I'd hate to see Americans skip this cruise ship and itinerary based on the mixed reviews so here is mine. Our main goal was to have our two teens exposed to new people, food, cultures and customs and to stay interested in their French and Spanish classes in school. We achieved that and way more with memories for a lifetime!
Easy embarkation in Genoa - no line, breezed right through since we didn't need to get in line at the exact hour it started. It was oversold, all cabins seemed to have kids in them including ours since it was the week of Spring Break and our cruise ended on Easter Sunday. Anyone cruising this time of year should be understanding of that. We could always find a table even if we had to walk a bit further down. Get out of your room! There are many places to go on the ship, lots of entertainment, great European people watching and a cute Italian coffee piazza. The free TV included two English channels so we could always keep up on the news. We liked the Italian flair and how the courses were served - so much food and many choices. If you didn't like something (shrimp with the heads on) the waiter was happy to bring something else. Our waiter lived to make us happy (and we were)!
My family is healthy so we often took the stairs for a few floors instead of waiting for the elevators, no problem. Get in shape for this cruise - it is a huge ship. Fitness center was well equipped overlooking the bow.
Get off of the ship! These are interesting ports, you don't have to buy expensive excursions through MSC, there were Red Line hop on/hop off buses at every port. MSC substituted Palma de Mallorca instead of Malta due to wind conditions and it was all fine - you just have to roll with it! The Euro right now makes everything seem affordable. No need to worry about wine/beer packages, a glass of wine/beer is E6. A huge bottle of water for the table is E1. Best to read up on ports, how far they are located from the cities (Rome has never been on the water and is one hour away) and do a little homework on what you can see and do.
The Cruise Director spoke four languages fluently! This trip brought the world into my teen's consciousness - we talked about the Tunisia attack and the immigrants on boats making their way to Palermo and Italy. The Vatican is always in the news and now we have been there. There is a huge world outside our American suburb and you must go on the cruise with a good attitude and with the intention of enjoying new things!
Bring hair conditioner if you need it. Great energy conservation system where you insert your card to activate lights. We shared a balcony room with two teens and it worked fine - very economical trip!