We had an outside balcony cabin, which was surprisingly spacious (I've stayed in much smaller rooms- and paid much more- for hotels in New York or London), and very well kept. The housekeeping service was great, and our room was always spotless- they even tidied up again in the evenings when they came to turn down our beds. The service at the buffets and in the restaurant was friendly and professional, and we really couldn't have asked for anything more. Our waiter, Dodo from Indonesia, was fantastic, and went above and beyond every evening to make sure we had everything we needed. We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants, but both my husband and I thought the food in the main dining room was great. I've seen complaints that there wasn't enough variety, but we loved the Italian food, and there seemed to be plenty of options every night for the more "conservative" palate. If you don't like Italian food, you probably shouldn't book with an Italian cruise line! The food and the breakfast and lunch buffets was not particularly exciting, but we always found plenty that we liked, and when feeding so many guests at the same time, how much variety can one really expect? The food was plentiful and always available in the cafeteria, and the soft serve ice cream machines on the pool deck were a nice touch.
The pool area was also very well maintained, and there was always a lot going on. We did have some difficulty on a couple days finding deck chairs in a good location, so I'd recommend securing your location before breakfast- the pool rules stated that chairs could not be reserved for more than 20 minutes, but this wasn't really policed at all (to our sometimes frustration). If you don't mind too much about a prime location in the sun, you won't have any trouble finding chairs. Our only minor complaint is that we wished the pool and hot tubs were kept open later.
As far as the activities on board, we enjoyed everything that we did. We participated in almost all of the trivia competitions, saw nearly all of the performances, and listened to a number of the music groups playing in the lounges. I also did the four half hour long Italian lessons, which was a nice touch! The "Animation Team" was really energetic without being cheesy, and everything was very well executed. We were so impressed at the language skills of the staff- everyone spoke at least 3 or 4 different languages fluently. The performances, while I wouldn't call them Broadway caliber, were really quite well done. Even my husband, who typically avoids all things theatrical, genuinely enjoyed the shows. All in all, there was plenty to do for those that are active, but if you're happy just relaxing in the sunshine, the activities weren't at all disruptive.
I honestly have nothing negative to say about this cruise. We had a wonderful time, and will definitely cruise with MSC again in the future.
We then took the water taxi over to Paradise Island, because we had to at least see the Atlantis. Again, we were glad we didn't pay for an excursion, because the water taxi was just $3 per person round trip, and they gave a nice little commentary in both directions. We didn't pay the $60 to use the beach at Atlantis for the day (or the $110 for a day pass to the water park), but enjoyed just walking around the resort and casino taking it all in. They have good prices on straw goods (which are made onsite) at the craft market on Paradise Island. I had heard that many of the goods sold at the market in Nassau come from Asia, so it was nice to get something authentic.
We took the city bus (more of a jitney van, really) to Marigot on the French side, and would highly recommend it over a taxi. We waited for ages for a taxi (first to find one, and then because he wanted to fill all six seats in his van) and they were charging $25 one way. We got fed up with waiting, and walked a block up from Bay Street, where we found the buses. The stops are frequent, but fast, and it was only $2 per person from Philipsburg to central Marigot. The buses have the names of the destination listed on front, and you can hail them anywhere on the street, so it's quite easy. It's a pretty, scenic drive, too!
Marigot was also gorgeous, and perhaps a bit more refined than Philipsburg. We hiked up Fort Louis, where we saw some fantastic views, and shopped around at the West Indies Mall.
We did the Coral World excursion with the cruise ship, and it was great if you enjoy marine life. The underwater observatory was impressive, as was the large reef tank. Try to catch one of the feedings if you can.
Despite my disappointment at the aesthetics of the downtown area, the shopping district was great- lots of options for fine jewelry and duty free products. Try to find the Camille Pisarro gallery if you have time- it's well hidden down an alley and up the stairs, but is worth the visit for fans of the impressionists.
We thought that the taxis were a bit overpriced on the whole- we took a cab to the beach at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef, which was $12 each way for just a couple of miles (the roads aren't really walkable, or we would have!).