Sadly, things go downhill from here. The quality of much of the food fell far below our expectations. The prime rib I ordered was the second worst piece of prime I've been served in the last fifty years. My steak a night or so later was largely gristle, a complaint that I heard from many of the other passengers. I suspect MSC is buying low-grade cuts of beef as a cost-cutting measure. Meals were often served cool, or even cold, which indicates that there is a major organization problem, either in the kitchen or the dining room, or both. Ordering a cocktail before dinner was an exercise in futility. You could [eventually] order one, but more likely than not it would not arrive until after you were done with your meal. The best dining experiences on the ship were eating in the cafeteria, and even that was often a mixed bag. Oh, and forget ordering from room service.....what an exercise in futility!
One of the things that really irked my wife and I is that we found many members of the supervisory dining room staff to be surly and rude. We ran in to the same rudeness problem with other staff members, as well as with people working in the various concession stores. Upper level management really needs to weed out employees with attitude problems. Remember, your staff members depend on the passengers for their livelihood. I was really irked about us being billed $24 a day to "tip" staff members for being rude to us; still am, for that matter.
From what I could see, perhaps 80% of the passengers on this cruise were from the United States, and, of course, the ship is based in a U.S. port, at least for the season. This being the case, I would suggest that MSC work MUCH harder to put together a cruise staff that is considerably more fluent in English. Our Indonesian cabin steward, our waiter, and the young ladies serving drinks in the lounge spoke the language much better than many of the entertainment staff, for example.
Did all these problems ruin our cruise? No, but they certainly caused us to enjoy it much less than we'd been led to believe would be the case. The neighbor who organized our trip, a woman who had sailed on another MSC ship and who told us that our cruise experience with MSC would be absolutely first-class, found herself apologizing to us several times. Will my wife and I book another MSC cruise? You've got to be kidding!