We arrived in Fort Lauderdale by car on Friday and took advantage of a Park and Cruise promotion offered at the Cambria Suites. This hotel has just opened and they have to work out logistical problems transporting so many cruisers to so many ships, but the Hotel was beautiful. If you do take advantage of their Park and Cruise, be prepared to wait for the van both going to the port and especially being picked-up at the port.
Due to having to wait for a van to the port and being the last group to be dropped off, we did not get to the port until 12:15. The lines outside were not very long, but the lines inside were really long. MSC did have seats for the passengers instead of having to stand in long lines as I have had to do on other cruises. The staff was nice and we got on board in a short amount of time. They did not push the boarding pictures like most other cruise lines. I was impressed to see the staff waiting by the elevators in white gloves to escort us to our cabin and I really liked being able to go directly to the cabin and dropping off the carry-on luggage. There are more sets of elevators on this ship so the wait time for an elevator was short. I have had to wait 15-20 minutes after a show to get an elevator on other lines, but I was usually able to get on within minutes.
The room was really nice and larger than on some NCL and Carnival that I have been on lately. The bathroom is small but very functional and has a small shower, but it was probably the best shower I have had on a cruise ship. The water actually got hot and stayed hot and the pressure was wonderful. We also had to check out the balcony which was relatively large and the furniture was a wicker looking material but very comfortable, not the cheap plastic like on most cruise lines.
After checking out the room, we made our way to the buffet. This was not the best buffet I have had on a cruise, but it is by far not the worse. The carved meat was warm, tender, and of a good quality. There was a good selection of salads in addition to a salad bar selection, and vegetables and desserts (I did not have to raid the children's line to get cookies like on NCL). The lines going into the buffet were long, but because I chose to see what was available at each station, I found that there are 2 identical bars on each side in addition to one in the back and NO ONE was at any of the rear stations. We were able to go through the buffet in less than 10 minutes. The drink stations are at the first of the line which is not convenient so we got our food and went back to get our drinks. By the lime we returned to get the drinks, they brought out large glasses (about 20oz) so we did not require refill.
After lunch, we did some exploring then it was off to the room for a short nap before the muster drill. This was the first time I have been to a muster station where there were only 12 passengers and we were in the middle of the ship. After the drill we had to go get ready for a show and dinner. We had late dinner so our shows were before the dinner every night. I prefer them after dinner, but because this was a comedy cruise, we actually had shows before and after dinner which worked out well. We were at a table for 8 mid ship on the 5th floor with wonderful table mates which included a couple from Tennessee and a pair of retired ladies with a big group, but they wanted to eat late while the rest of their group ate early. Both our Waiter and the Assistant were very attentive and saw that my friend and I drank a lot of water during our meal, so the rest of the cruise, they gave us big glasses so we would not run out of water. One thing different on MSC is that if you want wine, you have to ask the waiter (as if they do not have enough to do) and he serves any spirits in addition to his other tasks. Dinner each night was slow because MSC has given the staff more tables than other cruise lines and the staff is constantly running to get food for the passengers. Our waiter has been on other lines as a waiter and he told us that he was responsible for more tables than when he was working for Carnival, NCL, or RCL. We felt sorry for him as one of his tables ordered multiple entrees (30 lobsters plus steaks for a table of 8 the last Gala night) and they were rude to him at times. Our food was always warm (a pleasant surprise) and if you did not eat what was served, they were insistent to get additional food out so you would not be hungry.
Now the bad of the food. It seems the only sauce they like to serve is tomato sauce, and boy did it get tiring! Also, the food was inconsistent. Some entrees were great while others were just plain bad. The Steak, Salmon, and Chicken on the American side are good, but stay away from the baked potato as it was always hard as a rock whenever anyone at the table order it. They need to offer a couple of soup selections instead of one as people who have allergies to fish or do not like fish did not have a soup choice (MSC please put a soup on the America menu in addition to a soup on the Italian side). We prefer to have all meals in the restaurant, but when the ship is in port, watch out for early closing of both the restaurant and the buffet. We missed the restaurant when in St. Martaan so we hit the buffet at 9:35. I got a table while my friend got in line. It took her almost 15 minutes to go through the line, so it was 9:47 when I got in line. I was getting up to the bacon at 10:00 (near the end of the buffet) and they put foil on the food and took it away as we were still trying to get food. I really wanted fruit and juice, but I was too late. When I am on vacation, I do not want to have to rush to breakfast and they really need to rethink closing all breakfast by 10:00 except for a couple of pastry selections by the pool (someone had to tell us where to go). The service in the restaurant for both breakfast and lunch was hit or miss. Some days it was great and others we waited 45 minutes for a bagel and juice (and only got it after I went to the head waiters that were gathered at the door). One day I did not get to eat breakfast as we wanted to do the Arts and Crafts at 10:00 and after 1 hour 15 minutes I never got any food and was so mad I probably could not have eaten anyway!
We really enjoyed the Comedy Shows on this cruise except for the first show which was the BONK show. If you go on the Comedy Cruise, skip the BONK Show, but so not miss the other Comedians. The shows were very family friendly even though they started at 10:30. I will be looking for these guys to tour or when I go to Vegas. The nightly shows were great and each one had themes. We did feel sorry for the dancers as on this line they perform every night while on other cruises they only do 2 or three shows on 7 day cruise. We also enjoyed the daily Arts and Crafts by the pool. On MSC, this is a free activity unlike HAL, Princess and other Cruise lines.
In closing, we really enjoyed this cruise. We liked the lack of announcements, lack of "talks" but did miss going to port talks, and we really enjoyed the international feel of this line. We were impressed with the cruise staff and how they can go from language to language and have complete understanding of the 5 major languages spoken. I do not know if I will on MSC again as I really did not like have to rush for breakfast and lunch. If they fix that part, I would book another cruise today.