Boarding in Barcelona was simple. The ship was less than one year old and in good condition. The cabin was a good size but the toiletries were rubbish. Public areas were a bit bling - lots of sparkle and "I don't believe its not wood".
We felt the ship was far too big and impersonal. The restaurant and bar staff were very helpful and friendly, but the waiters appeared to have too many tables and the service was poor. Other more senior staff were aloof. If met in a doorway they assumed right of way and walked through, avoiding eye contact.
Apart from during breakfast and lunch all drinks and beverages were charged and prices were very high. A bottle of (warm) water cost €2.30 and 400ml draft beer was €4.90. On other cruises the drinks were duty free and cheaper than at home. There were no tea/coffee facilities in the cabin. Any drinks brought on board, including water, were confiscated and no coffee was served after dinner.
The meals were edible bit not great. They became quite boring after only a few days, especially lunch. There was a dress code but it was not applied. It was disappointing to be formally dressed. sitting next to other diners in jeans, t shirts, shorts and trainers. It takes away from the magic. There were too many smoking areas - almost everywhere!
The information on board was poor so it was difficult to plan port visits. Reception staff did not seem to be interested. A couple of the shows were good but most were quite strange. One show on Excalibur ended with a poor mimic of Riverdance! and one that started with songs from musicals became a Queen tribute. Also there is only so much acrobatics and balancing acts we can take. The juggler was good though.
There were charges for shuttle buses in ports and street plans which are free on other cruises, so although the basic price of this cruise was low the extras soon made up for this. Ports tended to be large cities rather than interesting small towns.
Overall we were disappointed. As an alternative to a cheap package in a Mediterranean hotel it was ok, but as a cruise we felt that MSC had missed that point. As a hotel it would rate as 3* but as a cruise experience only 2*.