As we had never traveled with MSC prior to this trip we researched and scoured the internet prior to taking the plunge. I will say that it seemed a majority of the information was neutral to negative. I will first start by saying we had a great time, and thought there where things we did not like or could be improved, it did not really ruin any of our enjoyment.
Embarkation: It was simply the best we have ever experienced in all our cruises, it was fast and friendly. I know a lot of delays are beyond the cruise operators control, and fortunately there was nothing to cause a problem.
The Ship: It is a very nice ship, beautiful classic lines. Lots of different lunges to find a place to relax, entertain, or people watch. Some of the problems (most where minor), the clubs sometimes felt like pass throughs, not really a destination (specifically the Jazz Club, Divina Bar, the Silver Club and the Piano Bar). The seating was odd, most had very low back seats, I am just over More
6 feet tall, and could not really get comfortable. The pool deck was beautiful, wished it was more open to let the wind blow through, especially to clear out the smokers toxic fumes. Some periods it was liking being in a smokers lounge. You had to fight for a lounge chair, but we found a great spot on deck 15 that had plenty of breeze and shade. The pools where nice, especially the infinity pool aft. Not enough servers on the deck though, it was easier to get up and go to the bar to get your drinks.
Food: First let me say we are not foodies, but we thought the food in the Villa Rossa dining room was pretty good overall, their where some misses, but they gladly brought us something else. The portions where a little small, but I preferred that anyway so I could eat more variety. We avoided the buffet like the plague, not because of the food, but it was the worst designed traffic flow I have ever seen. Not helped at all by the clueless passengers who would be getting food from both directions or breaking in front of you out of nowhere. The only time we ventured in there was on port days when most of the passengers where gone. Overall the food was ok, the hot dogs where pretty good, and the the variety available was good. The deserts where bland and nothing memorable. The gelato and sorbet was really good and I had at least three servings everyday.
Entertainment: Some of the best shows I have ever seen on a cruise line, though I am not sure why they even titled them. In the "Witches" show there where witches in one act, but there was no real story. The acrobats and performers where great and my 7 year old son loved them all. I will say that though the shows changed the acts where very similar. I am not an opera of Frank Sinatra fan, so really did not enjoy either of those, but not that they where bad just not my style. The accent of the Sinatra singer was hard to get past though. I would have like to have a comedian performance at least once. The acts in the lounges where good to awful, and they where the same every night. The duo in the Jazz club was cringe worthy, but we enjoyed the singers in the Piano bar and the Cafe on deck 6. The chamber musicians in the Atrium where really good, and we had some enjoyable moments, however all the activity around guest services was distracting to the type of music being played. The bands in the Black and White where pretty good, though they had volume issues and the lead singer was overpowered by the music. We spent a lot of evenings in the aft Black and White. The ships entertainment staff was bad to worse, some did not speak english well and a lot of the games where poorly run or rule changed during play. Bingo was fun, except when on the pool deck, hard to hear, and very windy.
Cabin: Best cabin I have ever had, hands down. Bed was great, balcony was plenty big enough. The only downside, was the small TV, but we did not spend much time using it so not a big deal. Bathroom was great, loved the shower door and the cabinet space. Our room steward Tonny was great he really treated our son special.
Kids Club: Can't say much for it, my son who is 6 and a half (though he is in second grade a year early) was grouped with 3 year old preschool kids. He hated it and refused to go back. They would not budge to let him participate with the 7-11 year olds. So we did not go back. This is something I wish they would look at.
Other Highs: Jody in the Cafe Itallia coffee bar was awesome. She was funny and by the second day had our preferred drinks ready every morning before we even sat down. She got sick, but it dod not dampen her service at all. She was the star of our cruise. I can't speak highly enough of her service and attitude. Our dining room staff was great, again they made it a special week for our son. The casino was nice and not gaudy or loud. It was never really crowded.
Other Lows: This is where we really had some trouble, extra costs. The arcade games where $2 per play, some of the games literally lasted 15 seconds. It was a rip off of epic proportions. The mini bowling in the Sports Bar was great, except it was $7 per person for only 7 frames. Are you kidding? My son did not understand why we could not play again. Cruise was very multi-national which was not a bad thing, but the lack of Americans/Canadians was noticeable. When you met another American in the elevator it was kind of funny. Meet some really great Germans and Brits, and some not so great fellow travelers. We found a lot of the travelers (Americans as well) we ran into where rude.
The ports we visited where Ok, again this is not an MSC issue. Jamaica was OK, we enjoyed the snorkeling in the Caymans, Cozumel was awful, and Great Stirrup Cay was a particular highlight we enjoyed the most. Pictures, my goodness they where everywhere, and trying to walk through the picture store on deck 7 was maddening. I know some people enjoy looking, but why not have a designated space instead of the middle of the only hallway to the Villa Rossa before and after dinner. The Promenade deck was not very nice, no seating of any kind, no views due to the life boats and tenders, and you could not walk all the way around the ship. Not a good design in my opinion. I usually prefer this area on a ship to the pool decks due to the lack of activity.
Biggest Low: The lost my mother in Cayman (not really, but enough to give me a heart attack). They claimed she had not been scanned back onto the boat (however they told us this after we left port). She did not participate in our snorkeling excursion so she visited town and returned to the ship before lunch. However we found her quickly, and resolved the issue, but it still was very unsettling.
Overall it was a good trip, not great, they could really improve on a few things and not nickel and dime (or $5 and $10) you on some of the extras. We would sail with MSC again (especially if they upgrade our interior cabin to a balcony again.) for the right price. If you go, you have to get the Alligresimo full drink package, it was nice not to have to worry about the cost of anything. We took full advantage and drink and eat at our leisure. The Latte Caremela is amazing. Less