The entertainment, at least that part of which that we attended, was exceptional. A quartet of opera singers who would find a place as soloists in any opera house in the world, gave several recitals, accompanied by a first rate pianist. While we did not see the dancers, by general agreement they were excellent. For those so inclined, the Italian national chess champion, an International Master, gave lessons every day and took on all comers.
We encountered very few queues aboard ship, and when there was one, no one attempted to cut into it. There were four banks of elevators and there was no time at which one encountered excessive waiting periods. Embarkation was exemplary. One could check in one's luggage at the Venice railway station, walk a short distance to the Piazzale Roma where buses were waiting to take you to the ship and, if one had taken the trouble to pre-register on line, be aboard within minutes. Disembarkation was something of a muddle - some passengers waited over two hours in the lounges—but this was not MSC's fault, the U.S. customs and immigration services hadn't assigned sufficient personnel to cope with so many passengers.
This is not to say that we have no criticisms. Most annoying were the announcements, which were read off in five languages three times a day for a total of 45 minutes, were stridently loud, and mostly consisted of hypes for various money earning on board activities. Deck chairs and tables, in spite of posted prohibitions, were, almost without exception, reserved with towels throughout the day. Given the nature of the case, it was impossible for us to determine if, as has been alleged, the absentee culprits were mostly German and Italians, or if all nationalities sinned equally, but the point is that no attempt was made by the crew to remedy the situation. Smoking was permitted only on one side of the swimming pool deck, but as some genius had decreed that this was to be the windward side, everyone got the full benefit of the tobacco fumes. Dinners were consistently themed, a different nationality was featured every evening. The results varied, running from the good to the mediocre. MSC would have done better to stick with Italian cuisine, which they did very well indeed. Dinner, moreover, was painfully long. It never took less than two hours, sometimes it was closer to three. This was not the fault of the stewards who did their best; they simply had too many diners at their stations and there seemed to be a serious bottleneck in the kitchen.
The shore excursions were ludicrously overpriced, one was always better off making one's own arrangements. Get your information before you get on board as the "travel desk" did not provide any information on ports. We arranged for an historical and cultural tour of Carthage, and were quite pleased, but tablemates took a similar tour and got the usual "carpet sales" stop which robbed them of precious time in port, at top dollar! So, do your homework and ask questions about the tour in advance.
In short, this is not a luxury cruise line, but then it isn't priced like one either. In our opinion it is comparable to Celebrity and Holland America: Some things are better, some not as good, but that is the level one is talking about.