Stanley Dupp beat us to it!
Despite my verbose reputation, this IS brief!. As 2nd time cruisers we had read the reviews on the site before going, but went with open minds. MSC did not publicize the shuttle bus available from Piazza Roma, but we availed ourselves of the facility. Embarkation was efficient, but we WERE 6 hours early, and led to our cabin by a steward; better than NCL where we had to locate it ourselves. Cabin clean & tidy, the reports of plastic shower curtains are true. Smoking on balconies is forbidden, in cabins merely strongly discouraged. Seems wrong way round to us. NO tea/coffee making facilities in cabins (hot drinks only free of charge at breakfast) - this is not forewarned by MSC either. Cabin staff have a strong tendency to enter without knocking and need courtesy training, which is irksome in the least. This applies even when locked from inside. No cabin vacant/occupied indication outside. No towel animals or chocolates, but nightwear is laid out on turned down bed. Room service efficient on the one occasion used. Ship facilities are standard fayre, Table-Tennis, Short Court Tennis, Soccer/Basketball Court, Crazy~Golf, Jogging Track, Quoits, 3 external saltwater pools, Whirlpools. Indoors - Gym, Sauna, Turkish & Whirlpool baths all reasonably priced, massage and well-being treatments very expensive. Library (limited), Internet (4Eu / 10 mins), Duty Free shops : Jewellery, Booze & Tobacco, Perfumes & Clothing. Age of passengers more varied than NCL ; Italian contingent 70-80%, other European 10-15%, similar English speaking (UK, US, Canada, Australasia). Free children offer to Italians well taken up even given term time cruise. Lounge entertainment good, if dated. Highlights were Mexican trio and Classical quartet performing in the atrium, and half a dozen different duos around the lounges. Theatre shows not experienced ourselves, but consensus of English speakers was less than average. Food. Self service breakfast was consistently poor, unless your choice is pastries in which case it seemed the challenge of the day was to load as many as high as possible and spend the rest of the morning eating whilst dominating the tables around the pool area. Service in the formal breakfast room depends on your nationality. Italians are served first in everything including tendering. In either location hot food is served cold. Self service lunch majors around multiple varieties of pasta and limited salad choices. The same fayre is offered at teatime, only colder. Only iced water is available at lunch and tea-time. Evening dining is the highlight of the gastronomic indulgencies. Varied menus spanning options of up to 6 courses. 2 sittings are available 6.30ish and 9.15ish, but your allocation is guaranteed to be the opposite of your booking. We changed twice to get the restaurant of our choice at the sitting we wanted. Changing dinner bookings can only be done at a predetermined time with the assistant Maitre "D" in a predetermined location. A midnight buffet is available on certain nights. Late sitting diners probably never took advantage. The major attractions of this cruise were the cost and the itinery. With the exception of boring Bari the ports of call lived up to expectation, but we travelled independently at each using a mixture of shanksy's, hire car, and the metro. We saved about 500Eu over the equivalent ship's tours yet still saw most of the sights. Overall, we made the cruise work for us, despite the disorganisation, bias, lack of information and aloofness of the Italian MSC staff (excluding the Indonesian contingent) and so will not be using MSC again.
Clean & tidy, reports of plastic shower curtains are true. Smoking on balconies is forbidden, yet in cabins merely strongly discouraged - weird.