The cruise started at Gatwick Airport at a sensible time for the 2 hour British Airways scheduled flight to Genoa. We are not fans of BA and think that a charter flight could offer better facilities.
We were met by 2 Msc staff at Genoa and were quickly loaded onto 2 coaches for transfer to the ship. We did not see our luggage again until it arrived in the cabin.
Check-in took about 10 minutes and we were escorted by uniformed staff to our cabin and introduced to the main features. The cabin was on deck 8 and had a balcony with table and 2 chairs. We had a very large bed, flat screen TV, fridge and ample storage space. The bathroom was spacious by hotel standards and included a standard sized bath-tub with shower above. The cabin was kept meticulously clean throughout the cruise and it seemed that every time we left the room the steward did some cleaning.
Breakfast was available in the buffet and dining room plus a restricted menu cabin service. In the buffet everything was available from a number of stations and although it was busy there was no queuing and no difficulty finding a table. We also enjoyed a room service breakfast when you can specify what and how many of each item you require. We did not use the dining room facility for breakfast.
Lunch was again available in the buffet and dining room and we experienced both. We are both fish-eating vegetarians and found a good choice of meals in both venues. Initially it was not easy to find all the food because different types of food were located in different places throughout the restaurant. The quality was good considering that up to 3000 people were being fed in a very short time. Coffee and juice were available in the buffet but did not appear to be in the dining room.
Evening meals were served the dining rooms and again offered a wide range. Portions were not large but with 7 courses available this was not a problem. We had 2 formal evenings, 3 informal and 2 casual but it was disappointing that most people took no notice of the dress code for the day. There were 3 specialist restaurants which we did not use but our table-guests, an American family, spoke highly of the TexMex restaurant. Afternoon tea was available in the buffet and we were told that midnight supper was also served but we did not try it out. Musical entertainment was available every evening in a number of lounges and catered for most tastes - a string quartet, and excellent jazz quartet, a South American trio, a pianist and 2 vocalists. In one lounge there appeared to be "holiday-camp" type entertainment with a duo but we avoided this. The theatre presented a different and varied show every evening and all the productions could only be described as excellent, if not all to our taste. A wide range of daytime activities was available but with a port stop every day we did not take advantage of them. Arrangements in the ports were good with a wide range of excursions. One criticism was that no advance notice was given as to what could be seen at each port, whether a shuttle coach was needed etc. We have suggested to Msc that they could provide more details in future. Being a multi-national cruise announcements were made in a number of languages but we had no problem understanding what was going on and they seemed to get the sound-bites down to the right size to suit all nationalities.
Disembarkation was as smooth as the embarkation and all too soon our week's cruise was over. On reflection we have tried to look for faults and cannot find anything to complain about except the comparative price of everything but this was not just on the ship but everywhere in the eurozone. It is hardly fair to blame Msc for the pound-euro exchange rate!