We are family of four with two children ages 8 and 11. This was the 11 year old's 10th cruise. In the past we have enjoyed sailing on Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, NCL, and Costa. However, this was our first experience with MSC.
We chose MSC because of the dates (kids only had to miss one day of school) and the price. We were able to be in a Cat 11 (which is the highest cat room shy of suite)Superior Balcony for just over $1800 for the week. No other cruise line could even come close for that same time period. We sailed Dec 16-23, 2011.
We used ParknGo in FLL and they took us and picked us up from the port. With the online discount, the week of parking was less than $60 and the service was good. Upon arrival at the terminal, checkin was quick. They would not allow the children's cards to be blocked from making purchases (which we have never had any problem doing on any other line) but it could be set to a maximum amount per day but that had to be done on the ship.
Our room was on Deck 12, 12096, and was directly below the pool deck, so there was some noise in the morning and evening, but we expected that. The room layout was the most awkward. The small sofa that turned into one of the beds was located right next to the balcony door, so when it was open (night and morning) access to the balcony was very difficult. We had not encountered this problem on any other cruiseline. When the children are asleep we enjoy spending time on the balcony which was difficult with the bed open, especially when you are trying to not wake the kids up!
The kids did not use the kids program very much, there were alot of kids and the facilities were really small. My 11 year old could have played foosball all day every day. My 8 year old could have stayed in the pool all day every day, do they both had a great time.
We enjoyed most of our meals in the dining room. The food was good and we had excellent service, maybe not as quick with the water refills as we are used to but everything else was great. The juices on deck were kind of watery but in the dining room they were great. The doughnuts at the buffet in the morning were excellent. The pizza was good also (maybe not quite as good as Princess) but way better than we've experiences on other lines. We ate all our dinners in the dining room and found the menu always had several things we liked. The kids ate off the regular menu every night but one. We enjoyed the veal dishes alot.
The pool area was very nice, however, we found the chairs very unconfortable since the back didn't ajust. I did like the the cover though. Chair hogs weren't too bad, the first sea day was the worst. We did enjoy gellato from the gellato bar twice and it was excellent. Well worth the few dollars for a huge portion.
The ports: Key West, Cozumel, Roatan, and Montego Bay. In Key West, we went to Kino's and my daughter and I each got a pair of sandals (handmade in Key West for only $12)as our souvenirs. We also went to Kermit's Key Lime shop and had a piece of key lime pie and one of the ones dipped in chocolate and frozen on a stick. It was so good. I would recommend the chocolate one on the stick. Cozumel we took the taxi to Paradise Beach. Our ship docked at Puerta Langosta which is the downtown pier, taxi fair for four was $14 each way. We were the only ship in port!!! Which is almost unheard of in Cozumel. Since it was Sunday the chairs and toys at Paradise Beach were free!!! The kids had a great time playing in the water and we relaxed on the beach enjoying buckets of beer. It is a beautiful facility, would go back in a minute. In Roatan, we did the South Shore Zip n Dip. First time on a zip line for all of us and it was amazing. We went to Foster's on West Bay beach and with the tour we each got a coupon for a welcome drink. The rum punch was good. A little disappointed by West Bay Beach, there was a constant parade of people trying to sell you something and the beach to me was nothing different than many other Caribbean beaches. We stayed on the ship at Montego Bay and enjoyed the peace and quiet and empty pools and hot tubs.
Debarkation was smooth, had breakfast in the dining room the last morning (still full menu even eggs benedict) then went to our designated lounge. We were off the ship, through customs, back to our car, and on the road home by 9:30 am.
The ship was beautiful, food and service were good, it was our first time on MSC but most likely won't be our last.