Me & my partner made this cruise in December 08, weatherwise not the ideal time for the Western Mediterranean (ports: Genova, Barcelona, Casablanca, Madeira, Tenerife, Malaga, Civitavecchia-Rome). We enjoyed little sunshine these 11 days, but temperatures were higher than expected, typically around 17 degrees Celsius. As we had a balcony cabin, we thoroughly enjoyed sitting outdoors into the night.
The ship is very new, there is staff cleaning all the time, everything was in excellent condition.
The pleasant surprise was the food, which was better than expected. The choice at the "Villa Borghese" restaurant was good, food quality very good, and hot dishes were served hot. A bottle of wine would cost 19 Euro and up, but they also served house wine at 9 Euro per half litre. A bottle of mineral water was EUR 2.80. Cocktails at the bar were typically EUR 6.90, a small beer EUR 2.90 and a large one 4.90.
The food on the buffet on deck 13 was also quite good, but the buffet was completely overrun on sea days, for both breakfast and lunch. We had a hard time finding a table, or even 2 empty seats on a table with fellow passengers.
Bringing alcohol on board was not a problem. We had some bottles of wine in our suitcases, which arrived safely. Also bringing liquors in our hand baggage was not an issue. Only in Madeira they made some reluctant attempts to take alcohol away from the passengers and store it for them. The cruise line's official policy of course does not allow the consumption of private alcoholic drinks on board, they want to sell their own stuff at a much higher price.
The shows were generally not bad, but a bit repetitive. The first night there was no show at all, the last night was a "best of" show of the whole cruise. 3 nights they performed a classical concert. It seems to me that here they clearly try to reduce spendings.
As MSC charges very high rates for tours, we did our own excursions. We would like to share some hints for the visited ports:
In Barcelona, the Cruise Line sold transfers to the entry of the port for EUR 7.90. However, there is an official bus operated by the port (called Blue Bus) which offers the same service for EUR 3 round trip, or EUR 2 one-way (should you wish to return by taxi). The port bus takes you to the Columbus Statue which is at the beginning of the Ramblas avenue. There you can switch to the local subway system. A day pass on the subway costs little over EUR 5.
In Casablanca, it is quite a walk from the ship to the entrance of the port, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. You can take one of the taxis that offer their services. Once you reach the port entrance, you are right downtown and can explore the city center on foot. Rick's Cafe is a 10 minutes walk away, and the great Hassan II Mosque another 10 minutes from there.
In Funchal we ordered a rental car, which was delivered to the dock of the ship. We did a tour of Funchal, Monte, Pico de Arieiro and Cabo Girão on our own, which was really nice.
The port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also next to the city center. The port offered a complimentary shuttle bus to the entrance of the port, but even for walking it is not far, easy to do.
In Malaga MSC offered a transfer service to downtown for 5 Euro. We decided to walk, and it was less than a mile, a good walk to digest the rich food of the cruise...
In Civitavecchia, there was a complimentary port shuttle to the entrance of the port. From there it is 300 m to walk to the Railway Station. Buy a day pass at the counter for 9 Euro, it includes round trip transport to Rome, as well as the whole public transport system of Rome. On the ship, they sold the same services for EUR 43!!! It is a 1h15 train ride to Roma-Termini, but you can also leave the train at Roma-S. Pietro, which cuts 20 minutes travel time. The station is 5 minutes from the Vatican, which is probably on your "to visit" list anyway.