Background: We are seasoned cruisers. My husband and I have cruised with most of the major lines. We always travel in our spring break, as we run a language school. I am American and my husband is Mexican.
Embarkation: We investigate arriving in Venice, and it was cheaper to take a taxi from the airport to the port than paying for the ship´s transfers. We took a taxi to the port which cost 35 Euros and arrived in less than half an hour. The embarkation process for not good. We got our papers immediately but were told to wait until our number was called. We had no idea how long it was going to be, so we waited in a huge crowd. There weren´t enough seats and one young lady fainted while waiting. We arrived at the port at around 12:30 and were finally permitted to board around 2:15. It wasn´t a pleasant experience. It might be because the ship is new and they haven´t gotten their act together, but they were calling number 1 at around 1 p.m. when we were supposedly allowed to board starting at 10:30 a.m., so something went wrong.
Cabin: We had an inside cabin which was quite spacious because we had a handicapped cabin. It was decorated in red, but it was comfortable and had everything we needed. It was clean and we had wonderful cabin service.
Ship: The ship is new and very clean. There are areas that are quite beautiful, such as the lobby and the theater, and other rooms which are quite gaudy. The spa is quite nice and has an acupuncturist.
Food: Since the cruise was very crowded, we decided to have all possible meals in the dining room, rather than the buffet. Our supper service was very slow. We don't blame the waiters; there were just too few waiters for too many people. It took at least 1 hour and 45 minutes for every dinner, and we didn´t get anything but bread for the first half hour. The food was fine, but on MSC you don´t get lobster, snails or steak unless you pay for your meal in the extra restaurants.
Entertainment: The entertainment (shows) were quite good, although they recycled most of the acts. We didn´t participate in many other things except swimming twice in the indoor pool, which was usually very crowded with children except very early, and on exercise class.
Disembarkment: The disembarkment was controlled. We had to wait an hour an a half to leave the ship, but it was better organized than the embarkation, as we waited on the ship. We disembarked, had our luggage checked to the train station, which is closer to downtown Venice than the port, and then took the water ferry to San Marcos. From there we walked across Venice, had lunch, and ended up at the train station, where we picked up our bags and took a taxi (which charged 50 Euros) to the airport.
General impression: There are not too many English-speakers on this ship. The majority of passengers are from Germany, Italy and France. There are lots of kids, as kids are free. All announcements are in between 4-6 languages. All in all we were very happy with our cruise experience because we booked this cruise for the great ports and were not disappointed. If you book for snails, lobsters and service, MSC might not appeal to you.