I chose MSC because they were going to unique ports of call that many others were not in Northern Europe. The ports of call were Gdynia (Poland), Klapedia (Lithuania), Riga (Latvia), Tallin (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Warnemunde (Germany.) The cruise was on the MSC Opera. I had read many reviews prior to sailing but could not get a good feel for the ship or trip because reviews were so mixed. Here is my take.
The MSC Opera is fine. It's basic. You won't be blown away but you won't be unhappy. The food was fine - although, if you have to make selections, the Italian food was the best option (as they are an Italian company.) I stayed on the 9th deck in a room with a balcony. The size was adequate and the balcony was nice. The shower in the bathroom was a little tight but manageable. The rooms have both european and US outlets so that was a bonus. (There are two of each.) The rooms were clean but they were looking slightly worn. The bathroom had shampoo and soap dispensers in the shower and shower caps on the sink. Nothing more. The guests on the ship tend to be 65+ with very few kids or younger guests. The ship has wifi (you have to purchase a package) but not all devices connect easily and they have poor technical support on board. (Also, you may know that their main website is pretty challenging. It freezes and can be difficult to book things in advance.) If this is your first time cruising, select a drink package in advance that will work for you. Also, sign up for your tours online in advance of your trip if possible - they are slightly more expensive onboard (usually only by a few euro.)
As for shore excursions, I selected several of theirs, had some days on my own, and booked private tours for others. What they don't tell you in advance is that for many of the ports of call, they will offer a shuttle option on the ship so if you don't want to sign up for an excursion, you can pay for a shuttle to take you from the boat to a certain point in town. I did that for Riga, Latvia; Tallin, Estonia & Copenhagen, Denmark. All worked out well and were very easy to use.
Nice cabin. Two twin beds, two dressers, a desk, television with stand. Closet with 6 drawers and a plenty of room for hangers. Bathroom has two little shelves. Shower has shampoo and soap in dispensers.
I didn't take an excursion but this is where we got on the ship so we had a few days in advance. The town is adorable and there is a great area along the water to walk and shop.
I took the ships shuttle into town (it's only about a 20 minute walk but each way that saves you 40 minutes you can spend in town.) Loved the Art Nouveau section of this town but it's a bit of a walk. Start there and work your way back toward the water if it is of interest to you. There was a huge festival atmosphere in the old town square with local vendors and food vendors that we saw on the way out.
I really enjoyed Tallinn. It's a little hard to navigate - it's a walled city so we had to wind our way through the streets where the shuttle from the ship dropped us off. Went into St. Nichlaus church/museum and was fortunate enough to hear them play the organ while a woman sang. It was incredible!! The city has a square with some great restaurants with outdoor seating to sit, eat and people watch. This is a popular port of call so be prepared for massive tourists invading at the same time. This ended up being one of my favorite cities - Rick Steves has a book that provides good information on walking in this city.
I booked a private tour through Guide Guru. Easy to use and great information. Even though most ships give you 2 days here - it's hard to squeeze everything in. The Hermitage, Catherine's palace and much of the other sites are all impressive. If you can, find time to have a meal. We had lunch at The Idiot which was very charming and very enjoyable. We also took in a Folk Show. The shows are a little cheesy but overall, very enjoyable.
I booked a private excursion which was great. The city overall was enjoyable but nothing that really stood out in my mind. I enjoyed the Sibelius monument and the rock church.
Loved this cute city and there was plenty to see. Went straight to Nyhaven and took a canal tour (highly recommend). I could have spend several days there!