Do not go on this cruise unless you smoke or don't enjoy good music. When we opened the door to our cabin it reeked of stale cigarette smoke. All week we could not get through to Reception or Housekeeping on the phone, so we waited in line at Reception area for 40 minutes after we boarded to ask for another room. The ship was completely booked so the receptionist said to go to dinner and they would have the room wash downed. After dinner the room was better. I could tell they changed the bedspread because the new one had a big rip in it, but in the morning the smell was as bad as before. Another trek and wait at the Reception area and we were told a room might become available after we left Bari. No such luck so we offered to pay more for an upgrade, but the cruise line wanted over $1,000 for the remaining nights for us to do so. After I said I wanted a complete refund so we could fly home, they offered us a downgraded, very noisy cabin but at least it did not smell of smoke. We had to sign a waiver saying we accepted the downgrade. Of course there was no refund.
If you consider one person playing a keyboard with a sound system good music, then you won't have any complaints about the entertainment. The one theatre, called La Scala, offered nearly the same entertainment each night in a different format. Forget the pool. We never found a free deck chair and people were packed in every square inch. The rule that abandoned deck chairs would become available was never enforced. I also saw toilet paper in one of the pools around noon one day. Also, my husband and I like to sit on the promenade deck, but on this ship there were no chairs available and the deck did not even go around the ship.
We ate once in the frenzied, crowded, long line buffet and after that chose to eat in the dining room. The food was OK, but we didn't expect to pay for water each meal except for coffee in the morning. You pay for coffee or tea other times of the day. Also, I was never on a ship where you couldn't get something to eat during the day between mealtimes. We came back from an excursion at 4 p.m. and had to wait until 7:30 for dinner to eat. The 1 a.m. midnight buffet was too late for us.
It was annoying that everyone receives the same required tip regardless of the service they provide. As a result, there is no motivation for the staff to provide good service and several of them were rude. If I needed anything from housekeeping, like a wash cloth which is not provided without asking, I had to walk around and find someone to help because the phone connection was continually busy. We went without ice all week.
The ports of call were fantastic. The excursions were very expensive so we took a chance and easily found alternate trips at 1/3 to 1/2 of the cost after we disembarked.
It's too bad we chose this cruise line. It was the most expensive cruise we ever took and by far offered the poorest quality. Needless to say, we will never again choose MSC.