Reviews about the Meraviglia are not exactly very good.
We can understand them and agree... if you are not in a Yacht Club cabin.
The ship is crowded and loud most of the day. Getting on and off the ship means queing, for minutes at least. Good luck if you try to find an unoccupied table at the buffet restaurant between 12 and 2pm. Good luck if you try to find two available chairs at any of the bars onboard just before diner time. Good luck if you try to find a lounger along one the pools that is not occupied during a sunny sea day.
The Meraviglia gallery on deck 6 is usualy very busy and loud. On the sides are MSC staff members trying to sell you drink packages, restaurant deals, massages, jewellery, perfumes... and so on. It almost resembles the atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul... MSC should really try to deminish this kind of selling techniques, it is very annoying and for many passengers a reason not to travel with MSC again.
The food at the buffet restaurant is very decent. It is not 'gourmet', but it is well prepared and tasty. There is not much variety, but there are certainly enough choices to please everyone. The waiter service is very efficient, thanks to the buzzer on every table. Just push the button and a waiter will be at your table within a minute. We cannot comment on the food in the main restaurants as we have only dined in the Yacht Club restaurant or used room service.
The drinks in the many bars are also well prepared and you will receive complementary crisps, olives or salted nuts with it. The choices of cocktails, beers, spirits is immense. The waiters are usualy very friendly and seems to enjoy their jobs.
We took two excursions with MSC and they were very good. No complaints.
Spa and Wellness
The Thermal Area will not dissappoint you. There are two big saunas, two big steam rooms and much more. I particulary liked the walk through shower with four different shower heads, both cold and warm. There are also multiple relaxation rooms. The Thermal Area is a perfect spot for a cloudy sea day. But off course it will be busy at those times, but not really crowded. The Thermal Area is complementary for Aurea and Yacht Club guests.
A major advantage of a big ship is the inside pool area, named the Bamboo Pool on Meraviglia. Perfect when the weather is bad, but again, then everyone wants to be there and it is impossible to find a lounger. Passengers leave their towel on them for the whole day, giving others no chance to relax on one. Sad...
The outside pools are very attractive when the weather is good and are then... crowded and loud!
We attended the two shows by Cirque de Soleil: Sonor was very good, Viaggio was also good. e saw some perfomances in the Broadway Theater. A ventriloquist which was very mediocre and a magician/'shadow artist' which was dissappointing. We also attended an abridged version of Puccini's opera 'La Boheme' which was actualy very good. So it was a mix of good and bad entertainment.
If you stay in the Yacht Club, the atmosphere is completely different.
The YC areas are quiet and have a relaxing (maybe boring for some) atmosphere. There are less than 200 passengers in the Yacht Club.
You will always find a lounger around the pool on deck 19, there is always a table available at the YC restaurant and more than enough available seats in the YC Lounge and bar.
A YC passenger gets many small but interesting benefits: hold your cruise card to a sensor near the elavators and you will have 'Priority Service'. This means that if you enter the elevator on deck 18 and want to go to deck 5, the elevator will bring you directly to deck 5, without stopping at the other levels. If you want to get off the ship and are in a hurry, just ask any of the butlers to escort you and you will bypass all the queing passengers. And when you come back, if you are lucky, you can see a butler outside the ship to escort you directly to the security area onboard, again bypassing all the other passengers. On disembarkation day, you do not have to wait or to queue, you can walk off the ship at any time you like (as soon as 20 minutes after the arrival in port).
There are four options for breakfast: room service, the restaurant, the lounge or the grill on the sun deck. We mostly used room service. The choices on the list seems to be limited, but you can always request items that are not listed. I like Egg benedicts, wrote that on the paper and it was delivered. Excellent service!
The food in the restaurant is very good, again well prepared and tasty, but not realy luxury. A lot of pork and lamb and other 'affordable' ingredients. Lobster was only offered once during our two week cruise. That's being 'cheap' from MSC. The dishes are very small. You are not full after an appetizer, main course and dessert. But there is always an evening snack at the buffet, including a slice of pizza of you are still hungry. And you can always order two appetizers or two main courses instead of one. The grill on the sun deck only opens if the weather permits it. It's a good location for having lunch. You may choose your meat (e.g. lamb, pork, beef, fish...) and it will be grilled and minutes later served at your table.
I realy enjoyed my stay on the MSC Meraviglia and was fortunate to be in the Yacht Club. I will sail with MSC again (next cruise is on the Seaview), but only in a Yacht Club cabin and if the price is reasonable. With the Yacht Club, MSC tries to immitate the luxury cruise lines. However they are not comparable. On a luxury cruise line, the food in the restaurant is more upscale, with more exquisite ingredients, slightly larger portions and with more choices on the menu. The butlers on MSC are good and friendly but are more room stewards than true butlers. If the itinerary and the price of a Yacht Club cabin is comparable to an itinerary and the price of a cabin on a luxury cruise line, I will certainly choose the latter one. This explains my 4 star rating instead of a 5 star rating.
Spacious! We were amazed by the size of the cabin. The largest cabin we ever had on a cruise ship. It has a contemporary design, with everything you need to have in a luxury room. There is enough closet space. The beds are excellent, we slept very well when the sea was not to rough. The LCD television was very large but unfortunately, there is no HDMI connection available, so you cannot connect it with your tablet or computer. The minibar was stocked twice a day and had water, soft drinks, beers, spirits, nuts and crisps, all complementary. There are four different types of glasses and a cooler with ice cubes. There is alao a Nespresso machine and 4 espresso capsules, sugar and milk. A free printed newspaper of our choice was hung at our cabin door every morning. The balcony was not very spacious, but was large enough for two chairs and a small table.