a cruise or any holiday is what you make it and before you book any holiday DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!!!!! many reviewers it seems just did not research what they were getting on MSC and they should have as many gripes and moans could have been avoided .
I booked a fly cruise package as a solo passenger and had a fantastic deal of 0% supplement and a free upgrade from outside to Balcony cabin deck 12 ,other cruise lines could not get close to what good value this was.
I flew from London Gatwick with British airways to Nice airport where we got a bus transfer to Genoa , when we arrived at Nice airport we could not see any representative from MSC (other reviewers have stated the same) but rather than get annoyed and Irate we just looked for other travelers with cruise luggage tags and stood together to wait and soon enough a Rep arrived to take us to the bus. The only annoying bit was then having to go to terminal 2 and wait another half an hour for the French passengers landing.
The bus transfer took 2 and a half hours but was a pleasant coastal journey with some great views .
Upon arrival at Genoa an MSC Rep got onboard and spoke in French telling passengers what to do next , then she got off the bus again, rather than be annoyed I just asked on the bus "can anyone tell me what she said" and a kind passenger told me .
Once in the terminal it was the same long queues I have experienced with other cruise lines but check in was quick once you got to the desk and there was not reams of form filling as with some other lines , I dodged the photographer and didnt want a complimentary drink that was on offer so we went straight to board the ship.
We went straight to the Buffet and just like all other cruise lines I have been on it was noisy busy and tiresome . I do not like buffets on any cruise and MSC are no different I just use the buffet when I need to preferring the main restaurants .
My cabin on Deck 12 was great and having a balcony was a bonus it had a plastic wicker look table and 2 chairs which for some reason were changed 2 days in for new furniture which I dint like as much it was a mesh type but had a foot stool no table so I had to put my drinks on the floor .
some reviews had stated they didnt get bathrobes and I didnt either so I simply went to reception to ask for one and had one sent that very same day so no problem.
I had better sleep than I do at home the bed was comfy but the pillows were not too good a bit soft , I could of asked for new ones but i just used 2 together and that was fine.
Our dining room was the Il Cerchio d'oro we had second sitting at 8.15 which was great we had a table for 3 as we were originally 3 friends booked together but only 2 of us went in the end so we asked for a bigger table the next night and we were given a table for 4 . The table was in a quiet area and unlike other reviews we had lots of space around us and was in an ideal position. The waiters we had were fantastic, very chatty and helpful. on day 3 the haed of food and beverages was going around the restaurant seeing if passengers were happy with food and service we happen to mention that the food was a little salty for us , No problem he said , right away he fetched the head of our section who deals with the special dietary requirements we could order our food the night before and it would be cooked salt free for us , So a fantastic outcome. Also as a vegetarian About a week in to the cruise I was getting fed up with the poor choice of vegetarian options and the sameness so once again the head of section asked what I would like instead and different dishes were cooked especially for me I felt this was Amazing service . From research I knew tea and coffee was not served after dinner so we simply went to a bar for this along with a liqueur . We had the standard all inclusive drinks package that I found to be the best I have had with any cruise line so far it had everything I wanted . Only gripe was having to pay over 5 euro for a plastic souvenir glass because this was not included when ordering the cocktail .
I though a nice touch was wishing all the English mothers a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY on the cruise news and making a huge cake .
We felt the evening shows were great and got better as the week went on each contained amazing dancers acrobats and singers. and even some magic yes some of the story lines and arrangements were strange but the visual display was Fantastic I especially enjoyed the Michael Jackson night and Pirate night . The cruise directer did a great job of speaking in 5 different languages, something I admired rather than found irritating as other reviews had.
The activities on offer during the days and evenings I expect some found rather lacking but as I have a very busy and tiring job I was content sitting on a sun lounger reading all day in between going to the bar ad using the hot tubs. My one and only gripe would be that there was not an adult only hot tub in the free to use areas , there were not many children on board so this was not a problem on this cruise but would be during the summer.
I did not have any problem finding a sun lounger or table and chairs around the pools inside or out when the weather allowed I enjoyed the Zen area which is a lovely quiet space with pools hot tubs and a bar. The inside pool area was nice and warm on cooler days and again I had no problem finding somewhere to sit and could always get in the hot tubs.
Bar service I did not have an issue with having researched MSC I knew they were not 'in your face' like some cruise lines so when seated and wanting a drink just a simple smile and wave of cruise card to the bar staff was all that was needed to be served and on the occasions when bars were very busy and waiting times longer I simply went and sat at the bar and was served quicker . My one gripe here is that upon asking for an English breakfast tea I did not always get the cold milk I had asked for , but having the AI drinks package if the tea had gone cold before milk arrived I just ordered another one.
Ports of call were changed because of rough seas and this was disappointing and could have been relayed to us sooner than it was , but we cannot control the weather and you need to be aware of this when cruising . I had already been to the 2 new ports of Lanzarote and Gibralter so even more disappointing but we made the most of these ports and wouldnt let it spoil the holiday.
I always research ports before I cruise so the lack of information given by MSC was not an issue I suggest everyone does their own research it is much better.
Another reviewer commented about there being not enough toilets on board this is not true perhaps they just did not find them! many are quite hidden and not easy to find but are on each floor near bars and lifts , when having wandered around looking for them I have asked staff who directed me to them so no problems there.
I found all staff very chatty and helpful all speaking adequate English I went to reception many a time to ask them questions and for help and they were very helpful and polite always.
Only gripe overall was that the use of hand sanitizer was not being monitored and enforced in the food areas .
As for smoking again having researched MSC I knew smoking was allowed and where it was allowed , Royal Caribbean in the Mediterranean was the same . I did not like the smoky atmosphere in some bars so just chose not to use them and why anyone would want to gamble in a Casino in the first place is beyond me!
I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise it was the best value for money cruise I have had and the most relaxing and comfortable and would not hesitate booking MSC again or Recommending them.