My sister and I took MSC for the first time 12/14/2007 for 7 day to Western Caribbean. Both have cruised multiple times and with other carriers. Embarkation was unlike any other cruise. Arrived to Ft. Lauderdale port, hundreds of people, no one giving instructions as to the procedures and the process to get on ship took approximately 2.5 hours. Time would have passed better if some instructions or expectations had been passed on. Later information and apology from the cruise line indicate they had computer problems in processing people and untrained individuals. Hopefully this is something corrected. Ship: The ship is likely one of the cleanest ships on the seas. It was clean, beautiful and very well maintained. We had an inside cabin. Layout was similar to other lines, with good storage and size similar to other lines we have cruised. Overall, we felt it was a good value as we paid a very low rate. If however we had paid what is normally paid on a cruise, we would have been disappointed. A rolling joke among our group and others was, "what do you expect for $500 USD". Our experience, was adjust your expectations. Our other observation was that people who had not cruised, were very impressed, but those who had cruised saw many deficiencies. Food: The food in general was good, however it was variable in both the buffets and the dining room. Some dishes were excellent and others bordering on awful. Moreover, the inconsistency was noted in the same dishes. Two people ordering the same thing and one terrific and the other not. For example ordered duck one night and could not even get it cut, woman sitting next to me said it was the best duck she had ever eaten. Buffet breakfast was typically cold, and clumps of food like bacon you could not separate. We opted for the dining room for breakfast and it was a great alternative for us. Service in Dining room for us was terrific. Pleasant, great english, helpful with food choices and always with a big smile. Similarly our cabin steward was wonderful. Always around, helpful, and as on other ships the magical transformation of the room when you slip out, even for a brief time. One very notable pleasant thing on this ship was the way alcohol was addressed. Prices for beer and wine were very inexpensive (beers for 3.50USD and up, 10.00USD for a bucket of 4, wine was 3.50USD for house wine and around 4.5 for others and up of course for more select choices). Also alcohol was available when you wanted, lounges, pool area etc, but it was not pushed on you as on many other cruise lines. Entertainment: The entertainment in the main showroom departed from other cruiselines. I suspect part of it is that they cater to guests with so many different languages, that they opt for entertainment catering to a wider international audience. They did have the typical dance troupe, often dancing out of step but with fantastic costumes. They had opera singers, classical music concert, acrobats, magicians and the like. Shows typically 45 minutes and we found them very entertaining. Actually I typically never go to the shows, and on this cruise went every night. Other entertainment included the now infamous art auctions, bingo and pool games, but as compared to other ships, little to offer during the day. This too was fine with us, as I don't need to be entertained all the time. Another favorable impression was the limited overhead announcements. Many have complained about the messages in multiple languages, but that made it rather continental in our opinion and enjoyed hearing the languages. One real criticism was the poor methods for using tenders when they could not dock in port. The current strategy of giving tender numbers was inconsistent on the cruise and without the announcements, it was a complete mess. We again tried to laugh it off to cope and felt as if we were back in the chaos of Italy in a loud jam of people pushing and shoving. Reality though is that they could have a safety issue on their hands if they don't improve the method. Overall, we had a good time. Would cruise them again with the right itinerary and for a rock bottom price. If however, it were priced like other lines, would definitely choose the other lines over MSC.