MSC Cruise Lines made a favorable first impression with the ease of embarkation. Overall, staff seemed to be very friendly, but don't necessarily initiate greetings, but will respond politely and with a smile in most cases. The cruise gets a very good rating from this seasoned cruiser, but I will try to stick with American cruise companies whenever possible. We chose MSC for the itinerary with the various/unique ports of call. We received adequate value for the cost of this cruise, but it is important to note that MSC uses an ala carte approach regarding charges for amenities. You are more than welcome to get water, soft drinks, juices, snacks, and etc. all at additional costs (includes meal time). You pay for water even with your meals.
Food quality was good, but variety never changed, especially at breakfast. Same stuff each day. To get pancakes it is necessary to go to the dining room and the same applies to various types of egg. The cleanliness of the ship is excellent and the decor is exceptionally nice. Cabins are spacious and comfortable. Showers were available with hot water at all times of the day/night. The ship seemed to be smoke-filled in most areas, even "inside" public spaces adjacent to dining areas. MSC needs to enforce more No Smoking/No Fumar areas to protect the health of those who choose not to smoke.
The first port we visited was Bari, Italy where we arrived on a Sunday and everything is closed. This port call is used primarily to take on additional passengers and there isn't much to see or do at this stop. Save your money on excursions and stroll through the old section of Bari which is an easy walking distance from the port.
At each port of call, we never felt uneasy regarding safety. It is necessary to use good judgement when venturing out on your own, which is what our group did at each stop. Ship excursions are over priced and the wise cruiser can save a lot of money by going out on their own away from the buses and large crowds that fill up ship excursions. This is the first time we have stayed away from the prearranged excursions, but we felt it was necessary to do so because of MSC's high costs. Our own method of getting from point A to point B proved to be efficient and we were back to the ship ahead of the throngs returning from excursions which was nice, even if for a short period of time. We had this beautiful huge ship, all to ourselves to enjoy.