I have been an avid cruiser for many years and have experienced, NCL, Princess, Celebrity, HAL, RCCL, Disney. I was looking forward to sailing on MSC in my oceanview stateroom.
The best thing about MSC were the ports of call and the local guides that handled the tours. Apart from that, see my comments below:
Check-in was hectic to say the least, with a lot of pushing and shoving. The staff did offer fruit juices, however.
The photographers were annoying and the quality of the pictures were not the greatest compared to other cruise lines.
The stateroom was clean enough, not a bad size for 2 people. We however had to request that the twin beds be made into a queen size. Fortunately that did not take a long time to do as opposed to some other guests who asked for the queen to be converted to two twins - they waited almost a whole day! I was not too impressed by my cabin steward who seemed to just do the minimum work he was expected to do - and nothing more. He was good about changing the towels, but not so much the bedding as necessary. Also the amenities provided were shampoo, shower gel, bath foam (shower gel also?), soap, and bathing caps. No cream/lotion as I am accustomed to. We were given a fruit basket on the 2nd day. The windows were dirty the whole time, so even if we did have an oceanview, it was not the nicest. My boyfriend found the mattress lumpy and hard. There were 2 English channels on the TV - BBC and a movie channel. The Bridge report was not accurate. Throughout the whole cruise at 10 ports of call, the sunrise was always at 07:40 and sunset at 19:20. Also during turbulent days at sea, the 5m waves were closer to 18m, and the sea conditions were very rough as opposed to just rough.
We ate breakfast at the buffet most days. I liked that they served coffee with hot milk so I could have a cafe au lait everyday. The selection was allright, but could have been nicer if more variety was available for the 10 days. I enjoyed the semolina porridge and the foccacia every morning as well as the blood oranges and the baked tomatoes. There were 3 kinds of yogurt: plain, coconut, and strawberry. The muesli was good. The 2 times I had breakfast in the dining room I had ordered poached eggs. It came to me on toast sprinkled with parmesan cheese - that was different.
Had lunch at the buffet too - not a bad selection, good salad choices and a choice of hot entrees. A daily pasta bar was set up too. We tried the pizza several times, which was not bad, as well as the burger joint which also offered hotdogs, lamb chops, chicken wings, and chicken fillets with salad and fries. The tables at the buffet were quite close to each other and had tables for 4 or 6, so you were always eating with other passengers.
During the day when the pizza parlour, the burger joints, and the buffet were open, only water, coffee, tea, and hot and cold milk were available. Juice was only for the morning. I tried the ice cream parlour one day and thought it was ok. We had "real" coffees at the cafe and enjoyed that. Bottled water was 2.60 Euros/bottle. We did not drink alcohol, and did not order soft drinks. Our table mate purchased coupons worth 200 euros for soft drinks and did not use them all up at the end of the cruise. MSC would not give a refund. Tea was hard to find other than during breakfast and in the afternoons when biscuits and sandwiches were served. We did not try the late night dining except for the one time where they were serving crepes with fruit.
Internet service was painfully slow most days and quite frustrating. Spent a lot of money just trying to get on.
Service at accounting, the front desk and the excursion desk was mayhem - no organization whatsoever, and if you needed questions answered, there seemed to always be a wait for a supervisor. The accounting desk had limited hours, so you pretty well had to make sure you were there when they opened. Difficult if you had to get currency changed.
It took patience to hear each and every announcement made in 5 languages - so it seemed never ending. This happened throughout the day throughout the whole cruise.
The boutiques were small and did not have much selection.
It was an adjustment for us non-smokers to have quite a few smoking areas on board which we had to pass in order to walk down the hall, or enter the show room.
The shows were fine, but much the same. The games they played with the passengers seemed to be quite avantguard for North American humor.
The dining room wait staff we had were Indonesian and served us well. After a few days they had remembered all our particular needs (ice water, balsamic vinegar/olive oil, parmesan cheese) and served it to us without having to ask for it. There was a good variety offered at dinner from appetizers to salads, soups, pasta, main entrees, and dessert. Same ice cream flavors each day. The second to last night showcased a Baked Alaska parade.
The two young teenagers that sat at our table were not impressed with the teen club. I however saw the little ones' club and the kids seemed to be happy and having fun. Nothing compared to RCCL and Disney, however.
We checked out the casino, had poker tables, blackjack tables, roulette, slot machines - but no craps table.
There were no information talks on the different ports of call, so you were pretty well on your own watching the cruise excursions on the TV and reading your little blurb that they sent with your daily program.
A little disconcerting for North Americans on board was the fact that they took your passport from you upon your embarkation, and then only gave it back on the last day.
There were not a lot of activities offered on board to entertain the passengers as I have been used to with other cruise lines.
I did not make use of the spa services as I thought the prices were quite high. The gym was small and offered a few machines. The highlite for my boyfriend here was to be running on the treadmill as the ship was approaching the dock and seeing the port in front of him.
The one thing that North Americans have to deal with or get used to is the way of life of the various cultures on board the ship. A lot of "pushy" people who "bud in line" and who are "loud". I took everything as is as I am an avid traveller, but certainly would be disoncerting for those that aren't.
One mishap for me was that my luggage never showed up. On 2 days I was told that it was going to be in the next port of call which never seemed to be the case, and I came back home with not a sign of my luggage. I had to make do with what was available on board and spent precious sightseeing time at the first port of calls to buy clothing and proper footware.
This was an experience for me, but am not jumping at the chance to cruise MSC again in the near future.