Prior to booking our cruise on MSC Magnifica we read the reviews here on Cruise Critic and to be honest, we were very concerned whether this cruise was going to be a good one or not based on the many negative comments left about this ship. I was convinced before we ever left home that this was going to be a miserable cruise. We had been on two Carnival Cruises prior to this one and both of them were very enjoyable. Neither was perfect and we had our little complaints about this or that on both of those cruises but overall the experience with Carnival was very good and if you read the reviews about Carnival Cruises, generally those reviews reflect that most everyone does enjoy cruising with Carnival. So after reading the mostly bad reviews for the MSC Magnifica we were sure that we were going to be greatly disappointed. Getting from the airport to the cruise port was much easier than anticipated. Plaza Roma where you are transported to is a madhouse, but it's a manageable madhouse if you plan ahead and my wife had prepared for this trip very well, so she knew what to do and where to go to do it. She had bought us the necessary boat pass to get us to our hotel on Lido Island because we had arrived a day early. She knew how to get us to the People Mover which got us to the free MSC shuttle bus. Going through their boarding process was no different than any we had experienced on Carnival which is to say, not too bad and the wait wasn't too long. Upon arrival on the ship, a steward took us straight to our room. On our Carnival Cruises we were left to find our own rooms and sometimes that can be a bit confusing as you wind yourself around the maze of rooms. Not to worry on MSC, they take you straight to your room.
The ship was clean and it was kept clean the whole cruise. The crew were even painting the ship in every port, keeping it nice and white. The ship was quite compared to our Carnival Cruises. The Lido Deck on Carnival is always crowded and noisy. MSC Magnifica's Lido Deck was quite in comparison. We found many private places to sit and read or to get away from any of the crowded areas. The food on MSC was no better or worse than our two previous Carnival Cruises. We thought the MSC food was very good, prepared fresh and their selections of different types of food was okay. Some of the food they present isn't exactly American-style food but hey, you're on a European Cruise and you should expect changes in the types of food served. Why do we Americans always think that everyone should cater to our specific needs? We are not the only people who live in this world and it's easy to see why some other countries refer to us as "Ugly Americans" because we seem to want what we want and we want it now. A cruise should be a time of relaxation and a time to learn new things and to leave the anxiety behind and just enjoy life as it comes our way.
I agree with other reviews that MSC seems to nickle-and-dime you for everything. Americans and folks from Canada get free water vouchers for dinner, your choice of flat or fizzy water. It's a huge bottle so you have plenty. No they don't serve coffee after dinner but for us we didn't really care too much about that. Other countries have to pay for their water at dinner. At lunch you can eat on their version of the Lido Deck Buffet and get free coffee, tea and water. Yes, they serve the tea and coffee in blue plastic mugs. So what? It doesn't affect the taste of the coffee or tea and the plastic mugs kept the drink hot longer than glass cups. Less breakage for the cruise line too. Not an issue for us.
The food was varied and tasted good. And at dinner we sat at a table with 3 other couples and we all had a great time talking and enjoying our wonderful dinners. Each night the food selection was nice and was based on some area of Italy so they were giving you a taste of food from various parts of Italy. The shows each night in the main theatre were entertaining and good. MSC doesn't badger you about taking photos at every stop, at every occasion like Carnival does. Each port-of-call was fantastic. All the stops we made were different, exciting, fun and enjoyable. We didn't take any of the ship's offered excursions. We just went our own way and did what we wanted to and that worked out just fine in each port. My wife had planned ahead for each port and what we were going to do and that worked out great without having to spend the extra money on MSC provided excursions. Getting tickets for public transportation in each port was easy and almost painless. Use of the different types of money in each port wasn't too difficult. Our shipboard experience was great. We enjoyed the cruise immensely and would definitely use MSC again.
The ship was full of people from everywhere. Australia, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain and who knows where else. Just listening to all of the different languages might tick some folks off because they weren't speaking English, but most of the time when you spoke to these other people, they would speak English back, so at least they know more than one language, unlike most of us one-language Americans. Everyone always spoke or nodded. All of our contact with the crew was positive and they all spoke English as did almost everyone we talked to in any of the ports. I'm sorry if alot of Americans don't like MSC Magnifica, but we have very little to complain about and we loved our cruise. We enjoyed every minute of it.