My previous four cruises were on Princess, and I found the services with MSC similar. The main difference was the low price of this MSC cruise as well as the ports of Malta and Tunisia included in the itinerary. We got more than our money's worth in entertainment and pleasant memories.
Time of year: We cruised the last week of September, so temperatures were warm enough to enjoy the pools and sunbathing while at port or at sea, but it wasn't too hot. I recommend this time of year-summer crowds are gone at the ports but it's still pleasant.
Embarkation: We boarded at the Barcelona port, and it was a breeze. The taxi dropped us off at the door with an hour to spare before final boarding. We were on the ship within ten minutes of arrival. No lines, and no hassle. We have found long lines at the earliest check-in time for Princess. On MSC, passengers arrive and depart at all seven ports, which spreads out the numbers of passengers boarding.
Save the expense of booking an excursion for Genoa. Pass through the lovingly restored ferry building and find a desk offering city bus tours. For less than $20, you get a great bus tour with information provided by headsets with a choice of several languages. Your bus ride ends at the aquarium. The bus passes by the main piazzas, Columbus' birth place, and the opera. Our dining mates had opted for the aquarium excursion. They went by boat to the aquarium, and got a bus ride back, so they didn't get to see much of this beautiful historic city. We had time to walk into the city center and tackle the awesome museums in Palazzo Rosso and Bianco, before walking back by monumental buildings and churches to the bus stop for our ride back to the ship.