We chose this MSC Cruise (our first with MSC) as the dates suited and the ports were very appealing to us. As this was our 8th cruise (enjoyed all 7 previous cruises with RCL (5), Carnival (1) and Princess (1)) we understood that all cruises get both good and bad reviews so we decided to book despite many bad reviews. What a mistake we made! All the bad reviews re MSC service and food quality are absolutely correct and consequently we will NEVER cruise with MSC again!
First problem was embarkation at Rome (Civitavecchia).Very slow and disorganized with only one or two check -in personnel to process a large number of people. Plenty of other MSC personnel there pushing the drink packages!
Second problem was the dining service, especially in the utterly chaotic Inca/Maya Buffets on the 14th Deck. Trying to get eye contact with the staff here, never mind service, is impossible. They all walk around with their heads down unlike any other cruises we have been on. On every occasion we ended up having to get our own drinks (both free and paid drinks) and on many occasions we had to clear previously used tables for ourselves.
Very nice cabin with balcony located towards the front of the ship on Deck 10. Very convenient for the Theatre located on Deck 6/7 and a good walk to/from the restaurants at the other end of the ship. VERY comfortable bed, good storage, well appointed bathroom with an excellent shower cubicle with good water pressure. The cabin attendant kept the cabin spotlessly clean despite the fact that we never saw her/him even once!
The ship docks right in the city so you can easily walk around it. A lot of hustlers at the port trying to sell excursions, trips etc so know what you want to do before you get off. Not the nicest city we have ever visited but worth rambling around for a couple of hours. Be careful as the traffic is chaotic and lots of vespa motor bikes.
We took the €10 "Hop on Hop off" bus from the port direct to the old city of Mdina which is only 20 mins away. It then dropped us back in lovely Valletta where we strolled back to the ship after having lunch there. Great value and highly recommended trip.
MSC run a €13 return shuttle to/from city which is good value. As stated in the review, we took a €10 taxi to the local beach as we were a bit fed up with cathedrals and castles:)
MSC run a €16 return shuttle bus to/from Le Vieux Port in the centre of Marseille. From here we took a €10.50 boat trip to the small island of Chateau D'If which is an old prison made famous by the Count of Monte Cristo novel (€5.50 entrance fee). Lovely boat trip and enjoyed the prison visit. Great value too at only €32 per person (shuttle bus, boat and entrance fee) - MSC excursion (Monte Cristo Tour) costs €62.90 each!
Once again the ship docks right in the city so easy to walk around. Lovely old narrow streets with small local shops. Genoa much nicer than we expected and well worth spending a few hours there.