I had read many negative reviews about MSC. Personally, I think people need to chill out a bit. The Magnifica is a brand new ship - spotless. The service is excellent. The main differences are that:
1. Vast majority Europeans on board - which I think is great.
2. No dinner buffet. I personally prefer the buffet but no big deal.
3. Room service is not free (except continental breakfast).
4. Port times are short.
So although room service is not included, the average plate is around 3 - 4 Euros if you order it to the room. Nothing to get excited about. And I was initially wondering about the short port times but it's due to the long distances that are sailed each night.
This was a winter "off-peak" cruise. The nights were cold and the seas were very windy. But the days were great - T shirt or light vest weather. And only had rain in Dubrovnik. It was too windy to use the balcony...some nights over 100 km/hr wind....that's not a typo. Keep that in mind. The crowds were much less at the ports and the value is unbeatable!
I would recommend getting cash - Euro, Lira, Kuna before-hand to save time. Bring warm gear if you take the cruise in the winter.
Overall, highly recommend the Magnifica and the itinerary!
Check out the relevant pics albums at:
Venice, Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik
Also did Verona as a day trip from Venice. 2 hours by train each way. Awesome.
At the time of this review (12/2/10) the albums are still a work in progress. But they should be done soon. I took over 4000 pics but only uploaded a sampling. Have fun!
Thanks to CruiseCritic.com for a great website!