We were excited at our first opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean. The ship was beautiful and our stateroom was lovely and spacious. We were told that we may have to switch rooms (our cruise was booked at the last minute and for a great price)and although we didn't have to switch rooms, it became clear why they left that option open for themselves; they were taking on and letting go of passengers at every port we stopped at. Now that's very different from the U.S. Some of the other differences became apparent quickly. We went up to the gym to check it out and found out that we had to pay to use the sauna - like over $100 Euros (approximately $150). Then we found out that they don't serve any liquid refreshments with lunch and dinner with the intent of getting more Euros for bottled water. (at breakfast they do serve juice and coffee free of extra charges. Like U.S. cruises they did sell discount tickets for soda and water and beer. But no iced tea which is served on U.S. cruises.
The other thing that bothered me is that they provided buses out of all the port areas - just barely out of the port area and charged 5 Euros for each person. It's like they wanted to make it nice BUT wanted to make a profit on every silly little thing they did. I don't like that. I start to feel like I'm being taken advantage of.
They charged a lot for internet use, but they must need a bigger satellite because you couldn't get through half the time. The internet connections were very slow when they were working.
The food was pretty good. They did have specialty restaurants (TexMex and French) for added fees, but they were virtually empty every night. They were too expensive and everything in them was al a carte. Their food each day at the ship's restaurants was okay - not sensational. The food at the buffet was good, except at breakfast, the bacon was practically raw and the sausage was also undercooked.
And then there was the lack of English speaking people on the cruise - not MSC's fault. That just started to bother us after a while. There were primarily Germans, Italians and French on the cruise. There were a few Americans, but only a handful. Because of this experience, I don't think we would go on a European based cruise again. After a while you just feel lonely for someone to speak to - lonely while you are surrounded by 2,000 people! We are very friendly, but it didn't help us and we just didn't like the fact that there were so few English speaking people on board.
All in all, it was great to get away. We loved Rome and had a great day in Barcelona visiting Parc Guell. The stops in the Canary Islands and Madiera were okay. I would do it differently next time. And I'm pretty convinced that cruising is not the best way to see Europe; goodness knows you need more than a day in Rome and Barcelona. It is a good way to get a taste of each city and then schedule to come back to the ones you love.