Having cruised with Princess 6 times, my first time adventure with MSC Cruises was an eye opener to say the least. My friend and I went with an open mind, besides we'd "only" paid £749 for our balcony cabin on a Mediterranean cruise ! Flights were excellent, British Airways (for once) excelled theirselves, quick, efficient service on the 1 hour 20 flight to Genoa, we flew over the ship as we landed and Genoa did appear pleasant in the early June sunshine. What a surprise then when we landed, cleared immigration and customs to be met by a pleasant MSC rep who directed us to our bus, all 28 Brits on board the flight eagerly looking forward to joining this new cruise ship. Genoa was awful, vey industrialised, filthy, thank god we were only passing through, I'd hate to spend any time there. Embarkation was smooth and efficient (a big plus there MSC !) As we tried to make our way onboard we were met by a barrage of "flyers" advertising Spa deals, drinks packages, shore excursions etc. Shoving these aside (shoving would come into play later in the cruise too !) we made our way to our Cabin on Deck 13. The cabin was beautiful, very clean, spacious and modern, much larger than on Princess. Our steward Juni was friendly, ever helpful and always there to assist us (another big plus MSC). The lifeboat drill was atrocious, god only knows how passengers would cope in an emergency, nobody listened to the announcements and the crew seemed hell bent on making as much money as possible by flogging photos of passengers with their lifebelts on, very bad.
The food ? oh the food...Most days was passable, breakfasts were a mission shall we say, if you're not Italian and not used to being pushed around, this morning event will seriously annoy you. Free tea and coffee, if you want a cup after 11am you pay for it (naughty MSC) Lunch was ok, enough choice, again if you pushed your way to the front (something the Brits and Americans on board, refused to do). Dinner was good, our table in the restaurant consisted of two other British couples and we all got along fine, our waiter Guiseppe was efficient, food was ok. We ate a couple of nights in the O'livio Restaurant and Tex Mex restaurants, again, food ok, service especially in the O'Livio, atrocious to say the least, we weren't even offered a drink, all the waiters (5 of them) fussed around a table of 8 Italians, ignoring us and two other couples.
Entertainment we thought was poor, the shows were amateurish in their design, dancers who couldn't keep together and two girl singers who thought shouting throughout the song would keep them in tune, just awful. A couple of nights they had jugglers, acrobats and magicians, very old hat and a little tired.
Overall, the ship was clean, modern and well run, the crew were a little bored by their jobs we found, apathy reigned a lot of the time, but our biggish gripe were the passengers, this is not a cruise for those who don't enjoy other European passengers, having said that, not all French, German and Spanish are bad, the Italians are though, have never come across such rude, ignorant and damn right arrogant people who thought as this was an Italian cruise line, gave them carte blanche to be top dog all the time.
A relief to get back to Genoa on the Saturday morning, bags offloaded quickly, onto the bus to the airport, long wait for the plane to arrive from Gatwick, when we did take off, again, BA excelled theirselves, fast and efficient service, well done BA.
Don't cruise with MSC if you like lots of kids, pushy parents who ignore the signs that say "Adults Area Only" and Italians. Do cruise with MSC if you like to pay for your tea and coffee, like a scrumdown every morning with your fellow passengers and can put up with bolshy crew. Enough said, take me back to Princess.