Since my sister booked this cruise and she was not familiar with the line, we becamed panicked after reading the reviews on the MSC lines. Embarcation went very smoothley taking less than 15 minutes with a very nice touch having someone escort us to our room. Our luggage arrived within 20 minutes also a great touch since i have cruised many times and luggage usually arrives several hours later. I must admit maybe this all went so smoothley because we boarded within 45 minutes of sailing but in either case it was quite a plesant surprise considering the reviews had predicted chaos. Our room was quite comfortable and of cause spotless. Leaving Venice was just beautiful. We sat on our balcony and just watched the city go by slowly.
We found our way around the ship pretty quickly and found it very funny that when you waited at elevator bank you had to push buttons for each elevator in order to activate them all wheras normally you would just push a button and all would be activated. Also the announcements in elevator were only in english. Also quirkey. Without having to bore everyone with the cleanleness of the ship and beauty...this all goes without saying.
I do have to mention the casino staff. They were so much fun and so friendly. When we couldn't find a snack at 1am the casino manager managed to get us tea and pastries. The wait staff was so friendly and always seemed to remember my sister loved french fries and no matter what night it was, there was always a plate of french fries for her.
The food in the dining room however left a lot to be desired. Sufficient servings although bland and just not really identifable. Meat was always a couple of slices of some mystery meat with mystery gravy. All tasted the same. Since I am familiar with another cruise line, I know there was always a steak on the menu. The food was not very good however it was better at the buffet. The buffet though busy was not as bad as other reviewers predicted. Yes, the Italians have no manners or sence of order and they are so loud but the buffet restaurant was large enough to get away from them. Also the dining room wasn't anyway near as loud as predicted. Maybe we were just prepared for total chaos and things just weren't that loud but as predicted the food wasn't good. What I did miss was being able to get a decent snack. The other cruise lines have a 24 hour pizza and salad bar along with free room service for snacks. Thank heavens for the casino manager.
Smoking seemed to be all over the ship and again the Italians don't seem to think the no smoking applies to them. But again, places to hide from them. They really are a problem it seems.
We did not find communication a problem. My sister had a problem with her credit card and had no issue communicating with the purser. We had no problem communicating with any of the workers or servers on ship. All seemed helpful and very polite.
The shows were typically cruise ship shows and it did become 'old' having the cruise director announce everything in 5 languages but I understood the reason. I wouldn't have been happy if there were no English announcements.
We did make use of the spa. Fabulous is the only way to describe the massages. We managed to get 3 massages each and they were magnifficent. The staff and rooms and rates were perfect. I would definately recommend the spa.
Disembarking wasn't a big deal at all. Another myth from previous reviews. We sat up by the pool area and had a drink and just waited for our 'color tag' to be called. Another way to keep from being trapped in a room with the loud rude Italians. The cruise was enjoyable but for the bad food and rude Italians i would not use this cruise line again. However we have gotten a new phrase added to our vocabulary called 'Getting your Italian on!' when we want to be rude and push ahead in line or someone else does that. Since my sister lives in Italy, she was more prepared for the behavior than I was prepared. The charge for water, coffee, tea & room service I was prepared for and all the children....again prepared...just the rudeness really became an issue.