Being first time cruisers some things could have been explained better in the beginning. Our one main "complaint" would be lack of being informed about general things. Upon boarding the ship we were given about 20 pieces of paper, various advertisements, flyers for excursions etc. In this paperwork was the "daily newsletter" which does contain important information each day about the cruise in general and what is going on etc. No one pointed out the newsletter specifically or it's importance thus we missed the orientation meeting at which a lot of our questions we had later would have been answered and our dinner seating problem would have been discovered.
We were allowed onto the boat immediately upon arrival, no long waits, everything was very organized. It was about 12:30. We got into our spotlessly clean room promptly and all of our luggage was there within a couple of hours. The bed and pillows were comfortable, overall the room was small but most are on a ship. We loved our king bed and balcony, would never cruise without a balcony. We had clean linens all the time and the cabin staff took the time to know our personal habits such as when we got up and out in the morning and when we retired for the evening and tried their best to accommodate and weren't the least bit intrusive.
The food was amazing, really amazing. I've read other reviews and strongly disagree with a lot of what has been said. Since we have never cruised before I have nothing to compare to but I can't possibly imagine the food being any more plentiful or available or delicious. No there wasn't 24 hour a day food but there was about a total of 2 hours throughout the entire day where no food was available. If you can't find time to eat during the other 22 hours of the day then you're not trying hard enough. Everything we had was cooked to perfection. I couldn't think of any more breakfast choices, lunch had a huge variety as well including some sort of fish which again was cooked to perfection. We ate dinner in the dining room every night and we could have as much as we wanted, no limit. If we wanted 4 appetizers, 4 main courses and 4 desserts each, that was fine so no one should have gone hungry. On lobster night, we asked for 3 each and it was not a problem. The menu does have specific things on it each night but always a fairly extensive variety with an "always available" menu each night as well. The grilled salmon was to die for and available each night. The dining staff were very friendly and accommodating and quite lenient about the "rules." The only hiccup we encountered was that our seating did get mixed up. We were supposed to have a table for 2 in the first seating and found out we had a table for 2 in the second seating. We can't eat later so we explained this to the maitre d and it was changed immediately and politely. We had one other person in front of us. We couldn't get a table for 2 which may not have worked out as well as it had. We sat with some great folks and were really glad to get to know them over the course of the week.
The entertainment was awesome and if you couldn't find enough to do, again you weren't trying very hard. The ship was decorated impeccably and very clean. People were constantly cleaning, everything, on their hands and knees cleaning. Everyone else was always working, never standing around idly by. The minute the pool deck got water on it, the squeegee person was out there clearing it off. The Covent Garden theatre was comparable to the downtown theatres and shows we have here in Toronto. The bars were very comfortable and exciting. If you were looking to do some on board shopping, they had some fabulous deals.
The excursions were plentiful but a little unorganized. We signed up for 2 of them before hand and would probably not do that again unless it was something we did not want to risk missing out on. Getting on and off the ship was a snap and quick, yes there were some line ups but nothing to get worked up about. The main problem we found was that people did not listen to the instructions, on or off the ship, most talked entirely through the instructions, most of those people were American. We were asked not to crowd certain areas and to disembark in certain orders, most people tried to do whatever they wanted to do so it was hard for staff to keep everyone in order but they did a bang up job with what they had to work with. It never took more than 10 minutes for us to get on or off the ship, sometimes less. The ride to and from took as long as it took and had nothing to do with MSC. We didn't like that the excursion people were not disembarked until mid day so we really didn't have a whole lot of time at port but to do our excursion. This is probably also a rookie mistake on our part, we could have disembarked and met the excursion group at the main dock when needed. More info about that sort of thing would have been good as well. Unfortunately we found the Americans to be very spoiled and quite rude overall. Very intolerant to other cultures, mocking them, making inappropriate negative cultural comments and extremely impatient about almost everything. If you look for something to be wrong, you will find it no matter where you go. Complaints such as no seedless watermelon, no towels folded into animals at night, line ups to get off the ship. Very small things to worry about. I have nothing against Americans, it was just my observation that if anyone was complaining ever it was usually them.
If you have children they have spectacular programs for them as well. Again they can be as busy or unbusy as you/they want to be. Pool chairs were plentiful, but as with any vacation spot in the world if you wait until 11:00 am to get a chair close to the pool, especially on an at sea day, it will be hard. There was always chairs available somewhere onboard.
This was a great cruise, very comfortable accommodations, excellent staff, terrific food all at a reasonable rate. We can't wait to go again.