We've just returned from an 11 day trip on MSC Magnifica and thoroughly enjoyed our experience on board. We booked the trip over 8 months ago and were quite worried and apprehensive, or rather extremely worried after reading 8 months of mostly negative reviews and comments. We simply did not know what to expect but were prepared for the worst. However, we found most of the negative comments simply not true or isolated cases. MSC does a few things differently than other cruise lines, but, if you aware of this in advance, then it will come as no surprise once you are on board.
Embarkation: Our boarding time was 10:30AM. We were in our cabin in about 2 hours (There are MONITORS telling you when to board in addition to the announcements. Many of the negative comments about embarkation chaos were that people could not hear the announcements. It's really simple, look at the monitors. In the boarding area, there are several tables set up to order things: Excursion Table, Drink Table, Spa Table, Soda Table. Overall, getting 3000 people into a ship within a few hours is going to be crowded so expect this.
The Ship: As the comments suggests, immaculate and spotless. We were escorted to our cabin with white glove service. Cabin was clean, on the smaller side.
Dining: Most of the negative comments we read came under this category. This is what we found. First and foremost. MSC provides a daily program with the hours of operation for each of the restaurants and buffets. Make sure you look at this each day or bring with you. THE BUFFET IS NOT AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES OF THE DAY LIKE OTHER CRUISE LINES. Especially when you are returning from an excursion so beware.
Main Dining Room: We found the food to be good to above average for the most part. Portions were good. Only bottled water is served in the restaurant, not tap. Our dining companions were the absolute best!
Formal Nights: For you Americans: Formal nights in Europe is Coat and Tie, Period! Not Tux. You will be out of place in a tux like I was.
Buffet: My only complaint with the buffet is that it was basically the same each day. Only the main items changed each day. However, the buffet is large enough to have something different each day so you should be fine.
The buffet tends to be very crowded for some reason and it's difficult to find a table for some reason. Also, there are only a couple of coffee and water stations in which you must go to in order to get your coffee and water.
We found that there constantly waiters and busboys coming by the tables as well as cocktail servers. It seemed that the ship was almost overstaffed in every department.
Specialty Restaurants: Magnifica has 2 Restaurants with additional charges. One with a set charge of $20 Euro and another with an ALA Carte Charge. We opted not to dine in either as the food in both the buffet and dining room were just fine.
Room Service: Limited Room Service Available. Extra Charge. 3 Sandwiches, 3 Appetizers. We did not order. FREE Breakfast is avaialable each morning by putting out a menu the night before 2AM.
Shows/Entertainment: All shows were a variety type show. Singers, Dancers, Acrobats, etc.
Internet Charges: THERE IS NO WIFI IN CABINS!!!! YOU MUST RENT A USB CHORD for $15 EURO from RECEPTION to PLUB INTO YOUR LAPTOP. IF YOU HAVE AN IPAD you must go to a BAR. Internet Charges were as following: 60 Minutes-12 Euro, 100 Minutes-20 Euro, 500 Minutes-60 Euro, 24 Hours-120Euro
Note: The "plug" for the USB cable is beside the TV, not at the desk, so when you are "plugged in" you have to use your computer on the bed and crawl across the cable. This needs to be fixed or they need to get WIFI in the cabins.
People On Board: Be advised that several of your fellow passengers will have no problem cutting in front of you or barging into an elevator. Don't take it personally, it's a cultural thing. When in Rome....I must say that several of the negative comments against MSC were probably from passengers who were probably just barged in front of.
Overall, it was a positive experience and we would certainly book another MSC cruise.