My family and I were fortunate enough to experience the 20 day inaugural cruise from Trieste to Miami as our introduction to MSC being already gold with Royal Caribbean and NCL.
And in summary, I think it is highly likely that we will be cruising with MSC again in the future.
Yet the cruise was not without issue as will be detailed in time.....
Ship is an interesting design being narrower (beam) from deck 8 upwards. MSC have used this space to allow loads of outside eating and drinking space (not 'policy' with RC and only limited to the back of the ship with NCL).
The design is very glitzy with lots of facilities.
Embarkation was good as you can take all your photos from the comfort of your home before you get on the ship. Credit cards are logged within 3 days so no time taken to do that either. Hence very fast process.
Cabins (we were on deck 10 balcony) are at least as big as RC / NCL and equally well appointed yet for a 20 day cruise with weather ranging from 12 to 29 degrees C, there was limited storage space. Hence we simply put the clothes that did not need hanging into the case and put them back under the bed (no sweat really!).
Agreed that there could have been more live TV channels in English. And same in the sports bars where MSC seem to think that we all love football, football and more football (wrong!).
Always even more difficult Trans Atlantic yet MSC then provided 10 movies free which changed each day to compensate.
Video loops of each stop would have been good though.
One issue with the cabin was the rattling of the patio doors which I could not 'wedge' myself. It's a ship and it flexes.
Itinerary had to change as Hurricane Maria had landed 2 months earlier yet the stops were all good especially Madeira, Antigua and Puerto Rico.
Weather was superb all cruise : each day was sunny and the temperature got hotter as we reached the caribbean hence you could spend all day on deck 16 in the sun.
There were loads of activities during each sea day : tai chi, dance classes, poolside games (a bit Butlins), crafts, etc. You really could not be bored yet might have been different if the weather had been poor / choppy.
Food was as good as RC / NCL yet not quite as good as Costa. Good variety, good quality. There were a number of 'Elegant Nights' and then also Italian, French, Greek, Spanish etc men nights. Great fun.
Waiters were friendly and well trained and only covered c. 20 guests each assisted by a separate drinks waiter.
Alit, Santiago and Kristijan - great job!
Meal times were 5:45, 7:45 and 9:45 with the shows repeating each night to allow all guests to attend. The set times allowed you to arrange your evening around dinner and reduced the chaos I've experienced elsewhere when guests arrive continuously (often without booking!).
Evening shows incorporated elements of Cirque Du Soleil and were good shows. Costumes were professional and the troupe were talented and well trained. Perhaps a bit too much opera on the 20 day cruise (even though we like it) and more thought needs to be given to cruises longer than 14 days.
Also need more shows happening at different times in different locations to allow for choice. Andre - you're an experienced cruise director so please take note.
Zip line was free and fun although had some teething issues. Water slides were also fun yet the toboggan slide didn't interact.
Gym was good although a bit small and way too hot especially with external glass radiating in the heat.
So to the improvement points :
Firstly - let the Italians design the ship yet let the Germans build it. 'good enough' is not really good enough. And my concern with this is that the senior team didn't seem to be spotting these issues either. Not sure how MSC will schedule repair time either with a full cruise schedule. We lost electricity (with 400 other cabins) one evening for 4 hours. Rooms are VERY dark with no power!
Secondly - hygiene. The toilets failed frequently. This is a design issue and will not be fixed quickly. Hand washing stations also failed and there was no 'washy washy' being reinforced at each and every entrance / exit to the restaurants / buffets. Come on MSC - you know this is vital in a confined space.
The MSC Seaside was good yet not as shiny and perfect as it should have been being 'fresh out of the box'.
The staff helped to bridge the gaps yet MSC need to think about how to give them at lease 1 day off per week or they will burn out.
So, that's it really. A great cruise - first MSC and first Trans Atlantic. We will very likely do both again.